Style Conversational Week 1061: It’s a toss-up


My method — more or less — for choosing the letters that would be whited out for the Week 1061 contest. (Pat Myers/The Washington Post)
February 20

Hi, all. I spent the morning having a tooth pulled, and hope to trot briskly through the writing of this column before my jaw suddenly realizes that it lost something way in the back, and HEY!!!

We’ve done this partial-grid contest only once before, back in Week 873 about four years ago, at the suggestion of Loser Craig Dykstra. To save space in the print edition, we used the same grid that had been used in the regular Clue Us In contest four weeks earlier, and whose results were running. So we could show all the letters, for the results, and also use it for the spinoff contest, we just sort of shaded out the letters that were to be omitted. It makes a lot more sense to just omit them.

This time around, as I note in the introduction to this week’s contest, the Week 1052 grid wouldn’t have been a good one for this contest anyway, since it was full of three- and four-letter words. We have a number of them this week as well, and you’re free to try them. But you get just 25 chances for the whole puzzle.

The Week 873 contest yielded a healthy 36 inking entries, but they didn’t take up the whole page, since each was so short. I ended up running a list of deserving “noinks” from a previous contest, and I might end up doing that again.

In addition to the link above, assiduous Losers can see all the results of previous crossword contests on Elden Carnahan’s super-nifty Master Contest List on his nrars.org Loser Central website. Just search on “clue” and then click on the link for the contest four weeks later. The week number for the contests themselves are on the left rail of the list, the results on the right.

The bull pen*: The sports fictoids of Week 1057

(*A revised-title entry by Deborah Guy)

Lots of fans turned out for Week 1057, the latest in a string of false-facts contests (others were about movies, history, medicine and physiology, and general trivia). And 35 of the close to 300 entrants seem to be brand-new to the Invite, or people who hadn’t entered in many years — happy news that’s reflected in the appearance of four First Offenders this week, including a runner-up. There were about 1,700 entries in all.

I’m starting to say this every week, I know, but this contest was particularly laden with unpromising entries, which scared me until I tossed at least 1,500 of them and sat down to choose from the remainder. There were an especially large number of especially lame puns, all of which I will spare you only because I don’t want to be considered mean to individual entrants, even if I don’t identify them. (Plus, Jeff Bezos pays me to read them. I can suffer alone.) As it turns out, I didn’t give ink to any pun entry this week, except for Brendan Beary’s honorable mention about the NBA’s Bill Sharman.

Lots and lots of jokes about the Redskins’ being named after a potato, changing their logo to a potato, etc., as there have been for years in the discussion over whether the team name is offensive. Most of them are from non-Washingtonians — and isn’t that because stores here sell “red potatoes,” not “Redskin potatoes”? I’ve never seen that term used except in a joking reference to the football team. Anyway, y’all can stop suggesting it.

It’s the first win, and second “above-the-fold” entry, for actual Washingtonian Seth Tucker, who wiggled in a dig at the city’s continual delays in his salute to the resourceful Boston Marathon runner/rider Rosie Ruiz. Along with his Inkin’ Memorial, Seth gets an honorable mention, for 16 inks in all.

I laughed out loud at Jeff Contompasis’s sound gag about the game of petanque. I hope he becomes a master of Nose Aerobics Basketball, his second prize, and that he can demonstrate it in public at the next Loser Brunch, March 16 at Paradiso in Alexandria/Springfield. In any case, he can add it to the 30 other pieces of detritus that he’s won for his above-the-fold entries over the years. along with the stacks of magnets earned by more than 330 honorable mentions.

At the other pole, Larry McClemons will receive a FirStink for his first ink, along with his choice of the Whole Fools Grossery Bag or the new Loser Mug. We have a hunch that Larry might part of the dynasty — the father, perhaps? — that includes Steve McClemons, who gets his fifth and sixth blots of ink today.

While so many entries this week would have been great for a cartoon — including the winner — Robert Schechter’s runner-up about synchronized swimming might have made the funniest Bob Staake drawing. Robert, who didn’t start Inviting until Week 931, swabs up his 131st ink blot.

With Malitz toward ... The favorite of Sunday Style Editor David Malitz this week — given that there wasn’t anything about his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates — was Eric Bennett’s joke about Richard Petty. Eric, incidentally; gets his second ink today; his first was from Week 409, euphemisms: “Old name: Carjacking. Nicer name: Ride-sharing.”

‘And they keep standings! And they have brunches! And there’s a Facebook group with 700 members!’

I had a fun half-hour chat this past Tuesday in the newsroom with my new big boss Liz Seymour, who’s taking the new post of executive features editor, with a domain including daily and Sunday Style along with Sunday Arts, Food, Travel, the Post Magazine and more, in addition to her current leadership of the Local Living and Weekend sections.

Liz has been at The Post for almost 15 years, but wasn’t too familiar with the Invite. And so I brought in a copy of our 20th-anniversary retrospective issue from a year ago (along with the suck-up gift of a Loser Mug), and filled her in on the history of the Invitational, its remarkable culture and community, and the kind of humor we do. She said “wow” a whole lot.

Tomorrow Liz is holding a large staff meeting “to chat about some of the changes on the 4th floor,” home to the feature sections. I won’t be able to go, but I know that in a couple of months, Sunday Style, home of the Invite, will be recombined with Sunday Arts into a single broadsheet (full-size rather than tabloid) section. I don’t know any more details right now, but I’m feeling optimistic that the Invite will continue to get its due in the Sunday paper. It sounds as if Liz has more things on her plate than a dinner guest at the Swedish Embassy, but maybe she can tell us now and then about her favorite entries.

Hokay, the Novocain is wearing off now! We’ll meet again next week.

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