Style Conversational Week 1508 with the Style Invitational Empress

*The headline above was an inked entry by Chris Doyle for week 1504 (I used another one he wrote)

The moment I heard about a thing called Scrabblegrams and Scrabble Tableaux – writing something that uses all 100 Scrabble tiles – I knew it would yield amazing results in a Style Invitational competition: after all, previous invitations were legible, clever, even funny anagrams of everything from people’s names to the entire Gettysburg address.

But the really pleasant surprise for me in the results for Week 1504 running this weekend is that five of the 19 people inked this week turned out to be first-time offenders — that’s sometimes five more than we do in any other case have given week. And for that, I’m pretty sure I have Atlanta doctor Dave Cohen to thank, his Daily Tableaus on Twitter at Dave’s Scrabblegrams inspired this contest: Dave not only retweeted my announcement of the contest, but shared the link to it a few days later during a Zoom presentation on Scrabblegrams to Gathering4Gardner, a group of “magicians, mathematicians, skeptics, philosophers, puzzle enthusiasts, and… the general public, all united by a shared enthusiasm for the work of “Martin Gardner,” the renowned writer whose columns in Scientific American brought the wonders of math and physics to readers who often weren’t STEM types themselves. Scrabblegrams: just the thing for them.

One of our first offenders this week, Dan Stock, is a big deal in the Scrabble tournament community, particularly for his annual construction of a custom Scrabblegram (or Scrableau) about this year’s North American Scrabble Championship winner, presented as a giant plaque. Along with his Invite entries, he included this relevant one he shared at the Championships a few years ago: “When we popularize an awesome idea, we word geeks rank a pun as the second best indoor activity.”

However, the week’s top winners are all familiar to regular Invite readers: Chris Doyle adds to his absurdly high number of wins with his Gram via a tour of Mar-a-Lago ending in the ‘Grif Shop’. Marty Gold – who enchanted readers last week with his song parody video “Chinese Buffet,” set to YMCA – shows his versatility with some imaginary, decidedly unroyal last words from Queen Elizabeth II. Kevin Dopart, who appeared in an earlier contest turned the entire preamble of the US Constitution into a laugh-fest brings humor once again with a rights-violating battle between three of our favorite rights-violating states. And Dave Zarrow — one of the few losers to get ink in all 29 years of the Invitational — plays on the difficulty of the contest itself: When you’ve written something clever and then realize your remaining tiles won’t be enough to get you done. Yip!

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It was so satisfying to run my final decisions through the Anagram Checker at wordsmith.org and see “A valid anagram” pop up, along with the letters snapping into the a-sentence and falling back onto a stack – with courtesy of Wordsmith-designed animator adorable Anu Garg. The two or three that had a problem were easily fixed; one was obviously missing a word that the author accidentally deleted.

We may have been too indulgent this week with the self-referential posts, with “And Last,” “Und Even Laster,” and “Lastest of All” jokes about the invite itself. But I’ve stopped making posts mentioning specific losers; Jon Gearhart, for example, assembled himself and seven others into a “Bozo Queue – Eight Idiot Aiguille Pixies to Blow You: Stevens, Doyle, Dopart, Raffman, Jensen, Frankovich, Lambert, and Gearhart.” (An Aiguille is a sharp crag – huh?)

Duncan Stevens did a tour de force riff at our annual horse name ‘breeding’ competitions: ‘End of foal activity? Oh no! I go: Outasite & Helium = Hide and Squeak/ El Paso & Secret = Juarez Waldo? / Proxy & Raving = WinOneForTheGibber.” And Donald Norum brilliantly wrote of the horrifying experience of winning our first-place Clowning Achievement trophy: “Jovially flouting movie titles got me an award, yes. But I trembled as the price launched a gross coulrophobia.”

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What Ponch liked: Ace Editor Ponch Garcia welcomed all four top winners and also highlighted Mark Raffman’s paraphrase of the Ten Commandments and Robert Jordan’s play on “The quick brown fox.”

And a bonus: Dr. Dave’s diagnoses! Since Dave Cohen didn’t participate in week 1504, I walked my finalists past him yesterday and he responded with a critique of each entry! We didn’t always agree—he was more put off than I by entries with abbreviations, Roman numerals, “random surrealism,” or especially filler words—but we both appreciated natural syntax and witty wordplay. Dave particularly liked Karen Lambert’s two entries, summaries of “The Sound of Music” and “I Love Lucy,” and says he laughed out loud at Jon Gearhart’s playful combination of two classic pun combinations, the alphabet pangram, “The quick brown fox…” and the famous palindrome “Able was I eh I saw Elba” as well as Robert Jordan’s rather graphic turn in “Quick Brown Fox”.

By the way: Dave tells me this for his daily tweets Six month year on Friday September 30th he plans a special quadruple Scrabblegram. Try it – anytime after 3:05 AM!

Elden respect: This week’s Tour de Fours contest

The losers committee, to do just a few of the things that Elden Carnahan had done for 29 years – I guess we should come up with a proper name for the team – always comes with hosting the losers’ website, NRARS.org details current loser stats and the rabbit hole of the master competition list and its links to all previous Style Invitational competitions. (The All Invitational Text plain text file now extends to last week’s results.)

In the meantime, we dedicate week 1508, our 18th Tour de Fours Neologism Contest, to Elden and require that each entry contain the letter block ELDN (or NELD, DLNE, etc.)

Back in the week 1501 Style Conversational, I gave a partial catalog of Elden’s totally voluntary contributions to the Style Invitational for 29 years. Read it here. And for Tour de Fours Guidance & Inspiration®, here are links to some of the results from the last few years (along with some top winners for non-clickers). Where did I find the week numbers? Elden’s Master Contest List, of course.

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Week 1471, BIDE (last February):

I AMOPERATINGMENT: The thing that makes you roll over and go back to sleep. “Sorry I was late for work, but I encountered a major disability this morning.” (David Stoner)

APPLICATIONED BIOLOGY: Sex. “Hey baby, did you know I have a master’s degree in applied biology? (Jesse Frankovich)

PIECEI WOULD BELT!: One that has gotten smaller over the past year. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Alabama)

Week 1418, UNDO (February 2021, after the election):

Cancel Print: “Look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes… So tell me Brad, what are we going to do?” (Lee Graham)

CancelH: To realize that you were right after all. (Dave Prevar)

IckspWell: Too much to say about your bodily functions. “To start the Zoom meeting, the boss threw up on a whole bag of colorful skittles.” (Terri Berg Smith)

Week 1370, LIAR (February 2020)

nostrail: Which inevitably drips down your face in February when you have a cold and are wearing large gloves. (Jeff Contompasis)

Hilraiser: The person in a political discussion who inevitably raises a Hitler reference. (Gary Crockett)

Floularity: When people flock to a show just to delight in their wickedness. “‘Cats’ has proved so successful that the theater added a midnight show for stoners wanting to sneak up on Judi Dench’s fur skin.” (Bill Dorner)

Due to a particularly uncooperative showing of next week’s Yom Kippur Tuesday through Wednesday—usually the busiest days of the week for me when I’m working on the Invitational—next week’s Conversational could be delayed or even take a week off. I can always be reached by email at [email protected] or on Facebook, especially in the Style Invitational Devotees Group.