As you all no doubt have been noting on your calendars since you bought them in February for 75 percent off, this week’s contest is the Empress’s 400th consecutive column; she deposed that pesky Czar in Week 536. To commemorate this earthshaking occurrence, we invite you to commemorate some other ones, in a contest suggested last week by several Losers: Write a humorous poem — choose your form — about the Virginia earthquake, Hurricane Irene or another well-known natural event. As usual, poems have to merit the space they take up; long ones rarely make the print version of the Invite.
Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second prize gets, courtesy of Loser Michael Kilby of Wildau, Germany, a set of five DemocraTea tea bags (Demokratie is German for “democracy”). Each bag is attached to a little cardboard caricature of Obama, Sarkozy, Putin, Berlusconi or, of course, Merkel; you hang the bag on the side of your teacup so that it looks as if the world leader is stewing chest-high in your beverage.
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 smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 12; results published Oct. 2 (Sept. 30 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 935” 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’s results is by Tom Witte; this week’s honorable-mentions name is by Kevin Dopart.
in which we asked for limericks featuring words beginning with ea- to el-. As usual, the 700-plus verses came from all over the English-speaking world, many from people who enter the Invite only for limerick contests. But we don’t see how anyone can dispute that some of the world’s best limericists are our own frequent Losers, as all this week’s top winners happen to be.
Jocasta rolled over in bed,
Out of breath, and contentedly said,
“I have not been that had
Since I slept with your dad”
To the suddenly edified Oed.
(Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
2. Winner of the Paparazzi Shades sunglasses that look like identity-masking tape:
Any Eastern cuisine I’ll endorse,
For they’re tasty and healthy, of course.
Any litchi or lentil
In foods Oriental
Is a great anti-Occident source. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)
3. A mathematician named Fry
Was the shape of a sphere. When asked why,
He replied, “That’s abstruse,
But I roundly educe
My circumference follows from pie.” (Stephen Gold, Glasgow, Scotland)
4. Anatomical study will show
That five letters are all you need know:
The ELBOW is placed
Somewhere over the waist,
While the BOWEL is found down BELOW. (Ann Martin, Bracknell, England)
A bigoted comic named Seamus
Went to Ecuador just to get famous
By reprising old swipes
At race stereotypes
In his one-man show, “Andean Amos.” (Brendan Beary)
Eavesdropping’s really the pits.
Scrounging for snippets and bits
On friends and on foes
Is the lowest of lows,
And those who employ it are substandard people. (Mae Scanlan. Washington)
Sherlock Holmes is a man quite well rounded,
And his brilliance leaves others astounded.
But when asked by his pals
Where he picks up the gals,
“Elementary” will get him impounded. (Harry Wood, Andover, Mass.)
Ecologically sound, the whole lot:
Greens grown on my own little plot!
But you hesitate — why? Oh,
Don’t fear, it’s a bio-
-degradable slug that you’ve got. (Hugh Thirlway, The Hague)
The young woman beseeched the librarian:
“The handsome young man I’ll be marryin’
Says he eats birds of prey.
Got a book that’ll say
How to cook for an egalitarian?” (Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md.)
Not one to forgo a transaction,
P.T. Barnum was guile in action:
To “See the Egress,” folks paid
Before realizing they’d
Seen the exit, and not an attraction. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)
Easy money is funny, you know.
Without effort, your wealth seems to grow,
But you’ll find there’s a catch
To each buck that you snatch.
“Easy come” has its match: “easy go.” (Sheila Blume, Sayville, N.Y.)
She lay flat in the street in despair,
But still living — I called out with care
While I pointed above:
“Ms. Karenina, love,
It’s an el train — the tracks are up there.” (Brendan Beary)
To the Senate comes Brutus one day
In a toga that’s yellowish-gray.
It’s so out there that Caesar,
A notable teaser,
Can’t help but say, “Ecru, Brute?” (Chris Doyle)
Now, an el is the letter we pick
To start lips, lingam, latex or lick,
Plus lubricious, loins, lust . . .
Oops! I think that I just
Took right off on a Freudian shtick! (Barrie Collins, Long Sault, Ontario)
A dozen? But why? What forecloses
One less? Still, what everyone knows is
You’re scarcely a gent
If you only present
Just eleven long-stemmed perfect roses. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y., a First Offender)
To the Eighteenth Amendment -- a toast!
Fifteen years we stayed sober, almost.
We spoke easy: “Joe sent me.”
In any event we
Are tankful you’re long adiosed. (David Goldberg, Pinckney, Mich.)
The earwig: most species are tiny,
And its segmented abdomen’s shiny.
They don’t look debonair --
Nor would you, if a pair
Of tough pincers grew out of your heinie. (Brendan Beary)
“I am please to be teach elocution,
And ve’ll start vith you read Constitution.”
But as Ivan began,
I rethought my whole plan –
Maybe outsourcing ain’t the solution. (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)
Neapolitan divers who foray
Near the reefs soon get asked, “Hey signore,
“Have you seen the big eel?
“It could make you its meal!”
They reply, “Si, we have, that’s a moray.” (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)
“Pen a hymn to the dead? I cannot.
I would sneeze and get hives on the spot,”
Said a poet named Gray
To his doctor one day,
Who prescribed him an elegy shot. (Chris Doyle)
The ego keeps reins on the id
By trying her best to forbid
The wickeder self
To be quite such an elf
(While being pleased with the things that it did). (Doug Harris, Stockton-on-Tees, England)
A Tea Party darling I am,
Who has passed every litmus exam.
What they found most attractive
Was my flatly inactive
Electroencephalogram. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)
An election is something we do
When it’s time to choose leaders anew.
It’s our best chance, no doubt,
To just toss the bums out,
And then vote in a fresh bum or two. (Larry Gray)
When sprinkled with eau de cologne
Enhanced with a strong pheromone,
I just stroll to and fro,
And wherever I go
Becomes an erogenous zone. (Barrie Collins)
Childhood: such great effervescence;
Then, a teen’s bright incandescence,
Followed by years
Of blood, sweat and tears;
And, suddenly, one’s obsolescence. (Mae Scanlan)
My unfortunate buddy Tobias is
Saddled with elephantiasis.
To his further chagrin,
On his scrotum the skin
Itches bad — it’s a site for psoriasis. (Chris Doyle)
His spaceship came down with a jar,
And he spotted a creature afar.
“How disgusting!” he said;
“Seven holes in its head?
Yes, this Earthling is truly bizarre.” (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
As the bed begins rocking and shaking,
And you feel like the whole planet’s quaking,
It’s earth-moving! Tectonic!
But also ironic,
’Cause your lover is actually faking. (Dave Zarrow, Reston, Va.)
What my grandma called dropsy was hell.
In her ankles and feet, it would dwell.
If you’re puffed up so much
That they’re tender to touch,
It is clear that edema’s not swell. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
The echidna’s a damn curiosity
Of the family called Tachyglossidae.
It’s a mammal, lays eggs,
And four heads twixt its legs!!
It’s no animal, it’s a monstrosity! (Brendan Beary)
I’m edacious, just can’t get enough
Of the things that I want – y’know, stuff.
Sure, my greed is a curse,
But my neighbors are worse.
(Keeping up with the jonesing is tough.) (Chris Doyle)
If I cry, in a fury, “Damnation!”
We call that an ejaculation.
(Minds pure and immaculate
Won’t know that “ejaculate”
Can have other signification.) (Hugh Thirlway)
It was early one morning when Tonto
Spurred his pinto to sprint to Toronto.
A sign he’d passed by
Read “Drink Canada Dry,”
And he’d thought, “Worth a try — me go pronto.” (Stephen Gold)
So this girl that I met on vacation
Made me laugh (to my mortification) –
The punch line, you see
Came too early to me.
It’s no joke: premature joculation. (Craig Dykstra)
Johnny’s parents demanded I tell
Why I flunked him; they thought he’d done well.
“When I told you that he
What I meant was he’s lazy as hell.” (Brendan Beary)
Mister Gingrich, the bane of the left,
Has declared for top billing. How deft!
If it happens that Newt
Succeeds in pursuit
Of his goals, will we all end up eft? (Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)
As the upcoming contest reviewer,
I’m rating it high (for the sewer).
Here’s a preview (it’s sleazy):
“Your mama’s so easy
That even a caveman can do her.” (Kevin Dopart)
And once again, more TV theme songs from Week 929: The first two are about the Food Network show “Chopped”; the third is set to a tune that is very rarely parodied, if ever :
When I was young and so much younger than today,
I never thought I’d be the one who’s chopped and sent away.
But now I open up this basket and I find
A beef tongue and some pickled watermelon rind,
Durian (a nasty-smelling fruit),
And a big chunk of cassava root.
Judges, I’ve just gotta win that loot!
Won’t you pleeeeease not chop me? (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)
To “ How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” (start at 0:50)
How do you cook a dinner using frogs’ legs,
Chia seeds, fennel, cotton candy, too?
How do you make dessert with just Cheez Doodles
And celery root, plus three-day-old tofu?
Many a chef has come to take the challenge,
Many a chef has failed and quickly “chopped.”
Sweat flies and there is flame,
They’re trying to win this fame
While praying to Julia Child they won’t be dropped.
Oh, how do you make a dinner out of caca?
Tune in to see whose menus can’t be topped. (Phyllis Reinhard, East Fallowfield, Pa.)
“Monday Night Football”
To “Sunday” from “Sunday in the Park With George” (start at 1:00)
On a long, likely subsidized field
With its striped plastic turf or trimmed grass
We will pass ... three-plus sacred hours.
Why? Because it’s Monday.
Ev’ryone loves the game known as football
(Though the ball rarely touches the feet).
Teams compete ... and we treat it as cosmic,
As a key historic moment,
Like last week.
Watch as men, big men in their team colors
Run around, form a big jumbled mass
On the grass... We’ll detail it all
With our slow-mo cams, and jocks, and sideline babes.
And we’ll show you lots of ads,
You’ll keep buying all that stuff,
Keep our money train a-rolling.
(Sure hope you don’t catch on one day!)
Monday! Monday! (Perry Beider, Silver Spring, Md.)
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 email@example.com (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.
Next week: It’s Mother’s day, or Cheap shots by the dozens