Week 464 (CXXXI) : Cursive Writing

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Copyright The Washington Post Company Jul 28, 2002

May your name and phone number turn up in Osama's black book.

May you discover that the torrid online correspondence you've been having is with your daughter.

May you be stranded in Central Pennsylvania and be given an emergency root canal by an Amish dentist whose drill is powered by a goat.

This Week's Contest reprises a contest we ran eight years ago. It needs updating. Come up with a new curse for this new millennium, as in the examples above.

First-prize winner gets a vintage 1953 framed copy of "The Eisenhower Prayer," an oath that Eisenhower-era bureaucrats displayed on their walls. There may be no document in the history of the Republic more violative of the principle of separation of church and state. It is worth $40. 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 are no longer accepted due to rabid, spit-flying fanaticism. Deadline is Monday, Aug. 5. 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. Contests 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. Results will be published in four weeks. 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 Mike Genz of La Plata.

Report from Week CXXVII, in which you were asked to come up with the start of a comically pretentious and self-aggrandizing book or movie review. A special thank-you to Mark Carson of Rockville, who pointed out that we needed to look no further than our own op-ed pages, and this recent gem from columnist Charles Krauthammer:

"As the All-Star Game approaches, the players' union is about to set a date for a strike. Barry Bonds is wrong. Baseball will not survive it. How do I know? Because if the players do strike, they may one day come back. But I will not. And if baseball loses me, there will be no one else left."

The Sisyphean ordeal of (Russell Beland, Springfield) continues this week. He has two entries published under other people's names, leaving him six more in his punishment bank.

{diam}Third Runner-Up:

On the set of "The Color Purple," I asked, "Steve, will you ever make a film that truly understands mankind's perverse desire to deprive himself of natural justice?" In the ensuing years this question has preoccupied the director to the point where it completely dominates his latest film . . . (Mark Young, Washington)

{diam}Second Runner-Up:

I found this film best enjoyed in its original Swedish, but with Italian subtitles . . . (Jeremy Fisher, Manchester, Mass.)

{diam}First Runner-Up:

After returning home from a conference celebrating the best and brightest recent graduates of Harvard Law School, where about 17 men, conservatively speaking, confided to me that I bear an uncanny resemblance to the protagonist in the movie "Erin Brockovich," I was compelled to see the film. And . . . (Judy Miller, Poolesville)

{diam}And the winner of the Spam can piggy bank:

It occurred to us the other eve whilst dozing at a local cinefestspielhaus's airing of "Night of the Living Dead" that we could celebrate the resurrection of the deceased only if those revivified emanated from the class epitomized by Mr. Noel Coward, the Lunts and Barrymores, M. Jean Cocteau, Ms. Dottie Parker . . . (Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park)

{diam}Honorable Mentions:

It was my turn to recommend a literary work to the Single Mothers' Intensive Reading Circle (SMIRC), and I was certain I had found the perfect book to describe our lives: "Invisible Man." Ha! It turned out to be just another excuse for a man to whine about his problems . . . (Jennifer L. Nelson, Washington)

"Spider-Man" disappointed me, though it seemed to amuse the audience that accompanied me to the theater; they appeared to enjoy the comic antics and whatnot . . . (Rob Carey, Dublin)

With great pride I unequivocally recommend "The Bible," a wonderful historic book, the recent success of which may well be due to my positive review of the Viking paperback edition three years ago in this space . . . (Tony Hope, Washington)

While "Platoon" attempts to capture American soldiers' experiences in Vietnam, those of us who were really there, not holed up in Saigon sipping Kahlua with bar girls in silk dresses while the rest of us waded through paddies, only to get home to find . . . (Robert Gruner, Palo Alto, Calif.)

A biscotti, perhaps. But an entire meal with Andre? Oh, no, my dears. No, no, no, no. (Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park)

Since Professor Stephen Hawking had described me as the smartest man he has ever met, I am delighted that this review of his brilliant new book allows me to return the favor . . . (Joseph Romm, Washington)

Having penned a few plays myself, I understand how difficult it is to be both original and entertaining. Nonetheless, the extent of Mr. Shakespeare's plagiarism is shocking . . . (Joseph Romm, Washington)

I don't want to hear anymore about what a great novel "Crime and Punishment" is. While I myself would never deign to read mystery novels, it was readily apparent early on even to me that Raskolnikov was the killer. I couldn't be bothered to read any further, and . . . (Roy Ashley, Washington)

As noted in my previous reviews of works by Sophocles and Euripides, sequels inevitably repeat the same tired themes of the original, introduce unbelievable plot contrivances, and suffer from multiple inconsistencies. Sadly, the New Testament is no exception . . . (Joseph Romm, Washington)

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