Style Invitational Week 974: Eat our dust — A limerick contest to honor the contest we outlasted
By Pat Myers,
Mr. Hitchcock kept fans on their toes
By the offbeat locations he chose.
But who would have guessed
That for “North by Northwest”
He would pick poor George Washington’s nose? (Jay Livingston, New York Magazine Competition, 1982)
This week’s contest marks a particularly delicious milestone for us: We’ve just outrun the 973 installments of the renowned New York Magazine Competition, the contest that the Empress’s predecessor, the Czar, ripped off in the sincerest form of flattery when he created the Style Invitational back in 1993. That contest, run by the famed Mary Ann Madden, was retired in 2000, but since then we’ve continued to redo several of its contests — and happily provide a new outlet for some of its best contestants, such as Chris Doyle. It was Chris who remembered the contest we present this week in NYM’s honor; it was initially suggested by rookie phenom Loser Robert Schechter: Write a limerick humorously describing a book, play, movie or TV show. See wapo.st/limrules for our guidelines on writing limericks.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the Style Invitational trophy. Second place wins — and this is the sort of thing that sets our contest apart from the refined Ms. Madden’s — a very special leather coin purse, donated by Dave Letizia and made in Australia. It’s very special because it’s made from a kangaroo pouch — a male kangaroo pouch. It is entirely seamless. It looks something like this one.
Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt, a yearned-for Loser Mug or the new, ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (Fir Stink for their first ink). E-mail entries to email@example.com or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, June 11; results published July 1 (online June 29). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 974” 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/StyleInv. The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Kevin Dopart; the alternative headline for the “Next week” line is by Craig Dykstra. Join the Style Invitational Devotees on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev .
Report from Week 970
in which we asked you to pair a line from a famous poem with a second line of your own. Fabulous entries, many from well-known light-verse poets who are becoming first-time Losers. Many more of these are in the online Invite. Click on the poets’ names below to see the original poems.
The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial
Since there’s no help, come, let us kiss and part;
I read Dave Barry books, and you read Sartre. ( Michael Drayton , 1563- 1631/ Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)
Winner of the Lil William (Shakespeare) “posable figure”: Funny — to be a Century — and see the People going by
And scream at them, “Get off my lawn!” and stare them down with evil eye. (Emily Dickinson/Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)
3. In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree.
“No auto elevator? Gosh! That’s not a house for Ann and me.” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge/Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
4. Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold
And will again, when I get paroled. (John Keats/Mary E. Moore, Gladwyne, Pa., a First Offender)
Poetry in demotion: Honorable mentions
They flee from me, that sometime did me seek.
My Arrid Extra Dry ran out this week. (Thomas Wyatt/Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
As Katy Perry often will.
(Maya Angelou/Andy Bassett, New Plymouth, New Zealand)
It is an ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of three,
And he said, “They called me A-Rod, then found steroids in my pee.” (Coleridge/Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.)
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.
He thinks I’m in al-Qaeda, and reports to Leon P.
(Robert Louis Stevenson/Stephen Gold, Glasgow, Scotland)
No man is an island, entire of itself:
He is, at most, a pimple on the continental shelf.
(John Donne/Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)
Peace, peace! He is not dead, he doth not sleep;
Please leave your name and number at the beep.
(Percy Bysshe Shelley/Brendan Beary)
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
To have an unsuspected silent pee. (T.S. Eliot/Basil Ransome-Davies, Lancaster, England, a First Offender)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . .
Should we count the lies or just the lays? (Elizabeth Barrett Browning/Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)
And all should cry, Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
But I was brave, and then and there, I chopped it off! Now his head’s bare. — M. Romney, Cranbrook School (Coleridge/Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va., a First Offender)
I wandered lonely as a cloud
From which no downloads are allowed. ( William Wordsworth/Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it:
Do pay some heed to the speed at which you spin it. (Rudyard Kipling/ Konrad Schwoerke, Chapel Hill, N.C.)
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done.
“Stay aboard,” Schettino said. “This lifeboat holds just one.” (Walt Whitman/Rob Cohen, Potomac, Md.)
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
They’ll make your biopic with Meryl Streep. (W.B. Yeats/Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)
I think I should have loved you presently,
But your stench preceded effervescently.
(Edna St. Vincent Millay/Kate Fitzgerald, Annapolis, Md., a First Offender)
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
That is why they put the sharp knives out of reach. (T.S. Eliot/Terry Reimer, Frederick, Md., a First Offender)
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
I SAID: “Don’t cut that cake until it’s cold!” ( William Butler Yeats / Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
A shudder in the loins engenders there,
So don’t keep ice cream in your underwear. (Yeats/Kevin Dopart, Washington)
Drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes
And you won’t have to Breathalyze. (Ben Jonson/Gerald Diamond, London, Ontario)
Drinke to me, onely, with thine eyes,
Unlesse thou offeres up thy thighs. (Ben Jonson/Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)
For God’s sake hold your tongue and let me love
The money that I robbed my clients of. (John Donne/Mae Scanlan, Washington)
The paths of glory lead but to the grave,
So what’s the point of trying to behave? (Thomas Gray/Jan D. Hodge, Sioux City, Iowa, a First Offender)
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May;
Her mother’s off to buy a bra today. (Shakespeare/David Smith, Santa Cruz, Calif.)
Slowly, silently now, the moon
Shows full; oh, raise those trousers soon! (Walter de la Mare/ Ann Martin, Bracknell, England)
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
It’s time to build a town up on the moon. — N. Gingrich (Wordsworth/ Robert Schechter)
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
Are out of favor with the GOP. (Emma Lazarus/Chris O’Carroll, Emporia, Kan., a First Offender)
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December:
Bridges burned I to an ember, texting my distinguished member. (Edgar Allan Poe/Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
Go away! I need no caulking, nor whatever else you’re hawking! And if it’s religious squawking, I have heard it all before! (Poe/Nan Reiner)
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To make the world think Paul is dead.” (Lewis Carroll/Chris Doyle)
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree.
Said Donald Trump, “That joint’s a dump! I’ll build one bigger — named for me. “ (Coleridge/Cy Gardner, Arlington, Va.)
There goes the Wapiti --
Get off my proppiti. (Ogden Nash/Travis McKinney, San Antonio, a First Offender)
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
It’s time to take your meds, because you’re talking baby-talk. (James Whitcomb Riley/ Frank Osen)
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“Yo, Ozymandias, Kilroy was here!” (Shelley/Barrie Collins, Long Sault, Ontario)
They also serve who only stand and wait,
But none of them’s been left a tip to date. (John Milton/Bill Greenwell, Darlington, England, a First Offender)
Rarely, rarely comest thou;
Dr. Ruth will see you now. (Shelley/ Chris Doyle)
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree.
My creditors and former wives are catching up with me. (Yeats/ J.D. Smith, Washington, a First Offender)
Water, water every where, and all the boards did shrink.
But Cheney said, “We’re still not done! Go dunk him in the sink!” (Coleridge/Christopher Lamora)
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
Plus, you’ve had lots of work done, truth be told. (Shakespeare/Brendan Beary)
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore:
“Will my best (my anguished query) “lose again to Brendan Beary?” “Yes,” a voice; “His work’s superi-or to yours on every score.” (Edgar Allan Poe/Nan Reiner)
Who will believe my verse, in time to come,
Was used for something so completely dumb? (William Shakespeare/Brian Allgar, Paris, a First Offender)
All hope abandon, ye who enter here:
Unless ye bow to kiss the Empress’ rear. (Dante/Ann Martin)
Still running — deadline Monday night — is the Week 973 “unlucky in love” foal name contest. See wapo.st/inv973a.
Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational (published Fridays), 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 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: Double Booking, or Tome and Tome Again