Very excited to be a part of the process for selecting and celebrating these short, funny stories as a part of the SFU Symposium on the Book.
Here they are:
Grand Prize Winner: S. H. Carlyle
To the cult I inadvertently started last night:
Good morning, group of strangers assembled on my front lawn.
I would like to start out by apologizing for the comments I made last night regarding the demise of the universe. I had been drinking quite heavily since lunchtime and was a little emotionally fragile after a serious screw-up at the office which I’m told will cost my firm its best client. I was in no condition to claim that the only way any of us would survive the Earth’s imminent explosion would be to come back to my house for inter-dimensional transport. Again, I apologize.
I am pleased, though, that so many of you—I believe you are calling yourselves “The Progeny of Orion”—have embraced this movement so readily. I see you have removed all your body hair and coated yourselves in petroleum jelly according to my instructions, which, again, I did not expect you all to follow. I don’t want to say that I was in any way “joking” because by the looks of manic determination on many of your faces I can tell that you did not find it funny. I will say, however, that I did not intend to find such a receptive audience for cult membership during happy hour at the Red Lobster by the on-ramp.
However, I personally think it’s inspiring to see so many people (and there really are an alarming number of you here) ready to give up the lives they know and join a thinly explained pseudo-spiritual group. I’m also very impressed that some of you took the time to copy down everything I said last night and carve it word-for-word into this grouping of granite monoliths. Reading these now, it seems I was very excited about the weather in the Hexalian Dimension as it would give us the opportunity to “enhance the frequency harmonics of our multi-variant communal psychokinesis and get us out jogging more.” I also seem to go on at great length about a character named Sazerac whom I believed would deliver us from the pains of our mortal form, although I suspect you might have misunderstood me as I’m pretty sure I was trying to order another cocktail. Nevertheless, I think you got the message.
I should also make a special announcement to all the women among you, hairless and difficult to pick out as you may be. Lately, my problems at work have been compounded by troubles with my girlfriend who has recently moved out, destroying my self-esteem. It really makes me feel validated to know that Karen missed out on becoming the Humanly Vessel of the Inter-Dimensional Supernova Jesus whom I claimed I would father and who so many of you were willing to carry. And when I suggested that the mother of this new deity should be determined through a topless make-out competition, you were all equally committed. For that, I thank you, but again, I apologize.
I should wrap this up as I have to get off to work. But just to recap, there will be no inter-dimensional travel happening on my lawn today or any other day, despite what I might have said last night.
Feel free to use the garden hose to wash yourselves off. There’s also some V8 juice and a half a bag of mini-bagels for anyone who’s interested. Just please, before you go, put out the oil drum fires and take the vats of feces with you. I’ll deal with the monoliths. Thanks.
Runner-up: Bill Radford
Let’s Exploit Writers Now!
The other day I was re-reading Midnight’s Children, and I thought to myself, damn, this man Rushdie can write, but wouldn’t it be something if I could hear him sing, too? Picture Salman Rushdie sitting down at a piano in a dark and smoky room. That would make a hell of an album cover. I bet you it would sell.
When this idea first came to me, I was a little worried that Salman Rushdie might not be a very good singer. But isn’t that what computers are for? I mean, certainly in this day and age the question of whether he can sing or not is no longer relevant. I don’t think T-Pain can sing. It’s hard to tell.
What I do know is that before Simon Cowell became famous for American Idol, he made a lot of money by giving recording contracts to professional wrestlers. He observed that hundreds of thousands of people went crazy whenever Macho Man Randy Savage grabbed a microphone in order to yell at Hulk Hogan, and then Simon Cowell thought, let’s put Macho Man in a recording studio.
These days, everyone knows that singers who can’t sing can be singers. Steven Segal has two albums. But nobody seems to have made the connection that writers (just like actors, wrestlers, models, hotel heiresses, and athletes) are artists with musical potential. I have a feeling that Tom Robbins would love to be auto-tuned. He likes attention.
Why stop here?
I would love to see a buddy cop movie starring Stephen King and Samuel L. Jackson. Don’t you think that Stephen King and Samuel L. Jackson would have chemistry?
Sam Jackson: Yo, man, don’t be playin’ with my radio!
Stephen King: Blood is coming out of it…
Cult status; DVD sales forever.
For this, there is already some precedent. Writers have had cameos in several movies, and not just in the ones they’ve written themselves. Salman Rushdie had a part in Bridget Jones’s Diary and Kurt Vonnegut appeared in a Rodney Dangerfield movie. But I think it’s time to give a writer a starring role. If Robert Downey, Jr. can be a singer and Madonna can be a writer, then Annie Dillard deserves a chance to be suspended from a helicopter while fiery explosions bloom all around her.
There are several artists who have had great crossovers: William Shatner made a very memorable CD, Will Smith is one of the most popular actors in the world, and John Lithgow writes fun children’s books. Shouldn’t writers be given a chance at this glory? I mean, if there’s one thing that’s clear at this point it’s that talent doesn’t matter. People who are famous at one thing can easily become famous at something else. That’s all.
I guess I should admit that my motivations are selfish, since I have what it takes to be a quintuple-threat artist. My mom’s a music teacher, so I started singing when I was very young, and around the same time I started lying, which is like acting. I have a third degree black belt in taekwondo, which means I can kick people in the head very quickly. And just the other day I taught myself how to moonwalk from a video on the internet, so I can dance now. Lastly, I can write. Maybe not as well as Salman Rushdie, but I’d like to hereby challenge him to a dancing-acting-writing-singing-karate pentathlon, because I think I’m more well-rounded than he is.
Unfortunately, I started at the wrong end of the progression. I chose ‘writer’ as my dominant class, and now I’m watching celebrities jump from movies to music to theatre to book deals while I’m stuck in a coffee bar with my laptop. I could sit here and whine, but instead I’m offering a solution that will make at least one person (me) happy: attach computers to my voice box, back me up with green-screens, and give me a chance to become your biggest, brightest, most shining star.