Style Invitational Week 1272: The hex files — think up creative curses

Plus genuine alternative facts about the news media and publishing

A modern-day curse: "May you always get up from your computer with your
headphones still attached." (Bob Staake for The Washington Post )
By Pat Myers By Pat Myers Email the author

March 22 Email the author

Follow @patmyersTWP //

(Click here to skip down <#report> to the winning fake trivia about the

*May you lose all your teeth except one, so you can still get a
toothache.* — old Yiddish curse

*May you be a contestant on “Jeopardy!” playing against my 7-year-old
son and the only categories are Power Rangers, X-Men and fart noises.* —
Jean Sorensen, Style Invitational Week 75, 1994

*May you always get up from your computer with your headphones still
attached.* — Thunder Dungeon

*May your cookie always be slightly too large to fit inside your glass
of milk. * — Thunder Dungeon

If you don't win, it's a shame -- but you might get this second prize.

Telling someone to “go #$^& off” is so uncivilized and so unimaginative
— not to mention that it’s really hard to pronounce “#$^&.” So, to the
rescue, we’re bringing back one of our oldest contests, prompted by a
recent series of Facebook posts
by the
Toronto comedy team Thunder Dungeon, which were brought to our attention
by Style Invitational Devotee Kathy Hughes:
*This week: Come up with an imaginative curse,* as in the examples above
from our 1994 contest and from one of the 18 Thunder Dungeon curses.

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

Winner gets the *Lose Cannon,

* our Style Invitational trophy. And to celebrate the start of baseball
season, we’ll give second place an *electronic chip-and-dip bowl in the
shape of an outsize glove and ball*: Press a button and the top of the
ball not only swings open to liberate the salsa, but also plays “Take Me
Out to the Ball Game.” The package guarantees it to be “great
entertainment for your next party,” so I’m sorry about your parties. See
a video of the bowl in action at
. Found by the Royal Consort in the
recesses of an abandoned office.

*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, April 2; *results
published April 22 in print, April 19 online. See general contest rules
and guidelines at . The
headline for this week’s results is by Kevin Dopart; Chris Doyle wrote
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
this week E will share the results of our two previous curse contests.

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

**In *Week 1268, * as part of The Style
Invitational’s relentless crusade to unenlighten our readers with bogus
trivia, we asked for fictoids about the news media and the publishing

Despite his obvious qualifications for this contest, the
president of the United States failed to enter and therefore gets no ink.

4th place:

*The scrolling ticker at the bottom of a newscast screen* is called a
crawl because it originally required someone to wriggle across the
studio dragging a hand-painted sign. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

3rd place:

*The term “yellow journalism”* derives from the 19th-century tradition
of newsboys urinating on stacks of their rivals’ papers. (Duncan
Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

2nd place

/and the shirt that makes you look as if your torso has been sliced away
*Communications major Baboon Blitzer* wisely opted to change his name.
(Margaret L. Welsh, Oakton, Va.)

And the winner of the Lose Cannon:

*Jeff Bezos meant to buy only a single issue* of The Washington Post,
but he didn’t have any small bills on him at the time. (Robert
Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)

Ha off the presses: Honorable mentions

*The German word *for “break wind” is /Blog/. (Duncan Stevens)

*A newspaper reporter signals that he’s working a story *by pulling his
tie down to his shirt’s second button. (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)

*Until he was forced to pick a name *short enough for TV listings,
Rupert Murdoch planned to call his U.S. cable channel Rabid Badger News.
(Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)

A reluctant Bloomsbury publishing house agreed to print the *Harry
Potter books *only after J.K. Rowling’s judicious use of the Imperius
Curse. (Duncan Stevens)

The real *Alfred E. Neuman *
required treatment
for anxiety disorder throughout his life. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

*The Honolulu Star-Advertiser *was created by the merger of the Hono
Star and the Lulu Advertiser. (Randy Lee, Burke, Va.)

In its LEED Gold-certified newsroom, *the digital Washington Post *uses
100 percent recycled pixels. (Dudley Thompson, Cary, N.C.)

*The first “hostile work environment” lawsuit *was filed in 1940 by
female employees of the Daily Planet, who cited reporter Clark Kent’s
frequent comments about the color and condition of their underwear.
(Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

*Katie Couric’s colonoscopy* was faked in the same studio as the moon
landing. (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)

*A newspaper article’s second paragraph *is traditionally called the
“nut graf,” because it’s where lunatics stop reading to start dictating
angry rebuttals. (Lawrence McGuire)

After producing his historic Bible,*Gutenberg gained much more financial
success* with his next publication, a set of amusing prints of cats.
(Larry McClemons, Annandale, Va.)

The HVAC system at *NPR’s new headquarters* is engineered to circulate a
vaporized suffusion of Valium. (Bill Spencer, Cockeysville, Md.)

Had it not been for*Chet’s last-second switch *from “rock” to
“scissors,” many of us would have grown up watching the “The
Brinkley-Huntley Report.” (Hildy Zampella, Alexandria, Va.)

*The initial proposal for The Post’s new slogan* was “In the dark,
democracy trips over the sleeping cat of tyranny and bangs its shin
painfully on the bedpost of complacency.” (Gary Crockett)

*Andy Rooney’s career only took off once he started* getting eyebrow
extensions. (Andy Gefen, Bethesda, Md., a First Offender)

*Contrary to what is depicted in “The Post,”* the sandwiches Mrs.
Bradlee served the reporters going through the boxes of Pentagon Papers
contained cucumber and watercress, /not/ ham and cheese! Washington
hostesses still had standards back then. — Judith “Miss Manners” Martin
(Steve Honley, Washington)

*Donald Trump’s first paying job *was as a paperboy delivering Pravda.
(Jeff Shirley)

*From 1973 to 1978, the Pulitzer Prizes* were made of fabric in *bright
floral prints *. (Noah Meyerson,

Garry Cleveland Myers, the creator of *“Goofus and Gallant” *in
Highlights for Children, was a family friend of both Fred Trump and
Robert Mueller Sr. (Randy Lee)

*News scribes in ancient Mesopotamia* structured their articles in the
inverted-ziggurat format
. (Mike
Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

*Fox News runs so many ads for catheters *because, after housing and
autos, urinary supplies are the third-largest segment of the U.S.
economy. (David Kleinbard, Mamaroneck, N.Y.)

In the 18th century, *“national public town criers”* relied on
contributions from their listeners and offered burlap bags as “thank-you
gifts.” (Gary Crockett)

Before achieving fame as a broadcaster, a *young, studly Walter Cronkite
*was known to friends as “The Most Trysted Man in America.” (Jeff Shirley)

*Ralph Nader unsuccessfully sued the producers of “60 Minutes” *under
truth-in-advertising laws, demanding that the show change its name to
“46 Minutes.” (Seth Tucker, Washington)

*Connie Chung turned down an offer* from NBC News when executives
insisted on pronouncing her name “Chang” because it sounded “cleaner.”
Rokach, Silver Spring, Md., a First Offender)

*The Reuters wire service *was unable to operate in Germany until 1881
because umlauts couldn’t be transmitted in Morse code. (Kevin Dopart,

*The copyright trial *between the National Journal of Actuarial Science
and the American Actuarial Society Journal had to be postponed when all
12 jurors fell asleep. (Mark Raffman)

Despite its accuracy, *The Style Invitational’s constant reportage*
about my diet and sexual habits borders on cruel. — Your Mama (John
Hutchins, Silver Spring, Md.)

*Still running — deadline Monday, March 26: our contest for neologisms
including a D, O, Y, L and E. See

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