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No El
(12/15/95 - 12/29/95)

This contest is now closed. But enjoy!

(Click here to go directly to the winning entries.)

First of all, friends, before we announce the new word-game contest (and it's a doozy!), we want you to sing. Come on, don't be shy. Join in with us, and belt this out:

Deck the halls with boughs of holly!
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Tis the season to be jolly!
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Don we now our gay apparel!
Fa la la, la la la, la la la
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol!
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Okay, that was swell. You sounded a bit sharp to us, but on the whole it was quite spirited.

Now, here's the word game. It's a "lipogram," in which one letter of the alphabet is deliberately avoided for stylistic effect. For your lipogram, we want you to rewrite that "Deck the Halls" verse without using the letter L! Obviously you're going to have to rephrase quite a bit of the wording, but we want you to retain as much of the basic information in it as possible. What's more, we want your final sample to retain the same meter and rhyme scheme as the original, so that your new version can be sung to the traditional melody!

As always, we'll look for humor and ingenuity in your entries. The three verses that make us laugh hardest or say "Oooh" most appreciatively will earn each winner will receive an all-expenses-paid excursion to the North Pole --either that, or a free book from The Atlantic Monthly's online bookstore. (AOL participants will also receive 5 free hours.)

Now, jolly trolling! Er, that is--happy song-singing!

--EC and HR

P.S. If you like cryptic crosswords, visit our "Puzzles and Word Games" folder on the Atlantic's America Online message board (keyword ATLANTIC) and join the handful of rather crazed clue-writers who are already at play there! Post clues of your own and see if the gang can solve 'em!



No El Contest Results

(All names without @ symbols are AOL screen names.)

We thought we'd given you an "L" of an assignment when we told you to rewrite "Deck the Halls" without its most liquid consonant. But you sly folks found ways of slithering out of our trap!
Some of you altered your L's by feigning foreign accents, while others invoked that venerable L-and-R-avoiding character of Warner Bros. cartoon lore. GoalieK's song, for instance, began:

Decowate with bwanches sappy
Fudd duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh
Since it's Chwistmas we are happy
Fudd duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh

With no "Fa la la" allowed in the refrains, your substitutes ranged widely from the mirthful (such as SusanB26a's Ha-ha-ha) to the curmudgeonly (EWADYA's Fa-bah-bah), and included jazzy stuff like MainShane's scat-a-wats, rural stuff like PMAFALDA's barnyard moos, and wrily updated sound effects like like Doano's:

Deck our homes for drive-by shootings!
Rat a tat a tat, a tat tat tat

Because the repetitive refrains take up so much room, we've abbreviated some of the stanzas below by indicating the refrain only the first time it occurs. Despite this streamlining, we encourage you to *sing* each of the entries below. We did!
In selecting our winners, we drew from those verses that adhered strictly to the meter and rhyme scheme of the original. Of those, our top favorite was SavWmson's effort, which not only avoided L's in an impeccably singable version but placed the entire song in a pirate context! Our congratulations to SavWmson, and to fellow smile-inducing winners JennyLynB and Fun2B43! Each of these clever songsmiths will receive 5 free AOL hours plus a book from the Atlantic's online store.

And now, a revelry of carols in which all "L" breaks loose!

The Winners

*BLACKBEARD'S NO EL*
Patch the decks with wads of oakum!
Yo Ho Ho Ho Ho, Ho Ho Ho Ho
Pack your pipes with shag an' smoke 'em!
Yo Ho Ho Ho Ho, Ho (Cough!) Ho Ho
Quaff we now our egg-grog ration!
Yo Ho Ho, Ho (Hic!) Ho, Ho Ho Ho
Praise the Son in pirate fashion!
Yo Ho Ho Ho Ho, Hosannah Ho Ho!
(SavWmson)

String those berries in the attic,
hang them up and down the corridors!
We are just beyond ecstatic
since it's wintertime, and we're indoors!
And we're dressed for fashion pages,
putting our spiffiest outfits on!
Sing the tune we've sung for ages--
since it is the shortest Christmas song!
(JennyLynB)

Pick your brain and hum a ditty.
Hardy hardy har, har har har har
Write a song that's cute and witty.
Hardy hardy har, har har har har
There won't be a bit of reason,
Hardy har, hardy har, har har har
Just good wishes for the season!
Hardy hardy har, har har har har
(Fun2B43)

And Our Other Favorites

Pity Santa's weary reindeer--
Prancer, Dancer, Comet, Vixen too!
Sore hooves are this octet's main fear
(Rudy was not there in Santa's crew);
Dear friend, get them padded gym socks--
Donder and Dasher and you-know-who--
Better yet, buy brand-new Reebox
(Counting Cupid, they need thirty-two).
(ShedPot)

Get them crazy wreaths a-showin'
Ring a ding a ding, da ding ding ding
Time o' year for party goin'
Scooby dooby doo, da dooby doo
Smokin' threads for fashion weary
Hoochie coochie coo, ca woochie woo
Croonin' tunes so Christmas cheery!
Scat scat a do wat, do wat scat scat
(MainShane)

Decorate your residences!
Scooby dooby doo, dee doo doo doo
Gather greens from off your fences!
Try on garb with fey ambitions!
Give a voice to church traditions!
(a-johnsu@microsoft.com)

Adorn your digs with greens abundant
Fa na na na na, na na na na
Grin so much it becomes redundant
In our buoyant dress rejoicing
Songs of Christmas past we're voicing
(LostnAustn)

Hang some green stuff in the house!
Sing the name of FDR's pet dog.
What a great time to get soused!
Sing the name of FDR's pet dog.
Imitate J. Edgar Hoover!
FDR's, FDR's favorite dog.
Chant an antique Christmas oeuvre!
And one more for FDR's pet dog.
(BCorr)

What's the way to win this word game?
Fa da da da da, da da da da
Tis the season to achieve fame!
Don we now our gay thesaurus!
Cheer our hosts, they never bore us!
(Kttylttr)

Decorations sharp and ouchy!
Bah humbug humbug, hum-bug-bug-bug
'Tis the season to be grouchy!
Don we now our garments frumpy!
Singing, if we must, but grumpy!
(Copykate)

Wreck your cars at demo derby
(Put a fender-bender on a Buick or two)
'Tis the season to drive nervy
(Pardon me, I got a heap o' shoppin' to do)
Don we now our angry faces
(Cutting off other cars, what a zoo!)
Never mind the Christmas Graces
(Have a crummy day and nuts to you!)
(Ravensegg)

Deck the corridors with money
Ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha cha-ching!
You're in debt and it's not funny!
Use your Mastercards and Visas,
Need to cut them into pieces.

Fast away your savings passes,
Ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha cha-ching!
Use those cards and join the masses.
Down the drain your cash is whizzin'
It's no fun in debtors' prison!
Ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha cha-CHING!
(Taimse)

Deck the house with boughs so funny!
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha, Ha Ha Ha Ha
Tis the season to spend money!
Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho, Ho Ho Ho Ho
Minus now our pay appar-ent!
Oh Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh
It's gone now-our money's spent!
Boo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo, Boo Hoo Hoo Hoo
(CRE8IST)

Festoon the windows with arches Moorish!
Do wop do wop do wop de do
Be happy darnit! Don't be boorish.
Drape your face with a red yashmak.
Shop with the card that gives you cash back!
(StilWillin)

Doc, the nose is mucho runny!
Drip drip drip drip drip, drip drip drip drip
'Snot the season to be funny.
Sniff sniff sniff sniff sniff, sniff sniff sniff sniff
Can we now our sinus dry out?
Ah ah choo, Ah ah choo, Ah ah choo
What's that red thing? No, not my snout.
Hack hack hack hack hack, cough cough cough cough
(DOCTOR GO)

Front to back, the house is deck-ed,
Scoobie doobie doo, di scoobie doo.
Christmas spirits reign uncheck-ed,
Gucci shoes, and suits Armani,
Sing Hey Non, Hey Nonni Nonni!
(RDH9995)

Stuff your foyer with poinsettias!
Nonny nonny nonny, ho, ho, ho!
Mirth and gaiety beset us.
Don some garb that crosses gender.
Join us on our singing bender!
(Ciufi)

Deck the house with boughs of wisteria
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha, Ah ha ha ha
'Tis the season for hysteria
Don we now our gay aspirations
Push the ancient Christmas traditions
(SusanB26A)

Deck the room with rotting green stuff
Tee hee hee hee hee, hee hee hee hee
Tis the time to dance in the buff
Dressing down to birthday attire
Fish for songs about Christmas fire
(GPJester)

Deck the house with green boughs sturdy!
hi de hi de hi, de ho ho ho
Tis the season to be nerdy!
Don we now our ties and satins!
Head for church and ancient matins!
(Pertex)

Hey, I see the Easter bunny!
Hippity-hop Hip-pity-hop-hop
He's got eggs, and weather's sunny!
Who cares that it's brisk December?
Spring is more fun to remember!
(barocas@cems.umn.edu)

Deck the hog and dress the doggy!
Ba ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha
Since you're at it trim the froggy!
Shine the fish and dust the parrot!
Not the hamster, you'd just scare it!
(mcampbll@Trimark.com)

I just found my brother's stocking!
Ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha
Ate the candy, now I'm rocking!
Sugar went right to my head!
Mom and Dad are seeing red!
(Newtarheal)

Decked the boss with gobs of honey!
Fa na na na nay, no work to-day.
Tis the reason he's not sunny!
Don we now his cards of credit!
On our cruise we did forget it!
(DBA Don)

Strike the harp, get banjo humming
Riddy diddy dum, de dum dee dee.
Hearts are brightened by the strumming
Touch hand to hand to mark the tone time
So we can sing this very bad rhyme
(IoftheWind)

Trim the house with verdant tree parts!
Scooby dooby do, be do be do
Now's the time for joy in our hearts!
Dress us up in duds so pretty!
As we sing a Christmas ditty!
(PLUTOLOVER)

Deck the rooms with wreaths of cheer
Fa cha cha cha cha cha cha cha cha
Christmastime is drawing near
Don we now our fancy garments
As we sing of red-nosed varmints
(HendershoC)

Set the creche out in the breezes!
Sha na na na na, na na na na
Tis the way we honor Jesus!
We can wear a smug expression!
At our once-a-year church session!
(NanetteE@visio.com)

Deck the rooms with winter greenery!
Sha na na na na, na na na na
'Tis the time for joy, not meanery!
Don the drag-queen gowns before us!
Sing the ancient Christmas chorus!
(BLRygg)

Trim the rooms with sprigs of greenery
No no no no no, mo mo mo mo
Now's the time for merry scenery
Dressed up in your fine decore - y
Ring your ancient Christmas story
(Nancygum)

Deck the corridor with boughs of greenery
Fa ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma
Tis the season for much scenery
Don we now our christmas duds
Have good cheer and sip some suds
(Leo1231)

Deck the beams with boughs of greenery!
Fa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa wa
Santa's due, so change the scenery!
Don we now our fancy finery!
Sing amid the Christmas pine-ry!
(Camkat)

Dress your home in abundant greenery
Da de da da da, de da da da
Tis the season we grin at the scenery
Now we dress too bright for June
As we sing the aged Christmas tune
(TDarsey)

Deck the house with finest greenery!
Fa da da da da, da da da da
Tis the season to admire the scenery!
Don we now our finest snowsuits!
Singing Christmas songs and wearing snow boots!
(Belle10262)

'Dorn the house with tons of green'ry!
"Not so high with that, you oafish man!"
'Tis the season for such scenery!
"Kids, stop fighting now...or off to bed!"
Don some festive ties and earrings!
"Me wear that? No way, dear! You are nuts!"
Join the songs this season brings
"Don't cut off the tags; it's going back!"
(mhalljoyce)

Corridors of pointed greenery!
Ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha
Now's the time for once-a-year gaity!
Festive garb we put upon!
And sing archaic Christmas songs!
(JoyinArk)

Deck the rooms with bough and berry;
'Tis the season to be merry;
Don we now our gay disguises;
Sing of Cox and Rathvon's prizes!
(JohnD132)

Deck the house with boughs of berry,
Fa ta da ta daah, ta daah taah daah,
'Tis the season to be merry,
Don we now our gayest panties,
Sing the ancient Christmas chanteys!
(LioninOil)

Deck the rooms with bough and berry
Tra ta ta ta ta, ta ta ta ta
'Tis the season to make merry
Don we now our gay attire
Sing out Christmas songs in choir
(WHires9999)

Say! Go mad with shrubs and berries!
Ting a ring a to, a ring ting to
Everyone is dressed as fairies--
Christmas rather makes me happy!
Harmonize on something sappy!
(RiverToad)

Deck the rooms with boughs of cherry
Fa ra ra ra ra ra ra ra ra
Tis the season to be merry
Don we now our happy vestments
Ope the ancient Christmas presents
(Ontarienne)

Deck the rooms with green and cherry
Do Be Do Be Do, Be Do Be Do
Tis the season to be merry
Don we now our gayest trappings
Singing ancient Christmas rappings
(JebMar)

Deck the house with winterberry
Sha-na-na-na-na, Na-na-na-na
Tis the season to make merry
Don we now our fetching outfits
Croon the ancient Christmas song hits
(pjveber@awod.com)

Mix the punch with bright red berries
Dum de dum de dum de dum de da
'Tis the season for the merries
Toast we now with cups of cheer
To you and yours a Happy New Year
(Wordswild)

Rock the house with greens and berries
Da na na na na, na na na na
Tis the season that happiness tarries
We're wrapping up with ostentation
Singing Christmas ditties sans orchestration
(Perdenales)

Deck the homes with boughs of berries!
Ta ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra
Tis the season to be merry!
Don we now our duds so pretty!
Sing the ancient X-mas ditty!
(Tamar4Park)

Hang the hearth with a verdant wreath!
Ta ra ra ra ra,ra ra ra ra
Show your guests your front teeth!
Traipse around in your sister's frock!
On the neighbor's door you must knock!
(Yesrad)

Deck the house with wreaths of heather
Ho ho ha ho ho ha ho ha ha
Tis the time to drink together
Dress ye up in raiment fine
Sing the songs of Christmas time
(Sgrose8411)

Deck the hogs with bows & hurry
sue-ee-ee-ee-ee-sue-ee, ee, ee
Trim the cows and each thing furry
moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo, moo
Don't forget the sheep and goats
baa-baa-baa-baa-baa-baa-baa-baa-baa
Thank them for our winter coats
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
(PMAFALDA)


Copyright © 1995 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.