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Shock Jock Inspires a Neologistic Win

by Bob Levey

Heaven help us. Howard Stern may have inspired a neologism contest winner.

"I actually walked out of 'Private Parts,' " Adam Mariani told me Tuesday afternoon, as he chowed down on a victory-lunch chicken sandwich at the Cottonwood Cafe in Bethesda. "As soon as I read the [conditions of the] contest, that came back to me."

Adam was one of more than 3,000 entrants who took dead aim at our June make-up-a-word contest. With radio personality Stern as his guiding light, Adam (and his fellow wordsmiths) considered this scenario:

The hype has hooked you, so there you sit, at a showing of a hot new movie. You have spent $8 to get in and $3 more for popcorn. You have budgeted two hours of your busy life. But you are no more than eight minutes into this "hit" when you realize that it's a total, hopeless dog. The early realization that you have misspent your time and your movie money is called...

Adam's winning coinage:


That's a fusion of "reel" and "remorse." I thought it neatly captured both the medium and the operative emotion.

Adam had entered this contest several times before, without rattling Levey's cage or breaking into the limelight. But "reelmorse" was a neologism on which to vault all the way to the winner's circle.

Our winner is a 33-year-old native of Pittsburgh, graduate of Duquesne University and resident of Gaithersburg. For the last few years, he has sold cowboy boots for a living at a Western Boot World store on Rockville Pike.

He'll soon take up a new career as a loan officer for a mortgage company in Reston. On the side, he coaches the offensive line for the football team at Montgomery College in Rockville.

Asked how you sell cowboy boots in this very eastern, dress-for-success burg, Adam said: "It takes a lot of charm." His entry possessed that same quality. Congratulations to a worthy winner.

Almosts and Nearlies for our June contest were:

Showgrin: John Vasil, of Alexandria.

Foolfilment: Roger Gilkeson, of Northwest Washington.

Cinnui: David C. Viar, of Great Falls.

Cinema Irrite : Susan Daugherty Hatch, of Cabin John.

Film-Flam: Lisa W. Nyman first, then 33 others just like hers.

Cineschism: Michael Gips, of Bethesda.

Cinemisery: Judith Newton.

Filmasco: Peter M. Tafti.

Mad-n-nay: Randy Foust, of Manassas.

Cinapoplexy: Former champ Ruth Ruskin.

Flickershock: Former champ Deb Leopold, of Kensington, and Jacqueline Duby.

Celluvoid: Carole Tauber first, then dozens more.

Cine Qua Non: Al Toner, of Arlington; John O'Byrne, of Dublin, Ireland; Razel Solow, of Charlottesville; and Pat Rapp.

Flique: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

B-reavement: Tom Witte again.

Celluloss: Anastasia Krutulis, and Kevin Miller, of Charlottesville.

Reelgret: Phil Frankenfeld, of Northwest Washington, and Anna Ewald.

Screamplay: Jamey Lee West, of Gaithersburg.

Chagrinema: D.M. Salts.

Cinemadography: Stephen L. Finley.

And Hype Bomb: Richard Jaffe, of Gambrills.

You're as hot as the weather, gang. Let's see if you can keep steaming when you consider the July challenge, which is:

Every radio station does it during ratings periods. They offer dollars to listeners. If the listener is home when an on-air personality calls, the listener wins. But the best part is the recording of that conversation (which the station later plays at least 50,000 times). The deejay always says, "...and you've won $5,000!" And the listener always reacts with a noise that is part joy, part astonishment and part barnyard squeal. This noise is called... (Click to see winning entries)

First place won't win you $5,000, but it will win a very nice free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice. Any barnyard squeals you might care to emit during lunch are perfectly acceptable.

Contest rules: You may enter as often as you like, on one piece of paper or several. Joint entries are welcome. So are entries submitted by fax (202-334-5150) or e-mail ( Entries must bear day and evening phone numbers, including area code(s). All entries become my property. Entries will not be accepted by phone or returned. In case of duplicate winning entries, I'll choose the one I receive first.

Please mail entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. Entries for the July contest must be received by July 30.

© 1999 Bob Levey (
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

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