Week 539 : Dead Letters

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Copyright The Washington Post Company Jan 4, 2004

The two of you were filthy swine, Oinkers dressed in satin.

Qusay! Uday! Even your names Sounded like pig Latin.

Your mother was your mother, and she was your father, too.

It worked, by golly, Dolly -- you sweet, embraceable ewe.

This week's contest: Pay tribute in verse to someone who died in 2003. Lists of the recently defunct are all over the Internet; just Google "celebrity deaths 2003," or "notable deaths," "famous deaths," etc. Poems longer than four lines had better be breathtakingly brilliant. First-prize winner receives the Inker, the official Style Invitational Trophy. First runner-up wins a tie with little West Virginias all over it (excellent for wearing with the soup course).

Other runners-up win the coveted Style Invitational Loser T- shirt. Honorable mentions get the mildly sought-after Style Invitational bumper sticker, while supplies last (stay tuned). One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries via fax to 202-334- 4312 or by e-mail to U.S. mail entries are not accepted. Deadline is Monday, Jan. 12. Put the week number in the subject line of your e-mail, or you risk being ignored as spam. Include your name, postal address and phone number with your entry. 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 Judith Cottrill of New York.

Report from Week 535, in which The Czar asked you to tell us what the astonishing news was that artist Bob Staake was trying to impart in any of these five cartoons.

The astonishing news, it turns out, was The Czar's final joke: On one level, each of these cartoons carried the same message: The Czar is outta here. Nobody realized this, though, before the news was announced the next Sunday. For the record:

Cartoon A: The judge is about to undergo a sex change!

Cartoon B: The Creator has disappeared!

Cartoon C: Potty humor will be frowned upon!

Cartoon D: A "car" with a "z" in it is going away!

Cartoon E: A rebus announces, "The end of a Di-Nasty!" (Yes, that was Princess Di and Ilie "Nasty" Nastase, the bad-boy tennis star of the early 1970s. Though the caricature was rather good, it engendered many colorful but wrong guesses, from Kurt Cobain to Michael Dukakis to Marilyn Quayle.)

A number of entries amused The Empress but failed to report any astonishing news and/or ignored the existence of Bob, like this one for Cartoon E: "I recently saw a great Swiss movie called 'Judgment at Noor and Borg.' " (Dan Steinberg, Falls Church) Or this one for B: Brad was outraged when he saw that the expensive wedding portrait he ordered had omitted the groom. (Linda Wolfe, Reston) They lose.

{diam}Second runner-up: Cartoon D: Bob announces that John Tesh albums will now carry a warning: "Not intended for use inside a motor vehicle."

(Art Grinath, Takoma Park)

{diam}First runner-up: Cartoon B: Bob has discovered that the new portrait of the governor just unveiled in Sacramento is actually an old painting stolen from some Italian church. (Marty McCullen, Gettysburg, Pa.; Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

{diam}And the winner of the The Czar's own pen: Cartoon A: As medical reimbursements continue to drop, struggling physicians have resorted to performing the one procedure always authorized by HMOs: a wallet extraction. (John Shea, Lansdowne, Pa.)

{diam}Honorable Mentions:

Cartoon A

Bob has learned that Afghan obstetricians have been causing birth complications because of the risky

burqa-cut. (Brian Penney, Goffstown, N.H.)

Proctologists have developed an

exciting new surgical procedure for

reducing flatulence, borrowing its name from the aviation industry: "wind shear." (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

The poet laureate has undergone a

secret operation for an enlarged prose state! (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

Cartoon B

Italian Attorney General Giovanni Ashcrofti has ordered a drop- panel ceiling to be installed in part of the Sistine Chapel! But Staake realizes it has been put in the wrong place!

(Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

In this self-portrait, Bob is telling us he has nothing to hide - - a fact confirmed on closer examination.

(Milo Sauer, Fairfax)

Bob is showing that the heat is kept distressingly low in the Sistine Chapel. (Josh Borken, Minneapolis)

And Last: Adam is destined for a fall

because he is not thinking clearly. This is because he is distracted by a constant concern: "What is that danged Revised Title about? Like I'm supposed to

remember what the contest was three weeks ago from these nonsensical words? Couldn't they at least give the original title along with it?"

(Lyell Roedick, Springfield)

[Adam gets his wish, but, alas, it is too late to save mankind.]

Cartoon D

Bob is disclosing the disastrous debut of D.C.'s new Drive-Thru Narcolepsy

Diagnosis Center.

(Selma Mathias, Harrisonburg, Va.)

Staake, trying his hand at editorial cartooning, shows Dennis Kucinich pointing out that the administration is asleep at the wheel. Unfortunately, neither Bob nor anyone else has any idea what Dennis Kucinich looks like.

(Russell Beland, Springfield)

Bob is warning that the McCain-Feingold Act will have a profound impact on the way campaigns are financed, diminishing soft-money contributions from large corporations, which may result in higher profiles for candidates backed by traditionally underrepresented demographics. Also, that guy is about to hit a tree.

(Dan Steinberg, Falls Church)

"Z" and "car" can be rearranged to spell "Czar," who is depicted here as a DRIVER in deep SLEEP. We are being told anagrammatically that the Czar's work was considered DRIVEL by his PEERS. (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)


(C) A just-filled potty doesn't smell!

(D) A sleeping driver lets go of the steering wheel!

(A) A surgeon is lopping off people's derrieres!

All this is astonishing news -- no whiffs, hands or butts about it.

(Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

Bob is trying to explain where he picked up his infection. He isn't sure if it could have come from a toilet seat (C),

but that transvestite tennis player (E)

is a real possibility. Then there's that guy he slept with in the car (D) or that really good-looking guy he saw in

Rome (B). But, in any case, he really needs to figure it out because, based on the treatment (A), it seems really serious.

(Russell Beland, Springfield)

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