I remember judging this one neologism contest back in 2003, while I was helping out the Czar shortly before I turned around and callously deposed him. It was headlined “Tri Harder,” and contestants had to choose an existing word and alter it in three ways — by adding a letter, subtracting a letter and substituting another letter — and define all three new words.
The results of Week 520 were pretty good but not classic — mainly because all three of the words and definitions had to be good. That meant that some better neologisms got no ink that week, because they were yoked to one or two meh or problematic ones. The Czar noted this in the introduction to the results: “Several people fell two short of a good troika, but had one gem: Examples: ‘Redskeins: Strings of consecutive losses.’ ‘Mountainfop: A hillwilliam.’ ‘Mantique: An item a guy keeps from his bachelor days, such as his lucky socks or his Loni Anderson poster.' ”
I think we learned our lesson on that one: It’s fun to show several different ways to play with one letter rack, as in this week’s ScrabbleGrams contest, or crossword answer or captionless cartoon. But I’d like to be able to choose from as many players as possible. While you’re certainly welcome to submit multiple entries for a single letter set of — heck, I don’t care if you use all 25 on the same seven letters — I’ll be looking at them individually.
For inspiration and, if you’re new to the Invite, here are a few multiple plays on letter sets from previous contests. Click on the links for full results.
From the results of Week 1123, 2015
Glad-ag: The new major in cannabis farming at Colorado A&M. (Frances Hirai-Clark)
Ragglad: Relieved to find out you’re not pregnant. (Rob Huffman)
Raglag: How long a spill gets to seep in before you sop it up. “With a 2-year-old in the house I’ve got my average raglag down to 3.7 seconds.” (Danielle Nowlin)
From the results of Week 1072, 2014
Gabuela: A granny who can’t keep her boca shut. (Mae Scanlan)
AA-bulge: The result of eating every time you feel the urge for a drink. (David Adlerstein)
AA-bulge: The result of choosing too small a bra size. (Hugh Thirlway)
Galbeau: Transgender heartthrob (David Ballard)
Glube: What you get if you mix Elmer’s with K-Y Jelly. (Danielle Nowlin)
Begaul: Try to impress with French expressions. “That pompous jerk kept begauling me with ‘ma cherie.’ (Chris Doyle)
From the same contest: EEVTPXR
Vexpert: One who knows which buttons to push. (Mike Gips)
Vexpert: The quicker ticker-offer. (Jeff Contompasis)
Texperv: A Redskins fan in Dallas. (John Shea)
Ex-perv: A dead man. (Alex Jeffrey)
And one more set, this one including creative definitions of existing words, from Week 1212, 2017: AHINRSV
VARNISH: Somewhat like a varn. (Roger Dalrymple)
RAVISH: To carjack a Toyota SUV. (Larry Gray)
VINRASH: Rosé-cea. (Barry Koch)
NRA-SHIV: “Help protect the incarcerated from prison gang violence: Arm inmates.” (Matt Monitto)
If you enjoy contests like this, you’re depriving yourself something crazy if you aren’t in the Style Invitational Devotees, a private group on Facebook. Every time someone joins (several people a week) the Devs commence to anagram the newbie’s name in every which way but the real one — sometimes dozens. And then, if you go on to get Invite ink, you can choose one of them as your Loser Anagram (aka Granola Smear) on the offical Loser Stats. Sign up at on.fb.me/invdev.
Fanfare for the Come-On Man*: The pickup lines of Week 1367
*Terrific headline — but, alas, too long for print — by Roy Ashley
In a totally different experience from last week’s judging slog (though it did yield dozens of fine results), I was laughing on almost every page of my 1,650-entry printout at the name- or profession-specific pickup lines from Week 1367 — just so romantic for Valentine’s Day, especially ones like Frank Osen’s for a proctologist (“Is this stool taken?”). My magnet inventory is going to shrink noticeably once again when I send out prizes to this week’s 34 inking Losers responsible for 47 inking entries.
It’s the first Lose Cannon — indeed, the first ink “above the fold” — for Alan Duxbury, whose total ink boings 50 percent to six blots with his win and also a particularly good honorable mention. Alan’s pickup line for an orthopedic surgeon — “What a joint like this doing in a nice girl like you?” — sent me to Google to see if perfect word inversion wasn’t all over the jokesphere.
(Someone else had almost the same thing, also for the orthopedic surgeon, but screwed it up: “What’s a nice joint like this doing in a girl like you?” Not exactly a compliment!)
Vincing Argument: Just as Acey Copy Editor Vince Rinehart read over the Invite last night in lieu of Usual Ace Doug Norwood, and I picked up on a feeling that he might have enjoyed it. " Cannot stop laughing. Frank Osen is so effing great.” Frank’s runner-up for Prince Andrew, “Don’t I not know you from somewhere?” was just the first of four memorable inks this week. Vince also raved about his entries for Amnesiac: “Do I come here often?”; and Narcissist: “Is it just me, or am I hot in here?” (And had Vince seen the proctologist joke, which ran only online, he would have loved that one as well.)
Vince also singled out Seth Tucker’s Serial killer: “You know, I have the body of an 18-year-old”; Duncan Stevens’s dig at Rep. Devin Nunes; David Kleinbard’s “The number of drinks I want to buy you is twice what I want to buy Mary. ...” for the test prep instructor; as well as a bawdy entry submitted almost identically by both Jon Gearhart and Jesse Rifkin: Crossword constructor: “When you walked in, you turned 3 Down into 6 Across.”
The crossword entry did make it onto the print page (where I tend not to put the edgiest entries) without any editorial objection. That’s because it requires a moment of figuring out the joke — something that taste-complainers don’t tend to do; they’re usually reacting to particular words or, more often, pictures. One of the two entrants (don’t remember which) used the name Will Shortz for the cruciverbalist flirt, which I thought made the graphic metaphor seem too personal and consequently too tasteless. (But still not approaching this one “from” 79-year-old Nancy Pelosi: “I would prayerfully get down on my knees for you.” REALLY?)
Make sure you sign up for the NEWsletter!
As I noted in the past two columns, The Post discontinued about 20 email newsletters out of the 60 it was regularly sending out, and the small-circulation Style Invitational notification was one of them. But if all goes well this afternoon, I’ll be sending it out myself on a new platform, but with the same ol’ links to the week’s new Invitational and Conversational. So please sign up for it at tinyletter.com/TheEmpress — all you have to do is give your email address, no other data, not even your name.
As of now, only about 400 people have signed up; the original mailing list was about 10,000; I can take up to 5,000. It’s not clear to me whether I can add people to the list myself (which I’ll do for new Invite entrants) or whether they have to sign up, but I’ll try. Meanwhile, I get a little email from Tiny Letter whenever a new person signs up. Brighten my day!
(Just like The Post’s own newsletters, this one is not a way to get around the paywall; you have to be a digital — or print — subscriber to get to either column. But hey, it’s half the cost of the $200-a-year NYT, even when there’s no sale going on, which there usually is. Yes! $80! And that includes crosswords and recipes, which NYT doesn’t.)