Style Invitational Week 1377: Make your own March Madness
Tell (or show) us a game (etc.) you can put together at home. Plus fun Amazon reviews.
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Pat Myers
March 26, 2020 at 10:01 a.m. EDT
(Click here to skip down to this week’s winning product reviews of random items)

Greetings from Mount Vermin, the Empress’s palace deep in the wilds of suburban Washington. We’re happy to report that we’re asymptomatic — unless you count our congenital absence of taste.

It’s hard by now to even imagine this, but just three weeks ago, plans were still on for the NCAA basketball tournaments to be in the thick of March Madness this very weekend. Instead, sports fans are finding themselves watching video of classic hoops action among men in those little shorts fluttering a few inches over their four-foot-tall legs.

The Empress exhorts you: Don’t just sit there! Sit there and think of some sport, game, art project or other activity that you can conjure up using various items that you might find around the house. Pictures/video of actual conjured-up things are welcome, but just telling us your idea is fine as well. We’re casting a wide net here in our plea for funny, especially original funny.


We deliver: Japanese erasers in the shape of Chinese food.
We deliver: Japanese erasers in the shape of Chinese food.
Submit up to a total of 25 entries at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, April 6; results will appear April 26 in print, April 23 online.

Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a package of adorable little erasers in the shapes of Chinese dim sum food: little rubber steamed dumplings in little rubber bamboo steamers, plus a little rubber plate of little rubber salmon pieces. The package labels them “Chinese food” but also “Japanese puzzle eraser,” “Japan quality” and “Made in Japan.”

Other runners-up win their choice of our “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mug 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 This week’s contest was suggested by Ward Kay in a Style Invitational Devotees brainstorming session. The headline “Amazon.comedy” is by Chris Doyle; Kevin Dopart wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the 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, March 26, reviews each new contest and set of results. Check it out at; this week, what The Style Invitational did following 9/11.

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

Amazon.comedy: The ‘reviews’ of Week 1373
Week 1373 was another installment of our contest asking for funny “reviews” of some items listed on Too many people to credit saw that the men’s thong would make a nice face mask; complained that every one of the 100 balloons arrived with no air in them; touted The Post-it Notes’ use as multi-seamed wallpaper; and griped that 200 hair elastics wouldn’t be enough because they had more than 200 hairs. (These were written before we all stopped in our tracks for the duration.)


4th place:
Brave Person men’s micro thong underwear: Bailey absolutely rocked this look at the dog park. Next time we’re wearing matching outfits! (Martin Bancroft, Bellevue, Wash.)

3rd place:
Black elastic hair ties, 200 pieces: Loved the quantity — the whole pack made a perfect sweater for my pet snake. (Jon Ketzner, Cumberland, Md.)

2nd place
and the George H.W. Bush paper-doll book:
10.25-inch cast iron skillet: It’s all right, but you’re never going to get a truly authentic French omelet without committing to metric. (Sam Mertens, Silver Spring, Md.)

And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
13-inch nonstick slotted spatula: Great for grilling — you can swat it down on flies and slide it under a burger to flip practically in one motion! (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)

Losers also viewed . . .
Honorable mentions
Black elastic hair ties, 200 pieces:
Really appreciate the “no-metal” version. Makes it a lot easier to dry my hair in the microwave. (Frank Mann, Washington)


I’m greatly attracted to women’s hair, and love to move in close to admire it. With a few of these in my pocket, I can accessorize it as well. Women love it! — joefromdelaware (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)

I was thrilled to find these because it’s almost impossible to find ties specifically designed for elastic hair. They’re incredible! – Helen Parr (Steve Smith, Potomac, Md.)

Gold unicorn-horn headband:
I wore this and no one came near me at the funeral, which was perfect since I didn’t know the deceased. Buffet was great. Five stars! (Danielle Nowlin, Fairfax Station, Va.)

This is great for the little ones! I told my 3-year-old that every time she lies, a unicorn loses its horn. So I put this under her bed. She was so upset she confessed to everything. Kids are so stupid. Four stars. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)


No wonder unicorns are nearly extinct, what with the Chinese using their horns for their medicine and Amazon using them for childish costumes. For shame! (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)

100 latex balloons, 10 each of 10 colors
When we ran out of latex gloves at the hospital, these were very “handy”: I put one on each finger. Good thinking to provide 10 for each color! (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)

Do you really want to go into a hospital right now just for some “procedure”? With a little DIY practice, you can perform your own angioplasty with these balloons. 100 tries to get it right with each package! (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

These are perfect to put on the horn of my Unicorn Headband to let my co-workers know how I’m feeling every day. They never seemed to notice my mood rings, but they can’t miss these! (Dottie Gray, Alexandria, Va.)


We did some testing and it’s true – maybe pigs can’t fly, but a three-pound Chihuahua can soar right up with these 100 pretty balloons attached. Give a wave and bark back at little Taco before firing a pellet gun at just enough of the balloons to bring the li’l astronaut back down in a smooth landing. Not recommended for windy days. (Dan Steinbrocker, Los Angeles)

13-inch nonstick slotted spatula:
As a chef I’d used many spatulas, but none longer than 11 inches. Now when I’m cooking at my restaurant and get that itch in the middle of my back, I have just the thing — the slots dig deep and that 13th inch really hits the spot. And because it’s nonstick, the dead skin falls to the floor instead of the stove. (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)

For years I complained about my Swiss Army knife having no spatula; thanks to this and some super-glue, that’s a thing of the past. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)


You know how in summer your sweaty thighs stick to plastic chairs? Well, I place one of these nonstick spatulas under each of my legs . . . and with a little twist and push I pop right out of my seat. (Kevin Dopart)

I’ve been frustrated all my life trying to turn my eggs with a stick. This nonstick works much better. Five stars and two thumbs nondown. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

Wow — when I gave this to my wife on our anniversary, she totally flipped! (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

Brave Person men’s micro-thong underwear:
I started wearing these three months ago and agree that “it’s underwear you can wear every day.” Whatever saves on laundry is fine with me! (John O’Byrne, Dublin)

Love them! No more borrowing Mom’s! (Erika Ettin, Washington)

My wife has always given me grief for walking around the house in my underwear. Now she thinks I’m naked until I lift up my belly! HA! — Joke’s on her! (H. Dudley Davidson, Rockville, Md., a First Offender)


It’s a fabulous product, the best. I can’t see it when I wear it, but it feels amazing! Believe me, I look incredibly sexy. — J. Barron (Steve Smith)

I noticed that your ad said each item is individually packed. I have three “items” down there, so do I need to wear three thongs? I’m confused. (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)

I’m pretty well “packaged,” if you get my drift. But the size chart says a “small” is for someone 27 to 30 inches — doesn’t sound “micro” to me! (Drew Bennett)

3-by-3-inch yellow Post-it Notes, 12 pads of 100
Inferior adhesive! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left one of these on the counter with a list of chores for all my family members, only for it to fall off and disappear before anyone had a chance to see it. One star! (Danielle Nowlin)

These were great — while they lasted. But one day, without warning, they were all gone. Now here I am four years later without any way to remind myself to buy more. (Kyle Hendrickson, Frederick, Md.)

These notes won’t stick to anything! And that aftertaste — yuck! (Eric Nelkin, Silver Spring, Md.; Jack McCombs, Fairfax, Va.)

These are so timely, and the 3-inch size so useful: I’ve been sticking them above my lip to hang in front of my mouth — a perfect cough guard! (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

I use these to remember the names of my students, but they keep falling off their foreheads. The adhesive needs to be stronger. Two stars. (David Kleinbard, Mamaroneck, N.Y.)

These are fine, but I prefer a legal pad. Three stars. (Erika Ettin)

Why do they describe these as “canary” yellow, when even novice bird-watchers know the hue is much closer to a warbler or immature goldfinch? (Frank Osen)

10.25-inch cast iron skillet:
Got this to replace my 10.20-inch skillet. What a difference! (Jean Sorensen, Herndon, Va.)

Worst frisbee ever. (Sam Mertens)

You won’t need an NDA to offer one of these as an office gift. Despite Elizabeth’s confusion, what I’ve suggested to women many times at work is “skillet.” — M. Bloomberg, New York (Kevin Dopart)

Still running — deadline Monday, March 30: Our contest to add a character to a Shakespeare play. See

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