Week 428 (XCV) : No Rest for the Query

Osama bin Laden with potatoes au gratin

Full Text (1368   words)
Copyright The Washington Post Company Nov 18, 2001

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

What is the sound of one hand


What is art?

If a tree falls in the forest and noone is around

to hear it, does it make any noise?

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

If God is good, how can He permit evil?

This Week's Contest: Above, six supposedly unanswerable questions. Answer any of them in the voice of any famous person, living or dead. (Or, if you wish, as yourself.) First-prize winner gets a souvenir of Texas, a genuine ceramic Texas "short beer" mug. It holds about a half-gallon. It's worth $20. First runner-up wins the tacky but estimable Style Invitational Loser Pen. Other runners-up win the coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt. Honorable mentions get the mildly sought-after Style Invitational bumper sticker. Send your entries via fax to 202-334-4312, or by e-mail to U.S. mail entries have been canceled due to rabid, spit-flying fanaticism. Deadline is Monday, Nov. 26. All entries must include the week number of the contest and your name, postal address and telephone number. E-mail entries must include the week number in the subject field. Entries will be 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. 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 contest is by Thos. Witte of Gaithersburg.

in which we asked you to write poems about Osama bin Laden. The results were extraordinary, so we allotted extraordinary space.

{diam}Third Runner-Up:

You claim you're a shoo-in in Heaven, bin Laden,

Fat chance with the paths of vengeance

you've trodden,

If Paradise glory you somehow attain, though,

May your 70 virgins all choose to remain so.

(Courtney Knauth, Washington)

{diam}Second Runner-Up:

"Osama" as a verb -- what would it be?

Transitive, surely. Certainly active.

To inflict pain and then to flee?

To rip one from the land of those who live?

Or could it be to cower and to shirk,

To hide oneself inside a deep, dark cave,

Appearing rarely and then just to lurk

Long enough to insanely rant and rave?

If we can but learn to look at him and laugh,

While not forgetting those whose lives he took,

We shall have cut the healing time in half.

But lest we think to let him off the hook,

To quote a poet drawing no more breath,

We would but love him better after death.

(Jean Lightner Norum, Charlottesville)

{diam}First Runner-Up:

Cursed Twin Towers

Mock no more my undersize


(David Landau, Arlington

{diam}And the winner of the cloth sweaters for soft-drink glasses:

If killed he's a martyr, to try him is harder,

So recycle bin Laden as soon as we've won.

He'd certainly make a fine woman's garter,

Yes, recycle bin Laden, whose days are near done.

Osama bin Laden with potatoes au gratin

Or make a silk purse of his sandy sow's ear,

We're short of menhaden, try Osama bin Laden

Let's turn this mess into things we don't fear.

My neighbor could use a new mat for his mud room,
And I need a new set of mandolin strings.

My sister has asked for a burgundy whisk broom,

Compost for her garden and 10 million things.

Let's recycle bin Laden and welcome the day

We reincarnate him the American way.

(Patricia Helmetag, Annapolis)

{diam}Honorable Mentions:

There once was an Arab so brave

That he hid himself in his cave.

"Fellow Muslims," he said,

"It's great to be dead"

If MY name's not on the grave.

(Jane Springrose, Bradenton, Fla.)

Caves have but one door

For entering and leaving.

Great plan, mastermind.

(Joe Neff, Oreland, Pa.)

Higgledy piggledy

Saudi Arabia.

Land of Osama bin

Laden, a thug.


Killer of innocents.

Soon to be spotted and

Squashed like a bug.

(Chris Doyle, Burke)

A terrorist known as Osama

Encouraged a suicide bomber.

This murderous plan

Isn't in the Koran.

So in Hell it's "Osama, meet


(Chris Doyle, Burke)

Allah hangs His head in shame,

His son Osama is to blame.

Scorned the teachings

of his father:

Love? Compassion?

Couldn't bother.

Evil sows, then evil reaps,

Osama sinned, and Allah weeps.

(Jackie Binder, Charlottesville)

As a leader, Osama is flunking.

Overhead, bunker busters are


The Taliban's tiredof bombs

being fired,

But Osama is busy . . .


(Jennifer Hart, Arlington)

Madrassahs in Quetta and Aden

Inculcate the poor and


Spew hate for the West

Get to graduate summa

cum Laden.

(Chris Doyle, Burke)



(Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)

Osama bin Laden, you son

of a witch,

May your tonsils develop a

seven-year itch.

May your nose be twisted

in such a manner

That your nostrils whistle "The

Star-Spangled Banner."

(Howard Tenenbaum, Silver Spring)

Let me not to even justice for war crimes

Admit impediments. The Taliban

Should pay, so say these fourteen lines of rhymes,

Alone on desert isle like Caliban.

But oh! Osama, what shall be his fate?

Suffer the slings and arrows of a righteous fortune?

Be diced with Ginsu knives and used as bait?

Torn limb from limb on rack with cruel torsion?

Americans might ask, "What serves the dead?

To kill the Afghan people left and right;

To bear a brave new world of waxing dread,

Or keep alit five thousand points of light?"

Two towers sank that Tuesday in September.

We have a choice: Dismember or remember.

(Tom Campbell, Highland Park, Ill.)

A lunatic man named Osama

Showed a page to his best

"See, they all say I'm queer

But I'm profiled right here

Under 'Abnormal Psyches'

in JAMA."

(Jennifer Hart, Arlington)

Osama the grievous, demonic

and lowly,

Misguided, he thinks his

warped mission holy.

Now, imagine God's anguish and

roaring decree:

"Listen here, twit, you ain't

workin' for Me!"

(John Bauer, Gaithersburg)

There was a rich devil,

bin Laden,

Who set out to do some jihadin'.

He did so much ill

With his three hundred mil

In Gehenna he's gonna be


(John Held, Fairfax)

Though moderate Muslims are


It's taken too much of a proddin'

For us to get them

To truly condemn

The evil Osama bin Laden.

(Chris Doyle, Burke)

Bin Laden will pay for his role

Bombing D.C., New York and

the Cole.

Though he hides in his warren,

We'll bust his cave door in

A game of high-stakes


(Greg Arnold, Herndon)

The pointing fingers,

tabloid news,

You moved us all beyond it.

Take center stage with my


Sincerely, Gary Condit

(John Griessmayer, Roanoke)

You needn't look too far to see

My feelings for Osama.

Just take a peek beneath the flap

In back of my pajama.

(John Griessmayer, Roanoke)

I saw a man, bowed down

with shame,

Who said, "Bin Laden is my name,

And I was mighty till the day

That I torqued off the U.S.A.,

Which then proceeded to amass

The force required to smoke my [tail]

While all I had to guard my can

Were wackos from the Taliban.

They shanghaied troops who'd

cut and run

From a B-2 or even -1.

First Uncle Sam came after me

With planes we couldn't even see,

Achieving his initial goal

Of knocking out my air control.

'Twas not the end, for by and by,

The Spectres came from out the sky

And many troops who marched

by feet

Were turned into hamburger meat.

So now I find myself bereft

Of troops and goods, there's

nothing left

Except a thousand psychopaths

Who are not known for taking baths.

And Special Ops -- now, here's

a shock --

Is on its way to clean my clock.

Perhaps I'd better find some jerk

To carry on my wicked work.

But who would step in eagerly

When they'd get blown to hell

like me?"

(Bryan Fortson, Herndon)

Oh to rid the world of Bin Laden

would be so sensational

And to accomplish this I can think of

nothing quicker

Than to tell him he's won in The

Style Invitational

But he must hold his breath till he's

received his bumper sticker.

(Marleen May, Rockville)

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