The Style Invitational Week 978: Am iamb  Putting it in re-verse

By Pat Myers, Updated: Thursday, June 28, 6:00 PM


To Washington and Its Nationals

First in war and first in peace, it’s said —

Worst in baseball? That trope now is dead.


A couple of weeks ago when I was judging the close to 1,000 limericks submitted for Week 974 (some featured on this page, more online), I found myself talking all the time in the Hickory-Dickory-Dock rhythm that forms the bulk of a limerick — “I’d LIKE a McCHICKen with FRIES;/ See, I’m LOOKing to FATten my THIGHS . . .” (This is why the Empress tends to dine alone.) Anyway, I need to get a different rhythmic earworm, so we’re switching to duple meter this month. Here’s a form called “framed couplets,” introduced to me by light-verse writer Madeleine Begun Kane and coined by poet Hector Gutierrez: Write a short verse about something that’s been in the news recently, as in the example above by Versifier-on-Retainer Gene Weingarten. You may add a title.


1. The poem must be either a couplet (two rhyming lines, “AA”) or two couplets (“AA/BB”).


2. Each line starts with an accented syllable and runs for nine syllables in an iambic meter: BA-da-BA-da-BA-da-BA-da-BA.


3. The FIRST syllables of each couplet also rhyme with each other.


Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the Style Invitational trophy. Second place wins the novel “Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder: Bubble in the Bathtub,” donated by 11-year-old Loser scion Saralinda Contompasis, who found it entirely too juvenile and clearly better suited to her father’s crowd.


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 or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, July 9; results published July 29 (online July 207. No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 978” 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 Kevin Dopart; the alternative headline in the “Next Week” line is by Tom Witte. Join the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at


Report from Week 974, in which we asked for limericks about a play, book, movie or TV show: We had so many fine entries that we might also run more of them later this summer.


The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial


Why does Greece’s Odysseus roam

For so long while Penelope’s home?

It could be he won’t ask

For directions — a task

That’s too tough for his Y-chromosome. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)


2. Winner of the kangaroo-scrotum coin purse:

“Forrest Gump”

When viewed with objective lucidity,

This film is of doubtful validity

Because it’s notorious

For saying it’s glorious

To live a life based on stupidity. (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)


3. “Pride and Prejudice” (1995)

Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s low birth,

No connections and little net worth,

Mom a twit, sis a skank —

It’s a stretch (let’s be frank)

To suggest she could land Colin Firth. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)


4. “Psycho”

At the end, when the cops finally come,

All the murder and gore leaves them numb.

From the way Norman’s dressed,

They can tell that he’s stressed;

Does he talk? No, he’s just keeping mum. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)


Po’witry: Honorable mentions



Contestants from Nome to Hoboken

Will vie for a totem or token.

It may defy reason —

Its 20th season!

The upshot: The tripe has now spoken. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)



Though it won neither plaudits nor gongs,

And for critics’ acclaim it still longs,

Let those killjoys cry, “Boo!”

I’m applauding the view

Of a few of my favorite thongs. (Stephen Gold, Glasgow, Scotland)


“Titanic” (I)

We’ve got lovers whom death cannot sever!

And a villain who’s scheming and clever!

And a ship whose demise

Will bring tears to your eyes!

Oh, a script? Okay, yeah, sure, whatever. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)


“The Crying Game”

A terrorist who fled the scene is

Quite drawn to a bar-singing Venus.

But the guy is dismayed

When he tries to get laid

And discovers the girl has a [DELETED BECAUSE OF SPOILER]. (Marion Shore, Belmont, Mass., a First Offender)



There once was a man from Nantucket

Whose whaling ship ran out of luck; it

Took on the white whale

And in one epic fail,

Every sailor but one kicked the bucket. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)


Caltech’s a big deal on TV,

And its physicist-nerds are the key.

“The Big Bang Theory” speaks

In the language of geeks:

PhD = BMOC. (Chris Doyle)


“Guys and Dolls”

How go things in Noo Yawk? Nicely-nicely.

Guys shoot craps; dolls perform very spicily.

Ad loves Nate; Sarah, Sky.

Each ends up with her guy.

Is that cheesy? It’s Broadway. Precisely! (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)


“I Dream of Jeannie”

The love life of a brave astronaut’ll

Be something a blond babe who’s hot’ll

Enhance. She’ll entrance

If she wears harem pants,

Calls him “Master” and lives in a bottle. (Chris O’Carroll, Pelham, Mass.)


“Keeping Up With the Kardashians”

Do you know why the sisters Kardashian

Have a show that they’re paid to look trashy in?

The answer is sad:

The world has gone mad,

And talent has grown out of fashi-on. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)


“Gone With the Wind”

Well, the film goes its windy old way,

And it ends with a lousy cliche:

Should we laugh or feel sorrow

To learn that “tomorrow

Is a-” (would you believe?) “-nother day”? (Brian Allgar, Paris)


“Titanic” (II)

The Titanic, they said, was unsinkable.

But there weren’t enough lifeboats—unthinkable!

From that wreck came a flick

In the genre of “chick”. . .

It’s too bad that it wasn’t unstinkable. (Paul VerNooy, Hockessin, Del.)


“Charlotte’s Web”

In this timeless and heartwarming story,

A pig learns his future looks gory.

Through designs of her makin’,

A bug saves his bacon—

But alas, she gets none of the glory. (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)


“Two and a Half Men”

Charlie Sheen plays a drunk who is past

His best years, and his star’s fading fast.

As a middle-aged boozer

And skirt-chasing loser,

This actor was perfectly cast. (Robert Schechter)


“Jersey Shore”

There once was a starlet named Snooki

Who loved to play loose with her nooki.

But what was she thinking

When bingeing on drinking

While baking her own little cookie? (Colleen Murphy, Kensington, Conn., a First Offender)


“The Godfather”

It’s Mario Puzo you’ll choose

For a novel that won’t make you snooze.

His writing’s unique —

Or in godfather-speak,

He’s an author you just can’t refuse. (Chris Doyle)


Now in hindsight it’s clear that they really

Could have made a superior “Gigli”

By replacing its actors

With aardvarks or tractors

While they did the whole thing in Swahili. (Ken Kaufman, Derwood, Md.)


In “J. Edgar,” the story line said

That the ruthlessly bare-knuckled Fed

Looked for clues from both G-men

And afternoon-tea-men,

Then pursued them wherever they led. (Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)


But the rest takes obsession to sort ’er.

Are straightforward, all right,

All the scenes black and white

Has baffled this theater supporter.

“Memento’s” unusual order. (Stephen Gilberg, Washington)



A knock-off of “Lassie” is hell

When it’s under the water you dwell.

Getting help is a bust

When you find that you must

Stay with Timmy inside of the well. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)


I picked up an old Gray’s Anatomy,

So valued within the academy.

And there I discovered,

On each page, there hovered

A picture of each this-and-that o’ me! (Mae Scanlan, Washington)


“The Great Gatsby”: My students have barreled

Through the text. Though I frequently herald

The writing and plot,

To each student, it’s naught

But the wreck of the F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Matt Monitto, Bristol, Conn.)


“The Princess Bride”

Buttercup, Humperdinck’s prize,

Thought Wesley had met his demise.

He fought for her tresses

With —

She never saw through his disguise?!? (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)


“Sweeney Todd”

A deranged Fleet Street barber, so nasty,

Slashed the throats of his clients so fast he

Supplied Mrs. Lovett

With morsels she’d covet

To spice up each victim-filled pasty. (Phyllis Reinhard, East Fallowfield, Pa.)


“Groundhog Day”

A man in an unredeemed state

Whose clock never changes its date

Lays on charm with a trowel

And wins Andie McDowell,

Which suggests that it’s never too late. (Jerome Betts, Torquay, England, a First Offender)


“In the Line of Fire”

With a nut out there trying to shoot a

Sitting president, none would dispute a

Secret Service man’s task

Is protection; don’t ask

If he nailed some Colombian puta. (Brendan Beary)


“Waiting for Godot”

I’m so bored I could slash both my wrists,

Yet this infinite waiting persists.

At the second act’s curtain

We’re still far from certain

This Godot dude even exists. (Andrew Burnet, Edinburgh, Scotland)


“An Andalusian Dog”

“Un Chien Andalou” wins the prize

For cutting the smug down to size.

Just say, “Hello, Dali!”

To this Buñuel folly.

(But don’t forget — cover your eyes!) (Miles Moore, Alexandria, Va.)


And Last: Compilations of New York Magazine Competition entries


New York Mag has its “Giant Sea Tortoise”;

Why don’t we have a book to record us?

We’ll just print what’s refined,

Cut the scat--. . . Never mind.

Nothing left. Best the public ignored us. (Nan Reiner)


Next week’s results: Going Mything, or Crocktales