The Style Conversational
The Style Conversational
Loser-friendly discussion with The Empress of The Style Invitational

Week 935: At 400 weeks, the E is getting verse

Good morning — I hope you’re able to read this on a computer that gets electricity from power lines, and that your feet are able to reach a dry surface beneath you. Here at Mount Vermin, in Maryland a few miles south of Washington, we went powerless for 61 hours after the top of a tree decided to fold itself over during Hurricane Irene on Saturday night, and check out the wires in front of our house. But we suffered minimal inconvenience, really; on the other hand, I know of at least three Losers in the Baltimore area who still had no power several days later. And I hope the New England Loser Wing is safe and dry; Invite cartoonist and Cape Cod resident Bob Staake posted on Facebook a photo of what he implied were the ruins of his backyard studio; actually, Bob and his family lost only part of a large locust tree. Bob! Such a card.

The Loser brunch and battlefield tour scheduled for last Sunday up in Gettysburg is now happening this Sunday at 1 p.m. instead — barring, say, the eruption of a heretofore unnoticed volcano or Civil War II. If you hadn’t signed up for last weekend and would like to attend, please contact co-host Roger Dalrymple ASAP at rogerandpam [at] comcast [dot] net.

Speaking of scary forces of nature, I’m pretty much amazed to have survived the various slings, arrows, howitzers, etc., of economics and temper to be able to post the Empress’s 400th Invite, Week 935. When I finally was able to log on to a computer this past Monday night (at The Post), there were several e-mails waiting for me that suggested that the Losers produce some earthquake- or hurricane-themed poetry; I think everyone’s had enough of “Goodnight, Irene” for a while. It’s a lovely song, and nice to sway to as you’re being buffeted by winds, but I know that the Losers will come up with a hearty anthology of disaster verse (and I don’t mean bad limericks).


Once again, one of the entries I’d selected for this week’s print Invite — Kevin Dopart’s coming-attractions “your mama” limerick — got the ax by the Taste Police because of the coarse phrase “do her.” (It was allowed to stay in the Web version; it’s at the end, just before the bonus-track song parodies.) That call (along with the 400-week milestone) got me thinking: On the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook yesterday afternoon, I asked the Losers, “What are some of the most risque Invite entries you can remember that were published in the print paper?”

NINETY comments later (as of 2 a.m. Friday), I’ll offer you this sampler in Royal Blue:

Inker-winning horse name, Week 552 (my first year): Rock Hard Ten X Read the Footnotes = Centimeters (Kevin Cuddihy)

Another horse name, from 2007: Major Pleasure + Tenfold = Six Hundred Ninety (Tom Witte)

And another: Sweet Catomine x Kansas City Boy = Sweet Catamite (Andrea Kelly)

Ask Backwards, Week 679: A. Because it’s sooo purple. Q. Why is “throbbing manhood” a favorite phrase of romance novelists? (Kevin Dopart)

The child of two famous people, Week 533 (the second week I judged all the entries): The child of John Holmes and June Allyson wouldn’t know if he was coming or going. (G. Smith)

The introduction to the Week 724 limerick contest (by Gene Weingarten):
There’s a word with “C-L” that is titterous,
And it’s making the Empress all jitterous.
To be perfectly clear,
Here’s the thing that we fear:
With unprintable entries you’ll litter us.

And the same week, Ask Backwards results: A. Hazy, Hot, Humid and Happy. Q. Instead of the names of the days, what words does Britney Spears put on a week’s worth of panties? (Kevin Dopart)

And from way back in Week 35, 1993, how to reuse the abandoned 14-mile-long, 15-foot-wide supercollider experimental tunnel: Rename it the Martha Washington Monument. (Michael Sweet, Rockville)

I’m not sure how many of those could run in the print paper today. On the other hand, it’s terrific that we have the alternative of the online version, both as a place to display many more worthy entries (this week we have 13 on the page, 37 total on the web) and to offer material that readers won’t accidentally encounter, but must seek out themselves.


And once again — as if there could have been a doubt — the annual Limerixicon contest yielded a host of terrific entries. As I noted in the introduction to the results, I’m convinced that the Limerixicon winners are the match of any other limerick collections in the English-speaking world — and I’m especially proud that several frequent Invite Losers (who’ve gotten ink in a wide variety of Invitational contests) are among the very best of the limericians featured, along with the limerick specialists who’ve returned to us year after year. (In fact, we ended up with no First Offenders this week.) [CORRECTION: We did have one after all: Robert Schechter, who’d entered several previous times and has been extremely active on the Style Invitational Devotees page, got his first ink — and will get his FirStink — this week; his name had become so familiar to me that I hadn’t realized he hadn’t yet gotten into the actual contest results.]

I suspended for the week (I’m not sure why) the new rule limiting each Loser to 25 entries. But very few people sent more than that. Chris Doyle sent a few more than 50 (not as many, actually, as in some past years). Mae Scanlan sent 35, and I think Brendan Beary had 28. Several people each contributed 15 to 20, but most people sent just one or two or three. Total by my manual count: 719 limericks.

And while our top two ’ricksters, Doyle and Brendan Beary, snagged five and seven blots of ink, respectively, the ink ended up being spread around fairly flatly otherwise, with 21 people getting published. Chris Strolin and his assistants at will be deluged within hours, I’d wager. (Remember, you’re free to submit all your entries there, inking or not, in your original form or with any editing I did — very little tweakage this week anyway.)

Yes, I judged the limericks without the writers’ names attached, but it’s not hard to guess that a perfectly crafted verse, often with a literary or historical subject, and a fifth-line punch line that often includes an ingenious spoonerism or other wordplay, is a Doyle original. Chris gets (if he wants it — let me know) his 43rd (43rd!!!!) first-place winner, for a total of 1,322 inks in all.

No slouch himself, Brendan Beary is up to Ink 823 with this week’s six brilliant inking limericks, ranging in subject matter from “Anna Karenina” to echidna penises. And the tote board is filled out by two wordsmiths from across the pond; they’re both regular Invitees as well. Scotland’s Stephen Gold started in Week 777 with limericks but has since gotten other types of ink as well, notably in song parodies (his two this week bring him to 31); D.C./Annapolis expat Ann Martin has been an enthusiastic Loser as well in all kinds of contests; her shirt- or mug-winner brings her count to 30.


In the Facebook discussion of risque entries we’ve printed, Loser Kevin Mellema chimed in, “The really good stuff never saw ink.” He’s wrong for the most part — there’ve been really few unprintable entries that were better than what actually won (and of course he couldn’t possibly mean that I just chose wrong). But there were certainly a number of no-way limericks for Week 931:

When Weiner displayed his erection,
Congress rightly demanded ejection,
Giving us one less prick
On a ballot to pick
IF we vote in the next big election. (Phyllis Reinhard)

Ejaculate! Must it be spelled out?
It happens when “Oh God!” is yelled out.
The words in your mouth
And a substance down south
Ejaculate when they’re propelled out. (Robert Schechter)

We all watch your champagnes effervesce,
And your Dom never fails to impress.
Your Tsarine fizzes some,
And regarding your Mumm,
We all effer twice nightly, not less! (Brendan Beary)

A young trick-turning debutante fallen
Was troubled in springtime by pollen.
The effect of each sneeze
Was a pelvic floor squeeze;
It’s why no one brought tissues when callin’. (Byron Miller, Cobble Hill, B.C.)

“It’s easy as pie,” said some bard
Or did some body in that regard,
But here we should note
A much apter quote:
“It’s easier when it is hard.” (Edmund Conti)

And one well-crafted but particularly objectionable lim; I read it as basically an endorsement of date rape drugs:
Reluctance -- a job for the mixer.
Good chemistry makes the elixir.
A bit of my draft,
And she’s mine, fore and aft;
Just a couple of sips oughta fix ’er. (David Goldberg)

(And wholly deserved, IMHO.)

The wittiest poets, like Swift
And his pal, Mr. Pope, wrote with thrift.
Though the eighteenth was best
Our own century’s guest
Mr. Doyle has got the same gift. (Amanda Yanovitch)

Ecstatic, the state I’d be in
Should an entry of mine finally win
The Inker I covet
Yes, I would just love it
But B. Beary sends better stuff in. (David Hanlon)

The formal(ish) announcement will go out as soon as they figure out how much it’s going to cost (probably around $25), but Flushies award lunch organizers Dave Prevar and Pie Snelson announce that the Flushies site will move a few blocks away from Elden Carnahan’s back yard to the nearby Granville Gude park in Laurel, Md. They’ve reserved a pavilion from 1 to 5 p.m. that will hold 80 people; there are nice bathrooms but no electricity. The original catered- barbecue menu will at least be supplemented significantly for those who don’t eat meat.

I’m sure there are a LOT of tasks that others could help with to help make the Flushies fun for everyone. If you’d like to help with the arrangements, post something here or on the Devotees page, or e-mail me and I’ll pass it on to them.

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