Worthless Tom, Worthless Roy and Worthless Vess stand at the base of a 400-ft. windmill in west Texas, about 9 hours from Wizard Academy. This was the high point of the day. The photo was taken by the windmill maintenance guy. He was a Pennsylvania Dutch engineer wearing a beard common among the Amish of that region. How he came to Texas is a story for another time.
TO ALL WORTHLESS BASTARDS IN POOR STANDING
Be Advised: At the most recent meeting of the Worthless Bastards, new member Vess Barnes was initiated into the ancient and honored ritual of spending an entire day doing nothing of consequence. We were utterly unproductive. Brett, JP, Russell, Shel and all other members were absent.
The Day Began at a sidewalk cafe known for its hand-squeezed orange juice and homemade sticky buns. A notable moment of stress occurred when Vess almost got sent home by asking the heretical question, “What are we going to do next?”
But President Grimes rescued the awkward moment by pointing to a second sidewalk cafe about 50 yards down the sidewalk. “That cafe has better coffee than this one. So as soon as we're finished sitting here we're going to go sit down there for awhile. And that's about as far ahead as anyone needs to think.”
Following coffee at Cafe #2, we wandered over to see Vess's new jewelry store where we performed the ritual eating of the Hostess Twinkies and Ding Dongs. Extras were passed out to the staff and customers at Vess's store.
We then decided to drive 45 miles into the abandoned middle of nowhere to see some giant windmills. Tom called the people in charge and convinced them to give us a tour. Each windmill blade is 150 feet long and 12 feet wide at the base. The windmills are 400 feet tall, but look tiny due to the absence of anything on the horizon to give them scale.
On the way back to Amarillo, one member saw a billboard that said “Homemade Fried Pies, exit 57.” So we stopped and had homemade fried pies at exit 57. Tom ordered and received a cherry fried pie. Roy ordered apricot but got peach. Vess ordered apple but got apricot. We sat around and talked for awhile.
Then we decided to drive to the Cadillac Ranch, a famous, pointless and ridiculous roadside landmark worthy of a visit by the Bastards. The photo below was taken by new member Vess Barnes. Yes, someone planted vintage Cadillacs at an angle in a vast field and invited the universe to paint graffiti on them.
As is our custom, we just looked and then went on.
Lunch. Nothing special. Made a note not to go back there. Lost the note.
Our ritual afternoon bookstore excursion was launched when Tom was telling a story about an interview he saw with Alfred Hitchcock in which Hitchcock explained his theory of “the Maguffin.” Tom explained the Maguffin as the computer chip in Hitchcock's famous North by Northwest. Roy said he had never seen North by Northwest. And then of course we had to pile into the car and find a Barnes and Noble so we could buy the movie.
Coffee at the Starbuck's in Barnes and Noble:
A very old woman fell out of her chair, unconscious, at the next table. Tom and Vess and every other patron of Starbuck's leaped up to assist her. Roy stayed seated and continued reading the book that he had noticed and impulsively purchased for himself. (To read Roy's book review, dive deeper into the rabbit hole by clicking the image above.) Tom dialed 911 and Vess paced back and forth. It was later agreed that Roy was more worthless than Tom or Vess.
Vess left to pick up his son and Tom drove Roy to the airport. On the way, Tom and Roy voted to accept Vess as a Worthless Bastard.
“Hear ye, hear ye, Vess Barnes is a Worthless Bastard.”
PHOTO: Inspecting the depth of the layers of spray paint at Cadillac Ranch.
Another revealing moment: At the end of the day, new member Vess Barnes commented, “Worthless bastards? I would have thought there would be alcohol involved.”
“No,” President Grimes answered, “that would just be a cliche'.”
“Oh,” said Vess.
No obligations or deadlines.
A day for restoring balance in a too-busy world.
Here's a follow-up email about the Maguffin
from President Grimes:
The Maguffin – Roy, hope you enjoyed the use of the Maguffin in “North by
Northwest.” “Vertigo” is a Hitchcock-must since you have a painter's eye
and the San Francisco setting is used like a painting, almost a character
itself. In fact Hitch is a brilliant visual storyteller, he would make a
great topic for the Academy … he SHOWS instead of tells his tales. Brett
also recommended Hitch's “Rear Window” and “Psycho”. Psycho is, in my opinion, one of the best movies Hitch ever made. But if “Birds” weirded you out …No Psycho for You!
Plaid rumor has it that Dink will have his photo taken for this event …
but it will only be from the belt down … since he is currently at his
Ranch in Cognito Texas.
“Plaid isn't what you wear … it's what you are.” – Dink Weber
“Plaid doesn't look good, but it feels good” – Dink Weber
“Never buy a car from a used car salesman wearing plaid … for that matter
never buy a car from a used car salesman, period.” – Dink Weber
speaking of bad writing …
Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Results in for 2008
A Celebration of Bad Writing
The results of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which celebrates bad
writing of all sorts, are in. Top-er-honors go to Garrison Spik of
Washington DC., who actually used a New York street as a metaphor for a love
affair. Spik's winning prose follows:
“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.'”
Surely Shakespeare himself, in whatever afterlife he is in, must weep at the
images this passage conveys.
The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest is named after the Victorian novelist
Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton. Bulwer-Lytton is best known for his novel,
The Last Days of Pompeii, which has been made into a movie three times.
Bulwer-Lytton also coined the phrases, “The pen is mightier than the sword”,
“the great unwashed”, and “the almighty dollar.”
But Bulwer-Lytton's greatest achievement, at least in the opinion of the
runners of the contest, is how he opened a lesser known novel, Paul
Clifford. “It was a dark and stormy night-” That great aspiring novelist,
Snoopy, has been trying to lift that deathless bit of prose for his own work
The Bulwer-Lytton Contest encourages people to submit the beginning line of
imaginary novels for consideration for the prize awarded to the worse prose
of the year. There are categories in Adventure Fiction, Children's
Literature, Detective Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Purple Prose,
Romance, Science Fiction, Vile Puns, and Westerns.
The Bulwer-Lytton Contest seems to have as its goal proving the supposition
that while it takes great talent to create great literature, it takes a
singular type of talent to create horrible literature. As evidence, here is
the winning entry for Vile Puns:
“Vowing revenge on his English teacher for making him memorize Wordsworth's
'Intimations of Immortality,' Warren decided to pour sugar in her gas tank,
but he inadvertently grabbed a sugar substitute so it was actually Splenda
in the gas. “