Style Conversational Week 1407 with the Empress of The Style Invitational


I don’t think The Style Invitational has done a contest just like Week 1407, in which you’re invited to come up with a slogan, pitch, jingle, whatever for a product placement or endorsement in space, a kindergarten, or several other unlikely venues. (Just be funny!) But the Invite does have some classic ink with advertising themes. Here’s a selection.

Report from Week 910 [2011], in which we asked you to alter a well-known ad slogan slightly and assign it to someone else: Many suggested “You deserve a brake today” for Toyota, “We’ll leave the lights off for you” as perfect for Pepco, and, for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, “Look for the union libel.”

The winner of the Inker: TSA airport security: If we don’t pet it, you don’t jet it. (Rachel Braun, Silver Spring, a First Offender)

2. Bud Selig: The boor that made Milwaukee famous. (Roy Ashley, Washington)

3. Nordic Flex: Your weak end just got better. (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park)

4. U.S. Postal Service: “When it absolutely, positively has to be there eventually.” (Trevor Kerr, Chesapeake, Va.)

P.T. Barnum: You deserve a freak today. (Malcolm Fleschner, Palo Alto, Calif.)

Next Day Blinds: Because love is not a spectator sport. (Dave Coutts, Severna Park, a First Offender)

Rahm Emanuel: Let your finger do the talking. (Michael Greene, Alexandria)

Charlie Sheen: Sometimes you feel like a nut. Other times you may also. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn)

National Bar Association: Fee all that you can fee. (Dion Black, Washington; Paulette Rainie, McLean, a First Offender)

Propecia: Say no to rugs. (Seth Tucker, Washington)

The British monarchy: When it reigns, it bores. (Gary Crockett)

Agriculture lobby: Please don’t squeeze the farmin’. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)

Washington Fertility Center: When it absolutely, positively has to be their ova night. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

TSA: Reach out and touch someone’s … (Seth Tucker)

Al’s shoeshine stand: Pardon me, do you have any stray poop on? (Dave Prevar, Annapolis)

Week 1003 (2013) repurposed ad slogans without changing them:

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial: Find Your Own Road (Saab) for the D.C. snow removal office. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)

2. It Keeps Going and Going and Going (Energizer batteries) for Viper Car Alarms (Neal Starkman, Seattle)

3. If Only Everything in Life Were as Reliable as a Volkswagen (VW) for Viagra (Dana Austin, Falls Church, Va.)

4. Blow Your Own Bubble (Bubble Yum) for Fannie Mae (Steve Heyman, Chicago*)

When It Absolutely, Positively Has to Be There Overnight (Federal Express) for Santa’s Workshop (Cheryl Davis, Arlington, Va.)

Take Aim Against Cavities (Aim toothpaste) for the TSA (Brendan Beary)

Cover the Earth (Sherwin-Williams) for BP (David Kleinbard, Jersey City)

Sooner or Later, You’ll Own Generals (General Tire) for Lockheed Martin (Dion Black, Washington; Joe Godles, Bethesda, Md.)

Born 1820, Still Going Strong (Johnnie Walker) for Hugh Hefner (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)

Think Outside the Box (Apple) for Maryland Cremation Services (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.; Jerry Birchmore, Springfield, Va.)

Because That’s the Kind of Mom You Are (Rice Krispies) for Boone’s Farm (Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.)

Like a Rock (Chevy trucks) for Bisquick (Ed Rader, Alexandria, Va.)

Have It Your Way (Burger King) for the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (Susan Vavrick, Springfield, Va.)

And back from my very first year as Empress, a simply contest for a sign or slogan for a business (Week 559, 2004):

Fourth runner-up: Botox clinic: For That Frosty Mug Sensation! (Elden Carnahan, Laurel)

Third runner-up: Reddi-Wip: From Our Can to Yours (Jean Sorensen, Herndon)

Second runner-up: Outside a mousetrap factory: Line Forms on Beaten Path (Russell Beland, Springfield)

First runner-up, winner of the dead-minnow tie clip: Anesthesiologist: We Conk to Stupor (Sue Lin Chong, Washington)

And the winner of the Inker: Sunshine Veggie Burgers and Dogs: You’ll Hardly Know You Aren’t Eating a Dead Animal (Eric Murphy, Chicago)

Auto mechanic: If It Ain’t Broke, We Fix It (Russell Beland)

Cicada Exterminators Inc.: 16-Year Guarantee! (Bill Clark, Kensington)

Credit card company: We Take an Interest in You Forever (Paul Kocak, Syracuse, N.Y.)

Department of Motor Vehicles: We’re Not Happy Till You’re Not Happy! (Lynn Dawson, Centreville)

Larry’s Lumberjacks: We’re Okay! (Peter Metrinko, Plymouth, Minn.)

NRA: Guns Don’t Kill People. Sucking Chest Wounds Kill People. (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

Anger management clinic: Bilious and Bilious Served (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)

Discount Funerals Inc.: A Little Slab’ll Do Ya (Allan Moore, Washington)

Cover Girl Cosmetics: Because You’re Not as Pretty as You Think (Jean Sorensen)

Dermatology clinic: A Watched Boil Never Pops (Peter Metrinko)

Oncology clinic: We’re a Large Growth Company (Cecil J. Clark, Arlington)

Urology clinic: Winning the Admiration of Our Peers (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

Eye, ear, nose and throat clinic: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil? We Can Help! (Dot Yufer, Newton, W.Va.)

Tie shop: 10 Percent Off Your Neck’s Order (John O’Byrne, Dublin)

Pooper Scoopers Inc.: Celebrating 35 Years in Business (Russell Beland)

Endocrinology clinic: Gland Opening! (Brendan Beary)

Podcast news! A special guest

After a few weeks’ pause, the podcast “You’re Invited” will be back Tuesday morning, Oct. 27, with Episode 5: Host and longtime Loser Mike Gips will spend the half-hour with Gene Weingarten, founder of The Style Invitational and its Czar for the contest’s first 11 years. Gene has a few other claims to fame, like the two Pulitzer Prizes for feature writing, his long-running humor column in The Washington Post Magazine, his also long-running online chat on Tuesdays on washingtonpost.com, his daily comic strip “Barney and Clyde,” and his string of books, most recently the acclaimed “One Day,” in which he tracks down and tells a series of riveting tales about things that happened to have happened on the randomly chosen Dec. 28, 1986. But the Invite was a special passion for Gene, and I’m sure he’ll have lots to share about his Czardom as well as the current contest.

Find the Gene interview (to be done tomorrow) next Tuesday — along with the four previous episodes — at bit.ly/invite-podcast or at Apple Podcasts.

Viewer indiscretion advised*: The results of Week 1403

*Non-inking headline by Tom Witte

As I’d predicted (and encouraged), it was the old stuff that was funniest to apply to the Covid Era in our Week 1403 contest (results here) for plots of TV series that focused on the coronavirus or other “highlights” of our current age. A shout-out to newbie Loser Bill Bouyer for suggesting the contest; unfortunately, I’ll have to hold off on giving him the usual suggestion prize of taking him out for ice cream, given that he lives in Florida.

I’m glad that I broadened the topic from the virus to any current issue; this allowed for a lively variety of entertaining — though sometimes pretty dark — entries including the California wildfires, police malfeasance, QAnon, science denial, Zoom, Mean Ellen DeGeneres, and of course You Know Who and his lies, nepotism, compromising debt, and employees who are vampires.

The contest brought out lots of new people — we have four First Offenders this week — and among the 165 who entered, many sent full 25-entry “dance cards,” as Loser Jeff Contompasis calls his. And many of them were clever, imaginative ideas; the printout of my “shortlist” ran almost 10 pages (last week it ran 4). And so many inkworthy entries — and entrants — got robbed this week even though the 34 inking entries are by 30 different Losers.

He hasn’t been frequenting the Invitational like in the old days — as in 2005-06, when he scored 179 blots of ink just that year — but Brendan Beary clearly hasn’t lost a wit-step, as he proved with his … oh, it’s his FORTIETH first-place win! … for his teaser line for “All in the Family”: After a change of heart, the bigoted guy from Queens lets his meathead son-in-law be in charge of everything.

Another Loser with roots back in the Czarist era — but has been inking it up since his return — is Sue Lin Chong, who wins (ha!) a funny face mask for her ironic take on the resourceful MacGyver: “The world hangs in the balance trying to find a way to protect itself from covid-19. But Angus faces his most daunting challenge yet: He has only a square of cloth and two elastic bands.” That’s Ink No. 191 for Sue Lin, and her 31st “above the fold.”

And one more! While Allen Breon’s scenario of Elly May Clampett fleeing the L.A. wildfires brings him just his 12th blot of Invite Ink, the first one was in Week 86. MWAH, Allen! Compared with those three, runner-up Jon Gearhart is a babe in the Invite woods — but he’s been blotting up the ink more often than not ever since his debut in Week 1081. And given that Jon was recently in the hospital, his entry about Marcus Welby’s citing a near future without Obamacare carries an extra sting.

What Doug Dug: Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood tells me that he especially enjoyed Brendan Beary’s winner, Sue Lin Chong’s “MacGyver” joke and, from among the honorable mentions, Mike Phillips’s Zooming “Brady Bunch” (my choice among numerous Brady/Zoom entries), Duncan Stevens’s Buffy being daunted by fellow vamp Stephen Miller, Frank Mann’s fire-Obama “Apprentice,” Ben Aronin’s dark take on “The Cosby Show”; and Steve Smith’s dig at mean-boss Ellen.

At least somewhat fitting and proper: The Losers take Gettysburg

Loserdom took its first steps toward returning to a corporeal community when more than a dozen Losers and various auxiliaries joined the Royal Consort and me at the annual Loser Brunch in Gettysburg, Pa., where G’burger and Loser Roger Dalrymple had arranged for us to have an outdoor lunch and a tour of the battlefields, complete with the whole step-by-step story of what happened there in July 1863.

Roger had even arranged for absolutely perfect weather — never a given in October, though he could count on the spectacular foliage of the Pennsylvania countryside. We commandeered four or five of the spaced-out picnic tables in the Appalachian Brewing Company’s beer garden, and I was able to present a Lose Cannon — so Civil Warry! — to last week’s winner, Stephen Dudzik, before we commenced on an all-afternoon drive-and-stop tour of various

battle sites and landmarks, at each stop getting a lesson from Roger (who’s been giving tours for many years) on the buildup, the fighting and the aftermath of those three horrible but consequential days.

Aside from the fabulous fall setting and the enlightening afternoon, it just felt so good to be chatting up the Losers again, not to mention receiving numerous excellent second-place prizes from Marleen May — whose Petey P. Cup cuddly urine-sample beaker was immediately put into action this week — and Dave Prevar (hat! ridiculous board game! etc.!). It’s probably too late in the year to schedule another outside sit-down activity in 2020, but perhaps some Losers would like to gather for a hike or some other distant-droplet excursion? Let’s discuss. And of course, hope for Some Breakthrough for 2021.



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