Some of you guys still live in Minnesota, right? So how come nobody decided to invent a modern folk hero who travels the land shoveling peoples’ driveways and sidewalks? C’maaaaaahhhn.

Don’t mind me, I’m just bitter and lazy (that is, an aspiring writer). Onto the results:

MATCH A

 

1 – Colin Woolston

There was a man who’s moral fortitude and dedication to protecting conservative values that keep the masses in line outmatched any alive. With a gesture alone he could silence an opinionated woman or brown person. For this he was loved by thousands. Called The Mad Hatter, we will always know him as Rev. Phelps, and his legacy continues.

 

2 – Melissa D

Non-Submit

 

MATTHEW: While I love the satire and political commentary, and I commend you for creating your own latter-day folk “hero,” I would have absolutely voted against you this week, Story 1. It’s “whose,” not “who’s.” You’re lucky you matched up against a non-sub. WINNER: #1

ANDY: I see what you’re going for here, but I’m kind of a “meh” on this one. The “brown person” line was pretty good, though. Anyhoo, it don’t matter none, as you win by DEFAULT. Winner #1.

Novak – First off, “who’s” isn’t possessive.  Second, #1 wins.  Third, though picking on folks like Phelps is sort of fish in a barrel, this is a really clever, backhanded way of doing it.

WINNER: Colin Woolston

 

MATCH B

 

1 – Ian Pratt

When Paul Bunyon rose up to combat the destructive menace of Godzilla, there was one thing he didn’t anticipate: falling in love.

“Zill, I know this is sudden,” said Paul later, bending down on one massive knee. On cue, Babe appeared with the ring hanging from a big blue horn.

“RRRRRAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” Godzilla answered with a blast of atomic breath.

 

2 – David Larson

The battle between Godzilla and Superman raged for interminable weeks, each having materialized inexplicably from their respective country’s tortured psyches.  Yet both cowered in abject fear at The Unspeakable Horror that emerged from the crushing depths, summoned forth by the misguided faculty of Miskatonic University.  It was then that Americans realized a crippling two-party gridlock trumps a non-benevolent dictatorship.

 

MATTHEW: Whoa, matchup serendipity. Two stories of the Zilla/American Hero variety facing off. Story 2, did you mean to say that two party gridlock trumps dictatorship? Because your story seems to suggest that the Cthulhu mythos wins here. Maybe you meant to imply that Americans would’ve preferred the two-party system. Well, never mind…I still found myself enjoying story 1 better, because it made me laugh out loud. And it was…a love story. WINNER: #1

ANDY: I appreciate the effort, #2, and the prose is great, I just wasn’t moved enough by the concept. I don’t want to take too much away from your piece, as it shows the signs of excellent writing skill, and clearly a good amount of effort. The concept of Paul Bunyan falling in love just tickled me a bit more, and I guess that’s the difference maker. Winner: #1.

Novak – Oh, you’ve got me laughing out loud #1.  That’s awesome.  Also, two godzillas?  What are the odds?  #2, I wasn’t quite sure what you’re going for.  The last line reads like the moral of a fable, but the rest of the entry doesn’t set it up quite right.  #1 wins.

WINNER: Ian Pratt

 

MATCH C

 

1 – Sarah Johnson

“The fastest squirrels live in the clouds. They climb right up the raindrops with acorns in their cheeks. Sometimes the acorns fall down – that’s hail. That’s how daddy got those dents in his car.” My wife rolled her eyes, unconvinced.

Andy poked his big brother’s arm.

“See, dummy? It was squirrels – not those rocks I was throwin’!”

 

2 – Beau

Mark loaded Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.  “My daddy says a long time ago, a man named Lance Flamebucket visited Native Americans.  Because of his lisp, they didn’t understand his teachings about property rights, but were mesmerized by his sparkly diamond jewelry.”

Ricky grabbed his controller. “And that’s why Indians like beads and trinkets?”

“Yup,” Mark replied.  “And casinos!”

 

MATTHEW: Huh. I don’t know, Story 2, that felt kind of weak. I can kind of see a couple of kids having this conversation, but it didn’t really formulate a nice, compact fable or tall tale like Story 1 did. Story 1 did suffer from lacking a central mythic figure. As a sheer story, though, it worked better, and gave me a good chuckle. WINNER: #1

ANDY: These both employ a healthy dose of quirky humor, which I enjoyed a lot. They both give us a nice window into the wonderful inanity that kids make up or mishear. I think #2 was a little clearer and straightforward in its execution, so I’m giving it the narrow win. #2.

Novak – #1 is a fantastic story.  I’m not sure it satisfies the parameter of the challenge though… are fast squirrels supposed to be a new tall tale?  #2 is quite imaginative.  I’m not quite sure what the video gaming has to do with anything though.  Lot of words wasted on the game title… I like #1 better, so I’m going to be lenient and go with that as my winner, and let the other judges make the decision on whether or not it is DQed. [NOTE: it was agreed by the judges that the story would not be DQ’d]

WINNER: Sarah Johnson

 

MATCH D

 

1 – Peter Bruzek

Non-Submit

 

2 – Eric Schapp

The sun slowly dipped below Haynes Ridge like a paquet twenty melting into a bloody precipice. The ranger, teetering on death’s doorstep, urged his horse forward into Caprock Canyon with a tap of his spurs. Amarillo was hours away, but the medicine had made it over the Llano Estacado. Chuck stared death in the face, and death backed down.

 

MATTHEW: Yeah! You GO, Chuck! WINNER: #2

ANDY: I’m not quite sure how this is a Tall Tale, but it certainly was evocative and set a good tone. I’m just a bit confused about the focus of the story. However, it will win against a non-sub every time.

Novak – #2 wins.  I’m not quite sure who “Chuck” is… but the writing is awesome.

WINNER: Eric Schapp

 

MATCH E

 

1 – AMR

Not many folks ever talk about Paul Jr, who was born regular-size, despite being the product of Paul Sr. and a giantess named Lucette. Well, his mammy’s VD left him half-blind and disfigured. His pappy called him a “little pig” and disowned him. So “Pig One-Eye” went west as soon as he was grown and settled in Minnesota Territory.

 

2 – Erik Dikken

Non-Submit

 

MATTHEW: Aw, now see, that’s a damn fine fable, Story #1! Relates to the real world, describes a fantastical series of events, and features a distinct heroic personage. It’s a history Saint Paul could embrace. The non-submit dulls what’s probably been the best fable of the night.

ANDY: Thank you, #1, for giving me a hearty laugh. I enjoyed this piece very much. The humor is right up my alley. In fact, I think it’s one of the funniest things I’ve read all season. You would have beat a lot of other writers this week, methinks. Congrats. #1.

Novak – #1 wins.  Far too many nonsubs this week!

WINNER: AMR

 

MATCH F

 

1 – Erik S

After a nice night out in the Loop, Gary was walking his wife Doris back to their car when out from the shadows stepped a well-dressed, mammoth of a man.  Light glinted off his diamond rings and his .32.

Cuts and bruises all healed, he took aim at Gary and said, “Ain’t no one fuck with Leroy Brown”

 

2 – Kelly Wells

Paul was hungry.  He weakly sauntered through the decimated forest – which had long since run dry of resources for the giant – leading Babe to a clearing, trying to be discreet.

“I’m sorry, friend,” Paul said to the loyal, trusting ox as he raised his axe and shed a lake-sized tear.  “I’m so, so sorry.”

 

MATTHEW: Ohhhh! Poor Babe! I liked both of these stories, even though they both skirted along the borderline of what was and wasn’t a “fable.” Certainly modern day heroic figures abound. But story #2 had all the right touches throughout, hearkening back to the history of the original Bunyan, with a touching end. We’ll call it Paul Bunyan’s Gritty Reboot. WINNER: #2

ANDY: It was a great original idea, #1, and you executed it well. Unfortunately, I preferred the concept in #2. The idea was original, and the emotion came through. Tough call on this one, but I’m going with #2. Can’t find much fault with #1, just a personal preference.

Novak – Ooh, Leroy Brown!  There’s a good reference story.  And a villain tall tale to boot!  I like it #1.  #2 is dark.  It’s a good job working with the source  material and taking it to a new place.  The creative idea in #1 wins the day.

WINNER: Kelly Wells

 

MATCH G

 

1 – Will Young

The wagon train found Pecos Bill resting against a cactus.  When Harrison approached Bill with his gun cocked and his dog at his side, a rattlesnake snapped at Harrison.  Bill stepped in the snake’s path and absorbed the bite.  Harrison was mortified and apologized profusely.  Feeling immense guilt, Harrison dug a proper grave.  Three days later, the rattlesnake died.

 

2 – Christina Pepper

The contest began with speed collating. Then, scheduling a board meeting. Next, brewing coffee. Finally, getting the boss’s airhead daughter a White House internship. This supercomputer threatened administrative assistants everywhere. After performing my third blow job, I realized I’d secured the girl’s internship and found one thing it could not do. Until I asphyxiated on the semen and died.

 

MATTHEW: I like the style that Story 1 uses, and it’s a pretty reasonable fable. Not terribly modern, but it does the job. Speaking of doing the job, holy spoogebuckets, Story #2. I like a lot of where this was heading (ha!), but I would’ve appreciated a lighter touch (ha!) at the end. If the final “talent” were hinted at, I think it would have served the story better. Still, it wasn’t until the totally-tacked-on feeling of the final line that you lost me. The story went from nice build-up to outlandish to ridiculous at whiplash speed. WINNER: #1

ANDY: I appreciate the effort to go in a different direction, #2. It was written just fine, I was just left with the feeling that it was trying too hard to push the concept through. The matter of fact ending, which can work well at times, wasn’t working for me this time. Maybe it’s just my mood. I enjoyed the tone and setting of #1 quite a bit, and it had a concept I didn’t expect. That’s enough to give it the edge. Winner: #1.

Novak – Another “new vs. classic” matchup.  Both of these are fantastic.  It’s my “Close Call” of the week, and, for as much as I love #1, the twist on John Henry in #2 is far too exciting.  I love the story of John Henry, so this certainly picked the right way to go.

WINNER: Will Young

 

MATCH H

 

1 – Dean Carlson

Dick Bunyan was never as famous as his big brother but it was he who found and tamed Babe the Blue Ox.  Some questioned Dick’s blue ox taming techniques but not Paul; he didn’t ask exactly what he did, but appreciated them nonetheless.  Paul just didn’t get why everyone called his little brother Dick.  Their mother named him Peter

 

2 – Zack Sauvageau

During the drought of 1843, the Appleseed family was greatly affected. Without crops to work, or any money for fun, Johnny passed the time masturbating. One day, the urge came over him while in a field. His spunk landed on the cracked dirt.

The next day, Johnny found an apple tree growing where he’d came. He knew what to do.

 

MATTHEW: And a couple of dick jokes to end the evening. Unless I’m completely misreading Story #1, that is. But if I don’t apply the dick-joke filter to it, it just comes off as a shaggy dog story, and that’s kind of an odd choice to make for tonight’s challenge. Story #2 was a seed joke more than a dick joke, I suppose. But giving away the family name so early took away any humorous impact that the ending might’ve had. Instead it’s just kind of “oh, I see.” But it does enough to outpace the shaggy dogginess of Story 1. WINNER: #2

ANDY: Interesting pairing. I’m not really sure what to do with these. You people are sick. Sick sick sick sick. I’m not sure if the missing period at the end of #1 was intentional, or someone forgot to paste it in, but it seems to fit the tone of the story. Gosh, these stories are so similar in concept and execution I really don’t know what to do. I’m going with #2, just because we’ve seen enough Paul Bunyan stories. Sorry, #1.

Novak – A study in taking classics to crass places.  #1 is funny, but it doesn’t quite give us enough direct action to engage us in the joke the same way #2 does.  #2 wins.

WINNER: Zack Sauvageau

 

Okay folks, now comes the last challenge. Your last opportunity to make your case for post-season thrills and spills. The challenge for this last week: A Ghostly Christmas. We all know just how splendid and loving ol’ Ebeneezer Scrooge became after his harrowing visit from four spirits on Christmas Eve. But what about the fallout for the spirits themselves? How did they feel about the outcome? What was their Xmas like? Did they get some kind of spiritual promotion? Give us your best 59-word story telling us how the ghosts (or one of them, or a couple, whatever) wound up after their task was done. And make it count or you too could be visited by the ghost of your former business partner, bearing subpoenas.

And before we move on to final matchups, I would like to ask the participants to tell us their preferred post-season format in the comments here. There’s been some scuttlebutt about running a winner’s and a loser’s bracket, as well as the suggestion of doing a whole big sweet-16 bracket. But I have to say, given the increase in non-subs, I don’t know that there’s really enough interest among the lower seeds to justify such an endeavor. A three-round, six-participant playoff series seems fairest and most interesting to me personally. But you all should get a say too. So say so! So say so!

 

MATCHUPS:

Beau vs. Kelly Wells

Sarah Johnson vs. Eric Schapp

Erik S vs. Christina Pepper

Pete Bruzek vs. Melissa D

DPWY vs. David Larson

Colin Woolston vs. Erik Dikken

Ian Pratt vs. Zack Sauvageau

AMR vs. Dean Carlson