Style Invitational Week 1168: Asterisky business — give us some nerd humor
Plus our winning ‘Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me’-style quiz
questions from Week 1164
A convention of dendochronologists might be a tree-ring circus — but how
about the explanations to a string of erudite jokes? We’re banking on
your Nerdiness Appreciation for Week 1168. (Bob Staake for The
By Pat Myers March 24
(Click here to skip down <#report> to the winning “Wait Wait ... Don’t
Tell Me”-style quiz questions.)
*Why da heck is a convention of dendrochronologists* such a hoot,
anyways? Because it’s like a tree-ring circus!*
*Dendrochronologists date events by studying growth rings in trees.
*Why did the chromosome blush when the DNA polymerase* came into the
room? He caught her with her genes unzipped!*
*DNA polymerase causes the double helix of the chromosome to “unzip” so
the gene can be replicated. (Mohamed Alosh)
This is a contest we’ve done just once before, 13 years ago: *Tell us an
original joke whose punch line can’t be understood without knowledge —
not necessarily scientific — that most of us don’t have (which you’ll
supply with a concise explanation), *as in the examples above, which got
ink back in 2003.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial
the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational
trophy. Second place receives, in keeping with specialized knowledge,
“The Ultimate North Carolina Quiz Book,”
a 1999 volume that will tell you 500 more things about North Carolina
than you used to know. (What is the highest incorporated town east of
the Mississippi? Beech Mountain, N.C.) Found somewhere by Loser Pie
Snelson. Who is not from North Carolina.
*Other runners-up* win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug,
“This Is Your Brain on Mugs” mug
or a vintage Loser T-shirt. Honorable mentions get one of our
lusted-after Loser magnets, “Magnet Dum Laude”
or “Falling Jest Short.”
First Offenders receive a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink
for their first ink). Email entries to /email@example.com
/. Deadline is Monday night, April 4;
results published April 24 (online April 21). You may submit up to 25
entries per contest. Include “Week 1168” in your email 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
wapo.st/InvRules . The headline for this week’s
results is by Jesse Frankovich; the honorable-mentions subhead is by
Beverley Sharp. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on
Facebook at /on.fb.me/invdev ./ “Like” the Style
Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at /bit.ly/inkofday; / follow
@StyleInvite on Twitter.
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*The Style Conversational: *The Empress’s weekly online column,
published late Thursday afternoon, discusses each new contest and set of
results. Especially if you plan to enter, check it out at
And the results from the Style Invitational contest we posted four weeks
ago . . .
*HAR CHOICES: OUR WINNING ‘WAIT WAIT’-STYLE QUIZ QUESTIONS*
In Week 1164 we honored (a.k.a. totally ripped off) NPR’s comedy quiz
show “Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me” and asked for multiple-choice
questions about real events or trivia.
The Empress asked longtime
Washington Post writer Roxanne Roberts — who’s also a longtime “Wait
Wait” panelist — for her fave among this week’s inking entries: It was
Kevin Dopart’s “11/11/11” (especially his wrong answers). More from
Roxanne in this week’s Style Conversational.
*The power of public prayer in America was tested in an unusual way by
A. The mayor of Jackson, Miss., who tweeted, “I believe we can pray
B. A high school principal in Lubbock, Tex., who opened a football pep
rally with a citation from Psalm 55:15: “Let death take my enemies by
C. The driver of a Greyhound bus to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who announced,
“Lord, I forgot my glasses; please watch over this trip,” and then
offered to let any riders off before continuing.
/Answer: A, per wjtv.com
/ (Kevin Dopart, Washington)
*Some schools do their utmost to protect their students — as when, in
2010, an English headmistress did what?*
A. She discouraged abductors by issuing every child a stun gun.
B. She changed the school uniform to a padded “marshmallow suit” to
cushion the kids against bumps and bruises.
C. She ordered black bars placed over the children’s eyes in yearbook
pictures, thus ruining the photos for child pornographers.
/Answer: C (The Daily Mail
/(Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)
2nd place and the barf bag decorated with the word for “vomit” in
*What went wrong when an Iowa farmer recently ran unopposed for the
local school board?*
A. He resigned immediately after being elected, explaining that he
hadn’t realized the job would involve going to meetings.
B. No one voted in the election — even /he/ didn’t.
C. He lost as a result of a campaign by neighborhood kids who encouraged
voters to write in SpongeBob SquarePants instead.
/Answer: B (Des Moines Register
(Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
And the winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:
*A London resident showed his love for Burger King how?*
A. He officially changed his name from Simon Smith to Bacon Double
B. He held his wedding in the Burger King on Tottenham Court Road,
complete with the presiding official dressed as the King, and the couple
exchanging onion rings with their vows.
C. He stole the Burger King statue from a local restaurant, and demanded
free Chicken Fries for life as the “king’s ransom.”
/Answer: A, per Time.com
(Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md.)
Losing Wait: honorable mentions
*Recently an Australian writer was surprised to find what in her email’s
A. An offer for a senior-citizen discount at Trump University.
B. A message telling her that she had won a $150,000 prize from Yale
University — and it was real.
C. Two hundred emails containing no porn ads, Viagra offers or Nigerian
/Answer: B (Sydney Morning Herald)
/ (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.) **
*Public Enemy Number One? In Al Qunfudhah, Saudi Arabia, a shop selling
camel urine was shut down because it was actually selling:*
A. Camel urine.
B. Scott’s Liquid Gold wood cleaner.
C. Shopkeeper urine.
/Answer: C (The Daily Mail)
/ (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
*The driver of a tractor-trailer that rolled out of a Minnesota parking
lot, crossing the street and striking a tree and a parked car, was: *
A. The truck’s owner’s 5-year-old son, who started up the semi when his
father went to the restroom.
B. The truck owner’s Labrador retriever, who managed to put the truck in
C. The truck owner’s ex-wife, who thought his girlfriend was sleeping in
/Answer: B / /(fox9.com) /
(Melissa Yorks, Gaithersburg, Md.)
*11/11/11 was recognized as the date . . .*
A. Most evocative of same-sex couples, according to the California
Association of Numerologists.
B. Most closely resembling corduroy, according to the Corduroy
C. Most like a fence, according to Donald Trump’s Veterans Day remarks
at the New York Military Academy.
/Answer: B (gothamist.com
*A New Jersey state agency recently refused to release records about the
death of a dolphin in a local river for what reason?*
A. The request violated the dolphin’s privacy.
B. The request misspelled “dolphin” as “dalfin.”
C. The dolphin had been used in an anti-Chris Christie campaign ad, as a
contrast to an unnamed “whale.”
/Answer: A / /(nj.com)/
** *It’s not just for smoking anymore: Which of these marijuana-related
products recently hit the market?*
A. Grass-fed chicken: “boneless breasts from the happiest ranch on Earth.”
B. Canna-Biscuits: Treats for man’s best stoner buddy.
C. Shampot: “Gee, Your Hair Smells Mellow.”
Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)
*After a hunt in Florida in February that killed 106 invasive Burmese
pythons, what were zoologists surprised to find inside one snake’s
A. An entire fawn.
B. Twelve alligator purses.
C. A Mickey Mouse costume from Disney World.
/Answer. A (WFLA.com)
/ (Tom Witte)
** *Someone was recently elected and sworn in to the East Chicago, Ind.,
city council despite what impediment?
*A. He lives in Florida and has never lived in Indiana; he was put on
the ballot without his knowledge as a prank.
B. He is in jail on a murder charge, awaiting trial.
C. He’s a border collie.
/Answer: B(Chicago Tribune)
/ (Duncan Stevens)
*From ho-ho to uh-oh: People in an Alberta town saw Santa do what
un-Santa-like act last Christmas Eve? *
A. He replenished his gift supplies by robbing a jewelry store at gunpoint.
B. He upgraded his sleigh by stealing a car in broad daylight.
C. He went on a rant about how he was going to build a wall around the
(Xin Yu, Fitchburg, Wis.)
// *As we near the 2016 Olympics in Rio: How does coffee relate to the
A. Starbucks, the sponsor of this year’s U.S. uniforms, will place its
Siren logo (and a handwritten name) on each item.
B. Coffee has been ruled a legal performance enhancer for Olympic swimmers.
C. In 1932, Brazil couldn’t afford to send a team to the Los Angeles
Olympics. So it loaded a ship with the athletes and coffee, selling the
coffee at ports along the way. But they made only enough money to enter
the water polo team — and they were disqualified for beating up the
/Answer: C (NPR “Weekend Edition Saturday”
Martin, Midlothian, Va.)
*So, Sir Mix-A-Lot of “Baby Got Back” fame: What do you know about
A. A Connecticut chiropractor was charged with assault after he applied
a series of electric shocks to an assistant, allegedly to punish her for
badmouthing other staff members.
B. A chiropractor in Maine became extremely popular when his pelvic
adjustments started giving women intense sexual pleasure. Police
investigated the office on charges of prostitution, and now he must have
a female witness present during any procedure.
C. A California teacher is suing her chiropractor after a neck
adjustment gave her the ability to swivel her head 270 degrees. Though
it doesn’t hurt and has proved useful, her new ability terrifies
students and has parents referring to her as Ms. Exorcist.
/Answer: A (Connecticut Post)
/ //(Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)
*The spectacular fountain show in front of the Bellagio casino in Las
Vegas is accompanied by which ironic song?*
A. Kenny Rogers’s “The Gambler” (”know when to fold ’em, know when to
walk away, know when to run”).
B. The Shaker song “Simple Gifts” (“ ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis
the gift to be free...”).
C. “The Money Song” from the musical “Avenue Q” (“...Give us your money!
All that you’ve got! Just fork it on over...”).
/Answer: B/ (Perry Beider, Silver Spring, Md., witnessed it firsthand.
Here’s a clip from YouTube .)
*What was memorable about a wake for a gangster killed in a shootout in
A. In the coffin, the man’s hand was holding a pistol — which went off
during the wake.
B. Police made the man’s killers sing hymns at the funeral home while
mourners paid their respects.
C. The deceased was posed sitting upright at a table playing dominoes,
with a drink nearby and holding a condom.
/Answer: C (mysanantonio.com)
/ (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)
*What went wrong when an Illinois man shoplifted various electronic
items from a Walmart last year?*
A. He came back to the store with the items to ask how to use them.
B. He called the cellphone company, asking how to get a number assigned
to a stolen phone.
C. A repo man took his car while he was in the store, greatly slowing
/Answer: C (Lake County News-Sun)
/ (Duncan Stevens)
*Which of these fatal accidents occurred while someone was taking a
A. An Indonesian man fell into an active volcano.
B. An American tourist fell off the Eiffel Tower.
C. A Flint, Mich., man fell in a small vat of water.
/Answer: A (Wikipedia, “List of selfie-related injuries and deaths”)
/ (Melissa Balmain)
*Those amazing little girls: Which of these is true? *
A. A woman in Manhattan discovered, to her horror, that her 6-year-old
had found the $12,000 Keith Haring sketch she was about to have framed
and had colored it in with crayons.
B. A child psychiatrist blamed anxiety to explain why a fourth-grader in
Virginia said she heard voices at night. Finally a dentist figured out
that a filling that the child had gotten overseas was picking up radio
C. After six months of treatment for an apparent sinus infection, a
5-year-old girl in California blew a safety pin out of her nose and said
she’d forgotten to tell her mother she put it there.
/Answer: C (UPI)
/ (Ellen Raphaeli, Falls Church, Va.)
*The men’s rooms at Louisville Metro Hall, a city government building,
have been plagued by what problem?*
A. The prank of dropping horse droppings in the weeks before the
B. Obscenities written on the mirrors with pink liquid soap.
C. “Mass quantities of boogers” on the walls around the urinals.
/Answer: C (wlky.com)
/ (Kevin Dopart)
// *Still running — deadline Monday night: our perennial
compare-and-contrast contest. See bit.ly/invite1167