Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seriously Short Fiction Challenge

Your task: Write a story in 140 characters or less on Twitter/Facebook (or here) for a prize.
Deadline: Tuesday, July 5th, 4:00 pm
Good luck!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It’s NOT about ME? Good one, David Brooks!

by Jack Solowey

David Brooks recently wrote a delightfully sarcastic opinion piece directed at 2011’s class of college graduates. Speaking to the grads, Brooks ‘modestly proposes’ that the world is not a mere playground for their novel amusement.

Ha! Good one, David! It doesn’t take a college education to understand the simple fact that an undergraduate degree is the ticket to a lifetime of ease and happiness. In 2010, Brooks’s own paper, The New York Times, published a study that identified a strong direct correlation between education and well-being. As a college “sophomore,” which is Greek for ‘knows everything,’ I have already learned that such a correlation always implies causality. 

At the close of his piece, Brooks wryly quips, “Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center.” This can only be a joke, because as all people, especially college students know, happiness is achieved by avoiding tasks. Where Pharaohs and Caesars used slaves to spare themselves from agonizing labor, college frat boys use pledges.

In fact, a college education guarantees future joy because it teaches you how to get out of working. Pretending to observe another religion’s holiday in order to push back a deadline, and counting alcohol served to minors as “community service” are just a few of the ways in which college students practice the art of shirking responsibility.

College courses even explicitly instruct the future leaders of the free world on how to cut corners. Only in a college economics classroom will you come to understand such complex ideas as “Post-Keynesian Chartalism.” This theory asserts that governments can pay off their debt by printing money that doesn’t actually exist. While this notion may sound “counter-intuitive” or "f***ing ridiculous" to a non-college graduate, to a college grad it makes perfect sense. College students even learn to apply this concept outside of the classroom. With “bursar bills” students can charge food and other necessary items to their parents without asking for the money upfront.

With college-educated leaders who know such clever tricks, our government can pay for things even though it is $14.2 trillion in debt. Luckily, our elected officials understand that they don’t have to waste time and resources paying off our debt in the present, because some even more educated generation will simply get around to it in the future.

Furthermore, Brooks’s colleague Tom Friedman reported yesterday on another one of our highly educated government’s laborsaving success stories. According to Friedman, modern presidents are only expected to make policy for their first 100 days in office, even though they are elected to an entire four-year term. Ask not what your country can do for you – ask how you can evade doing anything for your country. Thanks Kennedy School of Government!

In the past, hard work made this country great. Other people’s hard work. While uneducated people composed the rank and file of the proletariat labor force, the “smart” ones avoided all that Dickensian drudgery by taking 8 semesters of gen ed. classes.

It is wholly unjust that even today some Americans do not have the opportunity to go to college and thereby avoid a lifetime of challenging toil. As our founders envisioned, however, we continue to move towards a “more perfect Union.” In President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address he stated, “We’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students.”

We still have not yet achieved the ideal where 100% of Americans receive college degrees, but with every generation we move closer to that goal. At this point, you may be wondering, “if everyone goes to college and learns how to get by without doing anything productive, who will do the dirty work?”

Once again, executives with MBAs from the nation’s leading business schools have devised an easy solution: out-sourcing. Now that most Americans are far too educated to perform “necessary tasks” we simply must hire people in other countries to perform those jobs for us.

Already, we see the fruits of our emphasis on college education. Unemployment is now officially at 9.1%, meaning that fewer and fewer Americans have to work at all. At this rate, college may be the ticket to an entirely work free future.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Freewrite of the Week: Obsessions and Confessions

by Jacqueline Fauni

Whether it's an embarrassing collection of drugstore romance novels or your Aunt Abby and Martha's crowd of poisoned septuagenarians buried in the basement, we've all got obsessions we'd rather not announce to the whole world.  So why would you want to write about them?  Or better yet, why have authors and screenwriters poured their guiltiest pleasures and dirtiest secrets into their work, knowing full well how much they're revealing to their audiences?  As terrifying as it may be, writing about our obsessions can lead us to the story we want to tell, so fiction can be a form of confession.  Of course, that confession can be as cathartic or discreet as we want to make it, as dictated by the unwavering laws of artistic license.  (Just don't make it all up and call it an autobiography, a la James Frey.)

Getting in touch with our obsessions can unlock insight about ourselves as well as our characters.  What does your obsession say about you (besides the fact that you're obsessed with something)?  Maybe you care deeply about the ones you love and would do anything to prevent them from going to prison for murder (and maybe that's what makes you as charming as Cary Grant).  Why exactly do you feel so guilty about your guilty pleasure?  Maybe your archaic ideals of romance are so closeted because they clash with your attitude as a modern woman.  Deconstructing our obsessions can help us translate them into our characters' desires and flaws, which can help us figure out what obstacles they need to overcome to attain their desires, etc.  Before you know it, a plethora of plot bunnies will emerge!

Your task: Write for 10 minutes about the one obsession you don't want anyone to know about.  And don't hold back -- you can always bury it with those gentlemen in the basement...

Good luck, and happy writing!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hockey Fans Defy Stereotypes

by Jack Solowey

The usually tranquil seaside city of Vancouver erupted in chaos last night, following the Canucks's 4-0 defeat by the Boston Bruins in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. At the close of the third period, otherwise mild-mannered Canadians took to the streets in an atypical display of human emotion. 150 were injured as the British Columbians burned cars, smashed storefronts, and unleashed lifetimes of pent up aggression. 

"This is the first time in my life I've burned anything. Even birthday candles used to scare me, but torching that Mountie's horse felt pretty good eh!" stated Ethan Taylor an investment banker and Vancouver native. "Now that I've tasted blood, I don't think I can ever go back to my timid Canadian ways."

We caught Taylor marching with a cohort of crazed Canucks fans from the Rogers Arena to a local liquor store. There, the mob proceeded to loot bottles of Molson Ice and Canadian Club Whiskey in order to make molotov cocktails. 

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police had to be called up to halt this unprecedented destruction of property. Upon hearing that a mass of 70,000 hooligans was rampaging in the streets of Vancouver, R.C.M.P. Commissioner William Elliot is reported to have said "Stop messin' around ya no-good hoser! There aren't 70,000 people in all of Canada!" Elliot only realized that the call for assistance was not a prank when Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally begged him to step in. 

Perhaps even more shocking than Canada's latent urge to riot is Boston's sudden ability to maintain basic standards of human decency. Win or Lose, the Boston Police Department was prepared for an orgy of drunken violence that would last well into the wee hours of the morning. Barricades were set up along pub-lined streets, and hundreds of riot police in full body-armor established a tight perimeter around TD Garden. Surprisingly, these efforts were unnecessary.

Following the presentation of the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy to Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Bruins goalie Tim Thomas respectively, Bostonians put down their pints of lager, paused for a 20 second golf-clap, and exited single-file out of all local bars and restaurants.

One Bostonian, when asked why he was acting like a civilized member of society, stated, "I have wo[r]k in the mo[r]ning at John Hancock Insu[r]ance, I can't stay up all night drinkin' just becaws a' some stupid hawckey gayme. That'd be wicked irrespawnsable.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

U.S. Snubbed Again by Glitzy International Affair

by Jack Solowey

The first full lunar eclipse in over a decade is taking place today, but you wouldn't know it. While South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia will be able to witness this breathtaking celestial phenomenon, the United States will not be attending. Left off the guest list, the US will have to make alternate plans for the evening - perhaps renting a movie with Canada.

After President Obama and First Lady Michelle were overlooked for an invitation to the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Americans have been feeling left out. This recent snub, by the heavens themselves, is just the latest blow to our national ego.

An avuncular man who identifies himself only as "Sam," as he is too embarrassed to use his real name, had this to say while choking back tears, "I didn't even want to go to that stupid lunar eclipse. That's weak small time sh*t. 'For me, it's solar or nothing.'* The moon would be a nobody without us. We made the moon a big deal by hanging out there in 1969, and now it thinks it can host a party without us. Real cool bro!"

Like most Americans today, Sam is visibly upset. American detractors, however, haughtily delighted in their new-found social superiority. Even New Zealand tried to be cool, chiding, "I bet those Yank mates feel more left out than a Kakapo at a Kiwi party!" The joke, however, was lost on Mongolia and South Korea who just shrugged their shoulders at the comment.

Insiders at the Gala report that it was indeed a star studded affair. Astral celebrities such as the Virgo constellation were visible shortly after the party kicked off. The entire catering hall was bathed in an intense red light that emerged when the earth passed directly between the moon and the sun.

As for future Lunar-American relations, sources close to the moon's promoter say that the United States can expect an invitation to the next total lunar eclipse no later than August 21, 2017. Skeptical Americans won't be holding their breath.

*The Simpsons episode 251 written by John Frink & Don Payne, Directed by Mike Scully

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Twitter Contest 6.14

Complete the last line of the limerick on twitter for a special prize!  #JunctionContests

There once was a Junction for Writers
All brighter than all kinds of lighters
They worked hard all day
So then they could play
...your line here…

Happy Writing!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Experts Report: American Productivity Down 83.4% Today

by Jack Solowey

Writers Junction productivity analysts made a startling discovery upon entering the office this morning.

"I opened the door and there were reams of dot matrix paper all over the floor. You know, that old printer paper with the perforated edges and holes on the side," reported Junction intern Colij Stoodint.

The Junction's Level of Activity Monitoring Equipment, or L.A.M.E., had been working in overdrive to churn out new graphs since 9 am EST. At that time, Americans on the eastern seaboard were clicking onto their Google home-pages and noticing the interactive Les Paul "doodle."

L.A.M.E. is a remote monitoring station that records the average national level of productivity in a continuous line graph similar to a Seismometer or EKG. It is financed by the federal government, and located in Santa Monica California.

"It was game over as soon as the first laptop was booted up. By 9:15 am EST the graphing pins were already recording in the bottom quartile of productivity. At noon, the national activity level was down 83.4% below the daily average," Stoodint reports.

From Boston to Richmond, right when the workday began, Americans could not help but spend hours trying to record 30 second ditties on the digital mini-guitar Google provided. A New York Times columnist who chose to remain anonymous states, "I was about to email a source in Lybia when I discovered the doodle. When I looked at the clock again I realized that Paul Krugman and I had been riffing nonstop for 3 hours!"

While the national productivity level fell to its lowest point since the Rebecca Black video was released, there were some positive developments to come out of the Les Paul doodle. Apparently, if you type ddfggfdsaasddss on your keyboard the guitar plays "Ode to Joy."

Nevertheless, when Stoodint and his colleagues first saw the daily L.A.M.E. reports they thought their worst fears had been realized.

"Ever since the internet was developed, The Pentagon has feared that an enemy of the state might release an app. or flash game so distracting that it would cripple the US on the eve of war. So, as soon as I walked in this morning I got Sec. Def. Robert Gates on the horn. Well, I should say that I called him up after struggling to play "Smoke on the Water" on google for 45 minutes..."

Friday, June 3, 2011

More Room to Write at The Junction!

The Bullpen!
We are excited to introduce The Junction's new light and airy writing room with 18 more writing spaces.  Already a hit with the regulars, the room is in the "way back" behind the Deadline Room.  Check it out.  We leave standard old office cubicles in our dust.  And we still have more improvements in store for this room!
More pics of the work while it was in progress on our Facebook page.