Back to previous page

Style Invitational Week 1040: File us happy returns with taxing humor; plus winning Liffs

By ,

Figure the tax due by the aggregate weight of the taxpayer’s family, maybe $10 per pound. A family of four that weighs 500 would owe $5,000, while a larger family — larger as in more numerous or larger as in, you know, larger — would pay more, given how much faster they wear out out roads and bridges.

As Loser Elden Carnahan pointed out to us months ago, we couldn’t very well ignore this week number. And so, at a comfortable distance from April 15, we present the Thoroughly Taxing Edition of the Style Invitational, with your choice of contests:

Schedule A: Suggest a novel way for the government to determine taxes, as in Elden’s example above.

Schedule B: Suggest a deduction that you’d like to take, or that some famous real or fictional person or past or present might like to take (suggested by Edward Gordon and Chris Doyle on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook).

Schedule C: Suggest a cause that you’d rather check off $3 for, now that most major candidates won’t take the money anyway (suggested by Devotee Jon Spell).

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Going with our revenue theme this week, second place receives both a pack of tissues with $100 bills printed on them (staple them to your return atop your W-2 form) and the second of our sets of fine Porkin’ Pigs coin banks — a pair of pink ceramic piggies that can be, uh, nested one behind the other. Dave Prevar donated the tissues, Nan Reiner the pigs.

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, Oct. 7; results published Oct. 27 (online Oct. 24). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 1040” 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 Kevin Dopart, as is the alternative headline in the “Next week’s results” line. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at

Report from Week 1036

Our contest for Liffs, place names used as words: Many, many entries, and a lot of them with the same ideas — a totally unsurprising occurrence in such a short-form contest. Among the definitions sent in by too many people: Fairbanks as the equivalent of “free lunch” or “military intelligence”; Manila as a date who’s a safe but boring guy; San Diego as the result of eating a toaster waffle on the beach; Minnesota as Mayor Bloomberg’s favorite drink; Montauk as an affected Jamaican accent; and Brisbane as a mohel’s wastebasket. While it’s quite possible — almost inevitable, really — that you’ve heard someone, somewhere make a few of the following Liffs, we’re assuming that the Losers who submitted them hadn’t. Except for the woman who sent the world’s oldest joke about Norfolk, Va., complete with the entire high school cheer: “We don’t smoke. . .
 Yo, Steal Invitationalists, the few of you who have pulled this on us (knowingly) over the years: Why on earth would you want your name credited in The Washington Post to a joke you stole, with the huge likelihood you’d be pegged immediately as a thief? To win a 20-cent magnet? Did you also take two copies of the paper from the coin box?

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:

Tarpon Springs: Serta’s most budget-priced mattress. (Joel Knanishu, Rock Island, Ill.)

2. Winner of the Korean Green Apple Vium+ poop promoter:
Sheboygan: Pvt. Manning, reconsidering? (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)

3. Gabon: An unlimited calling plan. (Steven Alan Honley, Washington)

4. Nicaragua: A special water that helps you quit smoking. (David Bruskin, Woodland Hills, Calif., a First Offender)

Lowcales: Honorable mentions

Antietam: Picnic foods. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.; John McCooey, Rehoboth Beach, Del.)

Bogota: A buy-one, get-one promotion by a breast augmentation clinic. (Joel Knanishu)

Boise: Jay-Z Jr. (Jeff Hazle, Woodbridge, Va.; Eric Ries, Bethesda, Md.)

Bolivia: Doghouse on the White House grounds. (Danielle Nowlin, Woodbridge, Va.)

Cameroon: A tourist oblivious to the dozen other people waiting to take the same picture. (Trevor Kerr, Chesapeake, Va.)

Cancun: Appalachian convenience food. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

The Catskills: Little “presents” of mice on your doorstep. (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)

Chattanooga: To converse in Early Neanderthal. (John Glenn, Tyler, Tex.)

Chechnya: Proximity to a house of worship in posh British towns. “Nigel’s ghelfriend lives in a chahming mews in Uxbridge with a chechnya — C of E, of course.” (Brendan Beary)

Chinook: The dimple at the bottom of Cary Grant’s face. (Dan O’Day, Alexandria, Va.)

Corpus Christi: A government body that will be the subject of hefty scrutiny through 2016. (Brendan Beary)

Curacao: Step 1 in making a football. (Beverley Sharp)

Dubai: A place where extravagant consumerism is the highest ideal, e.g., Dubai (Mike Gips)

East Timor: The reason Indian chai is so expensive. (Kevin Ahern, Corvallis, Ore., a First Offender)

Gdansk: What Australian tourists say to people they meet in Poland. (Stan McLeroy, Herndon, Va.)

Grosse Pointe: Miley’s foam finger. (Jim Stiles, Rockville, Md.)

Jakarta: What nightclub owners ask the door staff when a 17-year-old girl tries to sneak in. (Elden Carnahan, Laurel, Md.)

Juneau: Not kosher. (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)

Kalamazoo: A place to see squid in their natural habitat. (Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)

Kyrgyzstan: A place to display your kyrgyz. (Danielle Nowlin)

Liechtenstein: German beer that’s good to the last drop. (Danielle Nowlin)

Liverpool: Give your backyard something different from that old kidney shape! (Joanne Free, Clifton, Va.)

Manassas: What studly behinds turn into after too much beer and TV. (Nan Reiner)

Naples: Leave it to Picasso to paint a woman’s breasts on the back of her neck. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

Newark: Noah’s second boat, the one with a metal container for the termites. (Chris Doyle)

Ocracoke: The worst health-food drink since broccoli cream soda. (William Kennard, Arlington, Va.; Beverley Sharp)

Outer Banks: The financial institutions considered “small enough to fail.” (Jill Renkey, Frederick, Md., a First Offender)

Palm Springs: Miniature Slinkys. (Andrea Kelly, Ashton, Md.)

Pitcairn: The act of applying deodorant. (Melissa Balmain)

Pyongyang: The sound made by a North Korean “nuclear missile” going off. (Danielle Nowlin)

Santa Monica: An employee who gives her boss all the things on his Christmas list. (Christopher Lamora, Los Angeles; Larry Neal, McLean, Va.)

Shrewsbury: Future resting place of Judge Judy. (William Kennard)

Walla Walla: The sound of Chris Christie twerking. (Damon Thompson, Washington)

And Last: Luzon: The heightened state of immature or scatological humor. “I’ve got nothing for Week 1040 — I gotta get my Luzon.” (Brendan Beary)

Still running — deadline Monday night — our contest to use the words in “To be, or not to be . . .” to write your own passage. See

See the Empress’s online column The Style Conversational (published late Thursday), 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, sign up here or 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 there.

Next week’s results: Outrage Us, or Taking Dumbrage, our contest to complain about the offensiveness of a name that’s not really offensive.

© The Washington Post Company