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

Week 989: Notes from a poop joke wrangler/ comma-obsessive

By the E, Pat Myers

*Yes, of course, both jobs revolve around matters anal.

Hi, everyone, and a happy new year to you. Party like it’s 5773!

Honestly, I didn’t post the Week 985 contest with the plan to get a bunch of new contest ideas, or be reminded of old ones that could be recycled. In fact, it was Bob Staake’s suggestion to have a contest in which we put up cartoons and you had to tell us which contest it could go with. He was inspired by the confusion resulting from his practice of posting his Invite cartoons, sans explanations, to his 5,000 Facebook “friends,” most of whom have never heard of The Style Invitational.

But in any case, I did end up with a number of possible contests, both from this week’s inking entries and from some that didn’t ink because the example didn’t work well enough. (If I do use a contest from the latter group, I’ll credit the entrant.)

As I’d predicted, almost all the entries came from veteran Losers; I think I found only four or five entrants whose addresses I didn’t already have in the database.

I do admit asking Bob to put a horse in one of the cartoons, so that people could make some sort of play on our thrice-yearly horse name contests. But actually the best of the horse cartoon entries were for other contests.

I noted, when I could find it, the week number of the contest referred to. (Sometimes, I’m sure, the entrant didn’t know that such a contest had been done before.) I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the entries labeled “new contest” actually have been done by us as well.

The retrospective nature of this contest is similar to that of our (usually) yearly Look Back in Inker contest (whuh-oh, what do we call it now?), in which you get to enter or reenter any of the previous year’s contests, somehow restricted to a particular theme. But I don’t see why Week 985, a contest requiring you to address certain cartoons, should keep us from having the annual review in a couple of months.

The tack of combining two elements into some sort of hybrid is a mainstay of Invitational contests; we’ve combined businesses, products, movies, books, animals, towns, even “marrying” people and of course horses. The entries to most of them tend to be puns on the combined names, rather than jokes about the actual elements being combined. And I’m certainly open to that this time, with this week’s double-job contest. But I’m expecting more entries along the line of the two examples this week, one each from Gary Crockett and Lawrence McGuire: commenting in some humorous way on actual aspects of the job. (The examples were, well, a bit of a stretch; I’m not sure that “kicking something when it’s down” is a good way to describe what a critic of a TV show would do; but I’m confident that I’ll get lots of very good ones.

If we actually have done this very same contest, I won’t be shocked. If someone tells me what week it was, I’ll post the results on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook this week so that you can be sure that you’re not repeating an entry that’s already gotten ink.

Along with the Inkin’ Memorial bobblehead this week, first-place winner Beverley Sharp will get this weekend’s print Invite personally scrawled on by Bob Staake Himself. I’m praying that print-paper readers will recognize the show tune Beverley parodies so well; online readers are treated to a link to a movie clip. While it’s surprisingly the first “Bob-o-Linc” for Beverley, it will be joining her eight Inkers and perhaps hundreds of magnets — she has more than 300 blots of ink — down under the bathroom sink or wherever she’s hiding them from her neighbors in Montgomery, Ala.

(Speaking of parodies: As I said I would do after posting the results of the Week 982 parody contest two weeks ago, I’ve been posting a “Style Invitational parody of the day” on Facebook, both on my personal page with almost 700 “friends” and on the 400-some-member Devotees page. A few had gotten ink in the Invite that week, but the sheer size of that week’s song list meant that even avid readers weren’t going to get through all of them, and they deserved a better showcase. Most, however, hadn’t been among the 29 parodies that got ink — there were just too many good ones than I could reasonably post in one column. The daily parodies have drawn lots of “likes” and other warm comments, and some readers have shared them with their own lists of Facebook friends. I might still put up a few more.)

And the other three “above-the-fold” Losers are veterans as well: Art Grinath — who also gets a Bobographed Invite, along with a tin of Zombie Mints — has been with us since Week 104 and has more than 300 inks, as well. (It was noted years ago by some Loser wag that at least two Losers — Art Grinath and Chuck Smith — had names that could be full sentences. Alas, wet-blanket Art pronounces his surname Gri-NATH.) Can’t-Figure-Out-How-NOT-to-Get-Ink Loser Kevin Dopart couldn’t wait till January for our biennial “joint legislation” contest; this week he snarfs up his 70th above-the-fold mention. And Jeff Hazle, who’s in a much saner league, Invite-wise, grabs his 25th ink overall, but his fifth above the fold, for an impressive ratio.

This week’s HAW from Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford: All her favorites were from Picture C (“I want to go home and read them to my cats”), but her fave was Mike Gips’s anorexic Garfield.


Last call for this Sunday’s Loser Brunch, at 10 a.m. at the buffet of The Front Page, on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington’s Ballston section. There will be at least a dozen of us, both well-known Invite names and several newbies I’m looking forward to meeting. And as if that weren’t enough, I have been promised that I will be presented with a a prize donation of humping ceramic pigs. RSVP to Elden Carnahan here.

And I’ll also be in the Loserly contingent Saturday night, Sept. 29, at the performance of a one-act play by Hall of Fame Losers Chuck Smith and Jennifer Hart in downtown Silver Spring. The website says that tickets will be available at the door, though it’s evidently a small room.


I’m so sorry that this Sunday’s “Cul de Sac” comic strip will be the last. Its creator, the great cartoonist Richard Thompson, has been cruelly attacked by Parkinson’s disease for several years, and he’s no longer able to create the detailed ink drawings that have been his hallmark for decades. Before he started “Cul de Sac” in 2004 in The Washington Post Magazine, Richard was first a cartoonist for many publications, most notably for The Post, where he illustrated such weekly columns as Joel Achenbach’s "Why Things Are” and for many years had his own brilliant, weekly cartoon, “Richard’s Poor Almanac,” in the Style section (for some years right next to the Invite!).

On top of that, Richard, who grew up in Montgomery County and has lived many years in Arlington, is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known — hilarious, of course, but totally down to earth, gracious and friendly. And one of the few people I know whose names I could drop to impress my own offspring: [Daughter] “YOU had lunch with Richard Thompson?”

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