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

Week 1002: Get your huff-duff out of your izzard and get jubbing!

By the E, Pat Myers

Just a few words in this non-special pre-holiday edition of the Convo — I’ve found that a lot of people’s weekends tend to begin by Friday afternoon, and this week it’ll likely be a day earlier: I figure that for many the eggnog has already been spiked for what’s going to amount to a 5.5-day “weekend.” Who am I to stop you?

No, I’m not offering up a list of the actual meanings of the words in this week’s contest — not until we run the results, anyway. I also didn’t in Week 858, the last time we ran this contest, and I think that may have helped draw a wider range of ideas in the results.

I know that a number of the words don’t seem very different from one another. But it’s amazing how many ways different people can interpret a single word: for instance, I ran entries for “ebulum” playing off, respectively, ebb tides, ebullience and pabulum. And if one person has a funny sentence for “jerque” and someone else has a similar meaning but a different, just as funny sentence for “jerkinet,” I could very well run both of them. In the past, the inking definitions have tended to be a play on some similar-sounding or similarly spelled word — but not always. One of my favorite definitions was “Eclegme: Decorative but flavorless sauce dribbled around an restaurant entree. ‘Carl was unimpressed by the colorful eclegme surrounding his skimpy veal cutlet.’ “ (Bruce Rusk, Portland, Maine, a First Offender) This one fell into the category of neologisms for things that need a good word to describe them — and it’s one that I actually use myself when I’m served some huge white plate with zigzags of stuff all around the two-ounce nuggetlet in the center.

While we’re on it, I think a list of such useful terms from our many neologism contests would make a fun sidebar for the Invite’s planned big-deal 20th-anniversary column this coming March. I hope to have several such short lists of various greatest hits in that issue, for which I’m supposed to be getting lots of extra space in the print paper, and I welcome any ideas for other lists of 8 to 12 items from over the years. Post them on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook, or e-mail me at or at myerspat [at] gmail [dot] com.

(*Non-inking honorable-mention headling by Beverley Sharp)

Our contest for bogus laws “still on the books,” like those you see in lists circulating online (and often also bogus, or at least a real stretch), turned out to be a mixture of our “fictoids” contests and the various ones offering opportunities to pick on various localities (Arizona seemed to be the week’s favorite victim). Perhaps some of the Losing entries this week will find themselves appended to those lists, which are often full of items like “It is illegal in Podunk to bring a camel into a restaurant,” when the law just forbids bringing any kind of animal into a restaurant.

Cannily working in holiday timeliness — this week’s results run in the Dec. 23 print paper — to great effect was Beverley Sharp, who wins her 10th first-place prize, and her second Inkin’ Memorial, and, yee, her 362nd blot of ink, since her debut back in Week 604 in 2005.

Second place, however, goes to a brand-newbie, Ed Molnar, who gets, along with the FirStink for his first ink (pictured here on the Empress’s tree), that weird basket I found at a church bazaar. In true Invite tradition, he’ll get it just a little too late for Christmas. In this case, however, I think his party guests won’t be too upset. The other two runner-up spots fall to Art Grinath and David Genser, each with more than 300 blots of ink to besmirch his name.

Today’s HAW from Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford was for Dudley Thompson’s dig at the reliably unreliable elevators in the Washington area’s Metrorail stations. “Ha! I get it,” she confirms reassuringly. Though Dudley and his wife, Susan (also a regular Loser), live in the Raleigh area, they used to live in the D.C. suburbs. The Metro system contains some of the longest, steepest escalators in creation (here’s one in the Dupont Circle station), and they’re notoriously problematic as well, so when the elevators fail, it’s not very fun.

There really weren’t any truly unprintable entries that I liked this week — even though Indefatigable Loser Jeff Contompasis helpfully supplied the headline for the Unprintables section: “Blue Laws.” But I did want to share this entry, sent by Jo Ann Staebler of Manassas, Va.: “ ‘It shall be illegal for city girls to wear bloomers when riding their bicycles in the country, so that our country girls will not be corrupted.’ (Actual bill proposed to the Michigan Senate by, alas, my great-grandfather, Michigan state senator Solon Goodell.)”


If you’re on the Empress’s mailing list, you should have gotten an e-mail invitation to the Losers’ Post-Holiday Party on Saturday, Jan. 5, this year at the Empress’s house, as it was three years ago. (If you didn’t get it, take a look at it here. and e-mail me at if you’d like to come, or if you think I’d be expecting you and you aren’t coming.) While in 2010 we had 100 people here, I think it won’t be as much of a circus this time. I’m happy to hear already from some people I haven’t met yet, such as Mark Raffman, who just won two Inkin’ Memorials in a row, as well as such Invite legends as Chuck Smith, king of the Invite in its early years, and its first Hall of Famer with 500 inks (sure enough, at my husband’s office party yesterday, someone said to me, “Oh, you do the Style Invitational? Do you know Chuck Smith of Woodbridge?”).

In case you need to wash your hair that night, there will also be a Loser Brunch next month: Jan. 27 at Mango Mike’s in suburban Alexandria, Va., at 10 a.m. — it’s a buffet with entertainment by a Trinidadian steel drummer, which is not to be confused with a Hollywood Tin Man. I probably will be there.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

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