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Welcome to Word Play Masters Invitational, a wordplay website that began on a whim in and has become increasingly popular ever since. By its ownthe Washington Post sometimes gets credit, if incorrectly, for an amazingly viral list of neologisms from in which a real word has been changed by one letter, often paired with another to give new meanings to existing words. Nowadays we get thousands of words a year and post the best of them — words that are fun, funny or useful.
The Style Invitationalor Inviteis a long-running humor contest that ran first in the Style section of the Sunday Washington Post before moving to Saturday's Style and later returning to the Sunday paper. Started init has run weekly, except for a hiatus in late In that time, it has had two head judges who select winning entries: "The Czar" and "The Empress. The humor ranges from an intellectual vein to a less mature style, and frequently touches on sophisticated political or historical allusions. While the contest theme changes every week, some popular contests are periodically repeated.
The S. The Style Invitational kicked off in March by asking readers to come up with a less offensive name for the Washington Redskins. The winner, published two weeks later, was Douglas R. Miller, with the entry "The Baltimore Redskins. No, don't move the team, just let Baltimore deal with it. The second week's contest was to replace the state of Maryland's slogan "Manly deeds, Womanly words" and yielded up such responses as "Maryland - Home to its residents" and winner "Maryland - Wait!
We can explain! Another early contest asked entrants to help choose a better nickname for Washington, D. Exemplifying the S. The contest had a several-month hiatus beginning in Augustand restarted in January It usually receives entries from hundreds of persons each week and, since up to 25 entries are allowed for each individual, has received upwards of 20, entries in a single week.
A group of devotees see links of the S. Further indicative of interest in the S. There has also been a contest newsletter, "Depravda", begun by Elden Carnahan of Laurel, MD, and subsequently foisted off on another unsuspecting Loser. Once a proud monthly periodical, "Depravda" now appears only when editorial inertia can be overcome. In earlythe Invitational returned to the Post's Sunday Style. Numerous humorous lists passed around the Internet, and usually mis-attributed, had their actual origin in the Style Invitational.
The most notable name in S. His frequent successes inspired a contest solely to decide what to do about him. He won that contest, too.
Brendan Beary, of Great Mills, Md. Inhe won a limerick contest between himself and Chris Doyle see below. Russell Beland, formerly of Springfield, Virginia now of Fairfax, Virginiawas the first Loser to reach 1, inks, a record he set in June He passed 1, inand earned the opportunity to judge a week of the contest. One entry: "A night on the town with Mrs. Elden Carnahan, of Laurel, Maryland aka Grace Fuller tabulates running statistics on the contest that are available on the "Losers"' unofficial web site.
Chris Doyle, currently entering from Denton, Texas and earlier from various Internet cafes during dozens of overseas trips, is known for his prodigious wordplay, poetry and anagrams, and was a perennial winner in a similar past contest in New York magazinefrom which the S. Kevin Dopart, of Washington D. He became the fastest entrant ever and 4th overall to attain 1, inks, reaching that in January He was the top-inking Loser in each year from through John Holder, of Charlotte, N.
Jennifer Hart, of Arlington, Va. Frank Mann, of Washington, D. Joe Rommof Washington D. His entries appeared times, including 16 winning entries,  and he was the first "Rookie of the Year".
A discarded first draft of some famous line: "We hold these truths to be, like, du-uuh. Ervin Stembol, of Alexandria, Va. His unmasking as a nom de plume prompted the current contest rule barring pseudonymous entries.
Bob Staake pronounced "Stack" illustrates the contest and occasionally suggests contest ideas. Tom Witte, of Montgomery Village, Md. In he became the third person to amass 1, appearances. He chose all the winners - calling the contest the "last pure meritocracy on Earth" - and controlled all aspects of the contest.
Very little was known about the Czar for some time, except that he worked for the Washington Post coming up with the contest ideas and choosing the winners for every week's contest.
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Post writer and humorist Gene Weingarten was believed to be the Czar despite public denials. However, inand again inhe admitted in his column that he edited the feature. The Czar retired in lategiving all the power to "The Empress of the Style Invitational", who has suggested she has a lower tolerance for immature or bathroom humor than the Czar. In earlywith the Invitational's move to Sunday's Style section, the Empress was outed by the Post as former copy editor Pat Myers, whose real name appears in the byline.
On washingtonpost. Each week's contest begins with a few examples of answers to the contest, which is confusing since they appear before the contest theme for the week is presented. There is often a picture or pictorial example. Sometimes the contest relates to a picture, such as one where entrants suggest what a given cartoon picture or group of pictures might represent.
Beneath this is a paragraph beginning with the phrase "This week's contest," followed by a description of the contest. There is then fine print describing the prizes, how to enter, and how to determine if you are eligible for the prizes.
These begin with commentary by The Empress on theentries that were too common to publish, funny but un-printable entries, and anything else of note. There follows the first- to fourth-place entries in that order, after which is listed a usually generous of Honorable Mentions, and the week's report ends with a reminder of which contest will appear the next week.
On occasion, the Post website includes "overflow" Honorable Mentions absent from the print editions; this is typically limited to contest in which each entry is necessarily lengthy e. Aside from the typical Winner, Runners-Up, and Honorable Mentions, there have been many other means to get one's name in print over the years.
Ongoing methods include donating the weird prizes, suggesting the contest for the week, supplying a revised title for Honorable Mention entries for a given week'sand writing the revised contest title that runs when the contest are printed.
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There is an occasional "Anti-Invitational" entry printed being an entry that is directly opposite what was asked for in the contest. Defunct past themes included writing the "Ear No One Re", being "Uncle's Pick" a reference to a humorless figure nominated to replace the Czar years agobeing the Rookie of the Week, and penning the Contest's short-lived "Dead Presidents" comic strip. Individuals are often singled out for abuse by Czar or Empress.
Verbal abuse is frequently heaped upon writers of remarkably obscene or distasteful entries, and individuals who whine about the judging see Russell Beland or overtly lobby for their own entries. The Empress is constantly on the look out for flagrant plagiarism defined as "being in touch with one's inner Google"the penalty for which is severe admonition and retribution.
Prizes have changed under the current administration, as tabulated below. In Marcha reusable grocery bag was introduced as a new runner-up prize; just weeks later, the Empress switched to a new first-place statue, the "Inkin' Memorial" an Abraham Lincoln bobblehead from the original "Inker" a bookend of The Thinker with a paper bag over its head after the bookends went out of manufacture.
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Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes file. Download as PDF Printable version. Add links. A trophy known as the "Inkin' Memorial".