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

Week 995: Ask me again ... and again; and many ounces of dEVOTion

By the E, Pat Myers

Hello, everyone. I hope that Sandy pretty much left you alone over the weekend. To those who were caught in its path — I know that a number of Losers lost (hey, they’re Losers! they lose!) power for an extended period — here’s hoping for a swift recovery. Here at Mount Vermin, which is a wooden house in a very wooded area, in a neighborhood with overhead wiring, we were astonished that our power stayed on and our trees stayed up. And Pepco, the Washington area’s electric company, was so well prepared and so much quicker to respond than in previous storms that it’s in danger of losing its status as Reliable Butt of Invite Jokes. (The Redskins, however, seem to have regained Full Butt status.)

This week’s contest, Ask Backwards, is probably the most frequent Invitational contest category. with the possible exception of cartoon caption contests; when I put the last one up a year ago, I numbered it “XXIX,” and I might have missed one or two on Elden Carnahan’s Master Contest List (now relocated online to Elden’s Temporary Stats Page at (click the blue down-arrow). The Czar premiered it Ask Backwards in Week 24 and ran it 20 times, sometimes three times a year, during his 1993-2003 reign; I’ve done at least six since then. Because the Loser Community never fails this contest.

The winner of Ask Backwards I:
Answer: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Madonna.
Question: What do you get when you combine Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Madonna? (Jacob Weinstein, Washington)

The winner of Ask Backwards XXIX, Week 943:
A. Dan Snyder’s new dinghy.
Q. On what sinking vessel do you not only rearrange the deck chairs, but then charge the passengers for their “improved” seats? (Danny Bravman, Chicago)

There have been a few specialty Asks Backward over the years. One was called “A Bad-Ask Contest” and asked for the unfunniest possible answer. Asking for bad jokes is a tricky tack to take for several reasons. Note, for example, the third runner-up of this 2002 contest:
A.A Mackerel Lollipop.
Q. What do you get when you cross a mackerel with a lollipop? (Andrew Nellis, Washington; Simon Toomey, Christchurch, New Zealand) Ahem.

(The winner of that contest, however, was marvelously screedy:
A. Those Paper Toilet Seat Covers.
Q. What product should be recyclable but isn’t because big business rapes the planet to assure that we have clean buttocks when we excrete cows we have murdered and consumed? (Mark Young, Washington))

Another Ask was the “Erudite Version” (Week 611), in which the answers all contained literary or technical references. Among the inking entries:

Yoknapatawpha Mall”: Where do you go when the fetid stench of a humid night hangs on the lip of the sky like a cold sore and magnolia trees shimmering with a patina of regret reach for the sky with the power of a generation lost and the weight of your ancestors throttles your soul so hard that you need Tylenol? (Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.)

6.02 x 1023 pencils: Over the years, how much makeup has Cindy Crawford used to keep that cute mole on her face? (Marc Leibert, New York; Seth Brown, North Adams, Mass.; Peter Metrinko, Chantilly)

(Yeah, being able to use links at the time would have helped.)

Anyway, go to it. All you have to do is ask.


Just as reliable over the years, though not milked as often, the annual Tour de Fours contest has been the source of many classic neologisms over the years. And this year’s crop should add to that list. Here are some of the nine Inker-winners since 2004:

THES, Week 571: Transvestheight: The distance between the jockstrap and the bra. (Frank Mullen III)

STAR, Week 728: Oughtacrats: People who have half a mind to solve all the world’s problems with their brilliant ideas, one of these days . . . (Tom Witte)

THRE, Week 835: Interhuh: The grunt you make to let a phone caller know you’re still on the line. (Tom Witte)

POLE, Week 889: Gestapolemics: Calling your political opponents Nazis. (Chris Doyle)

NOEL, Week 947: Groucholenses: How to look at the world through nose-covered glasses. (Eric Fritz)

Of course, many of the entries were about the election — not only because of the VOTE bloc(k), but because it’s hard to think of a whole lot else (until you’re socked by a natural disaster, anyway) when you’re being bombarded with ominous-sounding commercials, play-by-play news, and outrageous punditry on both sides. And the potential for wry comments presents itself every few nanosceonds. But as usual, the V, O, T and E proved versatile enough to use in plenty of other contexts as well.

Such as this week’s Inkin’ Memorial winner from Laurie Tompkins of suburban Maryland, who offered my favorite of the numerous allusions to Tim Tebow among the week’s entries. This isn’t just Laurie’s first Bob-o-Link; it’s just her second ink ever, which means she hasn’t even won a magnet yet — she got her FirStink just three weeks ago. (And her name on the stats page is missing an anagram; get on it, people.)

And it’s also just the second ink for runner-up Gordon Cobb of Atlanta, who got an honorable mention in Week 955 but then didn’t get squat for several weeks afterward — prompting him to tell the Empress that he was giving up because his sense of humor clearly didn’t match mine. But perhaps the chance for glory and a Loser Mug proved irresistibly alluring. A good thing, since Gordon’s conclusion was wrongo: This time, three of his entries were on my short­list not counting the inking “remote vortex.”

The other two runners-up are household names, at least at the House of Invite. The vintage jockstrap is just the latest addition to the crap collection of Gary Crockett, the current Loser of the Year. Gary’s “lovetobut” — a term used by the more polite Losers when RSVP’ing to the Flushies invitation — earns him his 122nd ink, and 13th “above the fold.” And similarly prize-bedecked is Mae Scanlan, whose useful term “Eve-to-Adam” brings her Inkblot No. 207.

And Lynn Medford, the editor of the Sunday Style section (as well as the Washington Post Magazine and various other thingies), is back to weigh in with her weekly HAW drawl for her favorite: This week it was “Dovetales,” the antiwar stories, submitted in similar entries by Chris Doyle and pretty-newbie Steve Gerritson.


When it comes to both neologisms and too-crude entries, Tom Witte’s name tends to pop up, and this time around he just let the ‘gisms spew forth. Among his output this week was “Goo-vet: An experienced porn actor;” but Tom also offered several terms defined as “a euphemism for, er, you know: not just the relatively tame “lovetool,” but also “lovetusk,” “love-otter” and, not to restrict the crudity to only half the population, “love-taco.”


I’m hoping that Losers new and old, along with the Merely Curious, join me at the November Loser Brunch, Sunday the 11th at 10 a.m., at the buffet at Kilroy’s right off the Beltway in Northern Virginia. Info from and RSVP to Elden Carnahan right here.

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