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Friday, March 20, 2009

The Friday Challenge - 3/20/09

It's the first day of Spring—which of course means we got a fresh layer of snow overnight. "Spring" has a whole different meaning up here in the great white north.

Along with the light dusting of snow, we also received a light turnout for the 3/13/09 Friday Challenge, aka, "The Sci-Fi Rewrite of Heart of Darkness." Maybe it was an insufficiently challenging challenge. Maybe it was overwhelming. Maybe too many of you are still suffering the after-effects of having been forced to read this one in high school by some totally inept Language Arts instructor who then proceeded to beat every last bit of life out of the story in the subsequent discussion.

Whatever the cause, the entries in contention for this week's prize are:

Henry: "Heart of Dorkness"

Arisia: "The Heart of Happiness"

Al, The Camera Breaker: "Deus Ex Mickina"

Torainfor: "Gael of Drey L"

As always, even if you haven't submitted an entry you're invited to read, comment on, and vote your for favorite, with the winner to be announced on Sunday.

As for this week's challenge: after thinking it over, previous winner Al decided he wanted to try presenting a challenge after all, so I now turn the microphone over to Al.

"This week's Friday Challenge is... Myths R Us!

"In ancient times, myths were the way we passed on lessons and learning. The stories of half-god heroes taking down horrible monsters would provide kids with role models. Joseph Campbell had quite a few cool things to say about myths--most of which really aren't relevant to this Challenge, unfortunately.

"In modern times, myth has been replaced by Hollywood. We don't read anymore about Bellerophon riding Pegasus to slay the Chimera; we watch Luke Skywalker riding his X-Wing to destroy the Death Star...which has to make you wonder if there are really only about seventeen useable plots out there and they just get re-written for each genre and each generation.

"Mythological heroes and villains are always larger than life. They are quite often the children of deities, like Hercules, Theseus, and Liv Tyler. You'd never hear a myth about Joe Schmoe, the illiterate sandalmaker from Santa Fe...unless, of course, Joe was the illegitimate offspring of messenger god Mercury and Madonna, and awakens to his destiny when he dreams about building silvery winged slippers with metal points in the front.

"A myth has one major requirement and one optional element. First and foremost, the myth has to carry a moral. "Never get involved in a land war in Central Asia" was likely a popular one, as was "when your uncle tells you not to fly too close to the sun with wings made of feathers and wax, LISTEN TO HIM!"

"As an added bonus, myths explain some fact of nature around us. That light in the sky every day? That's not a huge flaming ball of gas...it's a guy driving a chariot across the sky on wheels of fire. Those huge blasts of light and noise that come blasting out of thunderstorms? They aren't electricity, they're a vengeful deity taking pot-shots at the mortals who annoyed him.

"So, your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to write a myth. It must have characters who are larger than life. It must teach a lesson or carry a moral of some kind. Bonus points if it also explains something about how the world works, like the mysteries of the blooms of spring, why the moon changes shape, or why the stars haven't fallen out of the sky now that Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State.

"As always, we are playing by the ancient, nebulous and diaphanous rules of the Friday Challenge, carved into stone millennia ago by the god of the pub-crawl, whose mysterious name is revealed only to those who have survived to the sixth stop and the eighteenth shot of tequila. The lucky winner will get to cross the River Styx, which lies behind Door #1, kill the nine-headed dragon/Doberman crossbreed behind Door #2, rescue the maiden princess from the half-man half-Javelina Pigotaur behind Door #3, and finally discover the ultimate treasure behind Door #4--guarded by three legions of animated skeletons, unfortunately."

[~brb adds: Or you could just have a look here.]
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