Style Invitational Week 1431: The On-Our-Way-Back Machine
Tell how life will be different post-pandemic. Plus winning puns about historic events.
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(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Pat Myers
April 8, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. EDT
(Click here to skip down to the winning history puns — prepare to groan)

Yes, we know we’re not out of the woods yet. A maddening number of people (i.e., anything over zero) have taken our progress against the pandemic as a reason to toss their masks, sneeze on one another, etc.: It’s like running from a wildfire in those very woods, reaching your car, and then setting up a tripod for a really nice photo of the flames before you leave.

Still, as millions of us each day are getting jabbed up (the Empress got her second shot this past week), offices are beginning to beckon us back, traffic slows to that feels-like-old-times crawl, we can’t help but think toward a post-pandemic time — as several Style Invitational readers have suggested. This week: Tell us how (in some funny way) things will be different as we emerge from the pandemic. We’ll have to repurpose all those masks, for example. No strict format; the E is just looking for the funny. Submit up to 25 entries at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, April 19; results appear May 9 in print, May 6 online.

A printable option of the various hand gestures you can make with this week's prize cookie cutter.
A printable option of the various hand gestures you can make with this week's prize cookie cutter. (Photos by Karla Miller)
Winner gets the Clowning Achievement, our new Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a super-handy hand-shaped cookie cutter, suitable for making, duh, hand-shaped cookies whose fingers you may shape into the gesture of your choice. Donated by The Post’s Karla Miller, who created the L for Loser cookie shown here.

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 “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 “Puns Upon a Time” is by Chris Doyle; Chris and Jesse Frankovich both submitted 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; and follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.

The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column will return next Thursday at

They’ll give you a hand: Karla Miller’s daughters Nyssa, 11, and Arya, 8, with cookies made from this week’s prize. (Karla donated a brand-new cutter for us.)
They’ll give you a hand: Karla Miller’s daughters Nyssa, 11, and Arya, 8, with cookies made from this week’s prize. (Karla donated a brand-new cutter for us.)
The “You’re Invited” podcast: A dozen half-hour episodes, including dish from the Empress and the Czar, and tips from top Losers. See

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

Puns upon a time: History wordplay from Week 1427
In Week 1427 we asked for pairs of puns about historic (or legendary) events in the “A, or B” form that was often used in the “next time” teaser on the old “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoon shows. Some of the dates are ballpark figures; in the case of legends, well, whatever.

4th place:
1996: Birth of Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal: Don’t Need Ewe Anymore, or Mutton Two It (Ward Kay, Vienna, Va.)

3rd place:
1869: Transcontinental Railroad completed: Cross-Training, or Laid to West (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

2nd place
and the monster that pops out of your shirt pocket:
1858: Invention of the ironing board: Pressing News, or My Joy in Creases (Sarah Walsh, Rockville, Md.)

And the winner of the Clowning Achievement:
2008: Sen. John McCain announces his running mate: Impalin' the Ticket, or Wasilladvised (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

Lasts from the past: Honorable mentions
The biblical Flood: On Your Ark, Get Set, Go! or High-Intensity Interval Raining (Hannah Seidel, Alexandria, Va.)


God feeds the Israelites in the desert: To the Manna Born, or Wander Bread (Ann Martin, Brentwood, Md.)

500 B.C.: Hindus adopt vegetarianism: We Can’t Go on Meating Like This, or Don’t Have a Cow, Man (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

A.D. 40: Emperor Caligula says he’ll appoint his horse as a senator: Very Stable Genius, or Neigh on the Filly, Buster (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

79: Mount Vesuvius erupts: For the Lava God, Run! or A Pompeian in the Ash (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)

— Flashes to Ashes, or Adjust to Dust (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

500: Irish bishop banishes serpents: Scoring a Pat Trick, or A Whole Lotta Snakin’ Goin’ On (Ken Gallant, Sequim, Wash.) [there is no evidence that there have ever been wild snakes in Ireland]

1518: The Dancing Plague of Strasbourg: Soul Chorea, or In Vitus to the Party (Mary Ann Henningsen Frankenfeld, Oakland, Calif.)

1600: Founding of the East India Company, which grew to dominate trade in much of Southern Asia: Open the Bombay Doors, or India Inc. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

1687: Newton’s law of gravitation: A Fruit-Fall Endeavor, or Apple-ied Science (Mark Raffman)

1688: Common soldier Charles Sanson is appointed Executioner of Paris: The Horseless Headsman, or He’ll Ax You Only Once (Dean Alterman, Lake Oswego, Ore.)

1692: The Salem witch trials: Spellbound, or Hex in the City (Diana Oertel, San Francisco)

1752: Ben Franklin discovers electricity in lightning: Go Fry a Kite, or Someone Left the Kook Out in the Rain (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)

1783: End of the Revolutionary War: The First Brexit, or Hicks Nix Brits in Stix (Stu Segal, Charlotte)

1814: Restoration of the French monarchy: Bonaparting Gift, or Bourbon Renewal (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

1824: Invention of Braille: Give It Your Best Dot, or I Feel What You Did There (Hannah Seidel)

1843: Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” is published: Whither Thou Ghost, or The Turn of the Scrooge (Beverley Sharp)

1845: Andrew Jackson’s parrot removed from his funeral service for swearing: Cold Hickory, or Rites & Responsibilities of Psittacines (Mary Ann Henningsen Frankenfeld)

1846: The Liberty Bell suffers a major crack: Dud Ringer, or Toll Free (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

1846-47: The Donner party disaster: Mother and Fodder, or Who Wants a Pappy Meal? (Tom Witte)

1879: Edison’s electric bulb: A Step in the Light Direction, or Filamentary, My Dear (Jesse Frankovich)

1901: Huge cache of fossils is discovered on the Rancho La Brea property: What in Tar-Nation? or Check Your Pits! (Mark Raffman)

1904-14: Building of the Panama Canal: Can You Dig It?, or Isthmus Be the Place (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)

1912: Sinking of the Titanic: Ay-yi-yi, Captain! or Ship out of Luck (Jonathan Jensen)

— Sink Along With Me, or I Only Have Ice for You (Rob Cohen, Potomac)

1919: Conrad Hilton buys his first hotel: Overnight Success, or Inn: The Beginning (Duncan Stevens)

1922: King Tut’s burial chamber discovered: Mummy Dearest, or The Tomb Where It Happened (Eric Nelkin, Silver Spring, Md.)

1929: Wall Street crash: Stock Bottom, or Apocalypse Dow (Jesse Frankovich)

1938: Superman debuts in Action Comics No. 1: Kal-El-lujah!, or Cape Diem (Perry Beider, Silver Spring, Md.)

1947: Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier: OK Boomer, or Beware the Rides of Mach (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

1953: Rosalind Franklin’s under-credited discovery of DNA structure: Up a Crick, Watson, or You Can Both Go to H-E-Double-Helix (Sarah Walsh)

1960: Kennedy wins out over a perspiring Nixon in the first televised presidential debate: Ugly-Sweater Contest, or Schvitz and Misses (Tom Witte)

1967: Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opens at Disneyland: Bring Us Your Treasure!, or It’s Arrr-Rated (Mark Raffman)

1967: “Summer of Love” in San Francisco: Shall We Gather by the Reefer, or Weed Shall Overcome (Jonathan Jensen)

1974: Mikhail Baryshnikov defects from Russia: Pointe of No Return, or Pliés to Meet You (Kevin Dopart)

1978: Successful birth from in vitro fertilization: Upward Motility, or We Couldn’t Give at the Orifice (Rick Haynes, Boynton Beach, Fla.)

2001: Space station returns to Earth: Russian Back Home, or A Mir Drop in the Ocean (Cheryl Denney White, Hartsdale, N.Y.)

2014: Body-image-embracing “All About That Bass” is a pop hit: That Tuchus Forever, or Lend Me Your Rears (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)

2015: Same-sex marriage legalized: The Rainbow Connection, or Ordering Grooms’ Service (Danielle Nowlin, Fairfax Station, Va.)

2017: Obsequiousness on display at Trump’s first full Cabinet meeting: The Fawner Points of Life, or A Hind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (Kevin Dopart)

2021: The national anthem sung terribly at the CPAC convention: Bomb Bursting, or Treble Without Applause (Duncan Stevens)

And Last: 1993: The Style Invitational debuts: Empressive Czarcasm, or Decency Dies in Dorkness (Kevin d’Eustachio, Beltsville, Md.)

And Even Laster 2003: The Empress takes over The Style Invitational: Catch a Falling Czar, or Another Lousy Magnate (Bruce Carlson, Alexandria, Va.)

Still running — deadline Monday night, April 12: Our annual horse name “breeding” contest. See

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