Style Invitational Week 1213: Punku

Yup, write us a haiku with a pun. Plus the winning fictoids about
product origins and names

Yup, write us a haiku with a pun. Plus the winning fictoids about
product origins and names

Don't throw away your shot at this week's "punku" haiku contest. (Bob
Staake/for The Washington Post )
By Pat Myers By Pat Myers

February 2

(Click here to skip down <#report> to the winning fictoids about product
origins and names)

*/Alexander Hamilton/ *
*A foggy morning*
*And a hole in your jacket:*
*Burr, it’s really cold* (Jeff Brechlin, Week 453, 2002)

*“We must raise taxes!”*
*“No, we must lower taxes!”*
*Budget: Can’t budge it.* (Dave Prevar, Week 923, 2011)

This week’s contest was suggested by Reader but Not a Loser Rich
Strimel, and it’s straightforward enough: *Write a haiku that
incorporates a pun, *as in the examples above from earlier Style
Invitational haiku contests. Yes, yes, they might not fit the classic
description of haiku

You're sure to sleep soundly with this 3-D-ish Death Star lamp next to
your bed. The colors change, too. This week's second prize. (Pat
Myers/The Washington Post)

For the purposes of this contest:

— *The haiku must be three lines long, 5-7-5:* with exactly five
syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the third. A
website called will
tell you how many are in a given word, though one might argue with some
of its conclusions.

—*The strict definition of a pun *is a play on words between two words
or phrases that/sound/ very much alike, as in the examples above. But
the Empress won’t turn away wordplays that use the same word with
different meanings.

— *It’s fine if two or all three of the lines rhyme.* Or not.

— *A title is optional. *If there’s a pun in it, all the better.

*Submit entries at this website: * *
* (all lowercase).

*Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial
the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational
trophy. Second place gets a very cool night lamp

it’s not really Loserly, to be honest, except for the nerd factor — that
forms a somewhat 3-D-looking image of the “Star Wars” Death Star in
rotating colors. You know it’s truly nerdy when its electric plug is a
USB. Donated by Style Invitational Devotee Kathleen Delano.

*Other runners-up *win the yearned-for “This Is Your Brain on Mugs”
Loser mug

or our Grossery Bag, “I Got a B in Punmanship.”
Honorable mentions get one of our new
lusted-after Loser magnets, “No Childishness Left Behind”
“Magnum Dopus.”

First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener”

for their first ink). Deadline is Monday night, Feb. 13; results
published March 5 (online March 2). See general contest rules and
guidelines at . The headline
for this week’s results was suggested by both Chris Doyle and Jesse
Frankovich; Chris also wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the
lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at /
./ “Like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day
on Facebook at /; / follow @StyleInvite
on Twitter.

*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

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

In *Week 1209 *we asked for totally bogus alternative explanations for
the origins of various products or their names.

4th place:

*Stealth technology for warplanes *came about when an aerospace engineer
discovered that the material used to make laundry hampers was invisible
to her husband and children. (John Hutchins, Silver Spring, Md.)

3rd place:

Although the *turn signal *was invented more than 100 years ago, it
seems that BMW engineers still consider it too experimental to install
in their cars. (Dallas Baker, Arlington, Va.)

2nd place

/and the alternative-fact board game Fact or Crap?


*Bathtub mats* were actually invented as workstation flooring for
Chiquita employees in their packing plants. (Marni Penning Coleman,
Falls Church, Va.)

And the winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:

Traveling down Interstate 40 in early 1967, a marshmallow truck driver
discovered that his truck’s back door had sprung open, spilling out
boxes of his cargo — just when a highway crew was painting yellow lines
on the asphalt. The first Peeps hit the shelves that year in time for
Easter. (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

Others of invention: honorable mentions

*“Kleenex”* comes from the Swedish word for “shirt sleeve.” (Sarah Jay,
Churchville, Md.)

The *motorized canoe *was patented just weeks after the release of the
movie “Deliverance.” (Warren Tanabe, Annapolis, Md.)

A Nebraska woman named Anna Graham developed the prototype for what
would become the game of Scrabble. (Hildy Zampella, Falls Church, Va.)

The *adding machine *was developed in response to the Great Legume
Failure of 1931, when accountants in Chicago were unable to do their
work because they did not have enough beans to count. (Mark Raffman,
Reston, Va.)

*American cheese *came about one Saturday when a Kraft R&D scientist,
having left his 3-year-old unattended for a few minutes, returned to the
kitchen to find a melted pool of margarine and orange crayons on the
stove. (Colin Schatz, Oakland, Calif.)

Boston-based baker Clyde Dunkin ran out of dough one day, punched out
the middle of each of his buns to make a few more, and realized he could
sell *“dough nuts”* for a higher price AND less cost. (Neal Starkman,

*Botox* was invented by a mortician in Utah who noticed that dead people
looked much nicer than their passport photos. (John O’Byrne, Dublin)

*Count Chocula* cereal was named after the legendary vampire whose bite
turned his victims into diabetics. (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)

Cowboys of the Plains states in the 1800s would pull ticks off their
leather chaps and apply them to their parched lips to draw blood and
rehydrate them. The development of a waxy balm eventually replaced this
practice, but the name, *Chapstick,* remained. (John McCooey, Rehoboth
Beach, Del.)

First presented at the Iowa State Fair in 1932, the original*candy corn*
was handmade from corn syrup and earwax. (Mary Kappus, Washington)

The *fortune cookie:* Twelve-year-old Emperor Pu Yi, denied access to
soothsayers by the Imperial Regent, devised this secret method for them
to send him pearls of wisdom, and lottery numbers. (Mark Raffman)

Gleb Kotelnikov invented and tested the first*knapsack parachute* in
April 1911; Gleb Kotelnikov Jr. successfully tested the first knapsack
parachute with nonslip shoulder straps in May 1911. (Kevin Dopart,

*Jose Angostura *was extremely resentful that his girlfriend ran off
with a bartender. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

Just as its police companion is called the walkie-talkie,*the Taser *was
originally known as the runnie-stunnie. (Jeff Brechlin, Apple Valley,

*Mountain Dew* is actual mountain dew, collected each morning outside
the bottling plant on Three Mile Island, Pa. (John Hutchins)

*Opera glasses* became practical only after 18th-century Viennese
inventor Fritz Zauberkünstler stumbled on a formula for lenses that
could not be shattered by the human voice. (Lawrence McGuire)

Sheared from specially bred sheep during World War I, *steel wool *was
developed in Britain for knitting army helmets. (Mary Kappus)

The *Brazilian wax* came about when a clumsy eyebrow aesthetician
spilled a huge glob in the wrong location, claiming to the stunned,
screaming client, “No, really — everyone’s doing it this way . . .”
(Marni Penning Coleman)

The *earliest shoes *had no laces but had holes for them: DNA evidence
indicates that cave men would instead secure them with their braided
foot hair. (Warren Tanabe)

The first *airplane seat *was designed for Wilbur Wright, who was 5-2
and weighed 126 pounds. In honor of his contributions to aviation,
modern engineers use the same specifications to this day. (Jesse
Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

The first *ceiling fans* were installed in the palace of the Mughal Shah
Jagpur II, who was renowned for his love of lentils. (Dallas Baker)

The*toilet *was originally named the “water closet” because of how very
wet it would become. The fixture was eventually redesigned so that the
flushing water would go down. (Warren Tanabe)

Cindy Gunn, inventor of the *T-shirt cannon,* says she was inspired by
her Great Dane: “After I’d seen Horst projectile-vomit everything from a
knee sock to half a couch cushion, the patent application pretty much
wrote itself.” (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)

*Your Mama jokes* were first popularized in 1950, when an Atlantic City
comedian got stuck for two hours behind her in a buffet line. (John

The inventor of the *remote control *would have sent in the patent
months earlier, but it suddenly went missing; eventually it was found in
his refrigerator. (Marni Penning Coleman)

Following his embarrassing bidet incident while visiting Paris for the
1889 World Exposition, John Kohler’s company began distributing
*drinking fountains *in America. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Joseph Ascot created *the necktie *when his wife bet him that he
couldn’t come up with an article of men’s clothing that was totally
useless and still make money off it. (Neal Starkman)

Repurposing an existing product for use in the food industry often
presents a marketing challenge. “Eat Paste . . . for Breakfast!”
achieved minimal success, so Nabisco renamed the product *“Cream of
Wheat.*” This worked marginally better. (Colin Schatz)

Asking his male lab subjects to exercise in frigid water while wearing
an extremely tight nylon garment to cut off circulation to the genitals,
Dr. Ernst Spido studied “nonchemical noninvasive sterilization.” Later,
the garments became popular in the nonmedical application of appearing
embarrassing on the beach. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)

William Stanley invented the *induction coil* in 1893. To this day no
one knows what it does, though scientists suspect it induces something
or other. (Jeff Brechlin)

*Still running — deadline Monday, Feb. 6: Our ScrabbleGrams neologism
contest. *