The Washington Post

Style Invitational Week 998: There ought to be your law — plus our winning new magnets

(Idea by Bruce Carlson; designed and drawn by Bob Staake for The Washington Post)

 Real law: In Massachusetts it is illegal to play only part of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 264, Section 9)

Not a real law: In Massachusetts all dogs riding on car roofs must wear diapers. (Mike Gips, Bethesda)

You’ve probably seen those lists of “stupid laws still on the books.” Eighty-two-time Loser Mike Gips did, and then suggested this week’s contest: Suggest an odd law for a particular place in the world, perhaps prompted by some event that future generations would lose track of. You may also specify the punishment for breaking the law. Alas, most of the really ridiculous “still on the books” laws in these widely circulated lists — that women in Tucson are forbidden to wear pants, or that in Florida, it is illegal to fart in a public place after 6 p.m. — don’t actually exist. But that doesn’t stop us from adding to them.

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a (we hope) unique product: An ill-conceived craft project that the Empress found at a church bazaar, it consists of a bonnet-shaped brimmed basket with a little glass bowl in the middle. On the brim have been glued various sections of a dismembered teddy bear lying on its back — arms on the sides, legs on one end, head at the other end, so that the bowl is in the middle (I would fill it with giblets). But to top it off, the bear head has been modified to include antlers and a red nose — so we have Rudolph the Red-Nosed, Fleshy-Pawed, Dismembered Reindeer/Bear Hybrid.

(Idea by Beverley Sharp; designed and drawn by Bob Staake for The Washington Post)

Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders receive a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Dec. 3; results published Dec. 23 (online Dec. 20). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 998” 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 The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Jeff Contompasis; the alternative headline in the “Next week’s results” line is by Tom Witte. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at

Report from Week 994

in which we asked for ideas for our two new lusted-after Loser Magnets given to honorable mentions. The slogans are by the Losers; the design and art are by our resident magnetician, Bob Staake, who has gained such stature in the Real Publishing World that we now value each business-card-size magnet at $10,000, up from the previous 21 cents. As usual, we’ll have 500 of each of these made, so this pair should last us about a year. After that, we might dig back into these results for the next set.

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial

plus the magnet featuring his idea: [See the “not(e)worthy” design at the top of the page.] (Bruce Carlson, Alexandria, Va.)

2. Winner of this magnet featuring her idea (see below), plus a romance/fantasy/sci-fi novel written by Tom Witte’s mother-in-law: Discredit Card (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

3. Po’ Wit Laureate (Roger Hammons, Ashburn, Va.)

4. (With picture of the Empress) We Ain’t Not Amused / Honorable Mention (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park, Md.)

Mag-nyets: Honorable mentions

Magnum Dopus (Beverley Sharp)

The unfortunate Christmas basket that is this week’s second prize. (Pat Myers — The Washington Post)

Second to Some / Honorable Mention (Oliver Crown Williams, Arlington, Va., a First Offender)

(With picture of a scornful Empress) E. Loves Me Not / Honorable Mention (Ward Kay, Vienna, Va.)

Hardly Har-Har / Honorable Mention (Barbara Turner)

My Other Magnet Is From the Pulitzers (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

Glib Till It Hurts (Julia Shawham, Silver Spring, Md.)

Sis Boom Blah! (Mary E. Moore, Gladwyne, Pa.)

My Other Refrigerator Is in the Back Yard (Dudley Thompson, Cary, N.C.)

Certificate of Underachievement (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

I Submit to the Empress (Rick Haynes, Boynton Beach, Fla.)

Abandon Taste, All Ye Who Enter Here (Susan Thompson, Cary, N.C.)

(With picture of toilet) Jest Passing Through (Ellen Raphaeli, Falls Church, Va.)

Hey, Loser: Stick This! — The Empress (Dave Ferry, Purvis, Miss.; Travis McKinney, San Antonio)

Only 700 More of These and I Can Tile My Kitchen Floor (Andy Bassett, New Plymouth, New Zealand)

On the Verge of Average/ Honorable Mention (Arden Levine, New York)

wiseCRACK ADDICT (Mike Gips)

Blather, Wince, Repeat: The Style Invitational (Michael Greene, Alexandria, Va.)

Lexicomic Relief: The Style Invitational (Lois Douthitt, Arlington, Va.)

(Picture of a guy with finger in nose) An Honor Just to Be Picked (Art Grinath, Takoma Park, Md.)

Losing: My Religion (Mark Raffman, Reston)

I MADE THE EMPRESS upCHUCKLE (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)

On the Lunatic Fridge (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)

The Wit Hit the Fan (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.; Jon Hamblin, Arlington, Va., a First Offender)

Budget Metal Detector (David Genser, Poway, Calif.)

Crudos! Honorable Mention, The Style Invitational (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

Still running — deadline Monday night — is Week 997, a contest to come up with a dubious charity. See

Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, in which the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.

Next week’s results: Ask Backwards, or Query Picking

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