Send up to 25 posts to wapo.st/enter-invite-1516 (no capital letters in the web address). Closing date for entries is Monday evening, December 5th; The results will appear in print (delivered directly to your chimney) on December 25th, online on December 22nd.
The winner gets the Clowning Success, our Style Invitational trophy. The second place gets – almost in time for Christmas – one Douglas fir “tree in a box” – and this box is a 2½ inch cardboard cube. Inside the cube are some seeds, a starter peat pot, and a mini booklet with instructions and lore. If all goes well, you can grow a Christmas tree in just 7-10 years. Donated by loser Daphne Steinberg.
More runners-up win our “For Best Results, Pour Into End” loser mug or our “Whole Fools” grossery bag. Honorable Mentions receive one of our coveted Loser Magnets, A Small Jester of Appreciation or Close, but Ceci N’est Pas un Cigare. First time offenders only get a smelly, tree-shaped air freshener (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines below wapo.st/inviteFAQ. The headline “Lettery Winners” is by Jon Gearhart; Jesse Frankovich wrote the subtitles for the honorable mentions. Join the vibrant Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook on.fb.me/invdev; Follow Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at bit.ly/inkofday; consequences @StyleInvite on Twitter (no tick for us!).
The style talk: The Empress’ weekly online column discusses the new competition and the week’s results. Check out this week’s classic Questionable Journalism winners (published late Wednesday, Nov 23). wapo.st/conv1516.
Lettery Winner: Alphabetical Writing
In week 1512, the Empress asked the losers to write something 26 words long, each word beginning with a different letter. The only allowed exception: Lest we have a whole page of x-rays and xylophones, you could make your X-word one that has the X in the middle but is pronounced like “ex”. (Also, hyphenated compounds can count as either one or two words.) The result of this difficult challenge: much more readable than we expected.
An inordinate number of the better entries related to the invitation itself; See more of the “And Last” guys in this week’s Style Conversational.
[An A-to-Z passage] One boastful guy would go out with every woman and say, “Honey, I just know a lot! mansplaining? Not on point – pretty ridiculous!” so that angry women would inevitably exclaim, “You naughty!” (Karen Lambert, Chevy Chase, Md.)
An ominous film sickened viewers over the weekend and caused projectile chokes everywhere. Adult: Flashback – Radiating nausea, jerking up eagerly, screaming insanely, kneeling lame. Title? “Junior High Cafeteria: Beef Surprise.” (Leif Picoult, Rockville, Maryland)
and the “Spider Skeleton”:
Conductor at rehearsal: “Violins, you are scratchy and flat! Trumpets – don’t yell like mating zebras! Timpani, what a tremendously horrible noise! Xylophone: incredibly grotesque – just stop! Otherwise – perfect.” (Jonathan Jensen, bassist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra)
And the winner of the clowning achievement:
“I’d like to virtually follow Xiao Qi Ji on the National Zoo’s giant panda camera.” “Uh, why? You know he only eats bamboo and sleeps, right?” (Chris Doyle, Denton, Texas)
Bottom line of humiliation: As he watched triathletes wither, Jack roared “Courgette!” until I realized, “Knucklehead! Damn my French! I was screaming “zucchini” — not encouraging “bravery.” ” (Ellen Raphaeli, Falls Church, Virginia)
I have this very big pimple on my nose, Coffee is pretty bitter, it keeps raining. They exclaim, “What a great day, everyone!” Just shut up, Pollyanna! (Hildy Zampella, Vienna, Virginia)
Some oddly trivial information from the President
Assassinated: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Kennedy Questionable Election: Bush Watergate: Nixon Union Chief: Reagan Famous Virginian/Declaration Maker: Jefferson Yemeni Exclusion: Null
(Louise Dodenhoff Hauser, Sarasota, Florida)
Quickly! Get ready – the holidays are coming! Expect shopping festivals, limited parking, very excited kids, lots of invitations, eager enjoyment, no sleep. (Forget diets; just undo your waistband!) (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Alabama)
I could go all out on Thanksgiving with ribs, sautéed zucchini, wagyu kebabs, quail fillets, aubergine parmesan, yam aspic, eXtra Uni, veal nicoise. Or Chef Boyardee. Decisions! (Leif Picoult)
First we slurp some hearty, undiscovered California Zinfandels. Next, a cask of expertly blended reds: juicy Malbec, earthy Pinot, young Grenache. Most recently: Italian Dolcetto. Then… clunk! (Jonathan Jensen)
Public Speaking Rules: Stand up, be direct; maintain eye contact with the group, host, individuals; just let the natural openness speed up. Then (unless in vain) examine your zipper. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, California)
[A limerick] “Caesar” is dead, as is “Zar”, also “Kaiser”; “Humanity just sped past them and got wiser,” Yammer experts. But news makes idyllic, quaint views smell of ultra-hardy manure.
(Coleman Glenn, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.)
Boomers judged Xers to be “lazy slackers.” who viewed the youth cohort that followed as “essentially entitled children in need of incessant praise.” Okay, millennials, get on with it – vilify Gen Z’s reputation! (Karen Lambert)
Anyone who lives in Who-ville was pretty excited about Christmas… but the Grinch, you know, on his snowy mountain pole, DID NOT! Shock! (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)
Stop using XamfirPM if you experience: headache, joint pain, flaming discharge, wilted ribs, night croaking, glowing, split toes, kaleidoscopic vision, lycanthropy, Bea Arthur imitation, or zombification. (Jon Carter, Fredericksburg, Virginia)
The latest and greatest Star Wars deal from Disney Plus is “Jabba the Hutt’s uncle’s cousin’s EXCELLENT quest: visit Yavin and Naboo, zap Kylo Ren, flog Ewok goods.” (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Virginia)
Exciting hot quickies on weathered pine grandstands can lend new romantic extras. Just know (very quickly!), you will no doubt realize: love is a much fragmented thing.
(Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Virginia)
Elon Musk owns Twitter! Now you can join oppressed racists, xenophobes, gun geeks, QAnon maniacs, Putin defenders, incels and klansmen. Let free (hate) language flourish! (Chris Doyle)
Recognize blurred outlines in the mountainous regions of the Himalayas, gullible visitors would say, “Look! We’ve finally spotted evidence! The abominable snowman exists!” Knowledgeable citizens replied, “Not quite yet.” (Karen Lambert)
Deep scars remain from your vulgar, vicious eX President have not faded. Crude, unruly QAnon zealots blather out insane, abusive propaganda. I will not even consume a “Right Twix”. (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)
When Donny throws zingers at Ronny Have fun! There’s nothing quite like it – Showtime has begun! Unruly little kids just playing king, huge mountains of ego – eXhilarating!
(Judy Freed, Deerfield Beach, Florida)
[Retelling a Greek myth] Athena’s birth shattered Dad’s enormous forehead, which gives him immense harrowing karma. The beautiful Métis, now obviously pregnant, trembled reflexively. Swallowed, the undigested victim wailed excitedly, “Yours, Zeus!” (Frank Mann, Washington)
January: Yow, GOP unleashed! Impending Commotion: required AR-15 possession; election ninja hearings; QAnon Committee; impeachment proceedings against Dark Brandon; Zero Tolerance – Jail! – for “alertness”. Narrator: Marjorie? Kanye? Vladimir? (Duncan Stevens)
And last: God knows joking regularly isn’t very challenging, but getting you to use exactly twenty-six words, each with a different first letter, is just plain crazy. (Jesse Frankovich)
And the last one: Before entering the Invitational, always ask yourself honestly first: Does my joke responsibly display wisdom, underscore legitimate knowledge, or eagerly promote virtue? No? Great – click submit! (Karen Lambert)
More honorable mentions in the online invitation below wapo.st/invite1516; more “And Lasts” in The Style Conversational below wapo.st/conv1516.
Still ongoing – deadline Monday evening, November 28th: Our competition to bring together two or more European city names in a ‘joint venture’. See wapo.st/invite1515.
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Invisible ink! Idea:() Examples:(Frank Osen; Cathy Lamaze; Mae Scanlan) Title:(Jon Gearhart) Subtitle:(Jesse Frankovich) Price:(Daphne Steinberg) VisibleInk!