Style Conversational Week 1509 with Style Invitational Empress
Extreme? You think? Specifically, I was stuck at “Uvada”.
I guess I didn’t beg people explicitly when I announced The Style Invitational’s Week 1505 contest to “choose two or more real American or Canadian cities…and come up with a joint venture they would undertake”: If you are going to create a string of names that, yours, sounds like a phrase or sentence, ask someone else to read it aloud and see if that person knows what you’re talking about. (This is also my suggestion for song parodies.)
“Funny how it’s so ‘obvious’ in the brain of the writer, but not the reader,” Randy told me when he translated this entry for me. “I’ve seen this in several entries on Losernet,” the messaging group where some losers share their entries after the entry deadline.
Here is Randy’s translation:
Le Tsar-Gene-Weingarten-Royal-Handover-for-the-Impress-Pat-Myers-of-the-Frivolous-Little-Washington-Post-Creative-Humorous-Word-Player-Competition-Called-the-Style-Invitational-Losers .
(Last minute discovery: you can now listen to a voice reading these results! See below for more information on the new “listen” option. First listen: many of these names are very clear!)
I don’t want to slam Randy, who actually had a great week in today’s week 1505 results, erasing five honorable mentions plus an “abuse point” in the stats for the “HUH” instead of “HAH” about his entry on the burial at sea of Osama Bin Laden. But these HUHs are a cautionary tale ahead of next January’s biennial “joint legislation” contest in which we will join the names of new members of Congress to “co-sponsor a bill.”
While judging nearly 1,000 of these entries for week 1505, I began to understand most of the entries right away. But would an unpaid reader show this patience? Remember, this is a humor column, not a puzzle page.
Here are some other entries that puzzled me (I never checked who wrote them), and when I asked for help in the Group of devotees in style invitation On Facebook, various Devs had so many interpretations that it was clear I wasn’t the only one puzzled:
1. The Alleghany-Maili-Chimayo-Napa-Cashion Persistent Job Seekers Fair
2. The Happy Jack-Eager-Kyle-Boulder-Timbo Frat Boy Road Trip
The second appears to be fraternity boy names: Happy Jack, Eager Kyle, Bolder Tim-bo (?). But one more guess. Bolder Timbo is not something I would know.
On the other hand, you can be more extensible in your pronunciations if you provide a hint to the reader – to make it clearly part of a common phrase or quote, for example: Admittedly, “Masham Mann” doesn’t sound like much to “Owes a Man”, but Duncan Stevens’ company, the Wind-Blowin’ Research Institute, gives all the background you need for “Howe-Mina-Rhodes-Masham-Mann-Walker-Downs”.
But even “Masham Mann” isn’t so far off that it’s mispronunciation. It’s a different story with the otherwise excellent one by Jesse Frankovich, which requires you to pronounce Towson, Md., as “toes-on” rather than “how-s’n”: The Gallup-Honor-Towson-Point Ballerina School. Towson, a major Baltimore suburb and home to Towson University, is a household name among Post readers; this entry would have just read as an error.
Frank Osen’s made me laugh, but Minden, Iowa, is pronounced Minn-den not mindin'(g), which blew up the Miner-Minden-Miner-Mindenmines Full Employment Act.
Some of the names were just too easy. I used particularly creative entries that included Boring, Sandwich, etc., but almost all of the inking entries involved puns on other words. Too easy were entries like Crotch Lake-Intercourse-Pee Pee Island Club for Immature Adults; Liberal-Snowflake and Safe Space Political Action Committee; Tarzan-Jane Jungle Preservation Association; and Latex-Ding Dong Dildo Development Center [both in Texas].
Interesting Notes: An entry by Daniel Galef, “The Goblu [Ohio]-Agloe [N.Y.] Conference on Exploring Alternate Universes”, would have required the explanation that the two names are non-existent “paper towns” that mysteriously appear on maps, often by cartographers who put them there to see if anyone is plagiarizing their work.
And though he doesn’t follow the contest, since it’s just initials: Bill Verkuilen emailed “The Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School Drug Education Program,” noting, “This one is NOT made up! These three Wisconsin towns truly have one consolidated school district, with a high school known as “GET High”!
Shah Huzah! Guest Ace Copy Editor Shibani Shah, who usually handles foreign news, had a different task today, with Our Guy Ponch on vacation. Shibani liked all the big winners — by Hall of Famers Jesse Frankovich and Chris Doyle; Hundreds of inkers Jon Gearhart; and also reliably funny Dave Airozo – but she also says she laughed out loud at Duncan Stevens’ “Hansen-Franzen-Gurley-Mann-Pompey-Opp Schwarzenegger Spoofers School”; Bird Waring’s Havana-Gila Bend Center for Jewish Folk Dancing; and “The Bigfoot-Climax Study of Events We Would Like Not to See” by Leif Picoult. Read us anytime, Shibani!
“Friends in Ha Places” in today’s headline was an uninked track by Jesse Frankovich; Instead, I went with Jesse’s “Community Jest.”
(The non-printing entries for week 1505 are at the very bottom of this column. Some of them are rude. Do NOT go there, read them, then complain about the language.)
Now listen to this! (If you can bear it.)
I just remembered that it started today, so I’m adding this late in the game this afternoon: you now have the option to listen to the Invitational and Conversational being read aloud by a sound nice, though in this case a little comically unmodulated, “woman” “voice” – it’s an automated program that’s so awesome it takes you a sentence or two to realize it’s not the one for a human.
Just click on the helmet icon just below the Bob Staake cartoon at the top of the invite; on a laptop, you get a pop-up that lets you fast forward. (Inviting takes a full 10 minutes, so it’s a very useful feature.)
This new option comes at just the right time – you’ll see how close the 1505 week word strings really sound to English. ((“SheShe” doesn’t know what to do with all the status abbreviations, but who cares?) I’ll be too embarrassed to listen this column.
And while we’re at it: also notice in the screenshot that there’s also a “Gift” icon: post subscribers can click on it to share – without paywall – 10 articles per month. When you want to show the invitation to your (still) loved ones, click on it and copy the link (that’s what I do) or forward it directly from there. The Post added this feature in hopes that it would encourage more people to subscribe; if they do after reading The Style Invitational, that would be a really good thing for The Style Invitational.
This is how I share paywall-free links in my weekly Substack notification emails. If you haven’t signed up – it’s all free and doesn’t go through The Post – here’s your chance!
Two Reels: The Week 1509 Film Naming Contest
Our Week 1509 contest, suggested by Loser Lee Graham, is a new twist on a kind of contest we do all the time: changing the name of a movie and describing the new movie. This time it’s about combining two one-word titles – not into a one-word portmanteau, but into a two-word title (or one with a minor extra word or two).
When I say “one word title” it means “Jaws” but it doesn’t mean “The Godfather”. Your the title may have “the”.
Note that while two of the examples refer to at least one of the original films (“Psycho Cats” in the shower; “Unforgiven Pinocchio” the liar), the first, “Metropolitan Parasite”, is unrelated. Historically, plot-related jokes tend to get more ink, but I almost always use both types.
One-word titles are easy to find; I called up a list of the “Top 100 Movies” and saw a whole bunch of them. In general, it’s better to use familiar movies rather than obscure ones, because readers can enjoy altering something they know – and if you’re referring to the plot, the reader should get the joke .
When I ask you to “describe” the result, it can take almost any form: a slogan or a line of dialogue is certainly as welcome as a direct description. Even given how many possible pairings these films have, duplication is guaranteed, it just might come down to the humor after the title.
Our Prize Loser: Dave Prevar’s Other Post Ink
Three-hundred-time loser Dave Prevar has come up in the invite in recent years, mostly for the very many second Loser awards he’s given on the invite – all of a squid hat with google eyes has a inflatable roast turkey. But in today’s Post, he featured in the Metro section – in John Kelly’s upbeat daily column on local matters. John had recently mentioned that Nescafé gave out promotional globe cups in the 1960s, and Dave wrote about the “Think Drink” cup he received in 1969 – and still has – in the promotion of the coffee industry to the next generation. And John wrote to her, with a picture and everything.
We won’t even ask her to donate this a.
Lock these keys to cities: Unprintable ones: I was pretty sure anyone going through 40+ of these strings wouldn’t object to risky language, but it’s part of the copy editors duty to flag anything potentially offensive and then to inform management. So I slipped Pam Shermeyer’s “Back-Offutt-Athol” to the bottom of the online version as a little reward for stubborn readers, while Leif’s “Bigfoot-Climax Study on Events We’d Like to Unsee” Picoult walked through the Taste Police without detention. But I wasn’t about to use any of these:
The Mount Pleasant-Bear Valley Brazilian Brothel (Jesse Frankovich)
The French Lick-Booger Hole Society of All Things Disgusting (Frank Mann) [Ind., W.Va.]
The Waimea-Amboy-Cutting-Cox-Success-Center for Sex Reassignment Surgery (Jane Auerbach)
Clinton-Cummington Dry Cleaners (Dave Airozo) NO