Style Conversational Week 1059: Notes from the ‘Tempress’

February 6, 2014

The results we publish today from Week 1055 are entirely the choices of Kevin Dopart, the man who popped up in late 2005 as a fully formed Loser and went on to top the ink counts for the next seven years. As the fourth person in the history of the Style Invitational to score 1,000 inks — joining Russell Beland, Chris Doyle and Tom Witte — Kevin was offered the dubious reward of getting to judge a contest himself. (Chris and Tom immediately chose to decline that fabulous opportunity. Russell did judge Week 664 in 2006, a contest for signature lines for Russ’s or other people’s e-mails; results here.)

Kevin, let it be said, jumped at the opportunity, going so far as to warn the Empress, who doesn’t tend to keep track of these things, that his Ink 1,000 was imminent and proposing the contest that turned out to be Week 1055: a neologism contest in which you added to or substituted the letter K (that’s for both Kevin and 1,000) in an existing word or phrase.

On Jan. 25 I sent Kevin a list of all the week's entries minus any identifying information that the Losers included in their e-mails. It’s the same kind of list that I prepare each week for myself, along with a twin list that includes the names, for checking at the end. Kevin then got to work, somehow importing the entries into a spreadsheet so he could color-code them for relative funniness, and come up with a count of about 1,500 entries for the week. Then, over the weekend, he sent me his list, along with the editing tweaks he made, all quite minor. I then pulled out my own “with names” list and credited the entries as I copied them onto this week’s page. So Kevin is learning just now who wrote what; he stayed away from the Losernet e-mail group, in which some Losers share their favorite entries after the submission deadline. (All of his choices fit on the print page, since the entries were very short, so we didn’t have to figure out what would trim.)

I asked Kevin to write up some comments on the judging process, which he sent me yesterday:

Being the Tempress is fun . . . once a decade or so. It’s a lot easier to spew out a couple dozen entries to an Invitational than to judge one. At least for me. My tiara’s off to the Empress; I now realize how hard it is to fill her shoes (but not her little black cocktail dress, thank you very much).

My goal was to soberly and systematically select the winners. If I failed to choose your entry that any idiot would recognize as hilarious, it was because I soon reset my sights on finishing my list before I finished a second six-pack. (No one ever accused me of not appreciating idiotic humor.)

But through my beer goggles I was glad to see that Losers, as usual, came through with creative and funny things to do with a few extra K’s. Of course, there were lots of repeat ideas -- a sickload of Obamacakes and a too family-friendly assortment of Kincests. There were also a bunch of good new words or phrases that had weak definitions (or ones that didn’t work for me). Since the Empress hasn’t really seen them, with some polishing, they’d be good for the annual Reinkarnation Invite next fall.

I return to Loserdom more enlightened. Next week, I’ll first reflect on what the Empress had to go through to make those choices before cursing her as usual for how I was robbed.

Kevin and I will have lunch sometime in the next few weeks to trade notes on what it’s like to sort out 1,500 neologisms, and what’s this with the color-coding.. He’s right in that I didn’t go back and look at the entries he didn’t choose. (But I did have a very relaxing dinner-and-a-movie with the Royal Consort to which I didn’t bring my usual stack of printouts.)

And so who were the winners of the K Cup? Well, it’s the first ink ever for (Kristen Rahman, Silver Spring), but that’s only because her seven other inks were credited to (Kristen Rowe, Silver Spring), before the recent wedding. Kristen got her FirStink in Week 1022, but, as she told the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook, she’d been a longtime reader, having been inculcated by dad Tom Rowe, a two-time Loser himself. This is Kristen-by-whatever-name’s first Inkin’ Memorial but her second appearance “above the fold”; she was a runner-up in Week 1050 with her repurposing of the L’Oreal slogan “Because you’re worth it ...” for Dollar Tree. We hope that Mr. Rahman is as delighted with the Lincoln-statue bobblehead on the mantel as we’re sure Kristen will be.

It’s also the second above-the-fold ink for Gordon Cobb — but only his third ink total, which makes for one heck of a ATF-to-honorable-mention ratio. I hope he does risk diluting it in future contests. Meanwhile, we’re back to the usual suspects with third-place Gary Crockett, winner last week of the obit-poem contest, who gets his 20th ink above the fold, plus two HMs, as he ambles nonchalantly but inexorably toward the 200-ink mark. And another obit-poet, Melissa Balmain, gets the new Loser Mug or Whole Fools bag along with four inks this week, for 45 in all.

Though I’d counted 16 people in Week 1055 who were entering the Invite for the first time, just one of them ended up getting ink from Kevin: Lydia Cade of the previously un-inking mini-burg of Colmar Manor, Md., a magnet’s throw from the D.C. line, for the “And Last” entry.

With Malitz toward ... The choice this week of Sunday Style Editor David Malitz was the “Sporks Illustrated” entry by Kathleen DeBold.

Once More (With Feeling): The Week 1059 contest

This week’s contest, I concede, covers much the same ground as the Week 1041 and especially the Week 1045 contests based on lines from well-known songs, as well as on their titles. This one is shorter-form but might be an opportunity to retry your favorite entries that were robbed of ink last time (do make sure that the same joke wasn’t already used in the Week 1045 results, however).

Diane Wah’s example, the peepee joke, was a substitute for the one she’d originally offered on the Devotees page, one that was deemed a no-go by the taste police: “Some Day My Prince Will Come (When He Finally Gets That Viagra Prescription).” Even without a cartoon.

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