Category Archives: VII

Spookymilk Survivor Challenge #16: Genre Swap

Week 16 of Spookymilk’s WGOM writer’s challenge again has one fewer former The Winner Group member (this week is for you, Eric B.B.. The current challenge: take a famous movie scene and rewrite it in a different genre, with the same characters coming to more-or-less the same conclusion.

Once I finally came up with the eventual concept for this one, I was really happy with the end results. Still, wasn’t quite good enough.

Originally I wanted to do some scene as a Shakespearean adaptation, and considered the mayor’s office scene from Ghostbusters (Shakespeare was a master at insulting people) and other movies, then decided to scan through the Top 250 movie list at IMDB.com to get ideas. I came across several military movies, then my eyes fell on #122 The Wizard of Oz. What if I did the initial throne room scene from The Wizard of Oz with a military movie genre feel? I tracked down a copy of the script, and as I began some initial modifications, I noticed that it was emerging with a The Dirty Dozen feel to it, so I intentionally made it a pseudo-mashup of the two movies. Here is the end result:
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Spookymilk Survivor Challenge #15: Interrogation

R.I.P., The Winner Group — now in our 15th week of Spookymilk’s WGOM writer’s challenge, the remaining two teams have been dispanded and we’ve all been thrown together into a free-for-all. Still, this week’s for you erstwhile The Winner Groupie, New Guy. The latest challenge: create an interrogation scene between a person and one or more interrogators, the only caveat being that the tables have to be turned on the interrogator at the end.

To paraphrase Spinal Tap, it’s a very fine line between clever and immunity (results) — the vote jockeying is getting interesting now.

I stretched the definition of “interrogation” a bit; here is what I put together for this week:

This writer’s challenge sucks. Your scores have been on a real downslide the past few weeks; okay Numbnutso The Magnificent, what magic are you going to pull out of your hat this week?

Thanks. Thanks a lot. Why are you blaming me? YOU are supposed to be my muse, aren’t you? Nothing to turn in this week, I guess.

No you don’t – don’t turn this around on ME! Your scores aren’t helped by your screwing up the formatting, writing like you’re Roget’s worst enemy, confusing the judges with bewildering constructs, and cloaking my outstanding concepts in a mantle of non-grammatical turpitude. Haven’t I given you a something wonderful to work with every week? Haven’t I??

“Wonderful” is a stretch. So, you’ve already had a couple days to ruminate on this one – what have you got?

How about a 4-year old girl as the interrogator, and she repeatedly asks her father, “Why?” to everything he says?

What?! How many weeks are you going to continue to lose Beau before we’re finally voted out?

Ha ha. Well then, how about Data interrogating Deanna Troi about living as a human – he can begin each line with “Inquiry?” Throw in all the classic STtNG clichés, like Picard being French and always surrendering, the weekly holodeck incident, Riker hitting on every female (or questionably female) alien, or Geordi never getting the girl (sorry, Dr. Leah Brahms as a gal pal could NEVER have happened – that’s why it’s called “fiction”). Could you work with that without butchering it?

Well, that’s right in my wheelhouse. I COULD, if it was a good idea. It’s not.

I’m just getting warmed up; I’ve got a million of ‘em. How about if the interrogator was a psychiatrist? He could grill his patient about sexual repression, Munchausen syndrome, Oedipus complex, use a little hypnosis, oh — and be sure to mention “diagnosis must precede treatment” somewhere in there. That could be killer, right?

But what would be the reveal at the end? No, sorry, I’d be in over my head with that one.

It’s always something with you, isn’t it? Okay, how about someone submitting a book idea – no, wait, a movie script (Spooky would like that!) and the interrogator is the prospective producer. He gets grilled about various aspects of his screenplay, and eventually the producer ultimately passes because there is no catchy twist at the end of the storyline. That has promise, doesn’t it?

Boy, I’d have to really get the details right, and I don’t know the industry well enough to do that. Besides, what’s the big deal with this idea? What’s the reveal at the end?

It’s M. Night Shyamalan. Get it?

Ha ha. Lame.

Listen bucko, I don’t need to take any more of this. How well do you think you can do on your own?

Well, if you had been paying attention, you’d have noticed that I’ve been writing down this entire exchange. Who needs you? Go away ‘til week.

Wait, what?! Oh, snap!

I decided that it would be fun if my interrogation was between my “muse” and me, about a topic idea for this week’s challenge. Like I said, it’s not exactly an interrogation, but I was careful to end each of my muse’s exchanges with a question, to keep the idea intact. What made this enjoyable for me is that this was a sort of “meta-submission” which described some of the thoughts I kicked around half-heartedly before settling on this one. Once I considered that my “reveal” would be that my muse was foiled by the actual exchange being the interrogation, I decided this would be what I submitted.

One other aspect that made this entertaining was that I got to poke a little fun at our omnipotent judges, in an obvious way. (And no, Beau, any episode in which Geordi gets the girl can not be considered canon!)

Spookymilk Survivor Challenge #14: Meeting of the Mimes

We made it past unlucky #13 are are now on the fourteenth week of Spookymilk’s WGOM writer’s challenge. This week’s for you, Andrew. The challenge? Present a dialogue-free confrontation between two people, in 200-500 words, ending with one of the two in a much better position than at the start, and the other in a much worse position.

Another one that was more work than I would have liked, but I was moderately pleased with how it came out (results), but you know it’s getting down to the wire when The Winner Group as a team scores a solid 4 and still has to eliminate another writer.

The non-speaking confrontation, as I pictured it:

*Bang!*

At the sound of the starting gun, Jerome launched into the huge plate of bratwurst with both hands, stuffing the one in his left hand into his mouth, while the one in his right awaited its turn. Now that the competition had started, he found he had no time to be nervous anymore, even though this was his first public contest. Jerome’s friends on the HS football team were always amazed at his eating “powers” and had finally egged him on to go pro, even if this was only the quad-county fair. And actually, he had a pretty good feeling he could win.

Continuing to munch-and-swallow his seventh brat, he was too nervous to look for his friends in the crowd, but he did take a few furtive glances at one of the other six contestants on the stage, Contestant #5, who had travelled over 200 miles to participate – an obvious ringer. The guy was short and wiry, with mousy black hair – nothing like Jerome’s 6’2” 225 lb frame. Where does this guy pack it all in? Jerome took a swallow of water to lubricate his throat, then dived into the next brat.

Number 23 going in, number 24 in hand – Jerome was in the zone. As the oldest of six, he had learned to eat quickly, and it was paying off now; Contestant #5’s plate was noticeably higher than his own. It was going to be all Jerome could do to finish his plate (36? Yes, it looks like “just” three dozen were on the plate to start), but with his current lead he knew if his pace flagged a bit, he should still safely finish as the winner. Jerome ignored the crowd noise. Keep chewing! Keep swallowing!

As he began laboriously working the last couple of brats, Jerome once more eyed Contestant #5, who, though he continued to chew unabated, still had four brats left on his plate! Jerome had done it! As he carefully chewed the final brat (36!), he raised his fists in silent victory. He was the first to polish off his plate — and thankfully it ended when it did, because there was NO WAY he could have eaten more; as it was, the last swallow in his mouth was taking its sweet time to engage.

In turning to back to Contestant #5, a puzzled look came over Jerome’s face as the dripping corners of Contestant #5’s still-chewing mouth turned up into a grin, two brats still remaining on his plate. A motion in front of Jerome brought his attention back, where another plate of brats had just been placed. Jerome never did finish that last swallow, as the reality set in: it was not a timed contest, but an endurance contest. Crestfallen, he willed his over-taxed stomach to subside…at least until he could track down his friends and share a generous portion of semi-digested bratwurst with them.

I half-heartedly fiddled with a couple ideas before I came upon the reason for the two combatants to be in a non-speaking situation was because their mouths were full. I decided that within the limits of rules there could be more than just the two main characters, but I intentionally did not refer to any other contestant, judge, assistant, crowd attendee, or friend specifically. As a matter of fact, I also intentionally only referred to the opponent at “Contestant #5” to give him a more unknown quality.

What ended up as difficult for me was the use of names and pronouns; I had to walk through the story a couple times and swap “Jerome” and “he” or “his” in places to I didn’t get too redundant. As far as whether the situations of the two main characters shifted significantly enough from start to end, that’s a matter of judgement. I was just happy to get the thing done and out the door.

Spookymilk Survivor Challenge #13: Road Trip Spin

Spookymilk’s WGOM writer’s challenge is in its 13th week; everyone brought their A game. This week’s challenge was to write the travel brochure that makes a trip to five lame landmarks sound interesting, with four taken from a given list, and one (real) landmark of your own choosing.

I came up with a concept right off the bat, but made several times made adjustments after rereading the instructions — there was a lot of room for interpretation on this one. (results) — my results were so-so, and this week The Winner Group was defeated by fractions of a point.

Here are the seriously lame landmarks from which we had to choose four:

  1. Biggest ball of twine
  2. Cow pasture
  3. Corn maze
  4. Flattest county in America
  5. World’s smallest waterfall
  6. World’s largest empty warehouse
  7. World’s tallest known blade of grass
  8. World’s tallest midget
  9. A strip mall containing nothing but coffeehouses
  10. The childhood home of the tour guide
  11. Amateur day at a sewage treatment facility
  12. Museum of beige afghans
  13. The used Christmas tree dumping grounds
  14. Museum of kindergarten art projects
  15. Hardware Hank
  16. Joe Don Baker film festival
  17. Madison and Susie’s lemonade stand on 4th street
  18. The morning checkers game at the local cafe
  19. Roy’s taxidermy
  20. A popular hangout for drug dealers

The trip brouchure:

Brown County, nestled in scenic southwestern Ohio, is the home to countless attractions. Here are just a few that you will be seeing on your remarkable week-long trip:
  • Roy’s Taxidermy in Higginsport is the site where infamous serial killer Roy Chapwell once lived and had his macabre display of his victims mounted in various positions in his basement. Within this museum are his personal effects and gruesome artifacts (note, actual victims’ bodies are NOT on display), as well as the history of how law authorities were able to eventually apprehend Mr. Chapwell. Also, a short distance away is the beautiful OhioStar Casino and Resort.
  • The Brown County Christmas Tree Recycling Center in Ripley, what may be Ohio’s largest of its kind, is a truly remarkable place. Christmas trees from all around Brown County (and neighboring counties!) are collected here throughout the year, becoming a veritable rabbit wildlife sanctuary. During the dry period in July-August a person may be lucky enough to see one of the massive conflagrations which seem to occur on a yearly basis – consider watching it from the safe confines of your room at the nearby Ohio River Belle Casino.
  • The Hardware Hank store in Mount Orab was the 137th built in the US, and the statue of “Hank” out front, resplendent in his painter’s hat and white overalls, is the largest in the country. You can fill all your hardware needs here, plus just across the street is the Miami Indian Nation Casino and Buffet.
  • The annual weekend Joe Don Baker Film Festival in Georgetown is held every first Saturday & Sunday of September at the Heart of Brown County Casino ballroom. Past festivals have featured panels of Joe Don experts, look-alike contests, and even the gang from Mystery Science Theater 3000. Note: no firearms are allowed at this event.
  • The Brown County Casino Chip Museum in Hamersville is a definite must-see. Besides chips from all 27 of the Brown County casinos, you’ll find the world’s largest collection of broken penny slot machines, an exact duplicate of the Bellagio Casino vault plans movie prop from Ocean’s Eleven, and the blackjack table where Roy Chapwell was shot — only a few of the memorable exhibits you’ll find here. You will spend the night at the High Class Hotel & Casino and take advantage of weekend discounts!
Enjoy “spending” some quality time in friendly Brown County, Ohio on your trip, and build a lifetime of memories. And remember to bring a wad of cash with you!
***information compliments of the Brown County Visitors Association, and the Brown County Casinos Board***

One of the goals of putting a spin on a horrible road trip is to try make it interesting enough to actually make some money on it. And to me, that has “casinos!” written all over it. To make it even more over the top, I decided to feature a casino at every landmark. And then be sure to give a nod to the Casinos Board for their input into the trip.

I wanted to choose somewhere near a river, where riverboat casinos might be found, and settled on southern Ohio, just arbitrarily picking Brown County. Humerously, there are less than 50,000 people in the entire county, and in choosing from of the more interesting sounding town names, learned that some of them had less than 1000 population.

BTW, MST3K did their thing to a Joe Don Baker film, Mitchell, and after he threatened the MST3K gang, they reviewed Final Justice as well (skewering it even worse).

Spookymilk Survivor Challenge #12: Advice Column

Spookymilk’s WGOM writer’s challenge is in week 12, and the number of contestants are getting fewer. The challenge? Write an advice column question and an advice column answer, though they won’t be related to one another.

The writing has been getting tougher, but once I came up with a direction to take, most of the work was polishing things off. (1st half; 2nd half) — my results were split, but in the end The Winner Group once again squeeked by with a victory.

First, the advice column answer (to choice #1):

Dear _________,
My relationship is falling apart. I think my partner may be messing around. Do I hire a private investigator? What do I do?

(CarFix-itGuys)
TY: Well, golly, we get all assortments of car repair self-help requests – let’s see if we can’t help you out with this one. First off, forget the private investigator. Virtually everything car-related can be done by the everyday guy (and gal) with minimal help, and the cost of a private investigator is one expense you can avoid. When you’re working with cars, you’re going to get messy, and you just need to have the right cleaner on hand at the door when you’re partner comes in from a long afternoon of puttering under the hood. GOJO is a popular hand cleaner (available online or at many automotive suppliers), Goop is an old stand-by, and Armor All makes a nice wipe. You can’t go wrong with a little elbow grease and any of those cleaners.

ROD: Ty, you doofus, she’s saying he’s messing around with another woman, not getting messy working on his car! Why don’t you buy the game Clue and play it a few times, huh? Yes dear, I WOULD hire a private investigator.

TY: Oh. Well, be that as it may, any of those cleaning products I mentioned will still serve you well.

ROD: For crying in the beer…I give up on you, Ty. Next letter, please!

I felt like Ty on this one, not wanting to write advice about relationships, but it’s intentional on my part. I thought it might be funny if the letter was sent to the wrong audience, and while working on it, I ended up making it a two-person response team. This let me have one person beat up the other over his ignorance. Any resemblance to Click and Clack is (pretty much) unintentional. Turns out any resemblance to a Ty and Rod already out there is definitely unintentional.

For the second part, here’s my letter to the advice columnist for the given answer:

Helpful Guy
I know that you’re really “Helpful Guy”, Joe Gorelick, and I’m going to see to it that Mrs. Berquette throws you off the school paper staff! You’ve been spreading rumors that Steve and I have broken up ever since you tried to grope me when you got drunk at the gravel pit last summer, and I’ve had enough. I love Steve, and have NEVER loved you. You’ve twisted every letter I’ve sent in, and I’m also tired of you bringing up my brother Lynn all the time (no, he is NOT gay!). Shirley said you’ve tried hitting on her too, and that you’re more of a douchebag than I know. This is serious Joe – knock this crap off right now! By the way, your advice always sucks. And if you call me “Confused” one more time, Steve’s going to put a baseball bat through your windshield!

Cindee Kristoffersen

Dear Confused:

I find it interesting you reference that piece of history when talking about the problems you’re having with your significant other. I would tender a guess that your situation is actually the exact opposite. Have you discussed this with your brother yet? He will continue to play a role in all this until things are settled. And as far as what your best friend said, perhaps you should examine closely how much weight you give to her opinions. Has she led you down the wrong path before? A lot of couples in your situation find success with therapy, whether they go alone or together. Remain assertive, but cautious. Good luck, and keep us posted!

My thought on this one was to do something unusual, like a school newspaper, and then write it so that the advice person appears to be selectively ignoring the text of the letter. By having the writer be a teenage girl, I could then make the columnist be a spurned admirer, and the writing style would be pretty easy. The letter needed to include mention of a brother and a best friend, of course. Responding to “Dear Confused” was the little icing on the top.

Spookymilk Survivor Challenge #11: Video Game Pitch

Week 11 of Spookymilk’s WGOM writer’s challenge, and The Winner Group again played up to our name. I didn’t really get into the spirit of this challenge much at all: Write two video game pitches: one based on an original idea, and the second based on existing media; book, movie, TV show, etc.

Regardless of how semi-motivated I was, I had to be pleased with the results (1st half; 2nd half) — the judges went along with my thinking and it worked out in the end.

I’m not big into video games, and point-and-shoot FPS don’t really NEED a pitch, do they? Well anyway, here is what I came up with for the two responses:

Original game:
Move It!! (for Wii)
Most people would consider a moving company to have boring work, but not in Transit City! The team of Jorge Buteris, Swen Jodersen, and college student Timmy Blatt will take all jobs, even the ones where Timmy has to man the chain gun mounted on top of the cab! Keep your eyes open though, or Krosstown Movers, your biggest competitor, will steal your work right out from under you! You direct your team of Three Guys and a Gun™ movers as they tackle challenges such as:

  • shipping sensitive seismometers during strong aftershocks
  • a nighttime move hauling propane tanks through downtown while all the streetlights are out
  • moving a farmer’s animals to market while under attack by rabid muskrats
  • transporting human organs during a zombie attack
  • delivering women’s lingerie to the campus store during rush week

Time is of essence! Damage-free is a guarantee! And staying alive would be nice, too!

I don’t know…this COULD be fun. I’ve had moving on my brain, what with getting K off to college and all.  I was glad Sam and Max came to the judge’s mind, because that was where I was going with it.  Drive to your job site, load up the vehicle, and get the load it to its destination, all the while battling various distractions on the trip and during the loading/unloading. If I’d have been more motivated, I could have thrown even more outrageous example scenarios. Use of excessive exclamation points always helps.

Based on other media (Google Earth)
Grand Theft Auto VI: The Whole Damn Country
(for Xbox 360 and Google Earth)
Hiram Bisconelle has always been a bad-ass, and everyone knew it. Still, he was surprised when he was contacted by Al Queida to perform a very serious function for them. With virtually unlimited funding, he was being asked to hire whomever he needed, and do whatever it took to stretch any and all US security forces in order to determine their response level and coordination – Homeland Security, National Guard, state troopers, police, NTSB, FRA, port authority, NSA, FBI, and CIA. Nationwide.
As Hiram Bisconelle, you have the mission to wreak unholy mahem, and thanks to groundbreaking integration between GTA and Google Earth, your arena is THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES, including national borders. GTA VI on the Xbox 360 opens up possiblilities undreamed of with previous editions of GTA:

  • high-speed chases across multiple states
  • smash-and-grab rallies: rob every I-70 McDonald’s between Indianapolis and Cheyenne
  • doing doughnuts in the outfield grass of U.S. Cellular Field during the 7th inning stretch
  • transportation of dead bodies across state lines
  • border crossing assaults

Your only limitation is your imagination — your sick, criminal, perverse imagination.

I always thought it would be cool to use the DB on a GPS device for a racing-type game, but a tip-o’-the-hat to a teammate for suggesting Google Earth as a substitute, which I use as my “media” to base the game on (that’s not a reach, is it?!  I’m glad the judge didn’t think so). I’ve never played any of the GTA games, but how cool would it be to have full reign of the entire country?? Yeah, the idea behind this particular GTA is pretty dark, but I couldn’t think of anything plausible for felonious activity over such a wide area, and GTA is known for stretching the boundaries of acceptable morals.

Spookymilk Survivor Challenge #10: Fortunately/Unfortunately

After suffering our first cut last week (we hardly knew ya, Zack!), in week ten of Spookymilk’s WGOM writer’s challenge, The Winner Group came to play hardball. This challenge was an entertaining one: Given the following two sentences, compose 6-12 follow-up lines, each starting alternately with “fortunately” or “unfortunately”:

  • I gave up smoking a few hours ago.
  • Mary had a little lamb.

This was an absolute beatdown (results part 1/part 2) — we did it for you, Z-man! Here was how I progressed the fortunately/unfortunately series for these two lines:

I gave up smoking a few hours ago.
  1. Fortunately, I probably will only have cravings during high-stress times.
  2. Unfortunately, the 200 lbs. of TNT strapped to the bridge support girder across from me is creating a bit of stress.
  3. Fortunately, I was able to find a well-concealed location to place the TNT, out of sight from the krauts above me.
  4. Unfortunately, I will no longer be well-concealed after I light the fuse and high-tail it a safe distance away.
  5. Fortunately, I won’t be fumbling for a cigarette during any of this.
  6. Unfortunately, I sure could use that Zippo lighter that I no longer carry…

I love how everything came back around full-circle. Have to thank my AZ bro for the seed for this one, and my IA bro for reminding me that it was a “Zippo” lighter. I was concerned with using a lit fuse, though: every WWII flic uses a long spool of wire and a battery/plunger arrangement. I thought about using the Civil War and “rebs” and a supply train instead, but then it would be matches instead of a lighter, and chances are most everyone would carry matches anyway back then. Quitting smoking really wasn’t a goal in either time period, though — sue me.

Mary had a little lamb.
  1. Unfortunately, not little enough to fit in the overhead compartment above Mary’s airline seat.
  2. Fortunately, Mary had had the foresight to have her lamb checked instead.
  3. Unfortunately, she really is lost without a service animal with her at all times.
  4. Fortunately, Steve, in the seat next to her, is really helpful.
  5. Unfortunately, while he’s no service animal, Steve is certainly an “animal”, and the “help” he’s providing isn’t what Mary needed.
  6. Fortunately, it was a short flight.
  7. Unfortunately, Mary’s lamb, stowed near Steve’s luggage, destroyed all of Steve’s business clothes, and the airline isn’t as responsive to complaints from an annoying dick.

I had no real goal with this one. The first line just came to me, and then it evolved into a challenge to see where it would go. The only way a lamb could even think about being on a plane would be as a service animal, goofy as that would be. As things proceeded, I had to work to bring the lamb back into the picture, so I added a little karma to the final outcome. Should have really worded that line “Unfortunately for Steve, …” though.

Unfortunately, we’ve set a high standard for ourselves for next week’s challenge. Fortunately, I think The Winner Group is up to the task.