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

The Week 915 caption contest and the results of the 911 calls

Hello, everyone — and it’s possible that we’re talking about more everyones than usual, since a number of new entrants have asked me to add them to my new e-mail list to notify people when the Invitational and Conversational have gone up online (this week, I hope, in full; we figured out the problem from last week, when the results went up, and the list of horse names, but not the introduction to the horse-names contest itself).

A few days ago I added a note about the e-mail list on the auto-reply that people (usually) receive when they submit their entries to, and I’ve heard from a few horse-names writers who’d seen it. Also, it turns out that some of the regular entrants whom I added to the list hadn’t known about the Conversational — and still, inexplicably, were able to function somewhat in their daily lives. Anyway, if you want to be on the e-mail lists write to me at myerspat [at-symbol] gmail [dot] com,

Week 915 is the first “Picture this” cartoon caption contest we’ve done since moving to the slightly smaller space on the back page of The Post’s Sunday Style section; the last one was in Week 895. That was only about five months ago, but this week’s short set of results opened up some real estate on the page that I might not have again for a while; local readers should see this weekend that Bob Staake’s four cartoons are, for once, legible if not sensible. And now that the Web redesign permits larger pictures than pages used to have, we have a nice single picture that you can print out, rather than four individual cartoons in a slide show. .

[A couple of shamless plugs for Bob so that he will continue to send me, in one day, 25 pencil sketches from which I can choose four cartoons: While of course the Invite is the pinnacle of his success, Bob also dabbles in the occasional New Yorker cover and ekes out his meager living in his home studio on the Cape Cod waterfront writing and illustrating children’s picture books. His latest, “Look! A Book!,” is a find-the-stuff-in-this-busy-picture challenge, but with Bob’s inimitable wacky (and, for the book, G-rated) humor. (Longtime Invitees might remember a cartoon Bob did in the same vein for the Invite in Week 99, except that he included what SOME people thought might have been a certain body part — I don’t have a picture of this, but an anecdote in Dave Kindred’s recent book “Morning Miracle” recounts the editorial reaction to it; go to Page 88 of this link). ]


Though they won’t be published in print until this weekend in The Washington Post Magazine, the results of the Post’s annual highly hyped Peeps diorama contest were posted rather unceremoniously online on Wednesday (and even less ceremoniously, by accident, on the mobile app the night before). You can find the top winners and 30 semifinalists here, but first take a look at these dioramas made this year and earlier by genuine Style Invitational Losers, including Kathy Fraeman’s semifinalist “Mupeep Show” from this year and Craig Dykstra and Lois Douthitt’s ink-getters from the two previous years.


In judging close to 400 Invite contests over the years, I’ve repeatedly found that what seems like a disastrous set of entries will result in a very good, sometime even classic, set of winners once the reekers — which can be 99 percent of the entry pool — have been humanely destroyed. Okay, the Week 911 results aren’t one for the ages (maybe one for the underages) but I deem them eminently chucklable.

It was really pretty surprising how badly some people — even from the ranks of veteran Losers — can tell a joke. I got a whole lot of stuff like this, which I quote verbatim:

Teenage Girl: I’d like to report a case of trespassing.
911:Where are you?
Teenage Girl:I’m in Zilker Park.
911:You do realize that Zilker Park is a public park and anyone can be there, don’t you?
Teenage Girl:That’s not true. Zilker Park is a beautiful place, and only beautiful people like me are allowed. This guy is fat and ugly, and fat and ugly people aren’t allowed to go out in public.

Woman:I have to get my neighbor out of his house.
911: Why is that an emergency?
Woman:He got a cease and desist writ, and he has to vacate, I’ve told him this several times, but I don’t think he’s figured it out.
911: Why are you telling him and why should he have to figure it out?
Woman:Well, there was this legal document FedEx’ed to him, and since I read his FedExes, I opened it up of course.
911: Did you give him his FedEx so that he could contact the people who sent it to him?
Woman: Of course not, he’s just a technician, and they’re not smart enough to understand legal documents, so I’ve been trying to explain it to him.
911: How have you been trying to explain it to him?
Woman: I’ve been sending him word puzzles and having my friends do charades. That’s how you have to deal with people like him, they’re not human like you and me.

So! Fortunately, there were a few good lines to be found in my stack of printouts on Pages 21, 22, 34, 46, 53, 63, 73 and 83 (and no, I didn’t just read every tenth page). Biggest Loser Ever Russell Beland inches ever closer to the one-man Triple Hall of Fame with Inks 1,493 and 1,494, and his 32nd win. (I will take suggestions on how to honor Russell in print for that occasion, perhaps with a pertinent contest.)
_Strangely, it’s the first second-place prize for more recent Obsessive Jeff Contompasis, given that he’d already gotten 5 Inkers, 4 third-place prizes, 5 fourth-places and even 3 rare fifth-places, and 167 blots of ink in all.
_And shirts or mugs go to two Losers who’ve been just wackily funny here over the years: Art Grinath (pronounced grin-ATH, even though obviously in his case it should be Grinneth) has come back to us after an unacceptable absence for his 315th ink and 56th “above the fold,” and Jeff Brechlin (BRECK-lin), who’s started entering regularly again and blots up No. 348.


As founder of the Not Ready for the Algonquin Roundtable Society, aka the Greater Loser Community, Just This Close to Hall of Fame Loser Elden Carnahan has imperiously set the date of the next Loser brunch to Sunday, May 22. But he’s taking suggestions for the venue. He’s at elden [dot] carnahan [at] gmail [dot] com; don’t use the RSVP link on the Loser brunch web page. I should be able to be there and it would be great to meet some new Invite victims and their hangers-on.


(I think I’ll include this guide every week, so tweaking suggestions are welcome.) Below this column is a list of discussion threads, with the current one at the top. It might say “0 Posts” next to each thread, but that would be a lie.
Click on the heading of this week’s thread, and then once again scroll to the bottom. There should be a box headlined “Your View” where you can post a comment, and below that, there’s a bar marked “Top Posts”/ “All Posts.” Click on All Posts to read all the comments. You can read them without registering with, but to comment you have to sign up. On the other hand, as opposed to our policy for the Invite, you do get to use the pseudonym of your choice.

— As always, or at least for a while, The E, Pat Myers

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