This week’s Style Invitational contest, Week 1504, asks you and your fellow Losers to take all 100 Scrabble tiles (the nine A’s, the two B’s, etc.) and write something: not just some words that, wow! !, use every one of those cards and nothing else, but some writing that is fun to read. That will read like normal English and not Yoda syntax and it won’t be riddled with left out words and weird apostrophes. And that makes an interesting or entertaining point. And it could even be fun.
Dr. Dave has been doing one of these almost miraculous feats every day.
Take a few minutes, not too long; I need you here! — to scroll/page through your Twitter feed and his website: There are what he calls “freestyle poems” that paraphrase works of literature or film (such as “To be or not to be” in the graphic above, or “The Wizard of Oz”), salute notable people like Aretha Franklin, or muse of the beauty of a hummingbird.
And just this morning, Dave posted this (why do I have a hunch Dave could do pretty well at chess?):
SCRABBLEGRAM* OF THE DAY
September 1 is American Chess Day, the anniversary of Bobby Fischer’s 1972 world championship victory (the first American to win the title).
— Dave’s Scrabblegrams (@dc_scrabblegram) September 1, 2022
And last Monday, as a tribute to puzzle master Will Shortz, Dave even came up with a 100 character puzzle: Not only do the 10 answers make up a Scrabblegram, but the 10 crosswords tracks also form a Scrabblegram!
But come on, I’m not asking you to be Dr. Daily Scrabblegram. i’m just asking a of these babies. And Dave can’t play.
And for once, I, a renowned fidget, am not worried that this contest might fail; in fact, I’m pretty sure Dave himself is going to blurt out an amazement or two. Because I can point to the results of Week 1318, when I asked the Losers to make an anagram of anything they liked beyond a person’s name…
and this was fourth place.
The opening of “A Tale of Two Cities”: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the age of belief, it was the age of disbelief, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. [227 characters]
Anagram: Sigh, how to start? “It was London, it was Paris. It was the stain of afflicted teeth, it was the stain of armpit hair. It was the time for horrible meals, it was the time for less blatant help. They were pale, fetid cheeses, they were soft, mushy cheeses.” These skits: It’s the much, much worse thing I do. (Kevin Dopart)
And this was the third place:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
Anagram: BS! I often feel like gnawing on her hot love-tushy. (Mark Raffmann)
And this was second (it was 2019):
“I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully discharge the office of President of the United States.” [99 characters]
Anagram: “I, Donald J. Trump, attest that I will offend you, expel the White House staff and fleece the country by the millions.” (Jesse Frankovich)
And THIS was the winner: an anagram of the entire Gettysburg Address.
Listen to this, my men. A few decades ago, some cool creative kids invented a sovereign country somewhere around here that was dedicated to increasing human equality. It’s true, man; I saw, ah, documentation on the teevee. I call that radical! Too hot, hot, hot!
But now, there is definitely a bad vibe. Miserable indignation progressed to outright hatred, bitter warfare, and terrible attrition. Thousands of strong men, both Northern-trained Federals and brash pro-apartheid Confederates, all scared, fighting with revolvers and rifles to decide whether the survival of that great progressive doctrine of reform and human tolerance is necessary or outright threatened. We’ve come together on the, oh, scene tonight to give big props to a terrific skinny gang who have pulled their weight for the cause so far. That’s the word. The word is link.
No, listen to this oath, congregation: any prayer of thanks we bother to say is not enough. It’s not appropriate or worth it. Here a fearsome Death bloomed beneath the feet of honest men and gathered them together. The, ah, righteous bullies and heroic hos we celebrated got the whole deal; all we can do is lovely riff, little things that people will never remember. So we all have to keep going, to make sure things evolve better for our, ah, descendants so that the pious worth their salt rule 24/7. Be real. yahoo. Whatever. (JJ Gertler)
One thousand one hundred and ninety-seven characters.
You’ll notice that Kevin, Mark, and Jesse received ink, as usual, this week. I’ll make sure JJ sees this contest. (See the rest of the Week 1318 winners here.)
Dave Cohen was inspired to start Scrabblegram like crazy after his 23-year-old Scrabblegram limerick about clowns was featured in Beyond Wordplay blogger Eric Chaikin’s 2020 article on gender, “Scrabblegrams: Never Be Bored at the Board” . Chaikin is a Scrabble aficionado who earned an Emmy nomination for “Word Wars,” a documentary he made about tournaments, and his article not only discusses the history of Scrabblegrams and the various forms they’ve taken, but also offers advice on how to do them. For example, to make sure you don’t waste letters like H, which he shows up a lot in words but only shows up on two tiles, while he figures out early on how he’s going to fit into that Q and Z.
On the other hand, Chaikin values hard parameters more than I do: if I were judging this week’s Invitation, I might give extra credit to someone who didn’t repeat any lyrics on every line, something like that. But I’m going to worry more about the content: the syntax and the wit and the humor. Of course, punctuality never hurts at Loserland.
One thing you won’t be complaining about in four weeks: She rewrote my joke. I can’t play very well with these babies. But if they turn out to be invalid, I’m not going to try to fix them. So use, it’s a command, Wordsmith’s Anagram Checker.
And while you’re there, you can also have fun and use Anu Garg’s Anagram Animator, which is very easy to use: just enter the source letters followed by an equals sign and then your anagram and click “Generate”. Animation.” Click “Advanced” and you can change the font, speed, even add background art, and you can create and download a GIF, the constantly moving image that appears at the top of this page.
(By the way: I initially posted the Invitation online using Dave’s paraphrase of the “To be or not to be” soliloquy as an example, but one editor was concerned that a quote about someone weighing suicide, and in modern parlance rather more 400-year-old — wasn’t the best intro to a humor contest, so I replaced Dave’s synopsis of “The Wizard of Oz” with that witty observation that Dorothy finally appreciates “the exquisite value of red shoes.”)
The Festival Quinze: The 15 Point Neologisms of Week 1500
Like its 14-letter predecessor from Week 1402, the challenge of creating words whose letters add up to 15 Scrabble points proved to be a good excuse to add neologisms to the Loser Lexicon. I got 1,050 manageable, not bad entries for the summer, of which no more than 800 were bleah, and I think 43 of those got inked on the web page, and about a half-dozen were cut for space in print. page, which, happily, has been appearing almost all the time lately in the back of Arts & Style, meaning it’s not buried within the section and the Bob Staake cartoon is in color.
A enormous thanks to Hall of Fame Loser and Genuine Nice Guy Jeff Contompasis, who created a spreadsheet, and shared it with me and his rival losers, where you just type your word, press enter, and see how many Scrabble points you have. adds to It took me just a couple of minutes to handle all 43 entries that appear in this week’s results, with no fails except for one that accidentally dropped a letter and landed on 14. (And of course, this week’s intentionally incorrect second place ).
Because the entries are single-line, I was able to shuffle all the entries into one big anonymous alphabetical list, meaning, yes, I picked up a Karen Lambert entry five different times without knowing that all five were by the same person.
And, zzzzz, once again I was won over by the work of Chris Doyle, coiner of “dadolescent”, the father who just wants to play with his children. Chris extends his Guest GOAT status with his fourth Clowning Achievement trophy and his all-time win at Some Unimaginable Numberth (the Loser Stats team is hard at work updating them as they take the reins on Elden Carnahan’s retirement; after that, I)ll have real numbers again).
Erika Reinfeld, who I remember meeting at a losers event in 2002 or so when I was a college student and still living in the DC area, came all the way from New England to win the dog butt coat hooks with her “QAnon : It’s 15 points, you counted it wrong.And Invite regulars Jonathan Jensen and Jeff Shirley gobble up even more Loser loot with, (dis)respectively, “vegenerates,” what the MAGA crowd would call people who dare to eat plant-based sausages at Cracker Barrel, and “subpeony,” a flower that is currently blooming in Florida and Georgia.
What pleased Ponch: As he does virtually every week, copyeditor Ponch Garcia picked his favorites from the honorable mentions: Neil Kurland’s tersely funny “Beetbarf: Borscht”; “Understanding: Apparently the only right the Supreme Court absolutely believes in protecting” (Dave Airozo) and Plodometer: My Fitbit, generally. (Karen Lambert)
Next loser sighting: Kilroy’s, Sunday, September 18 at noon
Even though it no longer offers its brunch buffet, I plan to be at Kilroy’s, the WWII-themed pub in Springfield where we’ve had many loser brunches. Not only is it always fun to meet new losers and invite fans and of course brunch regulars, but my favorite Asian supermarket, Lotte, is in the same mall, so I’ll have a chance to stop by. The food is standard pub, there are interesting pictures on the walls, and it’s easy to get to and park; it’s in the old Ravenswood strip mall just off the Beltway off of Braddock Road. Please RSVP to our new Brunch Coordinator, Kyle Hendrickson, at [email protected]; details on the Our Social Engorgements page of the Losers website, NRARS.org.