It’s almost impossible to believe, but in the past 1,384 Style Invitational contests — so many of which have asked readers to change some word or name slightly — neither the Empress nor her predecessor, the Czar, seems to have done this specific, ever-so-Invitey one, which was suggested by 60-time Loser Kenneth Gallant (official Loser anagram: Ankle-Length Ant). This week: Change any place name slightly and describe the new place, as in the examples above. The change doesn’t have to be only one letter, but a reader should be able to know what the original place name was. So perhaps “Parts” might not work, but “Parts, France” would be clear enough. You can pretty much bet that someone else out there will have the same name change that you thought of, so it’ll be the cleverest description that gets the ink.
Submit up to 25 entries at wapo.st/enter-invite-1385 (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, June 1; results will appear June 21 in print, June 18 online.
Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives the very last of a set of adorable plush-toy renderings of disease microbes that was donated in — I swear — February 2004 by the very generous 90-time Loser Paul Kondis (Loser anagram: So Ink Up, Lad!), back when microbes could somehow be thought of as cute. This one is a toy Shigella dysenteriae bacterium, named “Stomach Ache” by its creators. Apropos of this contest, it’s closely associated with diseases affecting travelers.
Other runners-up win their choice of our “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mug or our “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get one of our lusted-after Loser magnets, “Too-Weak Notice” or “Certificate of (de) Merit.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/InvRules. The headline “Spring Fauxwords” was submitted by both Jesse Frankovich and Jeff Shirley; Tom Witte wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev and the Devs will anagram your name. “Like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at bit.ly/inkofday; follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.
The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column, published late Thursday afternoon (May 21), reviews each new contest and set of results. Check out this week’s Convo at wapo.st/conv1385.
Spring fauxwords: The seasonal fictoids of Week 1381
In Week 1381 we asked for some fake trivia about spring or things that happen (or happened) in spring. Several Losers informed us that in various places on Earth, March comes in like a llama and goes out like a lemur; in like tuna, out like sushi; in like a lamb, out like a big wuss; in like a polar bear, out like a duck; and, in Australia, in like a kangaroo, out like an emu.
Typically after the vernal equinox an extra two minutes of daylight are added to each day, but beginning March 2020, an extra 45 days were added to each month. (Danielle Nowlin, Fairfax Station, Va.)
Plants can repel breeze-borne pollen by swaying to the left, or accept it by swaying right. (Sam Mertens, Silver Spring, Md.)
and the assortment of yucky-flavored jelly beans:
Responding to a flattering comment by the Dutch prime minister last May, President Trump said: “He’s a very smart guy. He knows where to plant his tulips.” (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
When the White House Easter Egg Roll was canceled this year because of the pandemic, the president was left with crates full of wooden commemorative eggs with the slogan "Impeachment was a HOAX." (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)
In fool bloom: Honorable mentions
In Houston, the first sign of spring is usually stolen. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)
After his “Happy Good Friday to all!” tweet on April 10, President Trump said he was being sarcastic, then claimed his account had been hacked by two Corinthians. (Frank Mann, Washington)
During pollen season in Poland, a jag of uncontrolled sneezing is known as a zyrtec. (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)
President George Washington cut down all the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin. Disgraceful! But the lamestream media never mentions it! — historian D.J. Trump (Steve Smith, Potomac, Md.)
Thousands of drivers descend on San Juan Capistrano, Calif., every March for the annual Opening of the Carwashes. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)
Shortly before his death, Igor Stravinsky planned a sequel to “The Rite of Spring” titled “The Rong of Summer.” (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
If the entire pollen output from a willow tree were placed in a single pile, there is a 97 percent chance that that pile would end up in your personal sinuses. (Todd DeLap, Fairfax, Va.)
Sigmund Freud celebrated Mother’s Day on Feb. 14. (Mark Raffman)
The current administration’s weakened consumer protection laws now allow the label “spring water” to appear on water bottled at any season. (David Young, Falmouth, Mass.)
South of the equator, hope falls eternal. (David Sarokin, Washington, a First Offender)
The first Kentucky Derby, in May 1875, was held during a flu outbreak, prompting ladies to social-distance by wearing huge-brimmed hats. The tradition continues to this day. (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)
The annual congressional bribery season begins with the venal equinox. (Bruce Alter, Fairfax Station, Va.)
Most tulips actually have four to six lips. (Miriam Nadel, Vienna, Va.)
The spring clean for the May Queen yielded six full barrels of trash, but not one bustle was discovered in her hedgerow. (Mark Raffman)
The 17-year Brood IX cicadas were expected to emerge around May 10 in Virginia, but the state’s shelter-in-place guidelines have pushed it back until at least July 15. (Sarah Walsh, Rockville, Md.)
The song “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ Along)” was written in 1926 as a call to arms for communist workers worldwide. (John McCooey, Rehoboth Beah, Del.)
Though it’s often gotten wrong, the past tense of the verb “to spring” is not “sprung” but “springed.” (Jon Ketzner, Cumberland, Md.)
You can keep your lawn healthy and green all spring with regular applications of Lysol. (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)
When played backward, the last four measures of the “Spring” concerto from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” say “Antonio is dead.” (David Shombert, Harrisonburg, Va.)
April 1 is not really April Fools’ Day. (Bruce Alter)
The Easter Bunny is actually just a guy in a rabbit suit — but that guy is Santa Claus. (Jesse Frankovich)
March 3, April 4 and May 5 are known as A-Day, B-Day, and C-Day. (Kevin Dopart)
A bird species called the corrigan flies south in spring. (Dave Leveton, Gainesville, Va.)
When T.S. Eliot was on the Harvard rowing team in 1908, the spring regatta was postponed till May 1 because the Charles River was being dredged. As Eliot mused in his journal, “April is the crewless month.” (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)
Each spring, Jeff Bezos molts his thick black lustrous hair and again becomes completely bald for the summer. (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)
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