The cliche competition awards

You must like hard work. More of you chose the demands of literary weather reports than the joys of contemporary cliches, though readers from their nineties to the ninth grade - an entire ninth grade, it seems - joined in this second Home Forum Competition.

The ninth-graders of Westford (Mass.) Academy, which gets a certificate in their honor, not only delighted us with entries such as ''bland as tofu,'' ''stubborn as a traffic jam,'' and ''happiness is having your very own robot.'' They also, almost without acception (and you know who you are), avoided the kind of malapropism attributed to students in the essay below. The urgent need for new cliches is corroborated by Frank Sullivan's classic piece on the opposite page. Sullivan also shows the variety of cliches, in addition to the simile form that most of you stuck to.

A few entries strayed from updated cliches into updated adages (''All that glitters is not silicon'' - ''Don't count your benefits before they mature'' - ''Children should be video, not audio'' - ''You can't have your nuclear bombs and use them, too'' - ''A stitch in time saves Velcro'' - ''Too many missiles spoil detente''). The line is hazy, but such sayings might better fit a competition on proverbs.

More than one of you came up with ''straight as a laser,'' ''hot as (or hotter than) ground zero,'' and ''American as the space shuttle.'' Indeed, there were several recyclings of ''American as apple pie,'' ranging from the wry ''as American as money'' to '' . . . as Pac-Man,'' '' . . . as marines,'' '' . . . as potato chips,'' '' . . . as hot dogs,'' and, perhaps hinting just how far the melting pot has gone, ''as American as the bean sprout.'' A certificate goes to Joan Bence of Columbus, Ohio, for combining a point with a witty echo in ''as American as Apple II.''

High-tech was naturally a source for many of your contemporary cliches, and humor your technique. But other parts of the scene were touched on. For example, one entry cited equal rights for the sexes and offered ''Well, I'll be a monkey's aunt!''

And two readers seriously spoke to a different theme of pertinence today in words they attributed to others. They would replace ''kill two birds with one stone'' with ''feed two birds with one crust'' or, in another version, ''one crumb.''

Certificates to:

So quiet you could hear the ratings drop.

Naomi Ruth WheelerKirksville, Mo.

As easy as e EQUALS mc2.

K. WhinneyLondon

Without you I am a computer with no software.

Virginia GoldenPortola Valley, Calif.

Turn over a new disk.

Linda Susan BrownSomerville, Mass.

Clear as an astronaut's eye.

Milton JeffersonLiverpool, N.Y.

Hotter than a launch pad.

Kirk TharpeShreveport, La.

Going like Chuck Yeager.

Kay BuntGlassboro, N.J.

Going like 55.

Beth EggersMedina, Ohio

Prolific as a breeder reactor.

Charles TrunkhillSeattle

Like looking for a contact lens in a swimming pool.

Tom SkallerupBloomington, Ind.

Like trying to crack an egg on the edge of a plastic bowl.

Catherine R. WilliamsLevittown, N.Y.

Happy as a church mouse with a charge card.

Norman WalterRed House, W.Va.

Happy as a deer with gun control.

Pat ParksTucson, Ariz.

Scarce as slide rules at a computer show.

Henry William Brands Jr.Austin, Texas

Like carrying computers to IBM.

Abraham OseroffMiami

Missing a chip.

M. M. FynnMontrose, Colo.

About as much fun as jet lag.

Julie A. DaveyDuarte, Calif.

Quiet as a computer screen.

Mrs. W. Bert MartinGreenville, S.C.

A veritable silicon chip of information.

August W. ReichelLos Angeles

Plain as the instructions on a childproof cap.

Pam GinerisChicago Heights, Ill.

Quick as making breakfast in a microwave oven.

Rita FarnhamDe Soto, Mo.

Like trying to find the Bee Gees at a heavy metal concert.

Flintridge Preparatory SchoolLa Canada-Flintridge, Calif.(From 7th- and 8 th-grade entry)

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