Then, around 1 p.m. today, Eddie breaks the news: “Hey, Pat, the editors are concerned …"
So we won’t have the headline below at the top of the page in this Sunday’s Arts & Style section, or as the subhead introducing the results of Week 1398 in the online Invite.
Instead, we have the eminently inkworthy but less novel “Bleep Year,” submitted by both Chris Doyle and Bill Dorner.
I can’t really argue with an editor who says such a headline is just too crass and childish for The Washington Post. It IS crass and it IS childish. It’s just that we’ve been running crass, childish humor — but always mixed with more cerebral wit — every week since 1993, and it really is the job of the section’s editor to decide where the line should be.
One sad irony: There was another entry almost like Julie’s; it was from Loser Laura Clairmont. She did the same headline but with frowny faces as the emoji. That one would have been absolutely fine with the editors, but it’s too late now to do the production work to substitute it. Laura, you have been Losered. Or, I should say, 2020ed.
Meanwhile, though, there were lots of evocative and funny ways to describe these less than funny days, and I ran 37 of them out of some 2,000 entries by about 235 contestants. Four veterans filled the Losers’ Circle: Frank Osen in his umpteeumpth win, Matt Monitto in his 22nd showing “above the fold” as he sails past the 150-ink mark; and Hall of Famers Beverley Sharp and Duncan Stevens in the show and er, post-show spots.
We have a promising First Offender this week: Madelyn Rosenberg — who’s the co-author of the kids’ novel “This Is Just a Test” with now fellow Loser Wendy Shang — scores a First Stink for her first ink with a sendup of the Post Magazine’s popular Date Lab feature, so many segments of which result in “no further contact” between the sometimes awfully picky singles.
The contest also rekindled the spark of snark from some people we hadn’t heard from in ages: John Johnston, who referenced both Florence Foster Jenkins and “WAP” in the same entry, hadn’t been seen here since 2007. And Teri Chism popped up after almost a decade AWOL, comparing the year to a sandwich spread of toe jam.
What Doug Dug: The favorites of Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood came from the honorable mentions this week: He singled out Art Grinath’s “If 2020 were a novel, it would be ’1984′ with all the funny parts taken out”; Frank Osen’s dig at the oh-so-diggable Jerry Fallwell Jr.; Jesse Frankovich depicting the year as a never-ending infomercial that never stops saying, “But wait, there’s more”; David Shombert’s likening it to a Facebook friend request from Stephen Miller; Duncan Stevens’s casting of Gilbert Gottfriend and (for currency) Kimberly Guilfoyle to do 2020: The Audiobook; and Jesse’s final gibe, especially appropriate this week, “If 2020 were a Style Invitational prize, it would actually be one of the better ones.” Jeez, the man clearly cannot appreciate the finer points of Disposable Underpants and Pimp Oil.
Inside L-ball: I don’t remember reading any shockingly unprintable entries for Week 1398, but there were several that far too insidey for anyone but Invite geeks.
— “If 2020 was a Style Invitational contest, all the entries would be about politicians and hot air.” (Jeff Shirley, alluding to the hoary sub-pun that I’ve sworn never to use, and have implored the Loser Community — in vain — to stop sending already)
— “If 2020 were a joke, only David Twenhafel would laugh.” (Richard Wexler, who’s harking back all the way to Week 191, which — some things clearly never change — was about someone who thought the Invitational was too crass and immature. Here’s the Czar’s intro from 1996: “This week’s contest was suggested by David Twenhafel of Silver Spring. … David wrote us a letter in which he defends us against scurrilous charges of favoritism. The reason we keep choosing entries by the same people, he writes, is not that we are biased, but that we are rewarding the only thing we understand: sophomoric, infantile, slapstick, pratfall, poopy-potty humor. This puts the Style Invitational off limits to persons whose sense of humor is more sophisticated, persons such as David. He suggests that we run a contest for people like him. “I would offer some examples,” he writes, “but you wouldn’t find them humorous, so why bother?” We think this is a fabulous idea! This week’s contest: Make David Twenhafel laugh. Any sort of delightful drollery or amusing witticism will do, so long as it is not the sort of lowbrow fare we usually favor. First-prize winner gets a Poopet, a realistic sculpture of a reclining cat made entirely from compressed cow manure.”)
— “If 2020 was a Style Invitational contestant, it would be Jesse Frankovich in Week 1375.” (Jesse Rifkin. This recent reference was one that even I didn’t get at first. It refers to Jesse F’s astonishing 100-week streak of Invite ink.)
— “If 2020 were a Style Invitational contest, it’d be Week 43, “What does God look like?” (Duncan Stevens, who didn’t start entering the Invite until more than 1,000 weeks later. This Year 1 contest in 1993 was famed among fans of the early Invite as being a total dud. (PDF of results — such as they were — here.)
You’re Invited podcast Episode 3: Elden Carnahan, Ur-Loser
If the arcana above interests you, you’d definitely want to check out the latest podcast of “You’re Invited,” in which Loser Mike Gips interviews Elden Carnahan, who serves as both Keeper of the Stats on the Losers’ website, NRARS.org — a compendium that will floor you if you’re new to the Invite — and the founder, almost from the start of the contest, of a social community among Invitational contestants that continues to blossom. Elden shares stories new and old; he and Mike weigh in on their favorite Invite entries from the past week; and Elden offers an opportunity to some techie-type Invite nerd out there (you?). Get each new episode (plus the older ones) at bit.ly/invite-podcast or on the NRARS home page.
Next Tuesday, Episode 4 is scheduled to feature the Amazing Duncan Stevens, and then Mike will scale back the schedule to about once a month. “It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle,” he told me about the editing process.
See some Losers at a social distance! Brunch in Gettysburg, Oct. 18
If you didn’t see my mention in this column a couple of weeks ago, this is still on. Here’s the post from Loser Brunch Guy Elden Carnahan from the Our Social Engorgements page of NRARS.org, the Losers’ website. I do plan to drive up if the Royal Consort is available or if someone else will drive me.
“Like Lee’s army stumbling around in Pennsylvania trying to find the Yankees, we may start Covid-compliant LoserBrunching at Gettysburg on Sunday, October 18. Host Roger Dalrymple will scout out a suitable outdoor location for lunch, followed by the traditional battlefield tour, with nontraditional social distancing. We’ll issue RSVPs soon.”
So save the date if you’re interested. There’s a LOT of social distance on the Gettysburg battlefields and, I imagine, spacious spots where we could eat outside. Roger, a Longtime Loser, is an excellent tour guide of his town and its history, and Gettysburg is thoroughly charming and scenic.
And one day, one day, we’ll get back to those monthly brunches and parties.
This week’s contest: Racking up the neologisms
I’m always looking for some set of remotely relevant parameters so we can do yet another contest for new words and phrases, and our slipping into the 1400s, weekwise, provided as good an excuse as any, and so Week 1402 asks you to add up Scrabble tiles to exactly 14 to produce a new, non-Scrabble term -- and it can’t hurt to work some timeliness into it, as Duncan Stevens did with his examples this week, such as “karenting,” illustrated by Bob Staake in this week’s Invite, and “mailodorous,” as Bob sketched out above. (By the way, Bob offers both his sketches and pen-and-ink Invite work at bobstaake.com/si.)
This contest’s precedent, in 2016, was for 13-point terms, and had no “peg” at all. I quoted my reasoning in Week 1175 as “Why 13? Why not?”
For your inspiration and amusement, here are some of the results — including an inadvertent fourteener. (Full results at bit.ly/invite1179)
4th place: DVORK: Your friend who can name the composer of every symphony. (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)
3rd place: LOOCIFER: The person who didn’t replace the toilet paper roll. (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)
2nd place: GODSPLAIN: If logic won’t do, perhaps there’s a biblical passage you can quote out of context. (Frank Mann, Washington)
And the winner of the Inkin’ Memorial: DCAYED: Having served in federal office too long. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
Double nerd scores: honorable mentions
TELLUBRIDE: Least popular ski resort for bachelor parties. (John Hutchins, Silver Spring, Md.)
CATULENCE: Gas produced by Fluffy sleeping on the bed. Yeah, it was definitely Fluffy. (Sarah Jay, Churchville, Md.)
ADOLLTERY: Cheating on your inflatable girlfriend. (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)
BIMBROS: Surfer dudes. (Lee Graham, Arlington, Va.)
CARNIBORE: A proselytizer for the Paleo Diet. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)
PURRANHA: A seemingly innocent kitty that attacks without warning. (Jeff Shirley)
CADULLAC: A Buick. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)
RHINOSTONE: Fancy term for a booger. (Kevin Dopart)
BIDDAY: An eBay auction for bathroom fixtures. (Pete Kinsella, Glen Allen, Va., a First Offender)
FARTESIANS: Their model is “I stink; therefore I am.” (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)
FOPAW: A type of shoe worn by politicians to cover their tracks. (Jon Gearhart)
MAWDUST: Orange powder that collects on your lips when you’re munching Cheetos. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
GREENCH: Whoever installed the ultra-low-flush toilets at work. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
KENITALIA: Barbie’s boyfriend is now anatomically correct! (Chris Doyle)
TRUMPTEEN: Yuge in number. “He’s taken trumpteen different positions on that issue in the past month.” (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)
DOODOODLES: Those poop emoji. (Danielle Nowlin, Fairfax Station, Va.)
HASHTAT: A permanent memento of your favorite tweet. (Lee Graham)
MORTGAUGE: An instrument for measuring how far underwater you are. (Jesse Frankovich)
VOLUPTUA: Roman goddess of the hourglass. (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park, Md.)
TRIKK: To cheat at Scrabble by using more of a certain tile than are in a regulation set. (Jeff Contompasis)
SCATOLERANT: What the Empress of The Style Invitational has to be. (Duncan Stevens)
Happy New Year — Rosh Hashanah — to anyone who’d like to just end 2020 right now and start calling it 5781. Note that everyone gets an extra day on this week’s contest so that you won’t have to file on Yom Kippur. Does writing Invite entries count as “work”? Whatever.