Week 526 : Conventional Wisdumb

the readers, and his country, first.

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Copyright The Washington Post Company Oct 5, 2003

They say that the saddest words are "what might have been." Nah. What are the real saddest words?

They say that "the love of money is the root of all evil." Surely, not the root of all evil. What else is the root of evil?

"What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar," said Vice President Tom Marshall. There must be some product this country needs more, right?

"Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration," said Thomas Edison. There's probably a more accurate formula, no?

This Week's Contest was suggested by Chuck Smith of Woodbridge. Answer any of the above questions. First-prize winner gets an "Armpit of America" T-shirt from Battle Mountain, Nev.

First runner-up wins the tacky but estimable Style Invitational Loser pen. Other runners-up win the coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt. Honorable mentions get the mildly sought-after Style Invitational bumper sticker. Send your entries via fax to 202-334- 4312 or by e-mail to U.S. mail entries are no longer accepted. Deadline is Monday, Oct. 13. All entries must include the week number of the contest and your name, postal address and telephone number. E-mail entries must include the week number in the subject field. Contests will be 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 in four weeks. 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 contest is by Brendan Beary of Great Mills, Md.

Results from Week 522, in which you were asked to come up with concepts for a "flash mob," those spontaneous, Web-generated, pointless gatherings of strangers. But first, a brief public service announcement:

Readers frequently ask the Czar why some contest results extend to the full length of the page and others take up less space. The answer is simple: The Czar will publish only those entries worthy of print; if the results of a particular contest are weak, that contest will be allotted less space. Occasionally, in fact, when the results are really weak, it becomes necessary for the Czar to pad the space himself, with gaseous, self-referential monologues, to create the visual illusion of editorial substance. He generally accomplishes this with elaborate explanations of his job, as though everyone is dying to know the minutiae of the judging process. Yes, this is boring and assaultive and a waste of newsprint, but the alternative is unthinkable: a Style Invitational so brief, so abbreviated, that Washington Post sachems might conclude that the contest is past its prime and kill it in favor of one of those slap-happy, advertising- driven marketing features that are all the rage; or, worse, yet another "I'm such a little ninny please help me cope with my superficial life" advice column, proving that we are have become a squishy-soft, naive, decadent society of increasing irrelevance to a world more hardened by adversity, more willing to embrace change in a global renaissance that will pass us by. The Czar, in short, is always placing the readers, and his country, first.

Back to the "flash mob" results.

{diam}Third Runner-Up: Meet at a Safeway and celebrate a Redskins win by pouring

Gatorade on each other's heads. (Mel Loftus, Holmen, Wis.)

{diam}Second Runner-Up: Show up for the Marine Corps Marathon, and at the starting gun, race off in all directions. (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

{diam}First Runner-Up: Show up at a McDonald's and have every person try to order

something McDonald's doesn't sell -- a Whopper with cheese, a mocha grande, a 1987 Cadillac, a pound of fava beans, a John Deere tractor, etc.

(Jeff Brechlin, Potomac Falls)

{diam}And the winner of the Jackie Chan action figure:

Assemble at my house today at 3 p.m. with a rake. Silently rake and bag leaves for 20 minutes. At 3:20 lift your rake over your head and shout,

"Boomchukkalukkalukka!" Extra bags are on the picnic table in the back. Don't

forget to take the bags of leaves with you when you go! (Sarah W. Gaymon, Gambrills)

{diam}Honorable Mentions:

Sell out a showing of "Gigli." Stand up and walk out after the coming

attractions. (Danny Bravman, Potomac)

Bring foam "We're No. 1!" hands, air horns, etc., and watch and root for chess players at Dupont Circle.

(Dan Steinberg, Falls Church)

Go to every Safeway in the area and buy up all the hearts of palm. Do this every week for two months, then stop. See if you can get them to, like, order waaaay too much hearts of palm.

(Dan Steinberg, Falls Church)

Go to Hains Point, stand over "The

Awakening," and shout encouraging things like "Hang in there, Jimbo, help is on the way." (Mark Young, Washington)

Go to a Krispy Kreme and "spot" each other, like at a gym, while eating doughnuts. "One more, one more! Embrace the pain!" etc. (Bird Waring, New York)

In some public place, a whole mess of people start reading each other The Washington Post article that described the flash mob phenomenon. Then they all say things like "Whoa, dude, we gotta try that." (Scott Kominers, Bethesda)

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