Saturday, July 30, 2005

With Jimmy Hoffa's Pen, I'll Write a Lousy Sentence

Edward Fitzgibbon, 1850 (click to enlarge)
Courtesy of Rauner Special Collections Library at DARTMOUTH.

1) Today marks the 30th anniversary of the disappearance (and presumed death) of union boss and convicted criminal James Riddle Hoffa. The strange case is entertainingly recapped here with all the details of clothes, cars, habits, and a frozen salmon.

2) Most ballpoints tend to blob and smear, which annoys me, but I admire their humble ubiquity. Drawn! pointed me to a nifty flash site showing an album of work by several artists using only ballpoint pen. And how they employ the splatter. Super cool.

3) Delight! Luxuriate! Wallow and Bask!
Here are 2005's Bulwer-Lytton contest winners and as usual, they're awful.

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

A couple of my favorites were one where I purely loved the topic and another that exhibited the kind of logic that makes me love Terry Prachett. Congratulations, scribes, you stink!

After months of pent-up emotions like a caffeine-addict trying to kick the habit, Cathy finally let the tears come, at first dripping sporadically like an old clogged percolator, then increasing slowly like a 10-cup coffeemaker with an automatic drip, and eventually pouring out and noisily wailing like a cappuccino maker complete with slurping froth.
Chris Bui-Pensacola, FL

Wet leaves stuck to the spinning wagon wheels like feathers to a freshly tarred heretic, reminding those who watched them of the endless movement of the leafy earth-or so they would have, if only those fifteenth-century onlookers had believed that the earth actually rotated, which they didn't, which is why it was heretical to say that it did-and which is the reason why the wagon held a freshly tarred heretic in the first place.
Alf Seegert- Salt Lake City, UT

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