The Worst Sentence of the Year

 

Cathy Bryant of Manchester (England, not New Hampshire) is the winner of this year’s coveted Bulwer-Lytton Contest for the Worst Opening Sentence for an Imaginary Novel. Hers is the overall winner, but there are many runners-up proudly displayed on the Bulwer-Lytton results page. Some go for elaborate set-ups of punch-clause puns, but I most enjoy the ones like Ms Bryant’s that really mimic an untalented author whose novel I’m glad I don’t have to read.

Here, for your delectation and anti-edification, the prize-winning run-away sentence:

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.

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Prometheus, the movie

Enjoyable but unsatisfying; beautiful but pretentious. It is a big story told with beautiful and moving scenes. The leads all act very well, though there is a breath-taking gap between the main characters and the rest, who are two-dimensional stereotypes (probably not the fault of the actors). The minor-character scientists in particular leave me despairing of standards of higher education in the future. These guys are truly deeply madly stupid.

As for the larger tale — Continue reading

Low Tech Discoveries

 

Discovery. Simplicity. Both are fascinating. And when a single phenomenon comprises both, it makes me smile, no matter how mundane.

Hideki Watanabe has found a simple way to harness the apparently chaotic motion of warm-hot liquids to produce a pot in which the soup will stir itself. It’s just a matter of shaping the bottom and building channeling grooves into the sides.

The first thing you think is: how brilliant of him. The second thing you think is: how is it that no one has ever thought of this before? It isn’t as though building shapes into pots and pans is new technology. The ancient Greeks could have done this.

The next thing I think of is the way that some stuff that has been around forever is much less intuitive than this. Eating whipped cream set this off for me… What in the world made someone stir their milk around so madly for long enough to make whipped cream and then butter? Why would anyone who didn’t know something would happen do such a thing?

So here’s where I’m going with all this: How many simple things like whipped cream and self-stirring pots are there that we HAVEN’T yet stumbled on to?! When we meet our first alien civilisation, I think the biggest surprises won’t be about their advanced technology, but about the low technology. I think E.T. is likely to have had self-stirring pots since its ancestors emerged from the pods, but maybe we’ll also make its big green eyes pop out: “Whoa! You get THIS by beating cream!? Who knew!?”

 

Lyrics Backwards

A character in an Elmore Leonard novel I’m reading just said this:

You know what happens when you play a country tune backwards?

You get your girl and your truck back,
you’re not drunk anymore
and your hound dog comes back to life.