Back to previous page

Style Invitational Week 1041: What’d I say? Answer a question that’s posed in a song

By ,

“Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?”

Maybe it’s time to get the crumbs out of your clothes?

This week’s contest was suggested by Loser Phenom Mark Raffman: Answer a question, real or rhetorical, that appears in a song, as in Mark’s example above. If your answer could be sung as part of the song, that’s no problem at all. Be sure to include the name of the song as well as the line you’re quoting.

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a set of the six zoo-animal-hindquarters magnets pictured here (the Loser Magnet, which is the size of a business card, is there just for scale; if you finish second, sorry, it’s just the magnetic butts).

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. 14; results published Nov. 3 (online Oct. 31). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 1041” 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 Craig Dykstra; the alternative headline in the “Next week’s results” headline is by Chris Doyle. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at, and click “like” on the Style Invitational Ink of the Day at .

Report from Week 1037

in which we asked you to be offended by a name that most people haven’t thought to be offended by yet:

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:

The members of the American Association of Lobby Builders and Decorators (AALBD) create and decorate the warm, inviting, beautiful spaces that greet you as you enter many a building. But the name of our creations has been besmirched by the vile, underhanded and corrupt practice of influence peddling. We’ve asked our foyerist in Washington to . . . (Robert Falk, Takoma Park, Md.)

2. Winner of the book “Holy Sh*t [sic]: The World’s Weirdest Comic Books”: I find it appalling that the District of Columbia is named for the Italian version of the explorer’s name, rather than the Spanish version; after all, without the aid of Spain, he would have never made his voyages. As a Hispanic American, I feel strongly that the city be renamed the District of Colon — which also better describes it. (Alex Heppenheimer, New York, a First Offender)

3.Washington Wizards” is an anti-Christian name indicating support of magic, paganism, witchcraft, voodoo, Harry Potter, etc. Our city’s NBA team should be named something more in keeping with God and America — how about the Bullets? (William Joyner, Chapel Hill, N.C.)

4. “Chevy Chase”? There is absolutely nothing tiresome or washed up about one of D.C.’s most vibrant and livable neighborhoods! (Frank Mann, Washington)

Also-rants: honorable mentions

In the 21st century, it is incomprehensible that we Ohioans have sports teams named the Cleveland “Browns” and Cincinnati “Reds.” It is time to stop segregating and start congregating! We demand that the Cincinnati baseball team and the Cleveland football team change their names to a more inclusive term: The Cincinnati Coloreds and the Cleveland Coloreds would be a shining example of the blended American people. (John Bunyan, Cincinnati)

Lender’s Bagels: In this day and age, can you believe they evoke the Shylock stereotype of the greedy moneylender for the name of a “Jewish” bread? (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Condoning piracy — the scourge of our intellectual-property rights — gives the wrong message. A good name should celebrate creativity: I suggest the Tampa Bay Digital Rights Management. (Martin Bancroft, Issaquah, Wash.)

Boston Red Sox: Yet another team name based on Native American slurs, from skin color to the misspelling of “Sioux” to the use of tribal terms like “Red Sox Nation.” Even the guys waving tickets outside Fenway Park are called “scalpers”! (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

San Antonio Spurs: Why name a team after a torture device that jams sharp metal into horses’ tender flanks? (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

JC Penney: “Even though I and my contemporaries do most of our shopping at this store, it is unnecessary and blasphemous to incorporate Our Savior’s name in the brand.” (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)

In-N-Out Burger: If the owners are so religious, then why is their name a crude slang for sexual relations? And their burger wrapper cites Revelation 3:20 — which clearly describes a homosexual tryst. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

Apple: What do apples have to do with electronics? Every year there’s a new crop, but other than that, there’s “apple-lutely nothing.” Remember the slogan “Think different?” Apple can’t even advertise grammatically. Every time a new, expensive release comes out branded with that cutesy logo with the missing bite, I “think different,” all right. Here’s a “different” slogan for you: BITE ME. (Diane Wah, Seattle)

NAACP!: All the other bigotry pales in comparison with advancing “colored people” over Albino Americans. (Kevin Dopart)

Funny or Die: Really? So why isn’t Carrot Top dead yet? (Ward Kay, Vienna, Va.)

New England Patriots: Now that the term “patriot” has been hijacked by people who equate Massachusetts with the headquarters of Satan, and given the ongoing dispute over who qualifies as a patriot anyway (Edward Snowden? Aaron Hernandez?), the team needs to change its name to something less controversial and ambiguous. I think “New England Autumn Leaves” would be lovely. (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)

Supreme Court: Come on, how obnoxious is that? Who do they think they are, so high and mighty, that their rulings are the final say in all the land? That they are entitled to a life of judging other people with no one above them to call them to account? (Heather Spence, New York)

Spic and Span: Really? C’mon now, really. (Bird Waring)

Miracle Whip: I think it is extremely inappropriate to suggest that God would waste any of His powers making such a trivial product. Besides, my understanding is that he is against the use of condiments. (Danielle Nowlin, Woodbridge, Va.)

Noodles & Company: This is blatant false advertising. The noodles were fine, but the provided “company” was barely cordial. In fact, I got the distinct feeling they didn’t even want to let me sit at their table. (Danielle Nowlin)

Cheetos: Words that evoke cheating or dishonesty should not be used to market snack foods to impressionable children. I suggest “Rectitudos.” (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

DeBeers: In order to discourage alcohol abuse, the company should change its name to something inoffensive and non-alcohol-related, like “DeTeas.” (Frank Osen)

Rubbermaid: What an anachronistic remnant of a classist society; the name should be changed to Rubber Personal Assistance Facilitators. (Frank Osen)

I’ve lived here awhile and trust me, this place ain’t in the centre of anything (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)

Hostess Ho Ho: Let’s quit using a euphemism and two insulting vulgarisms. The correct, nonjudgmental form is “Sex worker Sex worker Sex worker.” (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

SpaghettiO’s: Hey, I like pasta as much as the next guy or gal. But I have to say, wobbly rings of pasta coated in a bland sauce didn’t come close to delivering on the promised ecstasy. (Rob Huffman)

MasterCard: Oh, African Americans can’t control their own money, is that it? They need a slavelike structure wherein a powerful entity controls financial consequences? (Jim Stiles, Rockville, Md.)

Mentos: Every company wants the public to go “crazy” over its product, but does it have to use a name that pokes ridicule at those with emotional disabilities? It even has the nerve to boast on the package that the product is made with nut oils! (Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md.)

Charmin’: Please explain to me what is remotely charmin’ about wiping excrement from bodily orifices? (Jim Noble, Lexington Park, Md.)

Still running — deadline Monday night — is our Week 1040 contest to suggest humorous ideas to change the tax process. 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: Taking the ‘Plain’ Out of ‘Explain,’ or Cracking Whys, our contest to answer a simple question with a convoluted answer full of odd connections.

© The Washington Post Company