First, a quick update from last week’s Style Conversational: If you rushed breathlessly to read it as soon as it was published, you’d have missed it when I announced in an update that this year’s Flushies awards picnic — last year’s was of course canceled — would be not in July, as I’d stated last Thursday, but on the presumably much cooler Saturday afternoon, Sept. 18. It will still be at the Manse of the Mertenses — Loser Sam and his obliging family — in outer Silver Spring, Md., where one can have a six-acre property and raise chickens. Save the date! (And see below for some more Social Engorgements this summer.)

And … they’re offspring!* The ‘grandfoals’ of Week 1434

*By Tom Witte and Stephen Dudzik from the 2013 grandfoals contest

The results of Week 1434, this year’s “grandfoal” name contest, are full of the zingy pun-on-pun action that the spinoff challenge has delivered every year since I first ran it in 2007. The 64 entries that got ink this week could be followed by another 64 that were almost just as good.

Though they numbered barely half of the Part 1 “foal” contest four weeks earlier, the 2,126 valid entries (plus 200-some headline ideas, etc.) from 211 entrants once again made it among the most popular Invite contests of the year, at least for the “breeders.” And thanks again to the skills of Selfless Sorter Jonathan Hardis, I was able to enjoy the wit of the entries without being overwhelmed by them, as I used to be in the early years. (Since neither Jonathan nor I see the entrants’ names until I make my choices and then look them up, Jonathan’s free to send his own entries — which got him a blot of ink this time around.)

One foal name in particular amused Jonathan as he ran his sorting/ cleanup/ fixed-your-misspelling program: School Near Boston, bred by First Offender Michael Doyle from Harvard x Classier; “I went to school near Boston” is a well-known way to humbly — or more likely humblebraggardly — say you’re from Harvard.

“As an MIT alumnus,” Jonathan told me, “I noticed that MIT was frequently punned for ‘School Near Boston’ — and often in unflattering ways.” In fact, of the 91 grandfoals sired by (or born to — who can say?) SNB, 30 of them referenced his alma mater. None of them ended up getting ink, but this one was on my VeryShortListTM: School Near Boston x Polar Espresso = DeMITasse (Steve Fahey, an alum of … Harvard Medical School)

Among the others:

Clothes Encounters x School Near Boston = Hem I. T.

School Near Boston x 0 Pesos = AdMIT Nothing

Parasite x School Near Boston = MITe (from several people)

E. F’n T. x School Near Boston = DamMIT

School Near Boston x E. F’n T. = M. I. F’n T.

School Near Boston x Genial Herpes = Catchers MIT

School Near Boston x Hammer and Sicko = sMIThereens

School Near Boston x In Tents = MITeepee

School Near Boston x Marlin Blando = MIT Romney

School Near Boston x Suite, Marriott = MITt Roomney

But MIT didn’t get all the (non-) ink. Here are some other Schools Near Boston puns:

Harvard (14 in all)

School Near Boston x 0 Pesos = The Hahv-Nots

School Near Boston x CruMBS = Ivy Meager

School Near Boston x Hammer and Sicko = VeriTASS

Rhapsody in Red x School Near Boston = Crimsong


School Near Boston x Dodger = OK, it’s Tufts (NOT by Tufts alumnus Jeff Contompasis)

School Near Boston x Fly Like an Emu = Tufts of Air

Boston University

School Near Boston x It’s All Over = BU Hoo

Replaceable You x School Near Boston = It Had to BU

Hammer and Sicko x School Near Boston = Vladimir BUtin


School Near Boston x Outamind = UMass Hysteria

School Near Boston x Passed Gas = PhewMass


School Near Boston x Bitter Inside = Brandeis Sour

School Near Boston x Polar Espresso = Brand Ice

Berklee College of Music

Joe Ban Jo x School Near Boston = Banned in Berklee

Wile E. Peyote x School Near Boston = Buzzed B. Berklee


Wellesley: School Near Boston x On Pyrite Pond = Oars 'n' Wellesley

Boston College: Passed Gas x School Near Boston = Tooty Flutie

Northeastern: Polar Espresso x School Near Boston = NorthByNortheastrn

And from the geography-impaired ….

Brown (Providence, R.I.): It’s All Over x School Near Boston = Blown University

UConn, 85 miles from Boston: Passed Gas x School Near Boston = Smells Groton

Notre Dame (presumably the one in South Bend, Ind.): School Near Boston x It’s All Over = Notre Doom

None of those grandfoals got ink for School Near Boston, but nonspecific one did: Replaceable You x School Near Boston = Replaceable U. (Eric Nelkin)

SNB’s 91 foals didn’t make him the busiest sire out there; even more fertile were Elvis Pretzley (92), Parasite and Bitter Inside (96 each), Genial Herpes (103), It’s All Over (153) and — this will surprise approximately 0.0 percent of Invite readers — Passed Gas, with 169 foals.

While the above entries were all fine and some very good, the four names in today’s Losers’ Circle were Triple Crown-level: Crowning Achievement winner Jonathan Paul (HaberDasher x It’s All Over = RIP What You Sew) has gotten ink in almost every Style Invitational horse name contest, and this is the fifth time he’s won one (along with 20 other victories). At least some of them, like today’s, were chosen totally blindly. Jon just does the horse contests these days, but in the early Invite years, until the early 2000s, he blotted up almost 400 inks. He also got two honorable mentions today: Waning Gretzky x Can’tata = Penalty Bachs and It’s All Over x Cuff Lynx = You’reUnderAWrist

Hall of Famers Mark Raffman and Jesse Frankovich each got their umpteenth above-the-fold inks with topical references: Mark going after evil Mohammed bin Salman with CruMBS x Lip Loch = Ruthless Ness, Jesse with Dodger x Outamind = Ducker Carlson. And it’s the 33rd blot of ink, and third trip to the Losers’ Circle, for J.D. Berry, who had the made-me-laugh Widespread Luting x TamingOfTheShroom = PlayThatFungiMusic.

What Doug Doug: The faves this week of Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood came from the honorable mentions:

Bitter Inside x Suite, Marriott = Vicious Roomer (Larry Gray)

Bye, George x Merch Madness = Buy, George! (Eric Nelkin, Larry Gray)

Merch Madness x Parasite = Buy 1 Get 1 Flea (Eric Nelkin, J.D. Berry)

TimeKeepsOnSlippin x Rhapsody in Red = Into the Fuchsia (Jeff Rackow — I bet that Doug also liked that Jeff spelled “Fuchsia” correctly)

Wile E. Peyote x Bitter Inside = Acme If I Care (J.D. Berry)

Marlin Blando x Passed Gas = Smella! (Chris Doyle)

Ballooney Tunes x IGotRhythmMethod = The Wabbit Died (Mia Wyatt)

And both names to improve on Sunny’s Halo for Halo x Mostly Sunny: Corona Light and Sunny and Cherub (variously by Jesse Frankovich, Pam Sweeney, Bill Verkuilen)


This was submitted as a grandfoal name by Kevin Krist, who did get ink with “Amal Alone.” I print it verbatim without further comment.

PassedGas + HaberDasher = JustSayNO2Ammonia (Okay, I’ll explain: PassedGas is a reference to an anesthesiologist, often called a “gas passer,” who uses Nitrous Oxide (N2O), while Haber is a reference to Fritz Haber, a German chemist who won the Noble Prize in 1918 for his invention of a process for synthesizing ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen gas. And, yes, I realize it has exactly zero chance of inking, but it was too good not to include. And by “good,” I mean “esoteric.” You’re welcome….)

Okay, one further comment: This could not have gotten ink because “Nobel” is misspelled.

Do you think we’ll get any lawyer jokes?

This week’s contest, Week 1438, is the latest in our long series of fictoid contests — spoofs of trivia lists, books, games, etc. I’m having trouble coming up with categories we haven’t done (though I have another one waiting), so I was happy when 277-time Loser (and host of the all-things-Invitational podcast “You’re Invited”) Mike Gips suggested this one about the legal world.

For guidance and inspiration, I’m going to direct you to the Trivia-contest index of Elden Carnahan’s comprehensive Master Contest List. Starting with Week 739 in 2007, it lists some 20 contests looking for fake trivia on movies, politicians, medicine, cars, fashion, animals et cetera et cetera et cetera. On each row are links to the contest announcement and to the results, either in plain text or a PDF of the print page, and often a PDF of the Web version as well. You’ll get it, and you’ll have enjoyed a very nice time suck. Deadline is Monday, June 7.

See Live Losers Walking Around and Eating!

Except for a couple of lunch-and-tours up in Gettysburg last fall and this past spring, the Losers’ calendar of “Our Social Engorgements” has, of course, been empty. But we’re slowly emerging from our caves, with at least two events before the Sept. 18 Flushies:

July 4 weekend: Alex Blackwood, my co-admin (and by now, my soulmate) of the Style Invitational Devotees Facebook group, is coming to D.C. from Houston for an unrelated all-day event in Alexandria on Thursday, July 1, but then will hang around on July 2 and 3. She’ll be staying with us here in Mount Vermin, and of course she’s eager to meet the Losers and Devotees she’s gotten to know through the Invite. While it’s going to be hard (for me, anyway) to organize a whole slate of large-group activities, we can figure on a lunch or dinner on that Saturday, and perhaps set up a few other things with small groups. Suggestions on an informal, easy-to-order place (pizza? beer garden?) where we won’t be crowded are welcome.

Aug. 21 or 22: As a dry run for the Flushies, a Loser Brunch potluck also Chez Mertens.

Anyone who’s interested in the Invite — and if you’ve read this far, that has to include you — is invited to all Loser events. They’re always very mellow and are not Algonquin Round Table quip competitions. You eat, you schmooze, and at the Flushies and January party, you sing along. I’ll be besieging you with reminders in this space in the coming months.