Last Weeks Winner!

January 28, 2005


The voting was close this week. Scott F. is the winner of the Johnny Cash box set and the pic of some people drinking beer.

Here's the winning entry.

excerpt from Justin P. Nelson's "My Life as an Inventor-God":

It wasn't easy convincing Bryce's mom to be the first to try it on.
But we begged her. If it would have been one of us, well... there were
enough pictures of nerdy guys wearing weird clothes on the internet.
Besides, with all the talk about whether this or that piece of
technology was ready for "your mom" to use, it seemed natural. The
first picture that the world would ever see of our thermoptic
camouflage would prove that yes, somebody's mom was indeed ready for

Of course, there were kinks to be worked out. The shadows formed by
wrinkles kind of broke up the effect. The buttons weren't the
stealthiest choice of fastener. And we'd have to find a way to get
those supporting straps to not show so much. But as a proof of
concept, we weren't doing too badly.

If only we could get the top half of the smock to display properly and
not just repeat the signal that the bottom half was processing, we'd
be swimming in dollars. Our futures would be paved with cocaine and
hookers for sure.

Or so we thought until the incident...

Here's some of the other entries


The heat had come again, leaving us all feeling languid and slow.
Only Patricia seemed happy about this sudden display of summer's
force. Then I found out why. Her older sister Cathy had bought her a
special present some weeks before, but she had never mentioned it.
Now the afternoon became electric as she came out onto the lawn to
show the very fashionable swimsuit to her mother and me. I realized
that my little Patty was nearly grown as she twirled around, letting
us admire the neat white trim of the skirt. Finally, she did up her
hair and started to head to the neighborhood pool to join her friends.

"Wait, here's the camera!" I shouted, calling her back to stand by the
flowers that we had been weeding. "Just a picture with your mother to
show to Cathy later."

"Sheesh," said my wife. "Hurry and take it, the sun is too hot to
stand here waiting."

And Patty was impatient to go. So I snapped the picture, and as she
tripped off out of the yard, I imagined myself staring at the
photograph, as the only memory of my little girl.


Today was the day

"Come on smile for me"
"Just take the picture"
"She can't smile she'll break the camera Ma"
"Shut up Eddie!

She wants me to smile. I'll smile when I'm damned good and ready. She
knows I'm ready to go but makes me stand here for "just one more picture
for my scrapbook". Billy's waiting in the car and I have to stand here
while my idiot brother fiddles with the camera. Billy aint going to wait
forever. I swear to god one of these days I'm going to burn that damned

"Come on honey, smile for Momma. I want to remember you .. especially today"

She looked down at me with that look I've seen all my life. She knew.
"Especially today". Was she listening on the phone? Did she know?

Momma wiped the sweat from her brow. My brother said "There, I think I got

I was free. Out on the street Billy leaned on his horn.
"I gotta go I'll see ya later Mom"
"Honey, you be careful."
She drew out the word careful as if she was spelling it.

Now I know she was listening on the phone. Those were Billy's words when
we talked last night.
Nothing's gonna happen, we'll be careful.

I ran to the car not daring to look in Momma's eyes


Mama Luigi slaps her head and says mama mia. Her daughter Stella is wearing a skirt that shows more leg than Mama could ever have imagined in her wildest
dreams, (even more skin than Mama had ever let Mr. Luigi see). She thanks God that Stella's father was ran over and killed by a beer truck last year because the site of this would have surely killed him.

Her mind now turns to the fact that worse yet there is now a photograph to
document this terrible event. Her worst fear is now someday someone will see this photo and gawk over her daughters ridiculously short skirt. Ei yi yi, what's a mother to do.....


If I were a child again, on a day like today, I'd take my magnifying
glass out onto the cement driveway and give some ants a little
toasting. As it is, those days are long gone; instead, I'm lolling
away my Sunday afternoon with Bessie's lemonade sweating in my hand,
and the color funnies by my side. I'd be in heaven, if it weren't for
the fact that this is the hottest day on record for thirty years. I
inch myself into a sliver of blessed shade that's miraculously
appeared, when I hear the wife.

"George!" It's shrill. "Just you wait 'till you see this! George!"

I debate the merits of feigning sleep (realizing that I'd just be
rudely woken, regardless). As a handful of alternate escape routes
come to me, she's at my feet with Jess in tow.

"George. George! Jess is going to a picnic. In this state. Do something!"

I eye my daughter. She's piled her hair up in a scarf like she does
when it's hot, and she's got this short little number on, like the one
the wife wore back at that county fair, when we first metJess has got
her mother's legs. As I become lost in the memories of my wife as she
once was, a sigh escapes me.

"That's it?! A sigh? George! Our baby is going to be seen in public
and be a disgrace in this scrap " she waves a hand in the vague
direction of Jess' body "this shred of fabric. It's just plain
unacceptable, and something's got to be done." Her hand is on her
forehead, and I'm not sure if it's to ward off the growing
perspiration or exasperation.

I pause, and voice what seems to be the only logical thought on the
matter: "Well, it is hot, ain't it?"

There's deafening silence, and I know a deadly faux pas has been made.

Those six simple words have sealed my fate on the couch tonight.
At least I'll be cooler there.


The smell of beauganvillia is almost sickening.

Maisie has a hundred and one jobs to do: hang the washing to dry; scrub
the floors; stitch Miss Glorias party dress; prepare tea for Mrs.
Zaidies Anglican Ladies Club; Lord, there just isn't enough hours in
the day.

But say no to Miss Gloria when she insists that Maisie pose for a
picture with her, so that Mr. Zaidie can show off his brand new Brownie?
Maisie knows which side of her bread is buttered on. And Miss Gloria,
Lord, shes a spoiled child, but she has a good heart, and Maisie loves
her to pieces.

Mr. Zaidie is a good man, too, though Maisie does think he drinks too
much rum. But Mr. Zaidie worked hard to become a respectable businessman
in Jamaica, so maybe one can be forgiven for drinking too much at times.
As soon as a guest walks in the Zaidies home, Mr. Zaidie will urge them
to have a drink. Bird cant fly on one wing, hell say with a smile
and a wink.

Maisie knows different. Shes been flying on one wing her whole life.
Never needed no rum to see the clouds.


"Girls!! Girls come on!! We need to take a photo so everyone can see how
big you've
both gotten!"

It was at that moment we realized Mom was officially crazy. I mean, clearly I was 35 and Betsy was 30- everyone knew how big we were. Mom kept insisting that we stop what we were doing and go out to the garden to take a picture. When we wouldn't, she wheeled herself out onto the patio and refused to come in. What else could we do but lock her out for the night?

When we woke up the next morning she was still out there, camera in hand and
drooling. We felt bad, so we caved. Imagine how happy she was when she saw
I dressed to match the flowers and Betsy put on her sluttiest outfit.

In the end, we were all satisfied- mom got her picture and we ruined the
Christmas cards.


Mama, please, said Christina, folding her arms and trying to look
dignified. Mama wouldnt stop laughing. Please, Mama

Oh Christina, my darling, its so funny, Mama said in Spanish, laughing
and trying to cover her face. I cant wait until your father gets home.
Hes going to be so proud. Youre such a smart girl.

Please, Mama, Christina begged quietly. Theyre trying to take the

Mrs. Ramos, could you move a little to the left please? said the man
with the camera. He and the man with the notepad were getting a little

A la izquierda, Mama. Por favor, Mama, whispered Christina in Mamas
ear. Mama didnt speak any English, and was smiling and laughing to
herself, covering her face to try and keep it straight. She finally heard
Christina and stepped to the left.

Oh-Kay, Mama told the men loudly. Only Christina noticed the funny look
the two men passed between them, like Mama had said something strange.
Christinas face felt warm. She struggled to hold the dignified pose.

The camera clicked a few more times, and then the man with the camera
stood up. The man with the notepad walked over to Christina and Mama. I
think we got it, he said. We should have it in by tomorrow.
Congratulations again on your essay, Christina. I really enjoyed it, and
he shook her hand, one writer to another. Christina smiled slightly, but
felt like she was filled with warm air, like she would float off the
ground at any moment. She finally let go, and Mama swooped in and grabbed
the mans hand away, still ecstatic.

Gracias, gracias, senor! Thank you sir, thank you, said Mama in thick
and fast Spanish as she pumped the mans hand. Good luck with your
newspaper! Thank you for coming!

Right, answered the man, flustered. Nice to meet you. Have a nice
day. He backed off and then turned, got in the car with the photographer
and was gone. Mama waved like a maniac as they backed out of the
driveway. Christina wondered how the picture had come out, if the kids at
school would make fun of her tomorrow.

So amazing, Christina! You should have told me about this contest
sooner! Mama turned back to hug her as they walked back inside the house.
Those men were from the newspapers! Im so proud of you, daughter! Wait
until your father gets home!

Si, mama, Christina sighed, holding her arms at her sides while Mama
hugged her shoulders.

Youre such a good girl, Christina! I love you so much! said Mama,
almost in tears of happiness as she kissed Christinas head.

I love you, too, answered Christina. Te quiero tambien, Mama.


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