Tag Archives: funny

Before it was History… It was News

While waiting to get the new novel The Printer & The Strumpet edited and proofed, I started looking ahead and musing over the next book in what may become a series of novels, perhaps, The Misadventures of Leeds Merriweather, book 1, 2, 3, and so on. Leeds got great reviews and decent sales in The Patterer, and the new book picks up his life’s story after he’s forced to move to Boston before the American Revolution.

I poked around some familiar blogs and online sources looking for something cool and groovy from that period that might provide inspiration. Then I came across a familiar act of protest that is so much like what is playing out in America today. What if history is repeating itself?

It was July 9, 1776.
After they gathered in the town square to read the Declaration of Independence for Washington’s troops in New York, soldiers and civilians tore down a statue of King George III and carved it into itty-bitty pieces.
And you thought Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the other Confederates are getting their just desserts.

Bowling Green in lower Manhattan, NY

The rebels shipped chunks of the statue to a foundry in Connecticut where they were melted down to make over 42,000 musket balls, ammunition that was later used against the British army. A few pieces of the statue survived, including part of the king’s coat and the tail of the horse he rode in on. Those are now on display at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.

But what happened to the statue’s head?
It’s a mystery.

According to some reports, the mob lopped off the king’s head, intending to hoist it on a pike in some future protest. But after the statue had been dismembered and all the pieces piled into a cart, the rebels were waylaid by a tavern where the liquor was flowing in celebration of their deed. The plot thickens!

While the protestors were inside drinking and carousing, it seems that some Americans still loyal to the king took advantage of the moment. That bronze and lead Royal Rubble was left in the unattended cart outside. The Tories were able to run off with the king’s head and bury it in a secret location. Then, when they thought it was safe enough, they dug up the head and shipped it back to England.

No one has seen it since.

What will become of the Confederate statues and monuments that are justifiably coming down today, either at the hands of mobs or enlightened politicians? And will Americans a hundred years from now even know they existed?
Just wondering.

AND NOW! Another bad sentence from the world-famous Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. A contest for the WORST opening sentence to an imaginary novel, (which we won in a previous century). From Robert R. Moore, North Falmouth, MA:

Emile Zola wandered the dank and soggy streets of a gloomy Parisian night, the injustice of the Dreyfus affair weighing on him like a thousand baguettes, dreaming of some massage or therapy to relieve the tension and pain in his aching shoulders and back, and then suddenly he thought of his Italian friends and their newly invented warm water bath with air jets and he rapturously exclaimed that oft misquoted declaration — “Jacuzzi!”  

Putrid Prose @ 20

Twenty years ago this month I penned the following sentence for the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The goal is to intentionally write the worst opening sentence to imaginary novel. And, twenty years ago, I won the contest with this:

As the fading light of a dying day filtered through the window blinds, Roger stood over his victim with a smoking .45, surprised at the serenity that filled him after pumping six slugs into that bloodless tyrant that had mocked him day after day, and then he shuffled from the office with one last look back at that shattered computer terminal lying there like a silicon armadillo left to rot on the information highway.

D&Stormy3The contest was inspired by the work of Victorian author Sir George Bulwer-Lytton who wrote the line that Snoopy made famous: “It was a dark and stormy night….”

Along with winning the contest in 1994, my sentence was published in one of the anthologies covering the contest’s thirty-something years. So if you don’t count the thousands of TV news reports I did over the years, that was my only publishing credit until my novel Live At Five made it to the bookstore shelves last year.

And now, on the anniversary of that infamous assault on literature, the local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, did a very funny column on it by humor writer John Kelso. And the paper sent a video producer/cameraman out to create a video news story about my quest to reach the bestseller list and be the first writer to officially go from worst to first. It’s only been a handful of times, but it’s always a weird feeling to be the interviewee rather than the interviewer. And I can’t help thinking “I would have phrased that question like….” or some other such distraction to staying focused on the answer I’m giving. Now I’m waiting to see what the producer does with the twenty minute interview to cut it down to two minutes or less.

Been there. Done that.

As for the 2014 Bulwer-Lytton contest, we’re waiting to hear about this year’s winners. As we used to say in the TV business, “Stay Tuned”.