Skip to comments.Wordsmith wins annual contest given to bad writing
Posted on 07/16/2002 4:27:18 AM PDT by 2Trievers
A word-puzzle creator has won the 21st annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for horrible writing.
Rephah Berg, of Oakland, triumphed over thousands of entrants from around the world.
The judges at San Jose State University liked how her composition "was a combination of something atrocious and appropriate," said Scott Rice, the professor who began the contest in 1982.
The winning sentence was: "On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained."
The contest, which seeks the worst beginning to an imaginary novel, is named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, a British writer whose 1830 book "Paul Clifford" begins with the oft-mocked cliche, "It was a dark and stormy night ..."
"There are literary contests on campuses, and they're often deadly serious and end up producing some terrible writing," Rice said.
"I thought, why not be up front and honest about it and ask for bad writing from the get-go?"
Berg, who won in the detective category last year, wrote 10 entries this year. She said she could not recall her inspiration for the winner, but noted that it follows a pattern commonly found in successful Bulwer-Lytton entries.
"There's a sudden change in diction, a drop in tone," she said. "From academic prose, the style suddenly plunges into a mundane image, almost a slang tone."
Berg said she has been a copy editor for 25 years and began her career with a company that sells notes on lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.
"The professor looked down at his new young lover, who rested fitfully, lashed as she was with duct tape to the side of his stolen hovercraft, her head lolling gently in the breeze, and as they soared over the buildings of downtown St. Paul to his secret lair he mused that she was much like a sweet ripe juicy peach, except for her not being a fuzzy three-inch sphere produced by a tree with pink blossoms and that she had internal organs and could talk."
St. Paul, MN
Winner: Detective (And the grumsters personal favorite)
"Chief Inspector Blancharde knew that this murder would be easy to solve-despite the fact that the clever killer had apparently dismembered his victim, run the corpse through a chipper-shredder with some Columbian beans to throw off the police dogs, and had run the mix through the industrial-sized coffee maker in the diner owned by Joseph Tilby (the apparent murder victim)--if only he could figure out who would want a hot cup of Joe."
Winner: Purple Prose
"The blood dripped from his nose like hot grease from a roasting bratwurst pierced with a fork except that grease isn't red and the blood wasn't that hot and it wasn't a fork that poked him in the nose but there was a faint aroma of nutmeg in the air and it is of noses we speak not to mention that if you looked at it in the right profile, his nose did sort of look like a sausage."
Go to the website to see more great bad writing... It's perfect Monday morning stuff - but it's of a Tuesday we speak....
What in the world is a hot cup of Joe?
From context, I would guess it's coffee... but where did "Joe" come from?
Or was the the murdered guy's name?
It's java, yes. The term has been around since the 40's. Some say the term comes from "Joe Awful Coffee's" a once famous restuarant out West. Others say it comes from the bags which were stamped J.O.E. (Java something something) and other's that it was named after the captain of some ship who banned rum in favour of bean juice on his vessels. But wherever the term comes from, one can't deny the perky effect that a good cup o' joe has. The way it makes your eyes open up like two big oatmeal cookies...
In the spirit of the BBC's My Word.
Sly Stallone's Cockney cousin and manager was asked by the studio if they could make any follow-ons to Rocky.
He responded, "Y'd wan' wot, couppa, yo?"
Matthew Chambers Hambleton WV
FR could win this award.
("Grate" - courtesy of Syncro.) : )
"in conclusion, I will leave you with a story about Professor Irwin Cory, a disheveled, little guy who wore a tux with tails and tennis shoes. Interviewers would ask him, Why do you wear tennis shoes with a tuxedo? His answer: Thats a two part question. First is why - the perennial interrogative. That question has plagued mankind since time immemorial. The greatest philosophers of every age have addressed it. They havent answered it. Im not going to try. The second part of the question is, Do you wear tennis shoes with your tuxedo? Yes!
The day was established to have Professor Irwin Cory, who was known for his rambling, contradicting and deliberately humorous lectures and complex verbiage. Cory posed as an expert, but it was really just a joke to entertain his audiences with a stream of nonsensical gibberish.
MARRIAGE: is like a bank account. You put it in, you take it out, you lose interest.
- Professor Irwin Cory
Some quotes by Alan Greenspn today:
-"Balance sheets should balance."
-"US is more transparent than most(nations)."
-"The economy in the past 6 months follow the pattern we expected as the negative becomes less negative.
-"Let's pretend you and I are businesses. I could sell you something and you could sell it back to me and we both could make a profit. NOTHING OF SIGNIFIGANCE HAPPENED.
WORNG! BOTH STATE AND FEDERAL GOV'TS MADE MONEY ON IT IN THE FORM OF TAXES.
LOL! But I do that on purpose!!!
Something to do with breaking up monotony with humor to land a point.
;-) Oh yeah, I did do the 2000 thread on this...
And here's the 2001 thread...
BTW, did you enter this contest? : )
No, I did not enter the contest. Maybe some day I'll enter (it is my alma matter, after all). :-)
"This is a story of twin Siamese kittens, or, more specifically, of their shared appendage; it is a tail of two kitties.''
David Bubenik, Palo Alto
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. Through one of the obscurest quarters of London, and among haunts little loved by the gentlemen of the police, a man, evidently of the lowest orders, was wending his solitary way. He stopped twice or thrice at different shops and houses of a description correspondent with the appearance of the quartier in which they were situated,--and tended inquiry for some article or another which did not seem easily to be met with. All the answers he received were couched in the negative; and as he turned from each door he muttered to himself, in no very elegant phraseology, his disappointment and discontent.
At length, at one house, the landlord, a sturdy butcher, after rendering the same reply the inquirer had hitherto received, added,--"But if this vill do as vell, Dummie, it is quite at your sarvice!" Pausing reflectively for a moment, Dummie responded, that he thought the thing proffered might do as well; and thrusting it into his ample pocket he strode away with as rapid a motion as the wind and rain would allow. He soon came to a nest of low and dingy buildings, at the entrance to which, in half-effaced characters was written "Thames Court." Having at the most conspicuous of these buildings, an inn or alehouse through the half-closed windows of which blazed out in ruddy comfort the beams of the hospitable hearth, he knocked hastily at the door. He was admitted by a lady of a certain age, and endowed with a comely rotundity of face and person.
"Hast got it, Dummie?" said she quickly, as she closed the door on the guest.
"Noa, noa! not exactly--but as I thinks as ow . . ."
"Pish, you fool!" cried the woman interrupting him, peevishly. "Vy, it is no use desaving me. You knows you has only stepped from my boosing ken to another, and you has not been arter the book at all. So there's the poor cretur a-raving and a-dying, and you . . ."
"Let I speak!" interrupted Dummie in his turn. "I tells you I vent first to Mother Bussblone's, who, I knows, chops the whiners morning and evening to the young ladies, and I axes there for a Bible, and she says, says she, 'I 'as only a "Companion to the Halter!" but you'll get a Bible, I thinks, as Master Talkins,--the cobbler, as preaches.' So I goes to Master Talkins, and he says, says he, 'I 'as no call for the Bible--'cause vy?--I 'as a call vithout; but mayhap you'll be a-getting it at the butcher's hover the vay,--'cause vy?--the butcher'll be damned!" So I goes hover the vay, and the butcher says, says he, 'I 'as not a Bible: but I 'as a book of plays bound for all the world just like 'un, and mayhap the poor cretur mayn't see the difference.' So I takes the plays, Mrs. Margery, and here they be surely!--and how's poor Judy?"
"Fearsomo! she'll not be over the night, I'm a-athinking."
"Vell, I'll track up the dancers!"
So saying, Dummie ascended a doorless staircase, across the entrance of which a blanket, stretched angularly from the wall to the chimney, afforded a kind of screen; and presently he stood within a chamber, which the dark and painful genius of Crabbe might have delighted to portray. The walls were white-washed, and at sundry places strange figures and grotesque characters had been traced by some mirthful inmate, in such sable outline as the end of a smoked stick or the edge of a piece of charcoal is wont to produce. The wan and flickering light afforded by a farthing candle gave a sort of grimness and menace to these achievements of pictorial art, especially as they more than once received embellishment from portraits of Satan, such as he is accustomed to be drawn. A low fire burned gloomily in a the sooty grate; and on the hob hissed "the still small voice" of an iron kettle. On a round deal-table were two vials, a cracked cup, a broken spoon of some dull metal, and upon two or three mutilated chairs were scattered various articles of female attire. On another table, placed below a high, narrow, shutterless casement (athwart which, instead of a curtain, a checked apron had been loosely hung, and now waved fitfully to and fro in the gusts of wind that made easy ingress through many a chink and cranny), were a looking glass, sundry appliances of the toilet, a box of coarse rouge, a few ornaments of more show than value; and a watch, the regular and calm click of which produced that indescribably painful feeling which, we fear, many of our readers who have heard the sound in a sick chamber can easily recall.
Go here for the rest... (It gets better!)
He is still performing.