Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Monday, May 16, 2016

Duchess of Yowl Writing contest II results

 You really outdid yourselves this week. Honestly, any one of the finalists this week could have won, and the caliber of the entire body of work here is outstanding.

Herewith the results:

Special recognition for a creep factor that's off the scale!
Timothy Lowe 9:12am
Just Jan 4:30pm

Poems for the Duchess of Yowl!
Sherry Howard 9:45am
(The DoY congratulates you on selecting the perfect main character for your work)

The Duchess of Yowl is pleased with this
Cynthia Mc 10:09am
LynnRodz 11:00am (and would now be packing her bags, but of course, she has staff for that)

The Duchess of Yowl is sleek not fluffy but is otherwise pleased with this line from Christina Seine
“Cat burglar,” Cop said. Miffed, Duchess flounced her tail at him, a fluffy middle finger.

The Duchess of Yowl approves of this
kdjames 8:07pm

The Duchess of Yowl likes this entirely too much
Kate Higgins 10:26pm

this really isn't a story but the structure is just beautiful (first and last lines so nicely paired) that it deserves special recognition for mastery of craft and form.
Brigid 9:47

You have to really read carefully to see the beauty in this, but it's well worth it. It's like sudoku: you have to look for what's not there.
Cheryl 10:57am

Not quite a story but the twist when you realize the POV is delicious!
abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias)

A great line in a wonderful poem 
Sara Halle 9:59pm
Was exposed as a dastardly dwarf sympathizer.

I love these pieces about Fred The Dragon!
Rene Saaenger 11:20pm

I love this line
Jason Magnason 8:50am
Fluffy clouds pass through me as I fall. What was that the pilot said about a parachute?

These entries are on the long list
french sojourn 10:02am
Donnaeve 4:21pm
Tim Archer 9:33pm
Ashes 2:34am
Emily Kate 9:39pm

These entries are on the short list:
Marie McKay 10:02am
She fashioned earmuffs from cushions. She'd kept a stiff upper lip for long enough. She'd damn well sulk; had every right to feel miffed. Hell, eight weeks ago she'd huffed and puffed climbing stairs.
The. Way. She. Liked. It!
So meteors and straightening irons don't mix. Shit it! She hated flying. X-ray vision was gross. She fluffed press interviews. NO, she'd nothing cool to say to young people! Her costume looked like it was made by her maiden aunt.

A scream from eight blocks down rises above the city's din.
She straightens. The cushions are off.
And. She. Is. Flight.

The imagination of this piece caught my eye: reluctant superhero! And I don't know why but "shit it" just cracked me up. And when you think about it, X-ray vision IS gross. But then, that last sentence just turns the story around: And.She.Is.Flight.
And you know that Our Girl loves the flying part.

This is charming and well written!

Amy Schaefer 4:48pm
He looks miffed, my handsome husband-to-be, as he stands by the judge. Henry hates waiting. My heart swells.

I notice lint on his jacket. I turn to my father. “Henry has a fluffer—“


Right. Not my turn.

I realize the string quartet hasn’t arrived. I sigh but won’t sulk – it wouldn’t do on my big day.

“The court finds for the plaintiff,” says the judge.

Henry’s smile is dazzling. Father tugs me out the door, handcuffs jingling, those silly things on my ankles making me shuffle.

I catch Henry’s eye and blow a kiss.
Until next time, beloved.

ohhh! Do you get it? The clue is "plaintiff" I love these stories where All is Not What It Seems! And there are some lines that just convey so much, but with such minimalist style: "Right. Not my turn" and
"I realize the string quartet hasn't arrived."

The is elegant.

Lennon Faris 6:14pm
“Calvin! Whatchya doin’?”
Gnarled joints fail, and I fall at the feet of a white-haired woman in coveralls.
“My game consul. Kids stole it.” I jerk my head to the punks in scrubs drinking coffee. “I’m outta here.”
“That’s ‘console.’”
“’s what I said.” Stupid girl.
“There’s a bubble over your head, you know.”
So practical. Always was. “Go home,” I huff.
She’s miffed. “Here’s a thought: what if friends helped each other, for once? Here: on my walker. I’m coming with.”
She’s not so bad, I think. I must be ill. Next thing y’know, Hobbes’ll be made of fluff.

I tripped up on "consul" at first, thinking it was an error. Of course, it's not. It's a brilliant clue.
I love the line "there's a bubble over your head, you know" because it could mean two different things.

And I love "punks in scrubs"
And honestly, any Calvin and Hobbes fan fiction is just my cup of tea.

kregger 9:21pm
The ship’s captain grabbed me by the scruff of my neck.

I rewarded him with a six-toed hind kick.

I drew blood and smiled.

This was my boat and I was going to stay.

“Aww, come on Missy Snow White,” he said. “Don’t be miffed.”

The hair on my back went stiff.

What a kerfluffle!

We shuffled in a huff down the gangplank to tre' elegant Key West.

Along fragrant Whitehead Street we strolled.

The captain knocked on #907 and Earnest opened the door.

It was love at first sight.

Eventually, I would have to get rid of Pauline.


That penultimate line elevates this from a sweet anecdote to something with a lot more cosmic horror.  What you have to know to get this: Ernest Hemingway had six toed cats and his second wife is called Pauline.

Points off for spelling his name wrong though! Yikes!
And did I miss "sulk" here?

Mark Thurber 11:48pm
The consul keeps to herself more and more--a fish out of water, shuffling dispatches in a foreign land.

“Take me sailing,” she says, eyes distant.

I am iffy--she uses a wheelchair--but I obey. “Thank you,” she says over the stiff breeze. When I look away, I hear a splash that freezes my heart.

I sail back to where she fell off, luff the mainsail. No trace. Only then do I notice the empty dress and false legs, still on board. I hear laughter and look out to see long hair and green scales slip beneath the surface.

I'm a sucker for a mermaid story. I blame Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah from Splash for this.
I love that up front clue "a fish out of water, shuffling dispatches in a foreign land" that isn't  understood until the last line. Lovely story telling.

Claudette Hoffmann 4:13am
Graduation brings a PhD. Alice returns to dorm and cat.

Cheshire, rescue tabby gone mature fluff ball, curls around Alice’s mobile. He paws her hand.

“3pm. South lawn,” reads text. She shuffles papers into her bag and adds Cheshire.

Once there, Alice notices a library chum, by face not name.

“Hi! Alice.”
“Dodge,” he says stiffly.

Cheshire goes over to the elegant feline, sulking near Dodge. They rub noses. She purrs.

“Friendly sort,” Dodge says.

“She was miffed. He didn’t call.”

“Feline Ethology your degree?”

“Not mine. His.”

Cheshire extends his paw with opposable thumb to Dodge.

As you might imagine, Her Grace, The Duchess of Yowl loved this one a LOT.
I love the imagination at work here. And of course that sweet twist on the first sentence (Graduation brings a Phd.D/His" is just purrrrfect!

Where There's A Quill 8:19am
They talking 'bout keeping Fynn.

Fynn’s the best. Shoulda been kept ages ago, but foster folks always catch him being bad. Like when they found Sister Eight's dollies all burned up in his room.

Couple houses back, Fynn nearly got kept. But then they found the cat and got real scared and didn't want him.

If F
ynn’s not good enough none’s good enough, I say. He just huffs and sulks but. Says You got fluff for brains, Tiff; I’ll age out ‘fore someone keeps me.

But Fynn’s the best. These folks might keep him.

I hope a cat’s enough again.

Took me twice to get this one, and it made me gasp out loud.
Do you see it?

The narrator is the one doing the stuff that Fynn's getting blamed for, so that s/he won't be separated from Fynn. Elegant elliptical writing with just enough information to take the reader to the final twist.

This is perfect.

Except: where's "miff" I can't see it. Can someone spot it for me?
Holy smokestacks, that took me five tries.  You guyz are getting diabolical on these prompts!

It's getting harder and harder to choose finalists let alone select just one as the winner. That means of course that it's getting more subjective. Not only what I like, but my frame of mind when I read the entries.  

This is the reason I never read queries when I'm in a snit, hungry or really tired. Nothing looks or sounds good.  You'll be glad to know I took a nap before reading the entries this week, AND ate dinner!

This week's winner is the one that made me gasp out loud: Where There's A Quill 8:19am
(You will be glad to hear the prize is NOT the Duchess ofYowl arriving for a petting.)
If you'll send me your mailing address and what kinds of books you like to read, I'll get a prize in the mail to you.

Thanks indeed to all who took the time to write and submit entries. It was a real pleasure to read your work.


Sam Hawke said...

I bow down to you all. I saw the prompts this week and thought no WAY can I hide all those ffs. You guys blew me away!

Lucie Witt said...

Wow. I don't envy Janet's for having to judge these.

Amy's was my favorite this week. Where There's a Quill is so, so well done, though I don't know if I would have figured it out on my own.

Impressive entries and congrats to everyone who participated.

**off topic**

I'm finding conflicting info online and thought I would ask the Reiders - do you double space a synopsis? Some sources say no, some say yes, and some say only if it's over a page.

In related news, I hate the damn synopsis.

nightsmusic said...

Fabulous entries all! This was a hard week because some of you were so very good at hiding the prompt words, I missed them. But some of these just blew me away.

Congrats to everyone!

Aside: If you ever 'rescue' a kitty and go on a site to look for one to bring home and love, you can actually search for Hemingway Polydactyls. They're listed that way. And they do have their own, quirky personalities.

Jason Magnason said...

Awe its nice to read the entries and then the feedback. To be among some of the best, discovered and undiscovered, writers on the net makes me purr!!

That's right. I said it.

Thanks Janet. You and these writers I now call my friends make me smile.

nightsmusic said...

PSA: For those of you who like Neil Gaiman, Audible has The Ocean at the End of the Lane on sale today for $3.95. Just sayin'...

AJ Blythe said...

Well done everyone who entered. These are great. How do you come up with such brilliant ideas? Think I'm getting too scared to put my writing in amongst yours.

Kitty said...

Congrats to Quill! And to all the Reiders who entered.

As to Mark Thurber's mermaid story... Here's a Mermaid Baby at 10 wks. old. A relative crocheted my granddaughter that mermaid blanket.

french sojourn said...

Crazy busy week for me, I have to admit I only had a chance to read through once. This collection of entries deserves my undecided attention. I will have to read them again tonight, maybe pair them...or pare them over a glass of blood red wine.

Congrats galore to :WTAQ, sublime. Also congrats to the short and long listers. And everyone that submitted, congrats as well.

Cheers Hank.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Congrats to all.
You guys are amazing.
For the last contest I had less and an hour, and the one before that, mere minutes to write edit and send.
I miss time. Where are you, where did you go?
Will I ever find you again?

Celia Reaves said...

Amazing entries in this contest. Many kudos to all those on the long and short list. Where There's a Quill, your win is very well deserved (and I love your handle). I also fell for Mark Thurber's mermaid story and Lennon Faris's Calvin and Hobbes story. There was a LOT of creepiness in the entries this week, and Amy Schaefer's courtroom drama gave me goose bumps! This was a challenging set of prompt words for sure and I never found a story there, so I'm in awe of what you all accomplished.

OT - The cat I had when growing up had six toes on three feet, seven on one. I didn't realize for years that this was unusual.

SiSi said...

Quill, great twist to a great story! Congratulations to all the finalists and everyone mentioned. I was out of town (and having a great time) this weekend, so I didn't have time to write, but those were tough prompt words. So amazing to see what everyone did with them.

Scott G said...

Wow. Amazing entries with a tough set of prompt words. Congrats to all the finalists. Loved all the stories, as usual. I learn so much every time.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Congrats to Where There's A Quill and all the long-listeds, short-listeds, and mentioneds here. And thank you, Janet, for giving us the details of your thoughts. Or should I say the thoughts of Her Grace, the Duchess of Yowl.

Busy weekend here too. And some mighty intimidating entries from those prompt words!

Lucie Witt: I thought synopsis(synopses? it's early Monday) were suppose to be single spaced except between paragraphs.

Kregger said...

I had one of those 3am epiphanies...I forgot to use "sulk".
*face palm*
I can't even blame "Earnest" as a typo. That's what happens after spending a week in Gatlinburg and the Bourbon Trail. The writing angel/copy editor that typically sits on my shoulder was sleeping off a bender.
Congrats to the long and short list entrants, and especially to Where There's a Quill for that excellent entry.
*walks away, muttering*
"What else have I screwed up"

Donnaeve said...

CONGRATULATIONS to Where There's A Quill!

And to all the special recognitions, long listed - which btw, thank you for including my revenge story in that list!

I have to say...when I first saw the prompt words...I thought aye yi yi. Um, how?

That's what makes these entries so spectacular. I loved Amy's. Like QOTKU said, not what it seemed to be! And Mark's mermaid story...that one too. The ones I get, and are subtle to boot always win me over!

I forgot to mention on last week's contest, I did NOT know about brie and pregnant women - so that went right over my head. I appreciated the explanation earlier on, and in the WIR.

Thank you all for the votes on the sub-header, and to QOTKU for giving me a parenthetical promo, as kdjames said in her comments last night. Yay!

Christina Seine - LOVED the vodka tale! That's got to be right on up there with a story about running about in one's underwear!!!

SO MUCH to be thankful for this morning. I'm off shortly to spend the day with Mom where we've been hotly competing in Scrabble. She's vicious.

Re: X toed pets - Little Dog has only three toes on one back foot. Not sure why.

Just Jan said...

Congratulations Where There's a Quill. Brilliant! Enjoyed all the long and short list entries. Never thought so much could be done with all those fffffs. And thank you, Janet, for recognizing my 'creep factor'! I'm happy to share that particular mention with Timothy Lowe as his stories are always riveting.

Here's another vote for a single-spaced synopsis--and for hating them with a passion!

Lucie Witt said...

Thank you Lisa and Jan. I think I'll stick with single space. At least now I know I'm in good company.

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats to all who were able to make such adept use of those maddening words! Just Jan, I have to return your compliment. I read yours and thought "hmmm, great minds think alike." I loved Emily Kate's story - took my breath away. Reminded me of EM Goldsmith's "wiped yesterday's arrivals from his uniform."

Great job! And I have to echo that synopses are the devil.

Ashes said...

And here I thought Kregger had just recently read No Relation and mixed up the spelling!

Congrats Quill! Well deserved win, I just adored that entry.

Mark's was also a favourite of mine.

Mark Thurber said...

Kitty- OMG, what a fantastic mermaid baby! Now you just need a grandma mermaid blanket to match.

Congrats, Quill! So much cool stuff going on this week. Most hilarious line for me was from tsrosenberg: "Only peons eat Wagyu beef!" Emily Kate's was the biggest gasper for me. Also thought Tim Archer's was a terrific story. I felt very clever to figure out Kae's, and then there was the added bonus of having to re-read the story that followed hers (Just Jan's excellent piece of horror) because I had to re-train my brain to pronounce consonants correctly.

Steve Forti said...

Congrats all. Good stuff here. Bummed I missed this one (damn out of state weddings!). Thanks for entertaining me on my return.

Julie Weathers said...

Congratulations to all who entered. Double congratulations to all who were mentioned and I agree, Quill did an excellent job, but never in a million years would I have guessed someone else was doing the bad things. That subtlety is what makes it so elegant. My brain still doesn't get many of these, so I just wait patiently for QOTKU to come along and explain.

I loved the Ernest Hemingway one with the polydactyl cat. There is a story about some tourists driving up to his house who wanted to talk to him. Someone had just run over one of his cats he adored not long before and he had taken it out and shot it because it was so badly injured. He still had the rifle over his shoulder when the tourists drove up and was crying.

They insisted on visiting with him. He said it wasn't a good time. He'd just been forced to put down one of his favorite cats.

The tourist laughed. "Look at that. The great Ernest Hemingway. Tough guy. Crying over a dead cat."

I believe Hemingway told him what he could go do to himself and told him to get off his land.

Anyway, stupid story of the day.


One page synopsis single space. Anything over that, double space.

Lucie Witt said...

Thank you Julie!

cleemckenzie said...

I'm enjoying getting a peek at the entries. I can see why you're having to go around and around in choosing winners. These are some great bits to read.

LynnRodz said...

Congrats to all mentioned and to WTAQ for the win! I love the subtlety there, but would never have gotten it if Janet didn't explain. *sigh*

Your Grace, I'm glad you were pleased with my entry and not for a second did I think you would pack your own bags. Heaven forbid! And, Janet, "staff" by the name of Thumbs perchance?

Marie McKay said...

Congrats to Where There's A Quill. That was a fab story! And well done to special mentions, longlisters, shortlisters. Thanks for your comments, Janet. Mark's mermaid story was amazing as well. I found the prompts were really tricky. Well done, everyone!

Lennon Faris said...

WTAQ - congratulations!! And congrats to all others listed and mentioned. As always, I really enjoyed reading them all.

Janet, thank you for including me on the list and your comments! Never expected to ever be there.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I loved Donna and Amy's stories. And I love Jason's clouds pass through me. When I read through the entries yesterday, I loved Brigid's.

Congratulations to Quill.

Lynn, if ever we get to treat the Queen to a drink in our home town what to you think about the Closerie des Lilas? That was one of Hemmingway's water holes.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I was too busy to participate last week, but I loved these! Quill did a great job - congrats! :)

As a side note, my own kitty is super cuddly now that I'm back in town. It's so hard to leave pets!

Kate Larkindale said...

Congratulations to everyone who managed to write a story using those prompts. I just couldn't make them work for me this week. But what a bunch of fabulous stories you all came up with!

John Frain said...

As I read through these on the train Sunday, I kept changing my mind. Amy's really grabbed me. Then I fell in love with Mark's mermaid tale. That early clue was classic. But then I read Quill's entry -- maybe it was because I had full concentration sitting on the train -- and I gasped. The last line pulled me in.

At first (I'm just being honest here) I thought it was lame to use Tiff as a character name because these words were so tough to get in. But when I finished the story, I didn't care anymore. That was just too remarkable a story in 100 words. Fantastic job, Quill. That goes into the Greatest Hits from these contests. In my mind, anyway.

Congratulations to everyone named here. These were tough prompt words, so if you made a story out of them, I'll give you full credit.

Claire said...

Congrats, everyone! Really enjoyable entries this week.

I might need someone to explain Cheryl's story to me... I love Sudoku, but I didn't get this! :)

Cheryl said...

Claire, it's a toxic relationship. He's emotionally abusive (gaslighting her, trying to make her think she's useless without him) and she gets a kick out of toying with him, as well as cheating on him. It's probably for the best they're with each other and not destroying other people.

I was reading Chuck Wendig's recent tweets about dialogue and working at cross-purposes to each other. I'm honestly surprised it worked out well enough to make the long list.

Where There's A Quill said...

6:11am and my day has officially capped. Thank you SO MUCH, Janet. This woodland creature's running on a diamond-encrusted hamster wheel right now. Does this mean I'll get immortalized in Colin's spreadsheet?! I think my heart might give out.

Thank you to everyone who read my entry. I'm ecstatic some of you got a kick out of it, too. Congratulations to all the mentions - there was some really, really impressive stuff this week. Like everyone else, I adored Mark's mermaid and Amy's creepy stalker-bride. Tim Archer: I also really loved your story; it jumped out at me right away.

John Frain: Thank you, that's amazing praise. Yeah, I originally had tiff worked into stiff somewhere, but it just wasn't natural at all. Thus, Tiff was born: the lesser of two lames.

Colin Smith said...

Hey, there. Just stopping in to congratulate everyone, mentions, long-listers, short-listers, and, of course, Where There's a Quill, who will now be known as WTaQ. :) Yes, WTaQ, I will add you to the spreadsheet as soon as I can. Excellent work! You deserve a place among the winners. :)

On the Synopsis question, the synopsis I wrote for the last novel I queried was single-spaced. Not many agents asked for a synopsis, and I don't think I got anything other that form rejections from them, so I don't know if this is really very helpful. But that's my contribution.

One last thing... this found it's way to my blog's spam filter:

"What i do not understood is actually how you are not really much more neatly-appreciated than you may be right now. You are so intelligent. You know therefore significantly in relation to this matter, made me in my opinion imagine it from a lot of nume…"

I almost want to tell WordPress that it's not really spam, but *sigh* it is. Oh well... ;)

Kate Higgins said...

Please thank the Duchess for her endorsement. And congrats to "Quill" Tres creepy! I look forward to all the comments...they're addictive!

Brigid said...

Angie, thanks! I had fun writing out someone mid-revenge plot, though I kept running into the word limit.
With yours, I caught the Robespierre reference and Trump's wall being his downfall, but I definitely missed some other things (like Robes as a Jamaican etc hairdresser).

There were so many great ones this go-round. My favorite was lizosisek. It just tickled me.

Claire said...

Ah, thank you Cheryl! All is clear now :) Well done on your honourable mention. said...

Wow. All of these were so good this week. For me, the prompt words just evoked humour and nonsense-- well, that is sort of my default. Thank you, Your Grace, for the approval. :) I'm extremely impressed that so many of you came up with serious, and seriously creepy, stories.

Congratulations, WTAQuill! I had to read yours twice to get it and even then wasn't sure. Really enjoy the ones that make me think.

Marie McKay, I loved the imagination in your story.

I agree with what others have said, the field over here just keeps getting more and more intimidating.

Claudette Hoffmann said...

Bravo to WTAQ! Between-the-lines story about kids out of society’s loop is wrenching.

Loved Brigid’s use of language, Sojourn’s neck frisson (I’ll never worry again about best seat at the movies), Mark’ E’s labor lesson, Lennon’s C&H ‘Where are They Now’, Mark T’s surprise & making consul_k work, AND Emily’s last line – it crushed my heart.

Kudos & Huzzahs to all who entered and for those with shout outs and glows, long and short lists.

Thank you Janet for labeling craziness as imagination. A bow from Cheshire, PhD to the Duchess for offerings accepted.

Colin Smith said...

NOTE: The Contest Spreadsheet in the Treasure Chest is now up-to-date. Where There's A Quill has been immortalized! Who will be next...? :D

LynnRodz said...

Angie, great suggestion, I think Janet would enjoy the piano bar. I love that place, great ambiance. Now that you mention it, it's been awhile since I last ate there...must go again.

Amy Schaefer said...

Congratulations to Where There's A Quill - that was just beautiful. And thanks to the people who threw some love my way. I save my precious weekly allotment of bandwidth to enter these contests; it's like I'm eight again, stashing quarters in a shoebox, waiting until I have enough to splurge down at the corner store. But it's worth it - the contests always make me stretch. Hooray for a challenge!

tell me later said...

Okay, I didn't get Amy's story. Is it supposed to be set at their divorce or something?

John Frain said...

Tell Me Later,

I normally wouldn't speak for anyone -- both because they can speak for themselves and (mostly) because I'll probably get it wrong -- but I gotta believe Amy is more desperate for bandwidth than explaining her story. So, here goes, with the caveat that this is only my interpretation...

The protagonist in Amy's story, I believe, will never get divorced because I don't think she'll ever get married. Except in her mind maybe. Her "father" in the story, who I reckon works for the state, is not blood related. He wears a badge, carries a gun, and is bringing his inmate/daughter back to prison since she lost.

Henry, not her husband in my translation, is smiling because he won in court (probably won again), and he is getting this stalker kept in jail where she can't bother him. Until next time.

Having said all that, I think you could make a case that the two were once married. But even with that interpretation, they're not getting divorced in this scene.

And you know how darned good Amy's story truly was? It took me more words to explain it than it did for her to write it! Well done, Amy. Bravo. Enjoy your bandwidth unless you feel the urge to correct me on all the aspects I'm sure I got fouled up.

Amy Schaefer said...

John Frain, I'm sending you a virtual hug. Where were you when I needed a query letter?

CynthiaMc said...

Congrats all, especially Quill!

If the Duchess is happy, I'm happy.

Great entries, everyone! Always a treat. Loved the mermaid and the 6-toed cat.

tell me later said...

Thank you, John!

Normally my reading comprehension is much better, I promise :)

Where There's A Quill said...

Thank you for adding me to the esteemed spreadsheet, Colin. I feel so privileged!

Marie McKay said...

Thank you.Your dialogue was terrific, so witty. (I find dialogue difficult!)

Emily Kate said...

I'm so tremble-happy to have made it on the short list with my first attempt at an infamous QOTKU contest, you'd think I won a Grammy.

This group of writers is intimidating in skill and creativity. Thanks to everyone here for challenging my writing. Congrats to everyone to dared post an entry!

WTaQ--holy ****. Well done.

Kae Ridwyn said...

I know I'm mega-late with commenting, but CONGRATULATIONS, special mentions, long-listers, short-listers, and Where There's a Quill!
Personally, the stand out for me this week was Mark Thurber's entry about the mermaid. So clever!