Week 334 (I) : It's Back_ After seven months in exile, the world's weirdest weekly contest return

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Copyright The Washington Post Company Jan 30, 2000

A candid letter to the readers of The Washington Post:

Seven months ago, we suspended The Style Invitational, the irreverent humor contest that ran each Sunday on Page F2 under the direction of an unnamed, all-powerful and highly eccentric Czar. The contest was six years old; we said its future was uncertain.

In letters and phone calls--many of them impassioned--you persuaded us to bring this feature back. It begins anew, today.

But we have a lingering doubt. For years we had sensed that there was some dissatisfaction with the tone of the Invitational; that as popular as it was, it left some readers feeling marginalized, trivialized, even offended. To some, the Czar of The Style Invitational seemed unnecessarily confrontational and rude. We wondered if the feature needed an overhaul--a fundamental change in tone or content.

This being America, and this being a political year, we decided to do the American political thing. We are putting it to a vote. Your vote.

You will help decide whether to keep The Style Invitational in its familiar form or to alter it in some way. You will do this by voting for one of six possible editors: The current Czar or any of five worthy competitors.

Each candidate has been given space below to explain his version of The Invitational, and how it would work, and propose the first contest.

To vote for one of the editors, you must enter that candidate's contest. As always, you will have a week and a day to get your entries in; however, we will be making an initial cut next week, winnowing the field to two finalists. (It's sort of like the presidential primaries.) So, to make your initial vote count in the primary, enter on or before this Tuesday. You may enter more than one contest, and you may enter each as many times as you wish; your vote will go to the contest for which you submit the most entries.

Submit your entries via fax at 202-334-4312, or by e-mail at, or by mail to The Style Invitational, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Final deadline is Monday, Feb. 7.

If you are less than 6 months old or for some other reason do not remember The Style Invitational, we reprise a few past contest results on this page.

Candidate 1: The Uncle of The Style Invitational:

I would like to build on the past successes of The Style Invitational by retaining all its "fun" aspects but with a more friendly, family-style emphasis. My goal is that The Style Invitational becomes one more neighborhood in our great, large community of readers.

Here's my first contest:

Let's take some delicious "potshots" at those annoying little irritations of modern life.

For example:

I don't really understand all those "e" terms like "e-mail" and "e- business." They make me want to scream "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

I would also always explain the winning joke, for the benefit of those who might not get it. The above joke, for example, employs juxtapositional irony in that it complains about the use of the "e" term while simultaneously utilizing the "e" term in the complaint.

But I'm betting you can do better than that!

To be completely fair, the published winners will be selected at random from all entries. First-prize winner receives a six-month subscription to Reader's Digest.

Let's get those pencils out!

Candidate 2: The Senior Account Executive of The Style Invitational:

In order to better serve you, the reader, I believe The Style Invitational must more effectively integrate the commercial and journalistic functions of the newspaper. Accordingly, each of my contests will be carefully crafted to complement an advertisement contained elsewhere in that day's paper; the bigger the ad, the more enthusiastic the contest. This will have the dual advantage of entertaining you, the reader, while simultaneously acquainting you with a magical world of goods and services available locally at affordable prices.

For example, today we run the following contest:

Write an amusing poem extolling the advantages of shopping at some store that heavily advertises in The Post, rather than its competitors.


Giant is so very fine.

Its shelves are filled with tasty stuff.

Unlike Costco or Food Lion,

Whose aisles don't seem wide enough.

To this store that's just so neat

I raise a Melba toast

Let's buy those Giant hanks of meat

As seen in The Washington Post.

The winner will receive a family-size four-pound shrink-wrapped package of sup'r fresh lo-fat chicken breasts.

Candidate 3: The Mother Superior of The Style Invitational:

Sit up straight and listen carefully: Week after week The Style Invitational should be an opportunity, not unlike confession, to avoid the near-occasion of sin and instead cleanse our filthy, dirty souls rather than becoming the plaything of Satan, who tricks us by making us laugh at poopie jokes until we become his for all eternity. IS THAT GUM IN YOUR MOUTH? WHILE PAGAN CHILDREN ARE STARVING ALL OVER THE WORLD? PERHAPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE YOUR LIPS STAPLED SHUT? Our assignment today is: What does God look like? I happen to think He looks exactly like the old Czar doesn't. DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING FUNNY TO SAY? WHY DON'T YOU SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE?

Thank you.

The winner gets a hair shirt.

Candidate 4: El Jefe de El Nuevo Invitacional de Estilo:

El problema principal de The Style Invitational es la falta de diversidad. En la vida, es necesario celebrar nuestras diferencias. The Style Invitational nunca crea concursos para personas que hablan espanol (o griego o frances o italiano), o personas que viven en iglues, o personas de paises que no tienen electricidad, o personas que usan ropa de piel de yak, o personas que viven en carceles, o personas que sufren de reflujo acido, o personas que prefieren la compania de ovejas, o personas que no tienen dientes, o personas que viven en un pulmon de acero.

El primer concurso del Nuevo Invitacional de Estilo (respondan unicamente en espanol o griego o frances o italiano, por favor):

Invente un juego mas aburrido que el futbol.

Por ejemplo, el juego de "codobol." En este juego, la pelota es de goma, y parece un platano. No se permite tocar la pelota con ninguna parte del cuerpo excepto el codo, y todos los partidos terminan en empate, cero a cero. !Ja ja ja ja ja ja!

El primer premio es un burro.

Candidate 5: The Bubba of The Style Invitational:

El Jefe can kiss my big round red butt. First off, it's not The Invitational anymore, it's the Jamboree. And it's not "Style," which sounds pantywaist. The American Jamboree is open to everyone, even foreigners and women.

Each week, the contest will find some way of making fun of foreigners and women.

This week's contest: Name something that a foreigner or a woman would be better at than a real American man.

Answer: Looking stupid.

First-prize winner gets a boob job for his wife.

Candidate 6: The Czar of The Style Invitational:

If I am fortunate enough to receive your vote and your trust, I will do my best to earn them. I will continue the contest pretty much the old way, with an emphasis on excretory functions, scabrous character assassinations and a general attitude of anarchy and ill will. In a sense, The Invitational will continue to be a celebration of negativity and cynicism, and I will try to retain the same smug, elitist tone. In judging the contest, I will continue to disproportionately reward the same 30 or 40 people, on the theory that they are much funnier and more talented than you are. Also, our prizes will still suck.

Week I: Here is this week's contest:

Come up with alternative characters to replace The Czar as head of The Style Invitational. Describe his title, his plan for how to change The Style Invitational, and propose a contest he might create, with a winning entry.

Example: Sorry, I can't think of a good example right now.

First-prize winner gets a genuine Sea Monkey circus. The Czar chose this prize after receiving one for Christmas from his children. He has spent countless hours watching the spunky little critters, who remind him that all life has dignity, even little wads of crap that look like phlegm riding bicycles.

To hear the translation of The Jefe's platform, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and touch category 8184.


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