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This contest is now closed. But enjoy!

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

In major danger, a Pismo clam manages to escape!

The sentence above, its breathtaking drama aside, has a peculiar property. Can you figure out what it is? Look carefully.

Okay, we know your AOL meter may be running, so we won't keep you in suspense. In the sentence above, the words "clam manages" happen to contain the world capital AMMAN, and the words "major danger" happen to contain JORDAN, the country of which Amman is the capital.

We consider it possible that our sentence is the first in history to contain both AMMAN and JORDAN in this seemingly accidental fashion. You might say we *capitalized* on the idea. And we hope you're suitably excited about it--because your assignment in this contest is to compose a sentence of your own in a similar vein!

To restate the ground rules: We want your entry to be a single sentence in which a capital and its country are embedded, camouflaged. You may take liberties with spacing and punctuation, but the city and country should appear with their letters intact and unscrambled. Either the city or the country may occur first. You may pad your sentence with as many other words as you need--but in judging the contest we'll look for elegance as well as humor. Senders of our three favorite sentences will each win 5 free AOL hours plus a book from the Atlantic's online store.

To play along, send your sentence to CoxRathvon by e-mail. Multiple entries are welcome; but whenever possible pack your entries into one piece of e-mail, and please don't use attached files. "A Capital Idea" will remain open through Friday, October 6. Results will be posted on Friday, October 13.

Now, get your capitals straight--OK, you Ninja pantomimers?

--EC and HR

CAPITAL IDEAS Contest Results

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

"Recipe for a winning entry: take one clever idea, toss with a bit of salt (ribald humor) and pepper (use your own judgement as to how much), chill (I'm almost certain) for at least one day (so you can be sure it's as clever as you think), and send it off to CoxRathvon."

Composed by correspondent Wagsalot, the sentence above may or may not describe the best approach to these word-game contests. But Wagsalot's sentence does contain a camouflaged capital and its country (hint: in South America), which was the object of this biweekly exercise in merry mayhem.

Again our e-box fairly bulged with the products of your busy brainwork! For fun, we've selected one representative sentence for each of 50 different cities/countries and presented them below as a puzzle for you to solve. If you're stumped, you'll find the answers on the Atlantic Monthly's AOL message board in a folder entitled "Capitalistic Solutions" (within the "Puzzles and Word Games" folder). After the quiz of 50 sentences, the rest of our favorite entries are listed with their cities/countries identified.

We begin with our three top favorites. Each of the winning authors will receive 5 free AOL hours, plus a book of his or her choice from the Atlantic's online bookstore. Congratulations RDH9995, HrtsDlite, and The Boze!

***Our Three Winners***

1. As a Roman I lacked answers, so I visited the Oracle, only to subject myself to her incessant Delphi lippiness. (RDH9995)

2. Carving pumpkins has an exciting element, often resulting in one's yelling, "Bonzai, rebellious veggie!" (HrtsDlite)

3. "And, strangest of all, in the safe: a fez, a grebe's foot, some velcro, a tiara--oh, what can it all mean, Holmes?" (The Boze)

***The Quiz Continues***

4. In the hospital you get flowers from everyone. (AFMcCrae)

5. If I jimmy the lock on this Daihatsu, valuable packages in the back seat can be mine! (KnKreader)

6. However unpopular it may be, I ruthlessly push for a complete and irrevocable ban on cigarette smoking. (Astorian)

7. Mistaken Yale students broadcast on-air obituaries. (SqueezePly)

8. The robot's wan again from losing a boron element. (MarksCS)

9. Every year, those glib Yankee tourists strip olive trees. (Rickwins)

10. To catch a possum in torpor, tug almost to the end where its tail is bony. (LostnAustn)

11. My friend Tony Francini, originally from the Po valley in Italy, now lives in Gap, Oregon, but every night he likes to sing a Po region folk song to his children. (Bob Cork)

12. I like to go scuba-diving in Costa Rica, and I drive all the way down there with a van and a lot of friends who are just as crazy. (GamblnLady)

13. Two flat vials to her I gave. (Daasek)

14. While I ran late, he ran early. (MrJaded)

15. Connie Chung, a rye cocktail, a bottle of Bud, a pesto sauce, and thou! (SqueezePly)

16. Toast and jam enables Mitch Adams to drink and drive. (RevMJK)

17. A DJ, a panhandler, and a cowboy entered a Vladivostok yodeling contest. (SSAPhD)

18. The rumor on Internet was directed at either Telecom or OS/2 users. (G8ly)

19. Like, I dig this Imus cat on the radio, man! (Astorian)

20. Let's see if I've got the orders right for the two Othello characters at table four: Croissant, Iago; chiles rellenos, Desdemona. (DaleRobert)

21. He's a maniac, crazy enough to weigh an apple. (MarksCS)

22. A man, delirious from shrapnel wounds to the head during the war, saw a hippo land on the beach in Normandy. (AKDestro)

23. Breathing acidic air, or hearing an elegy, pterodactyls chose extinction. (ASpates)

24. Fierce Amos, cowardly by nature, is really a "papyrus siamang". (ADStark)

25. Hershel's in kind of a strange hat that looks like a puffin landed on his head. (Tori Lady)

26. Maybe I jingled my keys too much in an elevator. (MarksCS)

27. I tried to call on Donna, but she had swollen glands. (RDH9995)

28. Did Fibber linger many nights with Molly? (G8ly)

29. Marlon Brando can adamantly boycott awards ceremonies all he likes. (Rickwins)

30. Lately, John had begun to wish he'd never encouraged Salome to go to dancing school. (Mezzomezzo)

31. As the only Italian sumo, Rocco's enthusiasm never abates. (RDH9995)

32. That Henner dame, Marilu, and an old friend named Burt danced the tango late into the night. (The Boze)

33. It is in danger I tread, for in front of me, on the ledge of the chasm, a rattler coils, ready to strike! (The Boze)

34. Out west, on I absentmindedly ride, tall in no saddle, for I left it at the corral! (The Boze)

35. At a flick by Capra I attended, there was no cap ever deployed. (SqueezePly)

36. It was sad, but when Eighteenth-Century French coins started getting pricey, I had to quit ogling those ecu ad order forms. (RiverToad)

37. "If you think my version of 'Streets of Laredo' is too slow, you
should hear Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings sing it," said Johnny. (Mbooth1)

38. Abu, Jasmine, and Aladdin opened a mini geriatric center. (MarksCS)

39. Ma's erudite cousin, Dale, so thoroughly knew all about it. (AFMcCrea)

40. Here's an animal I bet doesn't exist -- an Alabama koala. (Rickwins)

41. Animal tamers in the carnival let Tasmanian devils alone. (G8ly)

42. Saddam, as customary, carries greasy rials. (RevMJK)

43. With the internet her landscape, and her mouse to take her wherever she wanted to go, Alice spent a pleasant afternoon cruising in cyberspace until Toby, her hamster, damn near chewed through the cord to her CPU. (Eshogg)

44. You should have seen the arc (sweet Jesu) created from my plate to the floor by my stromboli--via, of course, my lap--a zany sight indeed! (Obfusco)

45. With the trap door to the attic open, Hagen found that a trail of nutshells originating in the den marked the crafty squirrel's exit. (TDarsey)

46. Madonna's saucy announcement: "Bah, a massive crowd can be irritating." (KnKreader)

47. The stoat is an animal divesting Summer brown fur to become a white normal ermine. (G8ly)

48. "The thunderstorm started with a bang," Koko said, "with great hail and lightning." (BobCork)

49. A slim ape runs faster than a fat one. (TONY WARDS)

50. From Hellenic math ensues a proof that a degree centigrade in the attic is higher than one in the cellar. (TNach)

***But Wait, There's Also...***

Accra, Ghana:

That maniac crammed all night to solve tough anagrams. (Rickwins)

Panama (City), Panama:

It was a profitable day for the maid, because she found in the dustpan a map, an Amaretto label, and a twenty-dollar bill. (GamblnLady)

Kip, an amateur linguist, has native speakers from Japan amazed. (MarksCS)

Lisbon, Portugal:

My tugboat, Mabel, is bonded to tow a ship or tug a liner. (RDH9995)

Conakry, Guinea:

I dunno about salting a bird's tail, but Superman says you can't put talc on a Kryptonian penguin easily! (The Boze)

The penguin eats a Tic-Tac on a kryptonite glacier. (MarksCS)

Bamako, Mali:

In Alabama, kow-towing is one way to show you feel no malice. (Fid2Btied)

Kampala, Uganda:

Crank amp Alabama uses for "A Hug and a Kiss." (RevMJK)

Stockholm, Sweden:

We can special-order films featuring Ian Holm, but we don't stock Holms; we denizens of artsy places like this prefer foreign-language films. (DaleRobert)

Valletta, Malta:

"I want him all to myself," Tiffany muttered as her rival let talons sink into Brett's normal, tanned skin. (Mbooth1)

Damascus, Syria:

Madam, as customary, we require that you exchange those greasy rials for American dollars before you board. (Tori Lady)

Amsterdam, Netherlands:

Janet, her landscape sketch chewed to shreds, was even more upset to find that the mischevious hamster damaged the watercolors too. (Mbooth1)

Doha, Qatar:

In Iraq a tarheel accosted O'hara. (AFMcCrae)

Ricardo Harrison played basketball against the Shaq at Arizona State. (BobCork)

Havana, Cuba:

Short and hirsute, resembling nothing so much as a grizzly cub, Abraham danced exuberantly to the strains of "Hava Nagila". (Eshogg)

Sucre & LaPaz, Bolivia:

As part of her job Olivia, while at LSU, created the rhythmic clap a zealous group of fans use at all the games. (AkicitaL)

Riga, Latvia:

Sheri gave Sean the "medicine" in a small, flat vial. (Bouncer 159)

Manama, Bahrain:

Bah, rain never falls in Oman," a man said. (AFMcCrea)

Bah! Rain will not stop a man, a man will carry on! (HVACENG)

Katmandu, Nepal:

"It's Krazy Kat, Man," Duke Wayne explained, "one of my favorite Looney Tune pals." (RDH9995)

If you want to hear some great 'skat', man, Dune Palace Jazz Showcase is the best place in town. (GamblnLady)

Cardiff, Wales:

Italians in Rome who go by car differ from the few Alessandrians who prefer to fly. (HrtsDlite)

Make renewal escrow payments by credit card if feasible. (G8ly)

The card, if fraudulent, can at least show a lesson. (MatthewXB)

Nassau, Bahamas:

Since it's as lean as sausage and as flavorful as bacon, you should always grab a ham as your breakfast side order choice. (Groozer)

Casting Juan as Saul made that Cuba ham a star. (RDH9995)

Male, Maldives:

I was used to seeing females turn up at the normal dives, but when Roxanne walked into Club Exotica, I was shocked. (Mbooth1)

The males of the species tend to frequent abysmal dives on their nights out. (Lynn4444)

Teheran, Iran:

I ran and Nate, he ran too. (MaryMary3)

We were almost too late--he ran, I ran, we all ran--to catch the last train of the day. (GamblnLady)

Washington, United States (or America):

Ed was washing tons of laundry when he decided to check the third washer/dryer unit; Ed states it was then unit 1 blew up. (AKDestro)

Dirty airplanes cause air pollution and the president of United states, "We're gonna be washing tonight." (Alamano)

"The name of the Chinese village was Hing To Nam," Erica insisted." (BobCork)

Paris, France:

Knowing how difficult par is, Fran celebrates her bogey. (JBaloney)

Comment from sports announcer: "Fran, certain that her final shot at hole 18 would be par, is sure to be the winner of this golf tournament." (Gardenia)

Sana, Yemen:

Aye, Mensa nags me to join. (HVACENG)

HONEY: Emend my poem?

MARTHA: That's an awfully good idea! (September)

Bangkok, Thailand:

You came in with a bang, Koko, but hail and farewell on your return to Klown Town. (RDH9995)

Go out with a bang, Ko-Ko, and bid that list hail and farewell! (Rickwins)

Budapest, Hundary:

Shun Gary and Bud, apes to the end. (RevMJK)

Tom is a Hun, Gary, and Bud a pest! (MaryMary3)

I really don't like to call your friend Bud a pest, but I hung a rye loaf out and he wouldn't leave until I gave him a piece. (Lyn4444)

Dublin, Ireland:

He wanted to dub lines during the play but his ire landed him in jail. (KnKreader)

Sitting in the tub, trying to Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Lin said to his boat with ire, "Land, HO!" (RHorton508)

Don't dub lines of my screenplay, or you'll raise my ire, land in court, and pay the penalty! (HVACENG)

Though fire landed all about him, the stoic thespian repeated the words "Rub a dub dub, rub a dub dub," line after line. (Perdenales)

N'Djamena, Chad:

Lunch, admittedly, has improved since the laws regarding peanut butter and jam enacted this term were ratified. (G8ly)

Dining on bread and jam enables each adroit Dallas debutante to nibble delicately. (HrtsDlite)

Peanut butter and jam enabled us to reach a decision. (MarksCS)

Tokyo, Japan:

In a ganja panic, Bela Bartok yowled. (SSAPhD)

"The Goya forgery was not found in the Escorial," said the inspector, watching the Maja panic, "but in Vladivostok, you fool." (RDH9995)

I'm waiting to see if the gig to be a Galactic Ninja pans out, but if not I'll train with you to be a Jedi Knight, OK, Yoda? (MaWallace2)

Moroni, Comoros:

Moron! I told you the Fans of Perry Como roster included the drink orders for all the club members. (DaleRobert)

When Dean Martin acted like a drunk moron, I was appalled, but Perry Como rose to the occasion with a lively rendition of "The Beer Barrel Polka." (Tori Lady)

Frederico morosely admitted, "What a moron I am." (AFMcCrae)

Muscat, Oman:

That 'Rasmus cat needs a woman. (HVACENG)

I saw 10,000 emus catapulted from an iceberg. (MarksCS)

Camus categorizes noman's life to be significant. (G8ly)

The Paramus catalog was designed by Otto Manning. (BobCork)

Santiago, Chile:

However much I lecture on quarks, black holes, and other phenomena about which I'm conversant, I agonize over my academic record: I flunked kindergarten. (ShedPot)

Pleasant? Iago? Not in the Shakespeare which I learned! (MrJaded)

Of the pain killers, each, I learned, was anti-agony. (SqueezePly)

The Pied Piper said, "Killing rats is so unpleasant, I agonize over each I lead to its doom." (Astorian)

Warsaw, Poland:

At Sevastopol and Balaclava, the Light Brigade paid war's awful price. (RDH9995)

Interpol and the CIA made the crook throw his Dewar's away. (MarksCS)

Zero Mostel, after the Vietnam War, saw "Fiddler" with Topol and moaned, "Oy Vey!" (Rickwins)

War's awful but a hippo landing on your head is worse. (KnKreader)

Interpol and the FBI, fearing wars, await reinforcements. (MrJaded)

Cairo, Egypt:

An Inca, ironically, wrote "Elegy Ptarmigan" which no doubt inspired "Ode to a Grecian Urn" several years later. (HrtsDlite)

In America, ironically, we gyp the Indians out of their land, then have the nerve to preach democracy! (Astorian)

Moscow, Russia:

The guru's Siamese kitten ate all of Palermo's cows! (MarksCS)

Elmo's cows bar us Siamese from entering. (HVACENG)

If you dare to put Elmo's cow in a truss, I am going to kill you!" (Vcrboynyc)

"We're proud of our mascot," says soccer star Russ Iacocca of the Cosmo's cow. (Alamano)

Helsinki, Finland:

If in Land Rovers, they weigh bushels in kilograms. (SUZLYNG)

After watching her seaside brothel sink into the sand, the madam decided she'd be better off inland. (Astorian)

Ethel's ink is on a shelf in Land's End. (RDH9995)

Rachel's in-kind contribution was half in land, half in furniture. (SqueezePly)

Satchels sink, I bet, when clear of inland waters. (MatthewXB)

Beijing, China:

Maybe I jingle when I walk, but I don't belch in an elevator like you, meathead! (The Boze)

Maybe I jingle the keys in my pocket too much in anxious moments, but, hey, I've got this nervous tic. (Glemward)

Babe, I jingle when I walk and I lurch inanely when I run. (KnKreader)

"Abe, I jingle," she said, "which, in a nutshell, is splendid." (Iteotwaki)

Enduring jeer and jibe, I jingle yuan up in a cup upon my chin and grin. (RiverToad)

London, England:

After his Rolls-Royce hit the pylon, Donald Trump (earlier having taken gland medicine) slurred his words and was thrown into the Tower. (JBaloney)

Annie took a fall on Donald's lap after having taken glandular enhancement treatments. (SleepnKidz)

The salon donated seven glands. (ETMCRRT)

It's still on Don's swollen gland? (PLMPJCK)

Berlin, Germany:

May my slumber linger many mornings! (AkicitaL)

Wheat germ anytime--that's my key to limber line dancing! (Rickwins)

To blabber linguistically is a danger many people encounter in word games. (KITTYRUSSL)

The confident programming director said, "I'll wager many weeks salary that the September line-up contains a few hit series." (Perdenales)

The danger many people face daily in the form of irregularity could be alleviated if sufferers would remember linseed oil's medicinal value. (SkyMap)

Some fans leave the ballpark early, but a large number linger many hours after the game is over. (Astorian)

Girded firmly in a uniform that looked like sober lingerie, Kurk faced danger many times. (GBYRD)

Ottawa, Canada:

Can a dame pull Abbott away from Costello? (SqueezePly)

Can a dad named Scott, away on vacation, enter this contest? (Ceejayyy)

I gave Michael McDermott a watch for his birthday, but can a day go by without him being late? (Tori Lady)

Grandpa coped when the New York Giants traded Mel Ott away, so he can adapt if they trade Barry Bonds. (Astorian)

Can a damn Blue Jay win the coveted Mel Ott award? (RDH9995)

Mott, a Washingtonian, found it hard to be an American adapting abroad. (AFMcCrae)

Lome, Togo:

I'll have a basil omelet to go. (Rickwins)

I ordered Banana Jello Melon Salad to go. (BobCork)

One kilometer to go. (RevMJK)

A brawl between Old King Cole and Humpty Dumpty resulted in a royal omelet to go. (ShedPot)

"Hello, meal to go'', said the Sea Otter to the Pismo Clam! (Capt Merf)

I want to go and order lomein for lunch. (KIMR900)

For a quick Chinese lunch to go, my favorite dish is lo mein. (ELNewmanJD)

Misquoting famous phrases from The Wizard of Oz, Dan Quayle remarked "Togo, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" and "There's no place like Lome." (SSAPhD)

Wellington, New Zealand:

Mozart worked with new zeal and excitement once he discovered his latest sonata worked well in "G" tones. (RDH9995)

Rome, Italy:

From every capital you visit, steal a souvenir. (Glemward)

Was it a lynx from Eurasia or North America in that zoo? (AkicitaL)

When I store music I put it on a CD-ROM: extra quick recall for everything be it a lyric, solo, or a note. (MAWallace2)

Julia Child created a nouvelle type of delicious Denver omelette by adding to it alyssum, finely minced. (HrtsDlite)

Herbalist Jerome Fabiano discovered a plant that cures rabies, called it alyssum, and is quoted as saying,"I even use it in my homemade pasta sauce; it is very versatile." (MJH12656)

At my prom everyone had attended a recital years before I had. (ETMCRRT)

From every hospital you can get the boot. (ASpates)

The hero met his fate in the hospital yard. (KIMR900)

We saw a Kodachrome exhibit Alyssa, but your photo wasn't there. (MOONWRITE)

He was yellow with a capital Y: being a hero meant nothing if it meant risking his skin. (Mbooth1)

Athens, Greece:

We agree, certainly, about the aroma, then some. (AFMcCrae)

I agree, Celia, that throwing roosters at hens doesn't work. (MaryMary3)

Math ensures we agree census figures are accurate. (ASpates)

Whether you agree or disagree, cease and desist filibustering and just vote nay or yea; then shut up. (ShedPot)

Some would argue sex is true euphoria, then some would agree celibacy is bliss. (Fid2Btied)

If you don't agree celibacy is our country's cultural panacea, then shut up. (Groozer)

Did you know that hens will freeze at -1 degree Centigrade? (BigPhyl1)

Lima, Peru:

To impress my girl, I made some exotic drinks with little paper umbrellas. (Astorian)

Ever since I perused Atlantic Monthly on AOL, I'm a contest entrant! (Ceejayyy)

Salvador Dali marked a piece of paper up and it brought $1.5 million at Sotheby's. (Glemward)

As per usual, I'm anticipating a win. (LWrig63)

Slim, a super ugly dude, tried to hide his insecurities under polyester leisure suits. (SkyMap)

A whisper, unclear, yet I feel I'm alone. (AkicitaL)

Natives tell imaginative tales of a bear with a white stripe running down his back. (BobCork)

Muhammad Ali made over $1000 per uppercut. (G8ly)

In April I'm anticipating proper umbrella usage. (SqueezePly)

To look slim, a stripper uses tights. (ASpates)

Tell Nell I'm a hip, erudite guy. (MarksCS)

Well I'm a dapper utterly fabulous dandy! (F SAND)

To study regional climate, peruse the meteorological charts. (F SAND)

Peruse a diet book to slim away the pounds. (KIMR900)

Slim, attractive, petite female seeks her type: rugged, handsome, outdoorsy man. (Vcrboynyc)

With the newspaper unread, Jill imagines the worst. (MrJaded)

Warned the teacher of an unruly pupil, "I'm about to tape rude mouths shut!" (BigPhyl1)

Madrid, Spain:

Mad riddle's painful. (RevMJK)

The mad riddlers painstakingly plotted precocious puzzles. (KnKreader)

Jerry was a mad rider who made the horse races painful to watch. (BobCork)

Tell me, Eliza, do little nomad riders in the Iberian plains painstakingly trek through frequent rains? (TNach)

Our first married fight left me hurt, mad, riddled with guilt and selfishly unable to see his pain. (MJH12656)

Getting mad rids the soul of its pain more quickly. (SUZLYNG)

She took a mad ride on the back of an ostrich and now she understands pain. (GlryB2God)

Due to his pain, a mad rider kicked his horse. (Ceejayyy)

You must be mad, ridiculing Rembrandt's paintings! (Astorian)

Do we see any reflections in his paintings that Van Gogh, half mad, rid himself of a body part in such a bizarre manner? (Eshogg)

Me mad? Ridicluous! I'm happy here in the spa in my underwear. (Alamano)

Cabal, the crazy chiropractor nomad, rids pain in his patients by taking them for a wild camel ride. (GamblnLady)

They installed our new spa incorrectly which made us very mad, ridges forming on our brows. (Lyn4444)

Oslo, Norway:

Way frozen or way steep...no slope too tough for me! (DanL)

Go slow with your requisition or Ways and Means will veto it. (G8ly)

"Go slow, Eleanor," Wayne advised. (RDH9995)

Go slowly when trolling for salmon or waylaying reindeer. (TNach)

Videos lose their appeal in hot sun or way up north. (ASpates)

Go slowly, and honor ways different from your own. (KITTYRUSSL)

For safety's sake, you should never drive much too slow, nor way too fast. (Astorian)

The service here is so slow--neither sitting way in the front nor way in the back will get you a decent waiter. (DaleRobert)

Maybe Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings will do Slowhand at the concert. (MrJaded)

***And Finally, Two Entries Featuring Two Cities Apiece***

Wellington and Lima:

Nixon's plan used Agnew zeal

And welling tones that might conceal

A fatal image, if perused,

Of power gained and badly used.


Madrid and Oslo:

With a cloud of pathos looming overhead, the soon-to-be nomad rid himself of all possessions because of an unknown tragedy that caused him tremendous pain, and set out on an endless journey with no hope of consolation nor way to forget his past. (Seigster)

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