Style Invitational Week 952: Dead Letters — write us an obit poem


(Bob Staake for The Washington Post )
December 30, 2011

Osama bin Laden has passed away, been taken by his Lord,
Shuffled off this mortal coil, fallen on his sword,
Moved to otherworldly realms . . . Wait, this doesn’t work.

Niceties need not apply! He’s dead — good riddance, jerk.

With the happy New Year, we pause a moment in solemn reflection on those whose lives were lost last year, and then we turn to the Style Invitational so we can write funny verses about them. In our ninth annual Dead Letters contest: Write a humorous poem about someone who died in 2011, as in the example above by Washington Post Poet in Residence (though some among the unenlightened think of him as the Po’ Wit in Residence) Gene Weingarten. It doesn’t have to rhyme, but it should be amusing. Short verses are more likely to get ink in the print paper, but the best longer poems will be published in the online Invite. Song parodies are permitted. You can find lists of “notable deaths 2011,” etc., online.

Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a teeny-tiny electronic device called the Annoy-a-tron. You stash it somewhere and turn it on, and it emits a short beep . . . every few minutes. Donated by Loser Kevin Dopart, who annoys us every, well, less often than that.

Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to losers@washpost.com or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Jan. 9; results published Jan. 29 (Jan. 27 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 952” in your e-mail subject line or it may be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational. The revised title for next week is by Beverley Sharp; the subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Chris Doyle. Join the Style Invitational Devotees on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev.

Report from Week 948

in which you were invited to enter any of the previous year’s Invitational contests, with possible updating of the subject matter. A number of space-consuming entries appear in the online Invite at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational.

The winner of the Inker

For Week 927, Burma Shave-style highway signs:
Pi k a targ t
Lo d our g n;
Us  our bu lets,
Ha e som fu .
W nch ster. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)

2. Winner of the book of entries from old New York Magazine Competitions: For Week 898, predictions for next year (for this week’s contest, we used 2012):
Oct. 4, 2012: In a feeble “Wag the Dog” attempt, Obama invades Uzbeki-beki-bekistan. (David Genser, Poway, Calif.

3. From Week 910, slightly alter an ad slogan to be used for someone else:
Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman: Takes a sacking and keeps on lacking. (Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md.)

4. Week 893, 25-word stories: “I have some distressing news,” said Dr. Stone. “During your last exam, I found a lump in your breast.” Sally frowned. “But . . . you’re my dentist.” (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)

With further redo: Honorable mentions

Week 945, edible art: “The M&Mpress,” a re-creation of Bob Staake’s cartoon in 3,100 M&M’s in seven colors. (Craig Dykstra)

Week 896, if one company ran another: If Victoria’s Secret ran Starbucks, you’d be served by bra-istas. (Lois Douthitt, Arlington, Va.)

Week 898, predictions for next year: April 20, 2012: After 72 days as a Wizard, a shamefaced Kris Humphries tries to annul his contract. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

— Oct. 21, 2012: The world ends after Harold Camping dismisses the Mayan doomsday prophecy as a “fearmongering tactic to scam innocent people out of their hard-earned money.” (Brian Cohen, Potomac, Md.)

Week 899, backward crossword: TOETOTOE: Way better than sleeping nose to toe. (Roger Dalrymple, Gettysburg, Pa.)

Week 900, “Dear Blank” letters: Dear Jimi: I like you, but I don’t like you that way. — Sincerely, The Sky (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

— Dear Rick Santorum: Dude, have you actually read my book? — Sincerely, Jesus (David Genser)

— Dear Keith Richards: Just thinking about the old days and thought I’d drop you a line. Miss you, man! -- Fondly, Drugs (Rob Huffman)

Week 902, put a positive sping on a bad-news headline:
Original: Iran says it downed U.S. stealth drone; Pentagon acknowledges aircraft downing
Spun: U.S. spy technology kept out of North Korea’s hands (Matt Monitto, Elon, N.C.)

Week 904, move a letter from the beginning of a word to the end: Ubarf: The result of a terribly botched recipe. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

— Curvys: Hallucinations of shapely women that appeared to sailors suffering a vitamin deficiency. (Roy Ashley, Washington)

— Harecroppers: Rabbit’s-foot farmers. (Kevin Dopart)

Week 906, slogan for the new Loser Mug: Now with free chipping! (Craig Dykstra)

Week 910, slightly alter an ad slogan for another use: American Standard: Plop plop, whizz whizz, oh, what a relief it is . . . (Larry Gray)

Penn State: Reach out and touch someone’s . . . (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)

Week 912, a two-word phrase in which one word appears in the other word: Basement basemen: The Orioles’ infield. (Larry Gray)

— Yahoo! Ah! When your e-mail finally loads. (Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)

Week 913, move a letter from the end of a word to the beginning: Xinbo: A martial art that enables one to handle an onslaught of tens, hundreds, even thousands of intruders at once. (Tom Witte)

Week 916, make up a “bank head” to follow an actual Post headline:
Post headline: Happy to take fight on the road
Bank head: Misnamed dwarf seeks vengeance on evil queen (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Post: Terrapin women capture 11th straight
Bank: Another heterosexual detained by College Park paramilitary unit (Elden Carnahan, Laurel, Md.)

Week 917, current-events haiku:
Skins Game
Weekly, meekly, they
Gently lift fresh defeat from
Victory’s frail jaws. (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)

Week 918, “grandfoals” from the horse-“breeding” contest of Week 914: Moaner Lisa x Extra Fifty = Screamer Lisa (Jeff Loren, Manassas)

Week 919, neologisms based on 13-letter terms: Cashingtonian: A lobbyist. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

— Wishingtonian: A Redskins fan. (Craig Dykstra)

— Nothing but het: A totally straight basketball team. (Steven Alan Honley, Washington)

Week 921, “Little Willie” verses:
Willie, chef extraordinaire,
Cooked his little sister Claire.
Mom and Daddy hardly missed her:
“Be a dear and serve your sister.” (Matt Monitto)

The day Willie choked on a hamburger bun,
He died and his father cried out, “Oh, my son!
I’ll miss you forever!” With tears in his eyes,
He added, “You mind if I finish those fries?” (Robert Schechter)

Week 924, false historical trivia: The pet-rock industry collapsed in 1981 after dozens of “pebble mills” were shut down because of mineral abuse. (Larry Gray)

Week 928, use a movie title as the answer to a question:
A. Saw.
Q. How does a Maine lumberjack feel after a hard day’s work? (Jeff Contompasis)

Week 932, Your Mama jokes: Your Mama’s so fat she can occupy Wall Street all by herself. (Judy Blanchard, Novi, Mich.)

Week 936, alter a foreign-language phrase: Caveat preemptor: Do it to them before they do it to you. (Howard Walderman, Columbia)

Me plus ultra: Donald Trump’s epitaph. (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)

Week 939, combine two movie titles: “Faust Times at Ridgemont High”: A student sells his soul to have Van Halen play at his birthday party. (Dean Hebert, Mechanicsville, Md.)

— “The Color Purple Rose of Cairo”: At last, Woody Allen makes a movie with black people in it. (Nancy Schwalb, Washington)

Week 940, change a headline by one letter and add a bank head:
Is your phone spaying on you?
Researchers warn against leaving mobile devices in hip pockets (Elden Carnahan)

Week 943, write a question for any of a list of “answers”:
A. Roman cavalry choirs. Q. Who sings on the “Gleediator” soundtrack? (Steven Alan Honley)

Week 932, Limericks featuring “e”- words:
In my garden while chasing a mole, I
Stuck my arm down a rather deep hole – I
Suspect what I hit
Was a pile of poo:
Now I gotta get checked for e-coli. (Craig Dykstra)

From the Pentagon, memos have spewed:
“B.R.A.C. plans must be pursued!”
But for those who must drive
On I-395,
By their edifice complex, you’re screwed. (Nan Reiner, Alexandria)

Week 938, supply three new lines to follow the first two of a 19th-century limerick by Edward Lear:
There was an Old Person of Tring,
Who embellished his nose with a ring,
Then with nothing to lose,
Got two backside tattoos
And wound up with his butt in a sling. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

There was an Old Man of Vesuvius,
Who studied the works of Vitruvius,
Yet ignored the volcano:
“It’s dormant and, hey, no
One knows just how dangerous UV is!” (Chris Doyle)

Week 922, “Star-Spangled Banner” parodies:
O say, can you see, o’er the sea to our right
How the euro’s imploding while leadership flounders?
Doesn’t matter to us, we’ve no dog in that fight
For we’ve always been true to the words of our founders.
Socialism we hate! This is no nanny state!
(And our payments to China are not all that late...)
In any fiscal crisis, a brilliant plan we’ll surely mold,
We’ve got Congress on the case... (gulp)
Sell the dollar! Buy gold! (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

Week 922 and also Week 929, TV theme songs:
Oh my God, can you hear on the TV at 9,
Tons of people deceived that their voices are magic.
When they belt out each note, all my cats start to whine,
For they’re butchering tunes: an offense mighty tragic.
And their tone’s out of sync; talk me down from the brink!
Too bad there’s no Simon to tell them they stink.
“American Idol”: That whole show is wrong;
I’ll put Justin Bieber on if I want a bad song. (Matt Monitto)

Week 929, TV theme songs:
“The Bachelorette” (to the tune of : “Anything Goes”; start the audio clip at 0:37)
In olden days you dated as you aged
Then fell in love, became engaged.
Now no sweat- There’s Bachelorette.
All 25 stud muffins hot to trot,
Striving for roses — that’s the plot,
No kismet — Just “Bachelorette.”
Each muscle-bound guy is tan,
Looking like Tarzan,
Quite the Dapper Dan,
With a love-nest plan,
Looking so deadpan as he attempts to can
Any guy who’s a threat.
So if you’re looking for one gal who’s dumb,
And dialogue that makes you numb,
Don’t forget “ The Bachelorette.” (Phyllis Reinhard, East Fallowfield, Pa.)

Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, where the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at losers@washpost.com (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.

Next week: Putting the SAT in satire or Connect the dolts

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