For more like this, see Bulwer-Lytton Quotations #4
For more stories about Canada Geese, see my posts about Waterfowl.
A ‘Tom Swifty’ is a play on words. It usually starts with a quotation, followed by an adverb that describes how Tom was speaking. (For more Tom Swifties, and a brief history of this type of parody, see Tom Swifties Quotations #1 and Tom Swifties Quotations #2.
“All right — we’ll use a water solution”, Tom acquiesced.
“And to think I swallowed that lie, hook, line and sinker!” Tom gulped.
“Eating uranium can cause strange effects,” said Tom brightly.
“Honey, put on that see-through thing,” said Tom negligently.
“How do you start a model-T Ford without a battery?” asked Tom crankily.
“I always eat at McDonald’s,” said Tom archly.
“I am NOT full of hot air,” Tom belched.
“I collect fairy tales,” said Tom grimly.
“I didn’t look at all!” Tom peeped.
“I haven’t had any tooth decay YET,” said Tom precariously.
“I hope you’re not afraid of needles,” Tom injected.
“I just got a job putting up steel girders!” Tom beamed.
“I know what a bunch of lions is called,” said Tom with pride.
“I like ragged margins,” said Tom without justification.
“I’ll try to dig up a couple of friends,” said Tom gravely.
“I’m going to sue my real estate agent for not warning me the prairies were so flat,” said Tom plaintively.
“I’m on welfare,” said Tom dolefully.
“I think I’ll put new stuffing in that old settee,” said Tom fill-a-sofa-cally.
“It’s not a candy mint, it’s a breath mint,” Tom asserted.
“I’ve run out of laundry detergent,” said Tom cheerlessly.
“I will NOT finish in fifth place,” Tom held forth.
“Looks like rain,” said Tom precipitously.
“Nice mirror!” said Tom reflectively.
“Now where did I put that magazine?” Tom asked periodically.
“Of course I can make armour out of chains,” Tom replied by mail.
“She even flies her own jet,” Tom leered.
“The door’s ajar,” said Tom openly.
“The train’s late,” Tom railed.
“This bud’s for you,” said Tom lightly.
“Why shouldn’t I stir my yoghurt with a ballpoint pen?” Tom bickered.
“Y’all, I’m leavin’,” said Dolly, partin’.
“Zoos are a necessary evil, I think,” said Tom cagily.
Last but not least, this contribution from Al at Cvillean: “Shocked at having been diagnosed with laryngitis, Tom was left speechless.”
As a graduate of the Zsa Zsa Gabor School of Creative mathematics, I honestly do not know how old I am.
Do not take the chill off the room by turning the iron to the cotton setting.
Encourage independence in your children by regularly losing them in the supermarket.
Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.
I didn’t fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.
I don’t know why no one ever thought to paste a label on the toilet-tissue spindle giving 1-2-3 directions for replacing the tissue on it. Then everyone in the house would know what Mama knows.
I haven’t trusted polls since I read that 62% of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I’ve never met a woman in my life who would give up lunch for sex.
I have seen my kid struggle into the kitchen in the morning with outfits that need only one accessory: an empty gin bottle.
I learned the importance of a man’s chair early in life. I learned that he may love several wives, embrace several cars, be true to more than one political philosophy, and be equally committed to several careers, but he will have only one comfortable chair in his life. I learned it will be an ugly chair. It will match nothing in the entire house. It will never wear out.
I’m trying very hard to understand this generation. They have adjusted the timetable for childbearing so that menopause and teaching a sixteen-year-old how to drive a car will occur in the same week.
I never leaf through a copy of National Geographic without realizing how lucky we are to live in a society where it is traditional to wear clothes.
It is fast approaching the point where I don’t want to elect anyone stupid enough to want the job.
I was browsing in a bookstore recently when I came across a book on child raising. It was a thin little volume of about fifteen or twenty pages that used the word “love” on every page and “reinforcement of self-esteem” on every other page. I leafed through it several times looking for the word that no parent should raise a child without: “No.” It wasn’t there. Mistake.
My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
My mom has a plaque just inside her front door that reads, “If we get to drinking Sunday afternoon and start insisting that you stay over until Tuesday, please remember we don’t mean it.”
My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?
Never have more children than you have car windows.
Once you see the drivers in Indonesia you understand why religion plays such a big part in their lives.
One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.
Sometimes I can’t figure designers out. It’s as if they flunked human anatomy.
Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence.
The hippopotamus is a vegetarian and looks like a wall. Lions who eat only red meat are sleek and slim. Are nutritionists on the wrong track?
There is no known navy-blue food. If there is navy-blue food in the refrigerator, it signifies death.
There is one thing I have never taught my body how to do and that is to figure out at 6 A.M. what it wants to eat at 6 P.M.
When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911.
When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.
A ‘Tom Swifty’ is a play on words. It usually starts with a quotation, followed by an adverb that describes how Tom was speaking. (For more Tom Swifties, and a brief history of this type of parody, see Tom Swifties Quotations #1.
“Blow on the fire so it doesn’t go out,” Tom bellowed.
“Company should be here in about an hour,” Tom guessed.
“Dawn came too soon,” Tom mourned.
“I couldn’t believe we lost the election by two votes,” Tom recounted.
“I’m losing my hair,” Tom bawled.
“I suppose there’s room for one more,” Tom admitted.
“It’s made the grass wet,” said Tom after due consideration.
“I used to own that gold mine,” Tom exclaimed.
“I’ve had my left and right ventricles removed,” Tom said half-heartedly.
“I’ve never had a car accident,” said Tom recklessly.
“Measure twice before you cut,” Tom remarked.
“My hair’s been cut off,” Tom said distressfully.
“Please put some folds in these trousers,” Tom pleaded.
“Thanks for shredding the cheese,” Tom said gratefully.
“That’s no purebred,” Tom muttered.
“Where did you get this meat?” Tom asked hoarsely.
“We’ve taken over the government,” Tom cooed.
“You dropped a stitch,” Tom needled.
“You look like a goat,” Tom kidded.
The English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest since 1982. It is a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence for the worst possible novel. The following submissions are the ones I liked best from the years 2006-2007 and 2021.
A major city’s new community policing guidelines have struck a notable compromise: police will first attempt to defuse all conflict situations by singing, “Stop, in the Name of Love,” but the public should know that holding palms out like The Supremes is optional, as is “before you break my heart!”
– Kevin Kinzer, Spokane, WA –
As the dawn begin to break, Debby and Robert, their arms tightly wrapped around each other, watched in awe as the sky turned a brilliant pinkish red as the sun’s rays inched their way down the slopes of the craggy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, but this was Canada so the rays were centimetering their way down the slopes.
– Daniel Leyde, Shoreline, WA –
Even though Bambi the deer grew up to become a sleek and powerful 10-point buck, the other deer frequently chided him about his name, which was a perfectly fine name for a cocktail waitress but not so much for a male deer.
– Greg Homer, San Vito, Costa Rica –
Hiram had been a three-toed dragon, well on his way to a promotion to Imperial five-toed dragon, when he accidentally choked on the pink chiffon scarf of Princess Chloe’s hat, and his coughing set the new oaken parapet, on the old stone bulwark, ablaze, thereby earning a demotion to Troll 3 — now his only responsibility was to keep billy goats off the bridge.
– Michael L. VanBlaricum, Santa Barbara, CA –
Lady Guinevere heard it distinctly, a sharp slap, as if a gauntlet had been thrown, and yet it was hardly plausible that she, perched delicately on the back of her cantering steed, should be challenged to ride faster, since protocol determined that Arthur should ride in front, then she, then Lancelot, for that was the order prescribed by Merlin, ever since he invented the carousel.
– Celine Shinbutsu, Hino City, Tokyo, Japan –
Post-game cake, long a clubhouse tradition for the Mudville Nine, was taken off the menu when new manager Sperb Farquhar made it clear that everybody, including the team’s sluggers, would be called on to sacrifice bundt.
– David Laatsch, Baton Rouge, LA –
She clung to the memory of their love like those tiny bits of used tissues he always left in his pockets, which mostly ended up in the dryer lint basket although enough of them welded themselves to her favorite navy blue, polar fleece pullover, rendering it as permanently flawed and unappealing as his name tattooed on her butt.
– Pamela Patchet Hamilton, Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada –
Stanley frowned, his brow wrinkled like the furrows of a newly ploughed field in the far reaches of East Anglia, England’s prairie, when the mighty Massey Ferguson has just completed its traverse of God’s good soil in the heat haze of a late August afternoon, and wondered for the umpteenth time where on earth he had left his reading glasses.
– Pamela Hibbert, Crowthorne, Berkshire, England –
The droppings of the migrating Canada geese just missed the outdoor revelers at the inaugural Asian math puzzle competition, marking the first time that dung flew over the Sudoku Fest.
– Kevin P. Craver, Lakewood, IL –
The easy and comforting roll of the saddle was second nature to Luke, and as he gazed off into the distant setting sun, he wondered whether he had enough change for one more ride at the supermarket before he had to return to the home.
– Glenn Lawrie, Chungnam, South Korea –
The nervous and untried exotic dancer seemed to cling protectively to her brass pole like the edge of a roll of plastic wrap when you are looking for the beginning of the roll and it seems like it’s healed up or melted into the rest of the wrap until finally you just give up and use foil or wax paper instead.
– Dwight Jenkins, Sun City, CA –
The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife, not even a sharp knife, but a dull one from that set of cheap knives you received as a wedding gift in a faux wooden block; the one you told yourself you’d replace, but in the end, forgot about because your husband ran off with another man, that kind of knife.
– Lisa Lindquist, Jackson, MI –
With one bound she was at the bookcase reaching for the heaviest book she could find to halt her attacker, a thesaurus of indeterminate, inconclusive, or unstipulated weight, ponderosity, or heftiness, with which she intended to pummel, lapidate or belabor her assailant’s skull, cranium or brainpan.
– Stu Duval, Auckland, New Zealand –
The English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest since 1982. It is a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence for the worst possible novel. The following submissions are the ones I liked best from the years 2008-2010.
Although it was late at night and the snow was gently falling, Martin, who had gathered the young maidens together in the village church and was now, at the stroke of midnight, leading them across the town square, responded to the town constable’s enquiry as to what he was doing by replying, “I herd the belles on Christmas Day.” —
– Jim Tweedie, Long Beach, WA
Before they met, his heart was a frozen block of ice, scarred by the skate blades of broken relationships, then she came along and like a beautiful Zamboni flooded his heart with warmth, scraped away the ugly slushy bits, and dumped them in the empty parking lot of his soul.
— HowieMcLennon, Ottawa, ON –
Bill swore the affair had ended, but Louise knew he was lying, after discovering Tupperware containers under the seat of his car, which were not the off-brand containers that she bought to save money, but authentic, burpable, lidded Tupperware; and she knew he would see that woman again, because unlike the flimsy, fake containers that should always be recycled responsibly, real Tupperware must be returned to its rightful owner.
— Jeanne Villa, Novato, CA –
Certainly most people in Morris’ place would have had certain misgivings about being stranded aboard a life raft, facing the unrelenting hunger and the possibility of having to eat the weaker members of the crew just to eke out the chance of survival for a few more days, but as Morris was an Asiatic black bear he had absolutely no qualms about it whatsoever.
– Charlie Hill, Auckland, New Zealand –
Dr. Fulton Crisp DMD, stoic superintendent of the prestigious Northwoods Dental College, entered the symposium for new students, took the dais amid the clamor of the first day of classes, produced a #6 dental pick from a pocket, held it aloft for all to see and spoke the immortal words, “May I have your attention please, this is not a drill, repeat this is not a drill.”
— Jim Biggie, Melrose, MA –
He had a drink in his hand and a hole in his heart, a hole big enough to drive a Honda Odyssey minivan with satellite linked navigation and a multi-angle rear view camera down the anterior vena cava, execute a three-point-turn at the atrioventicular valve (thanks to the rear view camera), then exit the pulmonary artery without ever once scraping the Celestial Blue Metallic finish that comes standard on the EX-L.
—Mark Schweizer, Tryon, NC –
He spotted her as he left the Mudville baseball field, a handsome young woman sipping tea on the front porch swing of her house, and, though the boos and catcalls from today’s game still rang in his ears, the Mighty Casey decided that for the first time in his life he would not at all mind being associated with a swing and a Miss.
— Tom Wallace, Columbia, SC –
If Vicky Walters had known that ordering an extra shot of espresso in her grande non-fat sugar free one pump raspberry syrup two pumps vanilla syrup soy latte that Wednesday would lead to her death and subsequent rebirth as a vampire, she probably would have at least gotten whipped cream.
– Margo Coffman, Corinth, MS –
I will not repeat what she said when she came home and found out I’d been spraying Endust on her dog and throwing treats under the bed to get him to harvest the dust bunnies, but you wouldn’t think a young lady would even know any words like that.
— J. Andrew Cleland, Gray TN –
Niles deeply regretted bringing his own equipment to the company’s annual croquet tournament because those were his fingerprints found on the “blunt instrument” that had caused the fatal depression in his boss’s skull and now here he stood in court accused of murder, yes, murder in the first degree with mallets aforethought.
— Linda Boatright, Omaha, NE –
No man is an island, so they say, although the small crustaceans and the bird which sat impassively on Dirk Manhope’s chest as he floated lazily in the pool would probably disagree.
— Glen Robins, Brighton, East Sussex, U.K –
Old Man Dracula forgot to put his teeth in one night, and so had to come home hungry, with a sort of “nothing dentured, nothing veined” look on his face.
– Matthew Pfeifer, Beaman, IA –
Sherlock Holmes brusquely dismissed his companion’s theory that the victim had died from an allergic reaction to either seasoning or seafood, saying “Watson, although the problem is alimentary, it is neither the Thyme nor the Plaice.”
– Owen Roberts, Edina, MN –
Some stories are so compelling they almost seem to write themselves, but not this one.
– Betsy Dorfman –
The Contessa’s heart was pounding hard and fast, like an out-of-balance clothes washer, which can get that way if you mix jeans with a lot of light things, though the new ones have some sensor thing to counteract that or shut off, but the Contessa’s heart didn’t have anything like that, so she had to sit down and tell Don Rolando to keep his hands to himself for a while.
— John Hardi, Falls Church, VA –
There were earthquakes in this land, terrible tsunamis that swirled flooding torrents of water throughout, and constant near-blizzard conditions, and not for the first time, Horatio Jones wished he did not live inside a snow globe.
— Rich Buley-Neumar, Amityville, NY –
Using her flint knife to gut the two amphibians, Kreega the Neanderthal woman created the first pair of open-toad sandals.
— Greg Homer, Placerville, CA –
Vowing revenge on his English teacher for making him memorize Wordsworth’s
“Intimations of Immortality,” Warren decided to pour sugar in her gas tank, but he inadvertently grabbed a sugar substitute so it was actually Splenda in the gas.
— Becky Mushko, Penhook, VA –
Well . . .” began the mother as she attempted to answer her daughter’s question, amid fuzzy memories of a balmy night in Cuba, several empty bottles of pineapple rum lying around the bed she had shared with the Captain accompanied by the worst headache she could remember, “I wouldn’t use the word ‘accident.’”
– Alex Main, Springboro, OH –
When working-class Rosalind had been turned into a frog herself after kissing the enchanted Prince, she and her anguished croaking were shown on countless newsreels worldwide; and even decades after her “15minutes of fame” had lapsed the problem of upward mobility for working women is still commonly demonstrated by invoking Rosie the Ribbitter.
— John Cavanagh, Deer Island, OR –
Anything can happen. The great banana peel of existence is always on the floor somewhere.
Anything not worth doing is worth not doing well.
Fulghum’s Tool Rule: “Unpredictable complexity that replaces reliable simplicity is not progress.” He gives the following examples of simplicity that would be hard to improve on:
A pencil made of wood and graphite, with an eraser on the end.
A paper clip.
A clothes pin.
A claw hammer.
A pocket knife with two blades.
A classic mouse trap.
Doing a straight-forward, clear-cut task that has a beginning and an end balances out the complexity-without-end that often vexes the rest of my life. Sacred simplicity.
I keep sputtering out at intersections where life choices must be made and I either know too much or not enough. The examined life is no picnic.
Imagine that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are far out in the English countryside in pursuit of a unique case involving an agricultural mystery.
They have settled down in their sleeping bags in a small tent for the night.
Just before dawn, Sherlock nudges Dr. Watson awake, and says,
“Watson – look up and tell me what you notice.”
Dr. Watson tells him that he sees the stars – that the clear sky means the weather will be good in the coming day – that the very faint light in the east says it is almost dawn. “What do you notice, Holmes?”
Holmes sits up. “I notice that someone has stolen our tent during the night.”
Infinite possibility in all things is a certainty. That pretty much covers theology and philosophy for me.
I once listed all the good things I did over the past year, and then turned them into resolution form and backdated them. That was a good feeling.
I use Cheer. I like the idea of a happy wash.
Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon … And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air … and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas.
On a very local scale, a refrigerator is the center of the universe. On the inside is food essential to life, and on the outside of the door is a summary of the life events of the household.
One of life’s best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem.
One of the very few reasons I had any respect for my mother when I was thirteen was because she would reach into the sink with her bare hands – bare hands – and pick up that lethal gunk and drop it into the garbage. To top that, I saw her reach into the wet garbage bag and fish around in there looking for a lost teaspoon. Bare hands – a kind of mad courage.
Question: If you could live your life over, what changes would you make?
Answer: None. Well, maybe I wouldn’t have eaten some bad oysters, and would forgo the times I had too much wine and was miserably hung over. But otherwise, I’d live it all over again – knowing that the hard and troublesome events almost always led to something good in the long run. Every difficulty contained possibilities for something that proved better.
Some of the most wonderful things have to be believed to be seen. Like flying reindeer and angels. Like peace on earth, goodwill, hope, and joy. Real because they can be imagined into being. Christmas is not a date on a calendar but a state of mind.
Think what a better world it would be if we all had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap.
We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box.
Weddings seem to be magnets for mishap and for whatever craziness lurks in family closets. In more ways than one, weddings bring out the ding-dong on everybody involved.
The English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest since 1982. It is a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence for the worst possible novel. The following submissions are the ones I liked best from the years 2011-2016.
As Farmer Brown’s train pulled out of the station at 10:00am traveling east at 50 mph, he had no idea that at that very same moment Farmer Green was 100 miles away on a west-bound train heading straight for him at 60mph and that because of a tragic track-switching mistake he was going to die in a fiery head-on train crash at exactly … uhm … well … err … sometime later that day.
— Shanon Conner, San Angelo,TX –
As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue.
— Mike Pedersen, North Berwick, ME –
As the sun dropped below the horizon, the safari guide confirmed the approaching cape buffaloes were herbivores, which calmed everyone in the group, except for Herb, of course.
— Ron D Smith, Louisville,KY –
Corinne considered the colors (palest green, gray and lavender) and texture (downy as the finest velvet)and wondered, “How long have these cold cuts been in my refrigerator?”
— Linda Boatright, Omaha, NE –
Morgan “Bamboo” Barnes, Star Pilot of the Galaxia (flagship of the Solar Brigade), accepted an hors d’oeuvre from the triangular-shaped platter offered to him from the Princess Qwillia –lavender-skinned she was and busty, with two of her four eyes what Barnes called “bedroom eyes” – and marveled at how on her planet, Chlamydia-5, these snacks were called “Hi-Dee-Hoes” but on Earth they were simply called Ritz Crackers with Velveeta.
— Greg Homer, Placerville, CA –
“One cannot easily shake off old habits,” was all that retired Detective Tim O’Hara could say when, after rifling through the dead old man’s pockets (which, as he expected, were all empty), inspecting his throat,and forcing open his cold, stiff hand to get his fingerprints, he was gently but firmly pulled away from the coffin by his brother Harry and piloted out of the parlor under the perplexed stares of uncle Mel’s friends and relatives.
— Jorge Stolfi, Campinas, SP, Brazil –
On March 5, 1836, Lieutenant Colonel William Travis stood before his rag-tag revolutionary army, unsheathed his sword, and drew a line in the sand, followed by a smiley face, some crude stick-figure men, and a few choice words about Mexicans that the State Board of Education has deemed unfit for publication in this 7th Grade Texas History Textbook.
– Gwen Dallas, Austin, TX –
Their love began as a tailor, quickly measuring the nooks and crannies of their personalities, but it soon became the seamstress of subterfuge, each of them aware of the others lingual haberdashery: Mindy trying to create a perfectly suited garment to display in public and Stan only concerned with the inseam.
— D. M.Dunn, Bloomington, IN –
The life of a mountain man like Jedediah Buckman is a simple one, a campfire to warm the person as well as the soul, a full moon to illuminate the forest as well as the mind, and game to nourish the body as well as the spirit, though one wonders how he could stomach beaver without mint jelly and a bold, young pinot noir.
– John Hardi, Falls Church, VA –
To Juliet’s mind, he was just a small town Romeo, and – bummer – a Capulet to boot, but the men pickings in Verona were slim, so even though her daddy would have a cat, she decided, “What’s the worst that could happen?” — John Hardi, Falls Church, VA –
When Glenn left the house, the sky was a satin Spinnaker Blue with White Feather clouds, the still-moist lawn and street were glossy Sunlit Glade and Bastion Grey, and, contemplating the to-do list jotted on Ivory Cream notepaper as he started the Sundance Yellow hatchback, Glenn knew he would go flat Condition Red berserk if his wife didn’t hurry up and select a color for the dining room.
– David Franks, Greenland, AR –
“Your eyes are like deep blue pools that I would like to drown in,” he had told Kimberly when she had asked him what he was thinking; but what he was actually thinking was that sometimes when he recharges his phone he forgets to put the little plug back in but he wasn’t going to tell her that.
— Dan Leyde,Edmonds, WA –
Last, but certainly not least is this one from one of the bloggers I follow: Al at The Cvillean
It was only after he accidentally shut off the engines and the plane nosed over and dropped like a rock, that the pilot realized the gravity of the situation and thought how this horrible performance was sure to get him grounded forever.
– Al Hood –
Part One of my favourite quotations in this series: Bulwer-Lytton Quotations
A bather whose clothing was strewed
By breezes that left her quite nude,
Saw a man come along
And, unless I am wrong,
You expect this last line to be lewd!
A crossword compiler named Moss,
Who found himself quite at a loss.
When asked, Why so blue?
Said, I haven’t a clue,
I’m 2 Down to put 1 Across.
A forgetful old gasman named Dieter,
Who went poking around his gas heater,
Touched a leak with his light;
He blew out of sight—
And, as everyone who knows anything about poetry can tell you, he also ruined the meter.
A magazine writer named Bing
Could make copy from most anything;
But the copy he wrote
of a ten-dollar note
Was so good he now lives in Sing Sing.
A maiden at college, Miss Breeze,
Weighed down by B.A.s and Lit.D’s,
Collapsed from the strain,
Said her doctor, “It’s plain
You are killing yourself — by degrees!”
A mosquito cried out in pain:
“A chemist has poisoned my brain!”
The cause of his sorrow
A painter, who lived in Great Britain,
Interrupted two girls with their knittin’
He said, with a sigh,
“That park bench–well I
Just painted it, right where you’re sittin.'”
A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His beak can hold more than his belican.
He can hold in his beak,
Enough food for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.
– Dixon Lanier Merritt –
Is Algebra fruitless endeavor?
It seems they’ve been trying for ever
To find x, y, and z
And it’s quite clear to me:
If they’ve not found them yet then they’ll never.
– Graham Lester –
I’ve done it — I’ve done mown the lawn,
But my muscles are aching and torn.
I could swear there are some,
In my legs and my bum,
I’ve not used since the year I was born.
One Saturday morning at three,
A cheese monger’s shop in Paree.
Collapsed to the ground,
With a thunderous sound,
Leaving only a pile of de brie.
There once was a lady named Ferris
Whom nothing could ever embarrass.
‘Til the bath salts one day,
in the tub where she lay,
turned out to be Plaster of Paris.
There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.
– Dayton Voorhees –
There was a young lady named Bright,
Whose speed was far faster than light;
She started one day
In a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.
– A. H. Reginald Buller in Punch (Dec. 19, 1923) –
There was a young lady named Cager
Who, as the result of a wager,
Consented to fart
The complete oboe part
Of Mozart’s quartet in F major.
There was a young lady of Niger
who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
with the lady inside,
and the smile on the face of the tiger.
– Edward Lear and William Cosmo Monkhouse –
Last, but certainly not least, this Limerick was written by my favourite Virginia Beach blogger, Al Hood at The Cvillean
Margy authors a blog called amusive
And with funny folks she’s collusive
She makes everyone’s day
With jokes that will slay
Cause for laughing they’re really conducive!
The English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest since 1982. It is a literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence for the worst possible novel. The following submissions are the ones I liked best from the years 2017-2020. Be sure to go to their website to read all the other excellent entries!
After almost twenty years of baldness, Harry finally decided to splurge on an expensive, human-hair wig – after all, four hundred dollars to look twenty years younger was a small price toupée.
– Julian Calvin, Bellbrook, OH –
Although the public’s initial concerns about artificial intelligence and the “internet of things” had been troubling, its eventual ability to embrace those advances only underscored the greatness of America, mused Hoover Upright LXI as he took the oath of office to become the first cordless vacuum cleaner elected to Congress.
– G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA –
Call me Ishmael, for my tale is that of the only survivor of the attack by a great white whale on the “Pequod,” our Nantucket whaling vessel, and though the story is so fantastic you may be tempted to question my veracity, I need only remind you that writers write and readers read, and you really should stay in your own lane.
– John Hardi, Falls Church, VA –
Deep within the Great Pyramid, Pharaoh Khufu gazed at the walls of what would eventually be his burial chamber, asking himself what he had been thinking in entrusting its adornment to the teenaged Prince and Princess, but comforting himself with the certainty that the younger generation would soon tire of these annoying “emoticons” and return to the rich thirty-character Egyptian alphabet.
– G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA –
Dropping his now-empty Remington .30-06 and tearing across the tundra after two weeks of hunting in the Alaskan wilderness in the company of none other than three-time Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt—the rustic outing being the spoils of his winning bid at the Sun Valley Country Day School live-auction fundraiser—Bart Michaelman realized with dismay that, in this particular instance, he did in fact have to outrun the bear.
– Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA –
For rookie detective Lara Stinson, the hardest aspect of her most recent case was not discovering that the adolescent victim had been thrown from the tenth story of the apartment building by his own grandmother, but rather trying to spell “defenestration by octogenarian” in her subsequent report.
– Thomas Purdy, Roseville, CA –
Gasping for breath as she lay in the dew-laden lakeside grass, Rifka Lieberman’s chest heaved with rising passion as Saul Cohen approached with the inhaler she had left behind at the assisted living facility.
– Leo Gordon, Los Angeles, CA –
Gregory was falling in love with the doe-eyed Nora, not knowing that she could be an infuriating, complicated woman at times, like one of those self-service checkout machines at the grocery store where you can never figure out where to insert the money or get your change, plus the scanner never recognizes your jar of Vlasic sweet pickles so you have to call the attendant.
– Steve Lynch, Tucson, AZ –
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders” overheard Preston the Praying Mantis of his fiancée chatting with her mother, though he may not have understood the full implications thereof.
– Peter Bjorkman, Rocklin, CA –
In preparation for visits by African dignitaries, we had redecorated the West Wing of the White House in an African motif with numerous artificial plants and animals, but the President asked that we remove the papier-mache wildebeests, saying he was “tired of fake gnus.”
– Wm. “Buddy” Ocheltree, Snellville, GA –
It seemed a cruel irony to Nigel when he realized, only in hindsight, how mistaken he had been to abandon his youthful ambition to become a technical writer and bend to his parents’ wishes that he go into proctology.
– Scott Wilson, Corvallis, OR –
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – though any decent statistician might net those two factors together and conclude that things were fairly average all round.
– David Meech, Auckland, New Zealand –
Knowing well the hand signals of his platoon leader, Private James Dawson silently dropped to the dirt, concealed and motionless for what seemed an eternity, a move that he had learned, coincidentally, from his parents whenever the Watchtower ladies would ring the doorbell.
– Peter S. Bjorkman, Rocklin, CA –
“Master Wlfindermx sauntered across the Plains of Teflandous towards the city of Gjorgturc carrying the mythical Blade of Vulbertrian, once owned by Lord Leszsoriog,” wrote the author, who wanted to make the life of the audiobook narrator a living hell.
– Robert Greer, Queen Creek, AZ –
Phoebe, age 15, very much regretted not having a little sister or brother, but reflecting on the embarrassing moment of earlier that morning when she had walked into her parent’s bedroom at a most inopportune time, she thought Ben Franklin’s list woefully incomplete, for there most certainly were things, besides laws and sausages, that you might like, but you definitely did not want to see being made.
– Herbert Krimmel, Los Angeles, CA –
She sauntered into his smoke-filled office with legs that, although they didn’t go quite all the way to heaven, definitely went high enough for him to see that she was a giraffe.
– Jarrett Dement, Eau Claire, WI –
Once in a great while a story is so magnificent, so grand, so great that it begs to be told and while this is not one of those stories, it’s nice to know that they’re out there.
– Douglas A. Bass, Farmington, NY –
Terellian Shapeshifters often blew their cover by taking subtly inappropriate forms — a squirrel that swims perhaps, or a chair with five legs — but Officer Max Throckmorton spotted this one immediately; every Human knows that bidets are NOT purple, and they usually aren’t installed next to a McDonald’s drink dispenser.
– Mark Watson, Chapel Hill, NC –
The fun had seemed innocent at first—simple handstands and easy dismounts, but as the hours passed the routines became more intricate and aggressive with cartwheels and round-offs, competitive and risky with back walkovers and flipping twists, until the twins’ mother ordered them to stop the nonsense and return Grandpa’s walker so he finally could get to the dinner table.
– Scott G. Witmer, Allentown, PA –
The gentle, rhythmic sound of water lapping at the metal hull of the boat transported Phillip back to a simpler time of marshmallow campfires and magical summers at the lake until, upon waking, he came to realize it was only the sound of the Roomba vacuuming robot which had short-circuited and was running repeatedly into the baseboard heat register.
– Tony Buccella, Allegany, NY –
Walking home, picking crushed bouquet bits from his hair and lapel, it occurred to Stan that perhaps “spotless” was the wrong compliment for Evelyn’s home so soon after the incident between the Mazda and her beloved Dalmatian.
– Steve Lauducci, Bethlehem, PA –
Whether I shall emerge from this tale as the hero of my own life, or whether that station be the lot of another, these pages must show, and the path for you, dear reader, will be, as it was for me, long and tortuous, though pages 247-252 will clear up a lot.
– John Hardi, Falls Church, VA –