The Style Invitational Week 939 Doubled-up features

By Pat Myers, Published: September 29


Please Don’t Eat Miss Daisy: Hannibal Lecter lands a job driving for a prim Southern spinster. (Peter Metrinko and Laura Miller)


Pollyanna Karenina: “Oh, my — isn’t that the most beautiful train?” (Brendan Beary)


From the people who brought you the contest to combine two movie titles and describe the result: This week: Combine two movie titles and describe the result, as in the examples above from the Losing entries of Week 610 in 2005. You can see previous winners here, so you don’t make the loser move of sending in the same entries. As in the first example, the titles don’t need to have the exact word in common; what’s important is that it’s clear which two films are combined. (Unless it’s been fixed by the time you read this, Bob Staake’s cartoon appears as a li’l ol’ thing on this page; here’s a bigger view.)


Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives, appropriately, the sequel to a previous prize: “More Chinglish,” more comically mis-translated or overly literal English-language signs found in China. (On a train: “Please count on the spot the money thing.” Warning sign: “If you are stolen, call the police at once.”) Donated by Kevin Dopart.


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” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Oct. 10; results published Oct. 30 (Oct. 28 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week, a limit that would have perhaps kept the Empress from having to read more than 4,000 entries to this contest the first time around. Include “Week 939” 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. See contest rules and guidelines at The revised title for next week’s results is by Chris Doyle; this week’s honorable-mentions subhead is by Barbara Turner.


Report from Week 935, in which we asked, in the aftermath of the Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene, for poems about some natural event. As befitting a contest about disasters, most among the flood of entries were at least semi-catastrophic. But there were lots of worthies as well, including some lengthy efforts that appear only online.


The winner of the Inker


Irene, a swirling hurricane, was headed up the East,

So residents prepared to weather out the wind and rain.

The grocery stores were emptied as all peace and calmness ceased,

For mobs were looting businesses from Florida to Maine.

In Washington, however, politicians in their seats

Just steamed and stewed, till one spoke up: “Though I don’t wish to fuss,

These people, for a hurricane, will swarm and flock the streets,

So why don’t our constituents react that way for us?” (Matt Monitto, Elon, N.C.)


2. Winner of the DemocraTea tea bags with cartoons of world leaders:

The Mid-Atlantic drowns in rain, while Texas broils infernal.

You’d think that Mother Nature would be slightly more maternal. (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)


3.Let’s pray for a rainstorm,

Urged Governor Perry.

Was that a great brainstorm?

God snickers. Not very. (Edmund Conti, Raleigh, N.C.)


4. Humpty Dumpty sat on a ridge

Just this side of Memorial Bridge.

The earthquake struck, like a little bomblet,

And Humpty Dumpty became an omelet. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)


Writers on the storm: Honorable mentions


Augustily lustily,

Vesuvius shot off

In 79

In a plot to disrupt us.


The dust baked the populace,


Capturing some folks

In coitus eruptus.

(Bruce Alter, Fairfax Station, Va.)


San Francisco, 1989

World Series earthquake

Leaves fans running for cover.

One strike and they’re out. (Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)


’Bout threescore million years ago

(Well, give or take a few),

The dinosaurs that roamed the Earth

Became extinct (it’s true).

The dust cloud from a meteor

Had ravaging effects:

A dearth of food (and sadly, too:

Tyrannosaurus sex). (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)


A warning from God or from Allah, or was it

A strange Mayan calendar moment of fate?

Sorry, for me, the seismology does it:

It’s just a tectonic adjustment, mid-plate. (Courtney Knauth, Washington)


I hope that there will never be

A stronger earthquake in D.C.

D.C. with services hard-prest

To pass a snow removal test;

D.C. where Pepco users pray

For power to stay up today;

D.C. that may in summer wear

West Nile mosquitoes in her hair.

If you must shake up fools like me,

Please, God, no more than 5.3.

(Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)


Tropical Storm Lee

After “Gunga Din”

Why is it the hurricane

Doesn’t hurry in the main?

It mocks its own potentiality;

Gail was just a gale,

And Hope moped on to fail,

Till this year and the storm they named for me.

Oh it was Lee, Lee, Lee!

You soggy, squalling, sacrilegious Lee!

You did me proud, you did,

You rained in buckets, kid,

We’re all the wetter — thanks, Disastrous Lee!

(Lee Ballard, Mars Hill, N.C., a First Offender)


That Sinking Feeling

That storm Irene dealt me a blow:

My bank account’s much tauter.

Alas, my mortgage and my car

Are now both underwater.

(Mel Loftus, Alexandria, Va.)



I never thought I’d hear it;

I feared ’twas not my fate.

But one hot day in August,

“The earth moved!” cried my date. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)


When all the levees busted up and flooded New Orleans,

They say it was an “act of God.” I wonder what that means?

Was God a mere performer who was cracking some sick joke?

Was God just putting on a show the day the levees broke?

I’ve thought a lot about it yet I still can’t figure out,

When God “acts,” why do all His roles involve a flood or drought?

The only moral that my brain is currently extracting:

God should find a new career at once and give up acting. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)


Virginia’s for lovers

Who need a cold shower.

And here my verse ends

’Cause we just lost our (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)


Global warming’s an obvious hoax —

Bad science and make-believe drama.

But, folks, if it’s true, holy smokes!

It’s God telling us, “Vote out Obama!”

— M. Bachmann, Stillwater, Minn. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)


Disasters by the Score

The quake: 5 point 8.

Irene: Category 1.

Pepco power: None. (Jason Dorpinghaus, Alexandria, Va., a First Offender)


Say “Tohoku,” her hands become clammy.

Tammy terribly fears a tsunami.

She predicts: “We’ll all drown!

Waves will pound my hometown!”

(Though she‘s living in north Alabamy.) (Sheila Blume, Sayville, N.Y.)


Religious folks from all around

Our state, the Old Dominion:

Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews

Lutherans and Quakers,

When the earthquake threw them to the ground,

Were all of one opinion:

It was a shock to learn the news:

Virginia is for Shakers. (Dave Zarrow, Reston, Va.; note the unusual ABCD-ABCD rhyme scheme)


Rollin’ Into Rockaway


Shall I compare thee to a giant fart,

Irene? For such indeed thou art.

How foul thy blast, which struck full force our shore,

And now my home, Chez Goldblatt, is no more.

Alack! I heeded not great Bloomberg’s warning.

Instead, I sat outside, beneath the awning

Used once for shade, while napping on the deck.

“A little wind,” I thought. “Hey, what the heck!”

’Tis neither that my garments all are rent,

Nor that my sole abode is but a tent

That taxeth my reserves beyond endurance.

I clean forgot to pay the damned insurance. (Stephen Gold, Glasgow, Scotland)



Is no moa. (Mae Scanlan)


A Double Shot of Moonshine

“Blue Moon,” it’s true, has naught to do

With feelings sad, nor lunar hue.

No way the phrase portrays the craze

Of baring boyhood cheek or two.

It’s when at last it comes to pass,

Two full moons in one month amass.

And late next year, – Wait! Did I hear

You ask, “Who gives a rodent’s ass?” (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)


High life for Romans! Pompeii was for living!

None heeded omens of blast unforgiving,

Years after quaking, Vesuvius building,

Growing and waking to smother the gilding.

Heat would benumb this, the masses were punished;

Pummeled with pumice, Pompeiians were none-ished. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)


Huffity, puffity,

Irene and Isabel,

Blustery sisters who

Made quite a show.

Raced up the Chesapeake,

Bearing the lesson that,


Hurricanes blow. (Nan Reiner)


Anti-Invitational (an undisastrous disaster) :

A catastrophe caused by a tilt

And compounded by feelings of guilt

Came at breakfast today

With the tears of dismay

That were shed for the milk I had spilt. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)


And from a college English instructor, a 39-line verse form perhaps better suited to a mathematician — a mathematician with a lot of time on his hands:

“Irena Sestina”


I drove slowly to the rear

of the CVS, cursing the dark

screen of the busted Redbox. Shaking

it hadn’t helped. My DVD, “Cold

Mountain,” was now late and wet.

I was going to rent “The Bridges


of Madison County, or maybe a Jeff Bridges

flick. What a pain in the rear.

Irene whipped her long, wet

lashes of rain across my dark

minivan. I was soaked and cold,

watching roadside banners shaking


and traffic lights swaying. Shaking

off my urge to burn late-fee bridges

and go straight home for a cold

one, I drove across town, watching the rear

view mirror as the sky turned dark.

“Hold Back the River” by Wet Wet Wet


poured 1989 through the speakers: a wet

year indeed. Hugo left South Carolina shaking,

and The Quake left Loma Prieta in the dark.

I know engineers checked all the bridges

after Mineral shook us up, but I rode the rear

of the car ahead as I crossed one. A cold


glance from the Redboxers waiting in the cold

Wal-Mart entryway tossed a wet

blanket on my in-and-out plan. To the rear

of the line I went, shaking

the case to the beat of Tracy’s “Bridges.”

Before the generators kicked on, everything went dark.


No doubt — if I made it home — the house would be dark.

The shower I’d meant to take would be cold.

Crap! Chicken in the freezer! Cross those bridges

later, I thought. I stripped my wet

clothes in the front hall, shaking

soaked pants from my ankles, covering my rear


with “The Big Lebowski.” I was cold and wet,

but cool (Bridges, man!), shaking

up a White Russian in the dark. Irene could kiss my rear.


(Amanda Yanovitch)


Next week: Hoho Contendere, or Ha Propos