Style Invitational Week 1482: The Tile Invitational IX
Make new words from ScrabbleGrams sets. Plus winning poems using just the ‘ten hundred’ most common words.
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By Pat Myers
March 31, 2022 at 10:08 a.m. EDT
ABGLNOO unscrambles into “bologna,” yes, but Bob Staake saw LOANBOG, an endless mortgage contract. (Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
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Click here to skip down to the poems written with only the most common words
ABGLNOO > LOANBOG: The 793-page real estate contract you have to initial on every page in three places.
DEHNRTU > NERDHUT: A treehouse with multiple routers and a mesh network.
ACDDEIN > DINE-CAD: “She didn’t even smile when I patted her bottom. No tip for her!”
It’s our annual-or-so homage to (a much nicer term than “exploitation of”) the venerable syndicated ScrabbleGrams word game, which runs in the print Post’s daily comics pages. At the bottom of this page are 36 of the letter sets from the long-out-of-print “Big Book of ScrabbleGrams”; each unscrambles into a real word, but of course we don’t care about that. This week: Rearrange the letters of any of the letter sets below to create a new term, then define or describe it, as in the examples above; you may use all seven letters, but also just six or five. As with all our neologism contests, feel free to use it in a sentence, if that makes your entry funnier; there’s a good chance that someone else will come up with the same new term as yours.
How to format your entry: Begin every entry with the letter set you’re unscrambling — follow those examples up there — so the Empress can sort them all into 36 little groups (or, more likely, big groups). Don’t put the letter set and your word on different lines, because you’d gum up the works and the E will be tearing at her tiara. (Don’t try to do italics or boldface; they don’t transmit on the entry form.)
Submit up to 25 entries at wapo.st/enter-invite-1482 (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, April 11; results appear May 1 in print, April 28 online.
Winner gets the Clowning Achievement, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a Mini-Brain Two-Pack: A cute little plush pink human (?) brain that easily fits in your hand and can clip to a key chain; and an itty-bitty music box that plays “If I Only Had a Brain” for as long as you keep cranking it. Both donated by Brainiac Loser Dave Prevar.
This week's second prize, the Mini-Brain Two-Pack. (Stemware for scale.) (Pat Myers/TWP)
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, “A Small Jester of Appreciation” or “Close, but Ceci N’est Pas un Cigare.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/inviteFAQ. The headline “Short Ribs” is by Chris Doyle; Craig Dykstra wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev; “like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at bit.ly/inkofday; and follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.
The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column discusses each new contest and set of results. See this week’s, published late Thursday, March 30, at wapo.st/conv1482.
And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago ...
Short ribs: The common-word poems of Week 1478
In Week 1478 the Empress asked aspiring Loserbards to write a poem using only the “ten hundred” words (plus variants) deemed most common by “Thing Explainer” Randall Munroe’s Simple Writer tool. Entrants turned up some odd inclusions and omissions: “Nine” was missing, but the checker allowed “creature,” “familiar” and — what? — “youngling.” The E got in touch with Randall; he explains all in this week’s Style Conversational (published late Thursday afternoon, March 31).
Poems’ titles didn’t have to be from the list.
Tom Brady Retires, Then Unretires
Once more returns the old ball-guy.
Here’s my belief: The reason why
Of him the team just can’t get rid:
He left, but then forgot he did. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
These boxes, yellow, green, and gray,
Fill up my feed, each night and day.
If you are one who shares each Word-all,
This finger means: I give the bird-all. (Duncan Stevens)
and the cheery-Bigfoot socks:
“You might get killed, from what we’ve heard.
We’ll help you leave. Just say the word!”
This leader, not afraid, replied,
“I need what guns shoot, not a ride.” (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)
And the winner of the Clowning Achievement:
Earth’s Got Talent
Some strange people from outer space will fly to Earth one day
And share with us the things they know and did, light-years away.
We’ll probably shrug and tell those guys we also have great powers:
We change time and make the sun come up at different hours.
(Pam Shermeyer, Lathrup Village, Mich.)
Funny but less so: Honorable mentions
Why am I up at two in the morning
Looking at stupid Face-book?
Why do I care about that girl from high school
And the pictures of lunch that she took?
Tomorrow at work when I can't keep my eyes open
I’ll promise I’m sleeping by ten.
But who am I kidding? In twenty-four hours
I’ll be right back here again.
(Marty Gold, Arlington, Va.)
We’ve circled the city for more than an hour
Showing the world how we hold all the power,
Running our engines and acting real mad
Fighting for rights we already had.
This road’s not familiar – perhaps we should pause;
I think maybe we’re lost – much like our cause.
(Frank Mann, Washington)
Tough Luck, Oligarchs
Because they’re friends with you-know-who
They find themselves in deep do-do;
Big boats, big cars and foot-ball teams,
But life’s less simple than it seems.
For in the end, just-us they’ll get
No hiding place for each as-set.
And when their boats are off high seas,
No tears cried for all-egg-are-keys.
(Jeff Rackow, Bethesda, Md.)
Where is my phone? Oh, it’s here in my hand.
My keys disappeared, I can’t go where I planned.
Why did I walk in this room? I forgot.
I had a good reason. Okay, maybe not.
I went to the store for some eggs and some tea,
Came home with a bird house to put in a tree.
Where is my memory? Help look for it, please.
I’ve left it somewhere, along with my keys.
(Hildy Zampella, Alexandria, Va.)
A sequel to “The Raven”:
The bird upon my stone-art head
Reminds me that my lady’s dead.
The only way to cool my hate:
I’ll see that bird upon my plate.
I smell him through the kitchen door!
He never will say “never” more.
(Sarah Jay, Churchville, Md.)
Put-in, Put-in, Rush-in boot-in’,
Sent a lot of soldiers shoot-in’
Into lands that aren’t his
’Cause that's the kind of guy he is.
(Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)
The rich get rich, the poor get poorer.
Since I’m flat broke, my future’s surer. (Chris Doyle)
Deep Thinking on Jan. 6
They’re counting in the House! Attack!
We have to take our country back!
Our greatest leader won, we know it.
Stand and fight. We cannot blow it.
They’ll take our pictures? We forgot.
Then catch and lock us up? Wait, what?
“If you see something, say something,” train guys all say!
Well, I’m quiet – no stuff to explain.
I’ve seen hardly a thing as I’ve sat here all day,
And I’ve certainly spotted no train. (Duncan Stevens)
Sky-bus riders acting bad from sea to wet blue sea
“Don’t you teach my kid the truth!” dads shouting on TV
Drag our bodies back to work much rounder than before
There goes the place-where-neighbors-live, Deep State family moved next door
Truck guys against fed over-reach are circling 'round the city
This is the new normal. You can see it isn’t pretty
(Roxi Slemp, Bariloche, Argentina)
One should never drink and drive
(I've often heard it said)
That way, when you do arrive
You’ll find that you aren’t dead.
(Milo Sauer, Fairfax, Va.)
The Billionaire's Guide to Escape From Earth
ice turn water
air get hotter
earth grow dryer
soon on fire
go to air now
leave rock there now
fly to new ball
(rich, not YOU all)
(Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)
I should not have done it (I knew it!).
But I said to my guy, “Here, let's do it!”
It was given to me
By that thing in the tree;
Now we’re out on our cans. (Yeah, we blew it...)
(Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
Three Takes on Shakespeare's Sonnet 18
I. Should I suggest you’re like a summer day?
You’re prettier, yet somehow not as hot.
The summer dies, but you will always stay
A youngling in some future reader’s thought.
And if your looks go south before I’m dead,
I’ll look away and read these lines instead. (Coleman Glenn, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.)
II (a limerick). You: a day in a month that is hot,
But more pretty, and nicer (or not).
Here’s a song to be read
Even after you’re dead
To remind all the world what you’d got. (Sarah Jay)
III. May I say you are like a summer’s day?
You are more beautiful, more calm and clear.
Strong winds do shake the not-quite-flowers of May,
And summer’s short – then does foot-ball appear. (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)
Restrictus, after W.E. Henley’s ‘Invictus’
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the hole from up to down,
I thank whatever gods may be
That I'm the hardest soul in town.
It matters not how thin the doorway,
How full the page with wrongs I did.
I did it my way, guys, not your way.
My head's held high. Come at me, kid. (Steve Bremner, Philadelphia)
The ‘Brady Bunch’ Theme, Even Simpler
Here’s the story of a pretty lady, who was bringing up three girls who all were great,
All of them had hair of gold like their mother – the youngest’s wasn’t straight.
It’s the story of a strange old father, who had three much stranger off-spring of his own;
There’s a reason these four guys all lived together and they were all alone.
Because one day when the lady met the old guy
It was clear that they could never be a pair,
For that dad … and all his sons were a-holes
That’s the reason that the story ends right there.
(Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)
Some writing above’s tongue in cheek;
Some will only get laughs from the woke.
A few lines may fall short, but each week
We make many a pants-wetting joke. (Chris Doyle)
And Even Laster: The Losers’ Anthem
(To “Be Our Guest”)
Read our lines! Read our lines! We have lots of funny kinds!
You may think that we are crazy — there are very many signs.
Hurry up, do not wait! Why, the stuff we write is great!
Try the bathroom jokes, they're good ones! (Someone cuts not-understood ones.)
You can smile, you can laugh — well, at least at maybe half —
Should be clear by now we've really lost our minds!
Go on, get out your paper, tell each friend and neighbor!
Read our lines! Read our lines! Read our lines! (Jesse Frankovich)
Still running — deadline Monday night, April 4: Our Mess With Your Heads bank headline contest. See wapo.st/invite1481. And next week … our famous foal name contest.
DON’T MISS AN INVITE! Sign up here to receive a once-a-week email from the Empress as soon as The Style Invitational and Style Conversational go online every Thursday, complete with links to the columns.
The Week 1482 letter sets: You may make a 5-, 6- or 7-letter term. You may not reuse a single letter in your word; think of the letters as Scrabble tiles. (Letter values in Scrabble are not a factor here.)