Style Conversational Week 1400: The Empress discusses The Style Invitational’s foal name contest


Usually, I put up the foal contest in early April so that the results run Derby weekend — and that’s before we know who’ll be in the race. I usually read up on the year’s hot prospects and choose maybe a third of the list in hopes that some of “our horses” will run in the Derby. This time, however, the 18-horse field is set (barring the not uncommon late scratch) and so I went ahead and put all those horses on the 100-name list, which is whittled down from around 400 nominees. (The horses were all born in 2017, so as always, it’s a totally fresh list.)

If the foal contest is new to you, you’ll quickly get the idea from reading some past results.

4. Super Saver x Northern Dancer = Fred Austere (Mary McNamara, Washington)

3. Brokers Tip x Behave Yourself = Play NYSE (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)

2. Kauai King x Macbeth II = Aloha, Damn’d Spot (Neal Starkman, Seattle)

1, Black Gold x Macbeth II = MeTarSand, YouThane (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

More, you say? Then click on any of the manymany links on the “Horses” page of the Style Invitational Master Contest list, on the Losers’ website, NRARS.org.

We’re up! Listen to Episode 1 of the podcast ‘You’re Invited’

Last Thursday in this column I announced that a podcast about The Style Invitational was being developed by Loser Michael Gips, and that he would be interviewing me over the weekend. That indeed happened; Mike and I enjoyed a long, long chat via Zoom on Saturday, on various aspects of the Invite. But I had no idea that by Tuesday morning, Mike would be sending me the link to Episode 1 of “You’re Invited,” consisting of our conversation — I was Guest No. 1 — edited down by about three-quarters (to around 30 minutes) but still covering the origin of The Style Invitational, the Empress’s judging routine, Mike’s favorite entries of the week, etc., all introduced with a George M. Cohan-flavored theme song written just for the podcast by Loser Jonathan Jensen:

Word freaks, humor geeks, folks whose tongues are in their cheeks,

Welcome to the Style Invitational.

Misfits, wags and wits, folks who laugh at naughty bits,

Here’s a show that’s fun and educational!

You will meet our leading Losers and learn the way they think.

Take their tips and maybe you will see your name in ink.

Empress Pat, aristocrat, she’ll put out the welcome mat.

So get in line and file in,

Soon you will be smilin’.

Welcome to the Style Invitational!

Mike is looking into getting the podcast listed on the usual apps, but for now it’s super-easy to just click on the link at NRARS.org and you can listen on your computer, phone or tablet. (Oh, heck, here’s the link for Episode 1.) Among the Losers mentioned in the podcast when Mike read their entries and who couldn’t be tagged in Facebook: Art Grinath, John Glenn, Eric Nelkin.

The next episode is coming right up next Tuesday at the latest, Mike tells me, and we’ll definitely want to hear that one: In Episode 2 Mike interviews Chris Doyle, the legendary wordsmith who has been smeared with more than 2,200 blots of ink — including 59 wins! — since he started entering the Invitational in earnest 20 years ago. Chris is also universally regarded as uncommonly generous and gracious to his fellow Losers, offering good words and helpful advice to many a contestant who’s chatted him up. Perhaps he’ll share his general approach to the horse name contest, or comment on how he goes about writing the untold thousands of limericks he’s written, all of them mechanically flawless and almost all of them jaw-droppingly clever.

Other segments will include What Mike Liked and, correspondingly, What Our Guest Blessed, their faves from that week’s Invite. If you have some ideas or requests for the show, email me at pat.myers@washpost.com and I’ll package them up and send them off to Mike. And thanks so much again, Mike, for sharing your bizarre passion with the rest of the world. (No, not the one about tropical-fish porn.)

Losers inch into the light! Outdoor lunch and tour in Gettysburg, Oct. 18

In-person Loserdom has been on hiatus since March, of course; we postponed, then gave up on the Flushies, our annual awards “banquet” and songfest, and the monthly Loser Brunches became just memories of Previous Life. But Elden Carnahan, essentially the founder of Loserdom, posted this week in the Style Invitational Devotees Facebook group that Gettysburg, Pa., resident and tour guide (and 129-time Loser) Roger Dalrymple “offers to find a Gettysburg restaurant with outdoor dining, followed by the traditional tour of the battlefield with nontraditional social distancing. The tentative date is Sunday, October 18.”

Usually the year’s Loser brunch rotation features a spring or fall outing to Gettysburg, and the Royal Consort and I have enjoyed it several times over the years. And if this happens, I’d make a special effort to clear my schedule and drive up there, just to see and talk with you folks in person, even behind a mask. I’ll announce more details in coming weeks; if you’re interested or would like more information, email elden [dot] Carnahan [at] gmail [dot] com.

a-HA moments*: The limericks of Week 1396

*Non-inking headline by Bill Dorner

I had thought that Chris Strolin, editor of OEDILF, the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick form, was going to ask that I restrict this year’s Limerixicon (XVII!) to feature words beginning gr- to gz-. But fortunately, and of course appropriately, he sent a call out for “ha-” limericks this year. And the results of Week 1396 should provide him lots of choice material; I received around 800 limericks from more than 150 Losers, and I liked many more than the 26 entries that see ink today.

As usual, however, some people swung far of the mark in both rhyme and meter, making me wonder if they’d ever heard “Hickory Dickory Dock” or had read the rhymes of Dr. Seuss. One limerick “rhymed” engaged, engraved, exchanged; another asks/crashed; another Orlando/ banjo. And powerful/allowable. And Harris/premise.

And I wish the writers of these lines would have said them out loud to note their missing “hickory-dickory-dock” at their core: How would you hear that BA-da-da BA-da-da BA rhythm if you read out loud “Hallmark and Amazon Prime fit the bill,” or “Yay! Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s pick.” Or for the “dickory-dock” of Lines 3 and 4, “When they asked me how/ I take my coffee now.”

This week’s Losers’ Circle was fully stocked with veteran Loserbards: Melissa Balmain, editor of the online poetry journal Light, wins the Invite for the 13th time with one of her trademark winsome look at domestic woes — this time it’s the bad news a man might find in a hairbrush. And the rest of the “above the fold” ink went to three Hall of Famers: Chris Doyle used his signature style of a Line 5 pun on a familiar expression, Trump “beating a hasty retweet”; Duncan Stevens played on the welcome news that Washington’s NFL team had to give up “that godawful name” and so fans can sing “Hail Team” instead of the old fight song; and Mark Raffman’s not so ha-ha warning from Moscow on hacking.

What Doug Dug: Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood’s faves of the week came from the honorable mentions: Gary Crockett’s “halitosis while wearing a mask,” Duncan Stevens’s sobriquet for You Know Who as the “harangue-a-tan,” and Perry Beider’s comparing two antique weapons, the mace and halberd, as a matter of “bash versus gore.”

Go help OEDILF.com: Now that the Week 1400 results have run, feel free to submit your “ha-” limericks — inking or not — to OEDILF.com, the continuing and continuing and continuing project to assemble an entire English dictionary in which all the descriptions are limericks. Unlike the Empress, who just can’t, sorry, Chris Strolin and his band of volunteer editors will often patiently “workshop” your not-quite-perfect limerick with you until it can become one of the almost 110,000 (not a typo) that have been accepted into the OEDILF.

All I ask: If you’re submitting a limerick that got Invite ink this week, please include a note to that effect in your submission, and OEDILF will credit the Invitational. It’s not a turf thing; I just want our name to get out there to all would-be Loserbards.

So much bawdy, we held it against them: The unprintables: Limericks have a long tradition of being off-color, and Kevin Dopart did get some Web-only ink with his Mae West joke, but these otherwise inkworthy efforts would have been too much for the Invite:

In a thousand porn movies I’ve starred,

The sort in which no holds are barred.

My mum said, “It’s sleazy —

So I told her, “It’s always been hard.” (Englishman Bob Turvey, who usually enters the Invitational once a year, for the Limerixicon)

Your Mama, who hangs out at Fenway

And weighs more than twenty-one men weigh,

The whole Red Sox lineup —

Plus one — for a locker room ten-way. (Sox fan Chris Doyle)

And one more from Dr. Turvey:

My tugboat friend said something droll,

“When out on the pull it’s my goal,

To slide in and out the hawse-hole.”



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