Slightly on-topic. Okay, JUST BARELY on topic. (Humor)greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
From the Electronic Telegraph:
ISSUE 1511, Thursday, 15 July 1999
Dark and tedious sentence wins the prize for best bad writing, By Sandra Barwick
IT was a dark and tedious night. At his home on the outskirts of London, David Chuter, civil servant, sat seized by a moment of total insanity as he stared at the black square of nothingness which was his computer screen.
What had attracted Mr Chuter's attention was the 18th annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, run by San Josi State University's English department, which challenges entrants to write the worst opening sentence to an imaginary novel. This week it was announced that Mr Chuter's entry had won the competition.
It read: "Through the gathering gloom of a late-October afternoon, along the greasy, cracked paving-stones slick from the sputum of the sky, Stanley Ruddlethorp wearily trudged up the hill from the cemetery where his wife, sister, brother, and three children were all buried, and forced open the door of his decaying house, blissfully unaware of the catastrophe that was soon to devastate his life."
Mr Chuter, 47, a civil servant with the Ministry of Defence, who has a doctorate in English literature, said that there were certain types of books which did not appeal to him. He said: "One is the dour, working class novel, not exactly Catherine Cookson, but solid northern families coping with crisis."
He dislikes the work of D H Lawrence whom he describes as "overblown and melodramatic and rhetorical". Mr Chuter said: "The interesting thing about parody is how far you can take it before you fall off the edge. You begin with a certain theme like gloom and doom and death and see how long you can continue."
Mr Chuter is author of Humanity's Soldier, a study of French and international security policy. "There's not many jokes in that," he said.
The fiction contest is named after the prolific 19th century English novelist Edward George, Earl Bulwer-Lytton, whose novel Paul Clifford, published in 1830, begins: "It was a dark and stormy night."
Professor Scott Rice, from the university in California, said the contest began "as a kind of lark". He said: "Universities are always having literary contests that generate a lot of bad writing, so we decided to sponsor one of our own."
Thousands now enter the annual contest, some from Saudi Arabia and Singapore. Prof Rice whittles down the most promising entries and then presents the best of the worst to a "panel of undistinguished judges" made up of colleagues at the university. He said: "We do get generally bad writers, but the best (bad) writing is by good people."
Other efforts commended by the judges included: "Her breasts were like ripe strawberries, but much bigger, a completely different colour, not as bumpy, and without the little green things on top."
And "George stared intently across the table which supported the golden-brown fresh-baked cornbread with butter and sizzling cholesterol-laden bacon which could finish blocking his previously hardened arteries at any time, into Margerie's clear-blue eyes and realised that she knew what he knew, and she knew that he knew what she knew, and he must practice carpe diem before angina seized the day."
-- Old Git (email@example.com), July 14, 1999
Ar u makin Me feeel impotent? Riteing styl lke tat loks god! :o)
-- Brian (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 15, 1999.
And some grand-prize winners from the past. (1987 is my favorite, personally...)
The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, and Selena fretted sulkily and, buffing her already impeccable nails--not for the first time since the journey began--pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil.
--Gail Cain, San Francisco, California (1983 Winner)
The lovely woman-child Kaa was mercilessly chained to the cruel post of the warrior-chief Beast, with his barbarous tribe now stacking wood at her nubile feet, when the strong, clear voice of the poetic and heroic Handsomas roared, "Flick your Bic, crisp that chick, and you'll feel my steel through your last meal."
--Steven Garman, Pensacola, Florida (1984 Winner)
The countdown had stalled at T minus 69 seconds when Desiree, the first female ape to go up in space, winked at me slyly and pouted her thick, rubbery lips unmistakably--the first of many such advances during what would prove to be the longest, and most memorable, space voyage of my career.
--Martha Simpson, Glastonbury, Connecticut (1985 Winner)
The bone-chilling scream split the warm summer night in two, the first half being before the scream when it was fairly balmy and calm and pleasant for those who hadn't heard the scream at all, but not calm or balmy or even very nice for those who did hear the scream, discounting the little period of time during the actual scream itself when your ears might have been hearing it but your brain wasn't reacting yet to let you know.
--Patricia E. Presutti, Lewiston, New York (1986 Winner)
The notes blatted skyward as the sun rose over the Canada geese, feathered rumps mooning the day, webbed appendages frantically peddling unseen bicycles in their search for sustenance, driven by Nature's maxim, "Ya wanna eat, ya gotta work," and at last I knew Pittsburgh.
--Sheila B. Richter, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1987 Winner)
Like an expensive sports car, fine-tuned and well-built, Portia was sleek, shapely, and gorgeous, her red jumpsuit molding her body, which was as warm as the seatcovers in July, her hair as dark as new tires, her eyes flashing like bright hubcaps, and her lips as dewy as the beads of fresh rain on the hood; she was a woman driven--fueled by a single accelerant--and she needed a man, a man who wouldn't shift from his views, a man to steer her along the right road, a man like Alf Romeo.
--Rachel E. Sheeley, Williamsburg, Indiana (1988 Winner)
Professor Frobisher couldn't believe he had missed seeing it for so long--it was, after all, right there under his nose--but in all his years of research into the intricate and mysterious ways of the universe, he had never noticed that the freckles on his upper lip, just below and to the left of the nostril, partially hidden until now by a hairy mole he had just removed a week before, exactly matched the pattern of the stars in the Pleides, down to the angry red zit that had just popped up where he and his colleagues had only today discovered an exploding nova.
--Ray C. Gainey, Indianapolis, Indiana (1989 Winner)
Dolores breezed along the surface of her life like a flat stone forever skipping across smooth water, rippling reality sporadically but oblivious to it consistently, until she finally lost momentum, sank, and due to an overdose of fluoride as a child which caused her to lie forever on the floor of her life as useless as an appendix and as lonely as a five-hundred-pound barbell in a steroid-free fitness center.
--Linda Vernon, Newark, California (1990 Winner)
Sultry it was and humid, but no whisper of air caused the plump, laden spears of golden grain to nod their burdened heads as they unheedingly awaited the cyclic rape of their gleaming treasure, while overhead the burning orb of luminescence ascended its ever-upward path toward a sweltering celestial apex, for although it is not in Kansas that our story takes place, it looks godawful like it.
--Judy Frazier, Lathrop, Missouri (1991 Winner)
As the newest Lady Turnpot descended into the kitchen wrapped only in her celery-green dressing gown, her creamy bosom rising and falling like a temperamental souffle, her tart mouth pursed in distaste, the sous-chef whispered to the scullery boy, "I don't know what to make of her." --Laurel Fortuner, Montendre, France (1992 Winner)
She wasn't really my type, a hard-looking but untalented reporter from the local cat box liner, but the first second that the third- rate representative of the fourth estate cracked open a new fifth of old Scotch, my sixth sense said seventh heaven was as close as an eighth note from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, so, nervous as a tenth grader drowning in eleventh-hour cramming for a physics exam, I swept her into my longing arms, and, humming "The Twelfth of Never," I got lucky on Friday the thirteenth.
--Wm. W. "Buddy" Ocheltree, Port Townsend, Washington (1993 Winner)
As the fading light of a dying day filtered through the window blinds, Roger stood over his victim with a smoking .45, surprised at the serenity that filled him after pumping six slugs into the bloodless tyrant that mocked him day after day, and then he shuffled out of the office with one last look back at the shattered computer terminal lying there like a silicon armadillo left to rot on the information superhighway.
--Larry Brill, Austin, Texas (1994 Winner)
Paul Revere had just discovered that someone in Boston was a spy for the British, and when he saw the young woman believed to be the spy's girlfriend in an Italian restaurant he said to the waiter, "Hold the spumoni--I'm going to follow the chick an' catch a Tory."
--John L. Ashman, Houston, Texas (1995 Winner)
"Ace, watch your head!" hissed Wanda urgently, yet somehow provocatively, through red, full, sensuous lips, but he couldn't you know, since nobody can actually watch more than part of his nose or a little cheek or lips if he really tries, but he appreciated her warning.
--Janice Estey, Aspen, Colorado (1996 Winner)
The moment he laid eyes on the lifeless body of the nude socialite sprawled across the bathroom floor, Detective Leary knew she had committed suicide by grasping the cap on the tamper-proof bottle, pushing down and twisting while she kept her thumb firmly pressed against the spot the arrow pointed to, until she hit the exact spot where the tab clicks into place, allowing her to remove the cap and swallow the entire contents of the bottle, thus ending her life.
-- Artie Kalemeris, Fairfax, VA (1997 Winner)
The corpse exuded the irresistible aroma of a piquant, ancho chili glaze enticingly enhanced with a hint of fresh cilantro as it lay before him, coyly garnished by a garland of variegated radicchio and caramelized onions, and impishly drizzled with glistening rivulets of vintage balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic oil; yes, as he surveyed the body of the slain food critic slumped on the floor of the cozy, but nearly empty, bistro, a quick inventory of his senses told corpulent Inspector Moreau that this was, in all likelihood, an inside job.
--Bob Perry, Milton, MA (1998 Winner)
-- Don (email@example.com), July 15, 1999.
1993 is best.
-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 15, 1999.