The Style Invitational
Week 623: Try to Remember

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Mnemonic to remember the recently revised presidential line of succession: Vacuous Harry "studies" Shakespeare's tragic dramas -- "Antony," "Hamlet" -- in a college library: He's hoping to entice erudite vixens.

This week's contest: Even though he fauxpadly addressed his suggestion to "the Czarina," the Empress was eventually able to unruffle her feathers, resettle her tiara, etc., and try out the contest idea sent by John McNamara of Rockville. John notes that since the line of presidential succession was revised by the Senate this year (the secretary of homeland security moves up from 18 to eight heartbeats away), we had better come up with a way to keep this crucial information straight. (For the record: Next in line, of course, is the Vice president, followed by: House speaker; Senate president pro tem; the secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense; the Attorney general; and the secretaries of Homeland security, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and human services, Housing and urban development, Transportation, Energy, Education and Veterans affairs .) So give us an original mnemonic for this or some other list that someone might want to remember. Note: We did this contest once before, in 1995 -- as will be noted by eight perennial Losers who got ink for Week 115 and still blot regularly. So don't send us old, stale, Internetted stuff, please. Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. First runner-up receives a tequila-flavored lollipop, complete with worm inside, donated by Mike Connaghan of Alexandria, AND a really ugly one of those squeezy plastic change purses, this one green and imprinted with a white mouth, from the Rio Grande Credit Union of Denver, via DavePrevar of Annapolis.

Other runners-up win a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt. Honorable mentions get one of the lusted-after Style Invitational Magnets. One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries by e-mail to or, if you really have to, by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Aug. 22. Put "Week 623" in the subject line of your e-mail, or it risks being ignored as spam. Include your name, postal address and phone number with your entry. Entries are judged on the basis of humor and originality. All entries become the property of The Washington Post. Entries may be edited for taste or content. Results will be published, whuh-oh, Sept. 11. No purchase required for entry. Employees of The Washington Post, and their immediate relatives, are not eligible for prizes. Pseudonymous entries will be disqualified. The revised title for next week's contest is by Mark Eckenwiler of Washington.

Report from Week 619, in which we sought poems containing, in order but not necessarily adjacently, four or more successive words on the list of most frequently used words in the British National Corpus, a collection of clearly very diverse Brit writings: A rare Blind T-Shirt goes to Brendan Beary of Great Mills for a superb entry we cannot print here because it contains Word No. 62830 and we are only six pages away from KidsPost.

  • Third runner-up: [WordCount words Nos. 5106-5109 are marked with asterisks]
  • Said Sigmund to comely young Eve,*

    "Some mistakes* will be made on our trip.

    At restaurants,* I do believe,

    You'll be kissing this Freudian's lip.*" (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

  • Second runner-up: [6190-6193]
  • A longing would-be mommy, once her baby was conceived,*

    Protested* that her nausea was not to be believed.

    She blamed her morning sickness* on the mildew in her house

    Instead of on her gag-inducing dumb fat toxic* spouse.

    (Brenda Ware Jones, Jackson, Miss.)

  • First runner-up, winner of the Porky Pooper jelly bean-ejecting pig: [5096-5100] "An eraser's called a 'rubber,' "* wrote the lovely, lissome lass.
  • Her "British English" essay* just ran rings* around the class.

    But hear me, all good Christians,* that poor girl learned all too late

    As a pregnancy* preventer, her eraser wasn't great. (Brendan Beary)

  • And the winner of the Inker:
  • [1365-1368] Cross* your right arm over now!

    Get on your bottom,* mister!

    My mouth's so close, I'll eat* your foot!*

    (Don't freak. We're playing Twister.) (Michelle Stupak, Ellicott City)

  • Honorable Mentions:
  • [8-11]

    "Is" is what is; it* is* not what was.*

    When I* said "it depends," I said it because

    "Was" ain't included when I say "there is"

    Concerning that woman, that Lewinsky Ms.

    (W.J. Clinton, New York)

    (Fred S. Souk, Reston)


    "Society* seemed* kind,"* began* God,*

    "But then morals hit bottom.

    So I wreaked some havoc on

    Gomorrah and Sodom."

    (Peter Metrinko, Chantilly)

    [402-405] It's a very hard* job*

    Among* George Bush's staff*:

    You must nod while he talks

    And try hard not to laugh.

    (Seth Brown, North Adams, Mass.)


    He's run* me quite ragged (though there's surely no malice)

    With "special"* demands that could land me in traction,

    So as a result* I will hide his Cialis,

    And soon he'll be back to all talk

    and no action.*

    (Chris Doyle)


    The state's Mohels Union* was one person too large,

    With its total* too high in December.

    The solution was clear, so the fellows in charge

    Made a motion and then cut* a member.*

    (Seth Brown)


    "Please do not harm* me," Joseph* cried* to his brothers.

    "We have been like your servants*," they cruelly replied.

    "Your dreams have dismissed* our

    importance to others."

    They did not suspect* that the dreams had not lied.

    (Marleen and Rachel

    May, Rockville)


    This morning my wife ordered me: "Pete!*

    Stem* upright!* Pump* it more! More!"

    (Filling up her bicycle tire

    Is such a tedious chore.)

    (Peter Metrinko)

    [6428-6431] Because of the public's jumping* perceptions,*

    Adjusted* propaganda* is needed

    So let's try some new deceptions --

    The press will be easily stampeded.

    (K. Rove, Washington) (Peter Metrinko)

    [Anti-Invitational: backward from 11479-11476]

    Ukrainian* chickens,* instinctive* notoriously,*

    Know when the kitchen is working laboriously:

    They'll be Chicken Kiev, prepared oh so gloriously. (Peter Metrinko)

    [12558-12561] The day poor Elvis* strained to death while sitting on the potty,

    No shotgun* was found in the room, just drugs that made him dotty.

    Post-mortem rubble*-sifting showed not one sign of foul play.

    The write-up, a formality,* just said, "King Died Today." (Michelle Stupak)


    Fuel prices leap up by bucks* incremental.

    My AC's control switch? A thing


    The prosperous merchants of OPEC* -- sans liquors --

    Rejoice, while I swelter in nothing but knickers.* (Mark Eckenwiler)


    Pausing* to think of a nice little verse,

    I came up with garbage that just made me curse.

    And, angered,* I tore up the works I had wrought* --

    A loser* I am, but a poet I'm not.

    (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

    [38515-38518] The standardized tests are dumbed down to the point

    Even stragglers* can't get them wrong:

    " 'Sophocles,'* 'carburettor,'* 'Aristophanes'*:

    Which of these doesn't belong?" (Brendan Beary)


    Low-numbered words from WordCount

    Can make poems without an absurd count.

    But for high-numbered ones to ring true,

    You need a high tolerance for multilingualism* and tangency* (in case of a word from a dialect of Carniola*)

    And the not quite workless* form of poetry called clerihew.

    (Dan Seidman, Watertown, Mass.)

    Next Week: Keep the Empress Employed, or Enl@rge yuor c1rculati0n!

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