My Convo-writing cubicle today. (Actually, I ended coming inside, given that there wasn’t yet the usual shade over the back deck here at Mount Vermin, and it was in the 80s at high noon.) (By Pat Myers — The Washington Post)

Being the Empress has a few drawbacks, but the working conditions aren’t too bad.

[Last-minute note: As of 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, the site seems to have crashed, and so links to the Master Contest List, the results of Week 299 and maybe some other links might not work right now; please give them a try later. Update at 4: It’s working for me now.]

When Elden Carnahan’s brother shared with him the word “univocalic,” which he’d learned from A.Word.A.Day, Elden of course started thinking “contest idea.” He looked on his handy-dandy Master Contest List at his website,, and didn’t see anything limiting a piece of writing to a single vowel. And he also was reminded of a Czarist-era contest in which you had to write a newspaper headline using just the left half of a keyboard (results here, under that week’s new contest). Hence the idea for Week 1017. . Writing in the form of a newspaper headline conveniently lets you omit “a,” “an” or “the.” (Note that I didn’t specify that it had to be a tabloid headline, as Week 299 did, but screaming sensationalism is certainly one funny tack to take.) As I noted, the letter Y used as a vowel is going to be a bonus; you may use it in addition to the A, E, I, O or U that you choose. The headlines may be about something real (if interesting) or entirely made up. You still shouldn’t libel someone, though I figured that Mitt Romney isn’t going to file a lawsuit claiming that his reputation has been besmirched by the “grift” example.

Casting aspersions? Ah, pun them: The results of Week 1013

In last week’s Conversational, I mentioned that my predecessor, the Czar, often judged the contest beginning with the entries submitted on the final day of the entry window, because on the whole, they were a lot better than those submitted immediately after the contest was announced; it was both to reassure himself that the contest wouldn’t be a bust (it so rarely was, but it did happen) and to show him a useful level for setting the bar.

I inverted the stack of anonymous printouts over as well, not very far just a few pages into the pun-names of Week 1013. (One person played on the former vice president “Don Cheney,” as in “Don Chain E when interrogating prisoners if Chains A through D break.”) And sure enough, I started checking off dozens of funny if ridiculous puns on people’s names, which soon had me discarding Plan B of running more limericks from last week to fill the page. (And yes, I did end up finding ink-worthy entries throughout the stack, including among the earlier entrants.)

When silliness counts as a valid criterion in a humor contest, it’s a much more subjective call on what’s “funny” rather than dumb. The craziest setup this week was the one incorporating a judge, Jack Abramoff and Nomar Garciaparra, but it made me laugh out loud for its sheer nuttiness.

There were two types of entries that were in contention up to the end, but I ended up not using: First were those in which the name being used had no connection with the joke; there were a number of funny examples of these, but they seemed not to work well with the other entries in which the person’s . So that knocked out straightforward entries like “What do pickle jars say to the pickler? ‘“Phyllis, Diller’” (Jane Hoffman) as well as elaborate constructions such as this one from Kevin Dopart: “Dujardin wired a dozen red roses to Bejo for the premiere of ‘The Artist.’ What did Diesel do? More appropriately, Vincent Gray.”

The other category of what the Style Invitational Devotees on Facebook call “noinks” comprised those that played on the name without evoking a similar-sounding word or words; the Wikipedia entry on puns calls these “homonymic puns”; some would call them non-puns. Regardless, I didn’t rule them out, but I don’t think any made the final cut. My favorite of this type was also by Kevin: “What do you call a Cheesehead with toilet paper stuck to his foot? Scott Walker.”

In yet another Delight of Blind Judging — really, it’s like unwrapping a present that’s not tagged on the outside — I was tickled to find out that my first choice this week was sent in by Natalie Beary, the clearly close-to-the-tree daughter of Hall of Famer Brendan. A number of us met Natalie last May, when she accompanied her dad to the Flushies luncheon in Annapolis, and assured us that she was not there as a punishment. Natalie is the latest in a string of Loser scions to get ink in the Invitational: Michael Biggs, son of Kelli Midgley; Zack and Adam Beland, sons of Russell; Emily and Saralinda Contompasis; daughters of Jeff; Abagail Fraeman, daughter of Kathy; and April Carnahan, daughter of Elden, are just a few of the offspring who’ve engendered pride and perhaps a little fear in their Loserly parents.

Natalie gets a FirStink along with her Inkin’ Memorial, but our other three “above the fold” Losers are all Invite veterans: Christopher Lamora, who’ll be leaving his State Department post in Guatemala City to become deputy chief of mission in the Central African Republic (fortunately, he lets me mail his prizes to his home in Arlington, V.a.); inveterate punster Mark Richardson, who won Invite prizes in two different weeks with puns on the Vietnamese soup pho, in two pronunciations, first as “faux” and then as the possibly more authentic “fuh”; and Papa Beary for Ink No. 871.

In a rare show of sense, er, agreement, Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford e-mailed me to say, “My fave is your fave!” Congratulations again to Natalie. Lynn, by the way, says that “of course” she’ll be coming to the Flushies on May 11. (See below.)

Daily inklings: The Ink of the Day

Since mid-March, I’ve been posting a few classic Invite entries every day from a Facebook page called Style Invitational Ink of the Day. Click “Like” on the page to get the daily squirt of ink, and feel free to share it — I’m hoping that a joke that’s spread around will lead new readers to the Invite. I also post the link each day on Twitter; my name there is PatmyersTWP.

And speaking of the Flushies ...

I hope you all got your e-mail invitation to the Losers’ annual awards festerivities. The Invite invite, which I sent out last Saturday, contained a link to a web page with all the information. In case it’s not loading for you (it didn’t for me, but it did for others), below is the text of what it says. I’ve already heard from some Losers who will be attending their first Loser event, as well as the hardy perennials. The Royal Consort and I, as well as Lynn, are looking forward to seeing everyone. While the invitation tells you to contact Elden and/or Dave Prevar, I’d appreciate it if you let me know as well, at, that you’re coming.

The “Flushies,” named for a talking toilet given out at the first Flushies in 1996, is the annual event at which the Not Ready for the Algonquin Roundtable Society pauses to honor (and by “honor” we mean “attempt to cover in abuse and ridicule”) many who have appeared in The Style Invitational in the past contest year.

As are all Society events, the Flushies is open to all Invitational contestants, fans, critics, shills, lurkers, mutually co-dependent enablers, wannabes, and guests.

There may be musical entertainment (not necessarily talent – and that may be stretching the definition of entertainment, too), and some notable Losers are expected. The Empress herself will be there but probably will not jump out of a cake. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet and mingle with other Losers, but don’t let that stop you.

DATE: Saturday, May 11, 2013

TIME: 12 p.m. - 1 p.m., Meet and Greet the Appetizers; 1 - 2 p.m., Dine; 2 - 3 p.m., Program; 3-4, wind down

We will choose our entrees during the first hour, and you will get better parking then.

LOCATION: Jake’s American Grill, 5018 Connecticut Ave., Washington DC 20008.

COST: $35 per person (cheap). There will be a cash bar (no, not to buy cash…).


From the Capital Beltway, I495, take Exit 33S, Connecticut Ave., MD 185, toward Chevy Chase. Turn onto Connecticut Ave. [By the way, on Connecticut Ave. the initial speed limit is 35 mph, but it drops to 30 after you’ve gone about a half-mile. DO NOT EXCEED THE SPEED LIMIT OF 30 MPH. The street is riddled with speed cameras.]

Stay on Connecticut Ave. You will have to travel through one traffic circle but you can pretty much follow the crowd, or take the fourth exit out of the circle to remain on Connecticut. Travel about 2 more miles and Jake’s is on the right, immediately adjacent to the Exxon station on the right, just past Nebraska Ave.


Directly behind Politics and Prose, straight across Connecticut Ave. from Jake’s. Turn into the CVS parking lot, go straight through to the back of the lot, and swing around to the left. You’ll see a big wall labeled “PARK”. OR

Roam the neighborhood. Make a right or left off Connecticut. There is ample parking within a block or two. Be sure to read all the signs and follow all the rules. OR

Take the Metro Red Line to Tenley Circle. Walk about three-quarters mile on Nebraska over to Connecticut. Turn right onto Connecticut and Jake’s is about a half block in. (This is recommended only to those who are fit. In good weather the walk is pleasant but hilly – up and down both ways.) OR

Take the Metro Red Line to Van Ness/UDC. Either walk a about a mile north on Connecticut or catch the L2 bus. It runs about every 20 minutes. Bus fare is $1.80, exact fare only. Bus drivers do not make change. [There are discounts for senior citizens, Smartrip cards, etc.--check with Metro for these.] Get off at Nebraska Ave. and see Jake’s across the street (right next to the Exxon).

PLEASE NOTE: We are limited to 70 people at this event. Please RSVP with your check ($35 per person) to Elden Carnahan, 327 Montgomery St., Laurel MD 20707. Questions may be addressed to Dave Prevar at, who eventually gets around to checking email, so don’t think you are being ignored.

The bluest form of wit? The unprintables of Week 1013 (some of them NSFW)

Some of these have obvious banned-language problems; one’s a play on a phrase that’s, let’s say, not where we want to go; and one’s just a fart joke but about someone who gets a pass on jokes about his intimate bodily functions.

What was Julia’s nickname in college? Oral Roberts! (Craig Dykstra)

Why didn’t the heavily-pierced hipster get a Prince Albert ring? He thought it would be a little too Dick Cheney. (Nancy Schwalb)

Because he hangs to his right, ladies call Clint “Eastwood.” (Pie Snelson)

How would you describe to Mr. Winkler where you dropped his boosfall ball in rural Arkansas? Fumble Buck, Henry (Kevin Dopart)

Why was the former Chicago mayor’s wife satisfied with her marriage? Because she had Dick Daley. (Mark Raffman)

Which President would have been a good male-to-female gender reassignment surgeon? Dick Nixon. (Seth Tucker)

What kind of work does Simon Konecki do? He may be a farmer, I know he was in Adele. (Mary Moore; Stephen Dudzik)

Whenever my wife and I kiss, a certain appendage inevitably starts to Bob Woodward. (Phil Frankenfeld
After renouncing his Klan membership, why did the Supreme Court justice become such a staunch supporter of civil rights? Once Hugo Black, you don’t go back! (Mark Richardson)

Who is the most flatulent of American presidents? Brrrappp! Obama . (Jeff Wagner, Corralitos, Calif.)