Bad writing

Dishonorable Mentions

From San Jose State's annual bad prose contest, which I found via a slashdot link because the winner was a software engineer.

"The night resembled nothing so much as the nose of a giant Labrador in excellent health: cold, black, and wet."
Devery Doleman
Brooklyn, NY
After months of pent-up emotions like a caffeine-addict trying to kick the habit, Cathy finally let the tears come, at first dripping sporadically like an old clogged percolator, then increasing slowly like a 10-cup coffeemaker with an automatic drip, and eventually pouring out and noisily wailing like a cappuccino maker complete with slurping froth.
Chris Bui
Pensacola, FL
After she realized the man she had fallen in love with was her long lost twin brother and they must break up immediately, they shared one last kiss that left a bitter yet sweet taste in her mouth--kind of like throwing up after eating a junior mint.
Tami Farmer
Rome, GA
The rising sun crawled over the ridge and slithered across the hot barren terrain into every nook and cranny like grease on a Denny's grill in the morning rush, but only until eleven o'clock when they switch to the lunch menu.
Lester Guyse
Portland, OR


A bus story

Today when I went from the gym to Intelligentsia, I took one of the several buses that goes down state street (it's just two stops). I sat down next to an older black woman. While several other people were busy getting on the bus, she nudged me to take off my earphone. When I did, she said, "I'm glad you're skinny sitting next to me, don't want one of these fat people on here. Look at all of 'em!"


Salon.com Life | American Girl crazy!

Whenever we would walk around downtown, we'd see seriously obnoxious suburban or out-of-town families with large, red American Girl bags. Almost invariably, these would be slow-moving types we'd be stuck behind – either walking on the street or slowly down the subway steps when you could hear the fucking train coming – and we always kind of wondered what the fuck this was about. We discerned that American Girl was a brand of doll, and that American Girl Place would be a kind of hell for us. Now, a Salon article elucidates the whole enterprise, which I'm not at all surprised to learn is owned by toy giant Mattel.

American Girl Place ChicagoSalon.com Life | American Girl crazy!:
Ours, it's clear, is a moment in consumer history when middle-class American parents will spend, pretty much happily, a great deal of money on what they perceive as quality goods for their children, particularly if those goods can be seen as in any way educational. A Samantha starter kit, which includes the doll, a slim paperback book, and a few teensy accessories, sells for $98. Samantha's cunning little wooden school desk, with its historically accurate wrought-iron legs, costs $68. Her trunk, with its oval mirror and three wee hangers, costs $175. Josefina's carved wooden chest, in tasteful Santa Fe style, goes for $155. And so on. For many American girls, these are, of course, unimaginable luxuries. At an economically and racially diverse private school where a friend's daughter goes, American Girl dolls are a dividing line -- and an early introduction to class in America -- for a group of third-graders. Two of the girls are from families who cannot afford the dolls, let alone the fripperies that go with them. And, lately, these two girls have been getting left out of play dates and playground games, which often center on American Girl fantasies. Ironic, in a way, since these particular girls are from newly arrived immigrant families of modest means, whose life stories are, therefore, classic American Girl. The 'Barbie as Halle Berry in Catwoman' doll may come swathed in stereotypes, but at least it has the virtue of being available at your local Target for $14.99.... What the American Girls phenomenon best represents, though, is the fact that fathers and mothers, even if they do not consider themselves social conservatives, want help in keeping at bay certain aspects of the pop culture. And they want help they can buy."


How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart - New York Times

How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart - New York Times:

"Despite Costco's impressive record, Mr. Sinegal's salary is just $350,000, although he also received a $200,000 bonus last year. That puts him at less than 10 percent of many other chief executives, though Costco ranks 29th in revenue among all American companies.

'I've been very well rewarded,' said Mr. Sinegal, who is worth more than $150 million thanks to his Costco stock holdings. 'I just think that if you're going to try to run an organization that's very cost-conscious, then you can't have those disparities. Having an individual who is making 100 or 200 or 300 times more than the average person working on the floor is wrong.'"

you know those infomercials

Perfect Pancake! ORDER NOW!where they show the "old, bad way" of doing something like making pancakes? – cut to black and white, flinging batter around the kitchen, accidentally throwing the cat on the griddle, and the reënactor says, "If only there were a better way!" – and then this new exciting technology fixes everything and gives you the best orgasm of your life.

That's what this description of fruit stickers from an NYT article about tattoo labels made me think of:

fruit tattooer
The process, government approved and called safe by the industry, may sound sinister. But it was designed with the consumer in mind: laser coding could mean the end of those tiny stubborn stickers that have to be picked, scraped or yanked off produce.
Sticker-removal duty took Jean Lemeaux of Clarksville, Tex., half an hour one day last week.
"I was picking all the little stickers from the Piggly Wiggly off my plums and my avocado pears and my peaches," said Ms. Lemeaux, 76. "Then I had to make fruit salad out of the ones that got hurt when I took the stickers off, and then I had to wash the glue off the other ones before I put them in the fruit bowl."
"One time," she said, "I got up the next morning and looked in the mirror and there were two of them up in my hair."


...one with details.

NYT letter:
To the Editor:
With the latest Harry Potter release ("Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Summer Camper," Arts pages, July 14), is there room for a dissenting voice?
My 10-year-old son announced his intention never to read another Harry Potter book. "Because, Mom, haven't you noticed? It's the same old thing. Harry Potter falls in trouble, Harry Potter learns a spell. It gets so boring."
Could I believe my ears? My son, a good reader, at last! And I recalled (silently) a favorite quote from Vladimir Nabokov: "Caress the details," he directed. "Read for the tingle, the shiver up the spine."
When my son deposited his hardcover Potter collection in his school's donation box, he assured me: "I don't want to keep these. They're not the kind of books you read twice." Well, I asked, what kind of book do you read again? "One with details," he answered. Sorry, J. K. Rowling...
Kate Roth
New York, July 14, 2005


I'm the Boss, and I Say No Lentils - New York Times

I'm the Boss, and I Say No Lentils - New York Times: "Floyd Cardoz of Tabla has refused to eat bananas since he was 10. When he was named executive chef a little over three years ago, banana desserts were banned from his kitchen."

upcoming dinner party menu

  • amuse: tabouli-stuffed hard-cooked eggs and pesto-stuffed grape tomatoes.
  • salad: grilled tomatoes, eggplant, and lettuce, with tzatziki sauce or roasted garlic champagne vinaigrette.
  • 'soup': herb ice milk with lavender, tarragon or oregano, mint, basil, and thyme.
  • couscous: lamb, chicken, cabbage, summer squash, tomato, baby potatoes, purple carrots, fresh peas, golden raisins.
  • mint sorbet
  • dessert: (vanilla) panna cotta with raspberries, blueberries, golden raspberries, red currants.


The New Republic Online: Evolutionary War

What prominent conservatives believe.
A Pat on the Back - New York Times: "My soft spot for strange bedfellows aside, I am a capital-D Democrat who still believes in the value of partisan politics. And I hold onto that belief despite the fact that I belong to a party whose only true talent is writing exceedingly eloquent concession speeches."




1000 Signs