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Amazing Big Sic Limerick Competition

When, centuries from now, the definitive history of the limerick is written, the late 20th century will be seen as a low point. Chroniclers will point their accusing bony fingers at the Amazing Big Sic Limerick Competition and say -- heck, God knows what they’ll say, probably something like: “That stuff’s really bad.”

You think we’re kidding? Listen to this from Fr. Vern Schueller of Niceville (no kidding):

There once was a column dubbed Sic
Whose humor was audacious and quick.
When he had to hiatus for a while,
His return was met with a smile
By all who thought his absence was caused by pique.

Or this from Marnie Miller, Omaha:

There once was a column called Sic.
Its absence made all of us sick,
But since its return
In hell we won’t burn
For reading its infallible shtick.

* * *

One gratifying aspect of the competition was the number of odes addressed to our humble self, for example Patricia Feldhaus of Chico:

Dear Sic, I am glad you are back,
For without you I felt quite a lack.
Your wit is insightful
And downright delightful,
With words you sure do have a knack.

Not to mention Barbara Donahue of Pomona, who reached lyrical heights:

While reading my last NCR,
And enjoying the paper so far,
Turned the page and saw Sic,
My heart beat so quick.
Sic, you certainly still are my star.

* * *

Some strayed from Sic’s favorite theme and wrote about reality. Paul Stubenbort of Bensalem:

In his nightmare saw old Cardinal Ratz’
Women priests as they knelt on their mats.
He woke from his dream.
Women weren’t on the team.
They were sitting in pews wearing hats.

The ladies in hats were not glum.
They knew that their time would come.
So when Ratz’ was old hat,
Be it red and all that,
Then Pope Mary did let the church hum.

* * *

Don Metz of Spring Hill called his a “fractured limerick,” which is an understatement:

The curia roared with invective
When abortion was called subjective.
A bishop declared
He wouldn’t get mad
As long as it’s made retroactive.

* * *

Someone sent This Space two pages of Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey, which we keep for rainy days. Odd Jack writes: “We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we can’t scoff at them personally, to their faces, which is what annoys me.”

* * *

A clipping from The Messenger of Covington was sent to This Space by Sr. Teresa Wolking of Villa Hills: “Paulist Press has published Benedictine Sr. Rita Brink’s book, Playing and Praying with God: Guided Medications for Children.” As Wolking says, “What a pill to swallow.”

* * *

The following came in from cyberspace and are titled “junk mail”:

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself (Mark Twain).

On one occasion a student burst into the office of Professor Stigler and said, “I don’t deserve this F you’ve given me.” To which Stigler replied, “I agree, but it is the lowest grade the university will allow me to award.”

The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs (E. Grebenik).

Old Yiddish proverb: “If triangles had a god, he’d have three sides.”

Don’t worry about temptation -- as you grow older, it starts avoiding you (Old Farmer’s Almanac).

“If we do happen to step on a mine, sir, what do we do?” the soldier asked. “Normal procedure, Lieutenant,” he was told, “is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area.”

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled (Plutarch).

Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask: “Where have I gone wrong?” Then a voice says to me: “This is going to take more than one night” (Charlie Brown).

The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad (Salvador Dali).

Sacred cows make the best hamburger (Mark Twain).

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me (Hunter S. Thompson).

* * *

Word about that sheep cloning in Scotland has sent the known universe into a tailspin. Not since Galileo saw the moon, or whatever, has there been such idle speculation, including Clare Will Faulhaber of New Braintree, who hints darkly that the Vatican is in cahoots with certain scientists “to alleviate the priest shortage and fill vacancies in the College of Cardinals” without resorting to women. The Vatican switchboard put her on hold to the strains of “Hello Dolly!”

* * *

This Space hesitates to exhibit our dirty laundry in public, but a secretive Sic is not a happy Sic. We refer of course to our temporary demise some weeks ago, which, between ourselves, caused a stir.

For example: “Please make an executive decision and bring back Sic,” Barbara Newman wrote from Netherlands Antilles (so remote, she sometimes receives up to 8 issues of NCR at a time) to you-know-who on page 2. Such letters, we are happy to say, were typical. “I can’t find it in my heart to forgive you for canceling Sic,” wrote Priscilla Piche from Arroyo Grande to the same party on page 2.

* * *

Sic or ‘Inside NCR’? Surely you jest,” writes a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. She was referring to the allegedly haughty attitude of page 2 to This Space. “I went into clinical depression as a direct consequence of ‘Sic’ deprivation,” she goes on.

* * *

And Flori Ignoffo of Columbia took a poetic potshot at you- know-who:

Behind the scenes, know-it-all egghead
Sent favorite Sic -- not sick -- to bed ...

The poetic quality of the limerick goes downhill after that. Even Sic is sated with this artistry, so more of the same, including the prizewinner, next time.

* * *

As everyone knows, Sic’s neighbor, Luigi, far from being a regular guy, is an interloper from Deep Space. If you don’t believe this, look at his feet: three toes on each foot like the Brother from Another Planet. But the real giveaway is the vacuum cleaner strapped to his back, which he hopes to interface with a rusty toaster to give himself liftoff back to the old galaxy some sunny day.

One might expect Luigi to be excited by recent NASA discoveries of probable water on Jupiter’s moon Europa. The photos indicate cracks, fissures and signs of volcanic activity, according to scientists -- see Sic pic. But Luigi only furrows his alien brow and scoffs.

The scientists point to “a thin ice crust covering either liquid water or slush.” Baloney, scoffs Luigi; “anyone can see it’s prune juice.” The distinct railway lines at bottom left of the picture, Luigi says, are, by an amazing coincidence, known on Europa as the Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe. The straggly lines across the pic are explained by the high incidence of alcoholism on Europa: “roads made by drunk drivers over the millennia.”

And if you look closely, Luigi says, you can see, at upper left, a McDonald’s. “Down the block from Elvis’ house,” he explains.

No way, we say, aghast.

“They have a saying on Europa,” Luigi says, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

National Catholic Reporter, May 2, 1997