The Style Invitational Week 957 Ups and downs with rhopalic sentences
By Pat Myers, Thursday, February 2, 5:06 PM

“He who hath smelt likely dealt this, too, eh?”

A couple of years ago, in Week 848, we broadened your vocabulary — the Style Invitational, after all, is The Post’s go-to source for intellectual edification — with a contest for rhopalic sentences: ones in which each word was one letter longer than the previous one. Four weeks later we turned the process around; that time, the successive words were shorter. Now, Loser Craig Dykstra suggests one more variation: Write a clever passage whose successive words are one letter longer until the middle of the passage, and then become one letter shorter, as in Craig’s 2-3-4-5-6-5-4-3-2 example above — or vice versa. The passages may be of any length and may be more than one sentence. Compound words joined with hyphens may count as either one or multiple words. A contraction is one word; punctuation doesn’t count as a letter. If the line has an even number of words, the two words in the middle will be of the same length; if it’s an odd number, the longest/shortest word will be right in the middle.

Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a genuine copy of Playboy — in braille — which the Library of Congress distributes. It is big and plain white, except for the name and bunny logo on the cover, and it’s one that you do read for the articles — no braille pictures.

Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Feb. 13; results published March 4 (March 2 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 957” in your e-mail subject line or it may be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at The revised title for next week is by Tom Witte; the subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Jeff Contompasis. Join the Style Invitational Devotees on Facebook at

Report from Week 953, in which we printed this filled-in crossword grid, by Bob Klahn of the CrosSynergy syndicate, and asked for creative clues to the words and phrases:

Some of the words are omitted below, while others get more than one definition. Just as for many challenging crosswords, you have to use mental flexibility to get some of the clues; for example, the clue for ISH requires you to read it as “I ‘sh.’?” Some of the trickier clues below are explained in brackets, and some clues have links you can click on to put you on the right track. Bob’s actual clues to this crossword included some very clever ones as well; see the list here. .

The winner of the Inker

ADA: Dyslexics Association of America (Seth Brown, North Adams, Mass.)

2. Winner of the Tupac and animal-poo decks of cards: ACADEMY: Last word in the song “My Aca Lies Over the Ocean” (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park, Md.)

3. WHATAMESS: GOP mantra — drop second “A” for Democrats’ version (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)

4. GAY: Baby name not in the top 1,000 since 1969 (Robert Gallagher, Charleston, S.C.)

Boxed out: Honorable mentions


ESPERANTO: Even Rosetta Stone won’t claim you’ll speak it like a native (David Ballard, Reston, Va.)

COHAN: Solo double (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

WHATAMESS: A female whatam. (Jim Lubell, Mechanicsville, Md.)

ALITO: What a neon RIOLES sign needs (Nick Yokanovich, Arnold, Md., a First Offender)[A lit O]

YARD: Having only three feet, this critter needs constant care (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

MALLE: Where to find Ye Olde Navy and Milord & Taylor (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

NEE: An unfulfilled need (Jeff Contompasis)

NEE: Identity thief’s favorite word in your mom’s obit (Pam Sweeney, Burlington, Mass.)

ATE: Common reaction to Cockney pub food (Barr Weiner, Washington)

ODIE: Specialized tool for making Cheerios (Cathy Lamaze, North Potomac, Md.)[O-die]

ODIE: 15th and final item on a bucket list. (Harold Mantle, Lafayette, Calif.) [O. Die]

ARTGUM: Holder of the Carney cuspids (Mae Scanlan, Washington)

SOS: Italy’s national slogan (Benjamin Yeager, Alexandria, Va., a First Offender)

SOS: Iron Man’s exfoliation pad (Barbara Turner)

SOS: Proposed currency to replace the euro (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)

SOS: Conclusions about your old man (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

SURETY: Answers Cobb’s question “Did you file my spikes nice and sharp?” (Harold Mantle, Lafayette, Calif.)

AUK: Texting shorthand for “Hey, are you all right?” (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.; Lee Giesecke, Annandale, Va., who last got Invite ink in 1994)

ERIN: What Irish politicians will never admit to (John O’Byrne, Dublin)

ERIN: Woman encouraged not to go braless (Ward Kay, Vienna, Va.)

ERIN: Separates the wolves from the wolverines (Kathy Hardis Fraeman, Olney, Md.)[wolvERINes]

SUPPER: Friendly ’hood resident (Brian Cohen, Lexington, Va.)

BILE: Popular mouthwash on Capitol Hill (Barr Weiner)

SELES: She made a racket using one (Barr Weiner)

HOW: Word missing from campaign promises (Dave Prevar)

FOG: Hazy recollection found in fogies (Larry Yungk, Arlington, Va.)

SUGARLOAF:A husband’s fantasy honey-do list (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.; Carol Passar, Reston, Va; Cathy Lamaze)

ANGLE: Director of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Vowel” (May Jampathom, Oakhurst, N.J.)


ISH: One of my tasks as a librarian(Tom Murphy, Bowie, Md.)

ONE: Can live as cheaply as one. (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)

ONE: Where simple folk may keep up with the Kardashians (Jeff Contompasis)

SOL: Icarus’s nemesis – and his eventual status (Mark Richardson, Washington)

LOSANGELES: City with a highly deceptive name (Mark Asquino, Washington)

THINASARAIL: Metro’s margin of error in cold weather (Steve Glomb, Alexandria, Va.)

REUTERS: Reverses a hysterectomy (David Garratt, Glenn Dale, Md.; Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)

MONONGAHELA: Medical condition in which you have only one ngahela. (Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md.)

MONONGAHELA: What they dance the hora to in Pittsburgh (Rob Cohen, Potomac; Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)

ADIMEADOZEN: The going rate for a jury in Chicago. (Mike Caslin, Round Hill, Va.)

RUMPROASTS: Celebrity banquets for J.Lo and Beyonce (Mike Gips, Bethesda; Pam Sweeney; Nan Reiner)

EDBEGLEY: Ed Begley Jr.’s father’s name (Ted Weitzman, Olney, Md.)

EDBEGLEY: He’s tall, green and handsome (Jonathan Latroy, Pasadena, Calif., a First Offender)

SORTA: Mattress doubling as filing cabinet (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)

FANS: What a big-leaguer will lack if he does this too often (Brad Alexander, Wanneroo, Australia)

NIL: What most of us remember from Latin class. (Beverley Sharp)

ANA: What was missing from Neil Armstrong’s quote (Jon Spell, Orem, Utah)

Next week: Fight Call, or Tiff Competition