The Style Invitational Week 897 Catch their drift

By The Empress

Friday, December 3, 2010; 1:59 PM


"Complete auto care starts with our $17.99 oil change."


Plain English: "For only $17.99, we'll tell you that you need new shocks, struts, brakes, exhaust system, valve cover gaskets, water pump, CV joints, wiper blades and, of course, tires."


- Russ Taylor, Week 729 honorable mention, 2007


People who talk to The Washington Post, or advertise in The Washington Post, or occasionally even write for The Washington Post, sometimes are a bit less than brutally honest when they explain things. Sometimes it's willful obfuscation; sometime it's just being civil. Bah to all that. Calling all brutes once again: Take any sentence from an article or an ad in The Washington Post or from Dec. 3 to Dec. 13 and translate it into "plain English," or otherwise snarkily explain what it "really" means, as in the example above from when we did this contest before.


Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place gets - just in time to be too late for Thanksgiving and Christmas - this dashing hat in the style of a turkey carcass, modeled here by Rylan Gottron of Fort Washington.


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, Dec. 13. Put "Week 897" 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 to be published Jan. 1. No purchase required for entry. Employees of The Washington Post, or their immediate relatives, are not eligible for prizes. Pseudonymous entries will be disqualified. The revised title for next week's results was submitted by Tom Witte. The honorable-mentions subhead is by Kevin Dopart.


Report from Week 893, in which we asked you to write humorous stories of 25 words or fewer: Some of you were much looser than we were about what constituted a story, sending in basically a bunch of one-liners that each featured a pun or little observation. The Czar of The Style Invitational (Ret.), after being shown these and some other entries, ever so haughtily pronounced the top winners excellent but declared he could outdo the others in five minutes. We leave that for you to decide: "She moaned, he gasped, time stopped. Sinew met softness in that sweet, screamless surrender from which new life arises, in this case Bernie Madoff."


The winner of the Inker


Hanoi, 1969: General Nguyen asked the colonel, "How can we use the prisoner to defeat America from within?" Ha replied, "I have an idea." -- "The Wasillan Candidate" (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn)


2. the winner of the U.S.A. vs. Commies play set: "The gimmick is that Bruce Willis is dead for the whole movie."

"Oh, great, thanks a lot. Well, I slept with your wife." (Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.)


3. Years after the senseless tragedy that took her children's lives, she told her tale: "Captain Sullenberger .?.?." Mother Goose began, to a chorus of boos. (Bruce Harris, Scotch Plains, N.J, a First Offender)


4. He viewed the ad as a challenge: Four hours -- nothing! Eventually his girlfriend called the Guinness people. Days later, he called the doctor. (Vytas V. Vergeer, Washington)


More's the pithy: honorable mentions


"I know President Obama would love my book," he thought. "But how can I get him a copy?" (Fil Feit, Annandale)


. . . With One Stone While his wife nagged, Abner prayed under the stars: Lord, remove wife and debt. A meteorite killed her. It sold big on eBay. (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf)


Leslie Johnson was puzzled when Jack gave her a bra four sizes too large. Anyway, she'd really hoped for an ankle bracelet. (Marleen May, Rockville)


No Joy in Melville Ricky didn't mind detention this week. The assignment was to read "Bartleby the Scrivener." He chose not to. (Frank Byrns, Laurel, a First Offender)


Samuel Adams urged on the rebellious colonists as they threw the tea overboard. "A perfect plan," he thought. "Now they'll drink more beer." (Harvey Smith, McLean)


Janine had always been a supporter of organic, cage-free practices. But this time her egg donor was not getting away. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)


With Apologies to Fredric Brown The last man on Earth sat alone in a room, playing his Xbox 360. He ignored the knock on the door. (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)


He told his wife that he was working late. He actually was working late. D.C. can be so boring. (Harvey Smith, McLean)


Short Story An event transpired that created a problem. Conflict ensued for our hero. Eventually a solution was found. Our hero grew from this experience. The end. (Dixon Wragg)


With his severed tongue now in her hand, Oliver knew both of them would never say they're sorry. (Kevin Dopart)


Let's see: Merkowski . . . Murkofski . . . Murkowsky . . . Lisa? Liza? Before the Merkowski, or after it with a comma? All caps, or lowercase? . . . God, it's cold . . .(Tom Murphy, Bowie)


"Nobody loves a fat girl," Becky lamented as the wagons moved up the snowy gap. - "Donner Party Blues" (Jeff Brechlin)


Field Trip "Boys and girls, this is the world's largest, best-preserved Gigantisaurus egg." "Wow!" "Cool!" "Long ago - you have a question?" "How come it's cracking?" (Nancy Israel, Bethesda)


"Your brownies are delicious," Harry's co-worker said. "Beats stealing your lunch," another added. They all laughed. In four to six hours, Harry would laugh last. (Lawrence McGuire)


Grandpa Phil Tells Us How He Took Out the Trash That Day (A True Story) "I put it into designah shopping bags with nice tissue paper . . . left 'em in a mall pahkin' lot . . . an' sat in my cah. An' watched." (Daria Panichas, Philadelphia, a First Offender)


"Stop flailing! I've got your wrist and won't let go!" she shouted, frantic to pull him back aboard."That's not my wrist!"(Elwood Fitzner, Valley City, N.D.)


November is National Novel Writing Month: "I'll write the great American novel," he declares. His goal: 50,000 words. Stops at 25. He gets published, though. (Ward Kay, Vienna)


Next week: Look back in Inker, or Wry, wry again