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As Bad As It Gets


As I read the winning entries from this year's Bulwer-Lytton contest, laughter gushed forth from my persona, travelled at the speed of sound, cutting through the cold air (for the air conditioner was on)and went into my wife's ear, where it was converted into electrical vibrations and transported through the auditory nerve into the auditory cortex; which pattern matched it to laughter and spawned a series of processes that resulted in the words “What is it?” gushing forth from her persona and travelling the same route (but in the opposite direction) to reach my ears. I explained thus:

Every year, just like the Indian Government awards National Awards for movies, the English Department at the San Jose State University announces prizes for writing – incredibly bad writing, several orders of magnitude worse than the first paragraph of this post.

This year's winner was this one:

As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual.

I browsed through the list of past winners, and I loved these two…

“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.

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.

Here's a comforting parting thought for all wannabe writers. Someone got paid to write this.

From Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (more in Sticks and Stones)

“It is not a belly button. (The umbilicus serves, then withdraws, leaving but a single footprint where it stood: the navel, wrinkled and cupped, whorled and domed, blind and winking, bald and tufted, sweaty and powdered, kissed and bitten, waxed and fuzzy, bejeweled and ignored; reflecting as graphically as breasts, seeds or fetishes the omnipotent fertility in which Nature dangles her muddy feet, the navel looks in like a plugged keyhole on the center of our being, it is true, but O navel, though we salute your motionless maternity and the treams that have got tangled in your lint, you are only a scar, after all; you are not it.)”