Sunday, March 08, 2015

Really Rotten 'Riting

I don't know how legit these are but who cares? They're really funny.  This is a re-post from five years ago and one of my favorite pieces. 

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual similes and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year's winners:

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 machine.

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 fromTopeka 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, Granddad 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 known 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 awhile.

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 powertools.

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

26 comments:

Oat Willie said...

They sound kind of like John Swartzwelder. like "The Time Machine Did It" or that cartoon he used to write for.

Blank Space said...

Ken, I noticed that instead of using a picture of Natalie Wood, you used Taylor Swift. So my Friday question is this -- Are you a closet Swifty!?

sunday said...

I suddenly feel quite positive about my writing. Thanks, Ken!

Mike Botula said...

What a way to start the day! After this, I may never open my bible again.

Dixon Steele said...

Just envision THE NAKED GUN's Leslie Nielsen saying these things and they're even funnier.

DBenson said...

Back in the day, National Lampoon occasionally ran a "slush pile" page that featured supposedly real lines from awful manuscripts, gleaned by an anonymous fiction edition.

They were mostly plausible badness: A mystery beginning with a jewel theft from "the Princess of England"; an overripe clinch in a room where ancient pictures on the wall "watched, and perhaps learned"; and Batman-style exposition (using "distinguished" when introducing someone, etc). I regret not saving those for their educational value.

There's tumblr called "Slush Pile Hell" where a literary agent occasionally posts a particularly unpromising quote from a query letter -- usually something indicating the writer's combined lack of skill and surplus of confidence.

Someday, maybe Ken can be persuaded to share the most appalling lines from spec scripts, or deal-breaker opening scenes (Liz Taylor comes to the 4077 with a USO show . . .)

Mike said...

Assuming travel as the crow flies, the impact is in Bloomington at 2:06am.

There's still time to nominate Ken for 2015's Bad Sex Award. And for the Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award.

Hamid said...

I think a couple of these are actually intentional and rather witty. "The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work" is quite funny and "Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever" might be an intentional use of irony.

Of the terrible ones, my favourite is "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."

emily said...

This post was a breath of fresh air, like when your car breaks down between a landfill and the city dump, but later you get it started again and drive to a nicer place.

fred said...

Still trying to picture this....

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

Loosehead. said...

She IS cute, isn't she.

Carson said...

I can see there's a Douglas Adams fan in the mix.

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

Adams wrote: The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.

Anonymous said...

Your blog stinks like my ass after taking a big wet Taco Bell induced dump.

Matt said...

I think most of these are pretty clever and funny.

Most of them are too good to not be intentional.

404 said...

I caught that Douglas Adams homage as well. He had a way of using contradiction that was really funny. My favorite example of that is this, from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish:

"Are you going to London?" she asked.

"Yes," he didn't say.

"And I've got to step on it," he failed to add, omitting to glance at his watch.

"I wasn't," he said, "but ..." Bungling idiot.

Marty Fufkin said...

Although those are bad in a literary sense, there's still cleverness and joy in those excerpts, especially considering the authors are just high-school students. At least they're writing and being creative. Most people don't have the guts to try to express themselves artistically. Give the young writers kudos for being brave and unashamed. (If those quotes came from adult writers, on the other hand...)

MikeN said...

Now read the list again, but spoken by Robin Williams.

euphoria0504 said...

According to Snopes, these were all written as entries to the Washington Post's Style Invitational contest. But they're still funny. http://www.snopes.com/humor/lists/metaphor.asp

norm said...

Ken,
What is your take on the Fox show: " Last Man/Woman on Earth"?

chuckcd said...

I like that Canadian beef line.

sarah lee said...

I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. See the link below for more info.


#found
www.ufgop.org

Rashad Khan said...

I hate to say it, but some of those sound almost Chandleresque.

Diane D. said...

To: 404

This is one of my favorite things about this blog. I liked your Douglas Adams quote so much, I immediately ordered the book.

James Lamb said...

I recognize these! They're from the Bulwer-Lyttons - they reason I love August. http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

Leslie Lim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matt inLancaster said...

I recall a couple of my favorites from the old National Lampoon "Slush Pile" feature:

1) "From the moment he crushed Cora's skull, he knew it was going to be a rotten Monday."

2) "You'd think women would know better than to go out to do laundry alone," the lieutenant said. "It's like they're looking for a cheap thrill."