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Atlantic Unbound Sidebar

(5/17/96 - 5/31/96)

This contest is now closed. But enjoy!

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

The idea for this contest was suggested by EBrahinsky, whose America Online account is hereby taken out for a drive, washed, waxed, and refueled with 5 free hours courtesy of The Atlantic Monthly.

In EBrahinsky's game, you start with a word or phrase and find shorter words that are mixed up within it. For example, if you started with NORTH DAKOTA, you'd find words like DARK, DANK, DOOR, HAND, HOOK, THROAT, ANORAK, and TORNADO (but not HEART or ORATOR, because the original phrase has no E and only one R, see?). Then you use these shorter words to make a sentence, quip, dialog, anecdote, or poem. For example, words scrambled out of NORTH DAKOTA could yield:

Noah had an ark, a toad, an ant, a roan, a rook--and a rat that drank a tankard.

Well, maybe that sentence was "not too hot" (another phrase you could derive from NORTH DAKOTA). To show us how much funnier you can be, enter our "States of Confusion" contest by picking any of the 50 U.S. states and playing EBrahinsky's game with it. Give your imagination free rein--but don't let your entry run longer than 100 words. To give you one more example, you might pick the state of MAINE and create the entry:

I'm a mean man:
I, me, mine?

Get the idea? Senders of our three favorite entries will each receive a book from The Atlantic's store and 5 free America Online hours (if they are AOL members).

We will continue accepting entries through Friday, May 31. Results will be posted on Friday, June 7.

--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!

CONTEST NAME Contest Results

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

The votes are in and... Washington wins! That is to say, Washington was the state chosen most often for this game, edging out Rhode Island and West Virginia for the anagrammatical honors.

While it's true that states with long names yielded the most varied entries, some less popular states inspired small gems. A master of the short form was contestant Morgan@tanet.net, who sent several like the following (this one from Alabama):


Alabama also produced the contest's jokiest entry. It came from wiseacre Ravensegg, who claimed that his two-year-old daughter "was singing a lovely song, just before she ran into the bathroom door":

"La la la la la la la, la la la la la la la la. La la la la la la la la."

In a more serious vein, we received nifty entries from scores of entrants, some of whom composed quite elegant poetry. Leroy2001 even fashioned his entries into palindromes! LeonardJK gets a special tip of the hat for including Puerto Rico as a potential fifty-first state. And Abu Amaal garners twoscore and ten salutes for sending an entry for every state of the republic (although another joke is played in Abu Amaal's Hawaii entry, as you'll see below in our alphabetized-by-state listing). Abu Amaal also tried to convince us that the official name of Little Rhody is "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations," which would, as Abu Amaal archly suggested, "deliver colossal phrases spelled in endless variations."

Abu Amaal was destined to reach the victory stand with one of those fifty entries, and as it turned out our favorite was for the state of West Virginia. Abu is joined on the podium by EZWriterMJ with a Wild West postcard (fashioned from Rhode Island) and SMPolonsky, whose two-part entry for New Hampshire totals exactly 100 words (our prescribed limit). Congratulations Abu Amaal, EZWriterMJ, and SMPolonsky!

The Winners

Vegan views are strange. Viewing Vegan TV, I saw vegans raving in anger: "Triage is a grave sin!" Vegans are striving in vain I wager.
As I was viewing Vegan TV, I ate a great vegan stew. Want it?
New VEGAN STEW, serving ten: (Grain, vinegar, gin)
Rinse grain in rain water.
Stir grain in wine vinegar, strain grain, wait.
Stir in gin stinger.
Insert wire ring in grain, invert ring, singe grain.
Wave ring in air.
Eat stew!
(Abu Amaal)

Dear Dad,
Hi ho. I hired an old Idaho die-hard as an aide. He led a loaned herd. I rode also. He rides his horse side saddle and leans shore side. He died alone. So sad.
I done landed on a lead hoe handle in a sand hole. Lord, did I slide! I is real sore. Ordeal. Riled. Nailed nose. Red! Soiled hands. Held shined head and heard noise. I said slander: OH DA_N!
Send Dr. Slone or I is dead also.

1) I Whine:
We rash men aspire in war--a pain spree! I weep in shame. We spar, snipe, rape, spear, whip, ram! We erase eras in a whim. Where empires were--a swamp, a sewer, ash. Ares, Mars, Amin, IRA--new names, same rehash. I wish we were wiser!

2) I Pine:
I swear, Irene's in prime shape. When she wears her sheer wrap, I'm ape! Her hair's shine awes me. When I see her, I see Paris; when I'm near her, I'm near Spain. When I'm in her warm arms, I hear harps! I'm hers--I wish she were mine!

The Fifty States in Alphabetical Order

A lamb, ma'am.
A balm, Ma.

Laks? Skal! (Abu Amaal)

In iron Iran: no rain, nor Arian, nor ion in air. (Abu Amaal)

(Extinction of the boojum)
An ark sank - a snark sank. (Abu Amaal)


A frail calf can coil foil in rain. (Gametime2)

Corn loaf, cola 'n' flan. For info: Olaf 'n' Lorna, Inc. (HobbsHs)

If I fail to frolic or (ironic) fail to loaf,
I, a frail foal? No. I, an oaf.
No aria or air of fair flair, nor coral rain.
No, I frolic, I loaf;
I coil, foil a lion in final calf.
I, a falcon. I, a foal.

Can I fail if I frolic in L.A.?
I can loaf in a car or in a can.
Can I nail a carnal fan?
For a fair calf afar I ran.

A carnal fornical frolic in L.A. (Toxwaste)
A facial racial liar in C.I.A. (Toxwaste)
I fail a cranial focal final- no A. (Toxwaste)

Cal or Ron can coin a car or can for a facial or a fin. Rain can fail lorn corn or a fan can air a car. (RWoods0843)

I ran in a can
for a fan in Iran;
In an R.C. cola can.
Can Alf, or Al? I can.--
A 'Forniac

Flora, an anal, roan calf, can frolic in fair rain. A carnal lion can carol an aria for franc or lira. A coral falcon can foil an oaf for info or an acorn. An ironic clan can coin a loan, iron a fan or oil an icon. Corn, arnica, farina, ail, for loci arc on air, lain on fir, ran on coal. I, an anal oaf, fan a final oral rail; cola for finical, fair, Flora on a cairn, in a canal, can con no arnica, no farina, no acorn. Ciao.


A Lad: O Carol--oral odor!
Carol: O cool cad--a door!
Coda: A road... a load... dolor.
(Abu Amaal)

Unction: In tunic, intone "O tectonic icon" in tonic (C). Nice tune! (Abu Amaal)

(a business letter)
Red Deer, Delaware

Dale Drew, Leader;
Lew Elder, Al Lee, Red Wade


Dear Dale;
We are a leader! Al Lee, a raw lad, read real deal! Drew a red deer- Lew awed! (Award dear wad!)
We were aware, Dale--Lee a real "Lard Dealer!" ---
Dee Lear, Ad dealer

A Flair for a Fair Lad...
Lord, I rail for Alf....
Rid fad of Lad...

(An ode which may be ascribed to Ponce de Leon upon discovering that there was no Fountain of Youth)
A fiord of olid oil.
A lard load, old if fair.
A florid road for foal of Dora
A fir, laid far, of air.
I'd raid or loaf or roil.
I'd dial for Lori: "Lo! Ad ora".
A rad lord rod I'd foil.
O Florida, If I do ail,
Old id, do aid or fail,
I rail.

Gore, Igor! Ogre, go gorge! (Abu Amaal)

Aha! I double you! (Abu Amaal)

I'd hid a hod, I had. (Abu Amaal)

Ahi? Had I hid Ahi? Ha! (Leroy2001)

No lion's loins, so no son. Nil! (Abu Amaal)

An ani in India? Na. (Abu Amaal)

Ow! (Abu Amaal)

A Sanka? Ask an ass. (Abu Amaal)

Cue uke: cute ten cent tune, key "E"--Tunk tunk tunk tunky tunk.
(Abu Amaal)

Soil in a salon is no sin, ails no soul, nisi anal. (Abu Amaal)

Mean men mine in Maine.
I am a mean man.
I mean me, I'm mean.
A name: Me.
An aim: mine.
A mine I mine: Mine.

An army man may land and lay a lady. (Gametime2)

Nard, a dram a day, may arm a randy layman. (Abu Amaal)
A madly randy layman may alarm a lady any day. (Abu Amaal)
Nary a dam may mar a dray, my lady. (Abu Amaal)
A lady may damn Adam. (Abu Amaal)

Masses muse as chums chase seats at Mass. (Darlindare)

Ms. Tess cheats at chaste as much as the masses must. (Harley7000)

A cat chases a cheat
The cheat met a teach
The Teach uses a seat at the sea
The Cheat uses the same seat
She chats at the cheat
The cheat amuses the teach
The teach shames the cheat
The cheat's heat steams
The teach has a mate.

I am an aching man in a magic can. Aiming nigh, I gain an inch. (PayPete1st)

"I am Micah, main magic man, nag!
Inca magi can hang a manic hag."
Chiming in, icing an aching chin:
"I am Gina, a magic gin!
I can gain chain icing him!"

In Michigan, a manic man aiming a magic nag can gain an inch in ham. Hang a chiming china chain nigh him. Aim him, main chin in gin. (Agnes7777)

Inmate son is insane--smote a neon nose & one ant's toes.

Meat--a sin not to eat.

Mane is insane, I mean it, son. (SusanB26a)

TOS, set to smite onanism on nation's net, names Metso "I'm no saint" Metso.
To Metso, onanism "is innate; it isn't a sin, it's neat-o!"

I mean to nominate a most tame nest, as it is mine! (Mishawaka)

I sip sips, sips I sip. I sip sips I sip - ipsissimi sips. (Abu Amaal)

I miss Rio's rum, our Miros. Moss rims our Miros, I'm sour.
(Abu Amaal)

To Ma,
Moan not to Tom, an ant. No, moan to Mona, a manna moat. An ant at oat on a moat. Man! Atom ant on a tan ton!--

A man... a tan... an atom: Anton (Mezzomezzo)

Bakers bake beans. Bears bask, break bark. Bankers ban bare bras. Ask Ben: Ben, are bare bras bankers' bane? Ben bares saber, barks: Na. (Abu Amaal)


Eva - Dave.
"Ave, Eva."
A Dane? De nada!
(Abu Amaal)

New Imps
See Hemp
As Mesh.

When Shemp was a mere shrimp, he ran a shrew masher in an Amish swamp! Newer eras saw him raise hairs in his sharp rise as a rash, ham ish champ!

When shrimp ripen, wise shipmen wash in rain. Phew! (SavWmson)

Wise men raise sheep? Are "ewe shear"? (SavWmson)

Marie, near Paris, wears men's Hanes when she has a wee nip. (Rhine wine is her main sin, see?) (SavWmson)

Pam has her share.
I wish she was here;
Her hair is as wire!
I aspire to inspire her:
Hairpins are fair in repair;
An answer is Nair.

I was in awe as I saw a swan arise in a swamp. A mean wasp was in a swarm. A man was near me. A rash was seen in his arm. I hear a whimper in my ear, he was in pain. We ran when we saw a wasp. A ship was near a pier, where we saw a mesh seine. We swam in as a pair, ah me! In a snap, we were in a ship.

Yes Jen,
We Sneer, We Jeer
We Renew, We're Serene

Re yer news--

Ye Jews, eye ye wrens! See ye wee wrens?
Jeer ye? Jeer ye wry jeers?
Yes ... we wrens, we're serene, we ween.
We see we're seen - ere ye see wrens, we see yews, we see ewes.
(Abu Amaal)

Ene, mene, minee, mo.
I win!

One ox, one cow? Come on, Cox. (Abu Amaal)

Come on in: men, women, mice, oxen, cow, ewe. Minx, I'm no con. Meow! I'm nice. Mix now. Mow. Neo mince. Ow! (wince) No woe. Coin? No, I own wine. I win mine. I won one wee cone in Nome. Omen? Me? I owe no man. (Agnes7777)

"On Work"
We wore no yoke, we knew no yen.
Now, now we woke! New work we ken!
Now work we know--now ken we woe!--
Ron W. Key
(Abu Amaal)

No ranch: oil, tar rot. (SusanB26a)
No, I not rich--art on loan. (SusanB26a)

Tinhorn clan can rant hot air- no rancor can rot art, not in tarnation! (agnes@interpath.com)

A hot trial in a car at noon. (Atwoshedsj)
Tar, not a rat, on a trail at noon. (Atwoshedsj)

Too hard! A tornado? O.k. a tornado. (Thank a donor and/or a donator.) (Abu Amaal)

Oh-oh. I... (Abu Amaal)

Ho Ho Ho
Ha Ha Ha
Ol' Hal

Oh, look! A hooka! Om! (FantomLady)

Er... goon Reno Geno!! Ergo ogre one goner, no ogre. (Leroy2001)


Go on, Egor! Nag ogre or goon, gone on ego gore. No eon-ore nor goner goo on neo-Egor. (Agnes7777)

Naive snail lays saliva in an alpine vale,
Pleas, "Play?"
"Nay," say aliens, "vile silvan spinney!"
Slay snail. Save pines.

In Nodd, Hans, a Dane, sold Linda, a lion, an old Honda. (HorseyClai)

Hoe sand and soil.
A rose.
A hose.

I hear Dole leads here.
He is a real sore loser.
So handle his slander,
And hand Hil' a ladder,
Or she has no role, dear.

I landed on a sea shore alone. I hailed a lad on a sled. He has a sore on his hand, also one on his head. His ears and nose are red. He said he deals in oil. His idol is an earl. He droned on and on, so I ran and hid in a shed.

Dear Dole:
Hi! I had an idea: Do ads on AOL! A real deal! Ladies, lads read and hear on line, loads! Older lads, also!
Hard? No! Dial on and share, rail on sin (no lies or slander).
Also, I had a handle on ideal lines:
"Dole: No Sad Old Dad" or:
"Dole: He's No Sore Loser" or:
"Dole: Dead? Oh, No! He Dies Hard!" or:
"Dole: He Also Has His Hair!" or:
"Deal Dole a Head Role: He's No Idler!"
So, sold? Lead on! Raise Hades! Land a slide! I adore a hero!
Hail, Adios,--

Colts run.
Root at rail.

Tina sat on a tan car on a tar lot. Ants ran on an oar. Tina's son sat in a cart. Tina's son can sit in a coil. Aunt Carol is tan. Aunt Carol can sit in a car in sun. Tina can't. Aunt Tina is a coot. A cart in soil can rot in sun. Roots can rot in soil in sun. Toil is out in sun. (Guinan1)

Oh no, a star! To a star I can't rant. I can start to root! Oh shoot!

Ask toots to do a task: Dust Dot's sod hut, toast a tostado, husk oats, host a hoot. (ddaile@btigate.com)

Set: Ten nests.
Tess seen, sets Sten.
(Sten? Stet.)
(Abu Amaal)

East Texas, Sat.: TEX'S EX AXES TEX

Tex's axes sat as a set. (LinErinG)

(Bill Clinton's daily order to his staff)
"Eat, tax, axe, sax, sex!" (MIZZOU LEW)

(Final exam at the John Wayne School a Elacutin')
East a' Tex sat Tex's ex Esta Saxe as Tex et a sea a' Texas tea. Esta set a sax at a seat. "Sex, Tex?" axt Esta. "Sax, Esta?" axt Tex. Esta saxt a Texas sax set as Tex sext Esta stax a' Saxe sex as Esta axt Tex ta.

(From: The man who mistook his hut for a hat.)
Ah! A hat! A hat? A hut! Ha ha! (Abu Amaal)

Men move me no more. Vote no. (Taimse)

Ron tore one toe on overt move,
Mover men move Ron to Vet Tom,
Vet Tom to Mover Ron: Vent toe to morn or Ron toe no more!

Mort: Move on over, Tom. "Omen" on TV.
Tom: No, Mort. Veto "Omen." Vote "ER." Moe?
Moe: Veto "ER". Veto MTV. Veto "Omen." No to TV!
Mort: No more TV, Moe?
Moe: TV--not!! Note: over ten Eton men term TV "overt rot trove."
Tom: Moe, move to Rome or Nome to vent TV venom!

To: Mr. Vern Monte
Re: Nov. rent note
MORE rent? MORE rent or MOVE?
1. Overt oven rot
2. Torn vent: neo Nome
3. "Met" tenor, Rm. Ten -- no morn r.e.m.
More rent??? Not one ort! VETO.--

I, raving? Raving? I? A rag in a ring in a rain in a - Raving? I?
(Abu Amaal)

Gina, a vain virgin in a grain van airing a gin-raving grin, rang Ivan.
Rain ran in air.
Gain: a ring.

Won Ton, Hon?
No, not now.

Winston shot Nina
Nina's waning ghost now waits
Goat gnaws Nina's thin gown

(Exerpt from a primary reader)
Stan Shaw hangs his tan hat on things. His twin, Nat Shaw, won't wait. Stan tows his twin to town. So, go twins, go!

(The line between very bad prose and very bad poetry is sometimes fuzzy!)
Owning nothing, wanting nothing, owing nothing, wasting nothing, I go to this town now.

(Medical dialogue)
"Gosh Nat, Nina has angst." "Oh, no! I wish Nina's angst was not a gnawing thing!"

(Instructions to an aircraft mechanic)
"Wash wings now, Winston. Tow this two ton thing."

(Tongue twisters)
Saint Stan has a sawn shin
Two twins thaw thin things
Stan Stang sang a swing song

(Exam questions based on readings in J. Irving's "Washington.")
1. In what nation is Winston hating his son?
2. Who is it who has shown his son how to tag gnats?
3. Who got his own goat?
(a) What wish has this goat won?
(b) Who wants to gnaw on hot tin?
4. Who saw a ghost at night in "Hog's Inn"?
5. How was his host washing his shoat's twin?
6. What saint was wont to sin in Twain's "Sot"?
7. How hot was his hag's gas to thaw snow?
8. Who hangs a sign on a twig with a thin thong?
9. Who waits in his Nash with Hans?
10. Who was shot on sight in Sing Sing?
11. Is nothing won in this Giants' town?

"Gnat on a Hot Tin Oath"
It was a hot night in town. An inn host was goin' to stow his hat, swig a gin, gnaw on a wing, swat gnats, hang hot tongs on an ash twig, hit a show, wash his twin goats, sing to his hag, wash a stain in his awning, hoist his two ton son on his hog, tow his own sow, hog, 'n' shoat to a hangin' an' so on. This host (now ghost) got shot sowing oats. So who's swing'n' now? Not I!

Sign on So Ho awning: "Owing to snow, no showing this Sat. night" (EBrahinsky)

Tho' S.H. hasn't a thing--not an iota--Ho! ho! Watson has two things to show S.H.

A ghost with no wig has nothing to hang his hat on.

To a saint, a hot thing in a thong is wasting a showing.

A saint who's got to show it, ain't.

Sigh .... is wanting a thin waist a sin?

Want two ingots? Saw an ingot in two!

A wino saw a ghost with two wings in a toga.

It was not a sin to wash a gash on a hog in his toga, now was it?

"To Ann"
Ann ain't a hag,
Ann ain't a nag--
Hasn't a wig with snot stain,
Won't shag hints to snag a swain,
Not wanting in wit,
Waits not in a snit,
Swigs no gin,
Is into no sin.
A saint has nothing on Ann.

Ann, oh, Ann!
Not Tina, Ann!
I want to win Ann.
Ah, no! I sit a-wasting;
I wish I was not so wan,
As wan as a swan
What it is snowing on.

I wish I was in a hot town with thong things.
I saw ash on a hat.
I saw thawing snow.
I want to hang on wings.
I want to swat a gnat.
I want to go, now!

"To An Ant"
An ant has no wits.
It is so thin it has no waist.
It's a gnat with no wings,
A nit with no sting.
It owns nothing, it wants nothing.
It has nothing to wash with.
This ant has no ant to go with it, so it waits.
It won't sing as it tows things,
It wants to stow things.
How hot is an ant? It's hot as an ash.
Oh, how I want an ant to win.
It shan't; it's an ant.

I sang a song to a hag with a hat who sat on a twig at night; a hag who waits to snag a gnat who sang a wanton song; a song so hot, it shot two twins who sat on a hot gin tin, who wait to snag a saint who sang to a hag, with a hat, at night.
It's Ghost!!!! No it's not! It's a wanton saint who sang a song to gnat with a hat who sat on a nag with a shot of gin in his tin!

I was in a wagon in town. I sang a song to Toni. A gnat was on a swing. It hit a snag, a hog got it. It was its swan song.

Virgins wait ages in awe as we gain great wages via vast sin! (MClark8228)

I saw a virgin eat raw grits in a grave. (Gametime2)
A virgin is a waste. (Gametime2)

Art is a star
We stare at a vast vista
Wanting a visit
We strive in awe

Art is a wine, great vintage
We tie new vines
We invest sweat
We wait

Art is a sea
Rising water rages
We string nets
We snare a wave

Art is a stew
We are waiters serving
We stir, we set a seat
We invite in gents--eat!

Art is a virgin
Wearing a grin
We stare--a teasing view
Tries are in vain

Art is a raven
A nest is tiring
Swerving in air
We wing it

Art is... art
Write it!

Tina is a virgin?!?
Tears aren't as wet
as rain in winter.
Waive want; retain a grin.
Angst is a waste, sir!
T'is a sin, isn't it?

I went east via train. I saw wan, starving virgins weaving an argent vest in Nigeria. Irate, I went in.
"Virgins are wasting in vain," I warn agent. "Give rest, water, wages." Great swearing rang in air. It was war. "Ingrates!" I was in a rage, near tears. I get nastier. "Sweating swine," I rant in anger.
Agent gets gin. I sit, stewing. We swig gin. I waver. We swig anew. Ire gives. Agent is a wise sage. I invest in sewing virgins. Virgins sag, wring tears in vain.
I went west via train.

Icons coin sins - sin wins.
No icons, no icons' scions - no sin now, son! (Abu Amaal)


No Mig on my wing, now! (Abu Amaal)

Yogi Yoni: Om...Om... O, yon wino Gino owing Yogi gin. Go now, womyn, win my gin.
Womyn: Yo, wino!
Gino: Moi?
Womyn: Wino! Yogi gin! Now!
Gino: Gino no wino! Gino owing no gin! Gino OWNING no gin!
Womyn: No gin, no Gino!
Gino: Ow! Ow! Ow! Yogi womyn: no yin! Yogi womyn win! Win my wig, my Omni, my Ming.... Oy, my gin! Now, go!

(Puerto Rico)

"Tropic Epic"
I cut ripe pot, per optic cure. Cop, trooper cite ire, report crop to court. "Pure tripe," I pout. I trip trooper, tie cop to portico. "Rot, cur !" I cut out. I coopt copter to Puerto Rico. To cure tropic torpor, I court cute cooper. Pure ice. I opt to cut tie. Too poor, I cut pot to cope.

Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.