Friday, January 21, 2005

It's a Wonder More Teachers Don't Drink (or Write Blooper Books)


They certainly have an incentive, based on an eMail I just received. These are purported to be actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays:

  1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

  2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

  3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

  4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

  5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

  6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

  7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

  8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

  9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

  10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

  11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

  12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

  13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

  14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

  15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

  16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

  17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

  18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

  19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

  20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

  21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

  22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

  23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

  24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

  25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

  26. Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.

  27. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

  28. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.

These reminded me of the classic collection of answers high-school students gave to to history questions, excerpted from the hilarious blooper books by Richard Lederer ("the Word Guy"):
  • Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies, and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert, where the climate was so hot that the inhabitants had to live elsewhere. Certain areas of the dessert are cultivated by irritation.

  • The Pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain. The Eqyptians built the pyramids in the shape of huge rectangular cubes.

  • The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible -- Guinesses -- Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, asked, "Am I my brother's son?"

  • Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients.

  • Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. After his death his career suffered a dramatic decline.

  • In the Olympic Games, Greeks ran the races, hurled the biscuits, and threw the java.

  • Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March killed him because they thought he was about to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: "Tee, hee, Brutus."

  • Then came the Middle Ages, when everyone was middle aged. King Alfred conquered the Dames. King Arthur lived in the age of Shivery, and Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak. She was cannonized by Bernard Shaw.

  • Finally, the Magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

  • In midevil times most people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the futile ages was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verses, but also literature. During this time people put on morality plays about ghosts, goblins, virgins, and other mythical creatures.

  • The Renaissance was an age when more and more people felt the value of their human being. Martin Luther was nailed to a church door for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull.

  • Queen Elizabeth was the "Virgin Queen." As a queen, she was a success. When Elizabeth exposed herself before her troops, they all shouted "Hurrah!" Afterward her navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

  • It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removeable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is an historic figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking.

  • Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100-foot clipper.

  • The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was born in the year 1564 on his birthday. He never made much money, and is today remembered only for his plays. He wrote comedies, tragedies, and hysterectomies. In one of Shakespeare's most famous plays, Hamlet figures out his situation by relieving himself in a long soliloquy.

  • Later on, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and it was called Pilgrim's Progress. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers -- many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all of this.

  • The big reason for the Revolutionary War was that the English put tacks in their tea. Also, colonists were sending their parcels through the post without stamps.

  • Benjamin Franklin was a singer of the Declaration of Independence. He invented electricity by rubbing two cats backward, and declared, "A horse divided against itself will not stand."

  • Soon the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility. Under the Constitution, the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.

  • Abraham Lincoln was America's greatest precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address while travelling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope.

  • On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the movies and got shot in his seat. The believed assassinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposedly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

  • Meanwhile in Europe, the Enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltair invented electricity and also wrote a book called "Candy." Gravity was invented by Isaac Walton.

  • Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster he kept in the attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world, but so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English. Beethoven wrote very loud music because he was deaf. He took long walks in the forest, even when everyone was calling for him.

  • The sun never set on the British Empire because Britain is in the East and the sun sets in the West. Queen Victoria was the longest queen. Her death was the final event which ended her reign.

  • The 19th Century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions: People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machines. The invention of steamboats caused a network of rivers to spring up. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Charles Darwin wrote, "Organ of the Species"; Madman Curie discovered radio; and Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.

We also should not forget the small, rabid coterie of deliberately-bad writers who vie every year for the Bulwer-Lytton prize. The 2004 winning entry from Dave Zobel of Manhattan Beach, CA:
She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight . . . summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail . . . though the term "love affair" now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism . . . not unlike "sand vein," which is after all an intestine, not a vein . . . and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand . . . and that brought her back to Ramon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me if a bit off topic, but...

have you read "Hamilton" by Ron Chernow?

1/22/2005 12:21 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Hey, a couple of those actually aren't bad. "She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef"... classic! And "Unlike Phil, this plan just might work..."

The E. coli thing reads like a witty parody of a noir writer, like Raymond Chandler. I'd have given that student an A.

1/22/2005 6:59 PM  
Blogger DrPat said...

I have not read "Hamilton" - should I? (Never heard of it before today.)

Check out the Bulwer-Lytton site, you'll find that writing badly really well... um, writing really bad stuff very well... Oh, heck, doing a good job of bad writing can earn you money! (Much better than an A, I think.)

1/22/2005 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got the book (Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow). I'll get back to you on whether it is any good. 700 pages, small print, and I'm a slow reader.

1/25/2005 2:12 AM  
Blogger DrPat said...

I looked at the Alexander Hamilton book at the store today, and I think I'll let Anon. tell us what s/he thinks.

1/28/2005 1:58 AM  
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