Paper dolls! (Looklet is pretty good if you find that the clothes fall off through no fault of your own.) Make them look as ridonkulous as possible, then dress like them.
Category Archives: a crank’s guide to happiness
Invent a cult.
Get rid of everything in your life that does not make you merry. (You may build a bonfire, if you wish, and cackle as you dance.)
Read Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest entries.
I was introduced to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest by one of my English teachers in Wales. He had books & books full of the various entries — compiled either by year or by genre; I forget.
The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, for those blissfully ignorant, is held annually and contestants are instructed “to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels”. The very worst of all is chosen as the winner. Reading through the entries is one of my yearly joys, and I do most heartily recommend it — and my other Great Notions — as an antidote to melancholia.
The contest is named for Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who opened his 1830 novel Paul Clifford with “it was a dark and stormy night“. I think it’s a perfectly good line myself, as Victorian cheese goes. (I’m actually very fond of Victorian lit; it’s much less self-conscious than modern fiction.) However, it’s also great fun to mock & appropriate. And the Bulwer-Lytton Terrible Prose folk have done just that.
For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.
Molly Ringle (2010 Winner)
She walked into my office on legs as long as one of those long-legged birds that you see in Florida — the pink ones, not the white ones — except that she was standing on both of them, not just one of them, like those birds, the pink ones, and she wasn’t wearing pink, but I knew right away that she was trouble, which those birds usually aren’t.
Eric Rice (2009 Detective Winner)
They had but one last remaining night together, so they embraced each other as tightly as that two-flavor entwined string cheese that is orange and yellowish-white, the orange probably being a bland Cheddar and the white . . . Mozzarella, although it could possibly be Provolone or just plain American, as it really doesn’t taste distinctly dissimilar from the orange, yet they would have you believe it does by coloring it differently.
Mariann Simms (2003 Winner)
Much as I hate to admit it, the website is not charmingly easy to navigate, but if you type “Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest” plus the desired year into a search engine, the results of the last few years’ contests should magically become available to you. You can probably also hack the web address for the 2010 entries.
In one of my early storytelling sessions, we did “it was a dark and stormy night, and the wind was howling fast, and the captain turned to Antonio and said, ‘Antonio, tell us a story,’ and Antonio began thus: ‘It was a dark and stormy night, and the wind was howling fast . . .’”