Style Conversational Week 1060: Nice weather terms we’re having today ...

February 13

When you tell jokes about weather in Washington, they tend to be about everyone freaking out, shutting down the town, at even the mention of a snowflake. And sure enough, lots of the funny results in our Week 1056 contest for new weather terms ran along the Snow Emergency Route of making fun of the flake-fearing Washingtonians.

But those jokes don’t quite apply to today’s weather report, given that some spots in the D.C.-Baltimore area were hit by as much as 18 inches overnight, with more predicted for this evening. Here at Mount Vermin, south of the city, we had quite a bit less, since the snow turned to rain earlier in the morning and washed some of it away, but my driveway awaits my attention before we get the second wave.

We ended up with two neologism contests in a row; this one was preceded by the guest-judging experience of Kevin Dopart, in which you had to change a word by adding or substituting K’s. But both contests drew more than the usual numbers of entrants, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 entries for each (maybe a little more for the weather terms). And both tended to have a lot of entries with similar ideas.

But there was only one “Geiclone,” and that proved to be the first Inkin’ Memorial — indeed, the first ink “above the fold” — for Megan Durham of the Washington suburbs, hometown to what used to be called the Government Employees Insurance Co. Megan’s an intermittent entrant to the Invite since her first ink in Week 820, but she’s a member of the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook, which all of you of course should join, and enjoys the official Loser Anagram (aka Granola Smear) in the Loser Stats of Rehung Madam .

The rest of the top four turned out to be Old Reliables, I mean Mature Reliables: Tom Witte’s Invite specialty is the neologism, accounting for a big splashy puddle of his almost 1,300 blots of ink. And no shabbier is the ink-blotting of Beverley Sharp, next in line for the Hall of Fame as she takes No. 435 today, and Mark Raffman, who’s well past the 100-ink mark even though he didn’t join us until Week 979.

But I was also delighted to discover that I’ll be sending FirStinks to four First Offenders. Also, I’ve noticed that we’ve had a lot of new entrants recently; I counted 26 new names among the Week 1058 contest alone, the “good/bad/ugly” joke contest. As the print paper’s Sunday Style and Arts sections are to be combined once again, probably in April, it’s good to know that there are a lot of people out there who’ll come looking for us in a new location.

With Malitz toward ... This week’s favorite of Sunday Style Editor David Malitz was Lawrence McGuire’s “showdownpour,” a portmanteau word sending up the tendency of ’80s action movies to have the climactic (climatic?) scene amid torrents of rain.

We visual a happy new year ....

What a wonderful anthology it would be were we to issue a collection of the more than 40 contests to come up with captions for Bob Staake’s cartoons — not only the off-any-wall drawings he’s been supplying us since Year 2 in 1994, but the Losers’ inspired and amazingly varied interpretations of them. And I have no doubt that Week 1060 will bring more of the same.

As inspiration this week, I chose a Picture This contest from back in 2004 — the first one to be presented by the Empress. The drawings from Week 553 brought forth an especially great variety of responses; to me, showing several wildly differing approaches to the same picture is a big part of the fun. While this week’s cartoons aren’t as ambiguous, they do allow for sentences and perhaps even dialogue.
So here are the results of Week 553 (my apologies that snow-day production issues prevented us from putting the cartoons right on this page; you need to use the link above).

Clever but submitted too often: The boy in Cartoon B whistles while he woks; the lady in Cartoon F is on the horns of a dilemma, or taking a mustache ride at the county fair. And, of course, lots of Home Proctology Kits for Cartoon A.

Cartoon A

Second runner-up: Ross Ruiz was caught red- handed cheating in the International Dowsing Championship, ironically losing his No. 1 ranking. (Milo Sauer, Fairfax; Steve Fahey, Kensington)

And the winner of the Inker: As Karen held up a hand in protest, Barney confronted her with the fact that she had taken this Atkins thing too far. (Allan B. Moore, Washington)

When his caddie suggested this 4-iron, Tiger Woods realized he had hired the wrong guy. (Chuck Smith)

Rehearsing for the Whittier High School Christmas pageant, shepherd Dick Nixon complains that his staff is not a crook. (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

Gomer Pyle’s distant cousin Hermann always had to stand in the back row at the Nuremberg Rallies. (Laura Shumar, Lafayette, Ind.)

Even before he bonked his nose, Buddy Hackett knew his audition for Mel Gibson was a long shot. (Joe Cackler, Falls Church)

Cartoon B

Little Romano tests his prototype Macaroni Grill. (Michael Fransella, Arlington)

I understand the Invitational’s need for a token minority character, but did he have to be preparing food while whistling Dixie? (Niels Hoven, Berkeley, Calif.)

Alvin learns the fine art of snake charring. (Ry Schwark, West Linn, Ore.)

Even when he was a kid, there was always something suspicious about some of the tails Jayson cooked up. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

Cartoon C

Jupiter’s Earth Probe discovered only trace elements of sulfur in the Blue Planet’s atmosphere, not enough to sustain life. (Art Grinath, Takoma Park)

This is a visual depiction of Googling a description of a Mars rover from English into Estonian, then back to English. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis)

Cartoon D

Third runner-up: Paramecium Fats lines up a tough combination shot. (Jon Reiser, Hilton, N.Y.; Paul Kondis, Alexandria)

It’s the little deuce poop. (Frank and Cindy Curry, Kingwood, W.Va.)

Never drive a 5-speed slug just after they’ve salted the roads. (Art Grinath)

Even at the Inn at Little Washington, $5 for a single herb-encrusted cicada nymph appetizer seemed a bit excessive. (Robin Grove, Chevy Chase)

First Runner-Up wins a hairy slug with a billiard ball attached to it via toothpick, donated by Stephen Dudzik of Olney. (Ezra Deutsch-Feldman, Bethesda)

Cartoon E

The bloodmobile has gotten a little aggressive on collections. (Art Grinath)

Soylent Blue turns out to be people, too. (Jeff Brechlin, Potomac Falls)

“What’s all this fuss about reducing faucet fuel emissions?” wonders Emily Litella. (Mary Ann Henningsen, Hayward, Calif.)

As we’ve long suspected, Russell Beland does his best work in the can. (Milo Sauer; Dave Komornik, Danville, Va.)

Cartoon F

First runner-up, the winner of “Ben Wicks’ Book of Losers”: An aging Bette Midler performs an interpretive dance to “The Wings Beneath My Wind.” (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

Landing on her feet after her departure from the National Zoo, Lucy Spelman takes a job with Sea World. (Jeffrey Scharf, Burke)

The “braces for impact” you hear so much about. (Dan Steinberg, Falls Church)

The Strayer College basketball coach didn’t think she’d actually win the NCAA Tournament, but she jumped for joy just to be in the bracket. (Dave Zarrow, Herndon)

Years after she’s lost her perky good looks, Penelope Pitstop is furious that Snidely Whiplash’s mustache doesn’t have a touch of gray. (Jim Reed, Wales, Wis.)

[upside down] One of those games at the penny arcade: the calipers are about to grab a prize. (Carolyn Bassing, Takoma Park)

Margaret was furious when she found out that it was all a fluke. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)

The federal marshal assigned to Justice Scalia performs the flamenco on a reporter’s notebook. (Chris Doyle)

Last call for Loser Brunch

I won’t be able to make it out to Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs’ seafood buffet in Annapolis this Sunday for this month’s Loser Brunch. But it’s always a pleasant outing, especially with the chance to walk around the historic town and City Dock before the tourist season kicks in. RSVP to Elden Carnahan here.

Then next month, I’ll definitely try to get to the one we have every year at Paradiso restaurant in Alexandria/Springfield, Va. That one’s on March 16.

Now: the shovel.

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