From Aug. 15, 2004 (Week 571):

“TESH: kiteshoe: The sneaker that puts Air Jordans to shame.

STHE: malisthenics: Ten more push-ups, just for spite.

HETS: apathets: “whatever,” “so,” etc.

“In his first Style Invitational contest suggestion ever, Obsessive Invitationalist Chris Doyle of Forsyth, Mo., proposes a twist on a contest that ran occasionally in the erstwhile New York Magazine Competition, of which this column is a direct rip-off. Editor Mary Ann Madden offered up a game called Superghost, in which a “root” of four letters was supplied, and contestants had to create and define a word that included it. Chris suggests that we invite more variety by letting you arrange the four letters -- we’ll be using T, H, E and S -- in any order before you make up the neologism (the letters must appear consecutively, however).”

It’s understating the case to say that this contest has worked well for the Invite over the years. In its nine previous appearances, the Tour de Fours contest — I think it’s Chris’s name as well — has produced some of our most classic neologisms in the Loser Lexicon. For inspiration in Week 1042, here’s the collected “above-the-fold” ink from the past decade’s Tour de Fours:

From Week 571 (THES):

“It was so imaginative of 99 percent of all entrants to send in “THEStyleinvitational.” This was a great contest. We’ll do it again sometime, with another set of letters.”

Fourth Runner-Up: Gethsemoney: Thirty pieces of silver. (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

Third Runner-Up: Smahtest: From the only state that didn’t vote for Nixon in ‘72. (Dan Seidman, Watertown, Mass.)

Second Runner-Up: Temple-shtemple: The chant some Jews say before tucking into their traditional Yom Kippur brunch. (Bill Spencer, Exeter, N.H.)

First Runner-Up, winner of the Defense Intelligence Agency coffee mug and stealth bomber bandanna:
Whetstoned: Under the misperception that one’s wits are sharpened by pot-smoking. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis)

And the winner of the Inker:
Transvestheight: The distance between the jockstrap and the bra. (Frank Mullen, Aledo, Ill.)

From Week 609 (ERAN):

Third runner-up: Stalloneranger: Yo, Silver! (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

Second runner-up: Supranecessity: The mother of all mothers of invention. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

First runner-up, the winner of the dinner plate from the American Dietetic Association:
Hooternanny: The au pair you thought was especially promising, but your wife sent back to the agency. (Steve Fahey, Kensington)

And the winner of the Inker:
Dane-rot: What Hamlet discovered when he came home from college. (Danny Bravman, St. Louis)

From Week 676 (ALEF):

4. Afletic: Being able to make “Gigli” and still walk with your head held high. (Phyllis Reinhard, East Fallowfield, Pa.)

3. Halfaleak-halfaleak: How Tennyson charged johnward in his old age. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

2. The winner of the genuine alligator meat and the chocolate “Moose Droppings”:
Self-leapfrog: A popular Zen Buddhist game. (Peter Metrinko, Chantilly)

And the Winner of the Inker:
AFL-eio: The United Farm Workers. (Fran Pryluck, Amissville, Va.)

From Week 728 (ASTR):

4. First-Rationalizer: Unofficial title of the White House press secretary. (Peter Metrinko, Chantilly)

3. E-fenestration: tossing out your old version of Windows. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

2. the winner of the dinosaur poop fossil:
Retrash: To have a yard sale to get rid of all the junk you picked up at other people’s yard sales. (Dot Yufer, Newton, W.Va.)

And the Winner Of the Inker:
Oughtacrats: People who have half a mind to solve all the world’s problems with their brilliant ideas, one of these days . . . (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)

From Week 787 (MINE):

4. Glandmine: A teenager. (Kevin Dopart, Washington; Ira Allen, Bethesda)

3. Indeterminetable: An airline schedule. (Mike Anderson, Billings, Mont., a First Offender)

2. the winner of the first Funny Hat From Beijing:
Effeminazi: Someone who thinks gays should have equal rights. -- R. Limbaugh, the Airwaves (Roy Ashley, Washington)

And the Winner of the Inker:
Jazzmine: A tea that can be enjoyed either hot or cool, but never smooth. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)

From Week 835 (THRE):

The Winner of the Inker:
Interhuh: The grunt you make to let a phone caller know you’re still on the line. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)

2. the winner of the fantastic “Shells Playing Poker” sculpture:
Waiterhole: Where your server disappears to when you’re ready for the check. (Craig Dykstra, Centreville)

3. Jethrogenous Zone: Appalachia. (Judy Blanchard, Novi, Mich.)

4. Rhettriever: A dog that doesn’t give a damn when you call him. (Ellen Raphaeli, Falls Church)

From Week 889 (POLE):

The winner of the Inker:
Gestapolemics: Calling your political opponents Nazis. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

2. winner of the dog toy in the shape of a bikini-wearing chicken body:
Pelosiraptor: A fierce ancient beast, not yet quite extinct. (Ann Martin, Bracknell, England)

3. Googooplex: A enormous day-care center. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

4. CEOplug: When pulled, it often releases a golden parachute. (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)

From Week 947 (NOEL):

The winner of the Inker:
Groucholenses: How to look at the world through nose-covered glasses. (Eric Fritz, Silver Spring, Md.)

2. Winner of the Santa Dreidel and some stocking coal:
iPhonelecher: A tweet-stalking guy. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

3. None-liners: Sight gags. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

4. Leno jay: A nocturnal bird that lays an egg every night at 11:35. (Malcolm Fleschner, Palo Alto, Calif.)

And from Week 991 (VOTE):

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:
Tevow: An electronic device that suppresses displays of religious fervor that occur during secular events. “I tevowed the Country Music Awards and watched the whole thing in 12 minutes.” (Laurie Tompkins, Rockville, Md.)

2. Winner of the 1946-vintage Army surplus athletic supporter:

Lovetobut (noun): A polite refusal of an invitation. “I have yoga class on Tuesday nights, so I gave the White House a lovetobut on the state dinner.” (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

3. Eve-to-Adam (noun): A piece of really bad advice. “Obama’s advisers sure gave him an Eve-to-Adam when they told him to ‘stay calm’ during the first debate.” (Mae Scanlan, Washington)

4. Remote vortex: The mysterious place where household items seem to go. “The TV clicker had once again slipped into the remote vortex, along with four odd socks and the hamster.” (Gordon Cobb, Atlanta)

I have every confidence that Week 1042’s neologisms will hold their own with the above. I’m allowing definitions for existing words for the first time in this contest not because I don’t think I’ll get enough good entries otherwise, but simply because I always end up rejecting funny entries because they were for an actual word. I hate to turn away the Truly Funny.

Our strain of thought:* The results of Week 1038

*Headline by Kevin Dopart

I got plenty of long, rambling answers to straightforward questions for Week 1038, with all kind of tenuous links between the various parts of the explanation. Unfortunately, most of them illustrated a principle that we’ve all found to be true: Long, rambling explanations tend to be boring explanations. The entrant (I never checked who) who provided a full-page discourse on why cats sleep all day made me envious of my pal Joey.

The winning entries, though, saved the day with clever links, timely references and just some general wackiness.

I wasn’t shocked to see that the Loser who connected “rhino” with “Ryan O’Neal” and “bar‘nacl’es” with “salt” was one Chris Doyle, who has so much ink that his totals are presented with exponents. Meanwhile, Danielle Nowlin continues to snarf up ink at an alarming rate, with her 61st and 62nd blots since debuting in just Week 995. David Garratt, relocated out West after retiring from FEMA, is back with Ink 51, and Mike Gips gets in both the Redskins and Jeff Bezos for his 132nd blot, 19th above the fold, and yet another mug or tote bag.

With Malitz toward ... The fave of Sunday Style Editor David Malitz this week was Kristen Rowe’s explanation of Obama’s citizenship, evidently because he’s very fond of Toto.

Dine with genuine Losers — no tickets required!

The next Loser brunch is on Sunday, Oct. 20, at noon at the Mosaic Cafe in Rockville, Md. Mosaic specializes in waffles but also serves lots of soups, sandwiches, salads, skinks, etc. I have to be somewhere 100 miles away that afternoon and so won’t be able to make it myself, but I’m looking forward to the Nov. 17 gathering at Kilroy’s buffet in Northern Virginia. RSVP to either or both gatherings here.

Name That Toon: An impromptu contest

Per Bob Staake’s suggestion, I posted his Week 1042 cartoon this morning on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook and asked people to offer some ideas about what the contest would (or should) be. I’m relieved that no one came up with the actual answer, a depiction of the adjective “kinsane” (Bob’s own word). The challenge got 44 comments; my favorite was from Steve Langer: Find 12 differences between this picture and Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want.”

When it’s feasible (the art is available early enough, it wouldn’t actually give too much away), I think I’ll post the cartoon early every week. If you’re not a Devotee, get your Devoter ID at .