Entrance exam for a security guard: Q. An alarm starts blaring loudly while you are at your station. What do you do?
A: Hit the snooze button. You should have a few more minutes until the next shift comes in.
This week’s contest, suggested by Mike Gips: Write a question that “ought to” be on a qualifying test for a particular job. You may supply a straight question with a humorous answer, as in Mike’s example above, or you could put the whole joke in the question itself, such as with a funny series of multiple-choice answers. Whatever’s funniest.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives an extraordinarily tacky little sculpture, entirely made of seashells, of a cat (?) driving a motorcycle. Donor Nan Reiner has made it even more, um, compelling by painting “Loser” on the “license plate” and the red A of what used to be the Style Invitational print logo, embellished with flames. This is the best tacky shell sculpture we have offered as a prize since the famed “Shells Playing Poker” of 2009.
Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt, a yearned-for Loser Mug or the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Aug. 6; results published Aug. 26 (online Aug. 24). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 981” 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/inviterules. The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Kevin Dopart; the alternate headline in the “Next Week” line is by Matt Monitto. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev.
in which we asked for news-themed “framed couplets,” tiny verses with lots of rules: Each of the two or four lines had to have exactly nine syllables in the iambic (ba-DAH) meter, except that they had to start and finish with accented syllables — like all the ones in today’s results. And not only did each pair of lines have to rhyme, but the first syllables of each pair had to rhyme, too. And of course, the verses had to be humorous, even if darkly so.
GOP’ers wail about Barack:
“He puts forth a socialistic crock!”
Say the Dems, “Well, Mitt and Ann are snobs.”
Hey — do you guys have a plan for jobs?
(Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)
2. Winner of the children’s book “Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder: Bubble in the Bathtub”:
Candidate Obama can relax.
“’Mandate,’ ” Roberts said, “just means a tax.”
“Why!” cried Romney, “What you say’s not so!
I invented it, so I should know.” (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
3. Morsi, Egypt’s president, should fear:
Fortune kicked Mubarak in Tahrir. (Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)
4. Lonesome George dies
Bigger tortoise seldom will you see;
Rigor mortis claimed a victory.
Ran his race; his future holds no risk:
An Eternal Banquet, not a bisque. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
Monster named Sandusky in the news;
Yon Ohio city has the blues.
Many say to change the name they’ve got;
Anyone for “Stalin” or “Pol Pot”? (Nan Reiner)
CNN! When news breaks, we are first . . .
Even if we get our facts reversed.
Every day we ferret out the scoops . . .
Never mind if later we say “Oops!” (Robert Schechter)
“Wine, in fair amounts, may help your heart.”
Fine! I’ve had a 60-year head start. (Mae Scanlan, Washington, 1931 — )
Nik Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls;
Tricky trek — the gentleman had guts. (Mae Scanlan)
“Magic Mike” my good wife recommends;
Bah! I don’t see why — just guys’ rear ends.
(David Moore, Philadelphia, who last got Invite ink in 2003)
Crash! Derecho fells another tree,
Smashes my new car with its debris,
Cuts my power off; ah, that’s my luck.
Nuts! Derecho’s Spanish for “You suck!” (Tom Cary, Hollywood, Md., who last inked in 2005 — what’s with the vacations here?)
Yay, JetBlue, where prices are insane!
(Maybe, too, the guy who flies your plane.) (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)
Mendelson to lead D.C. Council:
D.C. Council chairs have played the clown:
We could laugh at Downtown Kwame Brown.
What a snooze we may have now with Phil,
But at least his hand’s not in the till. (Nan Reiner)
Seventeen magazine to show teen girls “as they really are”:
Verbal outbursts, zits and cramps and all?
Circulation’s headed for a fall. (Beverley Sharp)
Judge declares Zimmerman a flight risk:
“Stand your ground” we heard would be his plea.
Planned instead were really ways to flee. (Mary E. Moore, Gladwyne, Pa.)
After 115 years together, mated Galapagos tortoises have a fight
She attacked! What caused this dreadful rage?
He remarked, “You know, you look your age.” (Beverley Sharp)
Texas GOP opposes “critical thinking” education:
Texas says that thinkin’ isn’t right:
Wrecks the need to sit ’n’ be polite. (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)
Mighty temps that melt us into blobs,
Fighting over taxes, gays and jobs,
Scummy ads that bolster the elite —
Summer’s had all kinds of record heat. (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)
Suri’s girlhood undergoing pause,
Jury’s out on which celeb’s the cause;
Visit Web sites, take the latest poll:
Is it broken Holmes or Cruise control? (Neal Starkman, Seattle)
Tom’s a Scientologist. We cringe.
Mom’s now keeping Suri from the fringe. (Kathy Hardis Fraeman, Olney, Md.)
Theme parks will compete for business in China:
Pick the winner — bet your bottom yuan:
Mickey Mouse at war with Genghis Khan! (Beverley Sharp)
So you want to vote? Then you must bring
Photos of your face, plus anything
We decide will show that you may be
Free to vote in our democracy. (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rose, Calif.)
San Diego’s fireworks show was odd.
Grand at first, it quickly blew its wad. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
Rep. Joe Walsh Brags, Too
“Duckworth brags that she’s a hero-vet.
Shucks, she caught Iraqi flak, and yet
Here at home, I deftly held the fort:
Fearlessly, I dodged my child support. (Frank Osen)
“Doomsday” computer virus predictions:
They were wrong; they missed the boat — and how!
Say! I’ll send my entries in right
Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, in which 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 far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.
Next week’s results: A Ploy to Annoy, or We Love Big Bother, our contest for creative ways to tick people off.