It was a dark and stormy night -- 07/14/00

Remember how Snoopy would sit on his doghouse typing his latest novel; they always began "It was a dark and stormy night."

That line is actually a quote from the opening line of Paul Clifford, a novel written by Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-73). This has become a noted example of bad writing:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. Through one of the obscurest quarters of London, and among haunts little loved by the gentlemen of the police, a man, evidently of the lowest orders, was wending his solitary way. He stopped twice or thrice at different shops and houses of a description correspondent with the appearance of the quartier in which they were situated,--and tended inquiry for some article or another which did not seem easily to be met with. All the answers he received were couched in the negative; and as he turned from each door he muttered to himself, in no very elegant phraseology, his disappointment and discontent.

No, it doesn't get better...

In 1982, Professor Scott Rice of San Jose State University thought up the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a competion that challenges you to write the opening sentence of a truly bad novel. Several collections of winning and (dis)honorable mention entries have been published. Each year's winning entry can be found at the contest's website, along with biographical information about Bulwer-Lytton, information about how to submit entries, and all of this year's winners (the overall winner plus various subcategories such as romance, science fiction, etc.)

This year's winner is Gary Dahl, a California advertising man whose previous claim to fame was as the inventor of the Pet Rock. (If you want to cut directly to the winning entry, go to the 2000 winners.)

Little Girl Blue

A couple months ago, when Sean went through a few days of blue hair, I had an entry called Little Boy Blue (03/21/00) so since Jennifer turned her hair blue last night I suppose I should have called this entry Little Girl Blue... She is usually some shade of red, although recently she has also been doing blonde... yesterday she bleached her hair out to very pale and then last night she turned it blue... When I woke her up this morning before I left for work, a shaft of bright sunshine was coming through her windows and illuminating her hair -- vibrant glowing metallic neon blue! It's not quite that violent a color when not being lit up like that but it sure is blue.

Dainty Ankles Society

I've mentioned dieting and how Bev Sykes inspired me to start a few weeks ago... I've been putting my results in a sidebar on my Saturday entries, listing that week's physical activities and a to-date weight chart...

So now Nance has created The Dainty Ankle Society for online journal writers who would like to support each other in their weight loss efforts. (She says she realizes that the group name may seem a little weird for me as a male, but that I deserve to feel weird because I exercise. *grin*)

I worked from home yesterday, mostly reading for the class I'll be teaching next week, but in the afternoon Nancy and Jennifer consented to serve as an audience for me to practice some of my presentations. (Well, Jennifer sat through about an hour or so and then she had to leave but Nancy got almost three hours of presentation. Thank you both!) One of the reasons this is such work for me is that I have many years of background experience with the underlying technologies for most of the stuff I do, but with this new course I'm working on there are many areas that are relatively new to me. Also, with all of the courses I've been teaching over the past four years or so, I developed the course or was a member of a team developing the course. I've never needed an instructor's manual (although I've written almost all of them for my other courses) because I knew why each graphic was done the way it was, what its purpose was, what points should be stressed, etc. This new class, however, was developed by other people (at a different location) and they did not write an instructor's manual. (In addition, although you probably couldn't tell from this somewhat sloppy site and although I strive to present a very relaxed atmosphere in my classes, I am really something of a perfectionist... I want people in my courses to feel that they really learned a lot, that it was one of the best classes they've taken... so I feel a bit of stress with this new stuff.)

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