The Style Invitational Week 961 The end of our rhops

By Pat Myers, Friday, March 2, 1:38 AM


“That can’t swim very well, Joey!”


The Empress did a contest for rhopalic sentences, in which each successive word was one letter longer. Then we did one in which each successive word was one letter shorter. Then — as you see in today’s results — we asked for sentences whose words got longer till the middle and then shrank, as well as those that shrank and then grew. And so what’s left: the anti-rhopalic, suggested by Loser Craig Dykstra: Write a funny passage or headline whose words all have the same number of letters, as in Bob Staake’s not-so-ambitious example above (directions to Bob: “Write something cartoonable”). As in earlier contests, two words joined by a hyphen may serve as a single word or two words; for contractions such as “you’re,” just count the number of letters and ignore the punctuation.


Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives — since although it’s by no means required, the E has a feeling there might be a few political entries this week — matching little bags of “Democrap Donkey Dung” and “Repooplican Elephant Dung”: “A little bag of political poop.” They are actually chocolate-covered peanuts. Donated by Dave Prevar.


Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, March 12; results published April 1 (!) (March 30 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 961” in your e-mail subject line or it may be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at The revised title for next week is by Chris Doyle; the subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Gary Crockett. Join the Style Invitational Devotees on Facebook at .


Report from Week 957, in which we asked you to write sentences or other passages in which each successive word was longer until the middle and then shrank, or vice versa: We also include today the “You know it’s going to be a bad marriage . . .” jokes from Week 956.


The winner of the Inker


(10 letters to 3; 3 to 10) Douchiness checklist: spray-tan, Cartier, fedora, Lexus, vest, “bro.” You make being nearby utterly horrible. — Larchmont bellyacher (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)


2. Winner of the no-pictures Braille copy of Playboy: (4 to 11 to 4) We’ve found unique pattern: renowned rock-’n’-roll guitarists continually medicating, carousing, imbibing alcohol = Twenty-Seven Club. (Matt Monitto, Elon, N.C.)


3. (1 to 7 to 1) “I do!” she said aloud. Highly dubious, clammy groom said low: “Do I?” (Doug Delorge, Biddeford, Maine, who last got ink in Week 13 — 1993)


4 (3 to 7; 7 to 3) “Now y’all might kindly respect Peyton’s little bitty baby bro.” — E. Manning, New . . York (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)


Very close. Cigar? Nope.  Honorable mentions


Paul, wacko. Romney, foppish. Gingrich, obnoxious. Santorum, atavist. Result? Obama wins. (Nan Reiner)


We met that enemy. Sadly, Pogo, it’s U.S. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)


Parties, chicks, booze, long nap, skip class, repeat: College. (Matt Monitto, Elon University Class of 2014)


I’m sad. Dear sweet Cousin Whitney; Dionne’s powers didn’t ever see it. (Ira Allen, Bethesda, Md.)


(Burp!) “Ocean cruise” spells “broad beam.” (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)


Sometimes “standing ovation” really means “grumpy patrons speedily departing.” (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)


Studying Tinman’s rusted ankle, Toto looks guilty (besides relieved). (Kevin Dopart)


Italian cruise ships head for sea; they often return upright. (Dave Silberstein, College Park, Md., a First Offender)


Countdown: Nineteen, sixteen, twelve, eight, WAIT, HEY! six, STOP! . . . seven, eleven, fifteen, fourteen, seventeen . . . (Lee Giesecke, Annandale, Va.)


Domestic harmony snooze alarm rule: Hit it one time; extra delays outrage bedmates. (Mark Richardson, Washington)


Best broad policy: honesty. Marriage success: “Superb dress, dear.” (Kevin Dopart)


I’m fat! Love pizza, donuts, sundaes, potatoes, chocolate, enchiladas, SpaghettiOs, griddle-cakes, miscellaneous carbohydrates, sarsaparilla, gingerbread, milkshakes, deep-fried anything — perhaps Atkins’ diet’s best for me. (Louise Dodenhoff Hauser, Falls Church, Va.)


I do not flip-flop. But . . . do I? (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)


To Ron Paul, “Froth,” Romney, Gingrich—political candidates endlessly screwing, praying, hating, aging—yeah, it’s “no.” (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)


On the rise, fiery Weiner. Twitter disaster shrinks member. Folks joke. Rep.? No. (Ben Aronin, Arlington)


M.I.A. raps, flips finger; Gisele flips; Pats MIA. (Mike Ostapiej, on assignment in Qatar)


Woebegone Redskins. Wizards rotten. Ditto Caps. Yet fans’ hopes spring eternal. Champion Nationals?! (Nan Reiner)


Eliminate gratuitous verbosity. (Seth Brown, North Adams, Mass.)


Suck-up entry of the week (2 to 11 to 2): Is any life worth living without tackling whimsical conundrums, stimulating vocabulary, enigmatic wordplay? Empress grants these joys for us. (Neal Starkman, Seattle)


Anti-suck-up entry of the week (12 to 3 to 12): Experiencing symmetrical perfection requiring wordplay — Empress judges dimly with the IQ of ten, just count stupid letters watching carefully, performing statistical mindlessness. (Jim Lubell, Mechanicsville, Md.)


And Last: Oh, you need HUMOR inside winning rhopalic sentences? Doltishly counting letters exactly right won’t cut it? (Amanda Yanovitch)


From Week 956: You know it’s going to be a bad marriage when. . .


The minister asks if anyone objects to this marriage and God stands up. (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)


Her wedding gown says, “I’m With Stupid.” (Beverley Sharp)


Someone calls you from and anxiously says, “I really hope we’ve reached you in time.” (David Ballard, Reston, Va.)


Her wedding dress reveals her tramp stamp. (Art Grinath, Takoma Park, Md.)


Your fiance has a “Free Scott Peterson” bumper sticker. (David Kleinbard, Jersey City)


Her matron of honor is Gloria Allred. (Mark Welch, Alexandria, Va.)


The groom is about to place the ring on the bride’s finger, and she grabs it saying, “I’ll just do it myself.” (Judy Blanchard, Novi, Mich.)


When the groom insists that the minister read the prenuptial agreement aloud “just so there’s no misunderstanding.” (Roy Ashley, Washington)


When your fiance wants to combine your honeymoon with a business trip to Gary, Indiana. (Kathy El-Assal, Middletown, Wis.)


When her sister hates you, and she’s her conjoined twin. (David Genser, Poway, Calif.)


When you spot the bride winking at the best man — and the priest. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)


Next week: All’s Weller, or A Har Har Better Thing