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You think I’m not serious?

Look: I hear one more person call a press conference a “presser,” I’m gonna get up and start busting heads (in some metaphorical, prescriptivist fashion). —Leave that kind of talk to Variety, would you? They manage to pull it off, though God alone knows how. Anybody else, it looks fucking ridiculous.

Memery index.

Thoughtfully, he sipped the hot, bitter liquid.

There’s a “Lyttle Lytton” contest! —Since 1983, the “official” Bulwer-Lytton contest has been awarding prizes for the best first sentences of the worst (thankfully nonexistent) novels imaginable, and while I still doff my hat in awe at the majesty of the very first winner:

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.

—I think I’m starting to agree with Mr. Cadre: they’re really starting to go on too long. Granted, the ur-sentence is guilty as charged:

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 housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

—but recent winners in their flabbiness are nonetheless violating the spirit of the thing, all-too-consciously setting up tics to be mocked rather than aped, or devolving into the sorts of puns that are grounds for manslaughter in 17 states:

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.

—as a for instance, or:

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.”

Ack. Please. (Though 2000’s grand prize winner is quite good: “The heather-encrusted Headlands, veiled in fog as thick as smoke in a crowded pub, hunched precariously over the moors, their rocky elbows slipping off land’s end, their bulbous, craggy noses thrust into the thick foam of the North Sea like bearded old men falling asleep in their pints.”) But! I, for one, applaud the Lyttle Lytton’s stern but fair restriction: craft the best first sentence for the worst novel imaginable in 25 words or less. You’ve got to admire the economy of the Lyttle Lytton sample sentence:

Jennifer stood there, quietly ovulating.

Tennis being much more fun with a net. —The bad news, I’m afraid, is that the cut-off for participating in 2004’s contest was midnight on Wednesday. The good news is the winners have been posted. Those who’ve heard me rant about my writing peeves will a) recognize the title of this entry and b) understand why I wish the grand prize had gone to this particular contestant:

“Tasty waffle?” Jim suggested alluringly, prodding me with the aforementioned breakfast food.

Glorious, ennit?