The Washington Post

Style Conversational Week 1086: Tried and, um, reliable-like

The Empress of The Style Invitational looks at this week’s new contest and results

I’ll admit freely that this week’s contest — to alter a 12-letter term by one letter — is not exactly imaginative. Nor is it “pegged” to any recent event or phenomenon. But! As Loser Chris Doyle — that would be Chris “I Have 1,587 Blots of Ink” Doyle — points out, our contest asking for 13-letter words worked out awfully well, and so ...

It’s true; Week 919 was a very fine week for neologisms. So for guidance and inspiration, here are the FORTY-SIX entries getting ink back in June 2011, happily featuring a slew of Losers whose names I expect to see this week as well. (Speaking of inspiration: Less than two weeks before that contest was announced, Osama bin Laden met his match.)

1. Doom with a view: Recent listing for penthouse in Abbottabad (David Ballard, Reston, Va., a First Offender)

2. Typochondriac: A paranoid proofreader. (Ward Kay, Vienna, Va.)

3. Sodamasochist: Someone who drinks Diet Coke after eating Mentos. (Sylvia Betts, Vancouver, B.C.)

4. Watercoorist:A brewer of tasteless, weak beer. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

Treizepassers: honorable mentions

Nosama bin Laden: Better “never,” but “the late” will do. (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)

Sinfinitesimal: Hardly worth going to confession for. (Lois Douthitt, Arlington, Va.)

Panticommunism: Even Marx didn’t mean for the abolition of private property to go that far. (Pam Sweeney, Burlington, Mass.)

Defibillator: A lie detector. (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)

Total meltdow: A stock market crash. (Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)

Hoverachievers: Helicopter parents. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

Sunderachievers: Divorce lawyers. (Tom Witte)

Membarrassment: An open fly. (Theresa Kowal, Silver Spring, Md., a First Offender)

Childpoofing: What pageant moms do. (Kurt Stahl, Frederick, Md.)

Duchess of Dork: Beatrice. (Nancy Schwalb, Washington)

Let’s Mike a Deal: Recruitment slogan for DEA agents. (Loris McVittie, Rockville, Md.)

To bed or not to be: The worldview of a sex addict. (Submitted under a pseudonym and revealed after judging to be The Post’s Gene Weingarten; he gets no prize except questionable glory)

Sirendipitous: Describing a man’s ability to find, without really trying, the woman who will ruin him. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)

Seventh heave: The apotheosis of worshiping the porcelain god. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

Gruel, to be kind: Airline food in economy class. (John McCooey, Rehoboth Beach, Del.)

Streeptococcus: The acting bug. (Susan Geariety, Menifee, Calif.)

“The Naked Ruth”: TV ratings plummeted after Dr. Westheimer began giving live demos. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Interrorgation: Rejected euphemism for waterboarding. (Johnny Lanham, Columbia, S.C.)

Bleakfast menu: A few old danishes on the motel sideboard. (Roger Hammons, North Potomac, Md.)

Freudian ships: Submarines. (Ann Martin, Bracknell, England)

Bloopingdale’s: For great deals on irregular fashions. (Valerie Matthews, Ashton, Md.)

Goop and Plenty: Melts in the box, not in your mouth. (Frank Mullen III, Aledo, Ill.)

Pen and teller: Minimal banking. (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)

Breastfeeling: What’s promoted by the La Lecher League. (Kathye Hamilton, Annandale, Va., a First Offender)

Sintermission: Pausing to have a cigarette and regain strength. (Tony Phelps, Washington)

Big Bong theory: Cosmological theory of expan . . . hey, dude, you done with those potato chips? (Donald Carter, Wayne, N.J.)

Gratifiction: Faking it. (Craig Dykstra)

E pluribus anum: Out of many, we elect you-know-whats. (Matt Monitto, Bristol, Conn.)

Hornithologist: Someone who studies birds AND bees. (Jonathan Hardis, Gaithersburg, Md.)

Teutonic shift: A titanic gaffe. (“Ruth Frieder, Bethesda,” revealed after judging to be Gene Weingarten)

Foolhardness: An overdose of Viagra. (Tom Witte)

WTOP Forty radio: It only plays songs by Talking Heads. (Christopher Lamora)

It was God’s swill: Rationalization for jumping off the wagon. (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)

Encephallogram: An X-ray of a man’s brain — his other brain. (Theresa Kowal)

Squintuplicate: The 1-point font for the fine print on car lease forms. (Brendan Beary)

Aryan Zimmerman: The uberstar third baseman leaves no room for errors. (Steve Glomb, Alexandria, Va.)

Bathematician: Archimedes. (Jeff Contompasis)

Ragumentative: “End of discussion. Period.” (Judy Blanchard, Novi, Mich.)

Champ ate the bit: When Mike Tyson’s hunger got the better of him. (John McCooey)

A Day in the Wife: Little-known Lennon/Ono composition consisting entirely of moans and shrieks. (Dave Airozo, Silver Spring, a First Offender)

Imperceptable: Describing an error that hardly anyone will notice. (Ward Kay, Vienna)

And last: Lexhibitionist: Someone who sends in 120 neologism entries in a single week. (Tom Witte)

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Note that I didn’t refuse to run entries that made it to 13 letters only because they ended in -s. Because the 12-letter parameter is just that, it doesn’t violate any “spirit of the contest” to allow plurals. On the other hand, starting with a 12-letter term is the only parameter. So if your 12-letter term is a 13-letter word with a dropped letter, I can’t run it.

Otherwise, the general neologism guidelines apply: Your altered word tends to be a lot funnier if the reader can recognize the original term (which isn’t shown). And while there’ve been occasional exceptions among our dozens of neologism contests over the years, you’ll notice that in each of the 46 inking entries above, the definition alludes in some way to the original term as well as the neologism.

How can you find a bunch of 13-letter words to work with? Well, I won’t provide them myself, but I have a strong hunch — basically, I’m Richard III here — that one of the generous Losers on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook will shortly share either a whole list or a link to one. (If you haven’t joined yet, you should; sign up and I’ll wave you in.)

It’s the Bilgeboard Top 47! The results of Week 1082

If you’ve looked at the interminable list on Twitter of #removealetterruinaband, and possibly even if you read the e-mail group Losernet the morning after the Week 1082 entry deadline, you might not mind too much that The Washington Post has this person who reads all the Style Invitational entries and selects just a few dozen for you to read — even if there might have been one or two that you’d have liked more.

In this middle of this process, I vented in this post on the Devotees page: “Estimated number of entries for the Week 1082 band name contest: 2200. Estimated number of clever jokes: few.”

“Few” turned out to be maybe 3 percent of the pool — my short list had about 70 entries. But that was all I needed — well more than that, in fact — for a still-lengthy list of altered names of bands or performers, along with funny notes about them. Not surprisingly, I sometimes got many entries with the same band name; in that case I chose the best wording, and occasionally combined two entries and gave double credit; I also double-credited the two Losers who gave the same description for different bands, the Violent Phlegms and Public Enema (we are just so cerebral here).

While I think the jokes are easily “gettable,” I linked to each of the performers’ names, usually with a clip of the song that’s also punned on.

Frank Osen, who’s just passed the 100-ink mark, grabs his fifth Inkin’ Memorial with his timely and zingy “Kerry and the Peacemakers.” Frank started playing the Invite so recently that none of his wins earned the Bobble-Linc’s predecessor, the Inker, which we stopped giving out only two years ago.

I hope Beverley Sharp has some formal dinner in Montgomery, Ala., to attend soon, now that she’ll be able to wear the bright orange cotton belt decorated with grossly misspelled names of Rolling Stones songs. At least she’ll be properly outfitted for her eventual Invite Hall of Fame induction — with her three blots of ink this week, Beverley is only 34 entries short of the big 500.

J. Calvin “Bimp” Smith is one of our most veteran Losers, though not an obsessive one; he got his first ink in Week 60. Along the way, he’s picked up 43 blots, including an impressive 12 “above the fold.” But Marc Shapiro — one of a couple dozen new entrants this week — will be getting a FirStink air “freshener” for his first ink, along with his choice of Grossery Bag or Loser Mug.

One new entrant, who just missed getting ink (he sent “Minivan Halen,” which is listed in the intro to the results), is a familiar name to some old-time Losers: Warren Clements used to run an Invitational-like contest for the Globe & Mail newspaper in Toronto. Not only did several Losers get Globe & Mail ink back then, but a contingent even visited Warren at the paper’s offices during a “Loserfest” vacation. (Where should the next Loserfest be? Any volunteers to organize it? Closer would be better, I think.)

There are also stupid answers: A follow-up to Week 1081

When Longtime Loser Joseph Schech joined the Style Invitational Devotees just last night, he asked if we’d be doing a contest to answer the winning and Losing stupid questions from Week 1081. While we’d done that for a past stupid-question contest, I didn’t think that this year’s entries would produce enough of a variety of clever answers; they just weren’t constructed to allow for it. But I invited the Devotees to give it a try on the Facebook page this morning. My favorites:

Q: “Is it insensitive to tell light-bulb jokes to a blind person?” (Dave Letizia)
A: Not if you do it in sign language. (Mark Raffman)

Q: Why do people argue about which came first: the chicken or the egg? Everyone knows you need a chicken to produce an egg! (Frank Mann)
A: Wait, don’t you really need two chickens? (Ken Gallant)

Unnatural acts*: The unprintables from Week 1082

(*Subhead by Jeff Contompasis)

These aren’t shocking, but still, if you don’t like tasteless puerile humor, please don’t read further. You’ll be fine.

Beatwood Mac- Many of their songs, including “Grypsy,” “Handslide,” and “Second Hand Ews,” were originally performed single-handedly and were tried out on various members. (Jon Gearhart)
Loo Reed: Singer who performed with Public Enema, Small Feces, Runs ’N Roses, Poo Fighters, the Red Hot Chili Poopers … (Chris Doyle)
Pubic Enemy: A Velvet Underground cover band. (Bill Verkuilen)
Red Hot Chili Peckers: Every member of the group caught an STD on their world tour. (Doug Wadler)

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