Parody Comp Finalists

This has been much, MUCH, more difficult than I expected. I thought we'd get some entries, certainly not as many as the final tally. On top of that, too many were good enough to include as finalists, I found it easy to pick the top 15, much harder the top ten.

So here they are, presented in the order that they were submitted, including the very first and very last entries...

ENJOY! Congratulations to all of the finalists, you all deserve to be here.

Listed in chronological submission order.

  • Finalist 1: Brandon Hobson
    The aging film professor, a Fellini scholar, age 62, recently forgetful, bespectacled, sitting slumped in his sprightly black SUV, a scholar whose award winning essays on La Citta del Donne and 8 1/2 appeared in the seventies in more than thirty journals, not counting the 1974 university press publication of his dissertation which dealt way more with Epistemology contextualism in unity of conscious and Eudaimonism than with anything even remotely Fellini related, a man now impotent, absent of prostate, pulling slowly forward into the driveway after having carefully circled the block to look for the lost setter/retriever named Speencta*, now fearful to drive anywhere, his seatbelt securely fastened and forehead bloomed with perspiration, moving slowly forward until he’s safe enough to come to a complete stop, one hand gripped tightly on the wheel, the other steadying his jaw due to a newly developed facial tic his wife secretly believes is not really all that severe but is instead an intentional joke at the expense of their 41-year-old emotionally retarded son. The son’s broken tricycle is half-hidden in the shrubbery next to where the film professor’s aging wife is standing on the porch, waving an odd-shaped object. The object is luminously pink and looks vaguely familiar, like it's maybe a model rocket or a fresh ear of corn. Out of nowhere the film professor is suddenly horrified by the word "nipple." The object might have been purchased on one of those satellite programs his son watches and howls to. His wife raises the object, waggles it in the air. At this moment, suspended in narrative focus, the object is not distant or surreal as steadies his jaw. His wife's expression is quite clear, neither magnified nor wholly composed or is it.

    *Unfortunately mispronounced by the emotionally retarded son on the day he named the dog—Christmas Day, 1993.
  • Finalist 2: George Carr
    X's cruise up the driveway soon brought him into view of a black Mercedes 560E. He immediately recalled the anonymous Mercedes 280S that had patrolled his childhood neighborhood, with an incongruous car-hop restaurant tray hanging outside the driver's window, which was occasionally stained with red* marks, the tray. Simultaneously, he flashed back to his own personal First Mercedes, a hapless 220D whose rancorous or perhaps downright combative attitude w/r/t cold weather had turned him away from his father's whole genus of German automotive preference and into a convolved relationship with American autos, often prompting quiet, dust-mote-contemplating afternoons in his own adult reading room, contemplating his inherited patriotism and wondering whether his father's early military subcontract for The RAND Corporation (TM)** had contributed to his eventual dislike for foreign autos.

    After parking the Cutlass, X studied the 560E for signs of his ex-wife, whom he was certain was interested in staking a claim for entitlement to the rose bushes based on his alleged lack of attention and careful parenting. After scenting Drakkar Noir on the seat-leather, X decided it more likely belonged to his chauffeur's daytime lover, whose passion for inexpensive vintage perfume was exceeded only by her desire for post-orgasmic study of the books in his reading room, which study he had discovered only coincidentally, after pulling down his well-worn copy of Lautmann's Sexual Politics in a Fascist State, only to find dried sexual excretions still on the book's spine, which excretions smelled nothing like his ex-wife's.

    *whole long, quiet evenings in his parents' leather-book-lined study having been given over to wondering whether said red stain was closer to the color of dried blood or of dried Hire's Steak-'n'Shake French-fry ketchup.

    **involving what X later discovered were his father's decryption and analysis of WW2-era Enigma messages, in search for clues of homoerotic subtexts in U-boat-maneuver commands, the results of which decryption provided, along with numerous RAND subscontracts, several pseudonymously-written monographs for obscure journals, usually involving either Reich sexuality and/or methods of applying cryptographic techniques to deciphering the semiotic codes of 20th-century sexual communication, which it even later turned out that X's father had written a whole book-length manuscript about, but which his father's third wife had shredded and burned after discovering its discussion of the exact mode of flirtation and communication X's father had used to seduce both her and her teenage son.
  • Finalist 3: Matt Keeley
    The[1] car[2] pulled[3] up[4] into[5] the[6] driveway.[7] Daniel[8] locked[9] up,[10] and[11] went[12] inside.[13]


    [1] Since the reader hasn't yet been acquainted with this particular car, perhaps she would prefer the indefinite article be used instead.[a]
    [a] Even though it's obvious the car is definite-article-worthy, otherwise she (i.e. the reader) wouldn't be reading about it.

    [2] A blue 2002 Acura RSX. Though Daniel[a] often wished he bought what he had always heard called a 'Weego'[b] a/k/a 'driver's ed car' with two sets of controls (i.e. pedals, steering columns, &c.). Not because he was teaching driving or was even a bad driver, but because he always thought they looked wicked.[c]
    [a] The driver-slash-owner.
    [b] (or perhaps 'We-Go')
    [c] The only other fantasy Daniel has w/r/t cars: the DeLorean, mainly for the stupid jokes he can make about going back in time when he hits 85[i] m.p.h.
    [i] [sic]

    [3] Or rather glided. Daniel takes very good care of his car despite not being a 'car person.'

    [4] 'Up' has always struck him as an odd term to use in this sense. Daniel's driveway isn't on a slight incline as most are, but flat with not even a curb to go over.

    [5] Daniel also regards 'into' as he does 'up', considering that there is nothing to make an 'in' to go 'to'.

    [6] See note 1 supra.

    [7] It's not even really a driveway but more like a very short private road.

    [8] Daniel J. Hobart (1975-2036?) has always liked his name, but never diminutive forms like 'Danny', not even as a child when such names are commonplace.

    [9] He had a remote-control lock that made things easier. Or so he'd tell himself since turning around, putting a key in a lock and turning it until you hear the 'snick' could hardly be called 'difficult'.

    [10] Strangely, this use of the word 'up' didn't bother him at all.

    [11] He didn't actually go immediately inside his house, but rather kicked a stone and dawdled a bit before walking to the door and letting himself in.

    [12] Daniel never liked the way the word 'went' sounded, but it was still one of his most used words, next to 'also' and 'um'.[i]
    [i] Which is hardly even a word, really.

    [13] (i.e. his house)

  • Finalist 4: Jesse Hilson
    I owned a huge collection of literature from TH-TH-TH-TH-TH-THAT'S ALL FOLKS, which was an apocalyptic cult based in Dallas, Texas. TH-TH-TH-TH-TH-THAT'S ALL FOLKS had published a massive series of books and off-set pamphlets and Byzantine astronomical charts showing how a plague-ridden meteor would suddenly strike at 7:00 in the morning on July 5th. At first I found it totally absurd and laughable, and I only collected the mock-apocalyptic literature as a kind of collegiate novelty, the sort of spooky underground thing to show to my pothead friends around the bong, but then after several months of actively mail-ordering, something mysterious about the cult's literature had gotten its hooks deep into me, in spite of the comic name the cult had chosen to christen itself with.(1) Sometimes the books seemed to exert an unholy physical force on me, would actually make me cross the apartment floor and take one down off the bookshelves, make me open to the well-thumbed page to stare at that date: July 5th, 1998. This was why I didn't hook up the phone. Why I never called my parents back home. Why I became a shut-in who only occasionally scuttled out into the sunlight to draw money from my dwindling bank account, to go to the Burger King drive-thru near the NYS Thruway off-ramp for breakfast, lunch and dinner (I'd park the Buick in my driveway and suck down Whoppers and onion rings, tossing the trash in the backseat), and why I passed the time going to see 1998's blockbuster summer films _Deep Impact_ and _Armageddon_ over and over and over again at Dexby's single movie theatre,(2) and I sat in the darkness, in tears, trying to convince myself that no, the world wasn't about to end, God or Whoever wouldn't do that to the planet, I'd made too many plans for my future for the world to just _end._ 'Oh yeah, what plans, let's hear your big plans Noah.' So I'd think about what those big plans could possibly be, and I tried to cook up something convincing, something that would put the Voice in Its place - but nothing came, I had no plans - and my face became a frozen, terrified mask which, as I left the theatre, I pointed upwards at the vast open threatening sky, a sky newly chock-full of objects, a sky which had somehow changed colors from bright blue to glittering pitch black, hardly the same sky when I came out as when I went in, seven or eight hours earlier. No not remotely at all.


    1 It was as if the cult had given itself its ridiculous name TH-TH-TH-TH-TH-THAT'S ALL FOLKS for one of two reasons: either to lend a kind of mournfully "absurd" black humor to the actual prospect of facing the actual end of the world; or (and this second reason was the reason I found myself personally subscribing to more and more, as the habit of poring over the pages of the apocalyptic books and pamphlets alone in my apartment near the Thruway on those sweltering summer nights became more and more compulsive and hypnotic) the cult's absurd cartoon-reference name served the cult as a kind of ingenious defense mechanism or camouflage against false believers, a boundary beyond which only the faithful could penetrate. _Most_ people who might come across the T.(.)A.F.'s writings would likely get no farther than reading the cult's name before laughing out loud and dismissing the cult as a bunch of pranksters or loony-tunes.but that was the idea, since, accordingly, that meant _most_ people would therefore go about the short remainder of their doomed lives never paying heed to the prophecy of approaching End Times, and only the chosen few (like me), whose innate senses of humor were finely-tuned enough to allow them to divine the secret message of T.(.)A.F., would be able to bypass the off-putting absurdity of the cult's sobriquet to perceive the _true_ messages buried within, the deadly serious and urgent messages of apocalypse, and hence only these few would ever read deeply enough into it to follow the instructions for how to prepare for salvation, instructions which could be obtained from T.(.)A.F.'s mailing address for $30.00, check or money order. Whichever of the two reasons was true, the apocalypse was coming.

    2 .and I sat in the dark theatre, marveling at Hollywood's colossal irresponsibility for releasing those two movies basically simultaneously on my poor fragile fear-soaked mind, one on top of the other, marveling at the way two Hollywood moguls could callously battle for box office dollars with those two eschatological releases, with no inkling of the traumatic effect their selfish struggle for profit (prophet) might be having on their audience's sanity.
  • Finalist 5: Elizabeth Joy Howard
    Where was her brother who'd said he would drive? He had said he would drive. It was now exactly one hour and thirty seven minutes since he was supposed to have come and do what he had promised her he would do. Erika Swarthout was standing by her window which looked out onto her apartment building's driveway. She felt somehow trapped there. She thought that she should maybe have a seat on the couch. Relax. Watch some Jerry Springer to get her mind off of it. Her brother not coming. But she was afraid that maybe her brother would come and, not seeing her waiting by the apartment complex's back door, think she had decided not to go after all, and leave. She also did not want to relax on the couch because in order to get to the couch she would have to pass the kitchen, which was where the phone was located, and be tempted to call her brother again to make sure he was coming and would drive and if she called him again to make sure he was coming and would drive, he might bec ome angry at her impatience and refuse to do what he had promised to do. He had promised to drive her to Bloomington, Illinois and help her search for her favorite author, David Foster Wallace. After having read Infinite Jest, she had run straight to the library and checked out every book he had ever written. She read them all. At that time she had been unemployed, but since then she had managed to procure herself a job as one of those people who calls you on the phone to ask your opinion about various political issues. But she had fallen in love with him. With his words. David Foster Wallace's. And she had had to call in sick to work on a number of occasions because she had to stay home and read. His books. David Foster Wallace's. And now she was going to find him. She was going to find him. Where was her brother who'd said he would drive? Just then she heard simultaneously the phone's shrill ring and the low rumble of her brother's Crown Victoria as it turned into the d riveway. The phone continued to ring in the empty apartment.
  • Finalist 6: Nathan Michael Asquith
    The End is Not Death

    Troubled not, at least not in the manner of a covert fetishist, the award gifted author[1] lifted his thinly thatched chin – jutting just below bandana-ed forehead – off thickly thatched chest, to observe both feet raised at an oblique angle w/r/t the hemp-woven, kaki coloured, sun lounger; in particular, to the area stretching from the navicular prominences, down though tendons tautly tapering out to meet metatarsal-phalangeal joints; on up to toes, the big toe (asymmetrically so) in particular[2] – his thoughts, characteristically couched in those very terms, now strayed, though by no means ironically, to the wave-clipped small speaker sound of early 80’s hip-hop, rhapsodising, over the radio, over by the pool; over to the contracted abdominal muscles, sheathed beneath a prematurely paunched mid-rift, aching ever so slightly from the shortly sustained effort; to the body politic as whole; and, ultimately, the fortress of his mind – a mind simultaneously protected in solipsistic incommunicado; yet, for all that, publicly naked in ambition; barely covered by his super sequined Speedos; to a break: the punctuated silence[3] of his mobile phone falling from its forgotten perch, the ring tone – a detuned Radiohead num ber, a ring-ringing off, off, into the non-linguistic after-silence of a splash. A car, a car unnoticed, pulls into the driveway. A kid-gloved hand emerges out of a noir-tinted window. A gun fires and misses. The big toe, like an engorged flesh tomb, expands to fill the logical space of his mind. He is infinitely sad, though, not altogether, ironically so.


    [1] The Whiting Award, the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Paris Review Prize for humour, the QPB Joe Savago New Voices Award, and the O. Henry Award.

    [2] Is this a foot note or a self-referential paradox, i.e. a proposition topologically enclosed within its self-intersecting semantic boundary?

    [3] Cf. Matso Basho Basho’s, master of the 5-7-5 syllable haiku, poem of ‘the old pond’:

    Furuike ya

    kawazu tobikomu

    mizu no oto

    In literal translation:

    Fu-ru (old) i-ke (pond) ya,

    ka-wa-zu (frog) to-bi-ko-mu (jumping into)

    mi-zu (water) no o-to (sound)

    (Now replace ‘frog’ with ‘phone’).

  • Finalist 7: Ryan Swan
    The Thing You Never Talk About and Why

    So this is what happened next. And - it’s all true.

    When the bomb blast rocked the First Church of the Second Coming of the Original Jesus the Christ, the Reverend Montgomery Fairchild, 75 and increasing, was delivering a most delectable word about the infinite, most unpleasant, unendurable sad-as-all-burning-in-hell of those that did not hold the same beliefs as the assemblage.
    Four dead (the Reverend, Mrs. Fairchild, the worship leader, and 82 year-old Alice Sabean). Seventy-two injured.

    The third castoff from the second season of the first and most popular pseudo-reality mass-consumption television show, Survivor (which would later come to be known, quite appropriately, as ‘that ill-fated TV game’), one Russell Everett Goynes, a career set theorist who had only just recently become quite interested (at an amateur level) in chemistry, pulled into the brick driveway he had mortared himself on Sunday afternoon driving his 1993 (a year in which it was still fashionable to tight-roll your jeans) Cadillac.

    Something had happened to R.E.G. It had only just recently, upon the discovery of his amateur interest in chemistry, really begun to bother him. When Russ Goynes was just seven years old and wearing a bowtie, he was cast as Joseph in the Christmas program at the First Church of the Second Coming of the Original Jesus the Christ in violent, angry, mistreated Kankakee, IL. The honorable Reverend M F, seeing a child in need, took it upon himself to anally rape the young boy – not just once but twice that same day a nd any number of times thereafter. Montgomery Fairchild, who had himself been raped by his own personal uncle, Dr. Thoreau Tavisgard (who in turn had been raped (who in turn had been raped( who in turn had been raped))).
    R.E.G., having relocated to Oak Lawn, IL, made the short trip down I-57 to the old white brick church in luckless and choleric Kankakee early one Sunday morning. His newfound interest in chemistry had provided him with the means to make three spiritually empowered and sex-crime transcendent mercury fulminate bombs. After rigging up the bombs for a timed detonation, R. Goynes drove home quietly.

    Some times things just happen. Even inexplicable things. As Russ, now 39 and no longer a wearer of bowties, exited his vehicle, at the exact moment the bomb blast rocked the church, Russell Everett Goynes poofed and just like that became a beautiful butterfly.

    It’s all true.
  • Finalist 8: Charlie Lafontaine
    'And but no but oh so hear me out. There is this pothole in the gutter at the end of my drive that is like well it started as a pothole but now is more like a moat but first things first. I drive a little Geo hatchback that was maybe last deemed neoteric and/or cool back when Bush the pater still held the helm but nowadays is way far below blue book and so in need of body work that a hole just aft of the wheelbase on the passenger side's door panel's corroded in the shape of a longitudinally flip-flopped mirror image of Florida and also because of wherein an ex-girlfriend agitated said hole with an aluminum softball bat* has expanded and recently breached the inside. And because of all that is why I now prefer to call this region of my car's topography the Geo's Bizzaro Bermuda Triangle, or -- to use the familiar -- the GeBBeT. By the way, please bear in mind that solitude over time has given me cause to utilize the car's passenger portion more as a trash receptacle than for its intended purpose, and as a result it's most times cluttered with old newspapers and notes, paper napkins still all crisp and folded up and like hermetically sealed with the plastic knives and sporks with which they'll forever serve a mummified life inside a cellophane packaging what will never throughout all eternity biodegrade, empty Dr. Pepper cans, a couple oil-stained doo-rags I use in the wintertime to wipe the windshield when the windows fog up because the DEFROST no longer functions, a host of empty McDonald's columnar fry-boxes, and a bunch of other garbage and junk. I should like to add on top of this that the fleece-ish foam upholstery lining the interior roof dome has peeled away and sags in a bulge that rests curiously atop my noggin as I drive, which is maybe neither here nor there w/r/t what I'm explaining here but definitely obstructs my peripheral vision a tad is what I'm trying to say.'
    'Anyway but yeah so the other day as I was pulling into the drive, the car hit the moat and bottomed out, I splashed all over my lap and seat the Dr. Pepper from the supersized promo Finding Nemo tie-in to McDonalds' 32-oz. fountain cup beverage I'd had held between my thighs, and now something in the Geo "knocks," which the mechanic at Sears says is a busted CV-joint and will cost $350 to fix. So but that's how I lost your lost grandmother's antique thingamajog.'
    'To the GeBBeT.'
    'Pretty much, yeah.'

    * Long story, don't ask.
  • Finalist 9: Marie M.
    The Y-shaped Styles of Certain Flowers

    So. There are two people on a date and they're eating dinner, and the guy is telling this long involved story about another guy who was having some difficulties and was diagnosed as having some sort of quote-unquote syndrome, some long german word, meaning extreme psychic pain and existential angst which could only be cured by becoming a rock star or a religious zealot. Meanwhile the woman's thinking about all the things she could be doing, like working out on the stairmaster and reading Time, or going to Brookstone and playing with the Max massager, and there is some embarrassed dialog in her head vis-a-vis wanting the Max but not wanting people to see it in her house and also not wanting it near her genitals as it is not that kind of massager. And also Mogu.


    It's this weird pillow thing Brookstone sells that has the density of a old cat and none of the charm. And so this polemic is set up about choices, one being extreme indulgence, as in rock star, or the extreme aceticism of religious zealotry, but maybe I should change that to some form of monkhood, and her choice in being at dinner with this guy whom she describes as being all right but a little fey in that he wears capezio jazz shoes from the 80s and is slightly balding, although who is she to talk, she had a double chin which she refers to as soft and Liz Taylor-like.


    Well, she is dialoging with herself, date v. stairmaster, and the angsty guy is also dialoging in his own head about rock stardom v. monkhood. And but so the date guy is going on with the story, which becomes an urban legend involving the angsty guy with the choices. The urban legend is this: there is a short in his car, the dash and headlights go out, he replaces a blown fuse with a bullet. He carries a gun because he's angsty. And so her internal dialog continues while he tells the story, which ends when angsty guy turns his car into the driveway or rather pulls it in, and the bullet he's used to replace the fuse fires and shoots him in the testicle. And date-guy goes, quote-unquote Rock star dreams! Gone! And, still thinking about Max and Mogu, she says "Decision made. Then welcome."

  • Finalist 10: Marc Springer
    This is fucking it. The same German engineering that, for a while, handed people their asses during WWII. The Germans built tanks that took a shell and inquired: ‘Is that all the fuck you’ve got?’ I even like the acronym. B-M-fucking-W. Now I’m not going to suggest or offer that a car makes the man, defines him, but let’s be open-minded about what acquisition means. People squawking that opulence stands for some soul-rupture, some unnecessary void that needs filling, some fetish involving the osmotic transfer of outward envy to inward meaning, are in no position to produce anything besides that exact empty, rhetorical bullshit. Because bullshit costs nothing to fabricate or distribute. If they had the cashola, the scratch, they’d have their asses planted on this here baby-soft charcoal leather. I love this fucking car, and I love when girls approach me because of it. I love ‘em hot and empty and looking for a piece of what I’ve got. Ready to ride the ride and all that the ride means. Ready to reach their hands into my pocket to grab for something: a wad of my money, a handful of dick. Let me lower the top for you, let’s let that peroxide-streaked hair flow. (Convertible. $3,700 extra). You hang a right into a Starbucks, you see your German wet dream, your high-output phenomenon reflecting in the glass windows, yellow and shined until its slippery-wet looking, and your dick gets hard, and the little high school bitches inside want a shortcut, and you’re the shortcut, and they want be seen with you; they want to wave to their little friends in it. And you’ll look at the little friends, expressionless; they’re deformities. You spit on em. You can, because you’re a pearl in a fool’s gold world. And they’re coal, average burnt-out embers. This isn’t just a car. It’s a big screaming statement, a billboard, a megaphone, an MRI that says your brainwaves are clicking. It’s a big wagging dick, with a 6-cylinder engine, and 18” inch chrome Mamos, and a Hamann suspension system, and a humming engine that sounds better than the hammy moaning of some bitch that gets inside and wants to let you inside. Ok. Get inside. Let me redline you. Open up, open wide, wide enough for me to drive my gleaming M3 right down your mouth. Your teeth are bleached white, like a dentist’s dream.