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Style Conversational Week 1488: What’s the (re)use?

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You know those giant twist-ties that circle big bunches of kale and collard greens? Well, let me tell you that they are perfect, in multiples of three, to bunch together the slats of a bathroom-size venetian blind whose 35-year-old cord decided to fail on one side only.

The Style Invitational Greater Loser Community has repeatedly proved itself cleverly imaginative at figuring out, say, what single sentence can be used in two different situations (oh, that’s this week’s results!). And while this week’s contest, Week 1488, calls for more than wordplay, I’m confident that y’all will come up with a variety of wacky ideas to repurpose materials sold by, duh, RepurposedMaterials, a nationwide company that specializes in selling goods that are no longer useful to their original owner but could be, with some resourcefulness, given a new life as another product: For example, its founder says, an out-of-commission fire hose can be just the thing to wrap around the posts of a boat pier so the hulls won’t get scratched. (So yes, “Recycle” in my headline isn’t technically the right term; in the industry, that means to melt down or shred the original and make something different out of it, a process that’s not as nice to the planet as simply using the original in a different way.)

I’m especially confident of good results because I’m letting you choose anything from the website this time; this should ensure a wider variety of ideas. Since our 2015, RepurposedMaterials seems to have expanded quite a bit; it now says: “We’re now extending our ‘repurposing’ mission/concept to include things like Chemicals and Ingredients, Products and Inventories, Equipment and Machinery, and even Real Estate. Anything that is obsolete to its primary industry is of interest to us.” And there’s a “WeirdStuff” category encompassing not only the hamburger bun pans and blast-resistant trash cans, but also a 6-by-6-foot diesel truck chassis ($250,000).

So here’s the ink from Round 1. Keep these entries in mind as you tour the site; the bowling alley wood is still there — and so, amazingly, are the purple napkins. Of course, you can still use them; just come up with a significantly different idea. And I see that y’all did use a fair amount of wordplay after all.


In Week 1131 we listed some items available from — everything from mineral oil to Jersey barriers to a hockey rink — and asked for some imaginative ideas for using them singly or in combination. Many people suggested using the synthetic turf to accompany that non-crabmeat for an all-fake “surf and turf.”

4th place: 100-foot diameter military cargo parachutes: Your Mama can use one as a skirt. Well, more of a miniskirt. (Ben Aronin, Washington)

3rd place: Purple linen napkins: Sew 50 of them together to make a Baltimore Ravens uniform. Or sew two together to make a Baltimore Ravens cheerleader uniform. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

2nd place and the ceramic outhouse “sculpture”:

Plastic ballot boxes: To keep illegal immigrants far away from Donald Trump, use the plastic ballot boxes to build a thick wall around him. (Matt Monitto, Bristol, Conn.)

And the winner of the Inkin’ Memorial: 10-milliliter glass vials: Want to see how clever squirrels really are? Make a glass harp — that set of glasses that makes music when you put water in the glasses and rub the edges — and set it up in front of a screen with a walnut behind it. When the squirrel learns to play “Anticipation,” the screen opens and it gets the nut — and you’ll get a zillion views on Instagram. You do have to be patient; it took more than 10 minutes for the ones in my yard to solve it. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis)

Re(f) used: honorable mentions [By Jeff Shirley}

Boardwalk boards: Surprise the wife and cover your bedroom ceiling with boardwalk boards, throw some sand and seaweed on the bed and relive some Drifters magic. (Jeff Shirley, Richmond)

Bowling alley wood: Great for kitchen countertops and tables — especially when paired with repurposed pinsetters that automatically serve and clear away your meals. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

Bowling alley wood: Roof your house with it: Based on my experience, anything that lands on it will quickly end up in the gutter. (Art Grinath, Takoma Park, Md.; Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Carpet tiles: Perfect vehicles for very small genies. (Beverley Sharp)

Carpet tiles: Install them on a brick patio in the D.C. area and you’ll quickly have a mushroom farm growing out of the carpet just a step away from your kitchen door. (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)

Carpet tiles: To avoid the expense of carpeting and to make a fashion statement, glue carpet tiles to all your shoes. (Jeff Shirley)

Carpet tiles: Make a home exfoliation spa! 1. Cover the kid’s slide in the backyard with carpet tiles. 2. Disrobe. 3. Slide down four times: front, back, left, right. 4. Did we forget to recommend a privacy screen? (For extra exfoliation, substitute the asphalt shingles.) (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park, Md.; Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

Escalator handrails: They’ll fit perfectly as handrails for Metro’s stairs. (Ben Aronin; Matt Monitto)

Escalator handrails: Advertise a handrail as the world’s largest piece of licorice, and charge skeptics to take a bite because really, who could tell? (Jeff Shirley)

Concrete barriers and planters: Always dreamed of living in a building as warm and welcoming as the HHS headquarters? Some of these will give you that same friendly ambiance! (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

A plastic hockey rink: How many times have you said, “Let’s play plastic hockey!” and you had no rink? (Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)

Jersey barriers: Okay, Christie’s contained. Now we need two dozen other state barriers. (Ellen Ryan, Rockville, Md.)

Purple linen napkins: Start a blog called Build the Purple Line Now! Ask for supporters to buy your “Purple Line Flags” and display them on trees and utility poles in their neighborhoods. Then buy another truckload, paint a red slash on each napkin, and start a blog called No Purple Line in My Backyard! (Joseph Mat Schech, Colesville, Md.)

Purple linen napkins: Finally I can make curtains to match my Chivas Regal bag duvet cover! (Barbara Turner)

Purple linen napkins: A new line of “Mankinis by Prince.” (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.; Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

Plastic pallets: The Republican National Committee should stock up now — disposable platforms will be essential after the primaries. (Kevin Dopart)

Fire hose and mineral oil: Elephants may still be vulnerable to poachers and loss of habitat, but with enough of these, you can cross constipation off their list of worries. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

Particle board: States with awful health-care systems can use them to build cheap coffins; they can even call the boards “death panels.” (Kevin Dopart)

Ski lift cable: Research proves that children who have ski lift cable running directly from bed to bus stop have fewer absences and tardies. (Rob Huffman)

10-ml vials: Fill them with Coke, then advertise “97 percent less high-fructose corn syrup compared to our regular can of Coke!” (Joseph Mat Schech)

8-foot-diameter tires: Cruise lines need new life rings for their American passengers, especially on the final days of the cruise. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

Combination of items: Use the carpet tiles on the walls to upgrade the soundproofing of your rumpus room. Use the climbing rope, rubber sheets and mineral oil to upgrade your rumpus. (Doug Frank, Crosby, Tex.)

Odor-eater fabric: Instead of parchment when publishing “The Best of The Style Invitational: Premium Collector’s Edition” … (Kevin Dopart)

A note about entries: If you’re choosing an item not on the list I supplied, please include either a link or another easy way for me to check it out, e.g., “In the Weird Stuff section.” I didn’t ask you to submit entries in a particular format, because I figured that I wouldn’t have that many to group together. But it never hurts to keep each entry as a single line, without using the Enter key within a single entry. That way I could, if it turns out that most people just used the 10 items on my list.

Double-meant fun*: The results of Week 1484

*Mark Raffman’s inking headline from Week 1336

So. My original intro to the results of Week 1484, after I cited three frequently submitted entries, added this:

“Not to mention many gas station/bed jokes about pumping and lube; and church/bed about kneeling; and Supreme Court/bed with briefs. We’ll spare you.”

“Not to mention many duplicative ‘in bed’ pairings that wouldn’t have been printable anyway.”

Note to self: Never type the word “lube.” (Whuh-oh.)

I wasn’t going to throw a tanty to the management of The Washington Post insisting on the reader’s right to know the genres of some risque jokes that were too overused to run anyway. But I had to laugh, because I’d just been asked in the Style Invitational Devotees Facebook group whether I’d have been able to run this non-inking entry: “At a gas station and in bed: ‘Don’t forget to check under the hood.’ ” I’d actually thought the entry was about the corresponding part on the opposite sex, but I said I wasn’t sure, but that it probably would be considered too graphic.

So that question’s pretty much answered.

Gawd, glad I didn’t try this one: “At a religious service and in bed: No, don’t chew it, just swallow.” (From the Brit-in-Paris Brian Allgar, whose work often ends up in this column. By the way, here’s an interesting discussion on the issue from

Yeah, nothing like jokes combining religion with graphic sex references to catapult immediately into UnprintableLand. “Massive organ”! “Get on your knees!” And, inevitably, “second coming.” No way, people.

But still, “In bed,” a category summoned for a return performance after its success in Week 1336 three years ago, figured in a full dozen inking entries in this week’s results — none of which, let me clarify, was censored; it was just that lead-in line.

I was deluged with 1,600 entries to this contest — fewer than half of the foal names from the previous week (that’s always the year’s biggest contest), but hundreds more than usual and ended up running 40, almost all of them in the print paper as well as online (Steve Smith’s “log” joke excepted). Special thanks to Alex Blackwood, my co-admin of the Devotees group, for suggesting some of them, including the Supreme Court and the Jan. 6 committee; they were both especially fruitful categories and provided a good channel for political humor, a welcome respite from the onslaught of nudge-nudge jokes. (I am thrilled that Alex is coming in from Houston next weekend to attend the Flushies, the Losers’ award picnic/songfest; see below for one last reminder.)

It’s the first Clowning Achievement but the third Invite win over the years for John Glenn of Tyler, Tex. (not of Space). John has been Inviting almost as long as the Empress has; he got his first ink in Week 684 in 2006. But he plays a precision game: He enters fairly regularly but sends very few entries in a given week — sometimes just one. But that one entry often gets ink. This week he used a wordplay that many others did, punning on “dumbbell,” but his made me laugh:

At the gym and in the Jan. 6 committee: “Did you really think you could work with that 250-pound dumbbell and not get hurt?” (I don’t know if there are 250-pound dumbbells — a dumbbell is lifted with one hand — but it made me laugh.)

And it’s a rookie phenom who took second place and snagged the vintage 2012 Loser mug: Karen Lambert’s chatty quote that could be from the gas station or the hairstylist was fun to read when so many of the entries were one short phrase: “Very funny, ha ha — no, I wasn’t under the influence when I did this.” I’ll be giving Karen her mug at the Flushies, her debut Loser event.

What Doug Dug: Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood found this week’s results especially fun, though he did helpfully point out that the gas station/Jan. 6 committee joke “That much for just a battery charge?” didn’t really work because the committee doesn’t charge people with crimes. (Sorry, Steve Dudzik.) Doug thought all the top winners were great, and also singled out several honorable mentions: Leif Picoult’s “Yeah, it shouldn’t leak like that” (gas station/bed) “made me laugh and recoil”; Terri Berg Smith’s “My neighbor highly recommended you” (hairstylist/bed); Sam Mertens for hairstylist/Supreme Court “I prefer how Ruth used to do it”; Francis Cavanaugh’s for elementary school/bed “How would you like it if someone did that to you?”; and especially Robert Schechter’s entry that listed every single setting for “I won the election in a landslide!” Doug also liked Hannah Seidel’s hairstylist/bed “Can you do longer bangs?” but I dropped it last night after realizing that a very similar entry got ink in the 2019 contest.

You can still RSVP for the Flushies! Saturday, May 21

We’re currently at 53 Losers, their handlers, and Just Fans for this year’s Flushies, the Losers’ own annual picnic/awards/songfest. It’s Saturday afternoon, May 21, and outside in a nice open space, Steve and Jackie Leifer’s backyard in Potomac, Md. This Evite is for YOU, even if you didn’t get a personal email. Please see the details in the Week 1486 Style Conversational at; a note has gone out with the Leifers’ address and phone number to those who’ve RSVP’ed Yes; if you’re signing up now, let me know and I’ll send it to you as well.

Latest development: Superloser Duncan Stevens has just written a SPECTACULAR parody for the occasion, in addition to the others already on the schedule. And if you can’t make it to the proceedings, we hope to record — and maybe even live stream — the song and award sections to air in the Devotees group.

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