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Week 776: An Act of Sunny Side

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Had to take my Hummer off the road, but it makes a great backyard greenhouse.

The neighbors got foreclosed on and moved out, but now I can wash the car naked in the daytime.

Grandkids don't visit so often, but neither does my ex-wife.

Things aren't going so well for a lot of us right now, you know? The Handbasket Express is standing room only. But who better than a bunch of confirmed Losers to make the best of a lousy situation? Or so predicts Loser Since Week 22 Elden Carnahan, who (optimistically) suggested this contest: This week: Note the silver lining in some otherwise disappointing turn of events, as in Elden's examples above.

Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives an original 1974 copy of "The Memoirs of Mason Reese," a book including not only dozens of pictures of the then-8-year-old commercial pitchman and human Cabbage Patch doll, but also Mason's alleged pronouncements on such issues of the day as pot smoking (he was against it). You know how some adults look nothing like their childhood photos? Well, here's Mason then and now.

Other runners-up win a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt, classic or current version. Honorable Mentions get one of the lusted-after Style Invitational Magnets. One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries by e-mail to losers@washpost.com or by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Aug. 11. Put "Week 776" 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 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 Aug. 30. 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 results is by Kevin Dopart. This week's Honorable Mentions name is by Chris Doyle.

Report From Week 772

in which we asked readers to alter a literary passage o that it could be understood "by Los Angeles residents under 40," as an L.A. Times reader wrote in a letter to the editor complaining that there were too many hard words in a certain movie review.

Lots of first-time entrants this week, from all over the country and beyond. Not many from L.A., though.

This was a space-eating contest, so more Honorable Mentions -- including a phrase-by-phrase translation of the opening paragraph of "A Tale of Two Cities" (along with the original) -- appear at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational.

3. Ernest Hemingway: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
Jeffrey Contompasis, Ashburn: " There's this woman who's expecting a baby and something bad happens, like a miscarriage or something, and she had already bought some shoes in anticipation of the birth, so she puts them in the classifieds to sell them and they're still good as new because the baby was never born."

2. the winner of the maybe-working radiation detector:
William Shakespeare: "Et tu, Brute?"
Elisa M. Nichols, Kensington: "Bitch set me up!"

And the Winner of the Inker

John Donne: "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
Mike Ostapiej, Tracy, Calif.: "Ding dong. It's for you."

Let There B-Lit: Honorable Mentions

Francis Bacon: "If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties."
Jay Shuck, Minneapolis: "You think you're sure? I mean really, you're SURE you're sure? Well, I am, like, SO SURE!"

Pliny the Elder: "The lust of avarice has so totally seized upon mankind that their wealth seems rather to possess them than that they possess their wealth."
Mae Scanlan, Washington: "When money rules, you guys are fools."

Jane Austen: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
Karen Zachary, Arlington, a First Offender: "Everybody knows that a rich single dude wants to be married. Not."

Shakespeare:
Who is Silvia? what is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admir├Ęd be.
Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.:
Who is Sylvia? What is she,
That all the dudes now dig her?
Holy cow, she's hot! I see
The doctor's made her bigger,
And she's about a double-D.

Psalm 52: "Thy tongue devised mischief's; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. Thou loves evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. Thou loves all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue."
David Kleinbard, Jersey City: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

T.S. Eliot via Kathy Hardis Fraeman, Olney: When I get old, I'm going to roll up my pants, eat a peach, and go to an art gallery.

Edgar Allan Poe: "A feeling, for which I have no name, has taken possession of my soul -- a sensation which will admit of no analysis, to which lessons of by-gone times are inadequate and for which I fear futurity itself will offer me no key."
Chuck Smith, Woodbridge: I am soooo wasted.

Poe via LuAnn Bishop, West Haven, Conn.: So, it's really late, and I'm totally bummed out thinking about my dead girlfriend, when then this big black bird hops in my window and says: "Fahgedaboutit!"

Geoffrey Chaucer: "Whan that aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote . . .
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages."
Beverley Sharp, Washington:
"It's spring break . . . ROAD TRIP!!!"

Walt Whitman via Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.: Whoa, dude! The president got shot! We need to get some metaphors going RIGHT NOW.

Thomas Jefferson via:

Russell Beland, Springfield: Us Americans, so that we can have a better country, one that's fair, where we're not yanking each other's chain, and to make sure nobody messes with our homeboys, and to keep things righteous, have worked up a few rules here . . .
Beverly Ellis, Manassas, a First Offender: Sometimes stuff happens and a group of people have to stop being a part of the group they used to belong to and go do the stuff they want to do because it's their right to do what they want to do and to be respected just for living and they gotta tell everybody what's going down and why the shakeup is taking place.
David Kleinbard, Jersey City: It's plain to see, you ain't better than me. God gave us a right to be free. You ain't the boss of me. Shake my branch, I'll kick you out of my tree.
G. Smith, New York: You're not the king of uf!

See more Honorable Mentions at www.washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational.

With the two First Offenders here and two more on the washingtonpost.com supplement, The Style Invitational has logged its 4,000th Loser since the contest began in March 1993. No, we haven't been keeping score. We have Losers for that. See the exhaustive statistics at their own Web site, www.gopherdrool.com.

Next Week: Always Looking for Sects, or Eschatological Humor

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