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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Friday Challenge - 12/11/09

It seems we have a fairly naughty group here, based on the number of letters to Santa we've received. It looks like there's going to be lumps of coal in a lot of stockings and you know you don't want that! Just think of the carbon offsets you'll have to buy from Al Gore before you can even think of burning the coal. It probably won't be long before he gets a bill passed requiring carbon offsets merely to own a lump of coal, even if you don't burn it. After all, coal represents potential carbon dioxide and that's almost as bad as actual carbon dioxide!

There do appear to be a few of you who were good this year and deserving of a visit from Saint Nick.

Miko - Great Grammy

Arisia - What I Want

the bandit - Letter to Santa

Vidad - Messin Wit Da Phat Man (mp3 posted to drop.io)

As always, even if you haven't submitted an entry this week—even if you never submit an entry in any week—you're invited to read, comment on, and vote for your favorite. Don't be shy about leaving feedback on the authors' sites, either. Writers thrive on knowing that someone out there is actually reading their words. The winner will be announced on Sunday.

And now for this week's challenge, concocted and presented by ~brb.

At last, the story can be told...
On 30 July 1958 the nuclear attack submarine USS Skate (SSN-578) set sail from her home port of New London, Connecticut, and bent her course north by east, on a secret mission to sail under the Arctic ice pack. According to official government sources the purpose of this voyage, as announced afterwards in press releases and newsreels, was to conduct scientific research in the Arctic ocean, and the sub rosa purpose, as leaked considerably later, was to test the theory that a properly designed and equipped submarine could surface through the Arctic ice, and be in good position to launch nuclear missiles at targets in Russia. During the next ten days the Skate surfaced successfully through the ice nine times, and then headed to Norway, to put into Bergen on 23 August.

At least, that's the official story...

Thanks to a recent Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit, we now know the terrible truth: that there was also a disastrous, nay, tragic, tenth surfacing. On 10 August 1958, at precisely 10-hundred-fourteen hours Greenwich Mean Time, the Skate surfaced precisely under the North Pole.

The resulting loss of elven life was appalling. Entire clans of toymakers were wiped out in a single blow. Craft specialties that had been preserved unchanged since Roman times were lost forever as the shattered remnants of Santa's Workshop plunged to the icy ocean floor, and the entire subspecies of Rangifer tarandus aeronautica became extinct in the blink of an eye.

The Navy tried desperately to undo the damage. The Skate returned to the North Pole in the winter of 1958-59 to see what could be salvaged—

And with that as the background, here is this week's Friday Challenge. I want you to write a pitch, outline, or script treatment for the made-for-TV movie special:

"How Admiral Hyman Rickover Saved Christmas"

("Brought to you by the U.S. Navy!")

Lay it on thick, folks, and don't spare the schmaltz. Pathos, bathos, shameless sentimentalism, brainless pandering; whatever you got, throw it in. In this field it simply is not possible to aim too low: the Brown Standard here is the Star Wars Holiday Special, ("Guest starring Bea Arthur, Art Carney, and Jefferson Starship!") which is so unspeakably awful it is being shown next Wednesday in a Toys for Tots fundraiser at the Bryant Lake Bowl, Minneapolis's home to all things surreal, tragically hip, or ironically postmodern.

So go ahead; get it out of your system; give us a story that makes Elmo Saves Christmas look like Shakespeare and the Star Wars Holiday Special look like A Christmas Carol in comparison. You'll feel better afterwards.

As always, we're playing by the loosely enforced official rules of the Friday Challenge, and playing for whatever is behind Door #3. The deadline for this challenge is midnight Central time, Thursday, December 17.

Now get those sleigh bells jingling!
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