As one of those kids who were always boring others with lists of “fascinating” facts, I’m a big fan of The Style Invitational’s fictoid contests, which are essentially spoofs of these lists. Since our most recent of these, about animals, ran more than a year ago, it’s certainly time for a new bout of misinformation in Week 1345, and I was delighted to find out that we’d never done one specifically on food. (I couldn’t believe it, but I checked and checked Elden Carnahan’s Master Contest List.)
If you do discover that we have done this very contest, well … Do it again.
And feel free to suggest future topics for fictoids. If you live in town and I use your suggestion, I’ll get you some ice cream.
We do the mash: The portmanteaus of Week 1341
I had very few rules for Week 1341, a contest to combine two words into a new word, a portmanteau: One was that the words had to begin with a letter from E to R, since I’d already had A-D and S-Z portmanteau contests (then promptly forgot I was intending to tap 'teaus across the alphabet); the other was that the two words had to overlap by at least two letters. What was important, as I stressed in the Conversational, was that readers could easily figure out which two words were being combined; otherwise they’d miss out on the humor.
At 48 neologisms, it’s another long — probably too-long — list of inking entries. But they constitute only about 2.5 percent of the close to 2,000 entries I received from about 200 Losers. While I was judging the big long anonymous list, I would sometimes cross off whole pages at a time after failing to laugh or ooh, and so I began to worry about not being able to fill the print page. But after reaching the last entry on Page 187 and then electronically threshing out the shortlist, I ended up telling our layout guy, Eddie, that we didn’t really need the pictures of the book and the bag of brussels sprouts puffs, that I’d rather fill the columns with more more more clever entries.
And it was an easy call to lead that list with “Muellerotica.” While I usually prefer neologisms that could be used in real-life situations, Gary Crockett’s play on the independent counsel’s convoluted, backhanded barely-a-condemnation of the president — turning it into The Worst Porn Ever, was one of the best of his 400-plus blots of ink, including 12 previous victories. But I do hope that the three inspired runners-up — Jesse Frankovich’s “Forty-fivan the Terrible,” Frank Osen’s “quacknowledgment” and Jonathan Jensen’s “exterminature” — zing their way into the language.
Among the many honorable-mention winners, we have two First Offenders, Chris Murphy with “jackassuredness” and — wow — Stuart Anderson of Seattle, who bounds into Loserdom with three blots of ink: “hempiricism,” “marvelousy” and “milkshakespeare.” I have a strong feeling that it’s no fluke: Bring it on, Stuart!
What Doug Dug: Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood tells me that he loved this week’s winner and second place. He also was partial to Frank Mann’s “interimbecile” (“The fill-in numskull who botches things up until a permanent idiot can be found to ruin everything”); Kevin Dopart’s “malapropaganda” (“Trump’s stirring speech about George Washington’s army taking over the airports”); and Rob Cohen’s “newscasterisk,” the newly necessary crawl at the bottom of the screen “stating the truth vs. what the president just said.”
(As soon as I published the results this morning, I received two complaints that some of the inking entries did not show both words in their entirety — a quality that I didn’t ask for; in fact, I noted in that week’s Style Conversational, “they don’t absolutely have to; for instance, see this one by Kevin Dopart: ‘Diarrhetoric: A speech that runs and runs.’ That’s okay. What’s important is that both words must be easy for the reader to identify.”)
See you in the pictures?
Here’s something cool that might happen down the road: I had a chat this week with Amy King, who’s the editor of The Lily, which is The Post’s “vertical” aimed at younger women. A few years ago, Amy’s job was to design pages for the Style section, occasionally including the Invitational, and she was especially intrigued to hear that the Invite was not just a weekly contest but a worldwide social network of funny word people.
And now that she’s in charge of her multimedia publication,
Amy suggested that The Lily feature the Invite in a short documentary video somewhere down the road. I was of course thrilled — getting the word out about the contest has been my ceaseless pursuit for a decade and a half. So sometime in the next few months, The Lily’s videographers will be looking for local Losers to interview, and maybe come to our November brunch at Paradiso on Franconia Road (unless we set up another local nearby gathering before then; currently September’s and October’s functions are out of town). I’ll keep you posted, but if you’re a regularly inking local Loser and would like to gush about the Invite on camera, let me know.
See you Sunday?
It’s not too late to RSVP at this weekend’s Loser Brunch at Brion’s Grille in suburban Fairfax. It’s at noon on Sunday, Aug. 18; RSVP to Elden Carnahan at NRARS.org; click on “Our Social Engorgements.” You don’t have to be an Invite entrant to join us. And while we can’t promise that one Loser or other won’t say some wildly witty thing, the repartee usually tends more to “I can have this extra sausage because I’ve increased my Lipitor. But then again my heartburn medication … ”
Still, come on out! There will be ice cream!
See you later
There won’t be a Conversational next Thursday or the one after that; the Royal Consort and I are going on an eight-day road trip to a wedding in Wisconsin, with stops to see some Losers along the way; (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis) is going to show us his product testing lab for door hardware; we’re going to a Polish buffet — I am so thrilled about this totally non-D.C. thing — with (Thor Rudebeck, Chicago); and we hope to check out the new digs in Cincinnati of the former (Larry Yungk, Arlington, Va.).
But as in every single week since I deposed the Czar 15½ years ago, there will be Invitationals: I’ll post Week 1346 (results of Week 1342) next Thursday morning before we set off for the hinterlands, and I’ll finish Week 1347 in advance, with extra parodies that were robbed of ink in Week 1339.
I’ll have my laptop and should be able to stop at a McDonald’s and make any necessary fixes, and I should be reachable to some extent. (And those limericks from Week 1344 won’t judge themselves, so they’ll be my vacation reading when it’s the RC’s turn to drive.) But I do plan to try to keep my phone in my pocket, and the computer back at the Airbnb, while we do various vacaty things. Even during the wedding ceremony, I guess.
So I’ll be back Conversating on Thursday, Sept. 5. Have a great Labor Day — I’ll extend the Week 1346 deadline to Tuesday, Sept. 3. And I hope to see lots of you this very Sunday.