Real Washington Post headline: Md. agency on a mission to unclog greasy sewer arteries
Fake bank head: ‘Stop eating all those Big Macs,’ health dept. urges seamstresses
In this perennial Invite contest — formerly called “Mess With Our Heads” when space used to allow it in the print paper — we ask you to take any headline, verbatim, appearing anywhere in The Post or on washingtonpost.com from Sept. 6 through Sept. 17 and reinterpret it by adding a “bank head,” or subtitle (like the joke bank head offered under the actual Post headline above). For heads in the print paper, include the date and page number; for heads from the Web, give the date and copy a sentence or two of the story (even better, copy the URL from the address bar). You don’t have to use the entire headline, but don’t skip words or change the essential meaning by cutting off the end, as from “President kills bill” to “President kills.” Headlines in ads and subheads within an article (as well as actual bank heads) can be used, as well as one-line links to articles online, but not photo captions. See last year’s results at wapo.st/inv920.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives an especially weird little toy from Japan, home to many, many weird toys. This one comes in a plastic capsule a little bigger than an egg, and features a teeny plastic pink potty containing two even teenier piles of bright yellow rubbery poo. Given out, appropriately, as a door prize at the Losers’ recent awards luncheon, the Flushies. Donated by Marleen May.
Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders receive a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to email@example.com or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 17; results published Oct. 7 (online Oct. 4). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 987” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/inviterules. The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Kevin Dopart; the alternative headline in the “next week’s results” line is by Tom Witte. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev.
our annual Limerixicon, in which we seek limericks focusing on a word from a sliver of the dictionary — this year it was eq- through ez-:
When poor Fido is “no longer here,”
We use words that are soft but less clear.
We may say he’s “passed on”
Or “put down” or just “gone” –
See, we’ve had the dog euphemized, dear. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)
2. Winner of the rotting-zombie Mirror Clings:
From my exorcist (feeling hard-pressed)
I beseeched time to pay. Should have guessed
He would say there’s no way.
I must settle today,
Or tomorrow I’ll be repossessed. (Stephen Gold, Glasgow, Scotland)
3. If we’re asked to coin terms that define
How both Mitt and Barack cross the line
With campaigns that attack
And exhibit a lack
Of all qualms, “ethic cleansing” is mine. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
4. “I’ve heard what you shepherd boys do
When you’re looking for something to. . . woo.
But take me to bed
And you’ll find out,” she said,
“That I’m quite a bit better than ewe.” (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)
It’s a subject I’m not keen to touch on:
A blot on the family escutcheon.
The king granted arms
To Great-Grandma, whose charms
He enjoyed when I fear she’d not much on. (Hugh Thirlway, The Hague)
“If it’s true non-consensual sex, it
Doesn’t ‘take’; the gal’s body rejects it!”
So says candidate Akin.
Abort THAT mistake, an’
Show Mr. Cro-Magnon the exit. (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)
In election years, pols never fail
To say foolish things out on the trail,
Though you’ll probably not
Hear one claim, “I smoked pot
In my youth, but I didn’t exhale.” (Chris O’Carroll, Emporia, Kan.)
The upper-class lady who gloats
As she shows off expensive fur coats
Doesn’t know that the ermine
Is a weaselly vermin.
She’s wearing the skins of dead stoats! (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)
Exhibitionist Mr. van Lear
Has been told to quit flashing ’round here,
Which has left him nonplussed,
And he’s asked, “Can’t I just
Stick it out till the end of the year?” (Brendan Beary)
A printed mistake’s an erratum,
And an editor’s needed to spot ’em.
But as newspaper copy
Gets more and more sloppy,
I fear that won day we’ll hit boddum. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
In the District some think it’s all right
That integrity’s not black and white:
Where politicos stray,
The area’s Gray
And real ethics are nowhere in sight. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)
While his wife’s horse is overseas prancing,
Romney’s poll numbers aren’t advancing.
Though equestrian sport
May play well with his sort,
It’s a joke to the folks out in Lansing. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
“Fifty Shades”: just erotic, or porn?
It’s a question with many a thorn.
Here’s a clue: When your kid
Found you reading it, did
You wish fiercely you’d never been born? (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)
Said the lecturer: ‘Troubled digestions --
Check them, empty, for any congestions:
The patient must fast
-roduodenoscopy. Questions?” (Hugh Thirlway)
A potbellied priest told me, “You’re
Possessed by the Devil, for sure.
But your timing’s sublime
’Cause my doctor says I’m
Out of shape and should exorcise more.” (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
A clearer of timber devours
Viagra in search of new powers,
But he takes it too far:
Now he’s in the ER,
Where he’s logged more than 44 hours. (Chris Doyle)
An experienced lady from Gloucester
Told a fellow who tried to accoucester:
“Though I’m busy today,
If you’re willing to pay,
Then tomorrow you’ll be on my roucester.” (Brian Allgar, Paris)
Escargot is a dish made of snail
That sophisticates often impale
On fine forks and consume
In an elegant room
When good taste and good sense don’t prevail. (Max Gutmann, Cupertino, Calif.)
To exaggerate means overstate:
“I could pop!” means I just overate.
I can claim that this rhyme
Is THE BEST OF ALL TIME!
(But that’s subject, it seems, to debate. . .) (Beverley Sharp)
After so many years’ immorality,
Would I really enjoy immortality?
I’m at sixes and sevens,
Since sex up in Heaven’s
An unlikely eventuality. (John Whitworth, Canterbury, England, a First Offender)
Great-Grandma was seldom in estrus,
But when estrus came ’round, sex was bestrus.
She undressed with finesse
And dispensed her largess
With success — thus became my ancestress. (Sheila Blume, Sayville, N.Y.)
Our relationship isn’t complex;
We hook up on occasion for sex.
Then we’re filled with self-loathing,
We put on our clothing –
And that’s the routine with my ex. (Brendan Beary)
A candidate, asked to explain
How he managed so well with no brain,
Said, “I never get flustered
When I can’t cut the mustard.
And none of my names is Hussein.” (Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)
Sure, I’m dressed in an outfit that’s steamy
And flattered you find me so dreamy.
But now should I run
’Cause that’s either a gun
Or you’re really erumpent to see me. (Kevin Dopart)
I’ve studied quite hard at theology,
Yet never quite aced eschatology:
Will the Maker require
That I roast in a fire
Or accept a few words of apology? (Graham Lester, Roeland Park, Kan.)
The Norgay and Hillary show
Conquered Everest six decades ago.
It’s different today:
You fight crowds all the way,
And the scene at the top’s SRO. (Chris Doyle)
Baby swallowed some dimes from a jar,
So we rushed to the doc. It’s bizarre;
We’re assured he’ll expel,
And soon all will be well,
But no change is apparent so far. (Stephen Gold)
My plans to get published? Defeated.
There are gaps, so my book’s not completed.
Though the writing went well,
Now it’s all gone to [censored],
Since the expletives all are deleted. (Beverley Sharp)
The =’s two little dashes;
Don’t confuse it with +s or #s,
Nor with decimal dots,
Which are nothing but spots,
As though sums were developing rashes. (Hugh Thirlway)
It’s a look that’s outlived many fads:
Just a flowery sundress and spads
(Short for “espadrilles”), yet
I admit I’m upset,
For the outfit, in this case, is Dad’s. (Brendan Beary)
I know how this contest is endin’.
Excited and proud, I will send in
Some rhymes that can’t lose,
Then the Empress will choose
Some funnier limericks by Brendan. (Robert Schechter)
And Even Laster:
A classic Style Invite submission
Requires one part erudition,
One part imbecility
And two parts puerility;
Mix well; serve without inhibition. (Nan Reiner)
Still running — deadline Monday night — is Week 986, homophone humor. See wapo.st/inv986 .
Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, in which 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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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’s results: (A)nother (B)rilliant (C)ontest — (D)o (E)nter, or Just Keep Losing, Morons, in which we asked you to write something in which each word begins with the next letter in the alphabet.