The Watering Hole; Friday March 29, 2013: “It Was A Dark and Stormy Night”

"It was a dark and stormy night"

“It was a dark and stormy night” . . .  over, under, and around Mount Bushmore

Sometimes the only way to reduce the risk of blowing another mental gasket via continuous immersion in the swamp of political vapidity is to back away from the dark side (which is most of it) and instead spend a few moments laughing egregiously at convenient exposures of its obtuse witlessness. And while I admit to having struggled to find just those perfect words to describe what I’m up to here today, my assignment has become clear, and it is this: toss out tidbits of levity in order to lighten the load and to minimize the fray. So here we go, bowing as we do so in the general direction of a few very silly ‘parodies’ penned by (1) a quintessential Wingnut, (2) some VERY creative minds, (3) a former President of the United States, and (4) moi.

Last weekend, thanks to a Daily Kos Abbreviated Pundit Round-up, I happened upon an opinion/editorial piece in the Denver Post entitled “Heterosexual marriage is, like, so uncool” written as a ‘guest commentary’ by a Coloradan named Sarah Huntzinger. DK’s succinct comment was followed thus by Ms Huntzinger’s opening paragraph.

Sarah Huntzinger deserves an award for her piece in the Denver Post. Maybe two awards. After all, it’s not every day you see someone combine a staggering persecution complex with writing worthy of Bulwer-Lytton.

“A perfect storm has gathered over Colorado. The prevailing winds of value-free politics, the decline of authentic debate, and the increasing global warming of relativism will collide with the upslope of secularism and the denial of religious liberties to converge with individualistic notions of freedom absent responsibility, producing powerful thunderstorms of hypocrisy, and the rain of radical liberalism.” [Bold highlights added]

Her entire essay proved to be every bit as nonsensical as did that opening paragraph, but what really caught my eye was DK’s reference to Bulwer-Lytton. That’s a reference, of course, to nineteenth century English author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton who wrote, in 1830 in the opening paragraph of his novel Paul Clifford, words which were eventually immortalized by cartoonist Charles Shulz’s character, Snoopy, who regularly quoted the book’s opening line in the Peanuts daily comic strip:

“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.” [Bold highlights added]

Note that Sarah Huntzinger did indeed begin her essay with a more than reasonable parody of Bulwer-Lytton’s “immortal” first line, and then followed it with a mention of “wind’, just as did Bulwer-Lytton — almost as if t’were a conscious effort on her part. She may indeed, therefore and thereby, be the perfect fit in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC) which is, as noted in Wikipedia,

“. . . a tongue-in-cheek contest that takes place annually and is sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University in San Jose, California. Entrants are invited ‘to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels’ – that is, deliberately bad. According to the official rules, the prize for winning the contest is ‘a pittance, or $250.'”

The “official rules” recommend that submissions be a single sentence, and note that 60 words are plenty; entries can be sent by either email or snail mail, but they must be received no later than April 15th. Now, Sarah Huntzinger actually used two sentences in her opening paragraph, but she could easily remedy that problem simply by mirroring Bulwer-Lytton’s solution, i.e. by placing a semicolon rather than a period following her opening phrase. If she’d do that and then submit by April 15th, she’d be a definite candidate for winning ‘a pittance’!

Speaking of pittances, here are a few of The 2012 Lyttoniad Contest Winners:

WINNER: As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting. — Cathy Bryant, Manchester, England

Grand Panjandrum’s Special Award: As an ornithologist, George was fascinated by the fact that urine and feces mix in birds’ rectums to form a unified, homogeneous slurry that is expelled through defecation, although eying Greta’s face, and sensing the reaction of the congregation, he immediately realized he should have used a different analogy to describe their relationship in his wedding vows.David Pepper, Hermosa Beach, CA

Winner. Crime: She slinked through my door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on … not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered-down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don’t prime the surface before you slap it on, and – just like that cheap paint – the dress needed two more coats to cover her. — Sue Fondrie, Appleton, WI

Dishonorable Mention: The blood seeped out of the body like bad peach juice from a peach that had been left on one side so long the bottom became rotten while it still looked fine on the top but had started to attract fruit flies, and this had the same effect, but with regular flies, that is not say there weren’t some fruit flies around because, after all, this was Miami. — Howard Eugene Whitright, Seal Beach, CA

Another equally grand “parody” was spoken back in February, 2005, by none other than that most articulate American President in all of American history, George W. Bush. Could the transcription of his “statement” on Social Security become a possible Bulwer-Lytton winner?

“Because the – all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers – for example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases, there’s a series of parts of the formula that are being considered and when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those – changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be–or closer delivered to what has been promised . . . does that make any sense to you? It’s kind of muddled, but look, there’s a series of things that cause the . . . like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate . . . the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those . . . if that growth is affected, it will help on the red. OK, better? I’ll keep working on it.”

On closer examination, it becomes apparent that even though what he says makes absolutely NO sense whatsoever, and even though he makes grand use of his linguistic talents in making NO sense whatsoever, and even though his words were clearly fiction designed to make NO sense whatsoever, he is, nevertheless, in direct violation of two fundamental BLFC rules: he used more than one sentence, and also more than sixty words. He clearly needs an editor, one willing to work late on any given dark and stormy night, someone who could rid the thing of any remnants of substance, leaving only the gobbledegook of incoherence (at which point the challenge definitely becomes finding the means to fall within that excruciating sixty word limit).

Speaking of blowing the sixty word limit, it was back in 2005 when, duly inspired as I was by the GWB linguistic skills, I thought I’d give the BLFC thing a try. My thesis involved a woman named Delilah who was employed by the Bush government and, because of her name, was obviously assigned to assist war efforts in the Middle East by analyzing implicit political issues.

“While acting in her official capacity as a highly placed United States
Government Middle-Eastern political analyst, it was never a secret to
Delilah that oligarchy and anarchy could be considered as substantive, albeit fractional, constituents of both monarchism and capitalism, especially when religious fervor was a part of the equation; but even though all of her professional colleagues realized she was intellectually capable of discerning that capitalistic and monarchistic tendencies remain linearly undiminished by even subtle numbers of disestablishmentarianists in a typical Mid-East Kingdom, the effect of antidisestablishmentarianists on either monarchists or capitalists, not to mention oligarchists or anarchists, remained to her a matter of the most bizarre speculation and, in fact, puzzled her so much that she found herself spending more and more nights alone at home with her faithful old dog Sampson–himself a blind and somewhat ridiculous looking long-haired Dachshund/Poodle cross–but nevertheless one who never asked for more than dinner and a kiss, a fact that Delilah found easy to appreciate given all the sexual pressures she felt at work.”

As you can see, I also blew it. Unlike George W. Bush’s multi-sentence effort, mine has only one sentence; but like George W. Bush, I, too, used way too many words. Not as many as HE did, but still, enough to disqualify me. So, I never bothered to submit it. Wasted the entire seven or eight minutes it took to write the damn thing. Still, I did something I’ve always yearned to do: use the words “disestablismentarianist” AND “antidisestablishmentarianist” in the SAME SENTENCE, and I’m willing to bet that NO President has ever done THAT before!

Next up, I’ll see if I can figure out how those two words — you know the ones I mean, disestablismentarianist and antidisestablishmentarianist — really are defined (a good trick, given that neither word formally exists, and thus is NOT listed in any dictionary, unlike their parallels disestablismentarianism and antidisestablishmetarianism, both of which DO exist, for whatever reason . . . confusing world, this one!). Maybe if I could locate (fellow Coloradan, according to the Denver Post) Sarah Huntzinger she could advise?

Ok, enough silliness. Your turn! 😆

This is today’s open thread. All Parodies–fiction and non-fiction alike–are welcome! (along with anything else, of course).