(Click here to skip down to the winning and losing Tom Swifty jokes from Week 1077.)
“Do you think humans will ever walk on the sun? I was just daydreaming and thinking today and I thought about how crazy it was that a person has walked on the moon and Mars. I was just wondering if u think a person will ever walk on the sun too? Like I know it’s really hot but I am thinking if they went in the winter time when the sun is only like 30 degrees I bet they could do it.”
“Is throwing your hair in the garbage safe? I wanted to be sure because in biology we learned it has DNA and stuff so is it safe?”
“Last year I was Catholic but I’m bored with that now. How can I change my race to Chinese or Russian?” — Questions posted on Yahoo Answers
Whoever said there are no stupid questions hasn’t been anywhere near an Internet. The three questions above were posted in recent years on the Yahoo Answers site, in which the reading public may answer them helpfully or unhelpfully, and were compiled, along with 35 others, by Buzzfeed.com, and passed on to the Empress by 63-time Loser Fred Dawson. They’re all still online at Yahoo Answers; we’ve fixed the spelling and capitalization a bit to make them halfway readable (part of the first question actually reads, “. . . if u think a person will ever walk on the sun to? like i kno its realy hot . . .”).
Your mission is obvious: Write us stupid questions that will make us laugh, like the probably serious ones above. Bad grammar or spelling doesn’t make us laugh; that just makes us weary. The sun-walk example is 82 words, but aim for closer to 50, or fewer.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives another in our series of bad-taste ceramic mugs: This one is called the Big Sipper, and it’s clearly designed to be filled with milk, given that on one side is an udderly feminine swelling where the drinker imbibes. (If by chance the winner has any propriety or is a kid, we will substitute something else.) Brought all the way from Seattle by visiting Loser P. Diane Schneider, who donates it from her personal collection.
Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet, either the Po’ Wit Laureate or Puns of Steel. First Offenders receive a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to email@example.com or, if you were born in the 19th century, fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, July 28; results published Aug. 17 (online Aug. 14). No more than 25 entries per entrant per contest. Include “Week 1081” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/InvRules. This week’s honorable-mentions subhead is by Brendan Beary; the alternative headline in the “next week’s results” line is by Jeff Contompasis. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev, and click “like” on Style Invitational Ink of the Day at bit.ly/inkofday.
^ THE STYLE CONVERSATIONAL The Empress’s weekly online column (posted late Thursday afternoon) discusses each new contest and set of results. Especially if you plan to enter, check it out at wapo.st/styleconv.
And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .
LET’S GET TO THE RESULTS OF WEEK 1077 RIGHT AWAY, THE EMPRESS SAID SWIFTLY
We got more than 2,000 entries responding to our call for Tom Swifty (a.k.a. Swiftly) jokes, which pun on adverbs and verbs. Some of today’s results require you to use a little mental flexibility: Some are sound puns (e.g., “genuine”); some are visual puns (the first four letters of “beatifically”); and some require you to add a mental hyphen or capital letter (after “pro” in “probingly”).
“Every time you ask, you’ll get the same answer; I did not have sex with that woman,” Bill Clinton said reliably. (Greg Arnold, Herndon, Va.)
“We may have to leave the Euro zone,” Merkel remarked. “Ditto,” added Hollande frankly. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
“There are delays on the Red Line,” the voice from the loudspeaker repeated metronomically. (David Litman, Arlington, Va.)
“#%*#!, #%*#!, #%*#!” the former House majority leader effused. (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)
“Everyone would agree that I am very tall, correct?” the North Korean leader stated unambiguously. (Todd DeLap, Fairfax, Va.)
“Microsoft’s search engine is better than Google’s,” Bill Gates said probingly. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)
“I never so much as touched that woman,” said Ike Turner beatifically. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
“Gee, you’ve put on a lot of weight, Auntie,” said Dorothy emphatically. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
“Miss Aniston, you’ve defeated me,” said Tom genuinely. (Hugh Thirlway, The Hague)
“That last Old Spice commercial was pretty lame,” Isaiah Mustafa said pitifully. (Kevin Dopart, vacationing in Naxos, Greece)
“We got rid of all that diet beer,” said the bartender delightedly. (Kevin Dopart)
“Son, you have a right to know; I’ve decided to become a woman,” the father said transparently. (Greg Arnold; Ken Stern, New York, who got his only other blot of ink in 2003)
“I really don’t know what my most popular role was — perhaps Nigel Tufnel,” Christopher guessed. (Jeff Contompasis)
“I no longer travel abroad,” said Chaz Bono. (John McCooey, Rehoboth Beach, Del.)
“You’d better remember that my decisions determine what you’ll pay on your mortgage,” said Janet Yellen irately. (Harvey Smith, McLean, Va.)
“What anagrams can you make from ‘I am Lord Voldemort’?” Tom Marvolo riddled. (Jeff Contompasis)
“Woohoo — she’ll be off running the country for four whole years!” Bill exhilarated. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)
“Don’t worry. I go rock climbing by myself for days,” said Aron Ralston disarmingly. (Lynda Hoover, Shepherdstown, W.Va.)
“Maybe raising eight kids was overly ambitious,” Kate Gosselin brooded. (Kate Sammons, Arlington, Va., a First Offender)
“We do not use slurs to refer to our Asian workers,” Tom said coolly. (Chris Doyle)
“I think we’ve been making headway against this bacterial infection in our hospital,” the administrator said mercifully. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)
Yeah, to heck with this lethal injection stuff — we’re going back to Old Sparky,” Rick Perry ruled concurrently. (Gary Crockett)
“I had never in my life met such rude people until I reached Copenhagen,” grumbled Tom disdainfully. (Sheila Blume, South Setauket, N.Y.)
“Oh, by the way, Dagwood, the dog died,” Blondie said lackadaisically. (Nancy Schwalb, Washington)
“You’re funny — just not ‘SNL’ funny, “explained the assistant producer forlornly. (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)
“Can we just finish shooting the §&@% movie!” huffed Jenna Jameson crotchetedly. (Rob Huffman)
“If I hear that blasted ‘Happy’ song one more time, I’m going to lose it!” snarled the record producer ferally. (Rob Huffman)
“The secret of my success was to never stop swinging,” Muhammad Ali explained bashfully. (Todd DeLap)
“Well, Little Monsters, the good news is that the Wizards made the playoffs,” Lady Gaga said disconcertingly. (Jordi Parry, Arlington, Va., a First Offender)
“I admit I made a few mistakes,” sniffed the Mayor for Life. (Scott Weinstein, Montreal)
“Let me give you a little hug,” the python hissed coyly. (Bill Rippey, Montgomery Village, Md.; Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md. — which makes you wonder what’s in the pipes in Montgomery Village, Md.)
“I won the eBay auction for the shrunken head!” Tom said morbidly. (Dayna Fellows, Bethesda, Md.)
“Just because I don’t want him anymore doesn’t mean anyone else can have him!” she exclaimed. (Tom Witte)
“I’m the only one who ever cleans up the clogged toilets,” the janitor deduced. (Warren Tanabe, Annapolis, Md.)
“I wrote the song ‘Death and the Maiden,” Beethoven lied. (Ann Martin, London)
“There’s only one solution,” Dick Cheney inveighed. (Nancy Schwalb; Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)
“Aah, what’s Baal ever done for me?” the Caananite asked idly. (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf)
“To this day, I’m still creeped out by that one scene in ‘Alien,’ ” Tom said abjectly. (Brendan Beary)
“Say, mate, let’s travel around to Britain’s most oddly pronounced places,” Tom said Cholmondeley. (Brendan Beary)
“I’ve got a sure-fire way of becoming famous,” Monica said successfully. (Laurie Morrison, Rockville, Md.)
“Russell Crowe should never be allowed around a musical again,” said Les miserably. (Brendan O’Byrne, Regina, Saskatchewan)
“Oh, sure, there are NO words that contain all the vowels in order,” she said facetiously. (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)
“It should be ‘whom,’ not ‘who,’ ” the copy editor objected. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
Still running — deadline Monday night: Our contest for bad poetry: See bit.ly/invite1080.
Next week’s results: Hyphen the Terrible, or Wits and Pieces, our contest to combine halves of two different hyphenated words. See bit.ly/invite1078.