“Okay class, put your English Lit text books away and get out a pencil and sheet of paper and get ready for a ‘pop quiz.’ I want you to write a one page essay on the famous English writer Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton.”
“Wait a minute teach, we don’t even know this cat named . . . er. . . Mr. Edward . . . Bull Winkle . . . Lincoln!”
Oopsey! My bad. We never did get to him did we? Okay, this cat . . . er . . . writer, Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton , better known to his friends as Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton (of course, not to be confused with Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton, Governor-General of India.) That’s all right I get them confused all the time.
He is credited with coining the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword” as well as a few others, the second most famous of which is “It was a dark and stormy night”. For you Peanuts comics strippers, you’ll remember this as Snoopy’s opening line from the great novel he was writing while perched atop his doghouse. It was also the name of Cartoonist Charles M. Schultz’s book “It was a Dark and Stormy Night, Snoopy”.
Bulwer-Lytton’s name lives on in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which contestants think-up terrible openings for imaginary novels, inspired by the first seven words of his novel Paul Clifford:
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 housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
I’d never heard of Sir Eddy until several years ago when I decided to do a piece on him in my long defunct web site mentioned in my previous posting “A Tribute to a Legend – Andy Rooney” (see posting 11/06/2011). Then my juices started flowing. What follows are the results of the flowing juices; enjoy the first lines of my unfinished “Great American Novels:
LOVE IN BLOOM?????
I’ll never know what drove me to her, perhaps she was only a dazzling, dimpled, delusion, a lovely, lusty, lie that my rough, embittered, embattled ego sorely needed to believe in; maybe it was her festive, funny, fair way of privately putting pressure on me to cautiously change course, regardless, somehow the very thought of Glenda gladly gripped my heart – whatever it was, I instantly knew, unlike the others, she was no “sand trap in the golf course of my life”.
MINDS IN THE GUTTER
“You probably have never seen one like this” he said, as he slowly and decisively pulled down the zipper and exposed Dr. Eula Zuchloss, a veteran herpetologist of 35 lonely years in the wilds of the steamy Amazon jungles, to the longest, roundest and most beautiful boa constrictor she had ever seen.
THE RAMBUNCTIOUS KID
Professor Bamhoffer’s knurled and arthritic fingers slowly drew his pipe from its worn leather pouch, pausing only momentarily to savor the smooth, sleek surface of the aged utensil which so often had provided pleasure from the only vice he had ever known in his 87 years, yet, he was unaware that Sidney, his eldest grandson, had surreptitiously replaced his favorite custom tobacco blend with dried camel dung.
DARK, NO STORM
It was three a.m. when I was startled by the harsh ring of Bell’s oft’ celebrated, sometimes cursed instrument,. . . “Who could that be?” I asked myself, wiping the sleep from my bleary, bloodshot, bourbon soaked eyes, “No one even knows that I’m in town, no one except . . . no she would never do such a”. . . “Ring”, there it was again – I did the only thing that I could do, I took the phone off the hook, got up and took a leak.
THE GOTCHA GAME
In all of his twenty plus years as an archeologist, Sir Manfred, Earl of Blythington, had never imagined he would be standing on the precipice of such a monumental discovery, one that would ultimately earn him the notoriety that only accompanies the awarding by the World Archeological Society of the coveted “Nana Nana Boo Boo, I Got Here Before You Did!” award.
RED HUBCAPS IN THE SUNSET
The sun had scarcely vanished below the edge of Red Mesa when the solitary climber reached its summit and turned his head eastward toward the magnificent object wistfully reflecting the last waning glimmers of dusk’s fading light to wonder aloud, “How in the hell did they get that Jeep Cherokee up here without a road?”
SEVENTEEN AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME
With the memory of my recent 17th birthday celebration still freshly etched in my mind, my curiosity got the best of me, so I crept furtively past my parents bedroom, down the back stairwell that leads into the kitchen and headed straight for the refrigerator; tonight I would find out if the light really did go out when you closed the door!
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