In Jan 2002 I received the following info about rules for competitive reading of The Eye of Argon by email from Mary Mason.
Yes, there are Rules For a Reading!
You should note that the transcriber who's notes you have is named Don Simpson. NOT the late producer, or the comic book artist, but a very gifted artist that the late Bill Rotsler nick-named "Thingymaker to the Gods". Former husband of Chelsea Quin-Yarbro, and current resident of Albany, CA (which is north of Berkeley) he was one of Rick Sternbach's and Mike Okuda's mentors, and is well known in the Science Fiction/Fantasy art community as a sculptor. The fannish art community reveres him for his work as well as his glorious sense of humor.
History of "The Eye Of Argon"
In the 1970's Thomas Scortia sent a copy of TEOA to Chelsea Quin Yarbro, who brought it to a LASFAS gathering. Hilarity prevailed. Copies were made, distributed widely around LA, and thanks to the fannish conventions, readings soon became a standard item on programs around the nation. It goes in and out of fashion as a programming item, but I believe it is worth retaining. Usually scheduled for midnight, I've seen anywhere from a dozen to a couple hundred people taking part in one of these events. Try doing a competitive reading using these rules to infect-I mean delight-your literate friends.
Rule 1: Read it exactly as written. Use
only the punctuation that is there; no more, no less. Pronounce the
words as spelled, not what you think was meant.
Rule 2: When you start laughing, you're done and must pass it to the next reader.
Rule 3: The next reader must start at the beginning of the sentence that cracked up the previous reader. If you begin laughing uncontrollably before you start, you must pass it on.
Rule 4: Anyone who makes it through a full page, is pronounced either: a professional news reader or over-rehearsed and must pass it on. (Greg Bear is one of the few people whom I've ever seen do this--but he's had decades of practice.)
Rule 5: No fair hurrying through without thinking about what you are reading. A proper dramatic reading is required. Acting out scenes is optional.
Rule 6: If you act out scenes, no live steel.
Rule 7: NO ONE should charge for TEOA. Getting reimbursed for the cost of making a fresh copy is OK. But since no one knows how to get royalty payments to the author, it isn't fair for anyone else to make money off his work. (That's called copyright infringement and it is wrong)
The most evil, sadistic, and delightful use of TEOA I know of, is to give it to a class of English students to copy edit. One teacher I know uses a page (any page) for his mid-term in his class on how to teach English. He has had students laugh too hard to get through it, and some poor people burst into tears at the impossible task. (He grades it pass/fail, and by showing up and trying, you pass) I gave a copy of it to James P. Hogan and watched him go from sitting up on the chair, to sliding off the chair (twice), to sitting on the floor, to lying down on the floor, flat on his back, still laughing and occasionally pointing to the page and exclaiming, "Do you see this? Do you believe this?"
My personal opinion is that was written by Jim Theis with a new thesaurus and no dictionary.
Enjoy my favorite party game!