Thursday, March 22, 2007

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

I collect sentences just like I collect old floral oil paintings. When I find one I like, I want to add it to my strange and growing collection of little things in life that make me happy.

Found mainly in newspapers or magazines and sometimes online, certain sentences just strike a chord with me in that moment. Whether they are artful or direct, funny or poignant, well constructed or grammatical train wrecks, these sentences are like little jewels I want to take out and gaze at every now and then.

Really good sentences are rare, like precious gem stones, and writing them myself is as elusive as my finding the Holy Grail. Granted, not all that I collect are really good sentences, but a well turned phrase can give me such a little surge of joy.

The context? While it might help us better understand the point of what’s being said, it’s ultimately not that important. These are sentences I like strictly based on their own stand-alone merit.

The problem? When I find a sentence I love, rarely do I have anything with me to write on, so I lose so many I would otherwise keep.

Could I be a bigger nerd? Doubtful.

Here are some sentences I’ve collected from various sources in the last couple of months:

I have to admit, as gray races bald for dominance of my hair and 40 looms ever closer, getting a giant Godzilla tattoo on my back might not have been a super high priority.

No matter how immature and ridiculous you are, there’s a guy out there on the Internet somewhere who just lapped you.

Without the distractions of work or boozing, it was pretty much just me alone on the couch having a staring contest with my large and fearsome collection of neuroses. I lost.

It offers up a bombastic spectacle of honor and betrayal, rendered in images that might have been airbrushed onto a customized van sometime in the late 1970s.

It is unclear weather Marmaduke’s actions were mischievous or spiteful, but the smart money is on spiteful.

He has unwittingly dedicated his existence to making me look ridiculous by comparison.

The soft Russian syllables fall from his lips with escalating speed and tone, but the expression in his eyes and the urgent gestures of his hands adequately convey the feeling, if not the substance, of what he’s trying to say.

I think we can fairly conclude that the weird have officially gone pro.

There are many on-line random sentence generators that are good for the occasional laugh. I just went to one and hit the “give me a sentence” button and got back, “That Canadian virgin needed to dance.” Goofy fun. But if you’re ever stuck for your next line, you might need the help that these automated sentence makers can provide.

My dad gave me a very handy reference guide called, How to Win at Wordsmanship. This is a sure-fire way to come up with a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report with that ring of decisive, knowledgeable authority. No one will have the remotest idea of what you’re talking about, but they probably won’t admit it, and you’ll sound mighty impressive. Here’s how it works.

0. Integrated
1. Total
2. Systematized
3. Parallel
4. Functional
5. Responsive
6. Optional
7. Synchronized
8. Compatible
9. Balanced

0. Management
1. Organizational
2. Monitored
3. Reciprocal
5. Logistical
6. Transitional
7. Incremental
8. Third-generation
9. Policy

0. Options
1. Flexibility
2. Capability
3. Mobility
4. Programming
5. Concept
6. Time-phase
7. Projection
8. Hardware
9. Contingency

The next time you need an impressive phrase for a report, grant application, meeting with the boss, general conversation, etc., just think of any 3-digit number, then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. Right now, I’m thinking 773 is a good number, so I need to sign off so that Dot and I can step outside with our synchronized incremental mobility in check and take a walk.

And, if you come across any sentence that makes you take notice, send it my way!



  • At 3/22/2007 , Blogger Emig Family said...

    I LOVE sentences and quotes like that. I have a book that I started in junior high full of exactly that sort of thing. Here is one of my very favorites that is perfect for YOU!....

    The only happiness you have is writing something new, in the middle of the night, armpits damp, heart pounding, something no one has yet seen. You have only those brief, fragile, untested moments of exhilaration when you know: you are a genius.

    -- Lorrie Moore, from "How to Become a Writer"

  • At 3/22/2007 , Blogger Emig Family said...

    Can I have another one?...

    Almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. Only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.

    -- Patricia, in "Joe vs. The Volcano"


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