Week 643: The Post's Mortems

Richard Pryor's fame grew bigger/When he dared to use the N-word.

What more uplifting way to stride off into the New Year than to stomp our
feet into the old, with some doggerel about dead people? It's Year 3 of
Dead Letters: Give us a rhyming poem about some notable who died in 2005,
as in the example above. Okay, the example doesn't technically rhyme, but
then again, the Empress doesn't always technically follow the rules, even
her own. As always, poems of more than four lines had better be
dead-raisingly brilliant.

Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. First
runner-up receives "Treasure Trove of Ideas," a handsome set of DVDs from
the government of Hong Kong, somehow parted with by Mark Eckenwiler of
Washington. This box set includes hits such as "Patent Strategy," "Let's
Talk About Copyright" and "Freed Riders of the Economy."

Other runners-up win a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt, like the
one above. Honorable mentions get one of the lusted-after Style
Invitational Magnets. One prize per entrant per week. Send your entries
by e-mail tolosers@washpost.comor by fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is
Monday, Jan. 9. Include "Week 643" in the subject line of your e-mail, or
it risks being ignored as spam. Include your name, postal address and
phone number with your entry. Contests are judged on humor and
originality. All entries become the property of The Washington Post.
Entries may be edited for taste or content. Results will be published
Jan. 29. 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 Tom Witte of Montgomery Village.

Report From Week 639, in which we asked, as a counterpart to the Service Employees
International Union's contest for sensible ideas to improve the lives of
everyday Americans, some, well, less-than-sensible ideas.

Some entries were actually sensible, but only in a Loserly way; many people, for
example, suggested a device to reroute telemarketing calls to other
telemarketers. However, they made our Do Not Ink list.

4 Implant earphone jacks in all infants at birth to allow for more
convenient iPod connectivity as toddlers. (Robin D. Grove, Woodbridge)

3 Establish collection points where people would deposit their old
toothpaste tubes. There would be community vises to squeeze out the last
little bits, which will be put in new tubes and distributed to people who
can't afford toothpaste. (Bruce W. Alter, Fairfax Station)

2 The winner of the bottle of genuine gold (flakes): To make sure 911
calls are processed correctly, institute a computerized screening
service: "Welcome to 911. Please listen carefully, as some of our menu
items have changed. If you have a murder in progress to report, press 1;
for assault with a deadly weapon, press 2; for a fire covering more than
1,000 square feet, press 3. . . ." (Andrew Cook, McLean)

1 And the winner of the Inker

Deliver a piece of dog poop in each bag along with The Post. That way,
all those people won't have to wander the streets collecting their own.
(Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Honorable Mentions

We should make every month 30 days long. That would make life so much
simpler. Of course, we'd have to figure out how to slow down the Earth a
bit so that each year is 360 days. Maybe rocket engines. (Russell Beland,

Increase the Points of Light to 2,000. (Cecil J. Clark, Asheville, N.C.)

Packages of cookies should have a hidden pouch, so if someone eats the
last cookie there would still be one in the pouch. Then there could be
packages with a hidden pouch and an extra-special hidden pouch, so if
someone eats the last cookie and someone else eats the last cookie and
the hidden-pouch cookie, there will still be a cookie in the
extra-special hidden pouch. (Art Grinath, Takoma Park)

Put serial numbers on socks so they are easier to match up. (Douglas
Frank, Crosby, Tex.)

Outfit all your employees with an electronic morale meter that delivers a
shock if morale falls below a given chirpiness level. Smiling staff mean
higher sales! (Martin Bancroft, Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Create a coin called the Soda. Its value will always be tied to that of a
soda in vending machines, so no matter how much the price of soda
increases, you can always buy one with this coin. (Seth Brown, North
Adams, Mass.)

Build cars so that if they are moving and the turn signal is on, the car
automatically turns that way after three minutes. (Douglas Frank)

Pre-Maid Cleanup Service: They tidy up your house just enough so you're
not embarrassed when the maid comes the next day. (Joel Ross, Herndon)

Develop remote controls for ATMs so your money can be ready and the
drawer open as you drive up. (Dave Prevar, Annapolis)

Just have Windows boot directly to the blue screen. (Evan Golub, New

Extend the science of bathroom "scrubbing bubbles" to toilet tissue.
(Peter Metrinko, Chantilly)

Self-scratching Kenny G. albums. (Art Grinath)

Why just fortune cookies? Why not fortune meat loaf! Fortune clam
chowder! Fortune PB&J sandwiches! (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

Make all locks keyed alike so that if you can't find your keys, can
simply ask to borrow one from anyone on the street. (Evan Golub; Paul
Kocak, Syracuse, N.Y.)

In bags of frozen vegetables, put a little sticker on every pea and
carrot to show the country of origin. (Thomas L. Schwarz, Burke)

People who take more than four pennies from the take-a-penny cup should
have one more super-glued to their foreheads. (Fil Feit, Annandale)

There should be stronger glue on the back of Post-its so they don't
practically fall off things all the time. (Russell Beland)

We should make a deal with terrorist organizations that we'll never go to
war against them and we'll leave their countries if they just agree to
turn over all their suicide bombers to us. We'll let the suicide bombers
blow up some old, condemned buildings. And they'll get their date with
Allah -- because their deaths were keeping us infidels out of their
countries. (Peter Metrinko)

Make the spring and autumn time changes happen at noon so we don't have
to get up in the middle of the night to adjust all our clocks. (Russell

Can't we move Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to some weekend in April?
That'd create a nice three-day weekend to fill the gap between
Presidents' Day and Memorial Day, and more people would go to the parades
for King than in, sheesh, the middle of January. (Peter Metrinko)

Citizens who pledge to support staying the course in Iraq will receive a
button with the acronym WIN (Whip Iraq Now) in bright blue letters.
(Cecil J. Clark)

The Service Employees International Union should divide the $100,000
grand prize into 200,000 prizes of 50 cents each, thereby making many
more everyday Americans feel good about themselves. (John O'Byrne, Dublin)

Anti-Invitational: Home heating costs so much, and we use so much energy
on it, and the homeless sometimes freeze to death. So what we need is a
simple way to warm the Earth up a few degrees. But how? (Russell Beland)

In a special guest appearance, the Uncle of The Style Invitational weighs
in with The Uncle's Pick: Equip every car with a razor-sharp spear
protruding from the steering wheel toward the driver. Such a device would
make every driver wish to avoid any sudden stop, and thus all drivers
would be inclined to drive much less recklessly. (Steve Shapiro,

The Uncle Says: What a thoughtful idea for everyone to drive gently in
the New Year! The spear should be well padded, though, to ensure safety
for all.

And Last: You mean things aren't perfect the way they are? -- G.W.B.,
Washington (Kevin Mellema, Falls Church)

Next Week: Whassa Motto Wid You, or Attack of the Killer Dumb Mottoes