7.13.2006

English Teachers Listing to Port

A Snarkling writes:

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year's winners.....

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the ! ;East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up




Ok, call me exhausted beyond reason, but these are not all that horrible. Ok, they aren't exactly great, but with the right context, I could see reading on.




60 comments:

Elektra said...

" He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it."

My English teacher showed us this (on a web site printout) in my junior year of high school...four years ago. Methinks somebody cheated.

Elektra said...

This one was on there, too: "The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine."

And this one is just obviously a rip-off from Douglas Adams:
:The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.:

Jessica said...

Those are great! Hahaha.

'13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.'

Hahaha. Oh dear.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure they all have the ring of truth about them, but this one:

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

I thought was actually quite clever...

Snarkling #1555 said...

Hahahahahaha! I read these before and they cracked me up. And yeah, I could see some of these as being good, so long as they were put in humerous context.

Me said...

A lot of these have been circulating around the 'Net for ages. Some of them sound like old entries in the Bulwer-Lytton contest....

Morgan said...

"20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work." Come on, that's hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm up to my elbow with humerus...

Ayshela said...

*laughs* Yeah, I've seen some of those before, too. I actually LIKE #20, though. But then, I have one of those brothers, so... =)

mkcbunny said...

I could give 4, 17, 18, 19, and 24 another few words.

Mazement said...

I remembered the "two hummingbirds that had also never met" bit from a contest that used to run in the Sunday Washington Post.

It turns out that a lot of these were entries in the "bad analogy" contest. The compete results are here.

Robin said...

First, an admission -- I loved these. Creative, yet unexpected. Not dictated by the usual rules. Which is part of why they're exhausting, I suppose.

I'll add a piece from my thirteen-year-old. On a recent trip to Alaska, we were asked to make up an unnatural story to go with a natural clue we found on one of our hikes or kayak trips. As far as I knew, my quiet older daughter had nothing planned for this event.

Yet, when we went around the circle, she held up an eagle feather.

She let the circle of passengers gathered in the boat's "saloon" grow quiet, absorbing the sight of it.

Then she said, very quietly, "This is a feather, from an eagle named Heather."

She paused, as we all contemplated her words.

"They're no longer together," she said, absolutely stoic.

I wouldn't have thought of putting it that way in a million years, yet it was Alaska-panned-gold perfect at the moment.

In thirteen words, she stole the show.

Maybe you had to be there.

What do I know, I'm a biased mom.

Thanks for posting these.

whitemouse said...

A lot of these are brilliant - provided the writer was trying to be funny.

Personal favourite:
Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

Anonymous said...

Robin, your daughter is a genius :)

tracy said...

i've seen these before as well.

i have to say, though, as i do everytime i see these . . .

i *love* the hefty bag analogy!

i mean, come on, yeah, it's funny - but tell me you don't hear a very specfic sound and see a precise image with that one. it's perfect.

love it.

M@ said...

Sorry -- isn't the Nancy Kerrigan reference testament enough to the age of these high-larry-us pieces?

Bella Stander said...

These are from the Washington Post Style Invtational contest, which runs every Sunday--and which I dearly miss now that I live Way Out West. The ballerina one is by perennial "Loser" Jennifer Hart of Arlington, VA.

lbfzaqi said...

To Robin:
A biased mom in a saloon, I might add.

busywriter said...

#4 was good, but my favorite was #18. I liked it so much I plan to use it at some point (after a little tightening that is).

Bookview said...

I've seen those, too. They've been floating around for a very long time, and I suspect a lot of them were made up, or gleaned from other sources. They're funny, but as with everything on the internet, take the whole "setup" with a grain of salt.

Kostya said...

Had a good laugh, thanks! (even if it's old news)
Robin, good story on Feather-Heather!

The Collar Queen said...

Dog, are these hysterical. I hadn't found them on the net. I'm linking!

xbouxi said...

The winner in my opinion is #5. #14 gets 2nds place.


And Miss Snark, they are, according to the writer, chosen for their value as "amusement." Some people find horrible amusing, but some of us just find originality or reaching or preposterous or whatever amusing.

Bill said...

These are far from being horrible. 9, 11, 20 and 24 I'd be proud to call my own.

But number 17 - "He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River." That baby would make Raymond Chandler proud!

litagent said...

So many writers fall back on cliches. I think this are remarkable for their creativity. Okay, a few of them made me wince, but at least these students are looking for new ways to express things.

Patrick Samphire said...

Most of these are quite, quite brilliant, wherever they came from. Pure skew-wise genius. Thanks!

A curious snarkling said...

Dear Miss Snark,

Can you please explain what is the POINT of the Rights News and Offerings section on Publishers Marketplace?

Do editors really look at the offerings that agents post there? Do agents really look at the offerings that writers post there?

Thanks as always, you are severely snarkolicious.

A snarkling

Anonymous said...

As a former English teacher, I used to tell my students that "if your writing makes me laugh and you didn't mean to be funny, then your grade is in serious trouble."

Nicki Greenwood said...

Oh, that Hefty bag one. Ewwww. Splat! Too vivid for this early in the morning. :)

Anonymous said...

I think my son wrote #24. -JTC

Word verification: yemepdpl -How 'bout a few more friggin letters!

lottery ticket said...

I thought #6, "Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever." was brilliant. Wish I'd thought of it.

Bonnie Shimko said...

I've seen these several times before and I still love them.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

I have to wonder if the guy who thought up the hailstone one actually did fry maggots in hot grease. I mean, how did he know?

Rhonda Stapleton said...

Oh dear, I nearly wet myself reading some of these. Pure genius. So, so, so funny.

Anonymous said...

What I like about these is the originality. That's why (most of these)work for me. Nancy Kerrigan's teeth? :)

Robin said...

Thanks, anon and Kostya. :)

lbfzaqi -- Well, at least we didn't have to meet in "the head." All in all, the name of the room could have been worse. ;)

Jessica said...

They almost seem to be bad on purpose, which actually makes them quite interesting.

ColoradoGuy said...

"McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup
This one is reminiscent of one of my favorite lines from Catch-22, describing such a leaper from high buildings to pavement:
"like an alpaca sack full of hairy strawberry ice cream, bleeding, pink toes awry."

jude calvert-toulmin said...

> 3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.


Fookin brilliant!

> 5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

Fabuloso!

> 6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

PML :)

> 7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

Pure pathos!

> 9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

Class!

> 11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

Priceless :)

> 16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

PML, beautiful :)

> 22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

Comedy gold. Should be a professional comedy scriptwriter.


Thanks for those Miss Snark, absolutely brilliant. Such lovely thought processes going on there and actually made me choke with laughter on my English afternoon tea glass of wine :)

M. G. Tarquini said...

I'd definitely read on after the one about the Hefty bag and vegetable soup.

Poohba said...

Oh thank you, Miss Snark. I needed a good laugh this morning.

I didn't for one second believe these were written by high school students, though.

Sonarbabe said...

"It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools"

That one made me snort Diet Coke. I loved that!

Anonymous said...

They have the virtue of being original, at least. And funny. I'm not sure I believe they come from student papers, though.

Serenity Now! said...

I think some of them are hilarious, I'd totally read more... of course that list has been circulating now for a couple of years...

Elektra said...

"John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met."

Absolute genious.

Though I'm still a little ticked that the Washington Post allowed a "loser" to basically plaigarise.

Sharpie said...

Oh, come on! 3, 6, 7, 8, 19, and 20 are brilliant. In a comic novel, of course. They evoke the intended description and are giggle-inducing.

Tribe said...

"14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph."

This one was on the Bar Exam one year.

Anonymous said...

These have been circulating for years, and it seems to me that most of them were intended to be jokes. It's a shame that the work of some funny young writers is condemned to forever be part of a "gee, kids today sure are dumb" gag.

Mary Connealy said...

I've seen this list before. They just made me laugh out loud, which was fairly embarrassing, but they're hilareous. Sure they'd odd but some of them just spark with brillian wit.

Xopher said...

Most of these are deliberately humorous. Deliberately on the part of the students who submitted them, I mean. The one with the word problem in it is a high school student's oblique complaint about math homework. I can't believe anyone thought most of these were errors or unintentional.

Anonymous said...

Number 8 is my personal favorite. I can relate.

Georgia Girl

Cherry Beach said...

What do you mean, they're not exactly great? That's exactly what they are.

Good, bad, begged, borrowed or stolen, they gave me a shitload of laughs (and my cat is wondering what the noise is).

E. M. #667 said...

Wife is reading a paranormal romance right now. Some tidbits that were precious enough to share with me:

"The small sounds she made in her throat gripped him like iron bands, binding him to her even more tightly."

"Her woman's scent wafted toward him like musky perfume, fueling his need."

Crimson Moon by Rebecca York.

Inkwolf said...

Over half of these would be utterly brilliant in any humor novel!

I can't even pick a favorite...

I do agree that #9 was derivative of Douglas Adams. #16 also sounds familiar, and #18 is an ancient cliché.

Lydia said...

Many of these would be actually (intentionally) funny in the right context. There are a number of writers--like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett--who might have used thse for good effect.

I also saw this years ago. Six, I think--when I was in high school. I thought it was a hoax then.

Lydia said...

Actually, that would be eight years ago. Man. I'm getting old. ;-)

Kristen King said...

Yeah, these have been around since I was in early high school, but they make me laugh every time. Most are from Bulwer-Lytton or the WP Style Invitational. There was another one that circulated with this group in one iteration, something like, "Mary had had an okay time on her date, but she knew that if her life were ever made into a movie, Tom would appear in the credits as 'second tall man.'" That and the hummingbird one, man, they get me every time.

Kristen

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! Laughed my FAO!!!

Emdashes said...

Funny even if old, but like those "crazy foreigners and their hilarious hotel sign" lists, these entries so often feel made up. Not that I didn't see some fantastic howlers as a freshman-comp teacher myself--especially the ones from itchy spell-check finger. If someone devotes a good site to this, I'd want scans instead of retyping, and photos of the foreign signs (like on Engrish).

just Joan said...

Okay, those were fantastic! I laughed and laughed.

I have to lie down now. :D