Style Invitational Week 1364: Clue us in — a reverse crossword
We give you the answers, you give us the clues. Plus winning fake facts about winter.
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Pat Myers
Dec. 26, 2019 at 9:08 a.m. EST
(Click here to skip down to the winning fake trivia about winter)

SCATS: Standardized exams for aspiring proctologists

ONEAL: Loser’s score in baseball’s All-Star Game (as in “1, A.L.”)

Once again, and bigger than ever (and aren’t we all), it’s our contest in which we present you with a filled-in crossword grid and you present us — the Empress loves presents — with up to 25 creative clues for the words and phrases within. For the first time, we’re using a Sunday-size puzzle, the Dec. 8 Los Angeles Times Crossword, which appeared three weeks ago on the same print page as the Invitational; because you have more than 100 choices, I’m hoping for less duplication of entries than I used to get for the daily puzzles we’ve used in the past. This puzzle by Paul Coulter, titled “Pet Sitting,” has a niftily ingenious theme: The word “cat” appears several times throughout the grid, “sitting” atop another word like “couch” or “lap.” But the original clues themselves were straightforward, with minimal wordplay, so you won’t have to worry about duplicating them with your oh-so-clever Invite entries.


Did you know that North Pole reindeer are genetically related to the jackalope? This genuine taxidermied specimen is this week’s second prize. (WALLDRUG.COM)
Did you know that North Pole reindeer are genetically related to the jackalope? This genuine taxidermied specimen is this week’s second prize. (WALLDRUG.COM)
So this week: Supply clever, funny clues for as many as 25 of the words and multi-word terms in this grid, as in the examples above. The clues don’t need to be as brief and crossword-authentic as real ones; we won’t even run clues for all the words in the grid. Go for funny.

How to format your entry so that the Empress can sort them without going even insaner:

Please write each entry on its own line, beginning with the grid word, in the form WORDFROMTHEGRID (without spaces even if you interpret it as multiple words): [your clue],” as in the examples above. You can explain it after the clue, as with ONEAL above.

Note: This is an American-style crossword, not the British type in which the clue is a sentence containing an anagram of the word.

Submit up to 25 entries at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Jan. 6; results will appear Jan. 26 in print, Jan. 23 online.


Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a genuine taxidermied jackalope, complete with really stupid antlers (um, facing each other isn’t going to do the trick) and flocked bunny “fur” that feels like AstroTurf. It’s also a piggy bank. Donated by aspiring Loser Harrison Schott.

Other runners-up win one of our new “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mugs or our “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get one of our lusted-after Loser magnets, “Too-Weak Notice” or “Certificate of (de) Merit.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at The headline “Frosted Fakes” is by Chris Doyle; Kathy Al-Assal wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. 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 afternoon, reviews each new contest and set of results. This week the E shares some past crossword clues, plus some especially worthy losing entries from the past year’s contests. Check it out at


And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

Frosted fakes: Bogus trivia about winter from Week 1360
In Week 1360, as part of our ongoing crusade to bring you the finest in misinformation, we asked for “fictoids” about winter and related events.

4th place:
Snow in the Southern Hemisphere forms on the ground and “falls” upward, which explains why penguins are white on the bottom. (Andrew Wells-Dang, Arlington, Va., a First Offender)

3rd place:
A snowball’s chance in hell has increased greatly during the Trump administration. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney, Md.)

2nd place
and the “Got gas?” boxer shorts:
The inn that turned away Mary and Joseph is now a Marriott Bonvoy property. (Frank Mann, Washington)

And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
Phi Kappa Rho fraternity at the University of Northwestern Maine canceled this year's "yellow-snow" name-writing contest because college students no longer know how to use cursive. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)


Icy culls: Honorable mentions
The Inuit have only one word for snow but 50 words for “gullible anthropologist.” (Dudley Thompson, Cary, N.C.)

Donald Trump’s attachment to coal dates back to the Christmas mornings of his childhood. (Bob Kruger, Rockville, Md.; Frank Mann)

Disney on Ice failed to turn a profit until executives decided to remove the display of the cryogenically frozen Walt. (Bill Spencer, Cockeysville, Md.)

If the temperature drops below 10 degrees, the Washington Monument retracts a few feet underground. (Bruce Reynolds, Grand Rapids, Mich., whose only other Invite ink was in Week 389, in 2001)

Due to climate change, mushers at the 2020 Iditarod must provide their own snow. (Stephen Dudzik)

Because vomit is slightly acidic, airlines collect used airsickness bags and use the lightly abrasive contents to de-ice aircraft in the winter. (Elden Carnahan, Laurel, Md.)


More than 14,000 gingerbread men and sugar plum fairies lost their lives in the War on Christmas. (Frank Mann)

The record low for Washington, D.C., had been minus-5 degrees Fahrenheit, set Jan. 17, 1982. Now it is whatever happened at the White House today. (Rick Lempert, Arlington, Va.)

Technically, the coldest part of a witch is her pectoral muscle. (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)

Covfefe was the name of Donald Trump’s childhood sled. (Bob Kruger)

No one actually knows the meaning of “capades.” (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

A Democratic-sponsored bill in the House would require the National Weather Service to replace the terms “El Niño” and “La Niña” with the gender-neutral “Niñx.” (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

Hollywood liberals faked the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey game in an effort to bolster Jimmy Carter’s flailing presidency, filming it in the same studio they used to shoot the moon landing 11 years earlier. (Steve Smith, Potomac, Md.)


By presidential order, the Manhattan site for the New Year’s Ball Drop has been renamed Fake News Square. (David Patch, Toledo, Ohio)

The song “Frosty the Snowman,” with its references to “eyes made out of coal” signifying enlarged pupils and its depictions of manic behavior, subtly refers to a neighborhood drug dealer. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

In Jamaica, Jack Frost is known as Johnny Gentlebreeze. (Eric Nelkin, Silver Spring, Md.)

One of the most disastrous product rollouts in history was the release in the mid-’60s of a carbonated eggnog called Yolka-Cola. (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

Oscar Hammerstein always wore a baseball cap during winter storms, as he hated when snowflakes stayed on his nose and eyelashes. (Steve Smith)

Reindeer emit helium, not methane. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)


The first Christmas tree ornament was created by a Bavarian glass blower in 1573; minutes later, the first broken Christmas ornament was created by his cat. (Jesse Frankovich)

Tire chains were invented in the Renaissance when Queen Elizabeth I’s carriage got stuck in the snow on the way to her winter residence, and the knight escorting her took off his suit of mail and wrapped it around the wheels. (Sarah Walsh, Rockville, Md.)

“Toboggan” is the Cree word for “suicide.” (Tom Witte)

To the chagrin of the rabbinical community, restaurant sales of mu shu pork actually increase on Christmas Day. (Bob Kruger)

North Pole reindeer are not capable of flight in the same way as birds, but glide from one rooftop to another by means of a parachute-like membrane that stretches between their antlers. (Jesse Frankovich)


Although athletes in the summer games competed in the nude, curling teams in the Ancient Greece Winter Olympics had to wear garish togas. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Nearly 95 percent of pet owners buy their pets Christmas gifts, which is odd since only 4 percent of pets are Christian. (Bill Dorner)

Still running — deadline Monday night, Dec. 29: Your chance to enter any of our contests from the past six months. See

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