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Copyright The Washington Post Company Nov 21, 2004

O Condi, you're faithful, loyal to your gov'ment,

Now go mark our territ'ry around the world ...

(To "O Come, All Ye Faithful")

The results for this week's contest will appear during Christmas week, so let us offer, in the holiday spirit of goodwill, some advice -- as constructive and unifying as Loserly suggestions always are -- to our nation's leaders (or the loyal opposition) as we prepare for the next four years. This advice will be set to the tune of some winter holiday song, either religious or secular. It will not be stolen, Grinchlike, from other parodies of Christmas carols. Versions of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" are subject to combination with other people's entries.

First-prize winner receives the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. First runner-up gets a large wall-hanging craft- type item depicting a rabbit wearing a straw picture hat. But, see, the rabbit itself is made out of another straw picture hat. You could hang this on your front door, wreath-style. Of course, you could also hang up six dead fish on your front door, wreath-style. Who are we to say what you should put on your front door?

Other runners-up win a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt. Honorable mentions get one of the lusted-after Style Invitational Magnets. One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries by e- mail to or by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Nov. 29. Put the week number 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 Dec. 21. 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 Scott Campisi of Wake Village, Tex.

Special Announcement: The Honorable Mentions for this week's contest -- and possibly last week's, depending on our remaining stock -- will each receive one of the All-New Loser Magnets pictured here. Well, okay, they're not technically All-New. They feature the same pictures by Bob Staake as the All-Old Loser Magnets, just in different colors (and a new little crown on the little lady, there). But they do have All-New slogans, which the Empress lifted from the ranks of losing entries for Week 536 (for the back of the Inker) and Week 575 (for the back of the Loser T-Shirt), respectively.

Report from Week 581, in which we asked you to think of evil or stupid practices that a business might perpetrate. About half of you took this as an opportunity to vent hair-tearingly about actual insanities you've witnessed, including the ever-popular waiting on hold with tech support because you can't connect to the Internet, and hearing a repeated recording directing you to a Web site; and numerous sightings of drive-through bank lanes that featured Braille keypads. The remainder were fanciful -- at least as far as we know: The Empress cannot guarantee that there isn't some sign on some bus somewhere that says, "Illiterate? For help, write to . . ."

{diam}Third runner-up: True story: I once went to an Italian restaurant where the restrooms were marked Donne and Uomini. I figured that donne was the plural of don, and so . . . (Wayne Rodgers, Satellite Beach, Fla.)

{diam}Second runner-up: Peep shows that won't start when you put the money in because "I think you know why." (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

{diam}First runner-up, the winner of the SpongeBob SquarePants sponge, plus a Loser pen: Replace the candy in the checkout lane with kittens and puppies.

(Stanley Halbert, Lawrence, Kan.)

{diam}And the winner of the Inker: "Due to the increase in Metro ridership, all commuters will now be required to make reservations at least 24 hours in advance. Please arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure to receive your seating/ standing assignment." (Mike Cisneros, Centreville)

{diam}Honorable Mentions:


Installing automobile GPS devices that give directions in a choice of two voices -- Porky Pig and Betty Boop. (Peter Metrinko, Plymouth, Minn.)

A large scale in a restaurant with an arrow pointing to a mark that says, "You must weigh less than this to order the Triple Death by Chocolate dessert." (Art Grinath, Takoma Park)

Certain confessional booths designated for only mortal sins. (Chuck Smith)

Furniture stores institute a "you sit, you buy" policy. (Eric Murphy, Chicago)

Restaurants suggest a tip of 5-pi percent. (Art Grinath, Takoma Park; Danny Bravman, St. Louis)

"If you are deaf, press 1 . . ." (Maja Keech, New Carrollton)

Sell each produce item in a different novel way. Grapes: 4 cents each. Coconuts: $7.23 per cubic decimeter. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

Along with the Levitra prescription, include condoms with wrappers that take four hours to open. (Josh Borken, Bloomington, Minn.)

Emergency number is 1-800-271-8684; Press 1 for medical emergency, Press 2 for fire . . . For an electrical fire, press 1; for burning wood, press 2 . . . (Art Grinath)

Encourage people to pay for debt consolidation services with a credit card. (Art Grinath)

Display canned tomatoes with the canned pears and peaches instead of with canned vegetables, since, technically, they ARE fruit. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney)

A housing developer could honor world culture by naming all the streets in a suburban subdivision after, say, famous Indians and Serbs, e.g., Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Boulevard, {Zcaron}eljko Joksimovi Way. (Peter Metrinko)

Free cold medicine with the rental of any heavy machinery. (Russell Beland)

Pay toilets also have coin slots inside for pay toilet paper. (Chuck Smith)

Grocery stores could put Aunt Jemima pancake mix in the ethnic- foods section. (Roy Ashley, Washington)

And the first-ever Anti-Invitational

winner: Add a half-cent to every price at dollar stores in Virginia so that, with the 4.5 percent sales tax, each item costs exactly $1.05. (Russell Beland)


Large-size bras are always hanging on the lowest, almost-on-the- floor racks, causing us top-heavy shoppers to have to bend over, losing our balance. This is evil. (Christy Miller, Charlottesville)

Drive-through liquor stores: for when you're too drunk to walk. (Steve Fahey, Kensington)

Hey, ladies, don't you just love those feminine-product disposal units stuck at nose level right next to the toilets in public bathroom stalls? (Michelle Stupak, Ellicott City)

When applying for a job as an English teacher for foreign students, a friend of mine was handed a form that said at the top: "If you are unable to read English, please ask for a translator." (Dot Yufer, Newton, W.Va.)

In a warehouse store in Nebraska a while back, I wandered into the feminine-products area. And there, on a support beam, between the tampons and the sanitary napkins, was a shrink-wrap/card display of ice picks. (Don Critchfield, Washington)

In a CVS, the sign over the aisle read: Candy / Snacks / Diet Aids (Jessica Lynne Mathews, Arlington)

I like how supermarkets now sell freshly brewed coffee -- and have those little platforms by the checkout keypad slanted just enough for your coffee to slide off while you pay. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis)

Banks are happy to lend you money when you don't need it. (Jack Cackler, Falls Church)

Publish KidsPost in the same section as Tell Me About It, The Style Invitational and stories about sex toys. (Russell Beland)

And Last: From the Metro section of the Oct. 24 Washington Post: "Maryland education officials have notified Prince George's County that it cannot use federal money to provide extra tutoring because a large number of its public schools are falling behind under the No Child Left Behind law." (Rosie Behr, Baltimore)

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