The Style Invitational Week 852: Small, Let's get -- Backward rhopalic sentences

Saturday, January 16, 2010; C02


This week's results are for rhopalic sentences, ones in which each successive word is one letter longer. Predictably, a lot of people found it hard to write a rhopalic sentence in something approaching natural English syntax, let alone make it funny and clever as well. And just as predictably, a number of Losers took right to this contest So, by perhaps unpopular request, we'll do it again, backwards and in high heels: This week: Write a rhopalic sentence (or fanciful newspaper headline) in which each successive word is one letter shorter. Hyphenated words or phrases may count as one word or more.


Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a necktie depicting some sculpture by a guy named Rodin that looks exactly like the Inker except that it is missing the paper bag over its head. From Beverley Sharp of Washington, who happens to own five Inkers but does not tend to wear neckties.


Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable Mentions get one of the lusted-after Style Invitational Loser Magnets. First Offenders get a smelly tree-shaped air "freshener" (Fir Stink for their First Ink). One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries by e-mail to or by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Jan. 25. Put "Week 852" in the subject line of your e-mail, or it risks being ignored as spam. Include your name, postal address and phone number with your entry. Contests are judged on the basis of humor and originality. All entries become the property of The Washington Post. Entries may be edited for taste or content. Results will be published Feb. 13. No purchase required for entry. Employees of The Washington Post, and their immediate relatives, are not eligible for prizes. Pseudonymous entries will be disqualified. The revised title for next week's results and this week's honorable-mentions subhead are both by Craig Dykstra.


Report from Week 848, in which we asked for rhopalic sentences, ones in which each successive word is one letter longer. The question arose online on The Style Conversational soon after the contest was announced: Do hyphenated words count as one word or two? The Empress, with uncharacteristic leniency, ruled: either.


The winner of the Inker


I do fun, cool stuff mostly: noogies, pantsing, spitballs, shoe-lacing, hand-buzzers, elbow-farting, towel-snapping, nipple-twisting, flower-squirting . . . -- G.W. Bush, Dallas (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)


2. the winner of the three lollipops with various critters embedded in them:


Dogs NEVER wonder whether burglars underwent mitigating, exculpating, early-boyhood, gender-related disappointment. (Beverley Sharp, Washington)


3. Go out(,) West, urged Taylor swiftly. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)


4. My bra fits lower, dammit, because gravity's heartless. (Lois Douthitt, Arlington)


Stretching it: Honorable mentions


We are agog after Tiger's wrecked Cadillac discloses infidelity, triple-bogey extramarital relationships. (Chris Doyle)


The weak vegan senses: Sauteed reindeer satisfies completely! (Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.)


King Midas dreamt, feeling giltless. (Christopher Lamora, Arlington)


"Oh, lie once again, please!" lustily entreats Gabriella, Pinocchio's adventurous acquaintance. (Mark Richardson, Washington)


Ice, salt, limes, shaker, tequila = blissful margarita perfection. (Craig Dykstra, Centreville)


One word today equals "Salahis": "chutzpah." (Pat Kanz, Ocean Pines, Md.)


I am not with child -- merely heavier. Imbecile. (Paul Buckley, Bowie, a First Offender)


Palin writes notably readable biography: Republican womanifesto. (John O'Byrne, Dublin)


Big-bank asset relief: nothing ventured, something shanghaied. (Kevin Dopart)


"Bo, you been fired!" Little Richard candidly announced. (Chris Doyle)


"I do," she says. Groom silent. (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)


To his wife, Woods needed ironing. (Elwood Fitzner, Valley City, N.D.)


"I Am Sam, Play Again": Seuss's rhyming revision refreshes "Casablanca." (Kevin Dopart)


Tiger should endorse Fidelity. (Joe Neff, Warrington, Pa.)


"I am not King Fairy," Oberon growled. (Chris Doyle)


Fly life cycle: larvae; maggots; pupation; emergence; Cronenberg. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney)


U Nu, the only Burma leader elected, provides countless palindrome enthusiasts interminable entertainment. (Chris Doyle)


"Oh, you heel!" cried direly injured Achilles. (Beverley Sharp)


Best two-worder: Snow blows. (Roger Dalrymple, Gettysburg, Pa.)


Best three-worder: Global warming: chilling. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)


Best four-worder: Re 848: This sucks. (Beverley Sharp)


And last: Why Xmas wasn't widely enjoyed: Rhopalic sentences interfered. (Beverley Sharp)


More honorable mentions from Week 847


Find a sentence in The Post and supply a question it could answer:


You'll just get a more expensive blur.

What if I purchase an impressionist painting at Sothebys instead of Wal-Mart? (Kevin Dopart)


There's a lot of pride in Warren.

Okay, if it's not vanity, why does he think that song is about him? (Russell Beland, Fairfax)


There's nothing like a few good explosions to transcend pesky language barriers.

Briefly, what is your view on diplomacy, Mr. Bin Laden? (Beverley Sharp)


What kind of accommodations are you willing to tolerate?

What's the first thing you're asked at Motel 5? (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)


Isolated shower late.

What's the romantic forecast if I dare tell my wife that her favorite red dress makes her look chunky? (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf)


The administration and some of the nation's largest banks have hastened to part company in recent weeks.

Can you think of an example of that old saying about a fool and his money? (Russell Beland)


With proper instruction, you'll get the hang of it in no time -- and on your next attempt, you'll be able to do it entirely on your own.

What was the best advice Onan ever received? (Chris Doyle)


I'm really worried.

What did Alfred E. Neuman say about the decline in magazine readership? (Russell Beland)


Next Week: Homonymphomania, or Earily Familiar



*This Week's Snafu:  My change of heart on running more honorable mentions as a Web supplement, and instead deciding to hold them for next week's paper, was not picked up on the  stethoscope, and so the supplement was posted online anyway sometime after 3:25 p.m on Friday.  At 4:45 I asked that it be taken down.  So those catching a glimpse of those entries get to read at least most of them again in the Jan. 16 paper.  I am not sure all of those entries will fit next week, but I promise the Losers who were named in the Web supplement will be represented next week as well.