Style Invitational Week 927: Drive-by shoutings — Burma-Shave signs;
plus winning faux-chemical names

By Pat Myers,July 08, 2011

The Empress was besought recently to give another go to a contest we
last did 12 years ago: It’s for mini-poems written in the style of the
old Burma-Shave ads, which
used to appear on pre-interstate roadsides as a series of six little
signs, a few words at a time, either promoting the shaving cream or
serving as a PSA to drivers, as in “Big mistake­ / Many make: / Rely on
horn / Instead of / brake. / Burma-Shave.” Last time we asked for
welcome signs to states or towns; this week we’ll stay closer to the
original purpose: *Write a very short four-line “poem” promoting a
product or company, or offering advice to drivers; the poem must rhyme,
in ABAB or ABCB rhyme scheme. A fifth, non-rhyming line may state the
product name or a conclusion. * Don’t make the lines more than three or
four words each unless they’re very short.

Winner gets the Inker,

the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a cloth
ball cap

from Cluster Springs Sanitary Services Portable Toilet Rentals of Middle
of Nowhere, Va. (a.k.a. Danville); the embroidered slogan on the back
says, “You dump --it, we pump --it.”

Donated by Loser Dave Komornik of Danville, who brought it up on a visit
to Washington.

*Other runners-up* win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational
Loser T-shirt
yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser

First Offenders get a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (Fir Stink for
their first ink). E-mail entries to or fax to
202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, July 18; results published Aug. 7
(Aug. 5 online). Include “Week 927” in your e-mail subject line, or it
may be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone
number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at
. The revised title for
next week’s results is by Tom Witte; this week’s honorable-mentions
subhead is by chemical engineer Jeff Contompasis.

Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational
where the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with
news about the Loser Community. If you’d like an e-mail notification
each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online,
write to the Empress at losers @ (note that in the subject
line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the
lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.

*Report from Week 923*, in which we asked for new chemical terms: By far the most frequent
submission was for “palinium”; we include two. Alas, the terms
“honoring” presidential candidates are all for Republicans; there just
weren’t any good Obama-themed entries.

*The winner of the Inker:*

*Binladium:* When combined with lead and immersed in water, it almost
instantly disappears. /(Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)/

2. *Winner of the football made entirely of Bubble Wrap:*

*Platitudinum: *A metal that becomes more dull each time it is used, yet
somehow is never discarded. /(Beth Baniszewski, Cambridge, Mass.)/

3. *Marionbarium:* Highly reactive with alcohol and other substances.
Difficult to purge from the system long after peak effectiveness.
/(Marcy Alvo, Annandale, Va.)/

4. *Madoffium:* Catalyst capable of turning liquid substance, overnight,
into absolutely nothin’. /(Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)/

*Byproducts & residue: Honorable mentions*

*Palinium:* Its magnetic properties decrease by half every year, but
never entirely dissipate. /(Elden Carnahan, Laurel, Md.)/

*Palinium: * A rigid, polarizing substance that appears to glow brightly
when examined from the right side but appears to be a black hole when
viewed from the left. (/Bill Nilsen, Arlington, Va., a First Offender)/

*Greecium:* A substance unable to stabilize because of its weak
bonds./(Lawrence McGuire)/

*Tachygiftcardium: *What symbiotic organisms give off in late December.
/(Ira Allen, Bethesda, Md.) /


* Reacts violently with iron. /(Mark Eckenwiler, Washington)/

*Led:* A heavy metal. /(Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)/

*Pepconium: *Theoretically capable of great bursts of energy, it becomes
inert when in contact with water. /(Elden Carnahan)/

*Sulaimonoxide brownate:

* Activated by silver. Decomposes in hot water. /(Marcy Alvo)/

*Newtium:* Heavy element found often in Iowa and New Hampshire. Bonds
frequently but not permanently. Attracted to precious metals and gems.
Emits an inaudible buzz. /(Russell Beland, Fairfax, Va.)/

*Abbottabadite:* One explosive compound./(Mark Eckenwiler)/

*Bieberium: *An element of little substance or weight; apparently
harmless by itself, but added to any volume of shelium produces an
earsplitting squeal. (/Andy Bassett, New Plymouth, New Zealand) /

*Weinerium:* Volatile element that expands, flashes and then
self-destructs./(Nancy M. Lawrence, Annandale, Va.)/

*Ryanide poisoning:* A toxic reaction exacerbated by inadequate medical
care. /(Kathy El-Assal, Middletown, Wis., a First Offender)/

*Bachmannium:* Similar to palinium in its dullness and abrasive
properties but is lighter in weight despite being more dense. /(Scott I.
Berkenblit, Baltimore, a First Offender)/

*Sellulose:* Superabsorbent substance that sucks value from whatever it
touches; commonly used as home insulating material in the past decade.
(/Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md., a First Offender)/

*Arsenice:* Especially in those genes. /(Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)/

*Debtceilium:* Toxic gas that expands to infinity unless contained.
/(Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)/

*Cantonite: *Causes headaches in married women. /(Craig Dykstra,
Centreville, Va.)/

**Jockabromide:* Common substance found in locker rooms that never fails
to yield 110 percent one day at a time. /(Ira Allen) /

*Silicone bimboxide:* Compound that causes swollen protuberances on the
upper torso. /(Dixon Wragg)/

*Tatanium:* New marketing name for silicone. /(Jeff Contompasis,
Ashburn, Va.)/

*Alumnium:* The metal used to make class rings. /(Matt Monitto, Myrtle
Beach, S.C.)/

*Romneyum:* Key ingredient of modern plastic; noted for reversing
polarity at will. /(Stephen J. Kelley, Sykesville, Md., a First Offender) /

*Stromtium 90:* Reproductive agent that remains potent throughout an
exceedingly long half life./(Ira Allen)/

*Next week: History in the remaking,* or *Jesterday*