Friday, April 17, 2009

Metaphors

One of the things that gives richness to language is our use of metaphor - a description of one thing by comparison to another. Metaphors can be a marvelous tool for evoking vivid mental images; they can also make you cock your head to one side and say, "Eh?"

Last night Agnes and I were watching Bones, our favorite TV show, which follows the adventures of a team of forensic anthropologists who solve bizarre murders. This particular episode dealt with the murder of a musician from a death metal band, the music of which was elegantly described by one of the characters:

"This stuff sounds like a truckload of cymbals crashing into a saw factory."

Now that's metaphor. And, in my humble opinion, devastatingly accurate.

A great source of strange metaphors is the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Edward George Bulwer-Lytton was a 19th century British author most remembered for the classic and much-parodied opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night..." The 2008 winner of the contest, Garrison Spik of Washington, DC, submitted this classic:

"Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped 'Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.'"

Jim Thomas of Gilbert, Arizona, received a "Dishonorable Mention" for this entry:

"The pancake batter looked almost perfect, like the morning sun shining on the cream-colored bare shoulder of a gorgeous young blonde driving 30 miles over the speed limit down a rural Nebraska highway with the rental car's sunroof open, except it had a few lumps."

I think I need to work on polishing my own metaphors so that I can improve the flow of writing in this blog, eh? Any suggestions? After all, I've got to do something to stay ahead of Mike and Fiona. How about,

"Bilbo's elegantly descriptive if overly verbose writing flowed like the smoothly moving torrent of effluvium gushing from the end of a large-diameter pipe exiting a water treatment plant, but without the larger and more unidentifiable chunks."

Hmmm...

I think maybe I'll leave it here. I need to save some of that creativity for the office, after all.

Have a good day. Cartoon Saturday is coming...

More thoughts later.

Bilbo

7 comments:

John said...

How about this:
"Bilbo's elegantly descriptive if overly verbose metaphor smelled like the smoothly moving torrent of effluvium gushing from the end of a large-diameter pipe exiting a water treatment plant, but without the larger and more unidentifiable chunks."

wv: ratedfi..rating system devleoped by Fiona

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Bones was awesome last night, especially with Stephen Fry guesting :)

Leslie David said...

I am constantly amazed that you can come up with this before 5 am. I liked the metaphors--have you ever checked out the Hemmingway and Faulkner contests where the contestants submit entries in those styles? Me, I'm still having a good laugh at the Peeps III winners, if you didn't check it out in the Washington Post.

Mike said...

So did you see the video I posted about flying effluvium?

Bilbo said...

John - ummm...thanks. I think.

Andrea - :-)

Leslie - I've seen the Hemmingway and Faulkner contests - they're great, too, but the Bulwer-Lytton is my favorite. Get those dancing shoes on...

Mike - uh, no...

fiona said...

Thank goodness I got home just in time!
Darling you have heaps of LARGE AND TOTALLY IDENTIFIABLE CHUNKS you should be proud of, PROUD I tell you!
Oh and you also always are "a head" too!
Whew, now you can sleep easy my dear,never fear Fi is here.
xxxF

Bilbo said...

Fiona - welcome back, Sweetie! I've missed you!