Week 471 (CXXXVIII) : Excuses, Excuses

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Copyright The Washington Post Company Sep 15, 2002

This week's back-to-school contest was suggested by Kelli Midgley- Biggs of Columbia. Kelli, a creative-writing teacher, challenges you to come up with creative new excuses for not turning in homework. We're expanding it to three other categories, too: not filing your taxes on time, missing church or forgetting your spouse's birthday. First-prize winner gets Tea Boy, a mechanical penguin that automatically dunks your tea bag into your tea for as long as you preset him to. This fine item was donated to the Style Invitational by Judith Greig

of Arlington.

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 mail entries are no longer accepted due to rabid, spit-flying fanaticism. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 23. 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 Thos. Witte of Gaithersburg.

Report from Week CXXXIV, in which we asked you to fill in the blanks: (Some News Event) is (some quality) but (some other quality) like (some funny analogy).

But first, an astonishing bit of news. This week marks the entry of not one but two people

into the Style Invitational Hall of Fame. Locked for years in a ferocious, seesaw battle for ink, Invitational Goliaths Tom Witte of Gaithersburg and Russell Beland of Springfield wound up -- like so much of America brought together in the past year by events beyond our control -- metaphorically holding hands as they crossed the finish line together. Both receive their 500th career published entries today, joining Jennifer Hart of Arlington and Chuck Smith of Woodbridge in the world's most exclusive club. Statisticians have calculated that the actual odds of a simultaneous two-person Hall of Fame entry, using a standard deviation of 0.5, is precisely the same as that of a chicken, pecking at a piano, playing "Fu{dier}r Elise" all the way through on its first attempt.

{diam} Third Runner-Up: President Bush's focusing on Iraq to distract attention from domestic corporate scandals is understandable but foolhardy, like distracting attention from your open fly by setting your hair on fire.

(Christopher J. Pote, Naples, Italy)

{diam} Second Runner-Up: The revelation that Yasser Arafat's personal fortune may have been accumulated from money designated for aid is disappointing but unsurprising, like the "Sorry, Try Again" printed on the underside of a soda bottle cap.

(Seth Brown, Williamstown, Mass.)

{diam} First Runner-Up: Martha Stewart's congressional testimony will be distasteful but also tasteful, like an al Qaeda hideout filled with wall sconces and lavender sachets. (Sarah Elan, Baltimore)

{diam} And the winner of "The Menace of Darwinism":

Listening to President Bush describe his philosophy of governance is entertaining but unnerving, like watching the Three Stooges juggle vials of smallpox virus.

(Elden Carnahan, Laurel)

{diam} Honorable Mentions:

The idea that there is an epidemic of child kidnappings is frightening but entirely created by the media, like the music career of John Tesh.

(Mark Young, Washington)

An underfunded prescription drug plan would be well designed but nearly useless, like a two-cylinder Corvette. (Kenneth Stuart Gallant, Little Rock)

The administration's tough talk on Iraq is getting tons of media attention without really having done anything yet, like Anna Kournikova.

(Russell Beland, Springfield)

President Bush's speech promoting corporate integrity seemed heartening at first but was suspect, like an ecology sticker on an SUV. (Mike Russell, Norfolk)

A coverup may help a politician look good, but there's always danger of a leak, just like with breast implants.

(Russell Beland, Springfield)

Jim Traficant's claim that he was framed in an FBI conspiracy is preposterous yet strangely credible, like the notion of J. Edgar Hoover in lingerie.

(Fred S. Souk, Reston)

Joe Lieberman's presidential aspirations seem ardent but lacking momentum, like rollerblading on gravel.

(Mitch Mularz, Aberdeen, Wash.)

Statehood for D.C. remains a vaguely possible but unlikely dream, like major league baseball for D.C., only not as

important. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

Hearing about Charlton Heston's condition is sad but repetitive, like listening to an old nut raving against gun control ad nauseam.

(Gary Patishnock, Laurel)

Ending sentences with prepositions is increasingly accepted but still troublesome, like fashion models controlling their weight by throwing up. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

Going after Saddam is perfectly understandable, but it leaves you no graceful exit, like realizing you've entered the wrong restroom only after the stall door closes behind you.

(Kelly Morgan, Boise, Idaho)

Weight loss on a fad diet seems successful at first, but the final result is often disappointing, like flirting with a transvestite. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

Decaf coffee is better than nothing but just not quite right, like safe sex.

(Russell Beland, Springfield)

John Ashcroft's rabid patriotism is well intentioned but scary and destructive, like a hug from Lennie in "Of Mice and Men." (Seth Brown, Williamstown, Mass.)

Having an entry printed in the Style Invitational is exciting but embarrassing, like getting locked out of the house in your underwear.

(Tom Witte, Gaithersburg)

{diam} And Last:

This contest is easy to mock but difficult to do, like Anna Nicole Smith these days. (Mark Young, Washington)

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