In his classic 1968 book “The Joys of Yiddish,” Leo Rosten defined “chutzpah” as “gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible ‘guts,’ presumption plus arrogance.” As he often did in the book’s definitions, Rosten included a joke as an example, further defining “chutzpah” as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.” But these days the word isn’t always used pejoratively; sometimes it’s spoken with admiration for sheer gutsiness.
This week, as Loser Jim Lubell suggests: Give us a humorous example of hypothetical (or true, but remember humorous) chutzpah, along the lines of Rosten’s example above. It may be the quality of the writing, not just the idea, that determines what will get ink this time.
The Style Invitational
The Style Invitational is The Post’s weekly humor/wordplay contest, serving up since 1993 an irreverent mix of highbrow and lowbrow -- haughty and potty -- in genres ranging from neologisms to cartoon captions to elaborate song parodies. A new contest appears at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational every Friday.
Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a lovely teeny-tiny music box that you have to keep cranking to make work. How Loserly is that? On top of that, it plays “If I Only Had a Brain.” Donated by Dave Prevar.
Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to email@example.com or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Dec. 26; results published Jan. 15 (Jan. 13 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 950” in your e-mail subject line or it may be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational. The revised title for next week is by Beverley Sharp; the headline for this week’s results is by Kevin Dopart, who just can’t win enough stuff.
See the results of Week 945 — our edible-art photo contest — here or at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational.
Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, where the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at firstname.lastname@example.org (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.
Next week: Tour de Fours VIII: Noelogisms, or LO EN Behold