"What? Those are the winners?! Where is my glorious entry? Dammit, you wouldn't know funny if it bit you on the ass!"
No doubt. This sort of thing is enormously subjective. This year was especially difficult to judge: something like 90% of the entries initially ended up in the "maybe" pile, and I ended up deviating from the rules a bit and convening an impromptu jury (ie, asking Jen, "Is this funny?") to help fill out this year's roster. So if your sentence doesn't appear below, that doesn't necessarily mean it was no good — in a lot of cases, on another day I might well have chosen it. And of course, I wouldn't know funny if it bit me on the ass.
So, on with the show. First, Contest A: write a terrible opening line (of 25 words or less) of a hypothetical novel. This year's winner:
This is the story of your mom's life.
This pretty much sums up what this contest is all about: it's somehow ruder than the overtly rude ones, funnier than the ones that are trying to be funny, and actually sounds like the beginning of a novel and not just a line from the middle of one. And it's eight words long.
Other finalists included:
"Tasty waffle?" Jim suggested alluringly, prodding me with the afore-mentioned breakfast food.
(Don't worry, she's not the only one who won this year.)
The dame had balls, you had to give her that, and a Jetta.
I wanted to name the heroine Siobhan but didn't know how to pronounce it — screwy Celtic pronunciation — and now I do but it's too late.
(That one was probably better as a last line, but I didn't run a last-line event this year, so.)
Juicy, their love was like forbidden fruit: tasty.
(Something of a tastiness theme this year.)
Now for the named awards that have cropped up over the years (see previous years' results to get a sense of the kind of sentence that wins each one — they're hard to describe.) This year's Comrade Todd Award goes to:
We write the year 2347, a world abound with nuclear alacrity, when suddenly Frank enters with a smile.
This year's Berman Prize winner is:
I know who the murderer is, Kevin blogged.
The 2004 Montfort Medal goes to:
My English teacher, Mrs. Robinson, always said to start in the middle of something interesting, so here's Peter encased in 50 cubic feet of Jell-O.
And here's a special Prix du Jury for:
While a hellish yowl tore my throat, the panicked kitten — in fact me — leapt crying for the throat of Julia, there seeking comfort — and revenge.
As this is an election year in the US, this year's second contest was for the first line of a political speech. As with the winner of last year's second contest, this year's winner has chosen to remain anonymous. (No, it's not Joe Klein.)
While my opponents fellate the Satan of special interests, I go down on Reform's compassionate angel.
I would not be surprised to discover that Reform's compassionate angel is depicted on a 1905 stock certificate of some sort.
My fellow Americans, as you know, my foreign policy can be summed up in five words: "Iludium-236 Explosive Space Modulator."
And a few honorable mentions:
Critics are calling me a fat cat, viciously ignoring the fact that I've been working out.
Now, you're all aware of my vocal campaign against the global slave trade, so what I am about to confess may raise a few eyebrows.
I am pleased to announce that, although attitudes have improved immensely, the beatings will continue.
As will the contest — though I might switch this to a biennial event, so check back in January to see if it'll be running in '05. Thanks to all who entered!