Style Invitational Week 1397: Trope springs eternal
Give us a new idea for any of these standard cartoon situations. Plus anagram fun.
Image without a caption
(Cartoons by Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Pat Myers
August 13, 2020 at 10:01 a.m. EDT
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(Click here to skip down to the winning descriptions of “anagram businesses”)

Much as comics can mine and remine the knock-knock or Yo Mama or “he’s so xxx” joke, cartoonists continue to return to a few venerable situations as a sort of homage, and as a challenge to produce something fresh and timely. Take this recent cartoon by David Sipress in the New Yorker: Timeless trope: Parched Man Crawling Through Vast Desert. Sipress: Cyclist, clad in helmet, zooms up right behind him. Caption: “Hey! You’re in the bike lane!”

The Empress asked Our Own Bob Staake to draw a few of those cartoon trope situations and let the Loser Community offer some new ideas. Bob countered with a better idea, one that lets you create any character within the setting. This week: Use any of these four standard settings — (a) desert island, (b) bartender at a bar, (c) desert, (d) psychiatrist next to a couch — and describe a cartoon that includes your choice of characters, along with a caption. Bob will draw at least one of the winners.


If you come in second this week, you can vent away.
If you come in second this week, you can vent away. (Pat Myers/The Washington Post)
No, don’t write your entry on a copy of the cartoon. Just send us your plain ol’ words, please. How to format your entry: Begin with the letter labeling the cartoon, followed by a colon (A:, B:, C:, D:), and then follow it by your idea and caption on the same line. This will ensure that they’ll end up in the right group when the E pushes the Magic Sort Button. (You may attach a sketch to show what you’re getting at, but you must also describe it with text on the entry form.)

Submit up to 25 entries total at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Aug. 24; results will appear Sept. 13 in print, Sept. 10 online.

Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a squeezy U.S. Capitol dome stress reliever, just in case you might be a teeny weeny bit mad at Congress for failing to deliver lifesaving funds to you. Donated by All Mellow Loser Dave Prevar.


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 new lusted-after Loser magnets, “No ’Bility” or “Punderachiever.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at The headline “Scrambled Dregs” is by Jesse Frankovich; Jesse also wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the 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 — discusses each new contest and set of results. See

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

Scrambled dregs: Anagram fun from Week 1393
In Week 1393 the Empress ran a list of fictional businesses and products whose names were self-anagrams: You rearrange all the letters of the first half of the name to make the second half, such as ANAL GAS . . . LASAGNA. All these names were entries in our Week 1388 contest but didn’t get ink because their descriptions or slogans didn’t quite live up to the names. So instead, we offered them up to the Loser Community for another shot. Some of the entries are also self-anagrams; they’re in all-caps.

4th place:
EDITORIAL: Always wrong, but never in doubt. (Steve Smith, Potomac, Md.)

3rd place:
BRAILLE: All our books must express consent before you can touch them. (Art Grinath, Takoma Park, Md.)

2nd place and the Flying Pig eau de toilette spray:
SNEERED TESTIMONY. (Kathy El-Assal, Middleton, Wis.)

And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
CUTLERY: Be sure to check out our knives in the back. (Edmund Conti, Raleigh)

CAN’T ACT ON US ACCOUNTANTS: We always cover our assets. (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)


— We’re H & R Blockheads: Our motto: No Convictions. (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)

ANAL GAS LASAGNA: It smells just as good coming out as it does going in! (Chuck Helwig, Centreville, Va.)

— Just the way Your Mama made it! (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

ASSET DECLINE DELICATESSEN: We’re not even chopped liver. (Maja Keech, Bowie, Md.)

— We know how to make a po’ boy. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney, Md.)

— We’re so desperate, we’ll serve YOU. (Rick Haynes, Ocean City, Md.)

— Stop at our dessert counter, ASPERITIES PATISSERIE. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

ATROPHIED APHRODITE: Cosmetics for that “come-wither” look. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

CREDIT NAGGERS GREETING CARDS We’re Thinking of You Always. That’s always. Talk to you tomorrow!” (Mark Raffman, Reston)

— “About those presents under the tree . . . ” (Edward Gordon, Austin)


CROONER CORONER: (sung to “My Way”)
And now, the end is here, this dude has faced the final curtain.
We’ve done our probe — it’s clear, though some will find it disconcertin’ —
These burn marks are the key; they show us how this guy got dusted:
He just spontaneously ... up and combusted. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

DEAD-OR-NOT DEODORANT: Stay cool and confident, even at your own funeral! (Jon Ketzner, Cumberland, Md.)

— You’ll smell so good, you’ll be wanted either way! (Sam Mertens, Silver Spring, Md,)

— They’ll keep their social distance when you wear our scents: Gym Fresh, Wet Dog, and our newest, Week-Old Unwashed Mask. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)

EMU BRAINS SUBMARINE: … Or you could just get the cheesesteak. (Jon Ketzner)

EVIL STONE NOVELTIES: Formerly Roger’s Bag of Dirty Tricks political consulting shop. (Jerome Uher, Alexandria, Va.)


GRUB MASHER HAMBURGERS: Every order comes with a side of flies. (Eric Nelkin, Silver Spring; Jon Gearhart)

“This dude’s consigned to grave and shroud,
But don’t act glum, or play the grump!
The silver lining in this cloud:
No more will he read news of Trump.”(Duncan Stevens)

I’M-A-STUD STADIUM: Soon to be renamed I’m-A-Reckless-Entitled-Future-Felon Stadium. (Brett Dimaio, Cumberland, Md.)

ILL STRIDES DISTILLERS: Makers of Johnnie Wobbler, the hooch that makes you hobble. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

INSATIABLE BANALITIES: When you’ve had your fill of the extraordinary, come to us for the extra ordinary! (Eric Nelkin)

IRATE FACE CAFETERIA: Karen needs to eat, too. (Lee Graham, Rockville, Md.; Bob Kruger, Rockville, Md.)



MASTER PUKER SUPERMARKET: All our meat, dairy and produce is restocked every month! (Hannah Seidel, Alexandria, Va.)

MONSTER MENTORS: Our staff of 3-year-olds will teach you future executives how to get your way! (Jeff Hazle, San Antonio)

MY AMUSING GYMNASIUM: Where A LOSER MUST SOMERSAULT. (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

NICE CHEFS RUIN FRENCH CUISINE: Try our McVichyssoise — it’s the best cold french fry soup around! (Jeff Bryant, Hagerstown, Md., a First Offender)

— Mais non, not us! We are openly hostile and condescending! (Richard Franklin, Alexandria, Va.)

ONE RATTY ATTORNEY: You won’t find a Barr any lower. (Scott Straub, Winchester, Va.)

PEDANT TERM DEPARTMENT: Er, technically, that should be “Pedantic.” (Gary Crockett; Jon Gearhart)

PUDGIER RACCOON ORGANIC PRODUCE: All prewashed (and some pre-tasted) by our mask-wearing staff! (Marilyn Pifer, Morgan Hill, Calif.)


REAL IDIOT EDITORIAL: If you like this, you’ll love our DOPE OP-ED page! (Frank Mann, Washington; Frank Osen)

SWEATY ANAL TORT ATTORNEYS AT LAW: The best defense is a good offense — and man, are we ever offensive! (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)

— Come to us when you’re in arrears. (Pia Palamidessi, Cumberland, Md.)

And last: CRUELTY CUTLERY: What the Empress uses as she cheerily trims the entry list. (Mike Ostapiej, Ravenel, S.C.)

Still running — deadline Monday night, Aug. 17: Our contest for limericks featuring “ha-” words. See

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