Whenever I’m not working on the current week’s Style Invitational these days, I’m taking a look back through 10 years of old contests — 515 of them — to cull a sampling of the the Invite at its best and most varied. (You know that one particular entry that you think is the funniest, most memorable one you’ve ever read? I won’t be including that one. I’m just saying this now so that you won’t write to me to complain after the 20th-anniversary retrospective runs on March 3 in the Sunday Style section — starting on the cover — or Feb. 28 online.)
And in addition to the grab bag of greatest hits, there will also be an article about the Losers themselves, especially about the social community and the whole subculture that sprang from the Invite. Style section reporter David Montgomery will be getting in touch with a few of the Losers, and he’ll also be attending this Sunday’s Loser Brunch, which is a buffet at Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs near the City Dock in Annapolis. The time has been reset to about 10:45 from the previously announced 10 a.m. start. If you’d like to join us and chat a bit with David, and you haven’t already RSVP’d, e-mail me at myerspat [at] gmail [dot] com so we can get a head count. Buddy’s will validate parking at the garage across the street (Buddy’s is at 100 Main St.).
This week’s contest is about as straightforward as you can get, but also pretty open-ended for what we’ll get. After all, it’s a writing contest — practically the opposite of such recent challenges as the backward-crossword clues (results next week) or the one to assign an ad slogan to another company (results here; scroll down past the new contest).
The first time we did this contest, in 1998, the Czar was in charge, I brought out the second round in 2005, by which time I was able to use washingtonpost.com to post a supplement of honorable mentions that didn’t fit in the paper. You can see the results of both contests here — it’s a long, long file, though, so get your cup of tea/energy drink ready first. If you’re thinking of entering the contest — and of course you should be — and you’re wondering about whether a certain element of a name may be used, you can use these previous results as precedents. You may, of course, write about the people who’ve already been the subject of past entries, but your entry has to be substantially different from them.
As usual, I’ll most likely gravitate toward readable sentences with natural syntax. If an entry becomes tedious to read, I won’t be itching to share my experience with the world, you know? Note that several of the entries were poems. That’s cool. And as I warned in the column: Please don’t write hundreds of words just because you were able to. (See “tedious.”)
As I’d envisioned, our contest to create a superhero (or not-so-superhero) resulted in lots of humor about the usual suspects, but wearing a cape. And there were the expected clever plays on the names of numerous comic book heroes and sheroes. This contest cried out for a cartoon, and so I asked our Forever Go-To Guy Bob Staake to draw the winner this week rather than the example for the new contest (he’s already done Rick Santorum anyway, for some other publication, back during the primary campaign last year).
It’s the first Inkin’ Memorial but second win for Michael Reinemer of Washington’s Virginia suburbs; he also won an Inker in Week 912, in which you had to find a word inside another word and then make a two-word phrase (“I’m miming!”: One of the least heard phrases in the English language). Michael works at one of the innumerable trade organizations based in the area, and no doubt has had the pleasure of dealing with college-student interns, if he wasn’t one himself. (The Post’s interns, however, are all extremely motivated professionals incapable of doing anything embarrassing. Really, it’s a highly coveted job.) It’s Michael’s 25th blot of ink, and fourth “above the fold.”
Our three runners-up are top-of-the-page regulars: Gary Crockett’s super-timely Kerry dig (I loved the “bore-ring”) yields him yet another piece of second-place detritus; Bird Waring scores once again with observational humor about an all-too-true and pervasive phenomenon; and Lawrence McGuire gets another bag or mug with his “Swap Thing” (but that bag or mug better not end up at a yard sale).
A late-breaking order from the Taste Police prevented the custom-drawn superhero conjured up by 7-year-old Scott Shields — one of several he drew and submitted — from adorning the print version of the Invite as well as the online one. When I posted Scott’s “Skunk Dude” on Facebook, Bob Staake warned that no way could a cartoonist make a graphic depiction of a fart that The Washington Post would publish. Bob was right. (As far as I know, young Scott is not a Loser offspring; his dad, not-a-Loser Don, e-mailed his entries.) Oh, well, he won’t have the newspaper to take to show-and-tell at Sunday school this week!
Nothing brilliantly unprintable this week, except for Scott’s masterpiece. The HAW from Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford goes to Ward Kay’s YoMama superhero.
(*A non-inking revised title by Kevin Dopart)
See some of you on Sunday in Annapolis! And of course, happy Valentine’s Day. As these famous people said to one another (in Week 544 of The Style Invitational):
From Poseidon to Medusa:
Oh, how I’d love to run my fingers through your snakes. (Lloyd Duvall, Roslyn, Pa.)
-- Calvin Coolidge to wife Grace (Tom Kreitzberg, Silver Spring, Md.)
First runner-up, the winner of the Frederick’s of Hollywood teddy:
Laura Bush to Jacques Chirac:
The courtly way you kissed my hand,
The media were all agog!
Though, Valentine, I always thought
The lady had to kiss the frog. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)
And the winner of the Inker:
A valentine, some hugs and pecks,
A night of wild, illicit sex.
As your pastor, I must say,
Miss Prynne, you’ve earned yourself an A. (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)