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

Week 960: The delights of dish cloths! Encomiums to emery boards the file on emery boards! And you know it’s a pretty good contest when . . .


Evidently has no problems with people having fun writing total joke reviews on the products sold on the website. I even found someone’s list of funny product reviews on Amazon — on Amazon. I knew that there were some products with these creative reviews, but it was Larry Yungk, the 145-time Loser, who showed me the 2,000-plus reviews for the Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee and suggested a contest. (One pithy review for said shirt: “Don’t buy one of these shirts used. I picked one up at a church swap meet in Orange County just before last Thanksgiving without knowing the shirt had been donated by Pastor Rick Warren. For some reason I didn’t get wolf powers. Instead, I’m becoming a fatuous, over-fed windbag.”)

I don’t think the products I chose for this week’s contest have any fun reviews on them yet, so you don’t have to worry about duplicating anything out there. Naturally, I’m looking for some good, funny, well-constructed writing for this contest; it can’t just be a line of jotted-down idea. Occasionally I’ll do a fair amount of editing to make an Invitational entry work better; while I might end up streamlining some of the prose, I’m not aiming to rewrite people’s work, and good, colorful writing will have a big edge this week over the clunky stuff. (As usual, though, as usual I’d always fix spelling, grammar, etc., and wouldn’t hold such mistakes against you.)

If you’d like to submit a long and a short version of a review, feel free. I can tell you now that multi-paragraph reviews aren’t going to see printer’s ink; the Invite in the “fishwrap version” (as Loser Elden Carnahan calls it in reference to the stats he keeps on every last Invite contest and contestant); not only is there not much space, but the page design just doesn’t lend itself to big blocks of type.

If we get some memorably readable reviews from this contest, I’ll be happy to run it again with a different set of products. For the purposes of this contest, please keep the reviews positive; I’d hate to run into legal trouble — or injure someone who did not ask for this kind of attention. (On the flip side, if word gets around about the funny reviews for a certain product, I’m sure sales will rise for it.)

I was considering buying this week’s five products for use as prizes for Week 960, but decided that the Losers people could do that themselves; as far as I know, on the other hand, Loser T-shirts and mugs are not available on the open market.


*An un-inking revised-title entry by Jeff Contompasis.

My own hunch is that this week’s results will be read out loud at the breakfast table a lot this weekend — people love jokes they can relate to, and it’s nice to have some humor that the reader doesn’t have to puzzle out. Which should be the case with all of this week’s inking entries.

I made the decision only a couple of days ago to postpone publishing the results for one of the five categories we offered, “You know it’s going to be a bad marriage when...” Even though I didn’t repeat the first half of the sentence within a category, I was going to be able to fit just 19 entries among the five categories of honorable mentions, with the five headings. Holding one group (“You know it’s going to be a bad marriage . . .) for a week let me fit 20 HMs and four headings — and it gives me something to fill out the page next week when the sure-to-be-short rhopalic-sentence results run. (I’ve added I think 14 more in the Web version.)

Not surprisingly for a contest like this, some of the entries are my favorites among a group of them that had the same basic idea. And sometimes the inking entry was only a little bit funnier than one that didn’t ink. I made my choices blindly — you know, I don’t say, “Oh, X here was almost as funny, and Y already has ink, so I’ll run X” — and so if you sent very similar entries to some of these and you ended up getting squat, well, you know it’s a bad week when. . .

It’s a triumphant return to the Invitational by Noah Meyerson of Washington, who started getting Invite ink back in Year 1 — Week 46 — and then blotted up a lot of little ink-dribbles: between one and five entries published almost every year until Week 684 (18 in all), whereupon he disappeared from what then was Page 2 of Sunday Style. We’re happy he’s back.

While we had an inordinate number of new entrants this week — I added close to 50 people to the e-mail notification list — the other runners-up were also Invite regulars. Anthony “Bird” Waring (name anagram: Grr! I Win Bad) gets Ink No. 85 and the rubber-band-style livestock castrator, one of my favorite prizes ever; in return, don’t we think that this should be the year that Bird comes down from New York to meet the Losers, given that he’s been playing the Invite for a decade now?

Unable to make it to the this year’s Flushies on the afternoon of May 12 (e-mail invitations will go out in a few weeks) is this week’s third-place winner, Matt Monitto, who'll be entangled in finals at Elon College in North Carolina, where he’s a sophomore. This is already Matt’s 21st ink and second one “above the fold” since he started in Week 902. And the other mug or T-shirt goes to Ward Kay, who got one entry printed in Week 57 (1994) but whose other 27 inks have been in the past couple of years.

This week’s “Haw!” — the choice of Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford — is for the entry “You know it’s going to be a bad speech when it begins with ‘Webster’s defines ...,’ ” which was sent almost identically by longtime Losers Tom Witte and Mike Gips.

Funny entries but too frequently offered up this week included these two clues for a bad cruise: “When when the purser asks if you would prefer a port or starboard oar,” and “When you see pairs of animals boarding at the side gate.”

And while I didn’t find a lot of shockingly tasteless material this week, it’s nice to know that I can usually rely on Kevin Dopart for an entry or two of it. This week’s Scarlet Letter goes to Kevin’s clue about a bad hotel: “When the complimentary soaps are Birkenau brand.” Ick.

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