Words & Stuff

CCC: Charlie and the Metaphor Factory

(30 January 2000)

(Warning: This week's column contains various tasteless and profane phrases. They're what pass for humor in these parts. Kids these days, grumble grumble.)

[added note, 13 February 2000: Originally, this column included an entertaining but fairly tasteless game having to do with Charlie Brown book titles. Last night, Charles Schultz died in his sleep. I feel that the Charlie Brown jokes are somewhat overly disrespectful under the circumstances, so I'm temporarily removing them. I'll put them back up again eventually.]

At a similar level of literary sophistication:

Top 20 Bad Suspense Novel Metaphors or Similes

(Copyright 2000 by Chris White; reprinted from The Top 5 List with permission)

20. Worn down at the edges like a Times Square hooker, the caretaker's last tooth lay on the floor like a yellow Chiclet.

19. When she stepped out of her dress, she had the body of a 90-year-old nun, if the nun looked as young, attractive, and sexy as the dame standing in front of me.

18. The situation had become topsy-turvy -- like Christmas in the summer, if you're in Australia.

17. The information imbedded on the stolen computer chip was like an explosive so explosive it could explode, creating a massive explosion.

16. As I watched through the slatted shades, her bosom bounced like her suspicious husband's first check.

15. The killer was a misplaced comma in the jaunty, happy sentence that made up the party crowd.

14. His face looked like an ice sculpture. Not one of those pretty ones in the middle of a cruise ship buffet, but the kind they do in a contest with a chainsaw -- and it had been out in the heat too long.

13. Like any family, this house had its secrets, secrets it grimly refused to reveal, and would continue to refuse to reveal even if it could speak, which unlike a family, or at least most members of most families, it couldn't.

12. The air of danger perversely made Nina's nipples harden, like that Magic Shell stuff on a bowl of ice cream.

11. From his vantage point in the balcony, the would-be assassin looked down on the debating candidates like a webhead looking down on an AOL user.

10. The sudden darkness made the Countess tense, like Bobby Jerome that time with the bicycle in 7th grade, remember?

9. There was something funny about the kidnapping crime scene that Special Agent Frievald couldn't quite place, and the thought stuck with him throughout the rest of the day, like those tiny little bits of the circumferent skin from the bologna slices on a foot-long Subway Cold Cut Trio that get stuck in between the last two molars on the upper left, on the tongue side where you can't possibly reach them with a toothpick, your fingernails, or even a systematically straightened paper clip, they just sit there and make everything you eat at your next meal taste vaguely like vinegar and mayonnaise, and then somehow -- quietly but miraculously -- they disappear by themselves in the middle of the night while you're asleep, just like the visiting Countess appeared to have done.

8. Her parting words lingered heavily inside me like last night's Taco Bell.

7. The bullet burned Gilmore's gut like the first piss after a long night in a Singapore brothel.

6. A single drop of sweat slowly inched down Chad's brow -- a tiny, glistening Times Square New Year's Eve Ball of desperation.

5. His .38 barked fire, like John Goodman's butt after a chili cookoff.

4. Her blazing eyes dance like Astaire and Rogers, but since they were crossed, it was an ocular tango, and my eyes had to foxtrot just to maintain eye contact.

3. She had a voice so husky it could have pulled a dogsled, and the gun she was holding gave me a bad case of barrel envy.

2. The neon sign reflected off his gun, like the moonlight reflects off my brother-in-law's bald head after a night of beer drinking and cow-tipping.

and Topfive.com's Number 1 Bad Suspense Novel Metaphor or Simile...

1. Unable to contain his rage, he burst like a pimple of emotion, the pus of his fury streaking the mirror of calm in the bathroom of his life.


Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>