Style Invitational Week 1192: Ask Backwards

Plus: Big ideas writ small — the 1-syllable-word contest winners

The Olympic philosophy, summed up by cartoonist Bob Staake and, below,
Melissa Balmain's runner-up poem consisting entirely of 1-syllable
words. See the results below the new contest. (Bob Staake for The
Washington Post)
By Pat Myers Entertainment
September 8

(Click here to skip down <#report> to the concepts explained in
one-syllable words)

‘New’ for Week 1192:
Ask Backwards

*●Waist-slimming compression wrap*
*●2,002 old emails
●Florida Man’s résumé
●An elevator and an alligator, but not a waiter *
*●149 yards rushing
●The Maltese Parakeet
●Ryan Lochte’s urine sample
●Lobster roll trucks on every corner
●A $27 donation* *
●Cockroach milk
●Swiss chard but not a Swiss bank account
●The National Postal Museum
●“The Punisher”
●Donald Trump’s birth certificate
●Stinky boots on the ground *

Coming your way with such regularity it could get the Serutan
endorsement, a contest the Invite has run dozens of times since Year 1
in 1993. *This week: The 15 phrases above are the answers. You provide
the questions* to as many as you’d like (up to 25 entries total, as
usual). Please precede each question with the pertinent answer so that
the Empress can search for it while she judges each category. See the
Style Conversational at for
examples from past contests.

Feeling rejected? Yes, you'll get this electronic button that will say
yes to you incessantly if you lose to only one other entry this week.
(But you’ll probably be rejected. Sorry.) ( )


*Submit entries at the website (just click
here) . *

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial
the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational
trophy. Second place receives — just to give the lie to people who think
we’re always so negative here at the Invite — a big electronic button
you push and it says “YES” in all sorts of voices
. This is the counterpart
to our previously awarded No Pen
, and of course
it’s gotten a lot less use than the pen while it’s been sitting on the
Empress’s desk during judging sessions. Donated, as was the pen, by the
positively positive Loser Dave Prevar.

*Other runners-up *win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug,
the older-model
“This Is Your Brain on Mugs” mug

or our new Grossery Bag, “I Got a B in Punmanship.”
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). Deadline is Monday night, Sept. 19; results
published Oct. 9 (online Oct. 6). You may submit up to 25 entries per
contest. See general contest rules and guidelines at
. The headline for this week’s results is by
Jon Gearhart; the honorable-mentions subhead is by Tom Witte. Join the
lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at /
./ “Like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day
on Facebook at /; / follow @StyleInvite
on Twitter.

*The Style Conversational *The Empress’s weekly online column, published
late Thursday afternoons, 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 1188 the Empress asked you to explain a concept only in
one-syllable words, and no more than 100 of them.

As Loser Jesse
Frankovich put it in an entry: “Write on some theme with words that have
just one sound chunk each. The count of the words must not be more than
ten squared. . . . If one of yours is deemed the best of the bunch, you
will get a cheap Abe thing with a big head.”

4th place

Use your bod, from feet to hands,
To vie with folks from strange new lands:
Chase them, rush them, ace them, crush them,
Flip them, cream them, trip them, ream them,
Throw and shove them . . . oh, and love them. (Melissa Balmain,
Rochester, N.Y.)

3rd place

Me. Mine. Me. Mine. Me. Mine.
Oh no, a flood!
We. Ours. We. Ours. We. Ours. Help!
The flood is gone!
Me. Mine. Me. Mine . . . (Ed Sobansky, Bowie, Md.)

2nd place

and the “snot nose” and windup Groucho glasses

“Look, Jacques, one guy throws the ball, one guy tries to hit the ball
with a bat. If the ball is thrown to the guy wrong, it is called a ball.”

“But we knew it was a ball, /non?”/

“Yes. Now if he swings but does not hit the ball, it is a strike. Three
strikes and he is out. A foul ball is a strike, too, but if the count is
strike two, then a foul ball is not a strike.
“Are you with me so far, Jacques?”
/“Non!/ Just get me a hot dog and a beer.” (Rob Cohen, Potomac, Md.)

And the winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:

When my child was young, I could do no wrong — Best Mom in the World!
But when she was a teen, I got so dumb. My rules were lame! My clothes
sucked! I was a mess! It’s true — she told me.

In spite of my bad mom-skills, she did grow up. And I got fixed! I’m
smart once more, so she asks me things. She likes my clothes, so my
taste must not suck the way it used to. I’m glad my kid stuck with me
while I went through that rough phase. (Hildy Zampella, Falls Church, Va.)

What a pithy party: honorable mentions

“We can’t let all those dark folks vote. There’s more and more of them
and less and less of us. If we let them all vote, we’ll lose. What to do?”

“I know! Let’s cut our state up in odd shapes and split up their votes.
Spread those folks out so their votes can’t hurt us.”


“And let’s make it so you have to have proof of who you are to vote. And
let’s make it so just one or two types of proof will work — the kind WE
have, but THEY don’t.”

“Hey, you boys are real smart.” (Nan Reiner, Boca Raton, Fla.)

* **When a dad loves a mom, they will hug a long time till Mom yells
“Oh, God” and is glad. Dad says “Ugh” and goes to sleep.

A small thing that came from Dad goes in an egg that Mom has and makes a
new thing. It grows and grows for nine months. Then Mom screams “Oh God”
once more but is not glad this time. It hurts and she gets mad at Dad.
That is where young ones come from. Now you can tell the folks at church
in a loud voice. (Combined entries from Ward Kay, Vienna, Va., and
Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

“Well, you see, we were in this cab and got stopped. Um, no, I don’t
know why, but then this cop put a gun to my head and cocked it. He said,
‘Give me cash now!’ Or at least I think that’s what he said, but I know
he robbed us, that’s for sure. Yeah, that’s it, he robbed us. Or not. We
were a bit drunk — Oh, did I leave out how we trashed a store?” (Jon
Gearhart, Des Moines)

* Each hour, day, week, month, year, our world grows more hot. Smart
folks try to learn the cause.

Ooh! Ask me! I know!

I left the stove on. (Mary Kappus, Washington)

*That weird rude guy says we ought to make this land great the way it
used to be. But that “great” was /not/ great. It was bad for girls,
those whose skin is not white, and men who love men.

We should not buy it that things were so great then – in fact, we should
own it that they were not. Why don’t the rude guy’s fans get that this
land should be great for white guys /and/ all the folks who are not the
same as they are? (It seems so, you know, DUH.) (Danielle Nowlin,
Fairfax Station, Va.)

Oops. My bad. (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)

There’s this hand we can’t see that lets us all win if we buy and sell
stuff with no checks or regs. But if you are Trump, then such a hand is
too small. You need a huge hand, one you can see, to put its thumb down
on trade deals. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Just tax poor folks. If you tax the rich folks, that is bad, for they
will not launch and spread wealth and grow our land. So cut the tax for
those rich guys, and then we will all be rich. (Note: The time frame for
the last part is up in the air. We’re sure it will take place real
soon.) (Duncan Stevens)

I learned this the hard way. One cold night at home, I heard a big
“whump!” I looked and looked, but no, not one thing out of place. So I
just let it go.

The next spring there was a stench near my front porch — from the well
next to a glass pane. What was it? A huge ring tail coon fell off the
roof and froze down there. Then it thawed. Then it stank. My spouse had
to hoist it out. I held the bag. It was not fun. Then we had a stiff
drink. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

You have the right to not talk. If you talk, things may go wrong for you
in court. Don’t talk. You have the right at all times to have a smart
guy be with you and think for you. Please, don’t talk. You can stop your
talk if you want to. Please, please , don’t talk. If you can’t pay the
smart guy, you can have a free one. Please, please shut up. Do you want
to talk? SAY NO!!! (Ed Sobansky)

This is when things swing and bounce in big ways with just a small
force. And this, too, is why sports bras are not prized by all of us.
(Kevin Dopart)

“To lose, not to win, is the way to win, boss,” she said. “High wit and
low puns. Sly prose and tight rhymes. If you win (I am the judge) you
get a crap prize. The goal for most is just to get ink. What do you think?”

Jeff said, “I don’t get it, but fine. We will still print it, but not on
the back page. And black and white
now on.” (Rob Cohen)

*Still running — deadline Monday night, Sept. 12: our Mess With Our
Heads bank-head contest. See
. *