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

Week 963: Portmanteau names, joined at the quip; and we get with the programming

By the E, Pat Myers

I’m pretty certain that the Invitationally Obsessed have already looked at Week 963 and said, “Why is she only quoting from way back in Week 287 when we had entries like this in Week [aaa], Week [ggg], Week [rrr] and, jeez, the one we did just [some short time] ago in Week [yyy]?” The thing is that this was the only time it was explicitly modeled on the “Before & After” game, according to the Losers’ own Master Contest List, and according to Famously Nerdy Loser Jeff Contompasis, who suggested a variation of this contest (one we’ll get to in a later week; I figured we’d redo the original first).

I’m pretty sure, though, that our several other portmanteau-word contests didn’t insist on a whole name showing up in the overlap, so I’m confident that we’ll get results that don’t, well, overlap with the previous ones. Meanwhile, here’s the set of results from Week 287 (1998, in the middle of the Clinton administration). So many more names to work with by now!

Note that Week 963 is more restrictive than Week 287 — it requires both halves of the names to be names themselves. And we do want to see the first and last name of each person to appear in the mix (unless the person routinely goes by one name, as Roseanne Barr/Arnold did at the time Week 287 ran).

This week’s second-place prize, the Wonder Woman-style leotard worn by actress Brittany Daniel in the indie romantic comedy “Loveless in Los Angeles,” isn’t likely to fit (much less flatter) anyone with dimensions larger than those of the exceedingly trim Ms. Daniel. So if you do happen to win second place and would rather have a mug or shirt, I’m willing to pretend you won third or fourth place and we’ll find another use for the costume.


Though I’m admittedly not a big TV-watcher — and though it was pretty clear that a lot of the Losers aren’t, either — I still managed to sift out lots of funny ideas from them for moving particular programming from one network to another.

This week’s winner — if “The Amazing Race” were moved to Fox News — was an entry I saw early on in the judging, which doesn’t happen very often (mainly because my stack of entries tends to be in the order I received them, and many of the most prolific and successful Losers tend to file late in the submission period). It’s the first Inker — and indeed the first ink “above the fold” — for Kurt Stahl of Frederick, Md., who’s been entering the Invite now and then since Week 590. And it’s Kurt’s eighth blot of ink in all. (His first, from our perennial joint-legislation contest: “The Moore-Boren-Nickles bill to replace Thomas Jefferson’s likeness with Millard Fillmore’s.”)

Second place and that weird faceless-hair book go to Rick Haynes (Loser-stats anagram: He Is Cranky), recently relocated from the Maryland suburbs to South Florida. Rick chalks up an exciting Ink No. 99 (ninth above the fold). One more and he’ll have earned a special roll of toilet paper or some equivalent milestone award to be presented at this year’s Flushies ceremony. Ben Aronin turned to some creative snark about Washington sports for a mug or shirt (and Ink 42). And a First Offender, Michael Weiner, picks up a mug or shirt in addition to his FirStink; Michael, by the way, seems not to be related to another ink-grabber this week, Barr Weiner (or Barr’s sister, Loser Melissa Balmain).

Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford was on vacation this week, and she left the babysitting duties to Mary Hadar, the 12-year editor of the whole Style section in the 1980s and 1990s. In those years, Mary hired both me and, several years later, Gene Weingarten, and began running The Style Invitational; now she heads up special sections and takes care of various other ad hoc excitements in the newsroom. Like choosing her favorite entry of the week. While Mary, a native of Baltimore, doesn’t drawl out a “Haw!” like Lynn, her own laugh (described as a “mad cackle” by one of my former colleagues) is not to be ignored, and this week it was directed at Mike Ostapiej’s “Mad Men” entry.

Perhaps surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of Week 959 entries that fell into the Scarlet Letter category of utterly clever utter tastelessness. I guess I’ll hand it to Roy Ashley, who sent this one: “ ‘Grace Under Fire’ moves to MSNBC: Liberal hosts tie Nancy Grace to a stake and immolate her.”

Back to Losers in the Family: I neglected to mention last week that Jason Russo’s win in Week 958 makes him and Kathye Hamilton the only married couple in the universe each to have won an Inker. Bob and Jean Sorensen finished in first place twice and three times, respectively, but their wins were in the Czarist Era, before the advent of the Little Naked Trophy. We await the first ink from Jason and Kathye’s Loser Baby Vivian.

Also, one of our First Offenders last week — Andrew Ballard of London — turns out to be the third member of his family to gain Invite ink recently: His brother David Ballard, of the Washington area (but who’s in the Foreign Service and often overseas), won the Inker in Week 919, and their father, Lee, got an honorable mention in Week 935. David reports that his sister is still holding out, even though “she’d be the best among us, I think. She’s hilarious and very quick -- and doesn’t share the self-centered trait my dad, Andy, and I do of writing things that WE think are great.”


It’s not too late to RSVP for our special off-the-regular-schedule Loser Brunch, when former Annapolitan and current British resident Ann Martin will be joining us during her yearly stateside visit. The brunch is Saturday, March 31, at 11 a.m. at Paradiso, a couple of miles outside the Beltway near Alexandria, Va. Contact Elden Carnahan here, so he can get a good count. I’ll be there for sure.

And later this spring, Stephen Gold, our Glasgow, Scotland, Bureau, will be visiting D.C. with his wife and is eager to meet some actual Losers in the flesh — especially fellow limericists and parodists. Stephen will be downtown for five days starting on Saturday, June 2; let’s see what we can work out.

Once again, here’s the page with your invitation to and info about the Losers’ own annual awards luncheon, the Flushies, which will be held this year on Saturday afternoon, May 12. Keeper of the Stats Elden Carnahan says some awards are still up in the air as his “Loser Year” comes to an end in the next couple of weeks, but I know you wouldn’t be so petulant as to refuse to attend if you’re not going to be “awarded” a plaque (which you have to hand over to next year’s winner, anyway). The real fun is to meet up with Losers new and old, to match up names and faces, and to sing along with (or just laugh at) the song parodies about Loserdom and perhaps some lucky particular soul. Remember, the room can’t hold more than 70, and your check is your reservation.

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