Hi, everyone! I’m so sorry for being whiny and churlish and pessimistic last week about all the problems we were having about the redesigned website, the newsroom’s computer system, and the Conversational setup. Because I’m delighted to announce that, after a hugely concerted effort and a little bit of luck, it’s all been worked out -- Style Invitational copy has been transferring to the website smoothly, cleanly and quickly; the archives are working like a charm; and you’ll now be able to navigate the posts in The Style Conversational easily and intuitively. Whew!
Yeah, okay, I guess Google’s Gmail Motion announcement today about being able to control your computer by waving your arms was considerably more believable than that.
No, the woes continue all around. But, indefatigable troupers that we are, we’re coming up with ways to go on with the show. I was encouraged to see 45 postings on last week’s Conversational thread -- thanks for sticking with it. And has everyone noticed that stories on the new website are no longer broken up into several pages? I hated that. (IMMEDIATE UPDATE, not to be read with any irony whatsoever: This post is full of links to interesting Web pages, photos, etc. But it’s possible that you will not know that most of them are there unless you roll your mouse over the text. Then the link will come up in blue and you can click on it. I am seeing the underlines at home with Internet Explorer but not with Firefox. The first link is on “Gmail Motion” above.)
A few tips on using the Convo:
1. When you call up the Conversational page (washingtonpost.com/styleconversational is the best link), the list of threads will all say “0 Posts.” Give it a few seconds (sometimes a few dozen seconds) for the list to load.
2. When you click on one of the discussions, at the top of the comments is a bar that says “Top Posts/ All Posts.” Before you start reading, click on “All Posts.” (The distinction is part of a system put in place to filter out the trolls, ranters, racists, etc., who make reading some strings of comments on The Post’s website so irritating. We don’t have this problem here; we have perfectly civil ways to be irritating.) There doesn’t seem to be a default where you will automatically get the All Posts setting.
3. As you scroll down, some comments will have several responses that are hidden from view. Just click on the blue link that says, say, “5 more. Expand,” and you’ll see all of them, and they’ll stay up on your screen as you continue to slow down.
4. To get to another thread, scroll back up and click on “Discussions” right under the Style Conversational logo.
The major impediment to the Convo continues to be the absence of an icon that indicates when a new post has been added to a thread -- in the previous version, it was a red plus sign. Our new, extremely helpful Conversational Person, “interactive producer” Abha Bhattarai, has reported the problem and we all hope that before long that feature will be restored to the discussion groups.
(See farther down this post for a note about the problem with the new Inviational index.)
WEEK 913: BRINGING UP THE REAR
Okay, on to this week’s contest. A bunch of Losers asked for this one while working on Week 904, “Move On Back,” suggested by busy contest-suggester Malcolm Fleschner (the resulting neologisms are now called Leschnerfs). I predict that this this twist on that contest will be quite a bit harder, but still doable -- besides, if I hadn’t been able to run two weeks of results for Week 904, I’d have had way too many worthies -- it was just one of those super-great sets of results. Note that almost all, if not all of those neologisms (here and here) somehow related to the definitions of the original words. That feat might be even harder this time around, and so I’m not stating it as a requirement, but it continues to be the case that entries like that tend to be the most clever.
RESULTS OF WEEK 909: REPRIZING
Quite logically, most of the entries on what to do with an excess of various Style Invitational prizes (along with a selection of other useless items) came from those who actually suffered from this problem (your more tasteful Loser would have this problem after ending up with one blot of ink).
While almost all the entries were in text form, a few people sent in photos of their ideas. The most prolific was -- not exactly a surprise here -- Kevin Dopart, who probably hasn’t sent fewer than 50 entries in any of the previous 100 contests. In addition to his Inker-winningShakespearean re-creation, Kevin sent an inkload of other photos -- and was a model in one. You can see an album of some of the photo entries, from Kevin and others -- including a Peeps diorama from Michael Peck, refrigerator art from Dave Prevar, and the now-a-fixture Cantinker from Jeff Contompasis -- in this album on Flickr (click on each photo to see the caption and credit).
This week’s four inks give Kevin a ridiculous 743 blots of ink in just 256 contests in which he’s gotten any ink at all. Number of contests since he started when Kevin DIDN’T get ink? Eleven.
Her second-place win of the Style Invitational Breakfast Setlets Judy Blanchard hit for the cycle -- she now has one each of first, second, third and fourth place. And a fifth! -- among her 50 inks. And if the bacon place mat isn’t exactly apropos to her “tefillin fill-in” suggestion for an old cellphone charger, so be it. We’re happy to see that Beverley Sharp popped right up from her new digs in Montgomery, Ala., to claim another shirt or mug, and Andrew Hoenig, whom we haven’t heard too much from of late, grabs Ink No. 104, and his 10th “above the fold,” for the best worded of numerous descriptions for the best way to use tattered underwear: wear it, duh.
I wasn’t able to locate a photo of the best use I’ve seen so far for Loser magnets: Mary Ann Henningsen, spouse of Phil Frankenfeld, showed up at the Flushies a number of years ago in Ellicott City, Md., wearing a tube top made entirely of magnets stuck to duct tape. Mary Ann, who’s based in Hayward, Calif., is the 34-ink-winning spouse of Phil Frankenfeld of Washington, who has 110 blots himself. So, with the double stash of magnets to work with, Mary Ann didn’t have to expose herself unduly.
THIS SUNDAY: A BRUNCH WITH BIG BONG HITS
It’s not too late to come to a special Loser brunch this Sunday at Cafe Deluxe, on Wisconsin Avenue near Washington National Cathedral. Loser Ann Martin, aka Lady Bracknell, is coming back to the States tomorrow and will join us for brunch at 10:30 a.m. -- and then afterward will give us a tour of the cathedral’s bell tower, where she’s been a longtime member of the change-ringing crew. Cafe Deluxe doesn’t take reservations, and so Kevin D. promises to get there right when the restaurant opens at 10:30 to claim some tables. Contact him at kevin.dopart [at ] gmail.com
to let him know you’re coming; we’re currently at 16 people.
THE INVITATIONAL INDEX, UNEXPURGATED!
The recent conversion of washingtonpost.com to the newsroom’s Methode “content management system” -- months after the the print newsroom switched over -- has resulted in a new index page of the Invitational as well as the Conversational. When you type in washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational, you’ll get the new index. The problems with the new index are that (a) it goes back only to Jan. 15 of this year; (b) some items are missing or repeated; and ( c ) some items are only partially there -- missing the new contest, for example. I’m pretty sure this is a result of the way the Invitational has to be coded in Methode to make it come out right in the print paper; the Web person, Andrea, has been patching it up manually to make it come out right online. I think this index automatically found the unpatched versions and compiled them. Since I didn’t discover this till this week -- and today is Andrea’s very last day at The Post -- it’s something we’ll just have to work out later.
Meanwhile, the old index is still up and is complete from late 2009 through Week 910. You can get it at http://wapo.st/oldinvitelist.
LOSERS IN THE NEWS
No, this isn’t the police blotter. I wanted to share some non-Invite ink (or visual ink) I’ve heard about regarding various members of the Loser community.
WARD KAY had another of his plays produced, this one in Detroit. (It’s his fifth to be staged; his most successful, “Three Times a Lady,” was put on at the pretty-big-deal Little Theater of Alexandria as well as in four other productions.) “The current play is very SI,” Ward reports. “It is a one-act called ‘In the Cards.’ While it starts with a poker game, the real action takes place at a greeting card company. There are lots of ideas for cards being suggested (’If you found me dismembered, would remember me?’ ‘I don’t think I’ve told I love you near enough, open, I love you near enough’). My favorite character in the play is a guy who always speaks in rhyme (or near rhyme).”
While it’s surely not as prestigious as his Inker, ERIK WENNSTROM had his crossword published by the New York Times this past Wednesday -- only the second crossword he’s ever written. It’s a nifty puzzle with several clues linked in a theme. To see the puzzle, try clicking on this link and then on the blue “WEDNESDAY PUZZLE” line; because I have a paid subscription, it’s hard to make sure than anyone can get it. I think so.
And former Rookie of the Year SETH BROWN has written a book with the self-explanatory title “From God to Verse: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, in Rhyme.” It seems to be in paperback rather than the usual format for this five-section set.
Seth also has a humor column in his local paper in Massachusetts’s Berkshires, the North Adams Transcript, including this timely one today.
Hope to see a bunch of you on Sunday!
--The E, Pat Myers