The Washington Post

Week 1004: Dead Letters — write a funny verse about someone who died in 2012; plus our change-a-letter winners

In memory of William House, inventor of the cochlear implant. (Bob Staake for The Washington Post)

The cork let’s pop, the wine decant
For the father of the cochlear implant.
Glasses raised, let’s give a cheer
To William House, we say, “Hear! Hear!”

In the wake of the days of revelry as we finally kicked 2012 goodbye, we pause a moment — as we’ve done for the past nine years — to remember those whose lives were lost, and then of course get busy writing irreverent little verses about them. This week: Write a humorous poem about someone who died in 2012, as in the example above by Washington Post Senior Silly Tweeter Gene Weingarten. It doesn’t have to rhyme, but in the Empress’s experience, rhyming verses tend to be funnier. (They also tend to scan a bit better than the second line of the above.) Short verses are more likely to make the print paper, but the best longer poems (including song parodies) will be published in the online Invite. You can find various lists of “notable deaths of 2012,” etc., online. Compared with some of our other contests, our obit-poem challenge does call for a certain restraint in content and tone: Unless you’re talking about an Osama-level evildoer, don’t give three cheers that the person has met his demise, or predict that his soul is heading netherward.

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a toilet-shaped ceramic coffee cup that, set out on your breakfast table, could help you in your resolution not to overeat. Donated by Andrea Kelly.

Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders receive a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Jan. 14; results published Feb. 3 (online Jan. 31). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 1004” 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 The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Chris Doyle; the alternative headline in the “Next week’s results” line is by Tom Witte. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at

Report from Week 1000

in which we celebrated that milestone with our most renowned contest: to create a new term, or neologism, by changing an existing word by adding a letter, subtracting a letter, substituting a letter, or transposing two letters: And this time the original word (not necessarily the resulting word) needed to start with a letter between T and Z.

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:

Trendinitis: Inflammation of the hip. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

2Winner of the book “Stuck Up!: 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn’t Be”: Milderness: The suburbs. (Tom Witte, the Milderness of Montgomery Village, Md.)

3 Nuderwhelm: To disappoint your date when your clothes come off. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

4 Vuvuzeal: The uncontrollable desire to be annoying to others at a sporting event. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)

Witless tampering: honorable mentions

Whatnever: What your teenagers really mean when they say “whatever.” (Jeff Loren, Manassas, Va.)

Underlingo: Employees’ coded expressions to dis the boss. (John Shea, Philadelphia)

Mombie: A new mother on three hours’ sleep. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.; David Cooper Moore, Philadelphia)

Umbilicall: A daily phone conversation with mom. (Bird Waring)

Whorton: The oldest professional school. (Jeff Hazle, Woodbridge, Va.)

Twilet paper: Any book by Stephenie Meyer. (Mark Raffman)

Straining wheels: A stationary bicycle. (Roger Hammons, Ashburn, Va.)

Will-o’-the-Wasp: Manifest Destiny. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)

Thummyache: A symptom of overtexting. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)

Threaty: A peace offer you can’t refuse. (Jeff Contompasis)

Tomcant: A neutered kitty. (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park, Md.)

Dadpole: A frog. (Dudley Thompson, Cary, N.C.)

Nyeti: The Abominable No-Man. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Panderlust: A craving that tends to come over politicians as they set out on the campaign trail. (Tom Witte)

Text Offensive: ANYTHING IN ALL CAPS. (Danielle Nowlin, Woodbridge, Va.)

Ufoology: The study of alien abductions. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Uggliness: What ensues when a parent totally ruins her daughter’s life by refusing to buy her one teeny tiny pair of $200 boots. (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)

Tiffanny: Derriere jewelry: High end for the low end. (Rick Haynes, Boynton Beach, Fla.)

Top Gut: New Jerseyites’ nickname for their governor. (Mark Raffman)

ZZZ Top: Any played-out ’70s band. (David Genser, Poway, Calif.)

Y’almart: One-stop shopping for grits, guns and Bibles. (Greg Arnold, Herndon, Va.)

Zitgeist: Teen spirit. (Tom Witte)

Theesome: Amish kinkiness. (David Genser; Frank Mullen III, Aledo, Ill.)

REMptation: What you’re led into during a boring sermon. (Lois Douthitt, Arlington, Va.)

Udopia: Washington state, man. (Ned Bent, Erie, Pa.)

Ultraviolent light: A sunny morning in the dorm after the midnight kegger. (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)

Televasion: A political news conference. (Melissa Balmain)

TerpsicKorean: Yo! Gangnam Style! (Mae Scanlan, Washington)

Texedo: String tie and tails. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

Tiramiso: A not-so-popular dessert made with ladyfingers, espresso and soy goo. (Barbara Turner)

Beltschmerz: Sadness as you look down at your spreading midsection. (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)

Waffel: I think it’s spelled that way. Or maybe it’s . . . (Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)

Sorrywart: Someone who constantly feels bound to apologize. (Neal Starkman, Seattle)

Vergin’: Still pure, but only just. (Barrie Collins, Long Sault, Ontario)

Waterbard: To read someone Hallmark Mother’s Day cards for 20 minutes straight. (Mike Gips)

Xanadud: The Haitian timeshare that looked so gorgeous in the catalogue. (Mike Gips)

User-fiendly: Made by Microsoft. (Jeff Contompasis)

Vegilante: A PETA activist. (Dudley Thompson)

Wealtherproofing: The tax shelters that the 1 percent are frantically applying to their portfolios before year’s end. (Harold Mantle, Lafayette, Calif.)

Wussail: Non-alcoholic eggnog. (Brendan Beary; Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md.)

Veinglory: Wearing a micro-mini after varicose surgery. (George Smith, Frederick, Md.)

Ivanilla: A White Russian. (Jeff Loren)

Uterust: Menopause. (Larry Gray)

Vagilante: A politician who wants to restrict women’s health choices. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

Festicle: A Christmas tree ball. (Dudley Thompson)

Wanker engine: It has only one moving part. (Harold Mantle)

Washington Rationals: The least influential Senate caucus. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

Bumpteen: The training-bra demographic. (Edmund Conti)

Welt dream: A masochist’s flight of fancy. (Barrie Collins)

Whizardry: Good aim. (Beverley Sharp)

Wankie-talkie: Phone sex. (Brendan Beary)

Dorkmanship: What it takes to get ink in this contest. (Tom Witte)

Youngk: To aggravatingly add more unneeded letters to a really simple name. (Larry Yungk, Arlington, Va.)

Emptress: A shameless woman who lures people into doing her bidding, then rejects them. (Dudley Thompson; Lois Douthitt)

Still running — deadline Monday night — is our contest to repurpose an ad slogan for a different product. see

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 (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: Make Us ROFL, or Compact Hars, our Week 1001 contest, in which we asked for new acronyms.

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