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

Week 992: Mister Romney’s Neighborhood?

By the E, Pat Myers

Yes, it’s disingenuous for the Obama campaign to say on its website that Mitt Romney plans to give tax cuts to the wealthy “by killing Big Bird,” as The Post’s Fact Checker pointed out in its four-Pinocchio criticism of that fundraising line. But it was Romney himself who cited the winsome avian when he said he’d cut the government’s subsidy of PBS, evidently because the only way to fund it would be to borrow money from China.

And while Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit company that owns Mr. Bird, gets only 6 percent of its income from government grants, there's no doubt that cutting money to public TV would mean fewer stations airing “Sesame Street.” So if Romney didn’t mean to kill him, he certainly would be clipping his wings.

Anyway, this matters little in the what-if world of The Style Invitational. And it’s not as if public TV hasn’t already become a lot more commercial than it used to be, airing “underwriters’ “ spots that are commercials in every respect but their names, not to mention putting on those cheapazoid get-rich-now shows during pledge drives. But in general, there’s still enough material on PBS that would certainly have to change if it had to please advertisers and draw a lot more eyeballs. And I think the Loser Community will be able to exaggerate those aspects in a funny-not-screedy way for Week 992.

Yes, Mister Rogers may return to life for the duration. (And apropos of the funding issue, you ought to take seven minutes to see this video clip of Fred Rogers’s testimony to a Senate committee in 1969 on essentially the same bill, in which he totally wins over the crusty Sen. John Pastore. I got all teary.)


Lots of imaginative ways were offered to speed up or add excitement to a wide variety of sports and leisure activities. (Some of the speeding-up ideas, including the fourth-place finisher, certainly wouldn’t add excitement, and vice versa; I considered listing them separately but figured readers could figure out which was which.)

In a year in which Washingtonians are a lot more interested than usual in baseball, I got a slew of solutions for dawdling batters who step out of the box to adjust their gloves or their, er, other equipment. Some suggested strikes, some suggested outs, one suggested a water balloon, while others thought a funny idea would be a penalty of a pitch to the batter’s head, or of a “groinball.” I most liked newcomer Ralph Nitkin’s “pre-scratched” requirement that omitted the specific violence to be enacted if the scratching commenced at the plate.

It’s the first Inkin’ Memorial but the second win for Martin Bancroft, one of several members of our Rochester Area Bureau. Martin seems to be entering more regularly after a lengthy hiatus; this week he scores Ink Blot No. 70, and his ninth “above the fold.” (And his wife, Anne Clark, scores an honorable mention this week as well.) Dixon Wragg’s cynical drugging joke wins him the three-sided dice AND the official government instructions for blowing up large-animal carcasses; it’s Dixon’s 57th ink and fifth above the fold, all since Week 887.

I know I’ll be sending a Grossery Bag to Roy Ashley for his Rock-Paper-Scissors idea, since he’s been writing “I want a Grossery Bag!” on every week’s entry. (In general, runners-up, just let me know ASAP after you get ink whether you’d prefer the bag or Loser Mug.) Roy has been a Loser from almost the start, in Week 120 — well before the “Loser” moniker took hold — and this week gets his 284th blot of ink; I assume he keeps a vat in his garage. And I laughed out loud at Jim Reagan’s pithy “Rubik’s Square.” Jim actually goes back even farther than Roy does, Invite-wise: According to the Loser Stats, he got ink in Week 3 (!!!), but the earliest inking entry I could find for him was an idea for a bumper sticker (the predecessor to Loser Magnets) in Week 44: “They ran out of porpoise poop.”

The weekly HAW from Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford: “I wanted to make Rubik's Square No. 1, but then the urge for retaliation was too strong: call-and-response tennis!” Kudos to Jim and to Amanda Yanovitch.

Nothing really creatively unprintable this week that I took note of.


“Tally O,” trumpeted the subject line of an e-mail to me this morning from Nonstop Loser Tom Witte. Tom hasn’t joined the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook, and so hadn’t heard that Elden Carnahan, Keeper of the Stats, finally had to relinquish the space he’d borrowed from another website since the Loser community let the original space die years ago.

In all this time, nobody has stepped forward to help Elden maintain the site, while he’s continue d to update several tables of Loser Stats, the Master Contest List, and brunch information every week since Week 1. Elden’s been spread thin with various family, church and volunteer work and does hope to set up a new domain before too long. But for now, there is a stopgap; he’s posted the ink stats (multi-Losers by year and by type of ink; the one-hit wonders; the current year’s stats; the Cantinkerous (most ink by someone who’s never won first place); the Master Contest List; and the brunch info. It’s on Google Sites (I’d never heard of such a thing) and you can quickly download any of the lists by going to and clicking on the various arrows. Meanwhile, anyone who has some Web space — or some time to help — should contact Elden at Elden.Carnahan [at]


The next Loser Brunch will be in Maryland, at the Mosaic Cafe in Rockville, Sunday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m. I’m not sure I can make that one — I might if I can find someone to go with — but I hear it’s a nice place. E-mail Elden to RSVP.


Last December, onetime Loser of the Year Craig Dykstra got double ink in our contest to make funny art out of food. Both entries were remarkable portraits done in thousands of individual foodstuffs: one of Post columnist Gene Weingarten made out of a variety of raw beans; and one of a cartoon of the Empress, made from M&M’s (brought, deconstructed, in a jar to the last Loser Holiday Party, the M&Mpress was later devoured by the Dion Black family).

Since then, Craig decided to turn to a different but similar medium: He recently completed a portrait of an old friend made entirely of almost 3,200 wine corks, each set into a nail on a 4-by-4-foot board. The corks are all their natural color, with various degrees of wine staining. Craig insists that it did indeed take a long time to accumulate 3,200 corks (and no, they weren’t all from his own wine).

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