A Bit About Me

My photo
Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

30 June 2009

Things Are Going From Bad to Worst...

Well, it's been a very bad couple weeks in the entertainment industry...Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and now Billy Mays. Very sad indeed.

So, I thought a little levity might be in order. But, be forewarned...these are really bad. In fact, they are amongst the worst out there...and therein lies the rub: they are SUPPOSED to be.

Imagine sitting at your desk in school when you were young...and the teacher just told you to write a story about summer vacation. If you were like me...it was an exercise in futility, imagination, and worst of all...getting it all started. The dreaded opening sentence. It all hinged on that. Once you got your story started...it usually came easier after. But...oh...that "starting off" point.

There's a myriad of ways to start off any story. Now, granted, first grade English class compositions probably weren't exactly going to garner you any movie deals. The number of screenwriters who struck it big at seven...well, you can probably count them on any cartoon character's hand (bear in mind...cartoon characters typically only have four fingers...or, three fingers and a thumb, if you prefer). In other words...there probably aren't many. But even at the tender age of seven...you came to realize just how detrimental the wording of that opening line is...and how hard it is to just...well...start...period.

And the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest capitalizes on just that. Period. Yes, up until that dreaded period...you can string words together any way you like...all forms of time-honoured punctuation is accepted...except the period. Once you place that dot at the end. That's it. That's all folks...that's all you get...that's all she (or he) wrote.

So, Professor of English, Scott Rice, started this contest way back in 1982 - as a lesson of sorts I figure...highlighting the pros and cons of opening sentence structure. It goes something like this:
Good: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." -- Opening line to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Bad: "Me and Mommy and Daddy went to Disneyworld and we rode the rides and then we got popcorn and then my brother, Timmy, threw up, and the lady had to clean it, and then we went back to our room." -- Opening line reminiscent of countless children's' essays (around the world) the first day of school.

Worst: "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." -- Opening line by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford.

Do you see where this is headed?

Well, perhaps Professor Rice didn't either...but from a small beginning with, I believe, three whole entries...from his English class the first year...to what it has become: A literary legend. To win this prize is [almost] akin to the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer AND the Oscar...rolled into one. It has ballooned into the juggernaut that it is now.

And how do I know this?

I won it back in 2003...but you can read all about that in a blog I wrote back in 2006.

But back to the winner at hand, David McKenzie, of Federal Way, Washington, who won with this flowing refuse of writing:

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."

Bravo, David. Bravo, everyone else who won sub-categories and got mentioned...but most of all, bravo, Professor Scott Rice...for your monumental contribution to [would-be] writers everywhere.


  1. Nicely written.

    So, are you going to enter this again? Has anyone ever won twice? I think you should go for it!

  2. Thank you, Brenda...you are always so nice. :)

    Yes, I have entered it - I didn't enter it the year after I won (I don't think) but I entered the following two years - and this time around my entry was way too late...or way too "bad". I have, however, got mentions the two other years I entered...which is really something in my opinion. :)

    No...no one has won twice - I would love to be the first. :)

  3. Well, if anyone can win it twice... it is going to be you. I have faith in you. You are a brilliant writer... and can be "bad" when you wanna be. *wink wink*

    Umm... what was I saying? I seemed to have gotten sidetracked.

  4. As Mae West said, "When I'm good...I'm very good...but when I'm bad...I'm better". ;)

  5. Let's not forget the perv David Carradine.

    Anyway, very nice post. I enjoyed reading it.

  6. Ooops - sorry - forgot about him. Not that I really ever thought about him to start with - but I did forget. And you did good, "Grasshopper", to remember. ;)

  7. I'd love to leave a comment here that would be reminiscent of a writer of lore such as Hemingway, Shakespeare, or even Elmore Leonard, but my writing skills, such as they are, seem to be (I fear) sorely lacking in the requisite flair, resulting in my leaving a morsal-like comment on the plate that is your blog.

  8. Oh...you don't give yourself any credit...you who penned the likes of "Senior Poopie Pants"...which made not only me...but my children howl with laughter.

    You know what I get when I ask them to read one of my blogs? "Ugh...you know I don't like reading your blogs..."

    Nice, huh?

  9. Ooops - "Senor Poopie Pants". Damned no edit key.

    "Senior Poopie Pants" might be a pretty good blog, tho. ;)