Style Conversational Week 1502: Limericks on hi-


(*See Loser Brunch Update near the end of this page about the Aug. 21 event)

I’m always happy when The Style Invitational’s Limerixicon rolls around every August, as OEDILF.com — officially the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form, so as not to upset some other OED — continues to amass its five-line rhyming and galloping entries. I first asked the Loser Community to help get the project going with some ai- through ar- limericks in August 2004, in my first year as Empress; Chris J. Strolin, then a Midwestern knife salesman, had started his website a few months earlier.

Week 572 brought a deluge of limericks from all over the English-speaking world, and each Limerixicon continues to generate some 1,000 limericks focusing on whichever sliver of the dictionary Chris is up to by then. In 2020 we did the Ha- limericks; in 2021, the He-. Now, in Week 1502, we say “Hi-.”

And as I’ve done in recent years, I’ve superficially updated and republished “Get Your ’Rick Rolling,” our guide to what limerick meter and rhyme are, according to the Empress. If you’re already a recidivist Loser, there aren’t any important new rules hidden inside; just do your thing, a few pages farther into the dictionary.

(The only logistical update: Since the entry form has been deleting the extra space you put in between entries, please add a line of —- or === or $$$ or ^&^&^&^&^ or whatever between your limericks, so that I can see instantly where one ends and the next begins. We’ll do this for all poetry contests.)

But if you want to be less analytical about it, you can just absorb the rhyme and meter by reading our inking limericks from preceding years.

Below are the top four limericks from 2021′s “he-” contest along with several honorable mentions. For more complete lists — they’re all fab — here are links to the full results of the past three years.

Note that you can use proper names — oh, say, “Hillary” — and that the limerick need not function as a dictionary definition. It just has to include the hi- word more than tangentially; preferably it should be a major element of the limerick. Because we’re a humor contest, your limerick should essentially be a joke, which means you need a strong final line; it’s like its punchline. Wordplay is especially welcome. (Not welcome: obscenities, rape humor, racist humor. Duh, right? Well, I got all three of these in the Week 1498 poems.)

As always, feel free to submit your entries — inking or not — to OEDILF as well; just please wait till the results of Week 1502 are posted online Sept. 15. If your entry does get Invite ink, please mention that when you send it to the ’ilfers. (They call us “WPSI” like some radio station.)

4th place:
Some people are sneerin’ and scoffin’

At jabs like some anti-vax Waffen.

But they’d better take heed,

Get those shots that they need,

Or they’re risking a bad fit of coffin.
(Ward Foeller)

3rd place:

Henry Winkler was hoping to play

Old King Lear, perhaps Hamlet, one day
But when “Happy Days” called,

His dramatic plans stalled,

And he went for a role in the heyyyy. (Mark Raffman)

2nd place:
[This was during the Andrew Cuomo scandal]

There once was a powerful rooster

Who posed as a feminist booster

Till hen after hen

Decreed, “Never again!”

And revealed how that rooster had goosed her. (Melissa Balmain)
And the winner of the Clowning Achievement:
A rumor is also called hearsay;
It’s what gossipy people, I fear, say.
And it might not be true —
Only something that you
(After three or four bottles of beer) say. (Beverley Sharp)
“Bigger government”? Part of the lexicon.

It’s the altar the taxpayer’s neck’s upon.

Someday soon, we may see

An enhanced DoD

In its new, upsized building: the Hexagon. (George Thompson)

When my herbivore girlfriend repeats
How she loves all her vegan-ish treats
I just cut up my steak
And say, “Give me a break —
Girl, a salad’s what my dinner eats!” (Craig Dykstra)
The lumberjacks train the new guy
To fell trees more than 20 feet high:
As you chop, hear it crack,
Shout “Tim-ber!” Step back.
You could say it’s a great hew and cry. (Sarah Walsh)

Redef comedy jam*: The results of Week 1498

(*Non-inking headline by Duncan Stevens)

Sarah Walsh’s first idea for what became Week 1498 was to choose a word that has a prefix, then redefine it by reinterpreting the syllables of the word: “debunk,” for example, to mean take the bunk beds apart.

Nah, I said: People would just go through the pages of dictionary beginning with de- or sub- or co-, and 20 people would send in the same definition. And it would become the same heavy-handed joke over and over.

But then, after pondering this just a short time, Sarah countered: How about if people then had to write a poem using the new meaning? Like this one! Ha, sold. We ended up with a contest that not only produced a large variety of witty ideas, but was also especially fun to do, according to several Losers (though I don’t know if their minds changed when they didn’t get ink).

Some of the entries used sound-puns rather than follow the original idea of reinterpreting prefixes, etc., but they certainly fell within the instruction to use words “in other than their actual meanings.” Anyway, the sound-puns that got ink were very funny sound-puns, and I’d be splitting hairs and benefiting no one had I refused, say, Kevin Ahern’s “It’s the Samsung all over again.”

It’s the second Clowning Achievement for Bob Kruger, who’s consistently funny and creative, but doesn’t enter the contest week after week, not enough for me to guess that a certain poem was a genuine Kruger. His play on “dumbfounded” — imagining that QAnon types were around for our nation’s birth — was the only submission using that word, and Bob’s syntax was readable and natural. And of course timeliness never hurts. I’ll be sending Bob a little “II” flag to attach to the base of his Week 140 Clowner; I have around 30 more trophies to give out to future contest winners who haven’t won one already.

Along with the hundreds of witty, fresh-sounding verses I read for this contest — I can’t count multiline entries automatically, so I can’t give you a figure this week — I saw some that were alarmingly Not Any More You Don’t.

One was a “Little Willie” joke, a rhyming genre about a chronically dastardly child. We did a contest for Little Willies in 2011, and while some of the inking poems back then were traditionally gruesome, the, uh, grue tended to be cartoon violence rather than the graphic, victim-in-distress rapiness of this one (though the word in question is clever and unusual):

Little Willie, known rapscallion,/ Leapt from high upon a stallion./ Landed on a girl, that demon./ From his imp-act, she was screamin’.

And then there was the limerick that began thus. In 2022 — not 1922, or 1822 — in the United States. “Cried a fat negress [sic], ‘Lord bless ma soul!’ ” If you wrote that line — I don’t know who did it — perhaps it’s best that you no longer enter The Style Invitational.

*Loser brunch update — new venue

If you RSVP’ed yes for this Sunday’s Loser brunch in Laurel, Md., to party with retiring Keeper of the Stats Elden Carnahan, you should have gotten an email saying that because of the large group we’ve become (more than 25 people), organizer Kyle Hendrickson (wisely) switched the restaurant to another one in the same shopping center — one that takes reservations. Here’s the new info:

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, Laurel Towne Center, 14714 Baltimore Ave. (U.S. 1), Laurel, Md. — Sunday, Aug. 21, at noon

By now, unless you know Elden personally (in which case please come!), I don’t think you want to add to the crowd this time around; see the Our Social Engorgements calendar at NRARS.org for future events (next one: Sept. 18 at Kilroy’s in Northern Virginia). But if you and Elden go back a ways, please drop a line to Kyle at brunchoflosers@gmail.com. We’ll get you in. See you there!

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