50 words was apparently too many for a couple of you. That’s okay. I trust you all are going to bring it come the playoffs. Playoff seedings are at the bottom, but first let’s get to some gravestone stories.

Ashton Stansel

Abigail Mary Stansel.  April 30, 2001 – April 30, 2016.

Survived by Ashton Maryn Stansel (April 30, 2016 — ?)  Destroyed by himself, so as to allow him to live.  As Ellen Wittlinger said, “You can only lie about who you are for so long.”  Fifteen years later, I am finally free to live. 

B: Great send off to the season. Brutally honest. Thank you. Also, you were a baby when 9/11 happened. How is that possible?  GOLD

BD: Silly me for assuming that every entry would be comedy tonight. I like this a lot, and I think that my ultimate judgement concerning this entry will have to wait until I read the rest of the entries. SILVER

Gilman: There’s a lot suggested by this, and I think it’s appropriate that nothing is overt here. But if you read into it just enough, you can see the tension hitting the redline, and the brutal act carried out so that one can be “free to live.” GOLD

Pete: Good job, Ash. SILVER

Sama Smith

One more hug goodbye, mommy.

One more story before I settle in.

One more nuzzle of your soft skin, mommy.

One more tickle to laugh again.

One more sweet smile, mommy.

One more day for life to begin.

One more I love you, mommy.

One more kiss on the chin.

B: Ugh. I can see this being a real epitaph. GOLD

BD: I’m not sure what to make of this. To be honest, my initial instinct was to be worried that this would be too cloying. But in the end this never really goes overboard. The ‘mommy’ stuff is a bit repetitive, but all together this is genuinely moving. BRONZE

Gilman: The thing about this is that without knowledge of the prompt, you’d get little more out of this than a nursery rhyme feeling. But we do know what it’s for, and that lends a nicely dark umbra to it. Still… it sort of dances sloppily on the line between genuine and cloying for me, it being in the child’s voice and all. Like when pious adults would try to write children’s prayers in what they considered an innocent voice. SILVER

Pete: Sad, no doubt, but if it’s supposed to be read like a poem, the meter is nonexistent, and if it’s not, then I don’t really know what to make of it.  BRONZE

Annette Barron

Craig Stephenson

1946 – 2004

 

Entertainer, Husband, Father;

You were only good at one.

Fractured family in your wake.

Amends left way too late.

 

Still, peace at last.

No one punished you so well as you.

 

B: Please tell me somebody is going to not go with depressing this week? SILVER

BD: Okay, I’ve officially abandoned my hope that we would be getting a light-hearted set of stories. This is a somber, contemplative entry that achieves a powerful sense of melancholy. SILVER

Gilman: *mic drop* GOLD

Pete:  Something about this is odd. I think it’s the pseudo-rhyme about halfway through, which immediately puts my brain into “poem” mode, but the rest of it doesn’t go in that direction. I do like “No one punished you so well as you”. BRONZE

Melissa Diamond

Here lies Beau.

He was alright.

B: Damn straight. BRONZE

BD: Yeah, okay. This type of silliness might fly in other challenges, but so far everyone has taken this seriously. So you don’t get a pass. BRONZE

Gilman: The brevity of this entry is saved only by its factual quality. BRONZE

Pete: Ha! Yes, he was. BRONZE

Kelly Wells

Here lies Kimberly, who was so intelligent, thoughtful and kind that she would be devastated to learn that you decried her death because “she was so pretty.”

B: Doesn’t quite feel like an epitaph to me, especially since it’s addressed to one person instead of anyone who were to come across her grave. Still, good bite. BRONZE

BD: Ooooh, this is cynical. I like how sharp this is, but ultimately it’s a little shallow. SILVER

Gilman: I get the sense that the author was trying to point at some specific misogyny thing here, but the language didn’t quite bring me there. BRONZE

Pete: I like where this one takes the prompt. I think it could be punched up a bit, but the base is solid. SILVER

Christina Pepper

 

Nihoa

Born from fire, you must have once been grand–

or so the legends say.

Yet wind and water showed no mercy.

Every year diminished, forsaken by humans,

you’re left with your precious plants and birds.

Soon they too will be gone,

as the ocean reclaims what is hers.

 

B: I dig this rhythm. I’m overthinking this for sure, but I’m wondering if this is set now or in the future. Because a read of Wikipedia makes it seem like this island isn’t forsaken and scientists are working diligently to save its ecology. SILVER

BD: Alright, this is it. I’ve appreciated the risks the other entries have taken so far, but this one really pulls through. It’s poetic, sinister and topical all at the same time. GOLD

Gilman: It’s an interesting take on the prompt, but it didn’t really inspire much of a reaction in me. Maybe because I’m such a soulless city-dweller who’s turned his back on Mother Nature. BRONZE

Pete: This is great. It takes the prompt in an unforeseen direction, and the language really pops. GOLD

Brendan Bonham

Spooilicious.

B: Indeed.  BRONZE

BD: Whatever. BRONZE

Gilman: Is it possible to misspell a word you yourself invented? BRONZE

Pete: Radical. BRONZE

Margaret Martin

The murder weapon whirs to a halt.

Your blood on the blade and my pants.

Your mother, pacing behind the hydrangea, grieves for her shredded child.

Cruel, unfortunate death. But not in vain!

May these raspberries grow fat and sweet as you decompose beneath their roots.

B: This doesn’t quite feel like an epitaph either, and it feels awfully calculated for someone who is allegedly grieving. I love the last line. SILVER

BD: Oh my goodness, this is some excellent noir. This would easily be the best entry if it weren’t for the ‘But not in vain’ line. Actually, this may still be the best entry, we’ll see. GOLD

Gilman: And here we have the winner of this season’s “I See What You Did There!” award. SILVER

Pete: Well, that’s a rather morbid silver lining. The wording here is really good, and the last line is great. GOLD

Bret Highum

Frederick Bootsma

February 4, 1976- April 22, 2015

Devoted father, loving husband

Always eager to adopt the newest technology, he dreamed of having all knowledge available to everyone.

He was taken from us too soon, after using “#wellactually” in a face to face conversation.

His contributions will always be remembered and his commitment to precision will be missed.

B: I’m glad you went for funny. I wish I was up enough on Twittering to find this particular hashtag incident funnier. BRONZE

BD: You know, it’s strange that I was expecting every entry to be silly tonight. Yet, now that I’ve reached the silliest of them all, I’m a bit let down. This started out solid, but devolved into a simple joke about Twitter (which I hate, I should say). BRONZE

Gilman: Oh, this one hits home. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to online wiseasses like me when Real Internet Lynch Mobs become a thing. GOLD

Pete: A smartass epitaph for a know-it-all? I like. “His commitment to precision” made me giggle.  SILVER

Joshua Longman

Rowland Porter

1548-1571

 

Beaker, burner, pestle, mortar,

Bound below with Rowland Porter;

 

Avarice t’was his damnation,

His noble dreams untold;

Sought instead lead’s transformation,

And fame to be extolled;

 

In his final hour waking,

Shaking hand and health forsaking,

Thought he found his golden devil;

But succumbed to the baser metal.
B: Awesome rhymes here. Interesting choice, switching from ABAB to AABB. GOLD

BD: Yeah, this wins. I love alchemy, so you have struck directly at my heart here. Seriously, everything about this is fantastic. GOLD

Gilman: No denying the cleverness here, and it gives us a nice tidy story too; even a moral if you’re looking for one. But that “t’was” there…man it made my teeth grind. My apologies for that personal bias. SILVER

Pete: THERE WE GO. Lots of playing at rhyming this week, but this one nails it. I’m only disappointed that “Rowland Porter” doesn’t appear to have existed, as this is an epitaph that deserves a body. GOLD


Joshua Longman would have locked down his second quad-gold if Gilman didn’t hate contractions. As it stands, though, an impressive end to the season. In the last four weeks, Joshua scored 12 gold medals (half his season total) to finish quite comfortable in first place. You sir make take the next two weeks off. See you in the semifinals.

Sama Smith, who had been in first most of the season, and who scored at least one gold medal every week but one, pulls down second place.

Christina Pepper finishes in third, right where she’s been for a while.

The battle for the final semifinal spot became anticlimactic as Brendan took the week off. Margaret Martin locks down fourth place. She along with Sama and Christina get to take the next week off. Spooilicious!

Your octofinal contestants will be Brendan Bonham, Annette Barron, Melissa Diamond, Bret Highum, and Kelly Wells. Kelly finishes five points behind Novak who has been for good reason absent more or less the past six weeks. Good job Spooky. Perhaps the 2006 Cardinals are your muse.

Meanwhile, Ashton Stansel finishes in 10th place, throwing down two more gold medals in his final week.

As for the rest of the pack, let’s all give a hand to Zack Sauvageau, who manages to break a PwtP record with -84 points. Impressive dude.

I’ll throw up the first playoff challenge tomorrow. Here are your final standings.

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