The Style Conversational
The Style Conversational
Loser-friendly discussion with The Empress of The Style Invitational

A look at Week 929: Fun-Themely behavior, and the inking redefined words

By the E, Pat Myers

Good morning, early weekenders. Having succumbed once again to my tenderhearted desire not to let worthy entries go unacknowledged, I’ve run something like 55 redefinitions today in the results of Week 925 — even though that’s probably more than non-clinical people will want to read in one sitting. (In print, there are a more manageable 35 or so.) And while I’d resolved to post a leaner, meaner Conversational today, I didn’t exactly turn it into a tweet.

As soon as I’d heard this month that Sherwood Schwartz had died at age 94, I knew that next January’s annual obit poem contest might well include several paeans in the form of “Gilligan’s Island” or “Brady Bunch” parodies. And they still can, since this contest to introduce a TV show via a “Gilligan”-style theme song won’t overlap with it.

As always, the goal is a clever, funny song; it’s not necessary to sum up every plot point. Actually, the “Gilligan” and “Brady” lyrics aren’t all that funny except in their banality; our winners will be way better. I say this with absolute certainty.

I know I’ve received a number of “Gilligan” parodies for previous contests, though I don’t have a record of any of them getting ink. I did find three of them submitted a year ago in our contest for BP oil spill songs; the best was this one by Craig Dykstra. I don’t remember any “Brady Bunches.”

And as we did seven weeks ago with the parodies of “The Star-Spangled Banners,” we welcome video versions of your songs — although it’s the lyrics, not the video, that will earn the ink. If you do make a video, please send in the lyrics as usual to, along with a YouTube link to the video that you or I can eventually make public. (Including the lyrics right on the video proved useful with our last set.)

If you have any more questions about the contest, feel free to ask them in a post right here, and I’ll respond within a day or two. (To post: Scroll down to where there’s a link to this very column, and click on that: Wait for a few seconds and a box should appear where you can leave your question or comment.)


My BFF Gene Weingarten, the Washington Post Magazine humor columnist who for a decade had a barely secret intimate relationship with the Czar of The Style Invitational, didn’t enter the Week 925 contest and surely wouldn’t enter this week’s. And so today’s a good time to wrap up our little experiment in which Gene entered the Invite over a period of weeks, under various pseudonyms revealed after judging each week but before press time.

The point of having Gene enter the Invite was twofold (maybe two and a half-fold): Mostly it was to see whether he could measure up against the best of Loserdom — and I hoped as well that his many fans would follow his progress while becoming fans of our contest.

But also, having Gene enter gave the Losers a chance to beat the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner at his own (former) game — and some of them did, week after week. I’d predicted that Gene would get occasional ink but wouldn’t blow away the competition, and that’s just what happened: Of the four contests he entered (Weeks 920, 921, 923 and 924), he scored one honorable mention in three of them, and no ink in Week 923. Respectable, sure, but not as impressive as lots of other Losers’ hauls.

But at least a few Losers were irked by Gene’s participation, seeing him as “the grandmaster who wandered into the game room,” the “Olympic swimmer who raced the water-wing crowd for bragging rights,” as one regular put it in an e-mail complaint to me; “slumming with schlubs like us,” griped a poster on last week’s Conversational thread. So since our plan to entertain contestants as well as readers backfired at least among some, the Invite returns this week to a 100 percent Non-Loser-Free Zone.

*Subhead by Edmund Conti

What an enjoyable contest! The challenge to come up with new, bogus definitions for real words beginning with I- through O- drew more than 2,500 entries (I did an actual count) from well over 200 entrants, and more of them than usual were inkworthy — my first cut was more than 300 words (usually I pull fewer than 5 percent of the entries the first time around).

I really had no idea, when reading the entries, of who’d written what; the shorter the form, the less dis­cern­ible the individual style (okay, I had an inkling that the one for “International Date Line” was by Chris Doyle). I always get a kick out of matching up the names and entries of the “short”-list — and especially discovering that some of the entries I liked most are from new or infrequent Losers.

That’s what happened right at the top this week: The Inker goes to First Offender Jamie Pazur, whose name I knew only because she’d friended me on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. Jamie lives on St. Simons Island, Ga., where she does catering at a resort (do I hear immediate suggestions for next year’s Loserfest?). Judging from the 10 strong entries she sent for Week 925 — two of which got ink this week — I hope she’s back soon.

Then, in second place and just her second week of ink, is local newbie Theresa Kowal of Silver Spring, who sent in one of the week’s best lists of entries: more than 50 words, seven of which made my short list and two placed today. One day Theresa is sure to win a magnet, but so far she’ll have to content herself with a FirStink and today’s pair of liquid-toting footwear.
The mugs and shirts, however, go to three household names: Kevin Dopart and thinking-alike Jeff Contompasis, plus Brendan Beary — who among them share almost 1,800 blots of ink, almost all of it from the past eight years.

While I’m still not finished judging Week 926, the fortune cookies, I’m pretty sure that we’ll have some room for yet more honorable mentions in next week’s paper. Not that the cookie messages are lame, but they’re short, and so far, I haven’t seen many that were as clever and funny as some of the Week 925s that I held. (If I’m proved wrong, I’ll run those extra HMs online at least.)


Given the editorial hesitancy this week even at the phrase “half the frickin’ neighborhood,” we weren’t exactly going to be giving out prizes (or spending a nanoliter of print ink) for any of the following (tasteful people, please log off and go back to not working now):

Nightclub: A phallus. (Tom Witte)
Mystics: Vibrators and dildoes (Craig Dykstra)
Kegel: A delicious baked good that goes well with fish. (Kathye Hamilton! Yeow!)
Malaise: Trysts with MILFs. (Tom Witte)
Infidel: The most popular gay bar in Havana. (Christopher Lamora)
KinKY: The family that lubes together . . . (Pam Sweeney)
Labeling: A piercing “down there.” (Craig Dykstra)
Lassitude: Bitchiness. (Tom Witte)
And the winner of this week’s Scarlet Letter:
Indifferent: Practicing sodomy. (Brendan Beary)

If you differ with the Empress’s choices, state your own favorite(s) in a post here on the Conversational. Don’t be nasty in criticism of any entries that didn’t thrill you. And if you’re eager for more Loserly back-and-forth, join the Facebook group Style Invitational Devotees.

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