Style Invitational Week 1080: The dactyls and the terror
The eviction of invertebrates from the National Zoo: the subject of Gene
Weingarten’s tragically bad poem, the example for Week 1080. (Bob Staake
for The Washington Post )
By Pat Myers July 10
feedback for 'Style Invitational Week 1080: The dactyls and the terror'>
(Click here to skip down <#report> to the results of our double-dactyl
contest from Week 1076.)
New contest for Week 1080: McGonagall with the wind
/To the Zoo, on a Cowardly, Profit-Driven Decision/
*Alas, the zoo is closing the exhibit of invertebrates
(Little animals that live on plankton and frankfurter bits).
Now where can we go to see coral and octopuses?
Fie on thee, zookeepers. You are spineless wusses.* — Gene Weingarten,
inspired by the “poetry” of W.T. McGonagall
The Empress was recently alerted to the oeuvre — emphasis on the
/oeuuuu/ — of William Topaz McGonagall, a 19th-century Scotsman whose
mawkish, clumsy odes on various tragic subjects prompted audiences to
throw rotten fish at him, and today earns him such superlatives as
“writer of the worst poetry in the English language,” in the words of a
Web site devoted to his life and, uh, creations (see bit.ly/mcgonagall
). Such as this stanza from “The
Execution of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose”:
/After partaking of a hearty breakfast, he commenced his toilet,
Which, in his greatest trouble, he seldom did forget.
And while in the act of combing his hair,
He was visited by the Clerk Register, who made him stare. /
Not surprisingly, such wordcraft inspired Washington Post Doggerel
Laureate Gene Weingarten to pen the tragic ode above, on the occasion of
the closing of the National Zoo’s Invertebrate House. And inspired us to
ask you to out-McGonagall McGonagall: *This week: Memorialize a modern
“tragedy” in a poem burdened with hilariously overwrought verse; lame,
forced rhymes; and painfully uneven meter. *While the work of the real
McG typically drones on for a dozen verses, we think you can get the
badness across in *one verse of no more than eight lines.*
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial
, the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational
trophy. Second place receives, in keeping with the quality of the verse
that will earn it, a miniature key fob of an itty-bitty rubber gorilla:
You squeeze it and a little brown bubble of “poop” emerges from the
mini-butt; let it relax and the poop-bubble returns inside the ape. A
National Zoo souvenir donated by Loser Andrea Kelly.
The world’s easiest-to-clean-up gorilla poop — just unsqueeze and it
goes back inside the gorilla. This little key fob is second prize in
Week 1080 of the Invitational. (Pat Myers)
*Other runners-up *win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug
or the ardently
desired “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag.
mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet, either the Po’ Wit Laureate
or Puns of Steel.
Offenders receive a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink
for their first ink). E-mail entries to /firstname.lastname@example.org
/ or, if you were born in the 19th century,
fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, July 21; results published Aug.
10 (online Aug. 7). No more than 25 entries per entrant per contest.
Include “Week 1080.” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored
as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with
your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/InvRules
. This week’s honorable-mentions subhead is by
Danielle Nowlin; the alternative headline for the “next week’s contest”
line is by Jeff Contompasis; “Six-Hooters” is by Nan Reiner. Join the
lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at /on.fb.me/invdev
,/ and click “like” on Style Invitational Ink of
the Day at /bit.ly/inkofday. /
^ *The Style Conversational *The Empress’s weekly online column
discusses each new contest and set of results. Especially if you plan to
enter, check it out at wapo.st/styleconv
And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .
SIX-HOOTERS: WEEK 1076’s WINNING DOUBLE DACTYLS:
The double dactyl, a verse form invented just a few decades ago, has all
sorts of rules : It has to be eight short
lines; one of the lines has to be a six-syllable word; one has to
include someone’s name; and most important, it has to be in dactylic
As in today’s inking entries, the best of a stampede
of a thousand or so galloping submissions.
The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:
*Ken Cuccinelli,* the
Wasn’t, as strategies
Go, ultra sound. (Jeremy Horowitz, Washington, a First Offender)
/and the“Manneken Pis” snow dome
Poor *Lois Lerner *has
Lost all her e-mails — oh,
Where could they be?
Why does the IRS
Never lose track of what’s
Owed them from me? (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
*Philippa Middleton *
(”Pippa,” Kate’s sister): it’s
Clear to deduce
How you upstaged royal
She had the train, but you
Had the caboose.
(Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)
*Donald the Trump *thinks we
Don’t get enough of a
View of his fame.
On all his buildings is
Vandals should tear down the
“T” from his name.
(Rick Haynes, Boynton Beach, Fla.)
LOSERY BLUESERY: HONORABLE MENTIONS
*Orenthal Simpson,* who
Bungled a burglary,
Wound up in jail.
There, from inside of his
Sits right on top of the
Real killer’s tail.
(Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
*Edward M. Kennedy *
Drove off a bridge span in
(Armstrong and Aldrin were
Manning the Eagle and
Landed just fine).
(Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
*Lerner’s *computer is
Suddenly missing some
Ryan has dared to say
Next year will Ryan get
Audited, too? (Claire Keeler, Manassas, Va., a First Offender)
*Eric I. Cantor* was
Beaten by Tea Party
Proving that primaries
Often exclude from the
Ring the wrong hat.
(Sam Gwynn, Beaumont, Tex., a First Offender)
*Cantor* said smugly, “Oh,
he’s just a nothing. I’ll
Trounce him — no fears.”
Then oh so startlingly,
Folks on his home grounds had
Other idears. (Bill Willcox, Washington, whose only other previous
Invite ink was a poem in Week 393, 2001)
*Ogg the Neanderthal *
Mated with humans, our
Given the evident
Stone Agers must have been
Hard up for dates.
(Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)
*Buckminster Fuller,* he
Never had need for a
Brush or a comb.
Egg-headed wizard who
Touted to all that there’s
No place like dome.
(Kevin Dopart, Washington)
Shooting the president,
*John Hinckley Jr.* thought,
“Jodie will beam!”
Warped and deluded, the
Gunman had missed she was
Not on his team.
(Christopher Lamora, Los Angeles)
Asked by her spouse, when their
Coupling turned sham,
To be discreet in her
“Franklin, my dear, I just
Don’t give a damn.”
(Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)
Hannah Montana, her
Old alter ego, must
Be all aghast:
*Miley, *who’s older now,
Gyrates and strips off this
Part of her past.
(David Franks, Greenland, Ark.)
*Jesus of Nazareth*
Feeding five thousand: two
Fish and some bread.
“Such a proceeding is
Bakers and fishermen
(Hugh Thirlway, The Hague)
*Mehmet C. Oz,* MD,
Flogs coffee extract as
That he be labeled a
Great Weight Loss Tool.
(Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)
*Benedict Cumberbatch *
(Cherished by fans as an
Mines the attractions of
Keeping his coolness while
Ditching his couth.
(Susan McLean, Iowa City, Iowa, a First Offender)
*George Herbert Walker Bush*
Strapped on a parachute,
Took a big leap;
Nobody told him most
Celebrate 90 by
Falling asleep. (Beverley Sharp)
*Pallas Athena,* the
Goddess of wisdom, and
Also the arts,
Shows up in sculpture with
(Not so with Venus, who’s
Missing some parts.) (Mae Scanlan, Washington)
Running Chicago, does
Not like disputes.
Talks to his enemies
Flashing his famous four-
Finger salutes. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
Heads up a country that’s
Ready to crack.
Islamists carving up
Nouri is stuck in a
Hard place, Iraq. (Beryl Benderly, Washington)
*Nouri al-Maliki *
Baghdadi chieftain who
Said, “I’m the man.”
Lost in a battle that’s
We’ll ask,”Where is he?” and
He’ll say: “I-ran.” (Mark Raffman)
Creature in “Alien,”
Scared us a lot;
Who’d want to mess with that
Which thought should Ripley’s be?
Leave it, or not? (Brendan Beary)
Pastor *Jim Jones* was an
Mass suicide, though, is
No laughing matter. So
Don’t get your hopes up — there’s
No punch line here.
(Niels Hoven, San Francisco)
First got attention for
Exploits in bed
Still her big ass brings her
(No, not her tuchus! The
one that she wed). (Danielle Nowlin, Woodbridge, Va.)
*Your Mama’s* uglier
Than a baboon or a
Dirty dead rat,
Plus she resembles an
Also, she’s fat. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)
Pol from Ukraine, isn’t
One to stand mute;
Calls Putin “d---head,”
We laugh along and say,
“Odessa hoot.” (Brendan Beary)
*Empress *of Washington
(Like Queen Victoria)
Spurning my humor, she
Binned all my entries — why
Wasn’t I choosed?
(Brian Allgar, Paris)
*Still running — deadline Monday night: Our contest for questions that
have rhyming answers. Seebit.ly/invitewk1079.
Next week’s results: *Time Marches Swiftly,* or *Adverbal Abuse, * our
contest for “Tom Swifty” jokes. See bit.ly/invite1077.