Some very nice people from the Aspen Writer’s Foundation emailed/called to say that I am a finalist in this year’s Esquire & AWF Short, Short Fiction Contest. I submitted a story titled “Neither” in June, I think right when the contest opened up. Outside of the judges, maybe 2-3 people have read it.
And now Top Ten, Baby! More excitement and details to come, but at the very least I get to meet Colum McCann.
Here are the finalists from last year: http://www.esquire.com/fiction/short-short-fiction-contest-winners-2011
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That Shit Cray - Gerald Cray, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, meets an escaped mental patient while clearing the wreckage of a recent building demolition. Together the two new friends clean up the job site and the union, but not their acts.
Steroid Through You - Jimmy “Flip” Collins was your average journeyman ballplayer - none of the Major League teams he played for sold his jersey in the gift shop, but at least he got to wear one. But after all these years he’s starting to feel his age -that’s when a former-teammate introduces him to the supplement that sends Flip to the front-page of the Sports section… then straight to hell. A “Ripped from the Headlines” (TM) tale of Danger, Drugs, & America’s Game.
Agent P.T. - Everyman Peter Thomas was just trying to spy on his neighbor’s private life - but the eyeful he got was MURDER. When he becomes the prime suspect Thomas is forced to admit his peeping to the iron-hearted police detective, but as the crime’s only witness the perv is now the chief investigator. Can these two put aside their differences to solve the case before the killer strikes again?
Gentleman, today we face our toughest challenge of the season: The CBS Insiders. I was scrolling around on the internet, and man, oh, MAN, do these guys have the goods on us. Play breakdowns, weaknesses, historical stats. It sounds stupid, but they’ve been watching us. I know there’s been a lot of talk about us out there - typical post-game, ESPN kind of stuff - especially on the internet (hell, we are all over the internet!), but this is different. They know everything.
Honestly - I haven’t seen them play at all. And to make things worse, I couldn’t find a single clip of them on the court. They certainly are prolific writers though. Seriously, 3-5 times a week they’re posting more information about us than could possibly be useful to anyone. It’s the damnedest thing too - I searched for some scrap of footage of their team but couldn’t find anyth-
… Conner. Put your hand down, son.
Even still, we need a game plan. Taylor, Releford - These guys are gonna be all over you on our end. You’ll need to confuse them. I don’t know… run around or something. D’you ever see a Globetrotters game? Take something outta that playbook. If that doesn’t work, you can both start taking shots even if you’re across the court. Percentage-wise you’ll be in the crapper, but at least you’ll get a couple clean looks.
Withey, listen up. They’re gonna try and keep you away from both rims. They’ve seen all your film including the “Baby Jeffy’s First Blocks” your mom made when you were in 6th or 7th grade and already 6’ 7”. But remember: CBS knows you’re deadly on offense too - grabbing boards, throwing lay-ups off the rebound and getting the 3-point-play. That’s why I got you this ear & nose plugs combo set and a blindfold. These Insider coaches are gonna try and lure you to center court however they can — fragrant pies, alluring images, siren songs, you know the drill. I know it’ll be hard playing without most of your senses — that’s where Robinson comes in.
Tommy - I want you holding Withey’s hand the whole game.
What can I tell you? They wrote the book on your style of play. They have enough material on you to fill a book over 180 pages. They had quotes from your mother, your 2nd grade teacher, jesus they were quoting Manning in parts of it. Danny talking about you as “the big man in the paint,” “professional all-the-way.” All true things by the way, but we have to mix it up. We know CBS is gonna double-team you, if they put another man on Withey we wear down their defense playing 3-on-2.
What Conner?! What could it possibly be?
They are the CBS “Insiders,” Conner, but I have no idea what their mascot is. Will knowing make you a better ball player? We have enough to worry about; I need focus. When I put you in, you are to pick a spot beyond the arc, just inside the baseline and you are to WAIT THERE, you hear me?
Johnson, wipe that smile off your face. These CBS guys called you out by. name. They said you are an “X-factor” - if you ask me, it’s cause after the end of this thing, you won’t be a factor at all. If I were you, I’d take this opportunity to prove them wrong. Your only job tonight is to catch passes , dribble down court, and pass it to Conner who will be standing, motionless, in the corner. Conner when you get the ball, you’ll just shoot the three.
Never forget - The CBS Insiders have seen ALL of our moves — we can’t surprise them, but we can confuse them. Any questions?
… What does it matter how tall they are, Conner?
Jesus. Just… okay, everyone get out there. Have a good game, but be very careful. Let’s hope god is on our side.
Sketch idea: The Law Offices of Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling.
They keep getting phone calls about building problems, duct repair, and filter replacement. But they have to refer the callers to Livingston, Bloom, MacIntosh and Florence - a cryptically named HVAC repair and maintenance company. What a hilariously roundabout set of circumstances! O, The Fraughtness!
Unfortunately HVAC stands for “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning,” but I’m sure one day more terrible sketch ideas will come along. They just have to.
(I would also have included a joke about a Latin-speaking Roman calling to complain about HUAC - “HVAC” to this gentleman - but sometimes you have to take your head of your own ass)
Shall I compare my love to a G6?
These Hoes art as fly and quite as slizzard,
Quaffing syrup in the club, like Three 6,
Sober girls ‘round me cold, cold like blizzards.
Sometime too cold the bottles poppin’ ice,
And oft’ these girls be actin like they drunk,
When we drink we always do it up nice,
No chance we leave this VIP un-crunk.
No mead; tho’ fancy drinks abound here yet
Young master’s ordered two more bottles, fizz
These bottles will, the best of bubb’ed Moet,
Crystal, these women love my style (get sizz).
Sweet girl, my heart grows wings when you draw nigh,
And like the true G6 I feel so fly.
(I don’t know why, but this was inspired by Kurt Braunohler’s thing in Overflow. The work obviously owes a great debt to the terrible hip-hop group Far East Movement, and also some old dude who never won shit. Not even a Grammy.)