Sunday, May 10, 2009

Event #7: The Results

The Verbal Creativity Entries were diverse and of an impressive level of quality. Guest Jurist Amy Sage Webb and I wrestled with putting them into any kind of order, but at the end of the day were in broad agreement about which were the cream, and which were the creme de la creme.

Many thanks to Ms. Webb, who gave up end-of-the-semester grading time to take on a task that I think was both harder but more fun than she expected. She is, incidentally, a writer and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emporia (Kansas) State University. An inspired teacher, she also holds a lifetime spot on the shortlist of Smartest People Michael5000 Has Ever Met.

Honorable Mentions!

Because of obvious space restraints, we won't be able to put any of the entries up here in their entirety. I'll try to put at least the top winners up on the L&TM5K Facebook page, so you can read them there at your leisure.

But here, lamentably, there is only space for a few of the excellent entries sent in. Indeed, we can only briefly touch on such gems as gl.'s "The Vegetarian Abecedarium":

A is for apples, delicious and fair
B is for broccoli, quite simple to prepare
C is for cantaloupe, so round and so sweet
D is for daikon, a sharp-tongu├ęd treat....

Or d's dialogue between a troubled young tomato and an older, more sophisticated pear:

'Well, if you look at it from my point of view,' D'anjou replied, 'You fit into two worlds, whereas I only fit into one. So your possibilities are almost limitless. You can go out about town with Leafy Greens or Mozzarella or sweet, tart Cranberry and no one would look askance. You can even just be all boring and hang with other tomatoes if you want. 'Cause no one knows what you are.'

'Yes. You are correct. But don't you see how limitless possibilities are really, if you think about it, somewhat terrifying?'

'Oh boo hoo. I would love to be in your shoes. Because frankly, other pears strike me as rather dull....'

Sandy's "An Almost Complete Alphabet of Musical Aging: When I Was Young; and Now We Are 45 and Watch FOX" was well-received by both judges, who are of a certain age:

A is for Another Brick in the Wall
A is for Aging Rockers Mentor Contestants

B is for Bollocks
B is for Bedtime Gets In The Way of Watching The Results Show

C is for Culture Club
C is for Country Music Week...

And Elizabeth's Shakespearean scene, chockablock with fruit and veggie references both plausible and outlandish:

Foccaccio: Ho there! What house art thou, what lord's device
Shows on thy cloak? Art du Berry's pledged man,
Or does the orange of William shine upon
Thy mantle?

Third Place!

Mrs.5000 proved the world is actually getting better, not worse, with a news article chronicaling the improvement of chain letters over time. Her exhaustive research begins with a typical chain letter of today:

You’ve received this e-mail because someone knows you care. DON’T LET THE PLANET DOWN! Drop what you’re doing right now—this will only take a minute of your time.

First, start a new e-mail message. Follow these easy steps and the world will be a better place—starting immediately!

In the first message line, put five adjectives (words like “creative” or “freckled” or “sassy”) that describe you.

In the second line, write three verbs (action words ending in “-ing”) of things you like to do. Use your imagination!

In the third line, finish the sentence, “I can see…” by describing something you can see from where you are right now, such as “a blue glass filled with pencils,” or “pine trees waving in the wind.”

Now, in the fourth line, write down something that you would really like to change about the world! Do you want to end war, or clean the oceans? Here’s your chance! Just complete the sentence, “I want to…”

Now put “I WANT TO SAVE THE WORLD” in the subject heading of the e-mail and send it to your congressperson. You can find the e-mail address of your congressperson here.

Congratulations, you’ve just helped to save the world. Just think how much we can accomplish if we all work together and voice our concerns.

There’s just one last step, but it’s very important. Forward this message to twenty people you know who care. Don’t hesitate. Don’t delay. Show you care and spread the word!

From here, we are treated to several historical examples, culminating with the "oldest example of a chain letter found to date," translated from 5000 year old hieroglyphics:

scratch rock
rock throw bad (enemy) man
many many many rock
rock throw bad (wounded) man
bad (wounded enemy) man not-existing
blessed earth-goddess
all sing blessed earth-goddess
all throw rock
The piece, says Professor Webb, "demonstrates tremendous range with a form we have all experienced but that I’ve seen little done with. Real evidence of literary history here.... Very creative." I thought so too.

Second Place!

Missy crafted a tone-perfect introduction to a noir detective story, establishing the hallmark dark tone and introducing plot complications and reversals already in around twenty short paragraphs. The twist? All the characters -- the detective, the villain, the victims, even the dame -- are fruits and vegetables. The villain, for instance, is a potato:

This one had eye spots and sprouting roots all over, like he'd sat too long at the bottom of the bag and was looking for a way out, looking like he'd do whatever it took to get there. I don't usually take this kind of business, not because it didn't pay or because it was dangerous, but because vegetables like him didn't come to vegetables like me for help. They liked to take care of things... personally.

"What can I do for you?" I leaned back in my chair, trying to look cool like a cucumber ought to, and lit a cigarette.
"I admire the depth into which this parody plunges," says Amy, and we both wished that we could read the rest of what promised to be a very strange story indeed.

The Winner!

From detective noir with edible characters, we move to early 90s Mexican telenovela featuring relentless, relentless fruit-and-vegetable innuendo. Here's a sample:

Maria: Come to me!
(As Fernando approaches Maria, she grabs his collar and pulls him to her.)

Fernando: You’ve been weeping.

Maria: And why shouldn’t I have been? You smell of tamarind.

Fernando: And does this salty-sweet smell displease my love, my life, my sky?

Maria: Whose tamarind have you been in?

Fernando: Only yours!

Maria: Lies! I know you have been to see that Beatriz.

Fernando: Don’t be unreasonable. Of course I went to see Beatriz, but only because of you. You know her coconuts are the best in the region. Everyone sings praises of the roundness and size, and of the sweetness of their milk.

Maria: (pulls away and covers mouth in a gasp) How could you say that? I have my own coconuts! How could you go to Beatriz for hers instead!?
It is a special challenge to parody something that is already in essence a parody of itself, but Eversaved takes on telenovelas with wit, panache, high sillyness, and a downright unhealthy level of familiarity with the form. And vegetables!

And with that...

Let the victory celebrations begin!

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