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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And the winner is...

Occasionally even we in the Ruling Troika feel the need to snowdog something in. After two days of 'I thought you were going to do that' and such like, the judges have finally issued their findings in consideration of the 6/18/10 Friday Challenge, "Meet My Strange Family," the entries into which were listed in the 6/25/10 column.

First, our surprise celebrity Big Name Poet guest judge punked out ("Oh, you wanted that this week?"), so that simplifies matters considerably. Secondly, our announced guest judge and the creator of the illustration in question, Johnny Tank, writes:
My favorite was Nambwii's birthday however considering the poetry points I will have to choose the limerick by M: Alien Strumpet.
It had occurred to me that since our first contact about the drawing that you had assumed the character was female. I had no idea why. On studying my picture further I saw that anyone might mistake a certain area for a breast. That was not intended. The best I can describe it would be if you were to graft a AA battery onto a plastic fifty cent machine egg. That was my intention however I love to hear other peoples interpretations of my stuff. The stories and poems gave a lot more depth to things I don't really think about. I always thought of art helping to tell a story, not the other way around. This is a lesson I hope to play with more and I would love to supply artwork in the future.


Third, THE FRIDAY CHALLENGE founder and Executive Cat-Herder in Chief, Bruce Bethke, writes:
Friends, having read all of the entries -- in some cases, several times -- I have a painful confession to make. When it comes to music, I have remarkably keen senses of pitch, timbre, and dynamic range. When it comes to navigation, I have an innate sense of direction that never goes wrong and drives the people around me nuts. When it comes to color, I can see subtle gradations that escape the rest of my family. When it comes to dialog, I have an uncanny ability to hear what people *actually* say and how they deliver it, which has repeatedly gotten me into arguments with copy-editors.

When it comes to poetry, I am as tone-deaf as a rock.

I can tell the difference between a haiku and a limerick -- just barely -- and both of them from a sonnet, but that's about it. I liked Arvid's entry because it was a story, and thus I was back on solid ground. But as for all the rest of them...

Pick whichever you like best. *I* certainly can't produce any meaningful commentary on any of them.

My, this is getting easier by the moment. Turning now to our two surviving judges, Henry Vogel writes:
Avery - Of your two entries, I prefer the second one. I like the quick setting of the scene followed by the introduction of a new element, dancing. The second entry is more focused, tighter. I like it a lot.

M - "Java Step" is a neat little haiku about how we shamble along until coffee lightens our steps, but I'm more of a "There once was a girl from Nantucket" kind of guy. In other words, I liked your limerick better. It was amusing and was obviously based on the artwork. Shifting from "chick" to "strumpet" was a nice bit of creative license, too.

Miko - An interesting pair of entries. I find myself enjoying your channeling of Scribbler more than "Stride." I can't really say why, it just appeals to me more. Hm, that's not good enough. I like the image conveyed by "Scribbler's" entry more than the one from "Stride." It's still extremely subjective, but that's art for you. Interesting entries.

Sean - You don't enter for months on end and then we get three entries? Maybe we should aim for more poetry challenges so you can enter more often! And, now that you've pointed it out, I can see how the "chick" could also be considered a "pickle." I fear your first entry is merely a harbinger of taxes to come. Your second entry had me laughing out loud. Your third entry is the only one I've read thus far that even mentions the Weber Grill about to be crushed by the walking thing. Of the three entries, I liked the second one best. It may be directly derived from "Mary Had a Little Lamb," but it's a very clever derivation.

Arvid Macenion - Everyone else gives us short, quick-to-read entries. You give us a short story. What's up with that? No, not quite a short story. You give us a short story with all of the dialogue written in haiku! It's a sweet little story, though somewhat predictable; almost a given since the story was inspired by the artwork and my own experiences with little sisters. Very clever, nonetheless, with both the story and the haiku.

Waterboy - And now we have yet another interpretation of the thing in the robotic whatever -- a harpy. I like this one, too, as part of the haiku sets the scene and the other part completes the thought. One of the first things I thought of when I saw the drawing was the tripods from Wells' The War of the Worlds, so I guess I'm right there with you on death, destruction, and heat (or laser) rays. Nice.

All of these entries are perfect examples of everyone using the same inspiration to come up with totally divergent ideas. This is one of the endlessly fascinating things about THE FRIDAY CHALLENGE; something I enjoyed just as much when I was entering the challenges as now, when I'm judging them. My favorites among the eleven entries are Avery's second entry (the one with dancing), M's limerick, Sean's play on "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and Waterboy's death-by-laser. In the end, I'm going to go with my initial reaction to each of the entries, and I laughed out loud to Sean's nursery rhyme. So Sean gets my vote this week, though I'd be happy if any of my four finalists ended up winning.

Kersley Fitzgerald, who proposed this challenge in the first place, gets the penultimate word:
First off, it never occurred to me that this was a pickle.

M, Java Step: The concept is cute (and makes me wonder how long his stride is after his coffee), but the haiku needs work. It appears to be two phrases split so that the syllables sit where they should, instead of three distinct phrases.

Avery, Whistle: I like this one. Great imagery, and the last line seems to have a double meaning in that it seems like a casual warning, but if he fell on the city, it could be catastrophic.

M, Strumpet: Again with the cute concept that needs work on execution. I think in limericks the third and fourth lines should be directly related, not opposed (“but…”). Still, very cute!

Miko: This emphasizes why poetry frustrates me. Is “delight” being used as a noun, or an adjective? Is the creature a “delight,” or is it just taking delight in the stride? And yet, even more so than fiction writers, poets do not explain their work.

Scribbler: Very symbolic and dark and thought-provoking. And Tolkien-esque.

Sean, Taxes: This one’s awesome.

Sean, Little Cup: I could totally see my kid singing this to himself, crushing sand castles beneath a pickle stuffed in half a plastic Easter egg.

Sean, Weber Grill: It’s so cute and sweet and lovely and then BAM! It hits me over the head with pickle overlords. If we do more poetry challenges, do you promise to enter more often?

Avery, Dance: This is beautiful. So true on so many existential levels. Some people do fear us as we go about our lives. But they don’t understand that we’re living restrained, and if we were to more fully display our souls, it would be more terrifying and wonderful than they could imagine.

Arvid: So cute. I love how the creatures speak in Haiku and the names end in “wii.” And the story rings true.

Waterboy: Love the imagery, but the technical gets me again.

This is impossible! How can anyone choose?

After several days of non-contemplation, I’m going with Avery’s dance.

And thus after all that agonizing, we end up with a split decision: Sean and Avery, come on down, because you two have ended up in a tie for the win this week!

And as for everyone else: thanks for entering, and better luck next year, which if I have anything to say about it is the next time we'll be running a poetry challenge. (If it was up to Kersley, though, we'd run one monthly!)

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