Style Invitational Week 1097: Futz your sign — ‘Clarify’ a horoscope

And winning ideas for businesses to squeeze a few more bucks out of us

(Bob Staake for The Washington Post )
By Pat Myers November 6 feedback for 'Style Invitational Week 1097: Futz your sign — ‘Clarify’ a

(Click here to skip down <#report> to the results of our contest for
novel ways for businesses to squeeze a little more out of us)

*“Push has definitely grown into shove by now.”* (Aries, Nov. 2)
*And your butt has grown into a beanbag chair. So yup, it’s time to
start that diet.*

*“You’ll have a lot to share, and so will others.”* (Virgo, Nov. 1)
*And we hope you don’t mind monitoring your temperature twice a day.*

Here’s another thing, besides The Style Invitational, that’s in The
Washington Post but you can’t get in the New York Times: the daily
horoscope. How /do/ Manhattanites plan their days? Hall of Fame Loser
Stephen Dudzik suggests we take advantage of this reliable source of
essential information by harking back to (a.k.a. ripping off) a 2002
contest that ran in the Canadian paper the Globe & Mail, and gave ink to
Steve (“ ‘You are the centre of attention this week.’ Means: They found
the bodies”): *This week: Select a line from one of the horoscopes
appearing anytime from Nov. 6 through Nov. 17 in the Washington Post’s
daily Style or Sunday Arts & Style sections or on *
(click on Entertainment, then Horoscopes; also available at; hover on Horoscope and choose Daily Overview or Daily
Extended) *and “clarify” it with a translation or extra “information.”*

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial
the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational
trophy. Second place receives . . . money! /Packs / of money! The first
pack is a set of/four/ erasers depicting various denominations of euro
notes — brought directly from Ireland by Loser John O’Byrne when he came
to a Loser brunch — and /two/ mini-packs of tissues with $100 bills
pictured on them, donated (unused!) by Loser Jeff Contompasis.

*Other runners-up *win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug
or the ardently
desired “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag.
mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet in one of our two new Bob
Staake designs: either “The Wit Hit the Fan”
“Hardly Har-Har.”
Offenders receive a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink

for their first ink). E-mail entries to /
/ or, if you were born in the 19th century,
fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Nov. 17; results published Dec.
7 (online Dec. 4). No more than 25 entries per entrant per contest.
Include “Week 1097” 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
. This week’s honorable-mentions subhead is by
Beverley Sharp. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on
Facebook at / ,/ and click “like”
on Style Invitational Ink of the Day at /

*The Style Conversational * The Empress’s weekly online column discusses
each new contest and set of results. Especially if you plan to enter,
check it out at


And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

In Week 1093, we asked for inventive ways that businesses could squeeze
some more money out of consumers.

While the Loser community proved to be
imaginative nickel-and-dimers — especially when it came to airlines —
it’s hard to compete with reality: Several entrants noted that Michael
O’Leary, CEO of the super-budget Ryanair, had not only planned to charge
for toilet use, but also suggested getting rid of the copilot:

the airline would just train a flight attendant in landing planes, and
“if the pilot has an emergency, he rings the bell, he calls her in.”

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial

Did you hear that downtown restaurants will begin charging a “corkage
fee” to breast-feeding moms? (Gordon Cobb, Marietta, Ga.)

2nd place and the crocheted cat-butt-motif coasters

Taking a cue from public radio, the Redskins have started weekly
“Scoring Drives,” taking pledges and scoring when certain goals are met.
It’s . . . not going well. (Todd DeLap, Fairfax, Va.)

3rd place

It’s never too early to start ensuring that schools will recognize your
child’s gifts. And for an appropriate fee, OB/GYNs would guarantee new
parents an Apgar score
of 10. (Roy
Ashley, Washington)

4th place

The revolving door between Congress and lobbying firms will soon be
coin-operated. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

The badder business bureau: honorable mentions

A $1 “circumnavigation fee” to avoid the greeter at Wal-Mart. (Douglas
Raybeck, Amherst, Mass.)

Instead of emergency-room triage, use an auction to determine who gets
treated first: “Physicians are standing by right now. Who will be next?
Do I see a bid of $50?” (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

“Would you like to buy ketchup with that?” (Bradley Jamison, South
Riding, Va.)

Starbucks could offer customers a choice: room-temperature brew or
paying the coffee sleeve surcharge. (Todd DeLap)

Did you hear about the sandwich shop’s new gluten-free option? For an
extra charge, they’ll hold the bread. (Ward Kay, Vienna, Va.)

At the Golden Jade Dragon Restaurant, the first chopstick is free. (Todd

Put Your Child to Work day at the coal mine. (David Friedman, Arlington,

When selling Matchbox cars, offer undercoating for just $3 extra ($10
value!) (Mark Raffman)

Sea World has added a restocking fee to the price of each ticket to
cover the cost of new trainers. (Warren Tanabe, Annapolis, Md.)

Ten cents per minute allows you to select the music played while you’re
on hold. (Larry Powers, Falls Church, Va.)

A small-town hair salon: Charges extra for /new/ gossip. (Beverley
Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

It’s not really true that Verizon will be imposing an
erroneous-charge-removal charge. (William Kennard, Arlington; Kevin
Tingley, Vienna, Va.)

“Sewer-usage surcharge” on every box of bran flakes. (Will Cramer,
Herndon, Va.)

For an extra dollar you can try on clothes in the dressing room without
the camera. (Jennifer Dickey, Silver Spring, Md.)

Trash collectors might solicit tips by leaving a self-addressed envelope
in the house’s mailbox, including a sample of that day’s trash to make
sure the envelope will be noticed. (Mark Raffman)

A gynecologist: Ladies, we’ll warm up the speculum for just $25 more!
(Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

The cable company has raised its rates now that it’s carrying the NSA’s
surveillance channel. (Beverley Sharp)

The firm’s office manager announces that the broken shredder won’t be
repaired after all, but will be replaced by her Labrador. (David Friedman)

At the beach, they’d like to sell $5 Day-Glo anti-drowning wristbands
that guarantee you an expedited rescue. Those without wristbands must
wait for the next available lifeguard. (Kathleen DeBold, Burtonsville, Md.)

If “Jeopardy!” contestants end up in negative numbers, make them pay in
cash before they leave the set. (Mark Raffman)

Businesses know that time is money, and that’s why they’re planning to
have the toilet paper in employee bathroom stalls retract into the wall
exactly four minutes after the stall is entered. (Mike Gips)

Airline barf bags are now $3 and you’d better have exact change ready!
(Frank Mann, Washington)

GPS Fee-for-Direction Surcharge: “I am recalculating . . . your toll.
Please swipe card, or I’ll keep saying, ‘Yes we’re there yet, but I
won’t tell you where.’ ” (Phil Frankenfeld, Washington)

A manhandling charge for the extra effort it takes to damage your
checked bag. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

Fan Fail Fee: To encourage cheering, charge ticket holders $2 each time
the home team is scored on. (Kevin Tingley)

Doctors’ offices could add a surcharge if you want a gown that ties in
the back. (Roy Ashley)

For an additional $7.50, the proctologist will give you a souvenir photo
of your colonoscopy. (Kathleen DeBold)

When airline toilet charges do get instituted, there can be alternative
“personal waste” bags to be used behind a curtain in the back.
Passengers must take their bags with them when they leave. (Mark
Asquino, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea)

On cruise ships, premium lifeboats could come with plasma TV screens and
free WiFi. (John O’Byrne, Dublin)

$50 constituent service fee: Some new members of Congress, noting that
voters elected them to “scale back government,” remind citizens of this
when they call the office. (Mark Asquino)

To reduce traffic congestion, charge motorists $1 for stopping at red
lights. (Kevin Tingley)

Traffic camera film development fee. It’s needed for the rush
processing. (Jonathan Hardis, Gaithersburg, Md.)

Delivery of Washington Post Style Invitational Loser magnets will
henceforth require a $5 fee to defray “administrative costs.” (Free for
Amazon Prime subscribers!) (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)


A 30-day trial of antivirus software with every copy of Windows 8. (Thad
Humphries, Washington, Va.)

Airlines blasting the air conditioner and then charging for a blanket.
(Jennifer Dickey)

A Seattle movie theater charges a $3 “amenity fee” not to play
commercials before the movie. (Jane Auerbach, Los Angeles)

A 1991 Wall Street Journal article reported that some companies were
targeting special mailings to people who had signed up to be taken off
junk mail lists: “ ‘Their mailboxes would be wonderfully uncluttered,’
said one leading data executive.” (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

*Still running — deadline Monday night: Our Bob Staake cartoon caption
contest. *

*Next week’s results: Tour de Fours XI,* ** or *TAXIng Our Brains,* our
contest to coin a new word that includes the letter block T-A-X-I, in
any order but with no other letters between them. See