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

Week 961: A string of 4-letter words (or 3, 5, 7, whatever — we’re easy): The anti-rhopalics

By the E, Pat Myers

Sorry, rhopalic-contest-haters, you (or your rival Losers) are just too good at this game for me not to milk every last possibility for yet another contest. Thou hast free rein here; I think Week 961 is going to be far easier than any of the rhopalic-themed contests so far: the up-rhopalic, the down, and the up-down-up/down-up-down.

Still, I explicitly asked for either “a passage or headline” for Week 961, simply to allow for the humor possibilities in a line that has somewhat unnatural syntax, such as a missing “a” or “the.” But of course, the headline needs to be fabulously clever and funny, as usual, and the content needs to be plausible as a headline, not simply a sentence with some missing words.

And if there are ANY more variations to be had on this theme, and you promptly point them out to me, we’ll at least wait a while before we use them. Because otherwise, my headline “At the end of our rhops” wouldn’t work.


Even though I used about a quarter of the space for results on the print page for more jokes from Week 956, this week’s best smaller-bigger-smaller and bigger-smaller-bigger sentences certainly could have filled the page by themselves — in fact, I ended up adding a half-dozen entries for the Web version.

One very good thing about these rhopalic contests: The entries are greatly varied, because there’s no restriction on either the subject matter or on which words you can use. Still, as has been true every week for at least the past year, there’ve been lots of entries about the presidential candidates. Which is fine with me! The only problem is that because only one party is having a contested election, the snark guns tend to be pointed rightward. (This should balance out later this year, I’d think — to some extent, anyway: For its whole existence, the Invite has received a disproportionate amount of left-leaning humor, so much so that I finally ran a contest in 2004 asking for right-leaning jokes. They came out very well, even though a number of the entries were fake-conservative mockery, several years ahead of Stephen Colbert.)

It’s the second Inker (and his 10th ink “above the fold” out of 86 in all) for Anthony “Bird” Waring, who started off way back in Week 455 with a 20-ink year, and then got little driblets every year until just recently blotting it up again — just last week, Bird nabbed the fantastic prize of a livestock castrator for second place in Week 956). It’s certainly time for Bird to come down from New York for the Flushies (see below) and finally Meet the Parentheses. Bird also deserves special acclaim for getting the world “douchiness” past the Taste Police.

Also on a roll is the collegiate phenom Matt Monitto, who picked up a mug last week and now can share with his Elon University dormmates a special prize copy of Playboy — in braille. And already a household name (in your odder household) above the fold is Nan Reiner, who’s been there seven times since she started playing in Week 877.

Not so, however, for the third-place winner, Doug Delorge of Biddeford, Maine — who as (Douglas M. Delorge, Fairfax [Va.]) got his last ink on June 20, 1993, in a contest asking for anagrams of famous people’s names: Ninth Runner-Up: Thomas Jefferson = Oh, Master Jeff’son! Doug wins a mug or T-shirt but, sorry, no FirStink for a first ink. Anyway, it sure was nice back in the early years of the Invite when the Czar could hand out 10 runner-up prizes. The best thing is that I’ve noticed that Doug has also entered at least one more contest since this one — I hope he’s back for good.

The favorite entry of Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford — who deemed it “silken” — was the 2-to-13-to-2 entry by Louise Dodenhoff Hauser, who got just her second ink ever by listing a whole menu of gastronomic delights AND managed to incorporate the phrase “miscellaneous carbohydrates.”

I don’t really have a Scarlet Letter entry this week, one that combined funniness with outrageous taste and unprintability. But I do want to cite this clever entry by Kathy Al-Assal, which I decided could rightly give offense to some readers: “Poor Komen policy foments backlash. Support droops, falls, sags.”

And in the inside-joke department, Amanda Yanovitch characterized a recent complaint to the Empress over the backward-crossword winner (ADA: Dyslexia Association of America) thus: “You know what’s really unfunny? Dyslexia. Lick-a-rope sentences endanger readers’ mouths. Think over, Pat, it.”


I’ve mentioned this several times already, but now I’ve been asked to extend this official invitation to all Style Conversational readers, written by Dave Prevar, organizer once again of this year’s Flushies award “banquet” and entertainment extravaganza:

“Academy Awards—big deal…the annual Flushies Awards is in May!

DATE: Saturday, May 12, 2012
TIME: 12 - 4 p.m.
Photos of and directions to to the DoubleTree Hotel outside Annapolis, Md.

COST: $35 per person (cheap). There will be a cash bar (no, not to buy cash…).

PARKING: FREE at the hotel. Park in the lower lot at the left of the hotel.

PLEASE NOTE: We are limited to 70 people at this event. Please RSVP with your check ($35 per person) to Elden Carnahan, 327 Montgomery St., Laurel MD 20707. Questions may be addressed to Dave Prevar at, who eventually gets around to checking email, so don’t think you are being ignored.”

For those who’ve never been to one of these events: It’s basically an informal way to meet your fellow Losers — or, for the occasional just-a-reader attendee, to see who these people are who write this crazy stuff week after week. The meeting-room setting allows for more mingling than at a Loser Brunch, where you’re pretty much set in your seat the whole time. (The Flushies are sponsored and organized entirely by the Losers themselves; The Post has nothing to do with it, though of course I’ll buy a ticket. And there’s a good chance that my editor Lynn, who lives near Annapolis, might crash the party as well.)

And there’s a more structured part of the afternoon: Keeper of the Stats Elden Carnahan will announce the winners of Loser of the Year, Rookie of the Year and several other categories, as well as award “prizes” (often commemorative rolls of toilet paper, but I’m not, um, privy this year) for those who’ve had their best year ever, or have reached a milestone of 50 inks, 100 inks, etc. On top of that, there’ll be a musical portion of the program, in which some Losers will perform song parodies, one of them usually roasting the Loser of the Year. And this year, we HAVE to have a repeat of the “Printability” song, which Dion Black and his wife Jen wrote and performed at the Loser Holiday Party at their house in January.

While the Flushies date is still quite a while off, you can help put Dave Prevar’s nerves at ease by sending in your check ASAP — there’s a minimum number of people that have to be paid for, and anyone who’s ever been in such a situation knows that you don’t really relax until that number is reached.

I hope to see exactly 70 of you there — including some out-of-towners: May is really the most beautiful time of the year in the D.C.-Baltimore area, and Annapolis — a historic tourist destination in itself — is pretty much between them.

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