Style Invitational Week 1268: Playing Pinocchio— give us fake trivia
on the media

Plus winning Yelp-style reviews of places like Hades, Oz and a bird

(Bob Staake for The Washington Post )
By Pat Myers By Pat Myers Email the author

February 22 Email the author


(Click here to skip down <#report> to the winning faux-Yelp reviews)

**Robert Redford almost wasn’t cast in “All the President’s Men” because
producers didn’t think he was handsome enough to play Bob Woodward.* *

**The Linotype machine was invented by a Latvian machinist named Etaoin
Shrdlu .* *

*Soy-based printing ink was developed in Britain to add flavor to the
fish and chips served in newspaper cones.*

The Style Invitational’s never-ending crusade to mislead the world
continues this week close to home, thanks to a contest suggestion by
Obsessive Loser Jeff Contompasis. *This week: Tell us some humorously
bogus trivia about the news media or the publishing or broadcast
industries,* as in the examples above, the last two by JefCon himself.

The optical illusion in the photo on the sales page (left) is a little
more convincing than what arrived in the mail (right), modeled by the
torso of the Royal Consort. (Left,; right, Pat Myers/The
Washington Post)

Submit entries at the website **
(all lowercase).

Winner gets the *Lose Cannon,

* our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a stretchy
T-shirt that, if you use a whole lot of imagination (and you carry a
dark background around with you at all times), looks as if a cross
section of the wearer’s torso has been cut away with a saw, except for
the spine, which now stands cartoonishly between the chest and abdomen.
The Empress saw this advertised on her favorite Portal for Cheap Loser
Prizes,, and sent away for it. Let’s say the photo in the ad
was more convincing.

*Other runners-up *win our “You Gotta Play to Lose”
Mug or our Grossery Bag, “I Got a B in Punmanship.”
Honorable mentions get one of our
lusted-after Loser magnets, “We’ve Seen Better”
“IDiot Card.”

First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener”

for their first ink). *Deadline is Monday night, March 5; *results
published March 25 (online March 22). See general contest rules and
guidelines at . The headline
“Smarty Pans” is by Chris Doyle; Chris, Jesse Frankovich and Jeff
Contompasis each submitted the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the
lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at /

*The Style Conversational *The Empress’s weekly online column —
published late Thursday afternoon — discusses the new contest and
results. Especially if you plan to enter, check it out at

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

**For *Week 1264 *we asked you to write
humorous Yelp-style reviews of novel places.

4th place:

*Dr. Kvack’s waiting room* is super-crowded, but you won’t believe how
fast it clears — it took me just 10 minutes to see him. Even better, as
soon as I mentioned my lower back pain, he dashed off a three-month
scrip for Vicodin. Quick and easy!! ★★★★★ (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)

3rd place:

If you’re a connoisseur of fine art, you’ve got to get yourself to *Mrs.
Fletcher’s third-grade homeroom *at Elm Street Elementary. The work is
consistently impressive, but that of one prodigy, Bevis Wildenkrantz
III, merits extra mention. His “House With Smiley-Face Sun” is worth the
trip alone. — B.W., Greenville (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

2nd place

*and the cute plush E. coli bacterium
If you’re looking for a good Irish pub in Manhattan, do /not / go to
*St. Patrick’s *on Fifth Avenue. For such a fancy place, the service was
lousy — we had to stand in line just to get to the bar, and then all
they had were bad wine and some bread. And the bartenders were dressed
like they were in a school graduation. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

And the winner of the Lose Cannon:

*Ford’s Theatre:* I actually thought the show was pretty good. Now you
can all stop asking.

M.T. Lincoln, Washington (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

The weak in review: Honorable mentions

Famed for its year-round warmth, *Hades* offers the discerning traveler
a sinfully luxurious chance to stretch out on the brimstone beaches of
the River Styx and moan along with the wailful whimpers of some of
history’s greatest dictators. Best of all, accommodations are provided
free of charge and you can stay forever. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills,

The agonizing fire, the throat-searing brimstone, the screams of pain
and despair from my fellow damned . . . I worked all my life to qualify
for this place, and it’s everything I’d hoped for. Five pitchforks!
(Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

*Bird Feeder at 347 Maple:* A fine exemplar of the whole-grain movement,
with a menu that’s seedy, nutty and nutritious. The only failing was
accessibility problems for the bushily tailed; it required great effort
to pick up my order. — Rocket J., Frostbite Falls (Dan Helming,
Maplewood, N.J.)

*Mom’s Bed and Breakfast:* The proprietor is a control freak. She serves
vegetables you don’t want to eat, nags you to wear a sweater, even
orders you to go to bed. It’s free for the first 18 years, which is
nice, but that lady needs some boundaries. (Alex Blackwood, Houston)

I*-66 HOT lanes:* Five stars — for now! NoVA commuters, have I got a
tip! You heard I-66 has been converted into an outrageously expensive
toll road? So I’m fuming about the $37.25 I’ll have to pay to get to
work. Then I reach my exit and — get this — /they forgot to install the
tollbooths! /

Hurry, enjoy the free commute before those bozos realize their mistake!
(Hildy Zampella, Falls Church, Va.)

*Jacksonville:* “It’s really nice, but New York has a lot to offer, too.
Or maybe Arizona?” —K. Cousins,
(Jesse Frankovich, Grand Ledge, Mich.)

I’m sorry to report that *Jimmy John’s *does /not / live up to its
promises. Yesterday I ordered a Totally Tuna sub, buried my nose in it,
handed it back . . . and was told, “That’ll be $7.21”! “Free smells,” my
foot. (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)

I’ve been hunting on six continents. I’ve taken down everything from
pumas to leopards to tigers. But /nothing/ beats *Narnia* for big game.
You won’t BELIEVE the lion
bagged. — D.J.T Jr., New York (Todd DeLap, Fairfax, Va.)

The sign should’ve alerted me to the shoddiness of *Cindy’s “Leminade”
stand,* where I wasted a quarter on super-sweetened bilge. Requests for
a sprig of basil were met by uncomprehending stares, and demands to
speak with management drew threats to “call Mommy.” Thankfully, this
pop-up joint seems to have gone out of business. (Frank Osen)

*Ben’s Chili Bowl:* I’m sorry but that dog was only half-smoked. (Ward
Kay, Vienna, Va.)

The *Mordor *volcano tour was fascinating, but the locals were pretty
hostile and the giant tower with the CBS logo on it was kind of tacky.
Why do we have to have product placement everywhere??? (Duncan Stevens,
Vienna, Va.)

*Oz:* One star — terrible customer service! The people I met were mostly
friendly but badly misinformed. When I arrived after a difficult trip,
they sent me and some equally frustrated travelers to see some “wizard,”
who made us go through a bunch of hoops and ended up not helping at all.
From now on, I’m staycationing in Kansas. (Ward Kay)

*Washington Monument: *This is terrible! It doesn’t look anything like
him! (Duncan Stevens)

Has anyone noticed that the*free library box *in front of the
Fitzgeralds’ house has gone seriously downhill? The glass hasn’t been
cleaned in ages, the quality of the books has deteriorated
(“Baby-Sitters Club #12”??) — and would it kill them to add a bench and
some refreshments? (Frank Osen)

Three stars for the*walking tour of U.S. 1 *in Northern Virginia: The
scenery is great, and you’d be surprised at what you find on this
stretch of road. But try not to go in midsummer or the dead of winter:
the orange jumpsuits and yellow vests they give you are either too hot
or not warm enough. I think I’d just pay the fine next time. (Drew
Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)

Go ahead and take a load off at *John’s Porta-Potty *at the construction
site at Fourth and Main — they’re clearly concerned for your privacy and
semi-comfort. Rain, snow, they’ve got you covered. (High winds? Not so
sure.) Shallow breathing recommended. (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

*Manassas Transfer Station:* Simply put, this place is a dump. (Daphne
Steinberg, Alexandria)

*The Bastille: *One star. Accommodations extremely uncomfortable. Staff
rude. Fortunately, I am assured that our stay will be short. — M.
Antoinette, Paris (Duncan Stevens)

The radicchio and arugula salad at *George’s Cafe* is as bitter as I
felt when I found out that George was cheating on me with that waitress.
The lettuce is as limp as his reproductive equipment; the dining
atmosphere is that of hooker perfume. The only solace is that George’s
prices are as cheap as the tramp he ran off with. (David Kleinbard,
Mamaroneck, N.Y.)

D.C. has lots of great parades, but don’t bother going to the one the
*Marine Corps *holds in late October — the marchers all seem to be in a
hurry , and the few
clowns and jugglers are only at the end. (Kevin Dopart)

The restaurant*Hooters* has excellent chicken wings (I guess that’s
where they got the name), but I was disturbed that young ladies taking
my order wore revealing shirts and scanty short-shorts. I’m not aroused
by the shapely female servers, but not because I am gay! I cannot
condone the shameful objectification of women (unless it’s by my boss),
but as I said, these wings are really good! So I’ll definitely dine here
again soon. — review by MothersBoy (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)

That specialty theme park at *Disney World* is great! This auto buff
found the number and variety of cars astounding -- and there was no
admission fee! I spent the day wandering down row after row of new and
old vehicles in the whimsically named “Parking Lot A.” (Rob Cohen,
Potomac, Md.)

*Mos Eisley Cantina:* This bar brings in some good musical acts, but the
patrons look like
the “before” ward at a cosmetic surgery practice, and there’s too much
violence--one old guy cut
off my buddy’s arm for no good reason. Avoid. (Duncan Stevens)

I had $45 burning a hole in my pocket, so I tried the*I-66 express
lane*. So much fun watching all those poor suckers stuck in rush hour
traffic while I sailed on through -- The distressed looks on their faces
were priceless! Made it to my anger management therapy with 10 minutes
to spare! (Frank Mann, Washington)

The expedition began with 16 stalwart souls. After countless examples of
tragedy, perseverance, heroism, and, yes, eventually cannibalism, only I
survived and made it to the *South Pole.* Was it worth it? I don’t know
... I thought there would be a bigger pole. (Gary Crockett)

/And Last:/ Our class visit to the *Washington Post newsroom* was
delightful and informative. The only negative was some woman sitting by
herself wearing a ridiculous hat (something with an octopus?), reading a
huge stack of paper. She would alternate between cackling like a witch
on laughing gas and barking out something about “true rhymes.” Frankly,
she frightened the children. (Todd DeLap)

/More honorable mentions in the online Invite at /

*Still running — deadline Monday night, Feb. 26: our contest for bad
ideas for product spokesmen.
. *