Week 731: Doo Process

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Empress, for whom coffee constitutes the top three levels of the food pyramid (popcorn forms the base), recently learned about the most expensive joe in the world: Kopi luwak, or civet coffee. It sells for literally hundreds of dollars a pound, because it's not just a matter of Juan Valdez out there picking each Colombian coffee bean: To produce civet coffee, the Asian palm civet -- a cute little tree-dwelling mammal -- snarfs up the beans, gives them a splash of a special tasty enzyme as they pass through its innards, then poops them out to be harvested and roasted, producing, according to the Tastes of the World Web site, a taste that is "earthy, musty and exotic with syrupy body and smooth flavor."

This week's contest, suggested by Loser Mark Eckenwiler of Washington: Describe for us a wildly inefficient and ridiculous way to produce or prepare an ordinary dish or beverage.

Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives this fabulous electronic stuffed lamb, sent to The Post by the Gospel Music Channel and rescued by the Empress from the mailroom wastebasket. Push a button and the lamb's hoofs wave (somewhat feebly) as a man's energetic baritone leads a funky choir, very loudly and for a very long time.

We introduce the 2007-08 lusted-after Style Invitational Magnets for honorable mentions, created as always by The Invitational's own Bob Staake. The texts were submitted as entries for the recent contest to decorate the Loser T-shirt and mug. We may go back to the same well for next year's slogans, but other ideas are always welcome in the interim.

Tom Witte, Montgomery Village

Bruce Carlson, Alexandria

Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable Mentions (or whatever they're called that week) get one of the lusted-after Style Invitational Magnets. One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries by e-mail to losers@washpost.com or by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 24. Put "Week 731" 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 Oct. 13. 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 Roy Ashley of Washington. This week's Honorable Mentions name is by Drew Bennett of West Plains, Mo.

Report From Week 727

in which we asked you to speculate on the effects of The Style Invitational's move from Sundays to Saturdays, or to give us some promotional announcements that we wouldn't have to pay professionals to write. (You corporations that are using amateur videos in your commercials, we're way ahead of you on the exploitation front.)

Many people lamented no longer being able to read the brand-new Invitational results during the minister's sermon, while others looked forward to reading them during the rabbi's sermon. Some people predicted they'd hear them as part of the sermon. Numerous others rejoiced that they'd have perfect fish-wrapping paper awaiting them the morning after Friday night's dinner.

Aside from that, well, we're afraid that this wasn't one of the Losers' more fruitful weeks. In fact, the contest was pretty much a bust, perhaps showing that maybe there really isn't any interesting effect to speak of -- even imaginary -- in moving The Style Invitational to Saturdays. Except for the gag prize, we'll just give out magnets this week, thus saving The Washington Post even more money.

At least the Empress was comforted by these encouraging words from Bill Moulden of Frederick, one of The Invitational's most venerable and loyal readers: "This, my dear, is the kiss of death. I hope you have a backup job somewhere. I hear McDonald's is hiring."

The Winner of the Custom-Made Loser Ear Picker:

Promo slogan: The Style Invitational: Now taking up an even larger percentage of the newspaper! (Seth Brown, North Adams, Mass.)

To Be Read While Watching Cartoons

Post management can bring the "I Moved Dilbert to the Business Section" booby prize out of retirement. (Thad Humphries, Castleton, Va.; Art Grinath, Takoma Park)

At least that all-important 78-91 demographic will still see The Invitational. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

The extra day before the deadline means that if we don't submit polished entries, it will be no one's fault but our ow. (Elwood Fitzner, Valley City, N.D.)

This is a positive change because we Style Invitational writers will be getting our royalty payments a day earlier. (Peter Metrinko, Chantilly)

If it ain't broke, find a way to break it. We're moving to Saturdays! (Patrick Mattimore, San Francisco)

It's a good thing The Invitational moved to Saturdays: As a contest calling for wit and brainpower, The Invitational couldn't hope to hold a candle to the new Washington Post Magazine feature where you have to find all the differences between two pictures. (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

Spared from having to read derisive jokes about them on game day, the Redskins will learn to relax, feel better about themselves, and not let boneheaded ineptitude get in the way of a positive self-image. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

I don't like it: This thin Saturday paper makes my entry look fat. (Jay Shuck, Minneapolis)

I won't see The Style Invitational any longer, since I do not read the Saturday paper. (Ken Glaser, Oakton, who won't be seeing this)

I'll no longer feel so bad about throwing the rest of the paper away, since it's smaller. (Art Grinath)

Alas! What a great loss there will be to learning
Before the cycle of the moon is completed.
Fire, great floods, by more ignorant rulers;
How long the centuries until it is seen to be restored. -- Actual Nostradamus quote, obviously predicting the move of The Invitational to Saturdays (Peter Metrinko)

Russian agents who have been hiding coded messages in their entries will need to alert Moscow of the change. Also, the blue geese will fly low in September. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

Pro: I'll have an extra day to think of two or three more entries. Con: Russell Beland will have an extra day to think of two or three hundred more entries. (Michael Mason, Fairfax)

Next Week: Tour de Fours, or STAR Wars

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