Above is the answer grid for the Los Angeles Times puzzle that ran on this page July 11 — but I’ve covered more than half of the squares with the li’l legumes so that you can choose your own letters in almost all the words in the grid. This week: Write novel clues for as many as 25 answers in the grid, across or down, first substituting your own letters for any covered ones. Your answer may be a single word or a phrase, a real word or one you made up. (Treat unbeaned answers as those actual words.) The letters DON’T have to cross; just think of each answer on the grid as an individual word or phrase, just placed in an irritatingly unwieldy format instead of a nice tidy list. Also, your clues don’t have to be as brief as in real crosswords, but they shouldn’t run more than a dozen words or so.
There’s one hitch: To make the letters big enough to be read, the Empress left the numbers out of the squares, which means you can’t tell me where your word appears on the grid. So: YOU MUST SUBMIT YOUR ENTRIES IN THIS FORMAT:
● First type the word as it appears, with hyphens or dashes designating the covered squares;
● then type YOUR word;
● then type your clue, as in the examples below. Do not break those elements into separate lines! Just like this:
— — AR — F —: CLARIFY: What you do after you’re caught in a blatant lie
TH — — P — AN: THE APIAN: Jeff Goldblum’s new movie role as a giant bee
Submit up to 25 entries at wapo.st/enter-invite-1446 (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Aug. 2; results appear Aug. 22 in print, Aug. 19 online.
Winner gets the Clowning Achievement, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives an olive-drab canvas bag that Loser Cheryl Davis got from a street vendor at the Great Wall of China. The lettering is Mao’s own, of his motto “Serve the People,” but who’s that pictured in the Chinese army uniform? Why, it’s . . . Barack Obama.
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, “No ’Bility” or “Punderachiever.” 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 “List Tickles” is by Mark Raffman; Kevin Dopart wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev; “like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at bit.ly/inkofday; and follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.
**The Style Conversational: In this week’s column the Empress provides that tidy list of the words (complete with dashes) in the grid. See wapo.st/conv1446.
The “You’re Invited” podcast: A new half-hour episode just dropped, featuring several Losers, live from the Invite picnic at the Empress’s house. See bit.ly/invite-podcast.
List tickles: Compare/contrast winners from Week 1442
Week 1442 was another installment of our compare/contrast contest, in which you explain how any two items on the random list we posted are alike or different. As usual, lots of the connections were real stretches, but some were so right that it seemed we must have planned for such an answer (but we didn’t).
The difference between Simone Biles and the Texas power grid: You can count on only one of them to light up an arena. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)
An Olympic pole vaulter: Man with a 17-foot pole.
An evening with Mitch McConnell: Man! Not with a 17-foot pole! (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)
and the socks that look like a box of Nerds candy:
A quarantine puppy and the world’s largest pants: Both come out of a dog giving birth. (Daniel Galef, Tallahassee)
And the winners of the Clowning Achievement:
12 gallons of hand sanitizer: Purell.
An evening with Mitch McConnell: Pure 'ell.
(Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich; Jeff Rackow, Bethesda, Md., who submitted virtually identical entries)
Linklings: Honorable mentions
A mask-making company and an evening with Mitch McConnell: With one, you cover your nose and mouth; with the other, cover your eyes and ears. (Frank Mann, Washington)
A mask-making company: 3M. Pineapple upside-down cake: MMM! (Jesse Frankovich)
The world’s largest pants and the singular “they”: They’re both really useful when nothing else quite fits. (Deb Stewart, Damascus, Md.)
An evening with McConnell would give Obama fits. The world’s largest pants are what Your Mama fits. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)
The world’s largest pants and a non-fungible token: Both allow for wide swings of your most precious assets. (Allan Zackowitz, Brookeville, Md.)
The world’s smallest pants and a pre-algebra textbook: My teenage daughter wouldn’t be caught dead with a textbook in public. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)
A mask-making company and a quarantine puppy: One cleaned up during the pandemic, and the other made you do it. (Mia Wyatt, Ellicott City, Md.)
Pineapple upside-down cake and pandemic gray hair: You can imagine Rudy Giuliani turning up publicly with the cake on his head, but definitely not the gray hair. (Mark Turco, McLean, Va.)
Simone Biles and an evening with McConnell: Simone Biles also flips when it’s inconvenient. (Jesse Rifkin, Glastonbury, Conn.)
A triple word score and an evening with McConnell: Both are better if you have a J. (Deb Stewart)
12 gallons of hand sanitizer and Jewish space lasers: They make the perfect gift package for the modern-day mohel. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
12 gallons of hand sanitizer: It’s not easy being clean. Jewish space lasers: It’s not easy being a clown. (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)
A doped horse and an Olympic pole vaulter: Both might elicit the cry “Cleared the rail and now falling on his head!” (Duncan Stevens, vacationing in Gloucester, Mass.)
A mask-making company and 12 gallons of hand sanitizer: Two things you should have bought in February 2020. (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)
The third seat on Jeff Bezos’s space trip and an evening with McConnell: One offers 12 minutes of excitement. (Jeff Rackow)
A non-fungible token and an evening with McConnell: In short, you could call either of them “non-fun.” (Gary Crockett)
A pineapple upside-down cake and an evening with Mitch McConnell would both be sweet repasts, except for the evening with Mitch McConnell. (Dan Helming, Whitemarsh, Pa.)
A pole vaulter and Simone Biles get about the same height off the ground, but you’ll never see a pole vaulter stick the landing. (Steve Brevig, Springfield, Va.)
Both a doped horse and a quarantine puppy have a leg up. (Eric Nelkin, Silver Spring, Md.)
Mozart and the third seat on Jeff Bezos’s space trip and 12 gallons of hand sanitizer: Hear high G, feel high G and smell hygiene. (Ben Aronin, Washington)
Pandemic gray hair: You maybe don’t want to dye it. Pineapple upside-down cake: You definitely don’t want to diet. (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)
Pandemic gray hair vs. the Texas power grid: People want only want one of those to go dark again. (Jesse Frankovich)
Simone Biles: Awe.
A quarantine puppy: Aww. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)
The difference between cardboard audience members and an evening with Mitch McConnell: One will lie out flat; the other will be flat out lies. (Kevin Dopart)
Jewish space lasers vs. a vaccination card: One is the outrageous creation used to shame a minority that just wants to be left alone, and the other is space lasers run by Jews. — M. Taylor Greene (John Hutchins, Silver Spring, Md.)
Jewish space lasers and a pre-algebra textbook: Both are clearly the Devil’s work. — M.T.G., Georgia (Frank Mann)
A quarantine puppy and pineapple upside-down cake: With the cake, the toppings are set down first; with the puppy, the droppings are set down all the time. (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge, Va.)
An evening with Mitch McConnell is far less likely than the singular “they” to end in an awkward conjugation. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
Jewish space lasers and the Texas power grid: In cold weather, the lasers may actually work. (Steve Leifer, Potomac, Md., Leif Picoult)
A vaccination card and Simone Biles: The card won’t fit into your pocket. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)
A mask-making company and the world’s smallest pants: No one would be surprised to find Matt Gaetz trying to get into the pants. (Kevin Dopart)
The world’s largest pants and the world’s smallest pants: The former could cover an entire camel; the latter, only its toe. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)
Still running — deadline Monday night, July 26: Our contest for poems based on spelling bee words. See wapo.st/invite1445.
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