Week 647: Paste Imperfect

Sunday, January 29, 2006

We newsroom denizens had a case of giggles -- the it-could-have-been-us giggles -- over a brief item in the Purdue University student newspaper that began by discussing Judge Samuel Alito and suddenly segued into: "His motive for shooting John Paul in the abdomen . . . remains unclear." Simultaneously, Eager Beaver Loser Kevin Dopart of Washington scratched at our door with this contest idea: Change a headline or sentence that appears in The Post or on through Feb. 6 either by deleting up to 40 consecutive characters from it or by adding up to 40 consecutive characters FROM THE SAME ARTICLE OR AD. Include the date and page number from the paper, or the date from the Web site. Show what words you are deleting and what words you're adding; brackets around the deletions and capital letters for the insertions would work.

Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. First runner-up receives a genuine 1958 edition, donated by Russell Beland of Springfield, of "Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette" -- and it does seem complete: The Empress just now was reviewing Chapter 41, "Dress and Duties of the Household Staff." (Oops, she seems to have provided the incorrect socks to the butler.)

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 tolosers@washpost.comor by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Feb. 6. Include "Week 647" 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. Contests are judged on humor and originality. All entries become the property of The Washington Post. Entries may be edited for taste or content. Results will be published Feb. 26. 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 Chris Doyle of Forsyth, Mo.

Report From Week 643

Our annual contest seeking rhyming poems commemorating people who died last year: The Empress received a great variety of dead subjects, from the pope to Rosa Parks to the voice of Tony the Tiger. But a lot of Losers out there must be wearing tin earrings, because hundreds of entries displayed an astonishing failure to rhyme: Soldier/older. Dreck/regret. Krebs/dread. Lend a hand/Off the island. And this doesn't even count those with a geographical excuse, like Ross Elliffe of New Zealand, who offered "mourn the passin'/Of Johnny Carson." But there were still plenty of ink-worthy paeans (as well as the negative sentiments, which we'll call poopans); more honorable mentions can be found on the Style Invitational page at

4 J.B. Stoner, convicted in planning the 1964 Birmingham church bombing:

Refused to let the races mix,
Now just a redneck in the Styx.
This nasty fellow, no reformer,
Occupies a place far warmer.
(Mark Eckenwiler, Washington)

3 Elmer Dresslar Jr., voice of the Jolly Green Giant

His ho-ho-hos were said with ease;
It's fitting that he rest in peas.
(Stephen Dudzik, Olney)

2 Winner of the DVD set from the Hong Kong government: Don Adams

Though Maxwell Smart has passed away,
His style lives on in the CIA.
(Dan Seidman, Watertown, Mass.)

And the Winner of the Inker

1 Robert Hunter, founder of Greenpeace

Bob Hunter has gone to his final repose;
From cancer his health had been failing.
His passing was marked by his friends and his foes,
Respectively weeping and whaling.
(Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

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