The Style Invitational Week 920 A turn of phrases

By Pat Myers, Friday, May 20, 10:40 AM


The Empress received an urgent communique recently from official Washington Post fart joke writer Gene Weingarten, noting that “Greeks bearing gifts” means the same, in the original context, as “gifts bearing Greeks.” He went on to say essentially that he had just made the wittiest observation in human history.


At least it inspired us to redo the chiasmus contest we last did in 1999. This week: Write an original chiasmus, a witticism in which the elements of a phrase are inverted for comedic effect. Your line may include both the original and inverted terms, or just one if the other is obvious. You may also use homophones of the original, e.g., “chaste/chased,” and transpose the beginnings of the words spoonerism-style, as in “icked weevildoer,” as Bill Strauss of the Capitol Steps described Osama bin Laden. Your chiasmus can be either a sentence or the answer to a riddle-style question you give.


(Gene was so excited by this contest that he’s been given permission by Post management to enter it, and future Invite contests, under various pseudonyms — with two conditions: that he can’t get a prize if he gets ink, and that, just before press time, after the Empress has chosen the winners, he reveal the pseudonym, and she’ll note that to readers if she had deemed his entry inkworthy in the first place.)


Winner (unless it’s Gene) gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a CD of rock songs done in the style of Gregorian chant, donated by perennial prize donator Cheryl Davis.


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” (Fir Stink for their First Ink). E-mail entries to or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, May 30; results published June 19 (June 17 online). Include “Week 920” 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. Complete rules at styleinvitational. The revised title for next week’s results is by Kevin Dopart, as is this week’s honorable-mentions subhead.


Report from Week 916, our recurring “Mess With Our Heads” contest in which we asked you to reinterpret a headline on a Washington Post story or ad by adding your own “bank head,” or subtitle:


The winner of the Inker:


Real headline: Top architect, once rooted in the sky, comes down to Earth

Bank head: Almighty Creator opens Tysons office ‘to try My hand at condos’ (John Shea, Philadelphia)


2. Winner of the bottle of Maybe You Touched Your Genitals hand sanitizer: In poll, most Egyptians have unfavorable view of U.S.

Experts blame Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea (Trevor Kerr, Chesapeake, Va.)


3. Install and service now! Be cool later!

Britons promise loyalty to Kate if she soon produces heir (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)


4. Holder says he’s not going anywhere

Kicker was wary of the ‘Lucy trick’ (Dave Prevar, Annapolis)


Lower-interest banks: Honorable mentions


Snake cuts power to thousands of Pepco customers

CEO personally throws the switch at ceremony kicking off thunderstorm season (John McCooey, Rehoboth Beach, Del.)


Redskins may look to move down

Going below last place could be difficult (Roy Ashley, Washington) [story was about the order of draft picks]


Few travelers on Mexico’s ‘Highway of Death’

Some believe it may have something to do with its name (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)


Obama sends drones to Libya

Human rights groups decry ‘barbaric’ use of bagpipes on civilians (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)


Harry Reid’s high-stakes China gamble

Senate leader to try the pull-the-tablecloth trick at state dinner (Rob Wolf, Gaithersburg, Md.)


Donate your car

Leaving keys in ignition should do the trick (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)


Ukraine’s Putin?

Major gas leak rumored near Kiev (Elden Carnahan, Laurel, Md.)


Iraq urged to decide whether to request extension for U.S. troops

Pentagon says options are “Yes” and “Yes” (Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)


Eyes and ears of their bosses

No longer content with stealing office supplies, laid-off workers take grisly trophies (Pam Sweeney, Burlington, Mass.)


Food study says meat pathogens are costliest

But consumers still prefer them 2 to 1 over dairy, vegetable pathogens (Phil Frankenfeld, Washington)


‘Thanks for bringing him home’

Nats fan expresses gratitude for rare RBI (Jeff Contompasis)


Va. man allegedly leads police on high-speed chase

State trooper claims he was ahead the whole way (Kevin Dopart, Washington)


Orange was kept waiting on a phone call

Was at least glad they didn’t say “banana” again (Susan Geariety, Menifee, Calif.)


Perfect antidote to April’s showers?

Just turn away when they open their raincoats and start showing, says police chief (John Shea)


Replace a window shutter

If your spouse keeps denying you your fresh air, get a new one (Beverley Sharp)


Some assembly required

Tea party grudgingly acknowledges necessity of legislative branch (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)


A soundtrack for Metro

‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ is opening cut (Jeff Contompasis)


Packers can’t visit Obama yet

GOP cancels moving-van order (Elden Carnahan)


Russians slowly turning to whiskey

Unforeseen consequence of eating barley and sleeping in oak casks (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase)


Easter Egg Roll at the White House

New dish at state dinner served with bunny casserole (Matt Monitto, Bristol, Conn.)



Holder says he’s not going anywhere


‘I’ll be assisted as soon as a customer service representative becomes available,’ man on phone states confidently (Art Grinath, Takoma Park, Md.)


You are here . . . and here . . . and here

Graphic new Wii game is based on “Saw” movies (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park)


No Ticket-Fixing Now, Bloomberg Says

(a) N.Y. officials institute 30-day waiting period (Roger Hammons, North Potomac, Md.)

(b) Mayor urges McCain to forgive himself for VP choice and move on (Gary Crockett)


‘When I close my eyes, I see my children’

Angelina Jolie has her 6 kids’ faces tattooed onto inner eyelids (David Garratt, Glenn Dale, Md.)


As the Capitals advance, a little housekeeping is in order

Team ordered to clean up trail of teeth, bloody bandages (Dave Prevar)


Williams sisters draw large crowd

Poor match attendance leads Venus and Serena to sketch lots of little faces on backdrop (Roger Dalrymple, Gettysburg, Pa.)


Keeping the faith in York

(a) Candymaker introduces mint-flavored Communion wafers (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

(b) 42 years later, die-hard fans still upset about ‘Bewitched’ Darrin switch (Pam Sweeney)


Postal Service workers accept buyout offers

Early-retirement packages had been mailed in 1987 (Russell Beland, Fairfax, Va.)


Caught in the crackdown

Senator admits low-rider jeans were mistake (Roger Dalrymple)


30 new cell sites. And we’re not stopping there. [Verizon ad]

White House releases red-state Gitmo transfer plan (Kevin Dopart)


Down in the mouth

Sleep researchers describe ‘pillow-chewing syndrome’ (Gary Crockett)

Why I am suing Washington City Paper


Redskins owner guesses: ‘Because I am a pathetic jerk?’ (Stephen Litterst, Newark, Del.)


Royal wedding watch

Conditions are capable of producing a wedding in and around the watch area (William Stutzman, Millersburg, Ohio)


Ducks 6, Predators 3


National Geographic resident fowl startle tourists by fighting back (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)


The battles we don’t plan for


Newlyweds shocked as pile of dirty dishes grows (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)


Improving a quarter at a time


Metro installs tip jars to finance escalator renovations (Valerie Matthews, Ashton, Md.)


Next week: Wryku, or Ode News