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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1999687
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Satire · #1999687
Satire of Talent Competitions popular on television

























Starving
Writers Talent Search



By Doug Glenning II





















         Each
year big cities like San Francisco and New York are flooded with
ambitious teenagers and young adults who, having cast off the
shackles of society's notion to make something of themselves, take
on the task of becoming famous. Some resort to singing or acting.
Others, who aren't attractive and couldn't carry a tune in a
bucket become writers. Few become successful, many are left to be
starving writers. Since 1982, Doleful Publishers, Inc. sponsors
The
Starving Writers Talent Search,
a competition designed to draw out the most downtrodden writer the
world has to offer, and give him or her the chance to make their
dreams come true. The three-day competition attracts starving writers
from every walk of life: from the downtrodden and totally depressing
writers of India and Bangladesh to the Marxist social outcasts of San
Francisco. Any starving writer is welcome to compete regardless of
background or terminal disease. One of this timeless competition's
crowning jewels has always been its openness to different writers:
whether they've come from living on the street, or barely scraping
by in some rat-infested apartment. This year's competition has
brought up some controversial discussions as to whether or not those
starving writers who've merely rejected the help of their middle to
upper class families in support of their dream should be eliminated.
In reference to the controversy founder and president of Doleful
Publisher's Inc., Deodar Punjab-Habibah has reportedly said,
"Starving writers is as starving writers does." Tradition
continues unabashed. The three-day competition is broken up into
three parts: the writing process, grammar and sentence formation and
the swimsuit competition. This first day is about getting the writers
settled into their windowless, bed-less rooms, and providing the
proper environment so they can work on their piece. The rooms are
designed to match the specific tastes of starving writers. Two weeks
prior to the competition masons were brought in to seal off all
windows with concrete. A flashlight key-chain with six-month old
batteries is provided as the writer's only source of light. All
features of comfort are taken out of the hotel room and replaced with
something to make the writers feel at home. To sit on: a homeless
man's trenchcoat, unwashed. To sleep on: his shirt and pants. The
carpet is pulled up, but the room is not swept and the nails are
pulled out to stick up from the floorboards, an homage to the shoddy
workmanship of the writers who often build their own domiciles. The
food is bread and lukewarm water. Taco seasoning packs are provided
for those starving writers who enjoy water with a bit of south of the
border taste. The toilet is also removed. In it's place: the
homeless man's hat, which you must empty out yourself in your sink.
By creating these ideal conditions for the starving writers,
conditions which President Punjab-Habibah lived in for seven years
while writing his first best seller,
Scabies
and Sage (Aberrance Publishing House, 1974)
,
the writers can fully harness all their rage, depression and
hopelessness and channel it into their work most effectively. With
the setting of the sun on the first day the starving writers wind
down the final touches of their creative process: pulling out their
hair; scoffing in disgust at their putrid attempt at art; they lay
down to sleep cursing the day they were born. Tomorrow brings the
promise of minute victory, which they all look forward to rejecting.


         With
the dawn of a new day, the union staff prepares the stage on which
the competition shall be held. This is accomplished by tearing down
everything the hotel has set up on the stage leaving nothing but a
stool with a broken seat. All of the light bulbs are unscrewed except
a hot halogen light that shall beat down on the performing writers.
In the kitchen elegant gourmet meals are prepared for our competition
judges, which they shall eat and comment on their exquisite taste,
loudly taunting the starving writers, trying to get them to crumble
before their performance is complete. At this time, let's take a
moment to meet the judges: From Gibbs' Green Pen publishing Vanek
Jancsi, a three time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his novels:
Old
Men in Black Clothes
, The
Slamming of the Briefcase,
and Everyone
I Know Writes Garbage
. He's published
twelve books, which for two decades, have remained out of print by
popular demand. Joining Mr. Jancsi is Nanice Kerriford, veteran
writer of Doleful Publishing House Inc. Her titles include: 'My
Love of Whitman', 'My Love of Dickinson', and 'My Love of
Crane', all of which annually make every editors "Total Pieces of
Trash" list. Rounding out our panel of Judges, Steve Vida, who we
found eating spray cheese and circus peanuts across the street at the
7-11 and whose big contribution to writing is spray painting his
girlfriend's name on the local overpass. The judges' task will
not be an easy one. They must carefully weigh the scraggily
appearance of each competitor with their unappreciated talent by
delving deep into the text and form of each writing.


         After
a mere three and a half hours of sleep (two only for the truly
serious competitor) our starving writers wake to sore necks and
putrid smells pumped into their rooms by hotel staff. Choking on the
toxic stench of skunk, rotten chicken soup and what can only be
described as a spoiled yogurt-ish smell, the writers rush to the
lobby for a buffet style breakfast of Belgian waffles with various
fruit toppings, pancakes with three choices of syrup, eggs, bagels,
sausage, bacon and juice, all of which they will discover is not
available to them as they were promised. This tactic is an important
factor in keeping our starving writers not only starving, but also
deprived of humane treatment which is necessary to preserve their
unique talent and special outlook on life. Thus begins the first day
of competition: the writing process. 


Individual
writers each have a unique style when it comes to their writing and
to the process itself. The differences range from what writing tools
they choose--typewriters with missing keys, pens almost out of ink,
crayons made from their own earwax--all the way to their level of
comfort: sitting on a broken chair, sitting on a cold kitchen floor,
sitting in front of a window with the sun blinding your eyes. Despite
these differences, all starving writers also have staples that have
been re-created on the stage provided for our competition. A solitary
halogen bulb, very large and putting off a lot of heat, lights the
stage; this is used to create the beating down of the sun (and
doubles in its symbolism for the oppression of society rejecting
their work). A bar stool with a broken seat is provided for them to
sit on. To write on they're given an old music stand with a missing
screw, which causes the head to flop back when more than half a pound
of pressure is exerted on it. The stand and stool are centered atop a
wobbly trap door, which leads underneath the stage where the
custodial staff keeps their broken glass collection. Just to add a
sense of home, a leaky sink has been installed on stage and will be
dripping from the faucet onto a copper-bottomed pot to add the
essential amount of distraction to our starving writers. With the
stage set and the judges ready, the competition can begin.


         Our
judges' first task is to analyze the writing process that our
starving writers use to create their woeful tales. The judges will be
looking for: distress of the physical condition, unfeigned writer's
block, and their ability to work despite all manner of discomfort and
distraction. To provide a more detailed understanding of the process
of writing one of the competitors will be followed throughout the
competition in hopes of painting a portrait of the rise and fall this
competition can bring upon a starving writer.




Competitor
number H-22, Neddy A. Pocano, has been writing since he was three
years old. Of course, most of his work was filled with words like:
JGPYCVX and LPNIKLM, but still--he's always enjoyed writing. After
graduating elementary school, he dropped out and took up a job
selling bitter lemonade made from tap water and a powder mix. This
was his career until he was thirty-eight. His girlfriend left him six
months ago after discovering his hobby was collecting clipped
toenails shaped like famous people. Crushed that they would not be
married he moved out from his parents' house and into a trailer
park on the Florida panhandle. It is here that he decided to become a
starving writer. Now he has found his way to our competition. "I
never thought about being a writer," Neddy comments, "but it's
easier than I thought! Mary loves Jack, Jack gets tuberculosis, Jack
dies and Mary joins the navy, gets shipwrecked in Antarctica and
makes her leaving breeding penguins and selling them to the natives!
See! It ain't so hard.  Hey, I gotta go right that down!" Will
the talent of these starving writers be enough? Who will be the most
depressing, and upstage the rest? These kinds of roller coaster
emotions are common to this competition.


         Neddy
waits patiently as the first competitors (A-1 through H-21) display
their writing process for the judges. An amazing array of variances:
sitting on a down-pillow despite allergies, pouring spicy chili sauce
on paper cuts to alleviate writer's block, the rhythmic pacing and
pulling of eyebrow hair trying to force up the correct phrasing for a
sentence. Neddy, watching intently between naps, takes notes on those
competitors fairing well and not-so-well: don't poke yourself in
the eye with the pencil, don't stare into the halogen bulb and
stumble blindly off the stage, don't pour hot ink on yourself and
threaten to sue the judges for a million dollars.


Neddy,
with a crack of his neck, emerges onto the stage. Coming totally
unprepared to this competition, Neddy sweats bullets looking for
ideas. He paces on the stage like a tiger.  The judges suck down
their Fettucini Alfredo impatiently. Thinking quickly, Neddy grabs
the legs of the stool and smashes the stool onto the stage. The seat
splinters! The judges, on the edge of their seats, watch intently as
Neddy grabs a splinter and pricks his finger. Grabbing the band of
his underwear, he pulls until a section rips off. With a stunning
display of grunts and wooziness from loss of blood Neddy writes an
Italian sonnet about the effects of the Black Death during the middle
ages on Scottish Highland cattle and collapses to his knees. Just
before he passes out he shouts with a final burst of energy, "That
was my...last pair!" The judges leap to their feet shouting and
hooting as EMTs rush to the stage. After much deliberation and
mopping up of blood, the judges unanimously select thirty-four
competitors to go on to round two of which Neddy is in the lead. Thus
day one of our competition comes to an end. All starving writers go
back to their room after a meal of breath mints and seltzer water.
The night sets in, flashlights are turned on, and so they continue on
their masterpieces for the next day's competition.


         Around
three in the morning the remaining competitors are surprised with a
bucket of cold water dumped onto their head, complete with ice cubes.
Sputtering awake and nursing cube shaped bruises our starving
writer's are moved into the staging area where they will be served
prune juice and bran muffins for several hours until the judges awake
and are ready to begin the competition. Hours later, sleep deprived
and desperately in need of the facilities, all bathrooms are locked
and the writers are forced to wait until the end of the competition.


         Day
two of the competition is focused on the writers' grammar and
sentence formation. Serious doubts arise as to whether competitor
H-22 Neddy A. Pocano can successfully go on to the next level in this
contest. Subtle yet distinct phrases came out of Neddy's mouth
yesterday that cast a dim light of hope on his lasting to the next
round. Phrases like: "Has you seen the toilet anywheres?" and "So
you sit on that?" in reference to a hibachi, and perhaps the most
startling display of improper grammar, of which one can hope was a
starvation induced hallucinogenic episode, where he spent six and a
half hours asking everyone in the building,  "Which aisle be the
giblets aisle?" Neddy feels good about his chances despite his
grammar and poor sentence formation: "I's known I can't speak
too good. Mans I'd be duh final." He can only hope that the
judges feel the same way. Competition begins with competitor P-2, a
young man from Chicago, Illinois named Joffrey Taverner. Joffrey had
been living in a makeshift apartment under Wrigley Field for the last
year and a half. Recently relocated by the Chicago Police, Joffrey
made his way to our competition in hopes of gaining recognition for
his writing. Joffrey specializes in stories where the characters
stand around xylophones doing nothing and eventually die of boredom.


With
the halogen bulb glowing, the sink dripping and pieces of the stool
still scattered about the stage, Joffrey approaches the microphone
with manuscript in hand. The judges give him the nod and he begins:
"It was a cloudy night out on the Bayou" and at this point,
Joffrey makes a cluck noise with his tongue, a standard sound effect
in this competition used to indicate a period. "
Surely
you can't go out in that fog
[cluck]"


         "Of
course I can
[slurp - to indicate a comma]
and my name is Meg [slurp]
not Shirley [cluck]"


         "Are
these your boots
[whistle]"


         "No
[slurp] I thought they
were yours
[cluck]"


         "Did
you hear a cluck
[slurp] Meg
[whistle]"


         "Sounded
more like a whistle to me
[cluck]"


         It
was at this point in his reading, the contestant Joffrey Taverner
began doing some sort of cross-legged interpretive dance to go along
with his reading. Before finishing his next paragraph, he was hopping
around like a rabid chimp. At the end of the first page, he'd
collapsed to his knees and began to cry. Halfway through the next
page, Joffrey begins screaming wildly, flings his manuscript into the
air and goes running out of the room. Later, it was determined that
the prune juice he drank reacted quickly, causing him to be in
desperate need of the bathroom. However, as is procedure to keep our
starving writers afflicted for the sake of their art, all bathroom
privileges were revoked. Apparently, the steady sound of the dripping
faucet intensified his need of a bathroom. Since he was unable to
finish his reading, he was therefore eliminated. Joining him were
seventeen other competitors who also were unable to finish reading
their piece. Only sixteen of the starving writers were willing to
defecate themselves just to finish reading their manuscript. These
sixteen contestants proved to the judges that a chance for personal
success is more important to them than personal hygiene. With a
standing ovation from the judges, the sixteen remaining contestants
(of which Neddy Pocano is one) return to their rooms and day two of
the competition is over.


         With
no means of bathing available to the competitors the mix of urine,
feces and body odor manages to keep most of them awake throughout the
night.


Day
three of the talent search: the swimsuit competition.  All remaining
contestants are provided with swimsuits and are paraded all at once
before the judges, who will be looking for how many ribs are visible,
thinness of wrists and ankles, puffiness and redness of the eyes and
other such visible clues as to how starving these writers really are.


Most
of the writers, having gotten little to no sleep, are down at the
stage by six o'clock. A sudden change in procedure catches the eye
of every starving writer remaining in this competition. The breakfast
buffet is now open to them. Their eyes bigger than their stomachs
(literally), those with weak wills (thirteen in all) flock to the
buffet and savagely scarf down scrambled eggs with provolone cheese,
blueberry muffins, and scrapple by the truckloads. Their stomachs not
used to food, many of them quickly double over with severe
indigestion and cramps. The thirteen gluttonous competitors (having
chosen food over their talent) are eliminated from the competition.
Those remaining are: Sidonie Nazaire, a fifty-four year old realist
author from the Northeastern coast of France, author of
Disproportionate Eyebrows and other things I
hate about my face
; Egidio Mattea, a
seventeen year old orphan from Germany and author of the book
Granddaddy's Glass Eye Keeps Staring Me Down
and newcomer Neddy A. Pocano from Carrabelle, Florida who is working
on his first novel
Sewing clothes for
squirrels and other things I do on Saturday
.
As the three remaining contestants suit up for round three, each one
relishes with thoughts of what this will do for their careers. The
winner will have their work published by an inexperienced publishing
company about to go out of business and handled by a sleazy manager
who will take most of their profits and his wife to Tahiti. Following
this, they will be slandered on every tabloid in Europe and the U.S.
Their friends and family will be paid off to avoid them and thousands
of fans will lead book-burning parties claiming that the writer isn't
writing for the money but to protest capitalism.


         With
nervous anticipation the three competitors emerge onto the stage for
the final round: the swimsuit competition. First onto the stage,
Sidonie Nazaire is sporting a modest men's one-piece bathing suit
circa 1919. The tank-top straps barely stay atop his thin, bony
shoulders. To keep them from slipping off he's combed his chest and
back hair straight, using them to hold the straps onto his shoulders.
An excellent touch! He'll no doubt receive high marks from the
judges for that one. Strutting down the stage he does a flirtatious
twirl, but in mid-spin slips on a puddle of water which is leaking
out of the pipes underneath the sink. EMTs rush to the stage. Having
no meat on his rear, it seems he's sustained a serious injury to
his tailbone. The swimsuit competition is put on hold for three hours
while the sink is fixed, Nazaire is patched up and the stage is
dried.  While waiting, let's talk about some of the many champions
that have gotten their start because of this contest.


         During
this competition's many years over twenty starving writers have
gone on to fulfill their dream of publication. Of the many, the most
notable are three: Yanno Adalard, Sean Kernaghan and Babbette
Goldarina.  The first winner of this competition back in 1982 was a
Swede named Yanno Adalard.  Scarcely heard of outside his own country
Yanno was best known for his dramatic thriller
Lowbrow
Fajitas,
about two friends, both experts at
making Fajitas, who being accused of a crime they did not commit, are
forced to live on the run surviving on nothing but fajitas which they
make out of whatever animal they happen to find dead alongside the
road. After winning our competition with that work, he went on to win
the Nobel Prize for literature that same year for
Lowbrow
Fajitas
.  When Hollywood made a movie out of
his award winning epic novel Yanno Adalard left his home in Sweden
and moved to Malibu, California where he now operates a modestly
successful cobbling business.


         Sean
Kernaghan, perhaps the most successful of our past champions amazed
the judges with his groundbreaking process for getting over writers
block. Demonstrated during the first phase of the competition,
Kernaghan brought a literal block onto the stage made of cement and
would stab at it viciously with his pen. Soon, his pen would crack
and leak ink all over his hand. Following this, he would rip his
shirt off his body and slap himself in the face and stomach with his
ink covered hand until the next word or sentence would come to him.
Currently Sean Kernaghan is working on his thirteenth book and can be
found teaching writing at the University of Deuseldorf every Tuesday
and Thursday at night.


         Babbette
Goldarina, though highly successful during the competition back in
1996, is known to be our least successful champion out in the real
world. She won the highest marks in the swimsuit competition for her
fat head with the billowing rolls of flab on her neck that accented
the bony look to her legs and arms (looking much like a Pez
dispenser). She won the competition that year for her display of
grammar and sentence formation in which she would slap one of a
number of assistants she had on the stage with her. When she would
ask a question she'd whack an overweight man dressed in spandex on
the back of his head. For an exclamation, she'd punch a woman
dressed as a Chef in the stomach, and the real crowd pleaser was the
poor sap that, whenever she used a comma (which she often did in
excess), was dressed like a bunny rabbit and would get kicked in the
groin. Following her stunning performance and victory in 1996 she
went on to write many plays such as:
Pellagra
in which a woman suffers from niacin
deficiency, experiences cracking of the skin, goes insane and
convinces herself to sell finger paintings to Scottish sailors.

Puzzled as to why this wasn't a blockbuster
book, Goldarina immediately wrote another play entitled
Questionnaire, a
metaphorical play (we hope) about a group of people sitting in a tiny
room for six acts filling out a questionnaire on sand. Much to her
surprise, this too was a flop off Broadway. Determined to make it,
Goldarina wrote a final play entitled
She'd
driven all the way from Miami
chronicling the
quest of a woman to get to Miami from West Palm Beach.  Not able to
understand why her new play was a flop (perhaps because Miami is only
an hour from West Palm Beach and the play was half an act) she quit
writing and is currently stocking shelves at Kmart.


         Back
to the competition! With the stage dry and our two remaining
competitors poised just off to the side, the swimsuit competition is
ready to commence.  Egidio Mattea is the next starving writer up in
front of the judges.  Mattea is sporting a sunshine-yellow pair of
surfer trunks complete with mud stains covering nearly sixty percent
of the swimsuit.  Topping off his ensemble with a dental floss belt
and tissue boxes for shoes, Mattea seems to have a lock on winning
this competition.  His posture is slumped; his shoulders are shoved
clear up to his ears.  Mattea's performance is near perfect!  As he
shuffles his way past the judges, making sure to drag his right leg
behind him, as if injured, the judges, smilingly, write their scores.
Competitor H-22, Neddy A. Pocano, has got some fierce competition in
Edigio Mattea.  Pocano's performance will have to be flawless, if
not groundbreaking, to win this talent search.


         Neddy
A. Pocano breaks a sweat offstage.  He knows that he has a tough act
to follow.  Will he be able to summon up the skills to pull off a
stunning performance, one dazzling enough to defeat Edigio Mattea?
With his summons from the announcer, Pocano takes the stage.  He
stands before the judges wearing a sweat suit and winter cap.  The
judges shake their heads in disappointment, as Pocano stands
motionless.  Reaching for their pens to jot down an embarrassingly
low score, background music (set at high decibels) blasts from the
hotel speaker systems.  All eyes are on Pocano, as he walks about the
stage on his elbows.  He's shed his sweat suit and is now wearing a
thin, faded, pair of white and green checkered swim trunks and
biscuits duct-taped to his feet.  Pocano flips off his elbows onto
his biscuit shoes, which shatter into crumbs all over the stage!  He
twists his arms and twirls his body, displaying the first four
chapters of his novel, which he wrote in permanent marker on his
arms, back and legs because he had no paper.  The judges count his
ribs and gasp to find one missing!  The crowd bursts into an uproar
as he sucks in his stomach and forms it into a hollow pit.  Whipping
out a 3 Liter of Pineapple Soda and a quart of vanilla ice cream,
he's turned his stomach into a punch bowl and begins serving drinks
to the audience!  The judges jump to their feet and give Neddy Pocano
a standing ovation! The audience follows suit!  He's done it.  One
by one the judges hold up their cards, each with a perfect ten!
Neddy A. Pocano is this years Starving Writer's Talent Search
Champion!














Author:
Doug Glenning II                 


Form:
Humor Essay


Pages:
13


Words:
4,160


Drafts:
Eight


Started:
January 6, 2005


Completed:
May 10, 2005



         


                   

15


         


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