Style Invitational Week 1396: Hail to Limerixicon XVII!
Write a limerick featuring a word beginning with ‘ha-.’ Plus cartoon caption winners.
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Pat Myers
August 6, 2020 at 9:38 a.m. EDT
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(Click here to skip down to this week’s winning cartoon captions)

Law enforcement was wrong to endorse
Making SWAT teams a matter of course
In the war against drugs,
Since police become thugs
When they make it a HABIT of force.
(Chris Doyle, Week 1084)

When we last dropped in on limerick-meister Chris Strolin, just about a year ago, his quest to create a full dictionary with every word described in limerick form had reached the gr- words. The Style Invitational has been abetting Chris’s mission once a year since the infancy of in 2004, with a contest for limericks that featured words from some sliver of the dictionary. (Current estimate for completion: Nov. 3, 2063.) Now we’re up to … This week: Supply a humorous, previously unpublished limerick significantly featuring any English word, name or term beginning with “ha-,” as in the example above — still so timely, alas — from 2014, a contest for limericks featuring fo- words.


Please see our guide “Get Your ’Rick Rolling” at for our fairly strict rules on limerick rhyme and meter (in a nutshell: “perfect” rhyme, and a strong “hickory-dickory-dock” rhythm in Lines 1, 2 and 5; a “dickory-dock” in Lines 3 and 4; additional unaccented syllables on either side are fine). See about submitting limericks there, if you like, after this contest is over.

Submit up to 25 entries total at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Aug. 17; results will appear Sept. 6 in print, Sept. 3 online.

Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives, apropos of this contest, a useful spritz bottle of Poo-Pourri bathroom spray, which includes a remarkably fine limerick on the bottle:


“There once was a young lad from Rhone/ Whose odor he’d rather disown./ Now he’s taming his poo/ By anointing the loo/ And now happily sits on his throne.” Donated by Dave Prevar.

Other runners-up win their choice of our “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mug or our “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get one of our new lusted-after Loser magnets, “No ’Bility” or “Punderachiever.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at The headline “Smirks of Art” is by Chris Doyle. Join the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at; “like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at; follow @StyleInvite on Twitter. [Beverley Sharp wrote the heading "The last picture show" for the Honorable Mentions, which appears in the print version only.]

The Style Conversational The Empress's weekly online column, published late Thursday afternoon, Aug. 6, discusses the new contest and results at This week she'll share various captions that note details of the cartoons that you might not have noticed.


And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

Smirks of art: Inking captions for Bob Staake cartoons
In Week 1392 the Empress sought captions for four more Bob Staake creations. We shoot for ambiguity, and so we’re happy that the cylinder in Picture D was seen as a can (too many people to credit labeled it “canned laughter”), TP and an electronic assistant, among other things. See this week’s Style Conversational column (published late afternoon on Thursday, Aug. 6) for entries that focus on little details.

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(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Fourth place: “I’d like to spit all over everything on this table and then have you touch it, please.” (Marni Penning Coleman, Falls Church, Va.)

“Are those antennae? You aliens are harder to spot with the face coverings these days.” (Nancy Della Rovere, Silver Spring, Md.)

“Will there be anyone else exposed to madam’s droplets for lunch today?” (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)


“Is the soup du jour made with fresh or dried jour?” (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

“Frankly, I liked it better when I could see you smirking.” (John McCooey, Rehoboth Beach, Del.)

“Tonight, TMZ finds Jiminy Cricket, his fortune squandered, waiting tables in Boca.” (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)

“Me ’N’ U?” I’m flattered, but I don’t even know your name.” (Steve Smith, Potomac, Md.)

Unfortunately, the waiter did not understand the Ellipsis language. (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge, Va.)

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(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Second place and the “durian aroma paste”: To save time, Sid pointed out the manager as soon as Karen approached his counter. (Terri Berg Smith, Rockville, Md.)

“Toss me a chicken! I have to get to the Cottonelle before it sells out!” (Robyn Carlson, Keyser, W.Va.)

Brian immediately recognized the non-gravity of the situation and just pointed the way. (Jeff Hazle, San Antonio)


Instead of wearing a mask, Ethel would do her grocery shopping in one breath. (John Hutchins, Silver Spring, Md.)

“Quick — where can I find your arm reattachment supplies?” (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.; Richard Franklin, Alexandria, Va.)

“Help! I need a fortune in ingredients I’ve never heard of to make a pretentious recipe to serve a bunch of people I don’t even like.” (Bill Bouyer, Ocoee, Fla.)

Ethel was hellbent on winning Piggly Wiggly’s inaugural NASCART race. (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)

“Look out, you’re about to be stung by a giant B!” (Jeff Contompasis)

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(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Third place: Harold thought a pipe would make him look distinguished. (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)

“You said you wanted to try ‘peeking duct,’ didn’t you?” (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)

“What a cool periscope — your nose hairs look like icy pine needles!” (Nancy Della Rovere)


Conversations with M.C. Escher rarely lasted long. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

“Wow! I bet you had a really hard time finding a mask that would fit.” (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Harold and Martha no longer see eye to eye, but Harold is at least trying. (Pia Palamidessi, Cumberland, Md.)

“Help! This Acrobatic American man is threatening my life!” (Mike Caslin, Round Hill, Va.)

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(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
The winner of the Lose Cannon: “First, you’re with Trump in Puerto Rico, then you’re placed on American soldiers — what’s next for you, Bounty?” (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

“My next guest is starring in a new film based on the work of Andy Warhol.” (Frank Mann, Washington)

“So, Alexa, what prompted you to write your new tell-all about Siri?” (Diane Lucitt, Ellicott City, Md.)

“As agreed to by both candidates, the format for this debate will be canned answers regardless of the question.” (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)


“I see that you’ve removed your label in protest, Garbanzo . . . ” (Marni Penning Coleman)

“Fresh from her co-starring role in ‘Popeye’ …” (Ward Kay, Vienna, Va.)

“And my next guest, fresh from that famed film festival in the south of France . . . ” (Steve Fahey, Olney, Md.)

“Tonight we’ll hear a remarkable story of survival from a K-ration who had been hiding on the Marianas since 1945, not knowing the war was over.” (Steve Smith)

Still running — deadline Monday night, Aug. 10: our “plus one” contest to add another element to a well-known grouping known by a number. See

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