Style Invitational Week 1369: Shoot some oops — jokes about typos
$#%^ auto-correct and more. Plus winning obit poems for ex-people (and critters) of 2019.

(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Pat Myers
Jan. 30, 2020 at 10:18 a.m. EST
(Click here to skip down to the winning obit poems)

A text: Hi, Max. This is Richard, next door. I’ve been riddled with guilt for months and haven’t had the courage to tell you face-to-face. When you’re not around, I’ve been sharing your wife, day and night, probably more than you. See, I know it’s no excuse, but I haven’t been getting it at home recently. I hope you’ll accept my sincere apology and forgive me. Please suggest a fee for usage and I’ll pay you. — Richard

Second text a moment later: Damn auto-correct. Not “wife” — WiFi!!!

When Loser Michelle Stupak shared the joke above in the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook (and Loser Elden Carnahan suggested it as a contest), there was a middle section about Max shooting Richard to death and then getting this second text, but you get the idea without the violence. So: This week: Tell us a concise original joke that revolves around a typo or misheard word. Shoot for 100 words or fewer; the example above comes in at 86. Good, effective joke-writing will get the ink: The best jokes will be clear but won’t hit the reader over the head with an obvious punchline. You can use any genre of humor if it doesn’t run too long.


You sneeze, monkey doo: This week's second prize. (Pat Myers/The Washington Post)
You sneeze, monkey doo: This week's second prize. (Pat Myers/The Washington Post)
Submit up to 25 entries at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Feb. 10; results will appear March 1 in print, Feb. 27 online.

Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a lovely and useful addition to any fine home or motorcar: It’s a winsome plush monkey that dispenses tissues from its red-rimmed butt. Donated by rookie Loser Steve Smith.

Other runners-up win their choice of our “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mugs or our “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get one of our lusted-after Loser magnets, “Too-Weak Notice” or “Certificate of (de) Merit.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at Jesse Frankovich, Jon Gearhart and Tom Witte all came up the headline “Laugh After Death”; Duncan Stevens 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, published late Thursday afternoon, reviews each new contest and set of results. Check it out at

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago …

Laugh after death: Obit poems from Week 1365
In our annual obit poem contest, the Empress asked for short poems about those who reached their expiration dates in 2019. As usual, the Loser Community dug up — er, discovered — some fascinating formers.

4th place:
Fred Cox (1938-2019),
co-inventor of Nerf football
His toy’s a neurologist’s dream —
Soft footballs won’t get you concussed!
If only pro leagues would adjust
By issuing one to each team
And swapping each stadium’s turf
For 1.3 acres of Nerf.
(Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)

3rd place:
Dan Robbins (1925-2019), inventor of the paint-by-numbers kit
He’s gone to his eternal slumber
In (7) Earth and (18) Umber.
(Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)


2nd place
and the little monster head that pops up from your pocket:
John Dingell (1926-2019),
longest-serving member of Congress
Of late Representative Dingell,
A person with class might have said,
“With statesmen in heaven you mingle!”
Trump chose to be classless instead.
To Dingell, with great veneration,
We offer a toast, raise your cup to him!
Though Trump gives him no admiration,
One day he will surely look up to him. (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)

And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
George Laurer (1925-2019), inventor of the bar code
In the annals of science, no person did more
To relieve the long lines in the grocery store
Than did George Joseph Laurer, whose bar code allows
Us to breeze through the checkout with no time to browse.

But I wish that he'd minored in English in school
And invented a bar-coded grammar-check tool
To inform the unedified store-sign reviewer,
This checkout's for folks with "10 ITEMS OR FEWER."
(Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)


Fail of tears: Honorable mentions
Don Imus (1940-2019),
frequently offensive radio host
I. His fans will miss his slurs and slime;
Grief their (low) brow’s adorning.
I found him crude and dumb, so I’m
For Imus not in mourning.
(Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

II. Some Rutgers alumnae may feel a bit happy
That Imus is taking his eternal nappy. (Ken Kaufman, Derwood, Md.)

Ronald Cyr (1954-2019),
Darwin Award winner
Ronald Cyr, age 65, a most distrustful chap,
Determined to defend his home, devised a booby trap.
He rigged a handgun’s trigger so when opening the door,
An unsuspecting burglar would be burgle-ing no more.
His booby trap worked right on cue! The burglar, is he dead?
No, Ronald absent-mindedly walked through the door instead.
The moral’s not mysterious:
Don’t mess with guns — they’re Cyrious.
(Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)


George Rosenkranz (1916-2019),
an inventor of the birth control pill
Higgledy piggledy,
Mister George Rosenkranz:
World population is
Lower (a ton)

Thanks to his efforts in
Thanks to his passing, it’s
Lower by one.
(Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

Ric Ocasek (1944—2019),
lead singer of the Cars
The Beetle, the Gremlin, the Pinto — so classic —
The Yugo, the Chevy Chevette.
And now we can add to this list Ric Ocasek:
These Cars have their makers all met. (Jesse Frankovich)

Russ Gibb (1931 — 2019),
started 1969’s ‘Paul is dead’ rumor
On McCartney’s next album, just slow down that whir,
Isolate, play it back, and he’ll chant: “Daed si ssuR.” (Frank Osen)

Bill Buckner (1949-2019),
baseball all-star whose fielding bobble cost the Red Sox a World Series game
I. Life makes promises,
then reneges.
Death slipped in
between his legs.
(Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)


II. I hadn’t heard you’d reached the wall;
Your pall has found its bearer.
It seems I wasn’t on the ball,
So please forgive my error. (Duncan Stevens)

The Woeful Tale of George the Snail (2004-2019)
the last of the species Achatinella apexfulva
They named him George, and that’s all right,
Though “he” was a hermaphrodite.
This lonesome”male” was sure to fail;
To breed, he’d need another snail.
But nature’s cruel, as you well know;
He was the final escargot.
Someday they’ll clone his frozen foot;
For now, his species is kaput. (Beverley Sharp)

Herb Kelleher, 1931-2019,
head of Southwest Airlines
Are you flying Southwest Airlines? Great!
Your plane’s on time, but Herb Kelleher’s late.
(Dean Alterman, Lake Oswego, Ore.)

H. Ross Perot (1930-2019),
third-party presidential candidate and fierce opponent of NAFTA
I. When you were laid upon the bier,
Then lowered in the ground,
I hope that no one said, “I hear
A giant sucking sound!”
(Duncan Stevens)


II. Is Ross Perot now down below,
Or up above ascendant?
Or has he found a middle ground
That suits an independent?
(Jesse Frankovich)

I.M. Pei (1917-2019),
After the pyramid at the Louvre
I.M. Pei had nothing left to prouvre. (Ira Allen, Bethesda, Md.)

Anthony Hilder (1935-2019),
propagator of conspiracy theories:
After pushing a series
Of sinister, snazzy,
Surprising pet theories,
He’s left us … or has he? (Melissa Balmain)

Gary Burrell (1937 — 2019),
co-founder of Garmin GPS
We’ve lost him, so it’s indicating;
No chance he’s just … recalculating? (Frank Osen)

Two reflections on Rosie Ruiz (1953-2019),
who took the subway in the middle of her New York City Marathon run, and similarly cheated in her Boston “win”
Said Rosie Ruiz,
“The facts are plain.
You cannot win
Unless you train.” (Robert Schechter)


A limerick in memory of Rosie Ruiz:
She must, from the start of the race,
Have set an incredible pace.
She ran …
… in first place. (Ken Kaufman)

Tao Ho (1936-2019), designer of Hong Kong’s flag,
and Frederick Brownell (1940-2019), who designed the flags of South Africa and Namibia:
Many artists will get their work shown
When they’ve passed —
But only a few get it flown
At half-mast. (Melissa Balmain)

Peter Tork (1942-2019),
of the Monkees
I just heard the news on my shortwave receiver
That Peter Tork died, and now I’m a bereaver. (Chris Doyle)

Jerry Herman (1931-2019)
composer of “Hello Dolly” and “La Cage aux Folles”
(to the tune of “I Am What I Am”)
I am what I am
(Although past tense would be more fitting).
I gave it my all
This mortal plain I am now quitting.
It’s my life and I lived it fully yes, by golly,
Now I’ll lead a chorus singing “Goodbye, Dolly.”
Friends, don’t be sad, ’cause
I lived life well, and now “I am” is “I was.”
(Mary McNamara, Washington)

George Mendonsa (1923-2019),
who said he was the “kissing sailor” in the famous V-J Day photo:
In sudden, public smooches, you were
Well versed.
Up there, you spot an angel … kiss her?
Ask first. (Duncan Stevens)

Two Texans who tried to jump a drawbridge in their car
Unless your first name’s “Blues” and last name’s “Brothers,”
Don’t race a drawbridge, if you have your druthers;
The worst thing, falling short, is
Often rigor mortis. (Frank Osen)

Unnamed poacher in Kruger National Park, South Africa, killed by an elephant, eaten by lions
One night a greedy poacher in pursuit of rhino horn
Came face to face with justice, leaving family to mourn.
He and his pals sneaked in the park; an elephant attacked!
His friends were in a frenzy as they watched him getting whacked.
The lions were delighted! An embarrassment of riches
Just waiting to be eaten! (What they left: his skull and britches.)
The moral of this story (it’s a pun; I know, it hurts):
When poachers prey in national parks, there might be just desserts.
(Beverley Sharp)

What a Way to Go
Various decedents
A temp worker drowned in a chocolate-filled vat;
An elephant fell on a hunter — kersplat!
In Australia, a woman died getting an egg
When a rooster attacked her and pecked at her leg.
A device that was rigged by some self-taught schlemiel
Killed a granny attending a gender reveal.
What with all the weird ways people breathed their last breaths,
I’d say 2019 was a year for weird deaths. (Chris Doyle)

Philip Gips (1931-2019),
movie poster designer
His best work? Could be “Rosemary’s Baby.”
Or “Superman,” “Network” or “Alien,” maybe.
Great talent gets passed down, you all might be thinking.
Yet I’m only good at the art of not inking. (Mike Gips, Bethesda, his son)

Still running — deadline Monday night, Feb. 3: Our cartoon caption contest. See