Deathmatch 2011 – Round 5

Final Round | Round 6 | Round 5 | Round 4 | Round 3 | Round 2 | Round 1

Colin Brush vs. Braydon Beaulieu

Free Therapy By Colin Brush

‘I’m in therapy, you know,’ is the first thing that comes out of Ellery’s mouth while lying across my bed. Her fingernails are bitten down far enough that they must have been bleeding and she didn’t take off her dirty sneakers before hopping onto my sheets. ‘It really helps. But I don’t want my parents to think they were right so I’m giving my shrink the silent treatment.’

‘I see,’ I say, chewing on a pen cap. There’s a pad of paper on my lap but I have no idea whether or not I’ll use it. Ellery just showed up at my house and told me she needed to talk.

Read More | Final Votes: 52%

Field Guide to Kleptoparasitism By Braydon Beaulieu

I stole my neighbour’s newspaper this morning. He has never noticed my compound eyes or mandibles. I click my jaws behind the hedge dividing our yards while he lathers his black Maserati. White suds on black. Like letters shining through white splashes. Or maybe I have it backward. Bastard.

When I skimmed my loot at 6:46 in the morning, I cut out a picture of MAY, Elizabeth Diane (nee Foster) from the obits. It’s in my back pocket. Her photograph smells like a pistachio shell. The rest of the newspaper is in a box in a drawer in the linen closet of my bathroom. My bathroom does not smell like pistachio, but of cinnamon and stale shit. My neighbour’s: Cherries and lavender. His Maserati wavers under cascades of hose water.

Read More | Final Votes: 48%


Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/07

Broken Pencil, thank you so much for taking a chance on this story. The other writers and I have brought many readers to the table during this competition, and the real victory is dramatically expanding my reading base. I feel like I handled myself with dignity and class against both Madeline and Colin, and for the most part really enjoyed the Deathmatch. Thank you again, and when the book goes to print in the (hopefully not too distant) future, you can expect a big fat shout-out to BP for being the first magazine to publish pages from the ‘script.

To all those who voted: thank you. Your support, commitment, and engagement has been uplifting and astounding. This competition has shown me that there are people who are interested in my writing (even outside my Facebook friends, which is a wonder to me), and it’s nice to think that when people see Field Guide to Kleptoparasitism at the bookstore, they’ll recognize the name and the title story and perhaps pick up a copy.

To Colin: Best of luck in the finals, mate. You’re certainly making a name for yourself. I return your well-wishes for future writing endeavours. Cheers.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/07

Well, that was a twist ending I don’t think any of us could have expected. For what it’s worth Braydon, I like Field Guide a lot. I did try my best to exaggerate it flaws, but that was just the deathmatch talking. It was easily one of the best stories in this competition – an ice-cream Sunday topped with candied ants. This last minute shift in the score must have been difficult for you. Good luck from here, you’re a talented writer.

Print~me – 2011/03/07

Hands down Braydon Beaulieu should have been the victor, I read both with Colin Brush’s being the first read… It went well till he lost me right here…. “‘Last night my family was having dinner and my dad coughed a little blood into his milk.’ I’m no where near qualified for this. ‘All he would say was “don’t grow old”.’ But she knows being friendless means I have no one to repeat this to. he would say was “don’t grow old”.’ But she knows being friendless means I have no one to repeat this to.”      The first sentence was ok… the second a little bit less so,  but that third sentence just kills it…  It should have been contest over right there…. But up out of the grave rises technology…. It sucks to lose but it sucks more to lose by underhanded techniques.  We all know who the true winner is….

So True – 2011/03/07

Way to prove his point, Aurum.

just saying – 2011/03/07

Elizabeth. Taylor.  Diane.  Lady Di.  May.  Maejun.  Foster.  Jodie Foster.

Wordsmith – 2011/03/07

I think Beaulieu deserves to win. I have no idea who he is personally.  The story was fun, quirky, and had some awesome wordplay. The writing was clear, concise, and original. Awesome.

Victory Lap – 2011/03/07

It’s the end of the world.  Everything is in turmoil.  I’ll never apologize.  It all started out of curiousity, how to get published.  I like your thinking.  It’ magical, lyrical.  Funny and at the same time sad.  I admire that. Blame a guy for trying to make a connection.  It’s unorthodox.  So am I.  I have a great memory.  I’m self conscious.  I’m smart.  And not without obvious flaws.  I see something of myself in you.  When I write, I write the truth, and throw in a lie.  Beaulieu focussed on the lie.  That’s where he went wrong.  And now he’s paying for it.  I hope we can still be friends.

DontSleepWait – 2011/03/07

Learn to HTML noobs.

hayguyz – 2011/03/07

i know you are but what am i?

Ea – 2011/03/07

While I was brought to this site by Steven’s stream, I did read both stories before casting my vote. Although a boat load of trolls were brought to this site, I do believe readers like myself have also stumbled upon a site that promotes great literature. Best of luck to all.

extropian – 2011/03/07

Wow, we are a bunch of sad little men aren\’t we? Pathetic.

sniper – 2011/03/07

hey – you internet trolls know you can vote every hour, right?

Aurum – 2011/03/07

Quite true ColinBrushIsTehBestz0rz, but of the variety that one defines by holding their hand to their forehead, in the shape of a capital ‘L’.

ColinBrushIsTehBestz0rz – 2011/03/07

I think the real losers here are the pompous douchebags that frequent this website. Jus sayin’

Aurum – 2011/03/07

Well,… this has certainly been interesting to watch, but I have to say, neither of the authors truly win here, no matter the outcome.  For the most part, this hasn’t been about their work at all. Their stories are simply hot potatoes, being tossed about  at the whim of the denizens of the internet, and the use and abuse of  of technology.

I hope both of the fellows are wise enough not to take the results of this sort of ‘vote’ as any sort of reflection of their writing ability. If the ‘voters’ were polled, how many would have read one, let alone both stories?? Comparatively few I’m afraid, it is technology that is the star of this charade, not writing.

hayguyz – 2011/03/07


buck choi – 2011/03/07

if the best always wins george bush and nixon would not have became president

what have you learned about teh internet and the world today?


-we came, we trolled, we won.

ColinBrushIsTehBestz0rz – 2011/03/07

Sup? Name’s Colin. I live in Canada. I like to ride my bike in the winter. I’m currently writing my first novel. Oh, I forgot…… I’M DA BEST MAYNE. I DEED IT.

hayguyz – 2011/03/07

not my fault you are mad, dont take your anger out on me bro

just saying – 2011/03/07

Just saying, Braydon, the best story did win.  Pipped in the bud. Countin’ your chickens.  Bitchslapped.  And PUNKED!  Bastard.

just saying – 2011/03/07

Just saying, Braydon, the best story did win.  Pipped in the bud. Countin’ your chickens.  Bitchslapped.  And PUNKED!  Bastard.

Internet Polls – 2011/03/07

hayguyz” your reading comprehension is below junior high level.  I actually read Colin’s story and voted for him, I was highlighting that the votes are legal despite your and the other trolls obvious immaturity.  Learn to read.

Turenne – 2011/03/07

I read the paragraphs ‘internet polls’, and I found Colin’s less disagreeable and vastly less nauseatingly pretensious then Braylons. I have no interest in reading either short story going by the pararaphs provided; I’ll stick with Capote, Steinbeck, Heller, Ellroy etc for my taste of American fiction.
Plus, Colin went mass mech – can’t hate on that.

MeltingPoint – 2011/03/07

“It is one of the few magazines in the world devoted exclusively to underground culture and the independent arts.”

I’d say the comments / votes here represent both. The fact that some of you don’t think it’s ‘fair’, is more than amusing.
Congrats Colin, fine writing, and best of luck in the future.

george r. r. martin – 2011/03/07

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way:

Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face — miles and miles of face — of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.

Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough — so Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share In the glory that was Multivac’s.

For decades, Multivac had helped design the ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the Moon, Mars, and Venus, but past that, Earth’s poor resources could not support the ships. Too much energy was needed for the long trips. Earth exploited its coal and uranium with increasing efficiency, but there was only so much of both.

But slowly Multivac learned enough to answer deeper questions more fundamentally, and on May 14, 2061, what had been theory, became fact.

The energy of the sun was stored, converted, and utilized directly on a planet-wide scale. All Earth turned off its burning coal, its fissioning uranium, and flipped the switch that connected all of it to a small station, one mile in diameter, circling the Earth at half the distance of the Moon. All Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.

Seven days had not sufficed to dim the glory of it and Adell and Lupov finally managed to escape from the public function, and to meet in quiet where no one would think of looking for them, in the deserted underground chambers, where portions of the mighty buried body of Multivac showed. Unattended, idling, sorting data with contented lazy clickings, Multivac, too, had earned its vacation and the boys appreciated that. They had no intention, originally, of disturbing it.

They had brought a bottle with them, and their only concern at the moment was to relax in the company of each other and the bottle.

“It’s amazing when you think of it,” said Adell. His broad face had lines of weariness in it, and he stirred his drink slowly with a glass rod, watching the cubes of ice slur clumsily about. “All the energy we can possibly ever use for free. Enough energy, if we wanted to draw on it, to melt all Earth into a big drop of impure liquid iron, and still never miss the energy so used. All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever.”

Lupov cocked his head sideways. He had a trick of doing that when he wanted to be contrary, and he wanted to be contrary now, partly because he had had to carry the ice and glassware. “Not forever,” he said.

“Oh, hell, just about forever. Till the sun runs down, Bert.”

“That’s not forever.”

“All right, then. Billions and billions of years. Twenty billion, maybe. Are you satisfied?”

Lupov put his fingers through his thinning hair as though to reassure himself that some was still left and sipped gently at his own drink. “Twenty billion years isn’t forever.”

“Will, it will last our time, won’t it?”

“So would the coal and uranium.”

“All right, but now we can hook up each individual spaceship to the Solar Station, and it can go to Pluto and back a million times without ever worrying about fuel. You can’t do THAT on coal and uranium. Ask Multivac, if you don’t believe me.”

“I don’t have to ask Multivac. I know that.”

“Then stop running down what Multivac’s done for us,” said Adell, blazing up. “It did all right.”

“Who says it didn’t? What I say is that a sun won’t last forever. That’s all I’m saying. We’re safe for twenty billion years, but then what?” Lupov pointed a slightly shaky finger at the other. “And don’t say we’ll switch to another sun.”

There was silence for a while. Adell put his glass to his lips only occasionally, and Lupov’s eyes slowly closed. They rested.

Then Lupov’s eyes snapped open. “You’re thinking we’ll switch to another sun when ours is done, aren’t you?”

“I’m not thinking.”

“Sure you are. You’re weak on logic, that’s the trouble with you. You’re like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and Who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn’t worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one.”

“I get it,” said Adell. “Don’t shout. When the sun is done, the other stars will be gone, too.”

“Darn right they will,” muttered Lupov. “It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it’ll all have an end when all the stars run down. Some run down faster than others. Hell, the giants won’t last a hundred million years. The sun will last twenty billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last a hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that’s all.”

“I know all about entropy,” said Adell, standing on his dignity.

“The hell you do.”

“I know as much as you do.”

“Then you know everything’s got to run down someday.”

“All right. Who says they won’t?”

“You did, you poor sap. You said we had all the energy we needed, forever. You said ‘forever.'”

“It was Adell’s turn to be contrary. “Maybe we can build things up again someday,” he said.


“Why not? Someday.”


“Ask Multivac.”

You ask Multivac. I dare you. Five dollars says it can’t be done.”

Adell was just drunk enough to try, just sober enough to be able to phrase the necessary symbols and operations into a question which, in words, might have corresponded to this: Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Multivac fell dead and silent. The slow flashing of lights ceased, the distant sounds of clicking relays ended.

Then, just as the frightened technicians felt they could hold their breath no longer, there was a sudden springing to life of the teletype attached to that portion of Multivac. Five words were printed: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

“No bet,” whispered Lupov. They left hurriedly.

By next morning, the two, plagued with throbbing head and cottony mouth, had forgotten about the incident.


Jerrodd, Jerrodine, and Jerrodette I and II watched the starry picture in the visiplate change as the passage through hyperspace was completed in its non-time lapse. At once, the even powdering of stars gave way to the predominance of a single bright marble-disk, centered.

“That’s X-23,” said Jerrodd confidently. His thin hands clamped tightly behind his back and the knuckles whitened.

The little Jerrodettes, both girls, had experienced the hyperspace passage for the first time in their lives and were self-conscious over the momentary sensation of inside-outness. They buried their giggles and chased one another wildly about their mother, screaming, “We’ve reached X-23 — we’ve reached X-23 — we’ve —-”

“Quiet, children,” said Jerrodine sharply. “Are you sure, Jerrodd?”

“What is there to be but sure?” asked Jerrodd, glancing up at the bulge of featureless metal just under the ceiling. It ran the length of the room, disappearing through the wall at either end. It was as long as the ship.

Jerrodd scarcely knew a thing about the thick rod of metal except that it was called a Microvac, that one asked it questions if one wished; that if one did not it still had its task of guiding the ship to a preordered destination; of feeding on energies from the various Sub-galactic Power Stations; of computing the equations for the hyperspacial jumps.

Jerrodd and his family had only to wait and live in the comfortable residence quarters of the ship.

Someone had once told Jerrodd that the “ac” at the end of “Microvac” stood for “analog computer” in ancient English, but he was on the edge of forgetting even that.

Jerrodine’s eyes were moist as she watched the visiplate. “I can’t help it. I feel funny about leaving Earth.”

“Why for Pete’s sake?” demanded Jerrodd. “We had nothing there. We’ll have everything on X-23. You won’t be alone. You won’t be a pioneer. There are over a million people on the planet already. Good Lord, our great grandchildren will be looking for new worlds because X-23 will be overcrowded.”

Then, after a reflective pause, “I tell you, it’s a lucky thing the computers worked out interstellar travel the way the race is growing.”

“I know, I know,” said Jerrodine miserably.

Jerrodette I said promptly, “Our Microvac is the best Microvac in the world.”

“I think so, too,” said Jerrodd, tousling her hair.

It was a nice feeling to have a Microvac of your own and Jerrodd was glad he was part of his generation and no other. In his father’s youth, the only computers had been tremendous machines taking up a hundred square miles of land. There was only one to a planet. Planetary ACs they were called. They had been growing in size steadily for a thousand years and then, all at once, came refinement. In place of transistors had come molecular valves so that even the largest Planetary AC could be put into a space only half the volume of a spaceship.

Jerrodd felt uplifted, as he always did when he thought that his own personal Microvac was many times more complicated than the ancient and primitive Multivac that had first tamed the Sun, and almost as complicated as Earth’s Planetary AC (the largest) that had first solved the problem of hyperspatial travel and had made trips to the stars possible.

“So many stars, so many planets,” sighed Jerrodine, busy with her own thoughts. “I suppose families will be going out to new planets forever, the way we are now.”

“Not forever,” said Jerrodd, with a smile. “It will all stop someday, but not for billions of years. Many billions. Even the stars run down, you know. Entropy must increase.”

“What’s entropy, daddy?” shrilled Jerrodette II.

“Entropy, little sweet, is just a word which means the amount of running-down of the universe. Everything runs down, you know, like your little walkie-talkie robot, remember?”

“Can’t you just put in a new power-unit, like with my robot?”

The stars are the power-units, dear. Once they’re gone, there are no more power-units.”

Jerrodette I at once set up a howl. “Don’t let them, daddy. Don’t let the stars run down.”

“Now look what you’ve done, ” whispered Jerrodine, exasperated.

“How was I to know it would frighten them?” Jerrodd whispered back.

“Ask the Microvac,” wailed Jerrodette I. “Ask him how to turn the stars on again.”

“Go ahead,” said Jerrodine. “It will quiet them down.” (Jerrodette II was beginning to cry, also.)

Jarrodd shrugged. “Now, now, honeys. I’ll ask Microvac. Don’t worry, he’ll tell us.”

He asked the Microvac, adding quickly, “Print the answer.”

Jerrodd cupped the strip of thin cellufilm and said cheerfully, “See now, the Microvac says it will take care of everything when the time comes so don’t worry.”

Jerrodine said, “and now children, it’s time for bed. We’ll be in our new home soon.”

Jerrodd read the words on the cellufilm again before destroying it: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

He shrugged and looked at the visiplate. X-23 was just ahead.


VJ-23X of Lameth stared into the black depths of the three-dimensional, small-scale map of the Galaxy and said, “Are we ridiculous, I wonder, in being so concerned about the matter?”

MQ-17J of Nicron shook his head. “I think not. You know the Galaxy will be filled in five years at the present rate of expansion.”

Both seemed in their early twenties, both were tall and perfectly formed.

“Still,” said VJ-23X, “I hesitate to submit a pessimistic report to the Galactic Council.”

“I wouldn’t consider any other kind of report. Stir them up a bit. We’ve got to stir them up.”

VJ-23X sighed. “Space is infinite. A hundred billion Galaxies are there for the taking. More.”

“A hundred billion is not infinite and it’s getting less infinite all the time. Consider! Twenty thousand years ago, mankind first solved the problem of utilizing stellar energy, and a few centuries later, interstellar travel became possible. It took mankind a million years to fill one small world and then only fifteen thousand years to fill the rest of the Galaxy. Now the population doubles every ten years –”

VJ-23X interrupted. “We can thank immortality for that.”

“Very well. Immortality exists and we have to take it into account. I admit it has its seamy side, this immortality. The Galactic AC has solved many problems for us, but in solving the problems of preventing old age and death, it has undone all its other solutions.”

“Yet you wouldn’t want to abandon life, I suppose.”

“Not at all,” snapped MQ-17J, softening it at once to, “Not yet. I’m by no means old enough. How old are you?”

“Two hundred twenty-three. And you?”

“I’m still under two hundred. –But to get back to my point. Population doubles every ten years. Once this Galaxy is filled, we’ll have another filled in ten years. Another ten years and we’ll have filled two more. Another decade, four more. In a hundred years, we’ll have filled a thousand Galaxies. In a thousand years, a million Galaxies. In ten thousand years, the entire known Universe. Then what?”

VJ-23X said, “As a side issue, there’s a problem of transportation. I wonder how many sunpower units it will take to move Galaxies of individuals from one Galaxy to the next.”

“A very good point. Already, mankind consumes two sunpower units per year.”

“Most of it’s wasted. After all, our own Galaxy alone pours out a thousand sunpower units a year and we only use two of those.”

“Granted, but even with a hundred per cent efficiency, we can only stave off the end. Our energy requirements are going up in geometric progression even faster than our population. We’ll run out of energy even sooner than we run out of Galaxies. A good point. A very good point.”

“We’ll just have to build new stars out of interstellar gas.”

“Or out of dissipated heat?” asked MQ-17J, sarcastically.

“There may be some way to reverse entropy. We ought to ask the Galactic AC.”

VJ-23X was not really serious, but MQ-17J pulled out his AC-contact from his pocket and placed it on the table before him.

“I’ve half a mind to,” he said. “It’s something the human race will have to face someday.”

He stared somberly at his small AC-contact. It was only two inches cubed and nothing in itself, but it was connected through hyperspace with the great Galactic AC that served all mankind. Hyperspace considered, it was an integral part of the Galactic AC.

MQ-17J paused to wonder if someday in his immortal life he would get to see the Galactic AC. It was on a little world of its own, a spider webbing of force-beams holding the matter within which surges of sub-mesons took the place of the old clumsy molecular valves. Yet despite it’s sub-etheric workings, the Galactic AC was known to be a full thousand feet across.

MQ-17J asked suddenly of his AC-contact, “Can entropy ever be reversed?”

VJ-23X looked startled and said at once, “Oh, say, I didn’t really mean to have you ask that.”

“Why not?”

“We both know entropy can’t be reversed. You can’t turn smoke and ash back into a tree.”

“Do you have trees on your world?” asked MQ-17J.

The sound of the Galactic AC startled them into silence. Its voice came thin and beautiful out of the small AC-contact on the desk. It said: THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

VJ-23X said, “See!”

The two men thereupon returned to the question of the report they were to make to the Galactic Council.


Zee Prime’s mind spanned the new Galaxy with a faint interest in the countless twists of stars that powdered it. He had never seen this one before. Would he ever see them all? So many of them, each with its load of humanity – but a load that was almost a dead weight. More and more, the real essence of men was to be found out here, in space.

Minds, not bodies! The immortal bodies remained back on the planets, in suspension over the eons. Sometimes they roused for material activity but that was growing rarer. Few new individuals were coming into existence to join the incredibly mighty throng, but what matter? There was little room in the Universe for new individuals.

Zee Prime was roused out of his reverie upon coming across the wispy tendrils of another mind.

“I am Zee Prime,” said Zee Prime. “And you?”

“I am Dee Sub Wun. Your Galaxy?”

“We call it only the Galaxy. And you?”

“We call ours the same. All men call their Galaxy their Galaxy and nothing more. Why not?”

“True. Since all Galaxies are the same.”

“Not all Galaxies. On one particular Galaxy the race of man must have originated. That makes it different.”

Zee Prime said, “On which one?”

“I cannot say. The Universal AC would know.”

“Shall we ask him? I am suddenly curious.”

Zee Prime’s perceptions broadened until the Galaxies themselves shrunk and became a new, more diffuse powdering on a much larger background. So many hundreds of billions of them, all with their immortal beings, all carrying their load of intelligences with minds that drifted freely through space. And yet one of them was unique among them all in being the originals Galaxy. One of them had, in its vague and distant past, a period when it was the only Galaxy populated by man.

Zee Prime was consumed with curiosity to see this Galaxy and called, out: “Universal AC! On which Galaxy did mankind originate?”

The Universal AC heard, for on every world and throughout space, it had its receptors ready, and each receptor lead through hyperspace to some unknown point where the Universal AC kept itself aloof.

Zee Prime knew of only one man whose thoughts had penetrated within sensing distance of Universal AC, and he reported only a shining globe, two feet across, difficult to see.

“But how can that be all of Universal AC?” Zee Prime had asked.

“Most of it, ” had been the answer, “is in hyperspace. In what form it is there I cannot imagine.”

Nor could anyone, for the day had long since passed, Zee Prime knew, when any man had any part of the making of a universal AC. Each Universal AC designed and constructed its successor. Each, during its existence of a million years or more accumulated the necessary data to build a better and more intricate, more capable successor in which its own store of data and individuality would be submerged.

The Universal AC interrupted Zee Prime’s wandering thoughts, not with words, but with guidance. Zee Prime’s mentality was guided into the dim sea of Galaxies and one in particular enlarged into stars.

A thought came, infinitely distant, but infinitely clear. “THIS IS THE ORIGINAL GALAXY OF MAN.”

But it was the same after all, the same as any other, and Zee Prime stifled his disappointment.

Dee Sub Wun, whose mind had accompanied the other, said suddenly, “And Is one of these stars the original star of Man?”


“Did the men upon it die?” asked Zee Prime, startled and without thinking.


“Yes, of course,” said Zee Prime, but a sense of loss overwhelmed him even so. His mind released its hold on the original Galaxy of Man, let it spring back and lose itself among the blurred pin points. He never wanted to see it again.

Dee Sub Wun said, “What is wrong?”

“The stars are dying. The original star is dead.”

“They must all die. Why not?”

“But when all energy is gone, our bodies will finally die, and you and I with them.”

“It will take billions of years.”

“I do not wish it to happen even after billions of years. Universal AC! How may stars be kept from dying?”

Dee sub Wun said in amusement, “You’re asking how entropy might be reversed in direction.”


Zee Prime’s thoughts fled back to his own Galaxy. He gave no further thought to Dee Sub Wun, whose body might be waiting on a galaxy a trillion light-years away, or on the star next to Zee Prime’s own. It didn’t matter.

Unhappily, Zee Prime began collecting interstellar hydrogen out of which to build a small star of his own. If the stars must someday die, at least some could yet be built.


Man considered with himself, for in a way, Man, mentally, was one. He consisted of a trillion, trillion, trillion ageless bodies, each in its place, each resting quiet and incorruptible, each cared for by perfect automatons, equally incorruptible, while the minds of all the bodies freely melted one into the other, indistinguishable.

Man said, “The Universe is dying.”

Man looked about at the dimming Galaxies. The giant stars, spendthrifts, were gone long ago, back in the dimmest of the dim far past. Almost all stars were white dwarfs, fading to the end.

New stars had been built of the dust between the stars, some by natural processes, some by Man himself, and those were going, too. White dwarfs might yet be crashed together and of the mighty forces so released, new stars built, but only one star for every thousand white dwarfs destroyed, and those would come to an end, too.

Man said, “Carefully husbanded, as directed by the Cosmic AC, the energy that is even yet left in all the Universe will last for billions of years.”

“But even so,” said Man, “eventually it will all come to an end. However it may be husbanded, however stretched out, the energy once expended is gone and cannot be restored. Entropy must increase to the maximum.”

Man said, “Can entropy not be reversed? Let us ask the Cosmic AC.”

The Cosmic AC surrounded them but not in space. Not a fragment of it was in space. It was in hyperspace and made of something that was neither matter nor energy. The question of its size and Nature no longer had meaning to any terms that Man could comprehend.

“Cosmic AC,” said Man, “How may entropy be reversed?”


Man said, “Collect additional data.”


“Will there come a time,” said Man, “when data will be sufficient or is the problem insoluble in all conceivable circumstances?”


Man said, “When will you have enough data to answer the question?”


“Will you keep working on it?” asked Man.

The Cosmic AC said, “I WILL.”

Man said, “We shall wait.”


“The stars and Galaxies died and snuffed out, and space grew black after ten trillion years of running down.

One by one Man fused with AC, each physical body losing its mental identity in a manner that was somehow not a loss but a gain.

Man’s last mind paused before fusion, looking over a space that included nothing but the dregs of one last dark star and nothing besides but incredibly thin matter, agitated randomly by the tag ends of heat wearing out, asymptotically, to the absolute zero.

Man said, “AC, is this the end? Can this chaos not be reversed into the Universe once more? Can that not be done?”


Man’s last mind fused and only AC existed — and that in hyperspace.


Matter and energy had ended and with it, space and time. Even AC existed only for the sake of the one last question that it had never answered from the time a half-drunken computer ten trillion years before had asked the question of a computer that was to AC far less than was a man to Man.

All other questions had been answered, and until this last question was answered also, AC might not release his consciousness.

All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected.

But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships.

A timeless interval was spent in doing that.

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.

But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer — by demonstration — would take care of that, too.

For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program.

The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done.


And there was light—-



DontSleepWait – 2011/03/07

Oh he mad, and a lil jelly

Dunno – 2011/03/07

Well, good luck DGB.  I’ll be rooting for you, but with this monstrosity, I doubt it will help.

Sorry Braydon, I can safely say the better story did not win this round; yours was much more tightly written.

staples – 2011/03/07

yall mad cuz colin is winning    Bi-winning  with his tigerblood and anyone that doesn’t like his story more then FGK is a troll who is jelly of his warlock skills

just saying – 2011/03/07

Don’t sweat it, Trollface.  Fitzwilliam is mentally deficient and hasn’t figured out that the Deathmatch is a actually a contest for who can promote Broken’s Pencil’s website the widest.  Brilliant and amazing what a last minute Brush fire can build into.  Genius, Colin, pure genius.  You pulled off a sleeper attack like no other, it’s a contestant’s biggest nightmare, no way to prepare for it, except all out offence.  No room for complacency here.  A standing ovation from my end.  Wild, man!  Factor that into your game plan, Griff.  Either you’ve got it, or you don’t  ; )

poopfeast420 – 2011/03/07

u mad bro?

hayguyz – 2011/03/07

this dude below me wanted the other guy to win and is mad

buck choi – 2011/03/07

u mad bro?

Internet Polls – 2011/03/07

Although many of the posters from Steven Bonnell’s stream have demonstrated their immaturity here, I hope the contest mods will not take their immaturity into account.  Whatever their motive, their votes were still legal.  The unfortunate nature of online polls and contests are that they may often become popularity contests, ie. let’s see who has more friends with internet access and a little free time.
There is no requirement to read the stories to vote, perhaps that should be considered as an option next time?  I’m sure that if the vote button is moved to the ending of each story, in the future it would dissuade many of the “viral voters.”

TerransOP,yo – 2011/03/07

Noob needs to stop going mech, fool cant postion his tanks right.



hayguyz – 2011/03/07

sorry bro but scrolling down takes too much energy

DontSleepWait – 2011/03/07

WTF? Cheating?  When they check the votes they’ll see about 2000 legitimate votes, any moron would be dumb not to put their story out there and advertise for something as prestigious as the Broken Pencil Deathmatch, It just seems that Colin has people who really like him, are intelligent, think he is intelligent, and really want him to win, if you can’t get that around head maybe you can get it through your thick skull.

Turenne – 2011/03/07

Tenk imo Braylon needs to SCAN THE ISLAND more. Its always been a major failing in his play.


I said i do it all the time noob, scroll down

hayguyz – 2011/03/07



Hey buddy this isnt cheating, its called the internet.

Turenne – 2011/03/07

Madeline Masters and Simone, why are the two of you such exceedingly pompous, tedious and embarassing human beings?

mrtenk – 2011/03/07

Hmmm, I voted for this because I find it intellectually stimulating and I agree with sir Collin Brush’s views. Braydon, you should have scouted that hidden expo bro. gg.

fitzwilliam – 2011/03/07

wow this was much better when the voting was fair and someone didnt start to win dramatically in like an hour…and when people like troll face werent being idiots? what the heck are you even doing toolface person. All I can was Braydons story was great and I still hope you win, too bad for cheaters, and im not saying its Collin just people on his side.

Trollface69 – 2011/03/07

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all the time

hayguyz – 2011/03/07

Does anyone else masturbate upside down so when you finish it falls in your mouth?

the_ultimate_chadbro – 2011/03/07




Turenne – 2011/03/07

Stop trolling ‘poopfeast’, if that is your real name, you know full well this motherfucker was a TvT.

Trollface69 – 2011/03/07

You just got trolled.

…But it ain’t over.



poopfeast420 – 2011/03/07

was the dt rush in game 3 something that you had planned out or did you just think of it all of the sudden?

ROOTDestiny – 2011/03/07



staples – 2011/03/07

i’m Preety sure i wilL be voting for brAYdon beaulieu about 200 or more times toniGht by changing my ip no proxy bs yoU know this is the right thing to do

DontSleepWait – 2011/03/07

Just wait till the next round, hurr durr, too bad Braydon supply blocked himself.



Turenne – 2011/03/07

gg Colin. That two rax opener FE into mass reaper into nuke rush was too much awesomeness for Braylon to handle.

ColinBrushIsTehBestz0rz – 2011/03/07


Colin Brush – 2011/03/07

Wow, this is bizarre! I’m just trying to wrap my head around all this. I suppose I owe a big thank you to Dave M and Steven Bonnell.

Colon_Brush – 2011/03/07

I must say, Colon Brush is truly the best rectal scrub on the market today.  Highly recommend.

Turenne – 2011/03/07

gg Braylon, gg.

P.S. Build more marines in future.

P.P.S. Some odd and rather pompous human beings on this site.

hayguyz – 2011/03/07


Victory Lap – 2011/03/07

I’m the kind of guy who only votes once per hour.  Pretty much every hour.  Sounds like we are witnessing a historic moment in Deathmatch history.  The first story to actually ever go viral.  Enough to overload BP’s servers at moments.  Kudos to the “Anyone but Beaulieu” campaign.  And an exciting finale, I thought it was a fait accompli.  The big question now is whether it’s too little too late.  You asked a lot of good questions about Beaulieu’s “Tony.”  Burning, pressing questions, almost out of an urgent need to know.  Beaulieu does what he can in a story.  Captures only fragments, and puts a seamy spin on it.   All we know it that Tony is scheming, steals, collects odd things and would shag a friend’s daughter.  It amounts to a caricature.  The rest, we have to speculate on, and then, from Beaulio’s warped, shadowy POV.  But that’s rich compared to what he gives us on Angela.  What’s in it for her?  Why does she telephone Tony?  Why do you think she pummels him after he offers her a ring?  I’d suppose it was because she recognizes he’s unorthodox by virtue of their “relationship” and is setting up barriers.  Her prerogative.  But why does she embrace him again afterwards anyway?  Do you think she reached the right conclusion about the obit?  Did she reach any conclusion?  Or was it the tequila?

ROOTDestinyPwnsYourPollsForTenBux – 2011/03/07

Publicity = Victory!

Kerouac – 2011/03/07

Mass zerg rush .


goldpanda – 2011/03/07

go colin!

asfsadf – 2011/03/07

lololol you guys need to get better servers.

BigMistake – 2011/03/07

By asking Steven Bonnell to vote for you’re person, you unleashed some of the beastiest and most epic trolls there are on teh interwebz. Big Mistake. You also just lost. L2P N00B.

Mr. Wiggles – 2011/03/07

Generating publicity you say?

On top of what was already there?

Regarding this, I’m not sure what to say…

Only that I liked Colin’s story,

Omiting a few minor things.

The time draws near, when these votes shall be counted.

holycheck – 2011/03/07


ROOTColin – 2011/03/07

Colin. I am you, from the year 2021. Do not fight this poll. This was the best thing that ever happened to me. I am now the wealthiest author in the world. I own this magazine and 4 others, and the rest I use as toilet paper. You do NOT want to forfeit this contest. Oh, and my wife is smoking hot.

Scan the island – 2011/03/07

Colin is our man!

Bangkok – 2011/03/07

Maybe it was just Colin\’s Destiny to win.

Pynto1085 – 2011/03/07

Nothing illegal is going on. The deathmatch recently got some major publicity and people are streaming in to vote. Go Colin Brush!

Pynto1085 – 2011/03/07

Nothing illegal is going on. The deathmatch recently got some major publicity and people are streaming in to vote. Go Colin Brush!

Pynto1085 – 2011/03/07

Nothing illegal is going on. The deathmatch recently got some major publicity and people are streaming in to vote. Go Colin Brush!

Pynto1085 – 2011/03/07

Nothing illegal is going on. The deathmatch recently got some major publicity and people are streaming in to vote. Go Colin Brush!

buck choi – 2011/03/07

who is this ROOTDestiny dude? i hear he is a good looking douchebag.

disinter – 2011/03/07

A popular Starcraft 2 player was streaming and asked a chat of several thousand to vote. I voted legitimately, then decided to try clearing my cache and voting again. When this didn\’t work I tried and got some results, confirming that the voting system selected by IP. However I could only vote an additional 4 or 5 times this way, as those proxies mostly go through the same host. I am responsible for the votes, but most of the votes for Colin are legit votes generated by Steven Bonnell\’s request to his chat.

David Griffin Brown – 2011/03/07

Wow… this just got crazy.  Nothing like a last minute war???  The website is choking, took me several tries to load.

By the way… just saying, Victory Lap…

…can we have saddle back next round?

And… how the hell did you know I was going to donate the money? That was my secret weapon….

Predakori – 2011/03/07

Yes, someone on the stream came in and asked. From what I saw his name was “Dave M.” so I advise if there are any friends with that name, he was probably the one.

Predakori – 2011/03/07

Yes, someone on the stream came in and asked. From what I saw his name was “Dave M.” so I advise if there are any friends with that name, he was probably the one.

iWhipMyHairB&F – 2011/03/07

After we win you can blame, Jesus’s magic wand for your misfortune.

Kerouac – 2011/03/07

Quit the nonsense, this isn’t proxies being used at all.

Someone related to Colin – a friend apparently – asked an online gaming famous broadcaster to ask people to vote, hence the mass income of votes on your website. All these votes are “legit” technically speaking, it’s just everyone doing what the broadcaster asked, as he just wanted to help out someone asking.

MeltingPoint – 2011/03/07

Stop saying Proxies – you sound like idiots. Someone came on to a stream with over 5000 people and asked people to vote – case closed – do what you want.

anonymous234 – 2011/03/07

HEY GUYS –  Someone came in and told the stream to vote for Brush.  That’s what’s doing it…

JT – 2011/03/07

woah- it could be possible if they’ve bought proxy service. People can pay and get speed ones. That is the only way, short of someone hacking BP, that this could happen this fast.

simone- Beaulieu is getting votes now as all the family and mh-ers are on it to try and stabalize the damage. So if we can’t stop it something odd and illegal is going on. There’s about 300 or more of us.

woah – 2011/03/07

True say Simone.

simone – 2011/03/07

woah, the couple sites I checked had already been voted from. This is just purely odd. It’s still going up drastically…

Also, it would have to be more than 200 votes because 200 votes would be assuming that Braydon Beaulieu hasn’t received any votes during that time.

woah – 2011/03/07

not to say that any other form of cheating would make it ok.

anonymous234 – 2011/03/07

Someone came on and asked the stream to vote for Brush.

woah – 2011/03/07

You know, I’m not so sure it’s proxies. I just checked myself and came across a few in a row that were ready to vote. To jump 2 percent that quickly would require 200 votes. There are far less than 200 proxies on that site. I’m not really sure how this is happening, but I’m not convinced its proxies…

Don’t get me wrong though, I totally agree with you that making a comeback now with proxies would be wrong.

Lichty18 – 2011/03/07

Right here, Victory Lap. Whatever just happened with the voting, I’m not happy about it. Please listen to Colin Brush and stop. Please vote fairly. Thank you.

simone – 2011/03/07

Colin and woah, I much appreciate you saying that. It’s just really ridiculous. I’m glad you both have noticed this too. It’s nice to know that people are supporting you, but through proxy sites is low.

This was a lot of fun (most of the time), I just hope it ends clean and fair. 🙂

JT – 2011/03/07

Seriously mature comments by just saying. So you’ve proved you cannot read this thread, you’re incapable of doing research on who you are bashing and you do not actually read canlit. Bravo! We are all so impressed with your intelligence.

Do you think we’re not paying attention you proxy lovers? Do you think BP is not paying attention?
Colin I for one am sorry for whoever is doing this to you. Some of us believe you that you’re not behind it. Obviously someone really has it in for Braydon. Jealously is such a weak emotion.

simone – 2011/03/07

I just checked the proxy site : I tried to vote on that site only to see if the site would tell me that “I” already voted. Sure enough, it did. The only way to have that number of votes so quickly would be to go through proxy sites. Those who accused Braydon Beaulieu of proxy voting before, just take a look at what is happening right now.


Colin Brush – 2011/03/07

i think i saw the score jump 2% in a matter or seconds. I don’t even know how this is possible. I’m sorry. Who ever is up to this should please stop.

woah – 2011/03/07

Simone, Colin isn’t touching the score. The two of us are sitting here watching it rise like crazy with no idea how or why. We have no idea what’s going on here.

simone – 2011/03/07

This is absolutely ridiculous.

Can we say poor loser?

There is just over three hours left, and somehow Colin has raised two percent in the last half hour?

Whatever is going on must stop.

Victory Lap – 2011/03/07

Where are you Lichty18?

just saying – 2011/03/07

Flying to give a paper on human-insect transformation at a literature conference at UBC Okanagan.  No wonder this country is going to hell in a hand basket.  I heard David Griffin Brown would donate his winnings to illiterate children.  Yeah, he was the only one his parents could afford to send to NAIT’s adult ed creative writing night classes, so it goes to his brothers.  They’ll use the money to buy Mooseheads while they sit on the porch waiting for Griffin to return from Columbia.  British Columbia, I doubt he’s the bon vivant jetsetter he lets on.  Whattsa matter, you little bitches, you got nothing to gain by posting?  I’ve never heard of any of beaulieu’s so-called high-powered supporters.  But I bet they’re real skanks.  Read any good books lately?

Madeline Masters – 2011/03/07

While I’m here, I’ll leave something for Mr. Brush, too:

Well Colin, I thought you had it in the bag earlier this week – whaaat happened?

All I’ll say is, I think Free Therapy deserved to win over Mr. Perry’s piece. As far as your story against Braydon’s, well, Field Guide is difficult to compare to pretty much every other entry in this contest, because it is so different structurally and stylistically.

But as far as short stories go, for BP’s target audience and in other publications, I think Free Therapy can easily find a home in print in several places. It does, and will, appeal to a lot of people. But I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that.

Good luck to you, too, Mr. Brush. There’s another 12 hours until the food fight cease fire is declared. And who knows – maybe somebody will get a hold of the chocolate pudding, and then all hell will break loose…

Madeline Masters – 2011/03/07

Hello Braydon,

No, I haven’t stopped checking in on Deathmatch. I’m just so curious to see how it all turns out!

Anyway, I was thinking about your story the other day, and I wondered – did you ever consider writing Field Guide in third person? I reread some of the sections with “he’s” instead of “I’s,” and I thought it went along nicely with the story’s ambiguity.

Is there a specific reason/reasons you chose to tell it in first person? Or was that one of the things you did without any idea why. ;D juuuust joshin’ ya.

Well, good luck – looks like you’re about to secure another victory.

Victory Lap – 2011/03/06

Thanks for sharing, Colin.  Some great insights/outtakes, like a good Jackie Chan movie.  Too bad you and Beaulieu forgot to take them all out.  Let’s take a loving last glance at your piece, under a magnifying glass.  What is it that Ellery sees in this guy?  Is it only because he has no friends to share her secrets with?  She reaches out for that kind of attention.  Craves it.  Like Beaulieu’s Angela, nobody twists her arm.  She comes to his place/calls on him.  But when the guys take it beyond a certain comfort zone, talking directly to her boyfriend or offering her a ring, both girls resist.  These self-centred cold fishes are so damaged, they won’t reciprocate in any natural sense to dedicated, personal attention.  Instead they lash out. Angela takes a whack at bug man.  My favorite line from Ellery:  “your son’s a dick.”  Angela thinks she gets the obit.  DGB suggests she might be smarter than us, maybe hyper aware.  But Tony was also well aware of the impression the obit would have made on Angela.  It was just bad timing, Tony didn’t have control over that, it fell out of his pocket somewhat randomly.  Angela jumps to a conclusion too quickly, without all the facts being laid out.  That’s one reason I have a stronger reaction against Beaulieu’s story.  Ellery is more justified in her reaction, her “analyst” goes totally overboard in revealing secrets that were made in confidence.  Anybody would react that way to that teatment of NON-PUBLIC information.  That’s why I like Brush’s story better, it flows, more cohesively.  All in all, the four remaining stories will make for a memorable issue of Broken Pencil, a worthy keepsake.

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/06

Fun question, Colin! I don’t have a saved draft on my computer, but it was originally titled “Lestobiotica” (ugh) and the first line was: “I am a marauder.” Tony’s name was originally Billy, and the story contained the following embarrassing excuses for writing:

“Billy, buddy,” I hear from behind me, the jovial cry of the false god of host insects.

conspiratorial gesticulation

I am sure to not betray any emotion on my face, except for indescribable grief at the loss of my half-sister.

Cut, cut, cut. The first draft was done as an assignment in fourth year undergrad, where we had to write a piece for which we were required to do research. Here was my entry at the end of the story:

Experiential research: In order to better understand the mindframe of a petty thief, I stole little things from my family and hid them around the house. Archival research: Biology essays and online journal articles about kleptoparasitism in insects and arachnids.

Sorry, family. I put everything back. This entry still wasn’t nearly as good as my friend Tommy (not the one on the comment board, I don’t think), who stuffed pillows under his clothes and chased a bunch of chickens around a barnyard. If he’d caught one and cooked it halfway through, it might have come out like Free Therapy.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/06

Committing to figure out the obit is like taking on the giant steak that’ll get your picture on the diner wall. Chances are you won’t finish. And even if you do – is it really worth it?

This was the first thing I wrote for free therapy:

Ellery calls me her therapist. I just sit across from her bean bag chair and nod my head and promise I’m listening. She knows I have no one to tell her stories to and that’s why I’m the one she tells everything. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t tell. I’m not under legal contract or anything.

It’s pretty rough. All lot of my first daft got re-arranged. I actually was really pleased to see Girdles interpretation of the story because one of the first themes I wanted to bring up is that you can’t expect a real person to be a real therapist.

Here’s something I didn’t end up using that was part of my first stream of ‘free therapy’ thoughts. It doesn’t work with what the story became, but I still think it’s kind of cool:

Wednesday nights are when she usually comes over, when my mom’s out at her book club meeting.

But one time she rang my doorbell at 3am on a Saturday and when I came to let her in she screamed that Josh Shurden is a fucking asshole. She was drunk out of her mind.

One time she came to my door crying with bruises on her arm and all she would tell me is that her cat might be sick.

She usually talks for more than an hour.


Braydon, do you have any embarrassing first draft cuts you care to share?

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/06

Victory Lap: I am actually split, moot, cheet, stop and possibly whoa.

Good question. My paper on human-insect transformation in literature just got accepted to a conference at UBC Okanagan, so if I win, I’d like to use the money to offset the travel costs of that. Well, that and this, probably:

Yeah, I’m a nerd.

Victory Lap – 2011/03/06

You were pretty quick to catch that, Braydon.  How many aliases you got going here?  Speaking of psychology, that wordle is cool.  No matter how much you try to get into someone else’s head, more than a little of you still remains.  Emphasis on mother and God.  Everything is black and white, and maybe a little too blue.  And a sensual streak too: hand, skin, neck, shoulder and eyes.  Tree?  Maybe an emphasis on personal growth.  What are you going to do with the $300?

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/06

No worries, Colin. Busy day here, too.

See, I’m the complete opposite! When I map out an idea, I usually end up finishing the story in two pages. I have to almost go in blind in order to create anything besides a cool storyline. (Which is not what I’m saying Free Therapy is, though. There’s definitely more than just a storyline there.) Plot-based stories have their place, but that place isn’t on my hard drive. Like I’ve said before, in this round and the one against Madeline, I shy away from being too plot-centred. It’s like shellfish to me; tons of people love it, but it makes me feel queasy.

Did you start Free Therapy with dialogue as its skeleton? I said before that your dialogue is good popcorn, and I stick by that, although I still find your ending to be like getting to the bottom of a glass of iced tea (for Madeline and Dani: sweet tea) and finding it’s been watered down with melted ice cubes.

Aaaaaaaand cue food fight! elliottj will be happy.

Oh, and Victory Lap: That was probably my favourite line, too. Although I think it was extropian, no?

Victory Lap – 2011/03/06

Timetracker’s timeless truths on perfection and procrastination.  I could do your job better and you know it.  Aim high and hope for the best.  Or aim for the heart.  How about a recap then?  Best line of the match:  Just Me with “calling Braydon an “egotistical egghead” on a discussion board for a writing contest is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.”  Lichty almost had it right with winning by cheating means nothing (it only shows you know proxy servers).  Of course he could have said winning means nothing (it’s only shows you’re more socially connected).  But Martha knows best.  Winning means everything.  Otherwise you’ll just be “a” winner and not “the” winner ; p

Colin Brush – 2011/03/06

Braydon, Sorry for the delay. When I’m starting something new I usually try write out an interesting scene or dialogue, and through that develop characters. Once I can form a distinct character or two it isn’t too difficult to imagine a story line. But before I start writing I try and have the ending formed and at least several points. Then I fill in the rest. Almost any time I try to write when I don’t have a solid direction I just end up getting stuck.

There’s a big list of what I value in writing. Like Braydon had said – writing can let you escape. Reading can do it just as well – in fantasy especially. The advantage of a book is you can look away from the page and daydream. If a piece of writing catches you off guard it’s usually bringing forth an idea you’ve never come across before. Whether it’s because of a groundbreaking style or newly tapped thought process, it’s exciting when you’re exposed to something new. Usually within the genres I enjoy reading the stories hold to a form of morality I can appreciate. They’ll reinforce it in a new scenario or add to it. Plus, anything Non-fiction is pretty much straight up learning, which is always fun.

timetracker7 – 2011/03/06

Judging be the reasons victory lap called writing ‘a fools game’ I’m guessing VL dreams low. My thoughts: a job that can be done by almost anyone and most nights are spent in front of the TV. But don’t be embarrassed making mistakes can be scary. I’m guessing the board is running dry because it can only be said so much that i don’t like reading about high school or I got bored with the bugs. And I’m sure everyone’s sick of hearing about proxies.

Victory Lap – 2011/03/06

A grim and silent vigil for those witnessing Colin’s Brush with Deathmatch.  Did you think it would be easy to beat Beaulieu?  You and whose arny?  Brush is looking like that sick hoser in a filthy winter coat panhandling outside the liquor store.  Buried under six feet of snow.  No one can save the patient now.  No one wants to come out and play. I’ve given her all that I’ve got, Captain.  I’m a doctor, not Mary Shelly.

Lichty18 – 2011/03/06

First off, I don’t think anyone is trying to the use the proxy sites to gain votes. I know there was some talk in previous rounds and such, but just because Beaulieu gained the lead doesn’t mean proxy sites are being used. I’m not a computer expert, and I know nothing about these proxy sites and how to vote form them. So really, if someone was using these sites, I wouldn’t really know. However, I know when there was, or might have been (can’t and won’t say for sure) the votes would climb drastically in a number of hours for one story, then lull during the day. It was also the underdog receiving all the votes. In this match, I believe the competitors are more evenly matched and so the round could go either way for the votes. If one competitor reeled in some votes and took the lead over the other, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. I’m hoping both competitors realize, and I’m sure they do, winning by cheating means nothing. You didn’t win. You happened to be smart enough to use a proxy site. That doesn’t mean your story was better or that you’re the better writer. In fact, it means you’re the worst because you had to result to cheating to win. It means you, like most of world, are driven by money.

I’d like to touch on Victory Lap and Beaulieu’s little conversation. Being very interested in writing myself, and hoping to someday be at this level, I can say, I can very easily see where Beaulieu is coming from when answering Victory Lap’s questions. You write to get out of real life. For me, it’s like being a kid. I used to play Harry Potter, act out Little House on the Prairie, pretend my backyard was a horse farm and play dolls and toy horses in my basement. It was fun becoming a protagonist. It’s like writing, at least for me, is a more mature and productive way of setting up a little horse farm and having my Barbie dolls ride the model horses to save the plastic pig caught in the cave/ laundry room. Of course, our stories have got beyond saving livestock, but I think it’s still the same in the end.

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/06

Colin: I usually start with an idea for a character and an image and start writing. For example, I just finished the working draft of a story where the narrator can’t piece time together in a linear way, and the whole time I was writing I had this image of a blue coffee mug of red wine shattering on the floor. I come up with ideas as I go, and by the time I’m done, I know what I want to do with the piece. Then the editing process (read: the fun part) starts. I very rarely map out a plan before I head in. I like the feeling of exploring uncharted territory. How about you?

Victory Lap: Holy psychology question, Batman. I feel like a character in Free Therapy. What am I running from? Well, I guess I can easily base that on the themes that surface the most in my writing, which are probably the issues that I’ve dealt with most in my life. To be broad about it: religion, class, and romance. I approach these themes differently with each story. Kind of a case-by-case basis. Here’s a diagram of the words I’ve used most often in the last several short stories and poems I wrote:

Victory Lap – 2011/03/06

These guys ar like a couple boxers.  Jabbing with questions, trying to create an opening.  Countering with cautious answers.  The crowd is starting to boo.  We want to see a fight.  What value do you see in good writing, Colin?  Why do you want to be a part of it?  And what are you trying to escape from, Braydon?  Never read Harry Potter, but both my “daughters” were “avid” fans and devoured them all.  Imagine it’s like a modernized Hardy Boys or Encyclopedia Brown.  Go ahead, try to hit a home run.  Keep dreaming.  But for every, Bill Gates, Bobby Orr, Warren Buffet or JK Rowling, there’s a ten million who’ve squandered the most valuable years of their lives scribbling bullshit.  It’s a fool’s game.  Tommy doesn’t want to be lumped in.  So maybe he’s the kid at BP who periodically jumps in to delete all the proxy votes, causing minor bumps in the standings, like the significant gain Braydon experienced overnight.

Tommy – 2011/03/06

I don\’t know what proxy voting is and I don\’t give a damn. Brush and Beaulieu are getting exposure and publication. Good on them. VL, don\’t lump me in, and BitS I don\’t know what you think I do, but it wasn\’t something I thought that much about.

Victory Lap – 2011/03/05

A proxy site is a website you can visit to “cloak” or conceal your IP address from other websites you view.  When you visit a website, many have software to record your IP address, from which they can determine the number of unique visitors, frequency of visits of specific visitors,  and determine your location, ie city.  Your service provider, ie Telus or Shaw, would be able to identify your IP address and link this to your actual residence and account, and provide this information to the authorities, if they had a good reason for requesting it.  So stop looking at dirty pictures of naked children. Broken Pencil’s website limits you to voting once per hour.  They do so by determining that a vote has been cast from your specific computer’s IP address and blocking it from voting twice in the same hour.  Using a proxy, you could vote again within the same hour, since your next vote would provide Broken Pencil with a different IP address, that of the proxy.  I thought some proxies might even be capable of providing you a number of other but slightly similar IP addresses, so that you might be able to use the same proxy site to vote more than once.  Maybe Broken Pencil is capable of manually reviewing and rejecting votes from proxy IP addresses they recognize, if they feel it is has potentially made a difference to the result.   Do you want me to explain what an IP address is?   Or the steps to reformatting your hard drive?  All I’m saying is that Beaulieu’s story seems to have attracted more comments this round (suggesting greater interest) and more commentors/decided voters in his favour, which might indicate that there is a logical explanation for his lead.  I’ve never used a proxy when voting here, nor know of anyone who has.

fitzwilliam – 2011/03/05

so what are you trying to say victoy lap? that Brush is cheating because Beaulieu should be winning, and i am a little confused, what is a proxy site?

7newspapers – 2011/03/05

…it’s refreshing that BP isn’t posting in the comment section this year…or aren’t they…i think the proxy argument is as necessary as the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Let’s Do the time Warp Again  ; )

untitled – 2011/03/05

We’ve all known about the proxy technique for some time now. I’m sure that both sides have used proxys or some other unfair technique to boost the score. I think it’s naïve to assume otherwise. Maybe its the writers, maybe its an invested friend, maybe its just an anonymous fan, maybe BP is helping a favourite, maybe DGB or mar mar are trying to get a hate campaign going for their possible competition. We don’t know. Its useless to blame. Its been said a hundred times that this competition isn’t won or lost in the writing so it shouldn’t be taken personal. Now can we please get back to the stories?

Victory Lap – 2011/03/05

Considering that you are probably, split, moot, cheet, stop and possibly whoa.  No you’re right, it’s probably not accurate.

split – 2011/03/05

Braydon goes out and his score falls. Was he single handily holding up the votes? And victory lap, I don’t think that’s a fair judgment. Votes and commenting are completely different.

Victory Lap – 2011/03/05

On who should be ahead from the perspective of basics, I’d look to the comments:  Most talked about story by mention in posts:  Beaulieu – 57, Brush – 30  Commenters confirmed or strongly leaning towards writer:  Beaulieu – 21, Brush – 13.

So no need whatsoever to be nervous, maybe Brush is the underdog and Beaulieu should be winning.  –

(voting for Beaulieu – husseini8, lzeppelin, lichty18, Braydon Beaulieu, just me, st. pierre, simone, elliotj, extropian, fitzwilliam, Daniel Perry, David Griffin Brown, Tommy, Dunno, milksteaknjellybeans, JT, and throw in Angi Abdou, Rebecca Rosenblum, Amy Jones, Rosemary Nixon and the MH crowd)  (voting for Brush – backinthesaddle, Colin Brush, wizzee, Girdle, peteee5, nattie, woah, paperweight, cheet, moot, split, stop, petromyzon marinus)

JT – 2011/03/05

So Braydon announces he’s going out for the night. Brush makes an astounding comeback in about what, 30/40 minutes give or take. And the proxy sites are burning up. Do you think people are dense? This is getting tiresome. But it’s okay. We won’t back down either. We just have more fun than you as we only have to check in once an hour.
On a lighter note I enjoyed the boys banter about Harry Potter. Makes you both more real, and it’s nice to see you talking and engaging. The back stories on your love of writing are both enlightening and show a real side to you both. Keep up the great work. This is what we’re all here for.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/05

To elliottj:

Certain books have the ability to shape my writing while I’m read them. When I come across provoking styles or narrative voices that I’ve never read before they resonate with me, and then they will easily influence what I’m writing.


Braydon, I definitely read to escape sometimes, so I can see the appeal. I have a question – How do you piece your stories together? Do you write from start to finish, do you map it out, is it different every time?

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/05

Great answer, Colin, thanks! As succincubus said in Round Two, “Never ask a question you are not yourself prepared to answer.” So here it is:

I was five when I wrote my first short story, for my grandparents. It was about a remote control who’d lost its batteries, and it was fifty words long. They still have it in their living room. Continual source of Christmastime embarrassment.

I was also in sixth grade when trying to emulate J.K. Rowling (Colin, I’m also guilty of a persistent love for Harry Potter), and Tolkien. I wanted to be the next great fantasy writer. My specialty was centaurs. So. Yeah.

I guess the reason I write is to escape myself. I try to inhabit another person’s body, think from their mind. This is probably why I write my fiction in the first person so often. It gives me an hour or two a day (if I’m focused and not procrastinating on Facebook or The Awesomer) to be someone else, to exist, I guess, in a new life that’s difficult to understand. I like to force myself not just to think like someone else when I write, but to be someone else, as best I can.

Okay, Colin. Your turn. Question away. I’ll be out for most of the night, but I’ll respond by tomorrow morning, at least.

elliottj – 2011/03/05

To Colin Brush:

I liked your answer to Braydon’s question; I can definitely relate. Do you find that what you’ve read most recently influences your writing (style, genre, or in another manner)?

To split:

Two things.

a) You don’t have to be at a computer to vote for or comment on this contest. Smartphones.

b) Since you can only vote once per IP, students (voting on campus) or anyone sharing a building with a single wireless connection will be at a disadvantage, as only one vote can be registered.

And everyone:

Can we talk about these stories now? I miss the food fight.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/05

I’ve had a compulsion to write for a long time. In grade 6 after getting into Harry Potter I tried to write my own fantasy novel. I never finished it, and the file got lost when the computer it was saved on got thrown out, but from what I can remember some of it wasn’t half bad. (I’ll admit, I’m in the middle of re-reading all the Harry Potter books for the first time and I’m still in love. I’m sure that leaves me open to insult but if anyone says they wouldn’t spend a year at Hogwarts if they had the chance they’re lying.) In high school I was really into writing songs, but they were all terrible.

I love a well written book; it’ll make me want to write. And when it comes to fiction – I’m a good writer, and I continuously find myself improving. Why do I write? Because I see a lot of value in good writing, and I’d like to be a part of that. But it’s a complicated question; maybe my answer would be different I was asked next week.

Now Braydon, if I’ve got to answer this question you do too.

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/05

Well, Colin and I have been criticizing each others’ stories (soggy popcorn to pink-on-the-inside burger) and our friends have been tearing each others’ throats out, so I’m going to post something a little more easygoing.

One of the hardest questions I ever had to answer was “Why do you write?” What are the reasons you engage in this craft, Colin? What drives you to put pen to paper and/or fingers to keyboard?

Also, a public thank you to Michou for their support. In return, check out one of their newest songs:

simone – 2011/03/05

P.S. DAVID Griffin Brown. I truly apologize for that mistake. It has been quite a long day.

simone – 2011/03/05

Wow! First off, Daniel Griffin Brown, thank you! In Braydon Beaulieu‘s previous round, he was a victim (I guess I’ll say) of proxy voting. There is no way he would do this to someone else. I will also say that there are many other ways to spread the word to vote than simply through Facebook. It is slightly ridiculous that we base the number of friends someone has on the number of friends they have on Facebook.

When it comes down to it, all Braydon Beaulieu really wanted was to be published. Having accomplished this, he has no reason to be devious in his ways at this point in the round.

I can assure you that there is no proxy voting going on because I was one of those who caught it last time. If anyone truly believes there is proxy voting still continuing, please bring some valid proof. Numbers and times at which the votes jump in percentage.   On Braydon Beaulieu‘s end, this is a perfectly clean match.

Now please, let’s all get back to the writing. I don’t want to speak for Braydon Beaulieu or Colin Brush, but this is a writing match. The discussion board should not be filled with personal attacks to the writers, and especially between commenters.

pseudonym – 2011/03/05

perhaps all of this debate about cheating / proxy voting, etc. will lead Broken Pencil to rethink the running of this contest.
How is the merit of a literary contest / the awarding of a literary accolade impacted by the fact that the decision is entirely based on who can rally the most people to log onto a site once an hour to vote?
Perhaps the entire contest needs a rehaul.  Why do we need to be able to vote once an hour, or even once a day? Shouldn’t once, total, be enough?

However, I suppose thatt wouldn’t avoid the fact that there are likely always going to be people voting who, unlike those providing detailed and valid criticisms, have read neither of the stories and have no intention to do so.

JT – 2011/03/05

Woah it was not out of the blue. We called foul after getting fed up with nonsense from night one. Whether it’s Brush or not, someone on his behalf has been playing unfair. We called it out. Then fairly, without proxy sites, kicked it into high gear. We didn’t need to call in the troops until it became clear that someone was keeping him just slightly over. It could be someone who isn’t even in Brush’s camp just looking for revenge or hates Beaulieu. No one knows who was behind it. But I gave fair warning we were bringing a french army into it. Would I do that if we were cheating? Would I call attention to the situation? Heck no. Beaulieu is a good sport, he’s been classy and decent to all his competitors. He’s even been civil while being bashed to bits. Is that unsportsmanlike? I think not. May the better man win, whoever it is. But this was NOT out of the blue, we gave fair warning we were fed up with the antics. We came to play, to win and NOT to cheat. Now let’s see how it shakes out with both armies mad and voting.

woah – 2011/03/05

Correction. Brush was never cheating. A number of people were “checking” the proxy sites at the same time, which meant that they were probably running into sites that had been used to vote by other concerned friends who were checking the proxy sites. This was likely happening on both sides, which increased the amount of “proxy users” even more. It was a sincerely clean round until team BB started bringing their “angry comeback”. Now this is just nonsense.

Brayden may have plenty of facebook friends, and plenty of friends’ friends voting for him, but i think it would be pretty naive to assume the same support is not on Brush’s side. The fact that “out of the blue” team BB has managed to pull off over 300 legit votes more than Brush is ridiculous considering the score prior to the cheating accusations.

There are so many ways to anonymize or change your IP address that can’t be monitored by checking proxy sites, and the sudden change in score…you won’t convince me that team BB’s “army” is playing fair. I’m tired of playing the game.

Good luck to you Colin. Wish your genuine sportsmanship could have rubbed off…

Dunno – 2011/03/05

Correction, the score was being fudged. Did you guys not see what happened last round when Madeleine’s camp stopped using proxies?

Braydon has a ton of people voting for him, and not just his friends, his friends friends, too.  This blame game really needs to end.  It’s getting old.

And now Saddle, what do you make of the robin’s eggs and the 13 year old girl with the two last names?

stop – 2011/03/05

Braydon, there’s no way you have enough friends to vote once per second. I don’t know if you’ve found a new way to cheat but this score is being fudged.

danielperry – 2011/03/05

split: What you say is awfully cynical. I mean, aren’t you staying in, staying up late and getting up early to vote? My friends did. That’s what friends do.

split – 2011/03/05

Oh ya, I’m sure all those facebook friends love staying in on a Friday night, waking up early on a Saturday to sit by their computers. For someone who has been a victim of the overnight proxy charge, I must say, poor play.

David Griffin Brown – 2011/03/05

Oh and saddle:

Robin eggs… fertility… small… fragile… I suppose a great metaphor for the girls he abuses/kills.  If that’s not stretching it?

David Griffin Brown – 2011/03/05


I’ve gotten to know Braydon a bit via ye olde FB since the Maddy Epoch, and I have to say… there is no way this guy is cheating.  His gains have corresponded, from what I can tell, to each time he’s posted a DM update.

Good job on taking the lead Braydon, you deserve it.

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/05

I would like to personally and publicly thank the MH crowd (you know who you are). You guys are incredible. If I win this round, I promise I’ll start playing.

JT – 2011/03/05

Not a chance but nice deflect. We’ve got an army voting and it’s funny how Brush’s camp just keeps slamming the proxy votes to keep up. I told you we were coming armed and we’re pissed. Not a proxy vote among us. He’ll win by honest measures. We played nice and kept quiet all week. Now Brush’s camp can scurry to keep up. I’m sure he’ll stay within a percentage. It’s what his minions have done all week.

moot – 2011/03/05

Its Brush who should surrender. Team BB jumped another percentage point and a half in the wee hours when no one could watch the proxies…. What a sore loser.

just me – 2011/03/04

Good lord, surrender…never. B.j.’s…geez saddle you can do better than that. Aw we knew the sweet, lovable saddle was sure to rear again. Russians? Conspiracy? Orgasmicly? I laughed, I cried, got bored then remembered something. Here’s some fun for ya saddle, remember this:

backinthesaddle – 2011/02/13

…i was only voting for you because i felt sorry for you…despite it’s flaws, beaulieu’s story is better written by a million miles…but don’t worry…you won’t be the only victim that he massacres in this contest…see you around, Maddy ; )
Sorry sweetie, can I call you sweetie after all that? Maybe not, just as well. Have fun saddle. I am out for the night. Can’t banter all night again. Besides I’m sure we wouldn’t want to monopolize the board again with our juvenile antics. Crack that whip now cowboy. It only hurts for a moment…or not at all.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/04

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/04

…did i almost make a friend…or is it just me…truce?…sorry kiddo, you waved a “white” flag, ask anybody here, that’s a clear surrender…so i will email braydon beaulieu who will reveal who you are…well isn’t that special…i’d rather give b.j’s on yonge street than email braydon beaulieu…not in the lit biz?…well that blows a few theories about who you are too…fortunately the “russians” have made an annual habit of hacking into BP’s dearthmatch site and posting all the pseudonyms, email addresses, and login passwords, enjoy the mystique while it lasts…maybe it’s not important who we are…identities blur at the Deathmatch…as long a you’re true to yourself…but why DOES Colin Brush always post around the same time i do…i’m kidding, i’m kidding…braydon posted his response to my critique simultaneously as i was typing…i’m glad i was orgasmicly jaw-droppingly “warm”…i felt giddy after your response, i felt glowing after his…maybe it means i’m not crazy…but you guys are crazier than hell…robin eggs?…maybe it has to do with something i read on line about a year ago, but maybe it was in a magazine i was too cheap to buy…i shouldn’t say why i was drawn to it…i think this cowboy has said too much, it’s time to ride off into the sunset…but you know me…i won’t be far…just a keystroke away…voting like crazy for brush…who i hope in turn will crumble to whoever wins the other side…but i doubt it…the proxy voting accusations surface every year…i feel good about both author’s clear ethical stance…that’s how i would have done it…it must feel great to know how many good friends are rooting for your success with every fibre to win this…hey, it must feel great to have friends…i felt a small urge last round to head out at midnight to a cyber cafe to cast one last extra vote for mar mar, but the urge passed, and i didn’t…it doesn’t matter to me who wins…as long as it’s not beaulieu…but he just might squeak though…if griff wasn’t voting so adamantly against him…whoever wins here will crush the other side…in the most lop-sided victory in living memory ; )

extropian – 2011/03/04

Welcome to the new and improved backinthesaddle! This latest model is iconoclasm free, features 50% less bitterness, and includes an updated \”positive criticism\” mode that\’s sure to please the grandmothers.

just me – 2011/03/04

Lol saddle. You aren’t middle aged? Well that blows some theories wide open about who you are. I have to admit I am so curious. I like the softer side of you as I’ve said. You are right, this can be a great place to gab and shoot the breeze. I think we both just got a bit irate. It happens, could happen again, who knows. I may not be in the lit biz but I love it so much. Canlit can be fantastic. I’m happy there’s a mini truce and you aren’t quite so cantankerous and I’m not being rude. It’s good, it may not last but hopefully it’s all in good fun. I thought Beaulieu did respond to you? Or maybe just not as much as you wanted. I may be off on that one. What do you say saddle, after this is all over you email Beaulieu and he can reveal who I am, and then I want to know who you are. Sound fair? And yup, outta town but these days a gal can find wifi anywhere. When I saw the craziness today I had to pop in. Wanted or not.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/04

Dido Braydon. This round has been, I thought, proxy free up till now. And it’s been a relief. We both knew that could change at any point which would just add unnecessary stress for both of us. I don’t want this competition to get any more stressful than it already is. Of course, I want to win. Of course, you do too. But this’ll be the first publication my work will be seen in apart from my university chapbooks (I’m still a young gun in the writing game) so I’m stoked either way.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/04

…shouldn’t you be out of town or something…i read your note last night, but i thought BITS had said quite enough by then…i didn’t want to, you know, monopolize the board…i kinda wanted to see the reaction, especially beaulieu’s…i guess i’m still waiting…but not really…a no response, in this case, can be a significant reaction…i opened the page with some trepidation…i’m kind of relieved…this Deathmatch has been fun, even more so now…i’ve always thought it was a great neutral ground to shoot the shit with, uh…my fellow writers…the TO lit set movers and shakers, the kind of talent i might not run into everyday…middle-agers…pfffft….speak for yourself ; )

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/04

Whoa whoa whoa. Listen, I don’t care if someone’s proxy voting for Colin or proxy voting for me (to be visually fair with the bolds: Braydon). This nonsense is the last thing I want to come home to. If the spammer’s one of mine: please stop. Like JT said, my time (and yours, I’m assuming) is worth more than the $300 I’ll get for the hours it takes to cheat. No point, ladies and gents. Colin and I are both published in Broken Pencil at this point. Let’s keep it fun and food-fighty.

Thank you, petromyzon marinus and backinthesaddle, for bringing us back to topic. backinthesaddle, my jaw dropped when I read your post this morning. Despite all the flaming I’ve received from you in this round and the last (including just now as I’m writing this, haha!), I have to thank you for posting one of the most thoroughly well-thought-out analyses of my writing I’ve ever seen, schoolmates’ included. Not saying you batted 100% (as if you expected me to confirm or reject your reading, eh?), but I look forward to a similar discussion of the robin eggs.

petromyzon marinus: Your comments on both stories are great. I definitely don’t want Field Guide to feel weird for the sake of being weird. I know many other readers don’t feel that it is, and some do, but right now I’m interested in your reaction, to add to the pages of constructive edits I’ve received so far. What, specifically, stuck out as needless?

just me – 2011/03/04

Aw saddle I much preferred the softer side of you we saw yesterday. It was so refreshing. Why so cranky again? If you know something evil about this contest why won’t you share. Everyone loves a good secret.

Still voting for Beaulieu. Not even going to rattle on about  today’s events. I say let the chips fall where they may and the better man win. Or really the one with more friends voting I suppose.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/04

…heyyyyy, an architectonic surpise party…et tu, maddy?…not sure whether to be thrilled or mortified…wow, it sure got quiet in here…except all this screaming about spam votes…which will seem like nothing if the truth behind this rig job contest gets out…i doubt like hell the cat will be crawling back into the bag now…and i was hoping your meg ryan moment would have been from “you’ve got mail”…guess we’ll have to settle for a fake orgasm, it’s better than nothing…great, that’s four people who get it, you, me, brian beaulieu and his girlfriend…tell me you’ve got a girlfriend…i meant the back story to kleptoparisitism is brilliant…the front story still sucks, nobody except his friends like it and it’s rife with too many bug gimmicks…robins egg…gonna have to read that one again, to refresh on the back story there…hey did anyone check out beaulieu’s bio, he’s been published before in Generation, PicFic, Escarp, and echolocation…could you find a set of more obscure iffy publications…okay ive heard of echolocation….guess he’s been rejected then by the Walrus, Prism, fiddlehead, brick, crazy horse, glimmer train, tin house, kenyon review, ploughshares, mississippi review, esquire, agni, third coast, barrelhouse, contrary magazine, drunken boat and the boston review…ha ha, keep writing, buddy ; ) 

petromyzon marinus – 2011/03/04

Hello everyone. I really enjoy both of the stories, these are two strong authors. I think both authors are honest folks, I think this talk about cheating is unnecessary. It is obvious that these types of contests have little to do with the actual quality of work, having more to do with people’s ability to network then anything else. That said, it is a great way for great young authors to showcase their work and really get an idea of what people think. Through what other medium can you follow people’s reactions and responses to your work. And, what the hell, its a Deathmatch right? I say go for blood!

Response to Colin’s story: Not a huge fan about the subject matter, however I am in this for the story telling quality of the writers, not the subject matter. From the silly squabbling going on on this board, it is obvious that folks haven’t all made their way out of highschool yet anyways; this should be right up their alley! I like the way Colin creates his characters. I also love the imagery he uses throughout, subtle and creative. Although I very much like the sharpness in the writing, I found some passages a bit unnatural, seemingly just there for shock value.

Braydon’s piece: I like how indirectly the story is told to the reader. It feels a bit like easter egg hunting, though sometimes it felt like I was finding a small plastic alligator, and wasn’t sure if it was part of the mystery or just something the dog brought in. I really appreciate a character that can be so fucked up internally, but seem so natural in contact with other characters. Makes you wonder about how fucked up all the people you interact with probably are. I must admit I was digging the bug thing for a while, though I lost interest in it quickly. It seemed a bit contrived in some parts, as if it was weird just to be weird (though I really enjoyed the compound eye-alcohol bottle thing). I get a Hunter S. Thompson vibe from the story, which is definitely great, though I would certainly say that your style is original.

I think both are good stories, I certainly look forward to reading more from these dudes. I am leaning for Colin at the moment, because he creates the opportunity for my mind to wander within the story, to follow some of his images he creates and build on the characters myself. Keep at it boys!

and go for the balls!

moot – 2011/03/04

By the way, JT, lots of people have had that same slashy\\\\ error. Doesn\’t mean its the same person. (It wasn\’t in this case, I have just been lurking.) Depends on your browser. Depending on what computer I use, sometimes none of the formatting options even appear.

woah – 2011/03/04

Right. And colin\’s FB may show 300 and something friends, but he\’s got friends with much higher numbers. It\’s been clear over the last couple of days that there\’s been some proxying to hold the votes to a close tie. I say cut it out. Brush was winning before the proxying, the best liked story will win at the end of the competition. Let the readers decide the winner, not some a handful of despot proxiers.

JT – 2011/03/04

Good lord the alias nonsense has to stop. At least make sure the pc isn’t making the same mistakes before you post. It’s tragic to watch this insanity.
BP- I beg you to change the rules next year. Then we’ll see how far some of these people get.

petee5 – 2011/03/04

Split has is spot on. Brush has been winning without the aid of proxies, but went down 2 percent in a number of hours this morning. I\’d say if there\’s proxy cheating happening it\’s clear which side it\’s on. What a shame.

stop – 2011/03/04

692 facebook friends doesn’t mean 692 people care in the least for him

JT – 2011/03/04

Moot- mature non? You’ll eat your words soon enough. Fair and square.

split – 2011/03/04

I’ve been doing a proxy check at least once a day; it’s been heavy today but no throughout the entire round. Brush has been winning proxy free for a couple days now. I think Braydon has been hunting for a comeback. But speculate away.

moot – 2011/03/04

Yeah BB must really be butthurt if he thinks his IQ is so high, hes so loved by his writing circle jerk friends, and yet hes still losing. More like one of his friends is proxy voting for him just to shut him up about it. Ive noticed several fishy jumps in BBs score, and none for Colin. Get a grip Braydon. You are losing fair and square, and ever your cheating and lies cant save you.

simone – 2011/03/04

Given that Beaulieu’s Facebook friend list is 692 people to Brush’s 307, and that Field Guide has been promoted by authors like Canada Reads nominee Angie Abdou, Metcalf-Rooke Award winners Rebecca Rosenblum and Amy Jones, and short story powerhouse Rosemary Nixon, I highly doubt he needs the proxy votes.

JT – 2011/03/04

Moot- how cute?
If Beaulieu wanted to win he’d be winning right now. It would be so easy to proxy vote. But we won’t do it. He’ll win because his story is better. This is something we’ve been watching for a couple days. And today the cavalry has been called in. Not by proxy, but by the power of big,old french family with tons of friends who are pissed. There was an email and call to arms via FB and since then his numbers have soared by honest fashion. That is the power he yields. People with integrity and grace. He’ll win this thing and when he does maybe he can send the money to Brush if he needs it so bad. Anyone who knows young Beaulieu knows the kid is rolling in scholarships. Do some research people, the kid does not need the money. Watch out folks, now we’re mad. And we’ve called your pathetic BS out. Brush’s should win an oscar for this one, how about we deliver it by proxy?

moot – 2011/03/04

How do you know it\’s the Brush camp spamming votes? Very interesting to see how fast team BB recovered today while \”testing\” proxy sites. It seems to me like Brush has been getting consistent votes, with a bit more in the evening than in the day. Yet the BB stats can jump by many votes in half an hour. So really… who is the one cheating Braydon?

JT – 2011/03/04

I have been SO waiting all week for someone to call a spade a spade. Shenanigans indeed. I think there were a bunch who wanted to call it the first night. Did  Brush’s posse learn nothing from the Masters debacle? Yes you sure are discreet. About as discreet as your alias shenanigans. I checked yesterday and this morning and over 100 proxy sites have been used. That’s all the time I had for, I’m sure there’s been more. Can no one beat young Beaulieu with honest tactics? Whoever is behind these juvenile hooligan antics better watch out. We’re on to you! Keep it up and we’ll all join forces to see young Beaulieu buries Brush. The behaviour on this board is pathetic. You guys seem to think you’re so smart with your obvious shenanigans. All sittting in a room together slapping each other on the back. This is not a frat party, it’s a writing contest. I’d lay money Beaulieu’s IQ is higher than the bunch of you combined behind these childish games.

ICallShenanigans – 2011/03/04

It’s sad to see that there is cheating going on this round as well as in previous rounds, however, it’s very interesting to see that proxy sites are showing votes again.  Just a casual observation…and it’s pretty discreet.

And no, wasn’t checking the sites to abuse them, was just curious.


milksteaknjellybeans – 2011/03/04

where is the unskilled jeff clark? i miss his rigorous ananlysis of literature.

danielperry – 2011/03/04

cheet brought up “the message behind” Braydon’s story. I’m someone who’s very interested in The Message, i.e. The Point. The Moral of the Story. Do all stories need one? Do either of these stories have one? If so, it might be the same for both:

“Teenage girls exploit males, but really, males exploit them.”

Colin’s narrator may be helping Ellery, but he’s doing it for personal gain.

Braydon’s narrator buys booze for underage Angela, but he’s getting sex in return.

Both stories are so plot-driven and rely so heavily on twist endings, though, that the message the tellers must work the hardest to convey may be:

“This is what really happened.”

Communicating this message (which I think is what you meant, cheet?) brings up a real nuts-and-bolts question about fiction writing:

“How does one pull off a twist ending?”

Colin’s narrator tries to gain the reader’s confidence before he turns irrational, hoping that the reader will empathize with how he gets there. The surprise comes when he realizes, (or doesn’t), that he shouldn’t have done what he did. This surprise is achieved vocally, by showing the reader expository dialogue.

Colin’s narrator doesn’t seem like a horrible person, and he may or may not know he’s flawed. The blackmail line doesn’t convince me either way, but (I find that) ending by pinning down the character saps power from the story’s ambiguity.

Braydon’s narrator is comparatively neutral, which (someone else said) may suggest he’s a sociopath. As with a real sociopath, the surprise in Braydon’s story is sudden, the equivalent of waking up to the crimes on the front page of the paper and neighbours on TV news saying “but he seemed so normal…”. This surprise is achieved visually, by showing Angela’s disgust in her visceral reaction, when she vomits.

Braydon’s narrator may or may not be a horrible person, and he may or may not know it. The pistachio smell doesn’t convince me either way, but whatever the reader does with this detail, the ambiguity survives.

Neither twist is perfect, but I tip my cap to both authors for trying something so difficult.

just me – 2011/03/03

Okay so I am momentarily waving the white flag at saddle. No apology for some of what I said though, not going that far. I think I’m the only night owl among the Beaulieu camp. These young folks need their sleep for school and teaching. Us middle agers do not. So here it is saddle and you can rip me to shreds when I leave if you’d like. This is the only post I can make today so I am fair game once I head on outta town. I just want to say in the respect of saying you weren’t bright that you have just proven me wrong. In the respect of me saying you did not want to get it, you have also proven me wrong. I almost had a Meg Ryan diner moment when I read this, but then I came to my senses. It is a smart, well thought out critique of Beaulieu’s work. Sure there’s a dig or two but that’s okay. Digs are fine. It is deathmatch after all, not a church picnic right. I think you’ve done a remarkable job with this and am glad to see you go at the work, not the man. And ten seconds after I leave you could go at me or him again, so I leave with a grin. I don’t take anything anyone says in this forum personally. We all get our backs up when people come at the ones we care about. Myself included. And let’s be honest here saddle, you were slinging just as much mud as me last night. We were both hurling insults, not just me.
I will continue to vote for Beaulieu. It’s the better story in my opinion. I think it stands the test of time. If this were a novel it would be read, and read again. It would be on a bookshelf  where you could see it and be proud you read it. Feel a little superior that you got it, well, perhaps. Aren’t most great stories like that? Most lit folks like feeling like they get it. Otherwise they’d be doing something else for a living.

Yes we can all relate to Brush’s story. But I mean seriously, the guy adores girl and she hides it idea has been done to death. And therapy being unique among teens, well I think you’d find at least half of high school students go to therapy and counselling these days. I would guess if you call any high school guidance office they could give you numbers on the staggering stats of kids who get sent to outside sources for therapy. I would also guess a large number would get crushes since they are teenagers. Hormones and all that. It’s not a bad story. It’s a good story, but for me it’s just not a great one. Sure I can relate to it. But I can relate to 90210 on the tube as well. And we all know how popular tween writing is, so being able to relate is market worthy for sure.
So as I’ve said feel free to bash away if you like. I’ll be snoozing and not giving a rat’s ass to be honest. You might be a bit snarky saddle but I’ll give you this, you’ve got some stamina. I was wiped out today.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/03

…(Beaulie’s story is subtle and) “pushes the imagination”…tommy’s obviously in on the secret too…but i’m like griff…my brain sometimes goes too far with a hypothesis…doncha hate it when that happens?…sure you do, you’re a lit type…i’m ready to take a shot in solving the puzzle…but let me start with a bit i’ll call “in defense of tony”…it’s been observed that the reader lacks empathy with Beaulieu’s anti-hero…well of course we do…beaulieu grinds him like a prosecutor, characterizing him in the most unflattering, even damning and ugly ways possible…a klepto parasite…a sick, soulsucking, pervert…he’s an insect, as low as a bug… he regularly steals, his moral depravity borders on pedophelia in his dalliance with his acquaintance’s much younger daughter (unless beaulieu is exaggerating the age differences by way of farce)…and with the reference to the Merchant of Venice, beaulieu even hints at anti-semitism… beaulieu creates an unlikeable doppelganger for tony, a smug, show-off wealthy “neighbor,” another cockroach…i’ve said tony’s interesting, but it’s more…he’s intriguing…he’s so unusual/weird, even beaulieu has questions,  doesn’t quite know all the whys and wherefors…but let me suggest tony is capable of affection…he seems fond of his mother, he nostalgizes about her bread, even one of his lies about funeral arrangements refers to her, suggesting his mother is foremost in his mind…tony sees things differently, beaulieu would suggest through insectoid eyes, but let me speculate that this is a positive, tony’s a dreamer, a wonderer…he can be charming, “Heyyyy, (Angela) how’s it going?”…”Wayne, loving the new car, what’s the make of it, eh?  ferrarri”…beaulieu deliberately chooses to bend this into something sleazy and self-serving, giving tony the air and profile of a stock sociopath…(giving credence to griff’s murder hypothisis)…i’m going to argue that tony is misunderstood, that tony’s charm is genuine, that his love for his mother is counter to the sociopath/murder scenario that Angela fears and mistakenly concludes, and that tony is genuinely interested in people, that he knew and liked Elizabeth May, and that’s why he clipped the obit…but that’s enough…I’ll take “Back Stories” for $300, Alex…Why did Braydon Beaulieu wrote about an insect-like thief with a penchant for younger women and an obit column in his short story, “Kleptoparasitism?”…well, when did back stories first appear, under repressive regimes where tyrants suppressed free expression? (toronto circa 2011?)…we don’t really suffer from that anymore, eh, so what else do egghead geeks have to write about….it’s kind  of a wild guess, but maybe the first clue is in the multiple reference to “pistachios,” maybe some kind of cryptic reference meaningful only to the 30 something TO lit set…today’s MA may have to take delight in an elitest inside secret that only the clique crew will get….what better than making a back story about an infamous and ongoing Toronto literary spat…or maybe the back story is a disdainful trashing of some current cultural figure or literary personage…maybe beaulieu is trying to earning browny points by taking sides with some exploited “Angela” writer who has been leeched…maybe beaulieu has honest questions or criticisms in his mind about his literary personage/fellow writer/rival/target …beaulieu pounces, shading his victim “tony” as no better than a thief, stealing story ideas from newspapers…as parasitic, stealing story ideas from other peoples’s stories?…as a cad, stealing story ideas from other people’s misfortunes…possibly even a murderer,  who might strike again, causing Angela to wretch…to bring this home, beaulieu imbues his tale with as many details as he knows about the cultural/literary figure beaulieu has chosen to ambush, probably what he has gleaned from the poor guys bio’s or writing…maybe this cultural figure is pro-canadian (Canada kicks ass keychain) and writes (in a clipped fashion beaulieu deliberately emulates) about tequila, his mother, religion/church and dead people (hence the obit)…even Beaulieu doesn’t know why his fellow writer writes about dead people, so he leaves Tony’s obit column open for ominous conjecture…so yeah, i’ll say Beaulieu’s back story is a good old metaphorical trashing of some literary personage….this theory is supported by the clues he gives in the comments on this board, that his story is architectonic, a story which might includes discrete bits of other stories, as he publically castigates a fellow writer who steals story ideas from other stories…in which case beaulieu’s story is brilliant!!…but more likely i’m pushing my imagination too much and my brain is going way too far …maybe mar mar’s story is architectonic too ; )

Dunno – 2011/03/03

It seems rather strange to me that people keep asking for the story to be explained to them– do you actually think there’s only one explanation or interpretation?  I think of someone asking Joyce to explain Ulysses (or any portion of it, for that matter) and it just seems so ridiculous, and strange.  It would just never happen– this is a discussion board, so discuss what you think, instead of asking to be spoon fed.

I think DGB has a point, but I’m not convinced that Tony’s a killer.  Maybe I’m placing too much on the name of the girl in the obit, but why would a 13 year old girl have a name change, and why would they be MAY and Foster?

I think Tony’s more complex and, perhaps, more relatable than most people are acknowledging.

lzeppelin – 2011/03/03

I completely agree with you Tommy.  One person may interpret a story differently than another, and I think that’s fine. Isn’t this “creative” writing? If the authors get to be creative, why can’t the readers be creative too?I think some of the best writing leaves the ending up to the reader to interpret and it allows them to draw their own conclusions. To me, that’s half the fun of reading!  I think we should stop trying to figure out the “real” meanings behind every little detail and just enjoy the stories.

cheet – 2011/03/03

I find the more posts I read on this the more frustrated I get… this is starting to look like a Harry Potter forum speculating on plot lines before the final book came out.  It’s embarassing, and shows that people will look for meaning in absolutely anything – the weirder it is the more you’ll look – after all, it makes you more sophisticated, right?  All I asked for was the message behind the Bealieu’s story, but it seems like I won’t hear it.  I hate to bring such a mainstream show as South Park into an indie writers’ competition, but Field Guide is reminding me of the episode titled “The Poop that Took a Pee”.  I realize that my head is a target now, but I couldn’t help but draw a parallel.

Tommy – 2011/03/03

Do you have to know what a writer\’s intentions are with every detail? Subtlety is King! It pushes a reader\’s imagination. All this why? why? why? sounds a toddler. Create what you know and trust it. We we all read the same story? NO!

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/03

…is it hyper-emotional and intolerant in here?…or is it just me…fitzyyyyyyy…homophobic, racist, infantile, vile, and manipulative?…you are selling me short bud…you forgot mysogynistic and sociopathic…thank you woah and cheet, for your tempered remarks, in moderation of the hate-filled, unimaginative catcalls of a few misguided beauileu supporters, with whom i hope he will exercise his renowned reserve, dignity and tact in asking them to refrain from such ruthless and callously spiteful defamations…i feel vindicated that more than a few others were self assured and honest enough to admit they didn’t get the obit…it’s not, how shall we say, so “accessible”…imma get back to that, it’s been hammered at for a full day now, like the hammering Beaulieu took for stealing his man-insect parallel from kafka…so let’s talk about colin’s story with a broad brush…accessible is also done skilfully in this case…brush “shows” us that ellery is a nailbiter and easily hops between the sheets…so we know right away she’s insecure…he describes her body language, how she crosses her legs…so we learn she feels somewhat hostile or mistrustful towards brush’s narrator, or is otherwise stressed…brush uses dialogue to show us why right off the bat…”my dad’s forgotten my birthday three times”…there’s your answer, she’s a neglected child, unloved…it also goes towards explaining her “need to talk” or confide in this guy…why she might want to rebel against her parents by giving her therapist the “silent treatment”…dialogue is again used to convey that ellery may well be bulemic, concerned about her appearance, confirming the portrait of insecurity colin has…brushed…ellery’s mom says its okay, so maybe her mom is on the insecure side too, overshadowed by a domineering father…ellery’s older sister also sounds a tad domineering and abusive with the female product testing, possibly overshadowing ellery, and again, figuratively demonstrating that ellery is passive, submissive, insecure and a wimp…brush hints at promiscuity and acceptance-seeking changes to her appearance in raising her kilt to her pubes so she can show where her tattoo will go…bit by bit brush builds on this characterization…as in her decision to go out with an irresponsible drinking bully like Casey…then the story switches to the narrator guy…and takes a distinct turn for the worse…any original sympathy we may have felt for him turns to disgust…on account of his blatant blabbing of confidences and stalkeresque behavior …funny thing, both brush and beaulieu make a point of mentioning their “protagonists” mother…hmmmmmm…point for brush, he does it more smoothly in context, with beaulieu it’s more awkward, out of place and inexplicable…brush’s narrator recognizes he may be going crazy, needs therapy and has made some bad decisions…so brush leaves us with a ray of hope…and then a punch line…suggesting the narrator may yet be mirthful, has hasn’t lost his sense of humour…who knows, maybe colin’s story is architectonic too ; )  …bottom line, i like this, its completeness…and i totally agree with griff…it feels more authentic, i’m all for realism…anybody who prefers beaulieu’s story is no better than any goob who reads read sci-fi…just another immature, escapist freak  ; )

Lichty18 – 2011/03/03

BAM! David Griffin Brown, I think you’ve got it. He kept the obit, the girl was young, possibly very similar to Angela. Angela figured it out, she possibly smarter than us, I guess. That’s why she vomited. How is she any different from any other girl? How many could Tony have killed? I like where succincubus is going as well. Hell, if Tony’s a murderer, who’s to say he’s not a rapist, molester, abuser et cetera, et cetera. This would be rather terrifying, thus, Angela is completely freaked. Tony isn’t who she thought he might be, or if she didn’t think much of him, if she didn’t try and figure his personality out (which I’m guessing she did being a young girl, she probably had her assumptions and such) and now it’s such a shock that she’s sick. The shock plus the alcohol and everything, well that’s enough to push her over the edge. Tony’s a criminal. How much of a criminal? That’s my question. I wonder what else he’s done. Unless this was his first murder. But who’s to say it’s his first? Or his last?

 There’s a ton of things we don’t know that we can speculate about for a long time. Field Guide is that kind of story, the kind that sticks with you, that you cannot forget.

succincubus – 2011/03/03

Mr. Brown, I know I said I didn’t wanna be your friend, but the more you post, the more you make me wanna change my mind. This isn’t even “your” board and you’re rockin’ it.

I can’t wait for your next week to come up. I wanna see you go up against a girl who’s, well, a little more chatty. Should be a real kicker.

By the way, the obit: I was getting pretty annoyed with all the “what does it mean, just tell us!” and the, “If you can’t figure it out on your own, you’re too stupid!”

Then Beaulieu dropped us another Easter egg, and Brown picked it up and sniffed it and passed it on to the next guy.

OK, here’s my guess: did Tony abuse the girl? Is he a child molester? I knew the dude was sick, but I haven’t read too many stories where the main character is a child molester.

Maybe that’s why we’re not “supposed” to identify with Tony with our “pathos?” Because we’d all feel really dirty afterward? I do now, and I don’t even know if I’m right… (shower time).

danielperry – 2011/03/03

She can be that young. Merchant of Venice is assigned as early as Grade Nine in Ontario.

David Griffin Brown – 2011/03/03

Okay Braydon, you’re making us guess.  Fair enough.

It occurred to me at one point that maybe Tony killed Elizabeth.  First of all, she’s dead.  Second, he has a thing for younger women.  At least I assume he’s a lot older than Angela.  She can’t be that young if her boyfriend is in university, but possible under 19 if she needed Tony to boot for her.  Since he was invited to her dad’s BBQ, I took that as a suggestion that he is closer to her dad’s age.  Then again, the phone number in the hymn book strikes me as odd, because would she give her number off the bat to a much older guy?

hmmmm… but yeah, I guess Angela must be in high school since her books in her dad’s room (?) are for English and math.

If Angela’s reaction to the obit makes her barf, it has to be something pretty serious.  But she can’t have just realized that he killed this girl just because she found the obit.  He must have dropped other hints that aren’t mentioned in the story, and this is the moment she put it all together.

Or more likely, I’m still way off.

When he put the obit in the box with the panties and the eggs, I immediately thought…. okay, he has something sexual and creepy for this dead girl.  But then I dismissed that when Tony says he put the Kick Ass Canada keychain in the same box.  The box no longer seemed sexualized at that point… just random contents.  And that’s about the same time that my brain decided I was going too far with my murder hypothesis.

Girdle – 2011/03/03

I’ve heard a lot of “Field guide has meaning I promise but I won’t say what.”  But still they refuse to accept that there’s more meaning behind Mr. Brush’s. I think we’re hearing a lot of BS from team Beaulieu. I want to hear less speculation and more analysis.

Here’s what I got from free therapy. Scratch the high school scenery for a moment. We have a girl who’s had three therapists before. She has an expectation. But she’s speaking to someone who has no idea what true therapy is. Again she’s not a bad person, she’s stressed that her boyfriend keeps her up but she keeps listening to him. She shows up to the protag’s house to fight for Casey. She gets upset when her dad misses her birthday. She ain’t a bad gal. But like the main boy says “she thinks of me as a service.” Ellery believes she can speak to him in confidence, but this doesn’t qualify him as a therapist. She sees it as a one way relationship because that’s how therapy is. But this is a real person she’s confiding in, not a professional listener. He wants to progress their relationship but she doesn’t believe they have one. It’s a story about how therapy is not a real friendship – and I’m sure a lot more. The main character ends up in therapy because he never figures that out.

And I’ll admit, I don’t find a grand significance in the obit. But hey, maybe no one actually does ; )

Lichty18 – 2011/03/03

With what is being said about readers relating to the stories, I must say, I agree with Beaulieu on this one. Brush did bring up some great points though. Many people can relate to the characters in Free Therapy. They’re general. The entire story seems general. Yes, maybe not everyday people go to therapy that consists of them talking to someone who eventually falls in love with them. But the whole high school thing, as was said, has been done to death. How many times have I read something where some strange couple gets together (or not in many cases)? Too many. I’m sick of it, personally. I think many high school students, or those of us finished high school, can look at the story and relate. We all had issues in high school which felt like we needed therapy and our lives were over and so on. We all haven’t stole our neighbour’s paper. But just because I haven’t stolen things doesn’t mean that I don’t understand Tony. I may be very different from him, but that makes it all the more interesting to find out what makes him tick. For Ellery and company, it’s just too simple. They’re too simple. They’re just dull because really, I don’t care about them. Tony may be a wackadoodle, but he caught my interest and held on tight. I want to know why. For Ellery, I really don’t care because I don’t care about her. You have to love the characters, if not, why bother reading? Beaulieu made me care about his characters, Brush did not

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/03

Colin: I see your point, but I’m still going to go with mainstream over accessible. We’re pretty close in votes, so the logic that your story is more accessible more or less falls short. In terms how you describe accessibility, though, I think you’re onto something. Free Therapy may be more emotionally involved than Field Guide, because yeah, we’ve all been to high school; I’m sure reading a Sweet Valley High novel is emotionally accessible, too. And we all know how many teenagers swoon over the love story in the Twilight saga. But to credit your story as more valuable (an interesting trick, claiming direct superiority, maybe I’ll try it soon) than Field Guide based on its emotional approach is to completely miss the point. In Field Guide, the characters are not necessarily emotionally invested in each other, so why in the world would it make sense to appeal to my readers’ pathos rather than their logos and ethos? As many people on the comment board that have stated that Field Guide isn’t their story because it doesn’t reach out to their hearts, have stated that Free Therapy bores them because its language is uninteresting and the story didn’t make them think. What it comes down to, in non-crush-my-opponent terms, is that these two stories have very different goals in terms of the effect they have on readers. Ultimately, you and I hope that our readers think about our stories in very different ways.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/03

A lot of people are calling free therapy mainstream in comparison to field guide. I believe that’s an inaccurate word to describe it with because some of the content would be too uncomfortable for mainstream readers. I believe the word accessible would be more accurate. But accessible doesn’t mean shallow. There are countless children stories that have proven to be incredibly multi-layered. One reason it’s more accessible is because there’s an emotional track line within the story. You can understand their motives because they act on plausible human responses (something field guide has failed to do. And as many people had pointed out last round, it was a weakness of Floppy Disks, among other stories). Another factor in accessibility, which many readers have pointed to, is that the reader has an emotional response to my characters. Again, not necessarily that easy for a writer to pull off, it was a common criticism I saw last round against Daniel Perry, also this round against Beaulieu.

For those reasons Free Therapy can be an enjoyable read from start to finish without much thought put into it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to look for extra insight. There are multiple reasons that the narrator falls for Ellery. Why does Ellery treat the narrator poorly when she knows first hand what that’s like? If you read closely Ellery isn’t inconsiderate to everyone. Ellery herself is a strong person at times but weak at others, in what ways? Why is that? And there are more reasons that the narrator ends up in therapy then to simply be ironic.

The trouble with Field Guide is that it isn’t accessible enough. Truth be told, I wouldn’t really care enough about the ‘obit’ to look for a deeper meaning if it hadn’t been brought up so often on this discussion board. I just didn’t connect with Tony emotionally and thus didn’t care to do so.

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/03

Holy guacamole, look at the mess I’ve come back to. Okay, everyone, hold your fire for one second here. I’ve done a pretty good job at ignoring backinthesaddle‘s comments so far, because there’s no point in me responding to most of them. backinthesaddle has, however, offered some pretty good insights into almost all of the Deathmatch stories, mine included. I don’t believe that this is a dumb kid sitting in his parents’ basement; this is an intelligent and resourceful person who’s probably just bored with his crappy job and enjoys exacting his influence on others. Totally cool. He’s just doing his job, and rather well, I might add. As far as the genus Confrontationaleus persistae goes in troll biology, this is a prime specimen.

But there’s no point in veering off-course and slinging mean-spirited insults at one another. That’s what backinthesaddle wants. Colin and I have exchanged blows during this round, but we’re just playing the game. As danielperry put it in Round One, glib for glib. I’m not insulted by anything he says, and neither should he be by my own comments. We’re doing our best to a) win, and b) put on a good show for our readers. The last thing I want (and I’m guessing Colin would be with me on this one) is for people to stop reading our stories because the comment board’s a disaster.

Okay, so there’s been a lot of chitchat about Field Guide‘s ending (I get the feeling Lichty18 and just me have it figured out). Here’s the thing: kleptomania differs from, say, shoplifting, in that the thief doesn’t steal things he or she plans on using, per se. The things he or she steals don’t necessarily have an inherent value to the thief at the moment of the theft. But the fact that the obituary is a theft within a theft (stolen from the newspaper stolen from Wayne) is an indicator that Tony has some investment in this clipping. Normally, he hides the things he steals in the chest under his bed, or in his linen closet. But he keeps the obituary on his person, despite originally putting it in the cherrywood chest. What does his attachment to the obit, and the lie that circles around it, suggest about his relationship to MAY, Elizabeth Diane (nee Foster)? What supposition about this relationship might spur Angela to become as violently ill as she does?

Lichty18 – 2011/03/03

David Griffin Brown, you have brought up some excellent points. I can easily see where you’re coming from. Brush’s characters are much more mainstream. But I’m a fan of weird, as I have said. I think there is much more to talk about in Beaulieu’s story.

I think that we need to look at why Tony collects these strange objects. Why does he have the eggs and steal the paper and so on. Why does he carry around this obit in his pocket? I think that it does have a meaning to it. He does have other things, stolen or perhaps not, that he collects and keeps, but nothing seems to be pocket worthy. I think this shows something. People (and in this case, personified bugs) carry around their keys, wallets, change, some family pictures perhaps. All these things have meaning. What meaning does the obit have to Tony?

woah – 2011/03/03

Just me you\’re absolutely wrong. I am offended by offenses against other people, whether or not i know them. You don\’t have the right to be an asshole just because someone pushes you around.

just me – 2011/03/03

To woah, unless you or a friend is saddle there would be no need to be offended by anything I have said or will say. If people push to that degree they should be strong enough to handle the push back.

To Griff, of course you’ll get dinner first.

woah – 2011/03/03

just me – from day one, friend.


As little as you may think of backinthesaddle, you’ve officially found yourself in the same distasteful camp where you’ve so eloquently placed your nemesis. Your comments have become just as personal, and just as offensive, even to the point where I feel the need to stand up for saddle. Please take your own advice, maybe lead by example. Don’t comment unless you can improve message.

perhaps it will lessen the fuel…

David Griffin Brown – 2011/03/03

just me, saddle:

Aw, shucks. I should go polish my earings…  Will you at least take me out for dinner first?

And without further hijacking:

I like both these stories and I’m glad they made it this far.  Brush’s characters are engaging.  And sure, they are not that unique or eccentric, but they feel authentic.  Real life is quite interesting; I’m stuck here all the time.  I’m not feeling the characters as much with Field Guide, but they are more satisfying in a lit sense.  As has been said before, there’s a little ant highway of clues into wtf is going on with Tony.

Brush’s writing style has more commercial appeal, especially if it was taken to novel length.  I assume the average reader prefers characters chillin on the page, not hiding between obits and pistachio shells.  But in terms of short fiction, I have to say that Beaulieu scores higher.  I don’t recall any require-reading short fiction that I “got” a hundred percent on the first pass.  The format favours dense, compact writing with heavy symbolism.  Like, yo Chekhov, there’s a gun on the wall, and a mayfly on the stock.

So let’s say these stories have different survival strengths for their particular ecosystems.  But when the climate changes, it’s gonna be the cockroach who survives.  My vote is for Beaulieu because his story is more polished and the writing stronger.  Also, I’m really not sold on the ending for Free Therapy.  There is a lot of emotion built toward the end of Brush’s piece, but the ending kills it for me.  And… sorry dude, I didn’t think it was funny.

And about the bugs… I didn’t think any of the characters actually were insects.  It seemed to me that Tony is ballstothewall mental, and he is layering his perception with this bug delusion.  So I never expected the cockroach to be cockroachy.  In fact it would be a bit strange if his insanity had glaring metaphors built into it.

And about the obit… Okay I’m probably missing the point.  I usually am.  I assumed the obit was just another thing Tony had collected, another snippet of someone’s life like everything else he steals.  All the bugtalk and the awkward relationship cast him as a very lonely, self-isolating dude.  But I don’t think he likes it that way.  He wants to reach out to Angela and so offers her the ring.  When she rejects him, he steals from her too.  Likewise he wants to have a little sister or family of some kind, so he is melding that into his delusion.  Why did it make Angela barf?  Okay there must be something else here that I didn’t get.  I assumed it was because she slammed all that booze.

just me – 2011/03/03

succincubus, i swore I was leaving but I could not agree more so had to post one more time. Yes to the query on his style changing. And big old yes to the 20 somethings’ social interaction comment. Makes me almost wish I was 20 and that I could hit a “like” button for your post.

no insults for not understanding. The point is that saddle claims to be so bright so it’s odd he wouldn’t get it. This has no bearing on any one else. I don’t think  the Beaulieu camp have given any one other than saddle condescending remarks. There are those of us who did get it. But I think most are refraining from telling. It should be up to Beaulieu to decide if he wants to reveal it at this point. My personal remarks to saddle are not meant for anyone else.The only one who’s being insulted is saddle and believe me he deserves to hear it.

cheet – 2011/03/03

I have no ties to either author, and after reading both stories my vote goes to Brush.  Someone earlier on posted a response to a fellow reader, saying all they were hearing was blah blah blah and until the person could dazzle with writing they shouldn’t be here.  It’s interesting because I felt that although Beaulieu was able to dazzle us with his writing, I still only heard blah blah blah.  He is extremely descriptive and I really enjoy the language he uses throughout the story, I just don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of it.  The message is lost on me I guess – no doubt I will be insulted by the hardcore Beaulieu fans for not understanding the “obit” message, so maybe you could explain it?  A few others have asked but have received condescending replies, so I won’t get my hopes up.

Overall both authors did a good job.  Beaulieu has an exceptional vocabulary and I wanted to keep reading because the images he painted were incredible, however it didn’t really feel like a story to me.  Brush was able to keep me interested using the relationships and motives of the characters, and for this reason I felt like I was able to connect to the story better.  Though some people weren’t happy with the end of Brush’s story, I quite liked it.  I felt unsatisfied when Beaulieu’s story ended only because it didn’t really feel like it had an ending.

Congratulations to both authors, and good luck!

succincubus – 2011/03/03

God, I’m up early today. So that little curiosity bug (not one of Beaulieu’s – not person-size) nibbled at me to check out the mudslinging today.

Just from a casual observer’s perspective: Has anyone else noticed backinthesaddle’s writing style change dramatically since we all started passing notes about him in the hallway?

This place is a gold mine for studying 20-somethings’ social interaction.

just me – 2011/03/03

woah, if you’ve only read this particular round then I can see thinking he’s funny. For those of us who’ve been around since the deathmatch started he’s a homophobic,racist pig. So not really someone I’d describe as funny. But that’s just me. I do however agree with you that this shoud get back to the writing. Once the Beaulieu/ Brush camps start their day I am quite certain they will bring it back to what it should be. I cannot promise no shenigans though. Someone might munch popcorn, someone might under cook their burgers. It’s so hard to know for sure how today will turn out.

do not take anything saddlebags says seriously. I enjoy making him squirm. I’ve angered the beast so he’s just lashing out at everyone around him. Don’t stop posting, that’s his objective. To get as many people from the Beaulieu side to go away so he can rule the asylum. Ignoring him works for most people.

And to dear, poor little saddlepad I have watched you berate, abuse and bash everyone here right from the beginning. I have seen you post the most hateful, disgusting things. You are a racist, homophobic, infantile, ill-educated sorry excuse for a human being. You have tried to chase people away with insults, sway votes with innuendo and threaten people with such disrespectful and vile behaviour. You have attempted to manipulate and control this forum. Certainly you want to monopolize it. I am here to tell you, little man, that it will no longer be tolerated. Every single person here has the right to post, voice their opinions and enjoy this forum. If anyone disagrees with poor little saddlesore he throws a tantrum, insults them and they run. Well no one is running anymore. We are here to support our friends, family and loved ones. Not even the pathetic likes of you will deter any of us from supporting these writers. You can try to bully but I for one will bust your sorry ass every time. So until you have something useful or constructive to say we don’t want to hear it. Post a sample of your writing sir, then maybe we’ll take your as seriously as you take yourself. Til then put up, or shut up.
Now I have things to do so I am going to leave you lovely folks to have at it. Have fun and play nice. I have to hurry up so I have enough time in the day to sleep with all the contestants.

woah – 2011/03/03

On the contrary fitz, i think saddle is quite funny! Now that may have to do with the fact that i\’m not the one receiving the insults bveing hurled around here, but most are probably just trying to stay out of the shannanigans this conversation has led to. Let us get back to the real point of this match.

fitzwilliam – 2011/03/03

Listen saddle person, you may think your smarter than me because oh congrats you can use complicated words! ohh your so smart! I was just saying that you just keep saying bad about everyones story, that was the first time you said anything good about brush\’s story. Also i find it funny how no one likes you, all you do is argue with people I was just making a statement and you had to go on and on about how \”smart you were.\” oh and one more thing, take Huseini8\’s advice and shutup!

just me – 2011/03/03

Still just hearing blah, blah, blah. Until you can dazzle and enlighten us with your writing saddlebags you really have no place here. just a whole lot of hot air and blowing smoke. If you are too uneducated and dense to get it then may I suggest Beaulieu spells it out in crayon for you. Big pictures, maybe a pop up book.Until then maybe the romper room or sesame street forum is a better fit for you.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/03

Again.  No elucidation about the obit notice.  By anybody.  There’s nothing there.  I was thinking “just me” might also be BB.  But he wouldn’t use a tiresome metaphor like “living in his parents basement.”…you’ve got to spend a little more time seeking enlightenment at the library…either that, or start paying more attention to extropian ; )

just me – 2011/03/02

Oh fighting words…I must have really rattled your stall…I… should…. be…. so ….intimidated …. scared…insulted…. embarrassed…but…why…is….it ….all….I ….can ….do …is …laugh….hysterically. Saddle loosen your girth buddy, the blood is rushing to your over-sized horsey mouth. If I didn’t think you were some young punk living his parents basement hiding his loser self from the world I’d be worried about being bullied by the likes of you. Maybe once your testicles drop and you become a real boy then I’ll worry. Til then keep on riding saddle. Some of us know you for the joke you are.

I know Beaulieu, he’s a likeable dude but sleep with him? Well that would just be gross. I don’t know Griff but maybe I’ll get lucky with him if I ever meet him in person. He’d been fun to roll around with. And I don’t know Tuff but come to think of it she might be fun to roll around with too.
Keep trying punky brewster, it takes more than that to scare me off.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/02

…hug a boy, hug a girl…you seem to know griff beaulie and mar mar personally…i’m beginning to think you sleep around a lot….maybe that’s why you’re the only one who gets beaulieu’s obit notice fetish…unless it’s some obscure literary reference…to do with bugs?… hysterical? laughter…you must have been somebody’s mean big sister…like i say…it’s so hopelessly obscure, nobody gets it, nobody can shed light on it, not even those who pretend it means something that only they know…very unsatisfying…but maybe it’s better to be unsatisfied than being disappointed to learn it’s something trivial…

just me – 2011/03/02

I knew I was giving you too much credit saddle sore. But then again we still don’t see your writing so anything you say is just going in the muckpile anyway. I’m not in the MFA class and I got it without any help,and on the first read too. So maybe you’ve been bucked off one too many times. Some people just won’t ever understand no matter how easy it is. For all your boasting and prancing around here it sure is a shock you are not not getting it (insert hysterical laughter here). Alas your intentions are not to get anything, but to stir the pot. And that’s okay, every good story needs a joker…oops… i meant villian. Oh and it’s nice to see you finally admit you want a kiss a boy. We’ve all been waiting for that one. You know what they say about those who protest too much. We hug everyone. Hug a boy, hug a girl, hug a bug- it’s all good. And come on now saddle stiff, why drag mar mar into it. She’s tuff, maybe she’ll come out here and kick your cowboy ass. Pass the popcorn for that one, it’s always a good time when tuff shows up.

extropian – 2011/03/02

if Braydon loses this round I\’m going to expose backinthesaddle\’s secret identity 😉 also, it\’s an MA, not an MFA. that basically secures us positions as assistant managers at fast food restaurants, instead of mere shift supervisors. I also think calling Braydon an \”egotistical egghead\” on a discussion board for a writing contest is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500…never get off the boat…

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/02

…is it getting sarcastically congenial in here…or is it just me…the obituary notice was mentioned twice in beaulieu’s story…most significantly near the end, causing girl to retch in the final act….it’s meaning has to be of huge material consequence…it should be insect-related, the whole story is about bugs…but i’d wager that no one ever got the significance without beaulie explaining it to them (probably in MFA class, the last bastion of people who made bad career choices)…and that it’s meaning is so inconsequential that anybody he explained it to considers it so laughably, hopelessly obscure and tangential that they’re embarrassed for him to mention it…but it probably means nothing…just another weird idiosyncratic tidbit that beaulieu is “playing with”…i’d rather kiss a boy with an earring than take a group hug from the beaulieu camp…save your hug to console mar mar after her wheels fall off ; )

slipslap – 2011/03/02

the truth is out there…. desiree…

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/02

…fitzy…you’re asking me?…what the hell do i know about fine literature or how should a person be…well, likely more than you…anything i say would probably go over the head of someone who’s sole comment is essentially “i like this story cuz there’s bugs in it”…let me make it simple…brush’s story has two interesting characters, in an intriguing relationship, who we learn progressively more about, and it culminates with a comprehensible and mildly humourous ending…i find beaulieu’s characters interesting, but his girl less so, she’s kind of one dimensional…the relationship is fleeting, less rich…we are left with more questions, than answers, so the ending, i find, is less satisfying…but answer me this fitzy…what’s your take on bealieu’s obituary notice…on second thought don’t…let someone with more brains answer ; )

danielperry – 2011/03/02

Colin: Now that I don’t “have to” slag it – Death Match, everyone, remember? – I’d like to commend you on the innocent-yet creepy-relationship you develop between Ellery and the narrator. That’s where the piece makes it makes its money. The narrator is not likeable, which might piss someone like Ethan Canin off, but the story is still quite readable. That’s no easy feat. Congrats on a good story, well told.

I’m backing off of one earlier critique: the extra details you include are only rarely distracting. Overall, they’re telling, and the vast majority belong in the story.

I’m sticking to the second critique, though, about the ending. This time I offer it friendlily – is that a word? I hate adverbs – because I think I finally figured out why it bugs me. Hope this helps.

I think you may have written a little past the story’s end, maybe by a whole scene or maybe just by a sentence. Your story, obvisously, but something to consider:

1. You could end at “passes.” The action is complete here. Narrator gets exploited, narrator acts like a dick, narrator gets found out and loses Ellery. In and of itself, a pyrrhic victory is a good ending.

2. You could end at “yet.” Any given teenager has the potential to be as exploited or exploitative as the next. Ending here puts Ellery and the narrator in similar shoes and preserves the moral ambiguity of both characters. If you end here, you make us think, and you pull a cool stylistic trick by turning the story back on its beginning. (I like this even better than Option 1.)

If you’re worried about your reader not getting your narrator’s motivations, you could put his comment about blackmail before Option 2, but I wonder if the ending wouldn’t work better without this “final thought.” Your story works because it’s ambiguous, so ironically, clarifying risks muddying it.

Long critique about a rather small problem, sorry. I come in peace. (What I perceive to be) A stumble at the end doesn’t discredit all the work you did before it. Good job, and again, good luck!

Braydon: As in your first round, I think your story’s the better-crafted one, and the one most ready for public consumption. However, I already praised the hell out of it once, and as I’ve just lobbed a (miniature and well-intentioned) grenade at Colin, unfortunately, you get one too.

When I first read it, I started your story three times, each time going “Nope, more demanding than expected, start again.” You’ve produced a fine example of “MFA Writing,” which for me is sometimes great and sometimes turns me off. (It’s a hard general rule to apply. Yours didn’t turn me off.) This piece will likely have a harder time finding a large audience. It’s smart enough that you probably won’t need to worry, but the flipside of that coin is that it might just be too smart, and come off a touch “jargony.” (That’s definitely not a word.) I could tell that the jumpiness in the story’s early going was deliberate, but in places it was hard to stay in the moment. The payoff, however, was worth the extra work, and I’m jealous of your vocabluary and pacing. Again, good job, and good luck!

just me – 2011/03/02

It’s okay saddle I know you’re not Griff. He’s a kind, old soul with loads of class. That boy can take a critique better than anyone here, including Beaulieu and we all know I’m a Beaulieu fan. Personally I’d like to see Griff and Beaulieu go to the end. But that’s just me.
And may I add a big old “aw,saddle” for good measure. Are you growing as a person? Do you sincerely want to know the significance of the obit? Maybe you should give it one more read. See if you can puzzle it out on your own first. Then maybe the Beaulieu camp could spill the beans. Or are you playing campfire and you’re just full of beans? A friendly, inquisitive saddleman is throwing me off. Might throw off the entire Beaulieu camp. Could  cause a group hug or something.That’d just be off putting for everyone.
For the record there are quite a few posts saying they did get the obit. I just don’t think anyone wants to spell it out. You’re a smart guy saddle, all gunslinging aside. I’m sure you must be able to piece it together. If we tell you before you figure it out it’s like someone sitting in a movie theatre and revealing the ending just before you get it. Makes you want to throw your popcorn at them.

Lol- lady gaga. Too funny.

fitzwilliam – 2011/03/02

back in the saddle, I\’ve noticed that you talk bad about a lot of the stories so you seem to be biased towards brush\’s story which is fine but you dont say anything good about his story all you do is talk bad about the other stories…and I have reason to believe that back in the saddle is lady gaga

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/02

…is it stale and chilly in here…or is it just me…the trick to deathmatch is never leave yourself open…what i’m more interested in is your take on the obit notice…did someone “figure it out?”…is this morbid hoarding some kind of aligned symptom of kleptomania?…it’s a failing of beaulieu’s story that the answer hasn’t jumped out clearly for anyone…oh, and i’m not griff (aka sherlock) either…no piercings or tats here…why blemish perfection…that creepy kid’s stuff is just for attention whore’s crying “look at me, look” or “i don’t give a fuck what you think,” or lately, “i wanna be cool like my friends”  ; )

just me – 2011/03/02

Okay saddleman so all I hear from you is blah, blah, blah. Cowboy up sir, dazzle us all with your writing excellence. We promise to be nice.

paperweight – 2011/03/02

Kelptoparasitism is very well written, it’s got interesting descriptions the entire way through with a character that has quirks that constantly keep you reading. The thing is, no character in it is relatable and there isn’t anything behind the weirdness. I felt like it had the depth of a horror movie. It keeps you entertained and uncomfortable but doesn’t venture into realistic human relationships or relatable emotions. I liked free therapy because along with the entertainment, the characters were real people. The situation they were in was uncommon, maybe far fetched, but they still highlighted real life in an interesting way.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/02

…you’ve got a pretty big bug on your arm, Colin…time you gave him the Brush-off…RAAIIIIIIDD!!!…my ears are burning, did ichty-lichty just ask that i comment?!!…that obit notice in beaulieu’s flytrap has me stumped…the story doesn’t leave open the possibility that he knew Elizabeth May nee Foster personally and cared enough about her to clip the column…the story makes you think, but only if you are forced to examine it with forceps, and in the end, offers no solution….no hint, no perceptable clue for the average reader, nothing…FAAAIIIIL!…this speculation about my true identity is making me more antsy…there’s no anonymity on the ‘net anymore…thanks tommy, for your discretion, you’re a bud…your kind confidentiality has staved off a severe chilling  effect and my imminent suicide, just after i go postal at BP’s 50th issue party…i do kid…IF my initials were B.B. and you don’t like my story, you can kiss my ass, i’m winning the Deathmatch, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it…but they’re not…for you to insult brush or lane (never heard of him) by insinuating that they are me, is…a brilliant stroke of calculated genius, congratulations, team beaulieu for the most deviously crushing Deathmatch slur ever…of course it insults me too, neither one is up to my creative calibre ; )

fitzwilliam – 2011/03/02

in beaulieu’s story i like how they are bugs instead of people it makes it more interesting, both the stories are pretty good but I will have to vote for beaulieu’s story because I find brush’s story a little more boring and like I said before the pause thingys bother me. No offense or anything.

extropian – 2011/03/02

I\’m still in Braydon\’s corner on this round. After reading these two stories back-to-back, it\’s easy to vote for Field Guide again. Braydon\’s prose, metaphors, and narration are what sets him apart in this competition, to me at least. There\’s a richness to the story, a depth that I don\’t find in Free Therapy. And I\’m not talking about character or \”emotional connection\” here. I find, that short fiction of this length never makes me feel attached to a charcter, there\’s simply not enough time. But, if the characters are unique, I\’m interested on an purely intellectual level and want to understand them. Of course it\’s been said before, but stories this short need to hint at a larger world, something mysterious that exists beneath a short narrative or glimpse into a person or relationship. I get that with Field Guide but not as much with Free Therapy. Also, I found that the dialogue in Free Therapy was a little off. It\’s such an important part of the story but at times it sounded awkard when reading and even clunkier when read aloud. This strange relationship between the protagonist and Ellery is promising, but I can\’t really believe why this young girl is coming to him, and the fact that it\’s never revealed why she chose him in the first place drives me insane! Is that the point? Or did she just pick the first house she came to? I\’m probably missing something…

jturner – 2011/03/02

Brown makes sense.  But really, Patrick Lane?  Can we leave the deity out of this mess? haha

fitzwilliam – 2011/03/02

In Brush’s story the pause thingys bug me, the story would be alot better without them, your story would still not be as good as Beaulieu’s story but it would be better.

just me – 2011/03/02

I think saddle might be off stroking something else with all this attention.
Nice to see Griff in here. Are you going to critique this round? Or let your comments from previous rounds stand? We want to know….spill it.

Great observation about 7 and BITS. Kudos.

David Griffin Brown – 2011/03/02

What a fun round…. and man, saddlebags is going to have his ego stroked like never before when he sees how much y’all have been discussing his enigmatic identity.

I think there is pretty much no chance that saddle is Colin.  He’s a bald old man.  The only writer-type I’ve met who is as well published as saddle claims to be, and who is also arrogent enough (and bald enough) to fit the bill…. is Patrick Lane.  But does he care enough about pubescent short fiction to hang out here?   (Sorry guys, but we have to admit this isn’t the Malahat Review.)

But one thing is for certain… saddlebags has a split personality.  He likes to say nice things sometimes too, but he does so under the moniker 7newspapers.  Go back….and have a look….you’ll see what I mean…. ; )


just me – 2011/03/02

If I may, I’ll take a stab at explaining why some people think Brush could be BITS. I’ll start by saying I am curious about it myself. We’ll never really know who saddle is though. This is someone who would never reveal his true self. This is a perfect venue for someone to bully and never hold any accountability for it. After the venom he’s spewed in here there is no way he’d tell any of us who he is. Kind of the same way he would never actually show any of us his writing though many have asked. I mean if you’re going to slam everyone else’s writing why not give us all the opportunity to show you the same graciousness you’ve showed others. Speaks volumes.
Colin my take on it is this. You are the only one who has not been absolutely demolished by this guy. That is not proof of anything so don’t get me wrong. But while you’re writing is good it’s not above critique by any means. This is probably the first thing people have picked up on. Simone has showed the example from your writing that lead people to believe something was suspect. You have explained it so I won’t beat a dead horse. I will point out that it might have been the catalyst that prompted people to post. Your style of writing is very similar as is your language. The way you move through your thoughts is quite the same. His use of  …. is very similar to your use of lots of , and while a simple thing it is also something that makes people think the writing is similar. The run on style and lots of simple spelling mistakes has also been something that would be make people think this. Again don’t get me wrong, we all make spelling errors. Yet most authors and people who enjoy lit would have a huge respect for spelling, for grammar. These are just simple things but when added up amount to more. Surely you could see why people made that leap. You’ve also been the only one who seems absent from other rounds. While others have been enjoying the banter and until scarred (and scared off) by BITS have been quite active on here. Again this is not proof of anything by any means, just something that could lead people to think that. The timing of BITS posts also seem to lead people to that conclusion. These are just a bunch of ideas and ponderings that could lead anyone to think that.
With that being said I hope you’re not. I’d like to think you’re just an interesting, somewhat snarky guy who loves to write. Someone who does not back down when people critique him. I’ve already given my thoughts on which writer I prefer so you know I am a Beaulieu fan. This post was meant to show you why people could make that leap, not to hurt your feelings or bash you in any way. I hope I succeeded in doing that and did not come off as too bitchy. If I did I still say bring on the tea and cookies while I watch the Brush fans come at me. It’s okay, I would defend Beaulieu’s honor quite the same way. People should get passionate about defending people they care about. It’s what makes this contest unique. We have some say, probably too much I think.
With all these food references I think we should all order a pizza and discuss the writing. With many comparisons to food I say.

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/02

backinthesaddle is actually Steven Tyler.
Windsor folk! Come out to Phog Lounge tonight for TOAST. I’ll be reading some of my (other) stuff. Bring your own writing, too.

Tommy – 2011/03/02

backinthesaddle continues to spur writers and readers. Think of him as a hired hand.

wizzeee – 2011/03/02

I don’t think Colin Brush is backinthesaddle because, well, why would you want him on your team?!

petee5 – 2011/03/02

well, i guess that sucks for you then lichty18 that you’re not convinced, because that was kind of a sucker punch at Brush in the first place. unless i’m mistaken, there’s not much more the boy can do to convince you other than to agree with Simone, or disagree. He seems to have responded by claiming he’s not backinthesaddle. I guess from here on out you can believe what you want.

And Simone, don’t force the (disputable) ‘evidence’ to fit the crime. Colin is one of two people in this situation who actualy knows what’s going on, and if you want to know for yourself, I suggest listening to his response to your claims.

Tommy – 2011/03/02

The true identity of backinthesaddle is… I do have an idea, but would gain no pleasure in revealing it so… keep on ridin\’ BitS!

Lichty18 – 2011/03/02

I would like to start by thanking Simone. Your points are excellent and I agree completely. Brush isn’t really convincing me that they’re not this backinthesaddle person. I’d like to see what backinthesaddle has to say about all this…

As for the stories, it was said that there was an amazing contrast between Ellery’s bitten nails and dirty shoes. Maybe I’m having a blonde moment, but I don’t see it. Nail biting is a sign of anxiety, and not a serious one at that. I think there are likely more people who have bitten their nails in this world than who haven’t. I was a nail biter myself as a child, got tired of spitting out nail fragments (gross!) and now I have a terrible habit of biting the inside of my mouth. Does this mean I’m crazy? Maybe I am, but I don’t think little habits like this have much to do with it. And muddy shoes? Yes his bed sheets will get dirty. Yes, most would take of their shoes. But is Ellery really crazy? For me she’s typical. We all have issues. Brush just wrote them down. Like the novel, Marley and Me by John Grogan. His dog was not the worst, mine is more of a handful, and I’m sure there are dogs who are so much more of a pain in ass. Grogan just happened to write down his dog’s life story. My point, after this tangent, is that, at least for me, Brush’s story was average. Therapy and crazy people are interesting, what goes on in the minds of people who believe they need therapy is something that I find very intriguing, but Brush’s story was just okay. Didn’t do much for me. The language is just okay, the characters a little blah and the plot predictable. At the end, when we find our main character in therapy, dishing out his feelings, I simply thought “Well that’s kind of neat, I guess.” Whereas when I finished reading Field Guide, I went and read it again. Field Guide was amazingly original, Free Therapy was average and just okay. I think my dog could have thought up that uncomplicated plot. He is a smart dog, but still…

elliottj – 2011/03/02

Enjoying the discussion here so far; the food-sparring is hilarious.

Braydon, I’ve already subjected you to some critique before, so I’ll start with Colin Brush here since it’s my first crack at it. Your turn on the block is up next, all right?

“Free Therapy” has an interesting premise. That Ellery is getting back at her parents by sabotaging her own therapy and yet still craves therapy is interesting, and some of the things she tells the protagonist are both disturbing and intriguing. Ellery is what interests me about this story, which is where I feel this story ultimately misses out on a lot of good potential. The narrator’s obsession with Ellery, particularly romantically/sexually, is somewhat tired of a place for the story to go; of course he becomes obsessed with her, she’s the only person who even speaks to him.

(Though that fact is confused/complicated by the fact that the girl he speaks to even acknowledges him/admits to what he says; it seems that most teens would ignore/brush off an accusation from such a social outcast. The boyfriend, as he seems clingy, works; his ability to spread rumours through other girls, considering he is cast as invisible/a loser, does not.)

The obsession in itself is fine; that the obsession becomes the story’s focus, rather than Ellery, doesn’t work for me. Documenting Ellery more would seem to fit the story’s idea to the content of it, and would also take me to newer places as a reader. I also agree to some extent with Beaulieu’s earlier comment: the story brings up the notepad and the idea of notetaking early on, and I think this story might have greatly benefited from thoroughly taking up that form. Not only would we learn more about the intriguing Ellery, but what we learn about the protagonist we could learn through what he writes about Ellery rather than through rather standard actions (trying to make her boyfriend jealous, following her around) which befit a teenager, but are ultimately covered ground.

My other issue with this story was that the protagonist didn’t seem to narrate as a teenager would. Unless we have a good reason to believe that he’s the kind of guy who uses the word “woo” (and we don’t, since we know just about nothing about him), it seems awkward that his manner of thought/speech doesn’t better fit his young age.

I do like how the story wraps itself up full circle, and I find the complete lack of lesson learned (and the amorality of the character) very fitting and humorous. It’s a little strange since the story doesn’t seem to be building towards a humorous punchline, however.

If I may: I think this story could be an excellent dish (a foie gras, perhaps) with a rework of focus and form, but as is I’m leaving the restaurant with a powerful need for pizza.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/02

Ok, I’m kind of in shock. All I can say is I promise I’m not backinthesaddle, whatever my word is worth, and I don’t know who he/she is. If you do read the underlined ‘my’ closely in the quote posted below I believe it’s a comment on Daniel Perry’s story being a slower read from the position of the reader. ‘my speed readers dyslexia’ I believe is saying – my – being whoever the reader is – short attention span did not take to Daniels story. That doesn’t speak from the position of the writer of Free Therapy.

succincubus – 2011/03/02

simone: Veeeeeery iiiiiinteresting.

Any other evidence to toss us, young Sherlock?

Nice sidetrack.

woah – 2011/03/02

Simone, i see your logic. And i believe that you’re not attacking because your train of thought does seem somewhat valid. I can assure you that backinthesaddle is NOT written by Colin, nor does he even know who this character is. I live with Colin, and we’ve discussed these comments a few times and both of us are certain we don’t even know the individual behind backinthesaddle.

I didn’t follow all of the other rounds too closely, but I’m under the impression that backinthesaddle has been commenting throughout more of the competition than just the rounds that Colin is in. Also, you’ll notice that Colin’s comments (while they may engage in a little playful banter) are ALL respectful and constructive (no offense backinthesaddle! just trying to point out that your comments have been a lot more liberal than Colin’s), and I can assure you that backinthesaddle is not an outlet for this author.

Simone, since you’ve clearly been doing some research in the previous rounds, you  may recall a character with the login ‘the unskilled jeff clark’ from round one. This was a friend of ours whom when recognized, Colin politely asked him to ‘cool it’ (behind the scenes) because although its wonderful to have friends support, disrespectful and unnecessarily offensive comments just aren’t to Colin’s taste.

Every reader has the freedom to express themselves according to how they choose, and I can assure that Colin transparently speaks his mind under his own name.

simone – 2011/03/02

Lichty18, hilarious! (Not in a sarcastic manner)…

I have been watching all of these rounds on the sidelines, saying my piece where needed. I do believe the time has come again.

Who is this backinthesaddle character?
I do not have the answer, but I have some interesting points to bring up.  Please do not take this as an attack, but see it as more of evidentiary support.

1) Colin is the only one of eight competitors who hasn’t been attacked.

2) “Colin Brush is a writer currently living in Montreal. He recently saved his bike from rusting through so oh joy, he can keep riding through the winter.” A bike seat is called a saddle, taken from the French word (wait, where does he live, again?) “selle.”   …. Interesting?

3) Here is a previous post (from another round) from backinthesaddle:

” …dang…thought i’d be reading a couple new stories this morning…probably a technical glitch has B’n Eff’n P ending the round on a Monday…new Rules in effect, they appear not to identify all the 8 finalists at the outset, possibly to eliminate early conspiracies and enhance the overall fairness…but some things are unlikely to change, frank…one story will be move on and we should see it in the fourth (semifinal) round…and one story will disappear to the dank obscurity it so richly deserves…hopefully perry’s, not only because he callously pounced on my speedreader’s dyslexia, but because his story is boring…i do wonder how he produced that late week surge and whether he can do it again…when he’s G ‘n F’n R, I guess…kudos to the “bad taste patrol” for aligning itself with Canadian Broadcasting standards in censoring graphic non sequitors during the BP PussyMatch IV…hey, if you you squint, doesn’t this pic of JW look a bit like SH ; ) ”

Notice how he comments about *his* speedreader’s dyslexia? This post is a response to a criticism on Colin’s reading/spelling.

danielperry never actually responded to backinthesaddle‘s only post before the one above because he was simply addressing Colin Brush.


just me – 2011/03/02

I agree with Lichty18, the race is close. Nice to see two fierce competitors battling it out. Beaulieu can use the money for his masters and Brush get his bike fixed up and be back in the saddle. So the prize money will go to good use either way. I think I’ll have a spot of tea now, maybe drink it in.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/02

I want to comment about Braydons piece being architectonic. If I’m understanding the term properly, the book that comes to mind to be is Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun. It’s a novel which in every chapter the protagonist is in a different setting surrounded by different people. It almost could be a collection of short stories.

I can see field guide being written with this principal. But I would be careful using this technique for a story as short as field guide. It seems as though each little scene is too short to have any real meaning behind it. As a whole the only connecting aspect is the newspaper clipping, which isn’t important enough to solidify all the events. In the end the clipping is what crashes Tony’s relationship with Angela, but their relationship doesn’t seem to mean enough to Tony anyways, so it’s far too anti-climactic. This Architectonic style just causes your story to seem loose and frayed and unimportant.

The whole bug aspect is poorly done as well. You could replace insect with any other sub-human species and get the same effect. It could be a world of rodents and it would read exactly the same. All in all, it doesn’t seem very thoroughly thought through. It’s kind of like the burger a friend cooks you that looks great on the outside, but once you dive in it ends up giving you food poisoning because no effort was put in to ensure it was cooked properly.

Lichty18 – 2011/03/02

Wow, it’s a dead heat so far! Both competitors really want that $300. Beaulieu could buy a new textbook, and Brush could buy a new saddle for his bike.

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/02

I would just like to point out that I’m loving this discussion board. nattie, your analysis is very thoughtful, and I agree with you on how strangeness is working in the stories, to an extent. I think your comment points to another important difference, perhaps, in the way Colin and I write. While I think Colin might be more in the camp of making the strange familiar through language, I tend to go with the opposite: making the familiar strange through language.

To give credit where credit is due, the dialogue in Free Therapy is hot, crunchy, delicious popcorn. But when I read, I read for language at the level of the sentence, and most of Colin‘s story doesn’t really intrigue me in this regard. It feels like anyone could be writing the story, any teenage boy could be substituted for this narrator without losing much characterization. It’s like when they put too much butter on your popcorn and it gets soggy and feels like it’s already been in someone else’s mouth.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/02

Spot of tea, then?  Yeah, drink it in.  You bring your school marms, we’ll bring ours.  What nattie said.  But as a last line, I would have added.  Bitches.

nattie – 2011/03/01

In response to st pierre, I disagree with your thoughts of klepto’s ambiguity being a positive side to the story. In my opinion, this ambiguity does not extend an invitation to the reader to interpret, reread, discuss and reinterpret etc. I feel that it does not successfully intrigue the reader more so than it confuses the reader. I agree that the bug metaphor and the idea of this ambiguity is a great one. I just don’t see it being well executed. We’re not really reading about characters with mixed traits of humans and insects as st pierre suggests. The read is actually of humans with human traits (whether problematic disorders such as Tony exhibits, or perfectly normal behaviour like his neighbour) who are physically described via a non-human vocabulary. The character descriptions are a confusing jumble of human/non-human, not because the two are unmarriageable ideas, but because there lacks a true commitment to this marriage. While there is an attempt at an intriguing vagueness that leaves the reader space to be imaginative in their interpretation, the actual presentation of the metaphor fails to do this. I think kelpto is good, but I have to disagree with lichty18 – at first read in Beaulieu’s first round I thought it was a great story! But the more I read it, the more I see beyond the creative weirdness of the tale to the flaws that actually keep it from being a great story. The ideas are there and they’re good ones, but like Brush suggests – they’re not yet fully cooked.


On one other point, I believe that neither story spoon-feeds the readers. Both involve a type of strangeness that some may call weird for the sake of weird, and this is intriguing. However, I do prefer Brush’s use of this tool in compliment to others which compose his style because he is a lot less dependent on the strange in his story. There are plenty of questions readers ask throughout and at the conclusion of Free Therapy. Why is the kid so desperate for Ellery in the first place? We see her brokenness, but nothing aside from the physical attraction to her that actually draws him to her. Why does the kid decide that uncorking all of her secrets is the way to get her? Why does Ellery confide in him in the first place? What does the kid expect from therapy after Ellery’s big blow-up in the end? There are a lot of reasonings, intents and decisions to piece together in Free Therapy that call for many rereads of the story and the language Brush uses to knit it together. Ultimately, this is the story that I prefer because I believe that it is well-pieced together in a reflective manner, and thought-provoking way.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/01

..”just regular writing”…”conventional prose”…”architectonic”…omfg and crapoli…keep this guy away from mirrors…what a conceited egghead…all of the fashonable theory east of detroit won’t find new clothes for the emperor…only misery junkies prefer chocolate coated grasshoppers to popcorn…you sure picked a great weekend to move griff…like you can win something like this without micromanaging…have you any idea the patience it takes to train a team to vote AGAINST someone?

petee5 – 2011/03/01

On the contrary Colin’s characters are very well created. I love the second line – Her finger nails are bitten down far enough that they must have been bleeding and she didn’t take off her dirty sneakers before hopping onto my sheets. It’s an amazing contrast. Right away you understand that even though the narrator can recognize trauma he still worries about the unimportant dirty bed sheet. And Ellery, who is painfully stressed with her own problems, doesn’t care at all that she’s inconsiderate. This story is a battle between two forms of selfishness with an ending that crashes down for both of them.

Lichty18 – 2011/03/01

I greatly agree with both just me and st.pierre. With what was said about Beaulieu’s philosophy of writing, about how readers aren’t ‘spoon-fed’, I think this is a good, and valid point. How fun would reading be if it was easy? If everything was just handed out to you as the reader? The best part of reading is sitting there, trying to figure out what the hell just happened and why it happened. We see a ton of this in Field Guide, not so much, at least for me (and it seems others as well) in Free Therapy. At the end of Field Guide, I must confess, I was totally confused; however, after reading it and thinking about more, I’ve come to realize much more than what I had known. I don’t know about everyone else, but I like re-reading pieces. I’ve re-read my favourite novels so many times that I’ve lost count. Each time I get something new from them, now that’s damn good writing and that’s what is seen in Field Guide.

Writers don’t just put random things into stories to fill them up. Well, at least good writers don’t. Everything has meaning. Every single thing in Field Guide does. I love st.pierre’s asking of how well does Angela know Tony and how well do we? Etc. Truth is, we don’t know him too well. Angela doesn’t know him too well. I like st.pierre bringing up the creepiness. We’re getting into the fun stuff now! If we don’t know Tony that well, we’ll start to doubt how well we know him and our assumptions about him being more normal than he may be. I think that as readers, we should be looking deeper into Tony’s character. What’s going on inside his mind? Why is he with Angela? Why does he steal? Why is he carrying around the obituary? I think we need to look much deeper into these characters than we have been. And because of this, I think Field Guide deserves the win.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/01

Like Girdle said, I wasn’t emotionally invested in the characters of field guide. Tony is rousing and enjoyable to read but like many people have pointed out – he’s just weird. You can’t get a grip on why he steals, why he has the clipping. It’s another aspect that Beaulieu didn’t care to add. At one point he gives a slight glance into Tony’s childhood, but it ends up feeling out of place and it doesn’t offer enough information. Angela is the same way, she’s pissed when Tony presents the ring, logical, but then ignores her frustration a second later.  The story keeps you interested but it’s far to dependant on being weird.

If field guide is an entré I’m afraid it’s over-seasoned and undercooked.

st.pierre – 2011/03/01

Since there have been some questions about the ending of Field Guide, I thought I’d share my thoughts about the story, and just maybe, in the process, throw some light on those queries.

In the last round, another commenter and I discussed the possibility that the characters were not necessarily bugs, and we liked that ambiguity because it allowed the reader to interpret the story in different ways. Humans can reflect bug-like attributes, but also, bugs, in and of themselves, have unique qualities that lend a ‘weird’ feel to the story. Tony, apart from bug descriptions, is a weird guy. He has weird habits and complex psychological processes — the need to establish an alibi, thievery, hoarding, sex with young girls in their fathers’ beds, etc… I could go on, but you’ve all read the story, so I won’t 🙂

In terms of the ending, I think that we can question how well Angela and Tony know each other. They met at church, they’ve been to a barbeque, they’ve had sex before, etc., but I would argue that they aren’t intimate friends/acquaintances, despite these examples. On one level, Angela’s violent reaction to the ring can be read as an act of fear and anger at what that ring implies about their relationship. And perhaps, what it tells her about Tony (who seems oblivious of the implications). Weird? Yes. [side note: I also think that the allusion to The Merchant of Venice works well here. There is a lot about rings being stolen and tricked out of people and disguises and seedy business and racism in that play. How does that reflect/work in Field Guide?] Similarly, her running for the bathroom to puke is a response 1) to drinking at least 1/2 a bottle of Tequila Rose during strenuous activities and 2) to another immediate confrontation with Tony’s (yes, I’m going to say it again) weird habits. The story asks us from the beginning to question why Tony has this clipping of someone he claims is his sister (a lie, which I think is evidenced in the text). The conclusion brings us back to that object. Why does he carry it around? This moves Tony from weird to almost creepy. What if Angela begins to get a sense of this as well? How well does she know him? How well do we as readers? Da, da, dummmmmmmmm.

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/01

I want to first address Girdle‘s comments about the ending of Field Guide. Girdle, you make some excellent points, but in the end, my story isn’t about getting from point A to point B. This story is my first attempt to write an architectonic piece (or at least use its ideas in a story). Guy Davenport says that an architectonic piece is a “narrative built out of discrete pieces of imagery, anecdotes, and short stories,” and “absorbs and displaces narrative.” How does this change your reading of Field Guide?

I also want to address just me‘s comment, because it gets to the heart of my writing philosophy, in a way. just me says that Field Guide is challenging, and that it doesn’t force meaning on the reader. That’s exactly what I’m shooting for. Reading, like writing, is work, is labour. What I mean by this is that I give my reader a lot of credit; I know he or she isn’t an ignorant moron. Spoon-feeding your reader is a bit different, because it doesn’t view reading as work, but rather a consumer activity: to be pampered, pleased, placated. I enjoyed reading Colin‘s piece, but to me, it felt like buying and munching on a bag of popcorn. Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love popcorn. But I wouldn’t be able to eat it for dinner and feel satisfied.

just me – 2011/03/01

I’ll take that as a compliment since you’re the resident expert on running one’s mouth. Unbunch your panties saddle. Might make you less cranky.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/01

…just running off at the mouth…because no one really cares who’s running out the door…but i wanted to respond to just me’s post…maybe…beaulieu is referring to a situation where the queen ant sometimes eats the male after reproduction…and she retches because she just devoured his gaster (containing venom) and petiole (containing an antiseptic)…and sometimes ants regurgitate to feed their pupae… Wow!…Cool!…or not…we’re all big fans of the hopelessly obscure back story that nobody gets and has to be explained to reveal that the story is much deeper and wonderful than it appears ; )

just me – 2011/03/01

Just running out the door but wanted to address Girdle’s post. There is a relevence to the newspaper clipping. There is also a reason why she retches in the end. It’s there I promise you. It’s just not spoon fed to the reader.

For me personally I think that’s the difference between the stories. Brush’s is too mainstream, too easy. It’s a great read and I liked it. It just never requires you to think too hard. Beaulieu’s challenges you to think and I like that in what I read. He does not force it on you, he leaves clues for you to piece together. But you have to want to find them.If you’re firmly in Brush’s camp then you might have just skimmed it. And that’s okay. I think supporting our writer’s is a great thing to do. Not being harsh, just offering a different point of view.

Girdle – 2011/03/01

On the note of endings I’d say that’s where klepto falls short too. We have two charecters in the end scene. I don’t know why they ended up together, i don’t care, and in turn i don’t care what happens to them. their relationship never had me emotionally invested. she has to run to the toilet after finding the creepy newspaper clipping (I don’t know who finds that a realistic response). You find out she has a boyfriend but that doesn’t matter bacause she doesn’t seem to like her boyfriend anyways, so that addition falls limp. the ending doesn’t tie the story together at all, or make anything that happens before it seem relevant. Maybe it reinforces that this guy’s a weirdo, but that’s not much of a conclusion.

just me – 2011/03/01

My vote goes to Beaulieu. His story keeps you interested. His writing style is stronger and more vivid. Brush’s story is okay but it falls short for me. It felt a bit bland, needs a bit of spice.

wizzeee – 2011/03/01

first of all i wanted to say that i’m glad these two made it to the semi-finals. they were both the more interesting in their first rounds. I’m going to vote for colin though. I was just kind of sick of reading about bugs at the end of braydons. the descriptions were a far too constant seeing as we already know they’re insects. But i did really like them both.

great stories guys

Braydon Beaulieu – 2011/03/01

Free Therapy explores an interesting idea with its multiple layers of therapy, but I can’t help but think they seem loose and (as Colin might put it) half-assed. Okay, so the narrator checks into therapy at the end of the story, after providing therapy for Ellery. Cute. But what does that mean, for him as a character? What type of growth does he expect to achieve from his sessions? I’m not sure that this is fleshed out as fully as it should be, and this is probably the reason so many people in the last round were disappointed with the story’s ending. Questions that arise out of a story are good. Questions that arise from its lifeless carcass: not so much.

On a similar note, I think that the format of Free Therapy is kind of interesting. The fragments suggest that they could be session notes from a therapist’s notebook. But they don’t quite hit that. They’re just regular writing, fragmented. So all this potentially cool therapy-related form stuff falls short, and what we’re left with is a story that wants to explore new territory but is a bit too timid to step away from conventional prose.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/01

…beaulieu’s story is juvenile, the questions and feelings it provokes are the same that spring up after listening to some wannabe practicing stairway to heaven …oh no, not again…when will  it be over?…and haven’t you got anything of your own we could listen to?…we’re probably lucky that you don’t…i just thought of a few more tiresome metaphors you could have crammed into your overstuffed hodgepodge…busy as a bee, floats like a butterfly…and separating the wheat from the chaff…even BP hates you…all of the creepy crawling six legged friends in the zoolosphere can’t help you now ; )

Lichty18 – 2011/03/01

husseini8, backinthesaddle isn’t even making sense…I say you save your amazing arguing skills for someone worthy.

Lichty18 – 2011/03/01

lzeppelin, I agree with you completely. Brush’s story was very good. I really enjoyed reading it and having such interesting psychological matters made the story very appealing. But, as lzeppelin said, Field Guide is just plain odd, in a very good way. I think that Colin Brush’s analysis of the insects in Field Guide is maybe going a little too far. Just because the characters happen to be insects doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be just like the bugs they are in every single aspect. I think that the story works better, at least for me, with only some bug-like characteristics of the characters. They are more human than insect and so they have more human qualities. I think that it works better that way, like animals in movies who drive cars and live in houses, only in this story, the invertebrates aren’t cuddly and cute.

Colin Brush – 2011/03/01

Field Guide is a weird and interesting story. But to me Beaulieu’s bug metaphor seems slightly half-assed. It doesn’t go any deeper than people are like insects. There’s the neighbour who is supposedly cockroach-esc. Cockroaches infest houses, feed on the food of the inhabitants, sometimes they live in garbage, they transport diseases – they are one of the most insanitary bugs out there.  All we see of the cockroach in field guide is him washing his black Maserati and complaining that someone took his newspaper. Kind of backwards. Plus, Tony calls Angela his queen. Anything with a queen – possibly an ant – lives in a colony. It could be some sort of group home or frat house or something. They don’t live alone with secrets to hide. I kind of felt like the insect delegation was as specific as picking the first bug to come to mind.

lzeppelin – 2011/03/01

I enjoyed both stories, but my votes will be going to Beaulieu. Field Guide is just so… weird (and I mean that as a compliment). Yes, Brush’s story was good as well, but after reading it once I was satisfied. I’ve read Beaulieu’s multiple times and am still left with all sorts of questions and feelings. When I feel this way after reading a piece of work, I know that it is special.

backinthesaddle – 2011/03/01

HIJAAAAAACKKK!!…take me to Columbia…all the terrorists are not in the OPP…i read Brush’s story and it’s a breath of fresh air again…it’s a story, an actual story…with brilliant snippets of believable youthful hijinks and insight into an insecure,  neglected schoolgirl, wrapped up in something more cerebral…but what kind of mickey mouse analyst has fake plants in his office…beaulieu takes an idea…and beats it to death…buzzes like a cicada?…still, it is worthy, better than most in the Dearthmatch…graff and marr mar are my sentimental favorites…although mar mar’s is probably, uh, well…i’ll save it…we gotta have a chat…Brush jumped out into the early lead last night, but beaulieu is ahead this morning, a powerful reversal…there’s only so much rope-a-dope you can manipulate with a strong, enthusiastic team  going like gangbusters …so i’m betting beaulieu and the association is the giant in the room…his head will be bigger than a scarab lint ball if he wins this…let me kick off the anybody but beaulieu campaign…if three of you can’t beat him together, well then, i can’t help you ; )

husseini8 – 2011/02/28

backinthesaddle, shut up.

backinthesaddle – 2011/02/28

…i was just thinking a couple hours ago…the only story i can remember from all the previous stories…was beaulieu’s…that’s gotta say something…about how bad it was…that match was a nailbiter…mar mar proved she was just tuff enough…YESSSSSSS!!

Broken Pencil – 2011/02/28

The semi-finals begin! The chaff begins to fall from the wheat.