The Style Invitational Week 880 Our most famous neologism contest, and the winning oil spill song parodies

By The Empress

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Sitcoma: Typical weeknight TV fare.


Though the Empress announces close to a dozen neologism contests every year, it's this contest -- which we first did in 1998 -- that's still Fw:'d around the Web more than any other Invite (more often than not with the totally inaccurate title of "Mensa Invitational"): This week: Start with a real word or multi-word term or name that begins with Q, R or S; add one letter, subtract one letter, replace one letter with another, or transpose two adjacent letters; and define the new word, as in the example above from Week 512 in 2003 by John O'Byrne of Dublin, who has been entering the Invite virtually every week since 2000. Note that it's the original word, not the result, that must start with one of those letters. Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives an Inflatable Tongue, a rubber thing that looks like a tongue if you hang it out of your mouth, at least until you blow into it, at which point it looks like tongue bubble gum, but isn't. Donated by the genuinely tongued Dave Prevar. And we'll also throw in a bottle of Lady Anti Monkey Butt powder, also from Dave.


Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable Mentions get one of the lusted-after Style Invitational Loser Magnets. First Offenders get a smelly, tree-shaped air "freshener" (Fir Stink for their First Ink). One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries by e-mail to or by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Aug. 9. Put "Week 880" 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 to be published Aug. 28. 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 was sent by Kevin Dopart; this week's honorable-mentions subhead is by Craig Dykstra.


Report from Week 876, in which we sought song parodies with lyrics about the oil spill: Despite the grim subject matter -- or perhaps because it inspired them to action (by the submission deadline, the spill had not been capped) -- the Loser community submitted more than 300 songs, a lot of them with many verses. And not surprisingly, the humor this week isn't as hee-hee as some Invite results are; think of it as editorial-cartoon funny rather than comic-strip-gag funny. The songs used as sources spanned a huge variety of popular genres; the 11 songs Chris Doyle submitted ranged from Fred Astaire to country crooner Marty Robbins to "Tik Tok" by rap star Kesha.


In the print version of this column, we run some of the winning songs as excerpts from the full versions posted here. Note that each parody here is preceded by a link you can click on to hear the original song.


The winners of the Inkers:


Online, we present two Inker winners: The second was omitted from the print edition not because it wasn't fabulous -- it is -- but because it wouldn't work at a shorter length, and because not so many people remember Pat Boone songs from 1962.


A. To "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend"(start clip at 0:24)

A rig in the gulf may be quite detrimental,

But oil is a car's best friend;

And now, in July, we have come to repent all

Of the harm that's done

Procuring crude for everyone.

We are spoiled by being "oiled,"

And accept lousy means to an end,

For Mondays through Sundays we must have our Hyundais,

Oil is a car's best friend. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)


B. To "Love Letters In the Sand"

At this time every day,

Since tourists are away,

We write large letters in the sand.

How it helps sustain our mood

To take these clumps of crude

And write large letters in the sand.

Vacant hotels

From Port St. Joe to Mobile

Mean staff have time,

And slime,

To spell how they feel.

So from each boardwalk you'll see

A bold "F. U. BP"

Writ in large letters in the sand. (B.P. Beary, Great Mills, Md.)


2, winner of the roll of vertebrae-motif packing tape, This Is Spinal Tape:


To "One" from "A Chorus Line":

Tons! Spilling every hour,

About 8,000 tons a day.

Tons! Inverted oil shower,

Who liked fish anyway?

One "boom" and suddenly oceans are full of goo.

But hey, they might stop the leak in a year or two!

Tons! Chasing off the tourists,

Covering the shores with guck.

Louisiana's out of luck again! Ohhhh . . .

BP! What were you guys doing?

Oh, gee! The leak just keeps on spewing

Tons and tons! (Laurie Brink, Cleveland, Mo.)


3, To "Blue Bayou" (Sung by oil executives to federal inspectors)

Cash and crayfish, it's our treat,

Football games, a real great seat.

You will learn your life is so sweet

When we buy you.

Take your girlfriend for a meal.

Take this brand-new fishing reel.

Just take care that you never reveal

What we buy you.

(Chorus) We'll get it back someday,

You'll repay what we buy you.

You'll just look away,

Come what may when we buy you.

When the fishing boats no longer float

Because of you and me,

With the gunk and goop on your neighbor's sloop,

How sad you will be. (Barbara Sarshik, McLean)


Other Runners-Up


The first of these ran in the paper because it was not only clever but short, and set to a tune everyone knows.


Each of the following deserves a Loser Mug or Loser T-shirt as well.


A. To "Do-Re-Mi"

(Sung by a BP executive)

Dough, the only green we see,

Ray of hope fades on the spill.

"Me," our mantra at BP,

Fa and near we're gonna drill.

So what if that slick's not gone?

LA, the folks there watch it grow.

Tee it up and just move on!

Time for us to make more dough. (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)


B. To "The Wayward Wind"

The Hayward spin is a feckless spin,

A reckless spin that makes us wonder,

Is Tony hexed and wearing thin

On a public vexed by his feckless spin?

Racing fancy yachts owned by Brits and Scots

Speaks to a deep malaise,

And the TV crews and the nightly news

Feature displays of his wayward ways.

The Hayward spin is a feckless spin

A reckless spin that makes us ponder,

Will Tony show enough chagrin

And eat some crow for his feckless spin? (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)


C. To "Beyond the Sea"

Somewhere, beneath the sea

It's there, bubbling free.

That viscous glop they just can't stop

Heads straight to the shore

while we're flailin'.

Out there, you'll hear BP

Declare, "Why can't you see?

Drilling out here is fraught with fear,

So would you now please

Stop that wailin' ."

And though the spill still grows,

It's moved off the front page.

Once more, short interest span

Wins out over righteous rage.

Someday, we'll clean that shore

To look just like before.

Happy we'll be -- so will BP,

But not so the sea: Its health's ailin'. (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)


D. To "I've Got You Under My Skin"

I've got goo under my skin,

I've got goo in the feathers and heart of me.

No effort you chart will impart a restart of me:

I've got goo under my skin.

I've got goo, my chances are thin.

I said to myself: What on earth have the dumb humans done?

And why can't they power their world

By harnessing wind and sun?

I've got goo under my skin.

They sacrificed all of our coastal lode

For the sake of driving their cars

In spite of the obvious peril

Of spills by the barrel,

And the dark, irreversible scars.

Don't you know, stupid fools,

There are much better ways.

Oil's swan song, it is sung --

It is now Gusherdammerung.

So let's all go green -- it is just so obscene

That a whole new age didn't begin.

Now we've got goo under our skin.

(Phil Frankenfeld, Washington)


Oozing to the top: Honorable mentions


To the "Addams Family" theme:

It's seeping and it's soupy,

It's greasy and it's goopy,

The ocean smells like poopy: the oil from BP.

From down where you can't see it,

The oil pipe has splee-it,

And now we're in deep [poopy],

The oil from BP.

Slick. . . . Thick.

. . . . . . . . . I'm sick.

So when you're on vacation,

No need to hit the station

For engine lubrication --

Free oil from BP! (Craig Dykstra, Centreville)


To "Baby Driver"

"So sorry that we caused a disruption."

"We care about small folks like you."

"The gulf is big, next to our drilling rig."

"We want to get our lives back, too,

Yes, we do."

We call this BP Drivel, prime fodder for the late-night crew,

Hit your yacht, and you're gone, no more onus,

Your conscience doesn't bother you.

And we forgot -- what's your bonus?

Oh, what's a CEO to do? (Kathy Hardis Fraeman, Olney)


Hymn of the BP Cleanup Corps, to the Marines' Hymn

When you need more than a Roomba

On the shores now slippery,

We combat the public outcry,

Cleaning birds on land and sea.

We will fight with booms and skimmers,

We'll head oil off at the pass.

Then perhaps Barack will spare us

When he starts to "kick some ass." (Dion Black, Washington)


To "Wouldn't It Be Loverly"

(Sung by Gov. Bobby Jindal)

All I want is a thousand more

Engineers on the berms offshore

Obama's Army Corps,

Now shouldn't they be shoveling?

Lots of dredgers to get them built,

Lots of soil soaking oil that's spilt.

More sand, more land, more silt,

Now shouldn't they be shoveling?

So far government's sitting

abso-bloomin'-lutely still,

They might never budge till oil

Seeps into each stream and rill.

Feds have said nesting birds are key,

Fish and Wildlife won't hear my plea.

Obama's stiffing me.

I shouldn't be here groveling!

(Chris Doyle)


To Mame"

BP, we've got a present for you: blame!

Your explanations really are too . . . lame!

You had that platform humming

And sucking up the crude to beat the band,

But now that oil is coming

And coating all the shores of Dixieland.

The MMS could not have been more ... tame!

And now PR will never clear your ... name!

You came, you drilled, you blew up,

And absolutely nothing is the same.

BP was once sensational,

But now it's recreational:

You're a Style Invitational game! (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase)


To "The Whiffenpoof Song"

From the tables down at Brennan's to the bar at Galatoire's,

To the dear New Orleans dives we love so well;

BP's top execs dissemble with our glasses raised on high,

And the bull that we are slinging casts a smell.

Yes, the bull that we are slinging re: the spill out in the Gulf

Sets a record low for chutzpah and deceit;

We will celebrate our profits, while oil (and greed!) shall last,

Then (you bet!) we're gonna beat a quick retreat.

We're poor little Brits who have lost our crude (blah, blah, blah...)

And now, even worse, we're about to be sued (blah, blah, blah.).

Think of our barrels of liquid gold,

Wasted on wetlands (and birds, I'm told);

We'll blame YOU should our company fold -- ha, ha, ha.

(Beverley Sharp, Washington)


To "Summertime"

Drilling time, and forget the Big Easy.

Fish are jumping, swimming far from the spill.

Oh, Big Papa's rich and the shrimp are all greasy,

So hush, little baby -- drill, baby, drill. (Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)


To "Be Our Guest"

See our mess! See our mess!

How to clean it? Take a guess.

Tie this mask over your nose and mouth

(The fumes tend to oppress).

The top kill, sealing cap,

Those ideas were just pure crap.

See this black stuff, it's pernicious --

Don't believe me? Ask the fishes. . . . (Dion Black, Washington)


To "The Coffee Song":

Where shark and shrimp should frolic

Newsmen now are hyperbolic

'Cause the cleanup's a Katrina-slow-standstill.

The gulf's awash with BP's gushing oil spill.

Way down in Lou'siana

Tar balls threaten daily manna.

And Barack had better stock up on fish oil

'Cause, bless his heart, the Gulf's all oil -- and he's the foil.

No fish and no tourist rooms,

The birds all have oily plumes,

Making PETA when they meet all shout out, "Oh, no, no!"

With millions pledged the pols who

Gripe in D.C.'s hallowed halls, spew

Party sideswipes -- or kowtow to big BP --

We need a planet-loving honest referee! (Phyllis Reinhard, East Fallowfield, Pa.)


To "Old Cape Cod":

If you're fond of tar balls and stinky air,

Boom made of pantyhose filled with hair,

You're sure to fall in love with our Gulf Coast.

If you like the sheen of an oily slick,

If washing pelicans is just your shtick.

You're sure to fall in love with our Gulf Coast.

Chefs who love to make your fav'rite dish

Serve you hydrocarbon-blackened fish

While celebrities like Kevin C.

Try to fix the mess made by BP.

If you wear a wetsuit, then you can dunk

In balmy waters that are full of gunk,

And then you'll fall in love with our Gulf Coast. (Jane Pacelli, Annandale)


To "Pure Imagination"

Come with me to the sea,

Note the gulf's recarbonification

And BP won't provide any decent explanation.

Listen in, it's a sin,

Hear them spin their gross miscalculation

While they dodge any guilt implication.

Can't control the spew, paralyzed --

Don't know why we let them do it

Palin wants to misconstrue it:

Urged to drill ahead, but these guys blew it.

There is no way to know

How this ends with this administration.

My advice: Waive the fee

And just take over BP. (Eric Murphy, Washington)


To "The Battle of New Orleans"

Well, back in April, we had a little blip --

We had a tiny fire and our rig began to drip.

We fired the preventer, but it didn't work for beans

And we spilled a little oil near the town of New Orleans.

We fired our junk, but the oil kept a'comin' --

The oil flow was faster than we'd said a while ago.

We lowered our dome, but it didn't help the plumbin',

And now the mess is rippin' through the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama said he was taken by surprise --

He'd thought that we were competent by lookin' in our eyes.

He'd taken all our money in the presidential race,

And when we said the well was lost, you shoulda seen his face!

Well, it ran through the bayous and it ran through wetlands.

It went through the fauna like the Reaper's evil hoe.

It flowed so fast that the booms couldn't catch it,

And now the mess is ruining the Gulf of Mexico.

(Bob Dalton, Arlington)


Excerpts from three "Beverly Hillbillies" parodies

Let me tell you a story about a man named Tony,

A rich CEO whose apologies seem phony,

But in one short day his portfolio was screwed

When up through the Gulf come a river of crude ... (Gary Crockett)


Well the first thing you know, BP has gotta spin.

"That leak ain't nothin,' " said a dapper Englishmin.

Said all the beaches should evict all the media

As they killed every fish in the encyclopedia. (Cy Gardner, Arlington)


Well, the first thing you know, Tony's still a millionaire,

And the GOP said, "Eh, we don't really care!"

They said, " 'Snot for us to make you pay for what you wrought,"

So he loaded up his things and he sailed off on his yacht.

(Bad PR, that is! A wayward Hayward! Oh, well...) (Laurie Brink)

[In Missouri they rhyme "wrought" and "yacht."]


To "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"

When oil spilled at Prudhoe Bay in 1989,

Our scientists at Exxon forged a tanker redesign.

This structural refinement's unlike any ever seen,

A brand-new green technology to keep the oceans clean.

Supertanker metallurgy: let's be braggadocious!

There's a tiger in the tank that's gentle, not ferocious,

If we shout it loud enough, it won't be thought atrocious.

Supertanker metallurgy: let's be braggadocious!

When PR men use softer sells and try to play it nice,

The business always suffers and will pay a stiffer price.

Let's tout our safety record in our ads and on TV

So Exxon gets due credit while the public blames BP! (Chorus) (Chris Doyle)


To the "Rawhide" theme:

Keep drillin', drillin', drillin',

Watch those coffers fillin',

Set concerns with spillin' aside!

Don't need no supervision

Of our mile-deep incision.

Our stock just keeps on risin' like the tide!

BP's calculator

Says profits will be greater

If we just let the safety rules slide. (Gary Crockett)


To "Fugue for Tinhorns" from "Guys and Dolls"

"We've got the boats right here

To clean this oily smear;

(It seems our rig malfunctioned a bit, I fear.)

Can do! Can do!" BP says their boats can do.

Though they say their boats can do, ain't true; ain't true.

(Beverley Sharp)


To "Food, Glorious Food" from "Oliver!"

Crude, oily crude -- we're eager to tap it.

Crude, oily crude -- dadblast it, let's cap it!

Black gold coats the pelicans with shiny patina.

Makes Nawlins more smelly than Old Katrina!

Crude, oily crude-- it may be immodest,

But cash spent on BP won't fund a jihadist.

So just keep on pumping gas,

While gulf states get screwed

By crude, barrels of crude, pouring-out crude, valuable crude, oily crude!

(Mike Turniansky, Pikesville, Md.)


To "Fun Fun Fun"

Well, they cut a few corners and they wound up with a big oil spill now,

So the feds called them out and they told them that they won't let them drill now,

And a summer vacation on the Gulf just isn't a thrill now

'Cause there's no fun, fun, fun till BP takes the oil away. (Todd Carton, Wheaton)


To "Come Together"

Here come ol' black-top

It come oozin' up slowly

Bringing juju-eyeballed fish with oily coatin'.

It put gunk down below the seas,

Gonna bring some slickness to the Florida keys.

Gummed together right now, by BP. (Pie Snelson, Silver Spring)


To "That's Life"

(Sung by BP's Tony Hayward)

My life, just gotta get it back.

That leak is being handled,

So cut me some bloody slack.

I said I'm sorry, but I'll change that song:

Once I get in the courts, where I can do no wrong.

I want my life, get that president off my back.

And those grotty little congressmen

with their Yankee yakety-yak.

But I shan't let it, let it get me down.

As long as those SUV wheels keep spinning around.

I've been a yachtsman, a statesman, a witness and witless,

Eaten prawns with the queen.

I've gotten over and up and uppityest

And recall one thing:

Each time I fall right down, flat on my bum,

I land on a pile of money and there's more where that came from.

My life, I just can't deny it.

If I ever want for anything, I quite easily could buy it.

Now you small people have had enough of my precious time.

I'm going to sail off on my posh yacht, leaving you a big trail . . .

Of slime. (Cy Gardner, Arlington)


To "More"

More than the cartel pumps from desert sands,

More than folks ship to us from foreign lands,

More than those offshore rigs can send our way,

Our thirst for oil increases every day.

We need the crude to flow

So more cars can gas and go.

Praise BP, our tanks they're filling,

No one minds a little spilling.

All those kelp-huggers make us want to puke!

Surely that Exxon thing was just a fluke.

Those liberals have a lot of nerve

Saying that we should conserve!

What we really need is more. (Barry Koch)


To "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"

(Sung by Tony Hayward)

I've grown accustomed to disgrace

Since I've been working for BP;

When every day I go to work,

You tell me I'm a jerk,

And names (I'll hint) The Post can't print

Are second nature to me now,

Like ugly slicks upon the sea;

We were completely into shortcuts when we caused this royal mess;

Still, it wasn't worth the time we tried to save (I guess . . .)

Oops! Gotta run now, I confide;

They've come to tar my hide;

It's time to flee this place. (Beverley Sharp)


To the "Mexican Hat Dance"

In the Mexican gulf we're not sleepin',

'Cause we can't stop the oil from seepin'.

Thanks to us, all the turtles are steepin'

In a slick that's as black as a hat.

On the phone it's the president howlin'.

We've been threatened with mass disembowelin'!

He's been tryin' to call Simon Cowell in,

'Cause his ratings have fallen so flat.

What are we gonna do?

We haven't a foggy clue.

The sea is full of goo.

Like us, it's all black and blue. (Stephen Gold, Glasgow, Scotland)


Next week: Quipped from the headlines, or True-rhyme reporting