Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"He stuck out like a zoot suit at a Shaker funeral"

That title is mine, but Raymond Chandler blazed the trail. Here's how he sums up the big ganch Philip Marlowe meets at the beginning of Farewell, My Lovely:

"Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."
Over in Baltimore, Dave Rosenthal devoted a fill-in-the-blanks quiz to those memorable thunderclaps of over-the-top wordage. Here are his first two questions:

1) "The walls here are as _____ as a hoofer's wallet." Playback

2) "The voice got as _____ as a cafeteria dinner." Farewell, My Lovely
Get the idea?

Now it's your turn. Do what I did in the title of this post, and make up your own Chandleresque description. If it's good enough, I may award a few books as prizes. And my judgment is as good as ____

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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42 Comments:

Blogger PKL said...

Jingo slithered into the bar like a vaseline salamander in a sharkskin suit.

Maureen's smile was all lipstick and only one coat deep.

Harvey smoked a chain of Chesterfields as though something very bad would happen if he quit.

The D.A. was the kind of Puritan who prayed in public and sinned in private.

This game was as honest as a tent revival healer,
and the kid, they figured, was ripe for the altar call.

For a woman of 89, Mrs. Boss looked old for her age, like one of those space-saving bags with all the clothes and air sucked out.

PKL

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Some good ones there ... Have you been saving them up?

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

He had the sweaty untrustworthy appearance of a man who couldn't sell you a brand new Lexus with a 10 year guarantee on interest free credit.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He cocked his fedora at a jaunty angle and strode in to sell Louis Farrakhan a consignment of yarmulkes.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

He stuck out like a reasonable man in the Fox News building.

He stuck out like a Klingon at a Star Wars convention.

He stuck out like a genuine Irish accent in an Irish Spring commercial.

I could go all night but wont.

April 15, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

I think PKL wins hands down.
Especially the tent revival one.



v-word: aliceif

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

All right, then, I will.

He stuck out like a Klingon with a smooth forehead.

They got along like José Bové and Ronald McDonald.

He ...

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, I'd say PKL is looking good. I like the one about the vaseline salamander. McKinty just hasn't been as sharp since he turned 52.

The Vaseline Salamander should have been the title of a novel by James Crumley.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

He was shorter than the distance between (Gloria Allred/Al Sharpton/Ann Coulter...) and the farthest microphone.

Very adaptable, this one.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Infinitely adaptable, if not more so.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Pat should be in that Bulwer Lytton competition. He'd do well. I believe he's stealing Jeremy Bentham's pickled head later in the week though so he may be buzy for a while.

Actually you know what though. We ALL should enter the Bulwer Lytton. Huge bragging rights...

I was just watching Darryl Hannah on Entertainment Tonight and this one occured to me:

Her face looked like a plastic surgery malpractice lawyer's retirement fund.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

The ad hominem argument, the economist thought, was about as fair as progressive taxation.

(Yes, I know, a little weak. But it's tax day, and I'm bitter.)

April 15, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

She wanted you to believe she was as hot as a Cincinnati cathouse on a Saturday night, but--deep inside and for good reasons--she was as cool as a slab of mausoleum marble in the nearby cemetery.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

She drew men to her lair with the primal instinct of card sharks.

Had to try, Peter! :)) Much fun!

April 15, 2009  
Blogger marco said...

This is the opposite of what you asked- stale stock phrases rather than fresh similes- but on another site they were discussing cliches and this obnoxious sentence- a real Bulwer Lytton contender- came to me in a flash:

Their relationship went to hell in a handbasket as soon as she realized he had sold her down the river and discovering she wasn’t the only bee in his bonnet was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

V-word ratory. (oratory without o)

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ah, Jeremy Bentham's pickled head. One does not hear about "the insipid, pedantic, leather-lipped oracle of the commonplace
bourgeois intelligence of the nineteenth century"
as much as one used to.

Nice on Darryl Hannah, though I suspect that you, too, have been saving that one for years.

Naturally it made me think of Tammy Faye Bakker, the face that launched a thousand plastic surgeons.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Brian O'Rourke said...

He had more chins than Jabba-the-Hutt after the all-you-can eat buffet at the Mos Eisley Cantina.

He talked more trash than a garbageman. (bad, I know)

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He had the open, candid look of an Obama's nominee's tax form.

It's only 1:20, but I'm doing my return early this year, Loren.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Been there, done that.

I've seen that particular stale sentence before, Marco. It's like deja-vu all over again.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Rozovsky, wrestling with temptation, felt a bit like an Obama cabinet appointee as he carefully calculated the facts and figures on his 1040.

Okay, so it's a bit off subject, but, hey, you brought up the subject of taxes.

Have a find APril 15th. And hang in there.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Brian, appetite jokes are permissible.

He was as jumpy as a bulimia patient at a Lancaster County buffet.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"She wanted you to believe she was as hot as a Cincinnati cathouse on a Saturday night, but--deep inside and for good reasons--she was as cool as a slab of mausoleum marble in the nearby cemetery."I like the "deep inside and for good reason" -- the fulcrum on which the elaborate double simile turns.

On the surface she seemed profound, but deep down she was superficial.

Ok, that breaks the rules, but this is my contest.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Let's work with the card metaphor, Petra Michelle.

Her deck was as stacked as she was, and the men kept panting, "Deal me in."

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sorry for the bad line break two comments above. It appears I'm not the only one for whom Blogger's formatting is going kablooey.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I suspect that by the time I post my next comment, I will have completed a tax return with all statements accurate to my best knowledge. Thanks.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Rules? Nuts! Sam Spade might have said that a rule is like the wind. When it's your own, you're free to break it, but--for a lot of reasons--you really don't want any witnesses, and--even if you do have witnesses--you don't have to admit anything, especially when you're in a crowd. See?

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, maybe not.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

He stood out like Pat Boone at the Newport Jazz Festival.

OOH! captcha = "zingens"

Change the penultimate letter to an "r" and it defines this contest in a single word.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He stood out like a kazoo in a Bach violin partita.

My v-word sounds like a character played by Elisha Cook Jr. or William Bendix: nocksi

April 15, 2009  
Blogger petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Had to come back because that sentence had no snap!

Like what you did with it, Peter! :))

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You were the match that lit the cigarette of creativity on this one.

April 15, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"The Vaseline Salamander should have been the title of a novel by James Crumley."

Or Charles Willeford.

April 16, 2009  
Blogger Sucharita Sarkar said...

Loved the comments as much as the post. Being an Indian woman is a handicap in this contest, but then:

"His eyes swivelled slowly round the room, moving in jerky circles like the ceiling-fans in government offices."

"He walked into the bar, all strut and bootcut like Amitabh Bachchan's screen-avatars."

"She looked pale and cold, like yogurt that had been forgotten in the fridge for a long long time."

Pretty bad, huh?

April 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, but it can be an advantage, too. " ... like Amitabh Bachchan's screen-avatars" enlivens my curiosity.

"Ceiling fans in government offices" -- lurching in noisy circles to no great effect, no doubt -- is quite nice, as is "strut and bootcut."

And I shall make a note to myself to explore the narrative possibilities of forgotten yogurt.

April 16, 2009  
Blogger Vanda Symon said...

Her blonde hair had come from a bottle. So had her personality.

Thanks for the reminder about tax.

April 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sounds like Mrs. Florian in Farewell, My Lovely, though I think her personality may have drained into the bottle rather than come out of it.

When is tax day in New Zealand?

April 16, 2009  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

He came into the room as quietly as a buzzsaw meeting an oak knot. His suit matched his grin, both glittered with phoney diamonds. HIs hat needed a feather, it should have reminded me of some archer defending Sherwood Forest, only it was brown as the dirt after the Sheriff's men had ridden through.

April 16, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yep, the Robin Hood motif works for a crime fiction blog. Nice kicker. Thanks.

April 16, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

My v word is 'warwin'. I think that illustrates my position as the kind of person that shows up late to the poker game, doesn't really bother to learn the etiquette of the table, but nevertheless takes the whole pot.

Hey--I can live with that.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, "war win" is not the v-word I'd have expected from your part of the country.

April 17, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

And, once upon a time, the host said:
"If it's good enough, I may award a few books as prizes. And my judgment is as good as ____."
And, as the tension mounted, the impatient bloggers said:
"So, what's up? Ya gotta have a winner in there somewhere, boss. Spill the beans!"
(Not that any of the impatient bloggers either want or need the prize (i.e., a few books), but you know how surly those *#$&+@ bloggers can get when you leave them hanging out there. In fact, @$%#& the prize, take a stand and declare a winner!) :-)

April 18, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Perhaps tomorrow's post will announce the first of the winners. I think a suitable prize might be the copy of Farewell, My Lovely that gave rise to this post. I think that will go to PKL. More prizes will follow!

April 19, 2009  

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