Style Invitational Week 902: Sugarcoat the news, and readers' 2011 predictions

Style Invitational
(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Saturday, January 8, 2011; 12:00 AM


Week 902: What's the good news?

Original: "The satellites veered off course and crashed near Hawaii."

Spun English: "The satellites successfully entered a bathyspheric trajectory."

A week ago we ran the results of our contest to take a sentence from The Post and "translate" it cynically into "Plain English." This week we ask you to do the opposite: Take any sentence, or substantive part of a sentence, or a headline, from an article or ad in The Washington Post or from Jan. 7 to Jan. 18 and make it sound more upbeat (or not so bad), as in the example above that Jeff Contompasis submitted as an "anti-Invitational" entry for Week 897. If there's anyone who should ace an obfuscation contest, it's a Washingtonian.

Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second prize receives this mug celebrating the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force, depicting a cross between Boris Badenov and Spy vs. Spy, but with less subtlety. Donated by Loser Cheryl Davis.

Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get one of the lusted-after Style Invitational Loser magnets. First offenders get a smelly, tree-shaped air "freshener" (Fir Stink for their First Ink). One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries by e-mail to or by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Tuesday, Jan. 18. Put "Week 902" in the subject line of your e-mail, or it risks being ignored as spam. Include your name, postal address and phone number with your entry. Contests are judged on the basis of humor and originality. All entries become the property of The Washington Post. Entries may be edited for taste or content. Results to be published Feb. 6. No purchase required for entry. Employees of The Washington Post, or their immediate relatives, are not eligible for prizes. Pseudonymous entries will be disqualified. The revised title for next week's results was submitted by Kevin Dopart. The honorable-mentions subhead is by Brendan Beary.

Report from Week 898

in which we asked you for humorous predictions for 2011. A slew of prognosticators forecast that Dan Snyder would offer a huge five-year contract to Brett Favre. Humor columnist/blogger and sometime Loser Malcolm Fleschner, who suggested this contest, publishes his own predictions each year in his column, Culture Shlock; of the entries below, Malcolm's favorite was the one for Dec. 24.


April 11: President Obama begins a Rose Garden news conference by saying he loves spring and April is his favorite month. Bill O'Reilly fumes that Obama's clear hatred of December is part of the War on Christmas, while Glenn Beck ominously reminds his viewers that Hitler was born in April. (Arthur C. Adams, Laurel)

2 winner of the (appropriately) Pointless Calendar: March 15: WikiLeaks posts a classified document revealing that House Speaker John Boehner hides diced onions in his handkerchief. (Roy Ashley, Washington)

3 Feb. 6: At Super Bowl XLV, reporter Ines Sainz announces that she just received Brett Favre's colonoscopy pictures. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

4 Feb. 27: Julian Assange is avenged in Stockholm in hand-to-hand combat with the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.)

Gross prophets: Honorable mentions

Jan. 24: Rep. Michele Bachmann is removed from the Intelligence Committee when a vacancy occurs on the Stupidly Offensive Committee. (Ira Allen, Bethesda)

Jan. 25: In his State of the Union address, Obama pledges that by the end of the decade there will be a State of the Union pledge that we will put an American on Mars by the end of the decade. (Danny Bravman, Chicago)

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