Posts Tagged ‘Contests’
June 17, 2014 | by Sadie Stein
When I was twelve and visiting my grandparents in California, we made weekly stops at the Naval Postgraduate School Thrift Shop, where the proprietress suggested that I enter a competition—she wanted me to submit my own concept for the theme of the next summer’s Monterey County Fair.
The fair was a highlight of our annual summer visits: the rides, the crop shows, the 4-H cake booth—all of it seemed magical to those of us from fair-deprived regions of the country. Raised on a steady diet of 1950s kids books, I fiercely envied the challenging but rewarding existences of those 4-H kids. I knew I could never raise my own livestock (let alone have the character to auction it), or work the cake booth, or display my crafts in the dedicated exhibition buildings. My talents, such as they were, lay in other directions. But each year, the posters and exhibits were organized around a central theme, and someone had to come up with that.
I dashed off page after page of increasingly hackish ideas. In the end, I submitted about twelve, in the spirit of playing the odds. And, come February, back in New York, I received a fat envelope from the Monterey County Chamber of Commerce: my concept of “Ribbons, Lambs, and Raspberry Jam” would be the theme of the summer’s fair. (Except that in deference to the region’s booming strawberry industry, the flavor of the jam would be altered accordingly.) It was the most exciting moment of my life. It was considerably more exciting than receiving similar envelopes from colleges six years later. For one thing, there were way more perks involved: in exchange for this top-notch ad work, I received a check for twenty-five dollars, a free family-pass to the fair, and a gift certificate to an establishment called Grandma’s Kitchen. Read More »
May 20, 2014 | by Ted Trautman
Doing verbal battle at the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships.
The only thing harder than crafting a good pun is finding someone to appreciate it. It’s not that puns are universally reviled—though their critics make it seem that way. It’s just that for every person who loves a clever play on words, there exists another who absolutely despises them; in mixed company, puns are, along with politics and religion, best left alone. If only there were an app that could match people by their senses of humor. Tinder? I barely know ’er!
If it’s difficult to pun profitably in the United States, it’s all but impossible in Mexico, where I’ve been living for the past year. Here I’m limited somewhat by my imperfect Spanish, but also by a lack of fellow punning linguists. There’s not even a word for pun in Spanish, which made it difficult to explain to friends here that after ten months of wasting my presumably hilarious wordplay on their apparently deaf ears, I’d bought myself a ticket to Austin, Texas, to compete in the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. Despite its grandiose name, there is no qualifying round ahead of this “championship,” and, with the exception of a lanky Englishman in a chicken suit, all the participants were American.
“So a pun is like a play on words?” a Mexican friend asked before I set out, using the Spanish phrase juego de palabras, that most dictionaries list as the translation for “pun.”
Well, yes, I said, but it’s a specific kind of play on words. I tried to find an example, but I hadn’t realized until that moment just how difficult it is to come up with puns on the spot. The example I offered, which defined the exchange of sex for spaghetti as pasta-tution, didn’t translate as well as I’d hoped. Read More »
March 22, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
A few weeks ago, we asked you to send us your best portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-young-person photos for a chance to win a Frank Clegg briefcase. Read on for a slideshow of exceedingly sensitive finalists … and one gloriously pretentious winner!
This would be mid- to late eighties. I had just finished writing my first novel, calling it Bad Girls of Ireland. I would like to note, for the record, that while the book remains unpublished, I stand firm in my belief that it was the first to wear that “bad girls” label which became a thing in the early nineties (before we had memes, kiddies).
At the time I thought it was an appropriately high/low moniker to slap on two hundred pages that were (let’s be honest) too esoteric to be legible to anyone else on earth; in retrospect it sounds kind of cheesy. I think you had to be there. Influences? Joyce, naturellement. Nabokov, Calvino, Rilke, Duras, Cortázar, all of those Zone books about the body. Jung! Was I a mo girl swimming in a pomo stream, or the reverse? From the outside my life looked way more like a Tama Janowitz story than the Kathy Acker one that was going on in my head, right down to the jewelry-selling on the street. Earrings—singletons only, made out of broken glass I collected at bus stops. Some insufficiently considered “performance art.” You get the picture. Read More »
March 8, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
Here is the youngest resident of the Hotel Duncan taking a “sensitivity break” from his senior thesis, on the fin-de-siècle poet Trumbull Stickney, 1995: “But that I know these places are my own / I’d ask how came such wretchedness to cumber / The earth, and I to people it alone. // It rains across the country I remember.” —Lorin Stein
Remember! Whether you had a Romantic phase, a Beat fixation, an Aesthetic idyll, send us your picture of yourself at your most self-seriously bookish and you could win a Frank Clegg English Briefcase. Send your picture, along with a brief description of your influences of the time, to firstname.lastname@example.org. All entries must be in by Monday, March 11. (Luckily for you, staff is ineligible; this is hard to top!)
February 4, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
I had a briefcase at one point, but it was a kind of 1980s new wave briefcase. It was made of some kind of cardboard and it had metal hinges. It was kind of faux industrial looking, and I used to carry my books in it rather than a backpack. I didn’t want to have normal student accoutrements.
We know the feeling. If you too had a visibly bookish phase, we want to see it: send in a picture of yourself at your most literary, and, in honor of youthful self-seriousness everywhere, you could win a Frank Clegg English Briefcase. Send your picture, along with a brief description of your influences of the time, to email@example.com.