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Friday, February 17, 2012

The Friday Challenge — 2/17/2011

This week in The Friday Challenge:

It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon The Friday Challenge. Too quiet. But what, if anything, does the silence signify? A bit of behind-the-scenes OTOGU-wrestling, the obligatory Valentine's googley-eyes, and hobbyist-level lessons in juggling flaming chainsaws. In other words, business as usual.

Still, we did see one column this week:

Guy Stewart (remember him?) revisits the Planet of the Apes! • Join the discussion...

NM Whitley and Anatoly Belilovsky tie with 10 points apiece, in our "Call me Ishmael." challenge! (Yes, really. The only people who gave numeric votes were Guy Stewart and Jack Calverley, and since Jack proposed the challenge, he was allowed the HTM spread.) • Join the discussion...

All this and more, ... and that's pretty much it for the past week, as Random Acts of Kindness Day encourages us to stop traffic in order to give that stuck motorist an opportunity for a left turn, and the inmates discuss the view from their respective places in the asylum.

“What a twit!”

As of this morning, we have received the following entries entry for our current challenge:

Rather than draw this one out (and possibly risk a federal investigation), we'll go ahead and declare you this week's winner. Congratulations?

Moving Right Along / “And now for something completely different...”

And now it is time for this week's Friday Challenge, courtesy of Bruce Bethke:

One of the unfortunate side-effects of a 30-year writing career is that you collect a sizable pile of false starts, rough drafts, and great ideas you honestly intend to get back to “later.” In the early days, when I wrote on a Smith-Corona typewriter, this collection fit into one bulging file folder. Later, it expanded to fill an entire bankers archive box.

These days I have many, many gigabytes of false starts cluttering up the place, mostly in forms that are useless to me. Some are on floppy disks readable only by computers and programs long since defunct. Others are on now-unreadable CDs — who knew that burned CDs wouldn't last forever? — while still others are on backup tapes, from back in the days when hard drives were small, expensive, and unreliable, and I backed up mine religiously. Some even take the form of dot-matrix printouts, which at least are human-readable, but I've got filing cabinets full of the stuff.

For example, here's one of my all-time favorites:

June, 1943: Acting in defiance of Hitler's orders, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein launches his attack against the Kursk salient two weeks early, catching the Red Army unprepared and unreinforced. While this action does not change the eventual outcome of events on the Eastern Front, it delays the Soviet advance just long enough for the Germans to get the Arado 234B jet bomber into full production. This in turn means the bomb racks are left off the Me-262 and it gets used as the air superiority fighter it was clearly meant to be, which in turn changes the entire complexion of the 1944 air war over Europe. D-Day is delayed by two months; the American B-29 Superfortresses are deployed to England, not Okinawa; the first atomic bomb is dropped on Berlin, not Hiroshima; and the Russian and Western Allied armies meet at the Rhine, not the Elbe.

Fast forward: June 26, 1963. President John F. Kennedy stands up before the Frankfurt wall, and in a strong, resolute voice, declares, “Ich bin ein Frankfurter!”

Western civilization collapses overnight...

How about you? What's your pitch for that great novel that, deep in your heart, you know you're never really going to write?

Anyone can enter, with no restrictions.

Everyone is asked to vote, and to say a few words about what they liked, and why. Or to say a few words about what they disliked, as the case may be; by submitting an entry, you implicitly agree to accept criticism, because there will probably be some handed out, and no one is immune. When voting, please rank a work as either “0” (not so good), “1” (not as bad), “2” (could have been better) or “3” (pretty good stuff!). If you give either a “0” or “3” vote, feel free to argue in support of your reasoning.

Don't like the negativity? Feel free to think of the levels as “0” (Not bad for a first attempt), “1” (Right on!), “2” (Holy cow, I wanna buy this now...) or “3” (Sweet mother of God, how did you write something this awesome?!!). The point is to clearly differentiate, and rank according to your own preference.

For the purposes of this challenge, Bruce Bethke will be serving as Ye Olde High Marker, Voluntarily Walking th' Plank.

As of now, we are playing by the loosely enforced and slightly modified rules of The Friday Challenge. All entries are due by 6 AM Eastern time on the morning of Friday, 24 February 2012. A winner will be declared by the evening of Sunday, 26 February 2012.

Oh, there is one more thing... but it is the most important! Have fun. Always have fun.
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