Loser Larry Gray -- who gets his 100th ink this very week -- displays our next first-place trophy. Larry crafted 53 bases of cherry wood, and designed and made the flags as well. He and the Royal Consort assembled 14 of the trophies this week. (Mark Holt)

I’m not yet officially announcing the debut of our new Style Invitational trophy, because I still have six or seven more Inkin’ Memorial bobbleheads to give out; this week’s winner, Chris Doyle, will decline his Bobble-Linc, given that he could build a retaining wall with the ones he’s already won along with his almost 2,000 blots of ink over the years. But since we now have 14 of the new Lose Cannon trophies assembled, I think it’s right that Chris should get one now.

I thought up the Lose Cannon last year, inspired by a then-candidate’s tweet about Hillary Clinton; while I knew the “covfefe”-type mockery over that tweet would subside quickly, I figured that the word would continue to work fine for the Loser community. When I shared my idea on Facebook with the Style Invitational Devotees group, Loser Larry Gray offered to help create them. And as you can see, his handsome hardwood bases are really a bit too nice for a Loser prize, though his “BNAG” flags, made from sticky labels, are just Loserly enough. The little cannons are pencil sharpeners that I ordered from a school-supply website; I ordered 50 but I’m still waiting for 23 that weren’t in stock. On Memorial Day, Larry drove all the way down from Almost-to-Pennsylvania, Md., to the Empress’s south-of-D.C. palace, Mount Vermin, and he and Royal Consort Mark Holt put together the first 14 Lose Cannons after trying various methods.

Too bad Larry gets only a magnet this week, rather than one of these — but at least it’s his milestone Ink No. 100. And he did happen to win the grandfoal contest last year, with Autocorrect: Nose x Señor Moment = No Sé .

In coming weeks, I’ll continue to award the Inkin’ Memorial to first-place winners who hadn’t won one before; those who already have an Abe may opt for the cannon. But I really hope that they don’t display the cannon barrel facing up at the bobblehead.


Shown on the cover of a tribute by a fellow Mad Magazine legend, Bob Staake’s idea of what God must look like.

Week 43, 1994. It was one of the biggest flops ever: As the Czar put it three weeks later:

“We expected trouble with this one. What we anticipated was a mailbag full of hilarious, bladder-weakening entries far too tasteless to publish. The good news is, we got almost nothing that was tasteless. The bad news is, we also got almost nothing that was funny. Fact is, we got almost nothing at all, a mere 200 entries, possibly because the premise of this contest was so insulting that decent human beings gave it a wide berth. Or possibly we were being punished by God Himself, who — mandibles flailing and blowhole snorting — bollixed up the responses. Possibly this contest was simply an idiotic idea.”

After filling space with other stuff, the Czar finally printed this much.

But for this week’s contest, Week 1230, Bob Staake knew exactly how he wanted to depict the Creator: as the late William M. Gaines, the publisher of Mad magazine, for which Bob remains one of “the usual gang of idiots.” “We always joked that he resembled our impression of what God would look like,” Bob says.

I’m optimistic that this week’s contest — in which some Creator ponders some creation — will fare much better. While you could argue that the sample tweets derive some of their humor or at least hipness from the lowercase, minimally punctuated, flat-affect presentation, I think they’ll come off better Invite-wise in standard structure. (One or two, kinda cute; 25 in a row, they start to grate on me.) Also, duh, we’re not going to run language like what’s in this one about whales. And: As always, you have to use your own name that people call you in daily life, not a Twitter handle. The entries don’t have to be of tweet length, but they shouldn’t be huge paragraphs either. Brevity is definitely part of the charm.

Here’s the BuzzFeed listicle compilation from 2016, headlined “24 Hilarious Tweets About God Creating Animals.” Not all of them provoked my personal hilarity. I did like, in addition to the three examples I used:

[god creating snakes]
how about a sock that’s angry all the time (Horny Rae Jepsen)

Most days on Facebook, I post an Ink of the Day; most aren’t this graphically fancy, though. (Thanks to Valerie Holt, the Empress’s Thing Two.) Click “like” at bit.ly/inkofday to see them regularly. (Design by Valerie Holt)

[God creating platypuses]
God: This is my best work. Yes, Karen I am high, but that has nothing to do with it. This is perfect. Send it out. (Jom)

[God, creating pigeons]
Make them pace back and forth like a lawyer. (Viktor Winetrout)

*Non-inking headline by Jon Gearhart

As in many of the past dozen years, the entry pool for the Week 1226 “grandfoals” spinoff contest — to “breed” any two of the “foal” names that had been derived from any pair of Triple Crown nominees on a list we showed in Week 1222 — was only half the size of the original. BUT that meant more than 1,900 entries, which as always gave me lots of clever wordplay to choose from. I won’t have the least trouble finding a couple dozen more to publish (along with more foal names) on one of the two Thursdays in July when the Empress will be on vacation. (It’s the first time ever that the E will skip two consecutive contests, preventing her from even being able to judge entries in the hotel room and river cruise ship. Royal Consort: “Good.”)

Combining (mostly) puns with puns didn’t deter the Loser breeders from producing some great punpun puns. Some inkworthies were submitted by too many people to get individual credit: among them, Man Asses x Help a Thief! = Buns of Steal; Shall I Comp Thee? x Hive Got Rhythm = FreeBee; Love Hertz x Fish Shtick = Rent-a-Carp. Occasionally I chose one grandfoal name over an identical one because it was from a better cross of “parents.”

It was during a horse names contest that I first became conscious of this extraordinary Chris Doyle person; in 2001 I was filling in as “Auxiliary Czar” for a couple of months, and was overwhelmed with entries; there was not yet a 25-entry limit; some people would send in literally hundreds. And while I remember rejecting whole pages of some printouts with a swipe of my pen, I remember getting to the exactly 100 entries from this Chris Doyle, and going ✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔✔, on and on down the page and the next. That year, my solution was to run a huge supplement of honorable mentions online (a fairly new platform), with a total of more than 200 entries. (I had to develop discipline over the years.) Chris got 17 blots of ink, all honorable mentions. Russell Beland got even more, but he’d sent 422 entries.

This year, percentagewise, Chris did even better: five blots of ink — including the win — out of 25 entries. His breeding of Too-Loose Lautrec with Eric Clap to make Tool-Ooze Lautrec combines ingenious wordplay with laugh-out-loud off-color gross-out humor — pretty much the definition of What The Style Invitational Does. This is Chris’s FIFTY-SIXTH Invite win.

The rest of the Losers’ Circle — newcomer Elliott Shevin, recent phenom Jesse Frankovich, longtime but dabbling Loser Dave Letizia — showed a variety of approaches: Dave with You Reeka, a pun similar to Chris’s; Jesse and Elliott with topical humor; and Jesse’s “No, Mr. President!,” one of the few non-pun grandfoal names.

What Doug Dug: The faves of Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood this week: “I liked the winner and runners-up, Plus LookAwayLookAway [Rob Huffman], Peri-pathetic [Mary McNamara], Plunder&Whitening [May Jampathom, returning after a long absence], My Vast Duchess [Week 1222 runner-up Laurie Brink], Sheikh Yerbuti [Mark Raffman] and IPA Lot [May Jampathom again].


We’re currently up to 53 yeses (including a number of kids) for the Flushies, the Loser Community’s annual award “banquet,” which for the second year is a potluck lunch and schmoozefest at the home/farm of Loser Robin Diallo and husband Khalil in Lothian, Md., south of Annapolis. Here’s the Evite; if you’ve read this far down this column, you’re invited.