Style Invitational Week 1406: The news could be verse
Write an acrostic current-events poem. Plus our latest new words.
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(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Pat Myers
Oct. 15, 2020 at 9:57 a.m. EDT
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(Click here to skip down to the winning 14-Scrabble-point neologisms)

“Man blows up part of house while
chasing fly” —

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

A Frenchman was about to eat his food.
He loathed to share his dinner with a fly,
And since one pesky fly had dared intrude,
Resolved at once this fly would have to die!
Dispensing electricity in sparks
That fizzled from a swatter he now held,
Our Frenchman chased the fly, but left no marks,
Since flies are so adroitly self-propelled . . .
What happened next brought kudos to the fly:
An undetected gas leak filled the room
To spark a blast that blew the roof sky-high.
For miles around the neighbors heard it boom . . .
Luck blessed the man. Just minor burns had he.
You know the rest: The fly escaped scot-free!

The Empress saw that acrostic sonnet as one of the “poems of the week” on the website of the journal Light and ding! Contest! Okay, Loserbards: Write a poem based on a recent news article, in which the lines’ first letters spell out the title or subject of the poem, as in the example above. They certainly can be shorter than Mike’s poem, though; one-word titles are fine. Please cite where and when the article appeared; include a link to it if you can.

I'll just call myself the Emp. This week's second prize.
I'll just call myself the Emp. This week's second prize.

Submit up to 25 entries at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Oct. 26; results will appear Nov. 15 in print, Nov. 12 online. (As in after the election. So you might want to avoid news stories that will be out of date by then.)

Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives yet another of our Face Masks That’ll Make ’Em Look Twice, this one printed with a nicely trimmed beard.

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 lusted-after Loser magnets, “No ’Bility” or “Punder-achiever.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at The headline “Laugh Begins at 14” is by Jesse Frankovich; Howard Walderman wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at; “like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at, and follow @StyleInvite on Twitter. Today’s poem is reprinted with permission of Light and the author.


The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column discusses each new contest and set of results. See this week’s — published late afternoon Thursday, Oct. 15 — at

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

Laugh begins at 14: Inking neologisms from Week 1402
To celebrate our 1,400-and-counting weeks of defiling The Washington Post, the Empress asked for new terms whose letters add to 14 Scrabble points (not counting blanks, doubles, etc.) for Week 1402.

4th place:
SHAMNESIA: “Hush money? I don’t remember anything about that. Maybe you should ask Michael Cohen. I hardly know the guy.” (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

3rd place:
DUMBRAGE: Indignation based on ignorance. “How dare you say you’d like to emulate me, you filthy pervert!” (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

2nd place
and the Emergency Underpants and Pimp Oil car perfume:
NAGIVATION: The art of backseat driving. (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)

And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
BUPHOON: An ill wind from Washington that blows nobody any good. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney, Md.)

Unfourteenate: Honorable mentions
NOSHTALGIA: Remember when we could gorge on nachos and beer and not gain a pound? (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)


TYRANNODON: Creature we thought could not possibly exist today. (William Kennard, Arlington, Va.)

ABSENTIFA: A group of dangerous anarchists that terrorizes people by not showing up. (Jonathan Jensen)

ATLASHRUGS: Gestures that show you don’t care. “When asked about the death rate, the White House official gave an atlashrug.” (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

THISTOPIA: 2020. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

BELLOWIER: What one candidate tries to be in a “debate.” (J. Larry Schott, West Plains, Mo.)

BIFECAL: They used to be rose-colored, but lately I’ve been seeing the world through this kind of glasses. (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)

BULLIGERENT: Not only spouting total BS, but doing it while someone else is trying to talk. “In tonight’s debate, the president was . . .” (Jonathan Jensen)

CARDAVER: The mannequin you put in your passenger seat when you’re driving solo in the HOV-2 lane. (Wendy Shang, Falls Church, Va.)


CONDUMB: What you are when you insist on using Durex XXLs but they keep falling off. (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)

COVFEE: Miracle potion drunk by POTUS to cure himself. (Edward Gordon, Austin)

DORKLY: Extra-clumsily. “Coming in from the patio, Ernie walked through a glass dorkly.” (Chris Doyle)

EGONOMICS: Maybe that was Trump’s major in business school. (Chris Doyle)

ENVOYEUR: State Department position created for Jerry Falwell Jr. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Mom always said I could date once I turned 16. Now I’m there and she says 18. I’ve been LINDSEYED. (Steve Fahey, Olney, Md.)

LINDSEYOIL: A slippery substance that keeps the wheels greased in Washington. (Jonathan Jensen)

FRETTORIC: Playing to the audience’s fears — or creating fears for them. “ ‘He will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,’ he began in a speech full of frettoric.” (Jeff Rackow, Bethesda, Md.)


VOODOODOO: The Curse of 2020. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

FUBARITIS: Another super-spreading malady at the White House. (Harold Mantle, Walnut Creek, Calif.)

HULULEMON: A boutique selling shapeless sweatpants for binge-watching TV. (Duncan Stevens)

LAUERINGLY: “You’ve been leering at me laueringly since I stepped into your office — now unlock the door.” (Sam Mertens, Silver Spring, Md.)

NOTCAKES: The quintessential commercial failure: “The new sardine-flavored protein bars sold like notcakes.” (Perry Beider, Silver Spring, Md.)

MAILINGNANT: Current state of the Postal Service. (Edward Gordon)

PROTESTINATE: “I really, really need to speak out about that outrage! I mean, not right now . . .” (Frank Mann, Washington)

ZANON: Most boring conspiracy theory ever. (William Kennard)

QANAL: A right-wing conspiracy group alleging that a cabal of deep-state proctologists is inserting intel chips with enemas. (Kathy El-Assal, Middleton, Wis.)


QUITR: The kid who dropped out of the spelling bee. (Frank Mann)

RALPHIEST: “I shouldn’t have eaten the jalapeño chili with the pork vindaloo. It was the ralphiest combo ever.” (Roy Ashley, Washington)

FLOPTILLA: The Trumpers’ boat parade that sank itself in its own wake. (Frank Mann)

SCOTUSBALL: Political sporting event in which the rules change depending upon who has the whistle. (Mike Greene, Richmond, Va)

SHALLOTOSIS: Something between onion breath and garlic breath. (Chris Doyle)

AMERDABLE: Having the potential to turn into sh. . . um, trouble. “A photo op with a puppy should be a slam-dunk, but it’s Trump, so it’s definitely amerdable.” (Wendy Shang)

TRUMPOLINE: White House exercise equipment. (“Jump!” “How high?”) (Beverley Sharp)

WEDNOODLE: A honeymoon downer. (Chris Doyle)

WHATAGE: The lack of clarity produced by a dim bulb. “The journalists tried to parse the president’s debate answer, but were overwhelmed by the whatage. (Danielle Nowlin, Fairfax Station, Va.)


MOJOE: It had better be working, is all I can say. (Jonathan Jensen)

LOLLAPALOSER: A wannabe comedian who thinks somebody will publish all 25 of his entries. (Chuck Helwig, Centreville, Va., who at least was 1 for 18 this week)

Still running — deadline Monday night, Oct. 19: Our “grandfoals” contest. See

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