Back to previous page

Style Invitational Week 1024: A very Gorey alphabet primer, plus the winning ‘grandfoals’

By ,

Here’s an encore of our 2008 homage to the delightfully diabolical “Gashlycrumb Tinies,” Edward Gorey’s famed spoof on Victorian alphabet primers. Gorey’s collection of couplets, which he wrote and illustrated in 1963, evoke a series of children suffered an A-to-Z variety of awful demises; for the Invite’s, we’re open to a variety of irreverent pairings, like Mae Scanlan’s couplet from Week 757 in the example above. Many of that week’s inking entries were pulled from the news of 2008; that’s one reason we’d like to try it again five years later. This week: Send us some edgy rhyming alphabet-primer couplets. The pairs are AB, CD, EF, GH, IJ, KL, MN, OP, QR, ST, UV, WX and YZ. Feel free to send couplets for all 13 — as usual, you can send 25 entries in all — but there’s no way your entries will run as a complete set, so make sure the couplets work on their own. Gorey, by the way, spent the last decades of his life on Cape Cod, also home to our own deliciously warped artist, Bob Staake. Ta-da! We announce an Invite milestone that we hadn’t marked since 2009: With his honorable mention last week, Stephen Dudzik of Olney has finally entered the Style Invitational Hall of Fame with his 500th ink, as only the eighth Loser to join the exclusive club (excluded at many fine establishments!). Of this group, the genial aerospace engineer took the longest to get there; his first ink was in Week 7, almost exactly 20 years ago. Through the contest’s history, Steve has been a mainstay of Loserdom; not only has he hosted a number of holiday parties over the years, but he actually let several Losers attend his wedding to wife Lequan in 2000. (We presume the champagne was issued to them in sippy cups.) Here Steve poses at this year’s Flushies awards with this week’s prize: Doody Darts, in which one tosses Velcroed doody-balls at the fabric board. Donated by Loser Nan Reiner, who’s currently 385 entries away from the Hall of Fame, but gaining ground awfully quickly. (Right on Steve’s heels, however, is Elden Carnahan, another Year 1 veteran, with 495 inks.) Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders receive a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, June 10; results published June 30 (online June 27). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 1024” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Tom Witte; the alternative headline in the “next week’s results line was submitted independently by Kevin Dopart, Chris Doyle and Jeff Contompasis. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at

Report from Week 1020

our annual “grandfoals” contest, in which the names of the winning “foals” in Week 1016 were bred to one another — a pun contest in which most of the names were puns themselves: In a contest featuring horses named Urine the Money and I See France, you can imagine how many times we got “Ur a Peein’.”

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial

Round Yon Virgin x Free Brrr = Madonna & Chilled (Laurie Brink, Cleveland, Mo.)

2. Winner of the “Kiss a winner, hug a loser” mug: Roe Roe Roe U-Boat x Run for Neuroses = Shad ’n’ Freud (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)

3. Round Yon Virgin x Diamond Ringworm = Anti-Fun Gal (Mark Eckenwiler, Washington)

4. B-Day? C-Day? x Intermittent Viper = ED Day (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

B-getting: honorable mentions

I’ve Got News FOIA x Urine the Money = Leaking Out for #1 (Jonathan Hardis, Gaithersburg, Md.)

Needle Marx x Rand, Ron or Ru? = Pain in the R’s (Mae Scanlan, Washington)

Secret Asian Man x I Askew Again = Let It Go, Donald! (Michael Greene, Alexandria, Va.)

Afford Explorer x Remember the Alimony = Buy a Yugo (Lisa Henderson, Chevy Chase, Md.)

Abie Sees x West Pint = Abie Negative (Pam Sweeney, Burlington, Mass.)

Calvary Coolidge x Abridged = A Few Cross Words (Steve Glomb, Alexandria, Va.)

Burning Sensation x Pane in the Ash = Hot, Cross Buns (Ron Moretti, Rockville, a First Offender)

I’m Turning 50 x Am Fibbyous = Toadly 49 (Kyle Hendrickson, Urbana, Md.)

Collared Green x Am Fibbyous = Kermit the Fraud (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.; Kathy Hardis Fraeman, Olney, Md.)

Sheerly You Jest x Those Were D-Days = Bad Retort Card (Jonathan Hardis)

Pane in the Ash x Ante Em! = Procto & Gamble (Mark Eckenwiler)

Artful Dodger x Ante Em! = Oliver Twister (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

Artful Dodger x Afford Explorer = Sandy Carfax (Jonathan Hardis)

Artful Dodger x Deceit o’the Pence = Fagin It (Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park, Md.)

Big Bong Theory x Political Seance = Hi, Spirits! (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Hors D’ervish x Bladder Losin = Whirled Pees (Bill Smith, Reston, Va.)

Political Seance x Baroque Obama = Hocus POTUS (James Pierce, Charlottesville, Va.)

Bladder Losin x Artful Dodger = I Have to Gauguin (Rob Wolf, Gaithersburg, Md.)

Bladder Losin x Round Yon Virgin = Angel Falls (Jim Reagan, Herndon, Va.)

Bladder Losin x Missing Linc = Leakey (Kathy El-Assal, Middleton, Wis.; Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Bladder Losin x Am Fibbyous = Wet Lies Beneath (Beverley Sharp)

Muck the Knife x Ante Em! = Chops and Stakes (Jeff Contompasis)

Run for Neuroses x Smooth Operetta = Dilbert & Sullivan (Lisa Henderson)

I’m Turning 50 x Bladder Losin = Second Thing to Go (Roger Dalrymple, Gettysburg, Pa.)

Chris Christie x Burning Sensation = Chris Crispy (Becky Fisher, Madison, Wis.)

Chris Christie x Smooth Operetta = The Dessert Song (Harvey Smith, McLean, Va.)

Ex’s Bling x RememberTheAlimony = Shop Till He Drops (Gina Smith, Germantown, Md.)

Run for Neuroses x Burning Sensation = Jung at Hearth (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)

Che P. Morgan x Burning Sensation = Argentingling (Danielle Nowlin, Woodbridge, Va.)

Plucked Clean x Free Brr = Skynd (Rob Huffman)

(Elevating Dumbells x Weiner Returns = Peter Principle (Nan Reiner)

Hors D’ervish x I See France = Crudite (Mark Eckenwiler)

Deceit o’the Pence x I See France = London Britches (Nancy Israel, Bethesda, Md.)

MaryQueenOfScotch x Weight and See = Dewar Diet (Nan Reiner)

Che P. Morgan x Missing Linc = Viva la Evolución! (Chris Doyle, Kihei, Hawaii)

Summa Cum Latte x Mrs. Mewer = FrothingAtTheMouse (Harold Mantle, Lafayette, Calif.)

Plucked Clean x Burning Sensation = Ravi Chancre (Mark Eckenwiler)

Rand Finale x Cleavage = Filibustier (Mark Raffman, Reston)

Plucked Clean x Burning Sensation = Barenaked Hades (Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md.)

Weiner Returns x Smooth Operetta = PrivatesOfPenance (Lisa Henderson)

Smooth Operetta x Bladder Losin = Deflatermaus (Jonathan Paul)

Intermittent Viper x Remember TheAlimony = TimingOfTheShrew (Elizabeth Kline, Frederick, Md.)

I’m Turning 50 x Urine the Money = Midlife Croesus (Larry Gray)

Rock ’n’ Raul x A Penny Urned = Chuck Bury (Kathye Hamilton, Annandale, Va.)

Bladder Losin x Secret Asian Man = Pee Ping Tom (Gina Smith)

B-Day? C-Day? x Secret Asian Man = Don’t Confucius (Danielle Nowlin)

Political Seance x Weiner Returns = Can’t Keep Him Down (Tonda Phalen, Alexandria, Va.)

Am Fibbyous x Weiner Returns = Pinookieo (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

Cleavage x Weiner Returns = Three Boobs (Harvey Smith)

Ta-ta! x MSNBC Ya = Left (Brian Cohen, Lexington, Va.)

Ta-ta! x Free Brrr: Minnesota Twins (Kyle Hendrickson)

Urine the Money x Deceit o’the Pence = TrickleDownTheory (Harvey Smith)

Smooth Operetta x Amerigo-Round: H.M.S. Spinafore (Chris Doyle; Tom Witte)

Chris Christie x Weight and See = Lo-Cal Politics (Mike Peck, Alexandria, Va.)

Those Were D-Days x I’m Turning 50 = I’m Chestfallen (Nan Reiner)

Ta-ta! x Unlimited Losses = Rack and Ruin (Mark Eckenwiler)

Still running — deadline Monday night — is our Haiku-to-Mars contest. See

See the Empress’s online column The Style Conversational (posted late Thursday afternoon), in which she discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.

Next week’s results: Nice Sets of Racks, or The Tile Invitational, our week 1021 contest, in which we supplied a list of seven-letter “racks” taken from ScrabbleGrams puzzles and asked you to make new words with them.

© The Washington Post Company