Style Invitational Week 1250: Poems of the year(s)— ‘time-travel’ with
Write a poem including some words that were first used in the year
of your choice
(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
By Pat Myers By Pat Myers
(Click here to skip down <#report> to this week’s Questionable
*1917, by Gene Weingarten:
* /A *sociopathic columnist* from *Nowheresville,* America,
Was prone to violent topics that would make his readers wince,
Like *mustard gas *and *ack-ack* guns and other esoterica.
But *“cooties”* got him fired, and he’s not been sighted since. /
This week’s contest focuses on Time Traveler,
fascinating new online feature from Merriam-Webster, the dictionary
folks. If you go to *merriam-webster.com/time-traveler,
* you can search on any year
(or era) from “before 12th century” to 2010 to see a list of words and
phrases whose “first known use” in writing occurred that year. (Of
course, the Empress checked out her birth year and was surprised that
terms as old-sounding as “short fuse” and as new-sounding as “hive mind”
both were babies when the E was.)
*This week: Write a humorous poem incorporating three or more terms from
a particular year or era listed on Time Traveler,* as in the example
above by The Washington Post’s Joke Poet Laureate, who managed to get
/six /words from 1917 — no, that’s not his birth year — into four lines.
Note, however, that the humor and readability of the poem are more
important than cramming it with words from the list. As always with
Style Invitational poetry contests, longer entries have to merit the
space they take up; shorter is often better, though we’ll probably run a
mix of lengths. *Because our entry form won’t show boldface, please
CAPITALIZE your year-words. And, duh (first known use: 1943), tell us
what year.* As always, you may enter up to 25 poems, any of them from
Submit entries at this website: *wapo.st/enter-invite-1250*
Winner gets the *Lose Cannon,
* our new Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives some genuine
swag: a Merriam-Webster tote bag, part of thecompany’s new line
. The bag is labeled with
the hashtag #BringBackFortnightly; below it are the M-W definitions for
“biweekly”: 1. Occurring twice a week. 2. Occurring every other week,
a.k.a .“fortnightly.” In other words, “fortnightly” is a word we need
because we ruined “biweekly.”
The words for wear: A tote bag with this logo — use it biweekly — is
this week's second prize.
*Other runners-up *win our “You Gotta Play to Lose”
Loser Mug or our Grossery Bag, “I Got a B in Punmanship.”
Honorable mentions get one of our
lusted-after Loser magnets, “No Childishness Left Behind”
First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener”
for their first ink). Deadline is Monday night, Oct. 30; results
published Nov. 19 (online Nov. 16). See general contest rules and
guidelines at wapo.st/InvRules . The headline
for this week’s results is by Jon Gearhart; Jesse Frankovich wrote the
honorable-mentions subhead. This contest was suggested by Jeff Shirley.
Join the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at
/on.fb.me/invdev ./ “Like” Style Invitational
Ink of the Day on Facebook at bit.ly/inkofday ;
follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.
*The Style Conversational *The Empress’s weekly online column, published
late Thursday afternoon, discusses each new contest and set of results.
Check it out at wapo.st/conv1250 .
And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .
*MULTI-ASKING: ‘QUESTIONABLE JOURNALISM’ WINNERS FROM WEEK 1246*
In Week 1246, as we do about once a year, we
invited you to choose any sentence in The Post that week (and this year
we extended it to other publications), then write a question that the
sentence might answer (if it were, say, used in a humor contest).
/Sentence from The Post:/ *Blasting will be done during the day and
“very rarely” at night or on weekends.
* /Question it could answer: /How will the Purple Line construction
differ from the president’s use of Twitter? (Jesse Frankovich, Grand
*A. Two people walk by, speaking Swedish.*
Q. What is a sure sign that my wife picked the movie we are watching?
(John Hutchins, Silver Spring, Md.)
/and the little foam balls that turn into spiny mittens:
*A. “We cannot acknowledge every submission.”
*Q. Hey, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, why don’t you tally how often
legislators kowtow to the president? (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
*A. “I would say I don’t usually love red and browns together.” *
Q. What Donald Trump comment got the U.N. Security Council meeting off
to a terrible start? (Steve Honley, Washington)
No-thank Q: Honorable mentions
*A. Sooner or later, Mueller is going to have to start dropping shoes. *
Q: Is it just me or is this the lamest striptease you’ve ever seen?
(Todd DeLap, Fairfax, Va.)
*A. The finale was simply a parade of short dresses exploding with
Q: How did Chief of Staff Kelly revise the traditional morning briefing
in order to hold the president’s attention? (Brendan Beary, Great Mills,
*A: It’s harshly worn, as if eroded over millennia, yet it retains
strength and grace.*
Q: Why do you still have that ratty bra? (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
*A. Prepare to make lots of friends in the coming days.*
Q. Now that you’ve won the Powerball jackpot, what are you going to do?
(Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)
*A. We’re going to find out really quickly where the bar is. *
Q. What’s the first thing that new residents of Topeka say? (Duncan
Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
*A. “It’s like looking at the sun.”*
Q. What did the president say after viewing the eclipse? (Gary Crockett,
Chevy Chase, Md.)
*A. Each hard check drew a collective “ooh” or “aah.” *
Q. What was the reaction among Republican lawmakers when the Koch
brothers visited Capitol Hill? (Mark Raffman)
*A. A year later, they moved into a 300-square-foot studio in Manhattan.*
Q. When did the Joneses realize they’d made it into the 1 percent? (Mary
*A. There is not $1 trillion of federal money available.*
Q. Why did several Cabinet members recently change their vacation plans?
*A. “What is your impression of President Xi Jinping?” *
Q. What question strikes terror in the hearts of Chinese comedians?
*A. We do not tire. We do not take sick days. We do not unionize. We
cost $7 an hour.*
Q. What lines did President Trump add to the oath for new U.S. citizens?
*A. If you don’t feel up to digging all that out, that’s reasonable. *
Q. What would be a polite but ill-advised thing to say to your cancer
surgeon? (Duncan Stevens)
*A. “That’s a tribute to how hard our guys are playing.”*
Q. Dean, what’s your response to the charges that your college is a
party school? (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
*A. The short answer is yes. *
Q. Do politicians often give long, rambling responses to simple
questions? (Duncan Stevens)
*A. My hope was it would attract that piece of the population that’s
Q. Who on earth would join the Whatever Society for the Advancement of
Apathy? (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)
*A. Just go easy on the poor soul who thought they could fool you.*
Q. What advice is a grammar pedant not likely to listen to? (Chris Doyle)
*A. The first thing to consider is whether you want privacy in that area.*
Q. What should you keep in mind when buying yoga pants? (Kevin Dopart,
*A. They’re a must-order, especially after being dunked in the
restaurant’s slightly sweet ponzu citrus soy sauce.*
Q. Why does that new sushi place charge diners for towels? (Frank Osen,
*A. The models emerged wearing enormous court dresses with panniers and
Q. How did the Miss USA contestants guard against unwanted advances?
*A. “He might get ran over a little bit.” *
Q. What might happen to a guy who’s texting as he walks in front of the
hay wagon? (Beverley Sharp)
*A. Press the stem end, and if it’s soft to the touch, it’s ripe.”
*Q. I’m impressed with our new applicant, sir, but I’m not sure if she’s
really ready for the job. What do you think?” (William Kennard,
*A. The collection wasn’t surprising or delightful or even wildly
Q. Why don’t hipsters ever last more than a day or two as garbagemen?
*A. You find it in you because that’s what you signed up for. *
Q. How did you suddenly end up with a microchip implant after updating
your iPhone? (Kevin Dopart)
*A. I wake up every day well aware of my good fortune, loving the work I
do, loving my life, realizing that life is a crapshoot and I’m on a roll
second to none.*
Q. Mr. President, what do you think about people selling toilet paper
with your picture on it? (Frank Osen)
*A. Because he would have killed them.*
Q. Why did no one ever tell Chuck Norris any Chuck Norris jokes? (Duncan
*A . “Their culture is incompatible with ours.” *
Q. Why did Dannon’s chairman say he nixed a merger with Chobani? (Mark
*A. “Obviously there’s great division in this nation right now.” *
Q. Secretary DeVos, why do you think your programs have improved
third-graders’ proficiency in math? (Mark Raffman)
*A. Whatever the actual number is, we know it’s in the trillions.
* Q. How many hours did Losers waste reading articles for this contest?
*Still running — deadline Monday, Oct. 23: our Ask Backwards contest.
See wapo.st/invite1249 . *