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

Style Invitational Week 910: Your ad there — play with a slogan

Good Saturday morning, everyone:

Well, that’s what it would be if things went according to plan. If you’re reading this and also can see this weekend’s Style Invitational in a readable format online, yayyyyy. I’m writing up this week’s (and next week’s) notes on Friday morning before I leave for Europe this afternoon, and unfortunately my trip coincides with this weekend’s conversion (postponed from last weekend) of to the publishing system that the rest of the newsroom has been using for several months. It’s our hope that the compatibility problems we’ve experienced in putting Invite on the Web will disappear now that we’re all on this same Methode system -- except that Methode has been causing such a variety of problems that I won’t exactly be shocked if the ‘Vite doesn’t pop up online at the expected time and in the expected shape.

Anyway, I think you’ll have fun with this week’s contest, another one that’s been generated, complete with examples, by nonstop quipster Malcolm Fleschner of our West Coast Bureau. And the Moonies car ornament that’s the second-place prize would be a perfect complement to a “Loser Inside” decal.

As for the Style Conversational, I hope this reworked format proves more congenial than the old one, or at least not worse. Given that the Methode system could be called “challenging” (more common adjective: “%$^*@ing”) in its processes and performance, there’s at least a wee chance that there will be problems with posting. Give it a try, though, and we’ll see what happens.

The Roman Hruska results of Week 907
Actually, this was a very successful week, brimming with very clever, very funny results. In the newsroom yesterday, I personally saw Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford gleefully circling on her page proof entry after entry that made her do that HAW-laugh of hers. (Her personal ultra-favorite: the second-place winner.)

While these jokes don’t demand the delayed gratification of many of the Week 904 neologisms (a several-second process in which you have to move the last letter to the beginning to figure out the original word, then read that word against the definition), a number of this week’s winning entries require a moment of figuring out -- a process that (as long as you get it) can really enhance the humor payoff.

One category of the above could be called the missing-keyword payoff: In this case the person’s name is connected with the “facility” because a certain word could be applied to both of them -- sometimes in two different meanings of the word. But that word isn’t given in the joke: You have to think of it yourself. Here are two examples of this (there are more) in this week’s results, both by Gary Crockett, who once again blots up an unconscionable amount of ink -- a runner-up and seven honorable mentions:

The Heisenberg Departure-Time Board at Dulles Airport: The keyword here is “uncertainty”; Heisenberg is best known for the Uncertainty Principle.

The Lehman Bros. Roof at the Metrodome: And the keyword here is “collapse.”

I often have to gamble on whether to make the joke clearer by including the keyword or add to the payoff by omitting it. Sometimes I’ll add a hint that doesn’t spell out the word: In the fourth-place winner, for example, I added “Breakfast Links” to Jimmy Dean to ensure the reader thinks of “sausage” without actually seeing the word. (Still, you still need to be familiar with the variously attributed quotation that laws are like sausages -- you don’t want to watch either of them being made. Online, in this and several other entries, I’ve availed myself of what I hope is the subtlest way to explain the entry: finding a link in which the keyword is mentioned conspicuously.)

It’s the first Inker and only the third ink ever for the wonderfully named Tom Panther of Springfield, who got honorable mentions in Week 869 and Week 899. We hope that Kevin Dopart, who suggested this contest in the first place (two years ago?), will model his prize of Instant Underpants at the Flushies on May 7. Kevin’s obscenely numerous six inks this week (this and Gary’s eight are the probable result of my blind judging) gives him a career total of 728 -- will we be celebrating his 750th at the Flushies?

Craig Dykstra gets his 20th above-the-fold ink for his nifty play on “treasure chest” -- I also put a link on that for our out-of-town readers who might not recognize Leslie Johnson by name.And for fourth place, along with Unconscionable Gary, we have a First Offender -- Jonathan Hardis of Gaithersburg. While it indeed is Jonathan’s first ink, he already had a link to the Invitational -- he’s the brother of 34-time Loser Kathy Hardis Fraeman, who’d encouraged him to enter. Kathy tells me that Jonathan is a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and -- like Losers including Kevin Dopart, Beth Baniszewski, Sneha Kannan, and Kathy herself -- a graduate of MIT.

The Lexmark Unprintables
Or at least more suitable for this venue:

The Brazilian topiary garden at the National Arboretum (Kevin Dopart)
The Eve Ensler Federal Triangle (Phil Frankenfeld)
Jesus’s Red Cross (Tom Witte)

And the Scarlet Letter goes to:
The Spears-Hilton-Lohan Open-Air Small Cat Exhibit at the National Zoo (Dopart)

In addition to his political-sausage entry, Gary Crockett also offered this one, with a fascinating, um, sausage link: The Brett Favre Sausage Exhibit at the Bristol Museum “(whether you like this one for the contest or not, it’s worth your 34 seconds to see this video)”

I liked this entry from Mike Ostapiej but it took up too much space:
The Lindsay Lohan First Story at the Los Angeles County Jail. (2007)
The Lindsay Lohan Second Story at the Los Angeles County Jail. (2009)
The Lindsay Lohan Third Story at the Los Angeles County Jail. (2010)
The Complete and Unabridged Lindsay Lohan Jail. (2011)

This contest did draw a few screedy entries as well, such as: The Governor Christie-Haley Barbour National Institute for the Prevention of Self-Interest, Greedy, Mean-Spirited White Males at the National Institutes of Health, one of 34 entries from Phil Frankenfeld. Thanks, Phil.

(I hope to have time to write up comments today for next week’s Conversational as well. Four weeks from now, I could start to post my comments on this contest back on this thread, but I’d like to hear a strong argument about why I need to split them up. I MIGHT be able to check my e-mail in the next week, but I might not.)

— The E, Pat Myers

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