Week 1128: Drone for a loop - devilish uses for nanocraft;
Plus winning rhymes of advice on airplanes, chewing and more


BYLINE: Pat Myers


LENGTH: 1784 words


(Click here to skip down to the results of Week 1124, short poems of advice in five categories)

A swarm of CICADAs: the perfect birthday gift for people who could use a little discreet help in blowing out the candles.

Geography classes in Cleveland would have international CICADA contests: Who can drop a micro-drone into Kim Jong Un's bed?

If you're impressed (a.k.a. creeped out) by the prospect of having your porn-book order delivered directly to your front porch from the sky, now there's something that can impress you even more: A few weeks ago, the Pentagon's Naval Research Lab showed off its latest cool gadget: a micro-drone that can fit in your hand yet can be dropped - by the thousands - from 57,000 feet up, undetectable by radar, to deliver "payloads to precise waypoints."

Described by Phys.org as basically "a paper airplane with a circuit board," and named pseudo-acronymically for a swarming insect that seems to appear from nowhere, the CICADA currently is outfitted with just a few sensors. But of course it won't be long until the little bugsters - already costing only a few hundred dollars - can carry cameras, deliver micro-packages . . . what else?

This is what Longtime Loser Jeff Brechlin was wondering. The eternally childlike Jeff, whose obit promises to name him as the author of the Style Invitational-winning and wildly viral Hokey Pokey Sonnet, suggested this contest: Give us some novel uses for a CICADA micro-drone, assuming that anyone can get one, and that it can have a micro-camera, micro-grips, etc. Entertaining scenarios may be described in up to 75 words.

Winner gets the Inkin' Memorial, the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives, in the vein of this week's contest, our Micro Twofer, consisting of a keychain with a little plastic piece of sushi (brought back from Japan by Cheryl Davis) and an inch-tall white ceramic coffee mug, advertised as Squirrel Coffee Cup (from Bruce Alter).

Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired "Whole Fools" Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet designed by Bob Staake: either "The Wit Hit the Fan" or "Hardly Har-Har." First Offenders receive a smelly tree-shaped air "freshener" (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to losers@washpost.com or, if you were born in the 19th century, fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday night, June 22; results published July 12 (online July 9). You may submit up to 25 entries per contest. Include "Week 1128" 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. The headline for this week's results is by Brendan Beary; the honorable-mentions subhead is by Jon Gearhart. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev. "Like" the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook 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 the winners of the Style Invitational contest posted four weeks ago . . .

RHYMES & MISDEMEANORS: THE WINNING SCOLDS FROM WEEK 1124:
In Week 1124, the Empress sought short poems of advice in five matters.

Most of them weren't nearly as good as this week's inking entries, although the Empress did get a laugh at one that rhymed "mouth" and "uncouth" (but not at "leviathan"/"moron," which was simply moranic).

Don't recline your airplane seat: I snore, I pass gas, I rattle;My row-mates have fled - it's me only; They said they could not stand my prattle, So please do lean back - I'm so lonely! (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)

Don't chew with your mouth open: Thy beauty causeth every head to turn.Thy comeliness could launch a thousand ships.But suitors will be few till thou dost learnTo masticate with firmly clos├Ęd lips. (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)

Use your parking brake: If you drive all the girls at school wildWith your daredevil ways and they've smiledAt your fast-moving pace,Use your "parking" brake, ace,Or your "accident" might be a child. (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)

Don't recline your airplane seat: Though the flight attendants are quite rude,Their nastiness is outdone by their food;We're packed in like sardines but with less roomIn cabin air that's piped in from a tomb,Our bags have been mishandled by their handler,The inflight feature features Adam Sandler.This flight has lots of things you can put down;Your seatback isn't one of them, though, clown. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

CLOSE COVER BEFORE STRIKING To light one match is better thanThe darkness just to curse.But if that match should light the rest,You're gonna need a nurse. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

How do I love thee? I've counted the ways:One less now you've set my apartment ablaze.You're a smokin' hot mama, but not all that bright,And I kick myself now, having asked for a light,For you kindled the match with the cover untucked,And my roommates and I are now royally homeless. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

Don't play with fire. But if you should,Make sure the matchbook's closed but good.So listen up (I sound like Mom!):Confine your flames to match.com.(Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Some people think that unions have no sense of obligation;They'll shut the mines, close down the docks, and woe betide the nation.Yet the Manhole Workers Union boss, quite loudly (to my liking),Continually reminds his men, "Close cover before striking." (Richard Lempert, Arlington)

DON'T RECLINE YOUR AIRPLANE SEAT Do not recline your airplane seat. It's risky;You're apt to spill the guy-behind-you's whiskey.If you're appalled by road rage on the highway,Just wait till you're a victim in the skyway. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)

You have a pair of tonsils but don't know itUntil they get inflamed, and then they'll show it.All an appendix ever does is fail,And use an ashtray, you could go to jail!Regard your seat-back button the same way,A useless vestige of a bygone day.Its only purpose is to cause a fracas,Till planes evolve with pallets that can stack us. (Frank Osen)

Don't recline or I will ask the stewardess if maybeI could switch my seat with 14-D-the colic baby. (Rob Cohen, Potomac, Md.)

If you are seated in the seatThat's currently before me,Do not recline or else I'll screamInvective loud and stormy.(This rule, of course, makes perfect sense.But please do not remind meOf the rule's existence ifyou're seated right behind me.) (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)

I know the space you have is smallbut don't recline your airplane seat -that only makes it worse for all behind whose space is also small, and then, of course, they each repeat your action so they, too, appall the one behind with space too small; so don't recline your airplane seat.(Marcus Bales, Cleveland, a First Offender)

DON'T CHEW WITH YOUR MOUTH OPEN Last night, good buddy, as we dined,This thought, unspoken, crossed my mind:"What makes you think that I've aWish to see the way salivaIn your mouth combines with chickenWhen it's chewed? It makes me sicken."But some things simply can't be said,And so I wrote this poem instead. (Robert Schechter)

Beside the sight of mangled munch the last half-hour I've spent:When I suggested "seafood lunch," that wasn't what I meant. (Nan Reiner)

Close your mouth while you chew - it's the least one can do,For it's true there is no fascinationFinding out you've been smacked by some ort that's been hackedThrough an act of inept mastication. (Barry Koch)

There are one or two activities that others shouldn't see;May I mention, quite discreetly, one that's just occurred to me?You'll know what I am hinting at (unless you're really crass),If told its starting syllable is M-A-S, that's "mas-",And "-ation" is the ending; so that now I'm sure that youHave got it. . .("Mastication"! - keep your mouth closed when you chew!)(Hugh Thirlway, The Hague)

Your teeth like tombstones marking graves;Your tongue in motion, making waves:And though this poem may not rhymeCLOSE YOUR &%#$* MOUTH. (Todd DeLap, Fairfax, Va.)

USE THE PARKING BRAKE If you should use your van for "something" other than just driving,Remember now this little tip to guarantee surviving: Make sure the parking brake is pulled, 'cause ultimately your goalIs safety first - in other words, to rock and not to roll. (Frank Mann, Washington)

Pull up your brakeWhen parked on a hill.If you don't stop your carTrust me, something else will. (Ellen Ryan, Rockville, Md.)

On My Failure to Use the Parking Brake in the Swiss Alps When I stopped and we yodeledMy poor Audi got totaled. (Mike Gips)

(To the tune of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco") I left my car in San Francisco,High on a hill, for all to see.I failed to set the parking brake - a knucklehead mistake -And as it rolled, could only stare... in despair.My Porsche rots there in San FranciscoBeneath the brown and rusty sea,And when my paycheck comes, where does this go?To my insurance company. (Nan Reiner)

STOP TO SMELL THE FLOWERS A rose by any name would smell as fine;That (more or less) was Shakespeare's famous line.But all the rose's scent is in the flower;The roots have no such aromatic power.So take my counsel, friend (it wouldn't hurt):Get sniffing while you're still above the dirt.It's pointless smelling roses, it's been found,When you, like them, are planted in the ground. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

Better stop and smell those posies,'Ere they tag one of your toesies. (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)

The busy self-indulgent fellaWill not learn what bliss isIf he never takes the time to smell aFlower named narcissus. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

Violets are blue, roses are red;You can smell neither when you are dead.Daisies are white, daylilies orange;Ummm...Whatever - time's a-wastin'. (Brendan Beary)

At last I've cleared my inbox; that must have taken hours!What's this - another message? It tells me: "Smell the flowers.Don't wait; it's too important." More deadlines I must meet?I know not what it's asking. Could I just hit "Delete"?I scowl and tap my smartphone, for somewhere there must beAn app that I can download to do this chore for me. (Nan Reiner)

Still running - deadline Monday: Our TV series spinoff contest. See bit.ly/invite1127.