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

Week 934: Playing with matches once again

By the E, Pat Myers

Good morning. And first, a time-sensitive note: We’re battening down whatever hatches we can find here at Mount Vermin, in anticipation of a visit from some lady huffing and puffing her way up from the South, but as of Friday morning the Gettysburg Loser brunch is still on for 1 p.m. on Sunday. I think the number of people who’ve signed up is small enough that we can notify you by phone if the weather turns out to be even crazier than we are — so if you’d said you were coming and you’d like a phone call, e-mail me with your number. The decision might be made by Saturday, if Irene is anything like her Aunt Isabel of 2003.

Okay, back to Week 934. It’s a game you can play any number of times — and what that number is so far, I’m not even counting. But I know that our contest to compare and contrast any two items in a list we supply goes back at least to Week 276, in 1998 (winner: What is the difference between the human navel and a 1998 VW Bug? In the case of the navel, most people would rather have an innie. In the case of the Bug, most people would rather have an Audi. — Russell Beland, Springfield)

While it always seems impossible to believe that the items on the list were generated randomly, because at least a couple of them always seem as if they MUST have been engineered to generate a certain joke, you might believe it more this time around: Last weekend I posted a request on the Style Invitational Devotees page for people to suggest items — by e-mail, out of sight of the other people’s suggestions. Lots of people complied, and I pulled one from each of a bunch of e-mails, which I added to a couple that I’d already got from others.

So if you hate the categories, sic yourselves on one another. Thank you.

(By the way: This week’s runner-up prize of the pig-head ear buds is still unsullied; our model for the photo, Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford, has a piece of tissue in there between the bud and the Editorial Ear Canal. And Bob Staake’s cartoon is not really purplish, if that’s the image you’re seeing; this is what it really looks like, and will look like in the print paper.)


Our contest for silly complaints to The Washington Post drew a variety of gripes mostly from the usual suspects — none who’d really have anything to complain about The Post, of course. The entries tended to be variations on a few basic ideas, which may account for the relatively few entries getting ink this week. (Which means that lots of you will have time to enjoy the two song parodies at the end of this week’s online Invite.) Many people complained that the paper ran useless information about yesterday’s winning lottery numbers or stock prices, rather than tomorrow’s.

It’s already the second Inker (and third “above-the-fold” entry) out of only 11 inks for Peter Jenkins (anagram in the Invite standings: Ten Pink Jeers). Peter first got ink back in Week 497, but I don’t think he’s made an appearance at a Loser event, even though he’s a local — perhaps he’ll show at this year’s Flushies award lunch picnic Oct. 1, which now is set to be held down the street from Elden Carnahan’s house at Granville Gude Park in Laurel, Md., at a pavilion that will shelter 80 people from any rain that dare fall; the backyard-rental-tent option proved too costly. We’ll provide more specific details — including how much this will set you back — as we get them.

Perhaps ranting comes easily to Jeff Contompasis; the recently Invite-ubiquitous Jeff sent in several notable gripes; Jeff scored this week’s only multiple ink: one for a nitpick about tea that was about 5 percent sillier than a few of the letters that run on The Post’s Free for All page on Saturdays; the other a self-effacing, sort of meta complaint about the page itself. Jeff, who not long ago took the Losers’ “Cantinkerous” award for the most ink without an Inker, seems to be on the precipice of his 200th blot (and he had to pass his award along, since he now has five Inkers).

Drew Knoblauch (Old Cherub Wank), who’s been lapping up ink recently, gets another mug or shirt with his 33rd blot; and Tom Panther, whose own name is cooler than his anagram of Tart Phenom, gets his second above-the-fold ink (the first was an Inker) in only his fifth Invitational appearance. Hey, those are two more local guys we haven’t met yet. Show yourselves (certain parts only, please).

This week’s results mark the return — and I hope it’s a lasting one — for David Genser, formerly of Arlington and now of the San Diego area. David was a major fixture of the Invite, racking up 324 published entries before retiring from the Vite in early 2001, months before the Empress deposed the Czar. That’s a figure that still ranks him as No. 13 of all time, even after he skipped almost 400 contests. I’ve used a couple of David’s entries as examples for later contests, so his honorable mention this week brings him up to 328.
It was one of my strolls through the Invite archives, in fact, that prompted me to look David up and invite him back. I see he needs but 13 more blots of ink to surpass the Invite-dormant Joseph Romm, the Clinton-era Energy Department official and well-known climate change activist, and take the No. 12 spot.
Perhaps it was this contest in particular that motivated David to return (though I’m happy to see his name in future contests as well): One of his entries was one of a surprisingly few this week that complained about the Invitational: “Dear Empress: Week 930’s contest announcement failed to mention that it’s identical to Week 297 from 1998, nor credit my winning entry: ‘Urgent! Do not let them bury those people whose photos you showed in Sunday’s obituaries!! Some of them look like they are still alive!’ I don’t really mind. It’s just that it’s probably way too late for those people now.”

There’s one honorable mention online that didn’t run in the paper: It’s David Smith’s visual joke about the photo of Harry Reid. Just wouldn’t have worked in print, but it works great online.


I can’t really give this one a Scarlet Letter, because, sheez, it’s just not scarlet. Maybe a little blushy pink. But I got home yesterday afternoon with an order to lose this entry:
The scandal involving Rep. Weiner is over and done with. So why does your cheap, sensationalist paper persist, in an article about Capitol facilities, in referring to congressmen as “male members”? (Gary Crockett)

Now if you really want unprintable, there’s this one that’s just yucky: “Could you please get Gabrielle Gifford to pose for pictures with a wig? She looks like she’s been sick or something.” (Edward Gordon)

Stay safe this weekend, everyone. Next week, we’ll get all limericky.

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