The voting ended and the results are in . . . but, before I present the winner — if you haven’t yet done so and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS POST for context. Otherwise, dear reader, skip this post as the awards will be meaningless to you. Well, OK, they’re probably only of importance to the writers. Still, award-winning fiction is (maybe) worth reading.

The results below are based on 19 votes (out of 121 total views). I had warned the writers who contributed their stories that my 1,500 followers are mostly no-show and fewer than 1% engage with the blog.

I was encouraged by the nearly double the number of votes of the first challenge, but discouraged by the drop in participation. The first challenge had fewer views but higher participation in voting (20%). This challenge had more than twice the views but only 16% participation. What do it mean? I don’t know.

So, what are the results?

This post contains three Christmas short stories. Two are from twin brothers and one is from me but they are presented anonymously so as to not bias the readers. Sorry it’s up so late; it was supposed to go live at noon but stuff intervened.

As you might remember, we did this once before and we’re repeating the challenge. This time, with a Christmas theme.

Please encourage friends to read and vote (share the link to this post). Also, if you happen to recognize which story belongs to which writer, try with all your might to vote on merit only. We’re trying to avoid making this a popularity contest (says the guy who’s not very popular).

Whereas before we had a word limit, this is a bit less structured because . . . well, there’s no other way to say it; some people can’t follow rules.

What we ended up with is a short story/poem, a medium story, and a longer story.

By the way, I’ve had an earworm for a few days now and I hope if I can pass it on to my readers, it will finally leave me alone. So, here goes . . .

This post is about the three writers (Perry, Gary, and me) providing critiques both for the stories of the other writers and their own submission.

If you haven’t read the stories, this won’t make much sense and since we only had ten votes, there are mighty few who will find this post of interest (if any).

I’ll start by saying none of us are professionals. Gary has a literary degree but what he provided is more along the line of notes than critique. Perry is still swimming in the pool of his glory, and I hold little expertise other than knowing what I like.

There’s another elephant in the room . . . we aren’t the readers who voted on the stories. We don’t know why they liked one story over the other. That’s who we should be asking, but even then, people reach opinions at a subconscious level and when asked, they retrofit reasons to justify their decisions.

Instead, you’ll get us, writers, saying why we like our story over the others. Oh, yeah, and throw something out about each other’s stories.

The voting ended and the results are in . . . but, before I present the winner, if you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS POST for context. Otherwise, dear reader, skip this post as the awards will be meaningless to you.

These results below are based on 10 votes (out of 50 views). I had warned the writers who contributed their stories that my 1,500 followers are mostly no-show and fewer than 1% engage with the blog.

Still, it was a better turnout (both in views and in voting) than any of my writing efforts alone.

So, how did it go?

*** WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING ***

The stories below contain subjects and scenes and stuff that might not be suitable for all age groups or sensitivities. Proceed at your own risk.

*** WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING ***

For them who don’t read (or pay attention to what I write), this post contains three short stories of approximately 1500 words each. Two are from two twin brothers and one is from me but they are presented anonymously so as to not bias the readers.

Speaking of readers, I’m asking readers to read the three stories and vote for your favorite. I’m trying to get an actual judge to make the call as to best story but I plan a Reader’s Choice award and that’s where you, the readers come in. There will be a survey at the end of the post.

Edited to Add: please encourage friends to read and vote (share the link to this post). Also, if you happen to recognize which story belongs to which writer, try with all your might to vote on merit only. We’re trying to avoid making this a popularity contest (says the guy who’s not very popular).

So, here’s the set-up . . . one of the challenge participants is a teacher and he asked his 8th-grade class to come up with a few ending paragraphs or sentences for a story. We, the writers can choose any of the ending sentences and come up with a story getting us there. Whichever we choose — we can choose any we like — it must be the last words of the story.

So, here’s what the kids came up with:

For them not interested in reading, you can go directly to the SmugMug Gallery HERE.  

For a slideshow click HERE. When you click the link, it will open in a new window and you have two options:
1) Manually scroll through the photos by clicking the “<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos.
2) There’s a PLAY/PAUSE button at the bottom-left of the screen with the transition set at about 5 seconds. Note: clicking the PLAY arrow will run a full-screen slideshow. You can then still use the”<” and “>” symbols to the left or right of the photos as this will pause the slideshow.

If you want the full experience, keep reading

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It’s been a while since I brought up breakfast. 

. . . er . . . I don’t mean “brought up” as in, you know, fingers down the throat and aiming for the bucket. I mean, since I wrote about before (HERE). That was three years ago and not much happened since then. 

. . . er . . . I mean, lot’s of shit happened and the world is riding a handbasket to unknown destinations but when it comes to my breakfasts, that post about covered them well.

Until a few days ago . . . July 8th, to be specific. 

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“What the heck is that?!?” you scream in horror.

Well, Bob, the answer lies below. Read on at your own peril.

 ===>>> SPOILERS AHEAD <<<===

As much as I often sound like a snobbish movie reviewer, I yearn — yearn, I tell you — for good entertainment. Every year, the film industry takes a wack at making me happy . . . and fails miserably. Well, OK, Wonder Woman was entertaining and less objectionable than most movies.

“What credentials do you have to review movies?”

A fair question . . . well, Bob — if that is indeed your name — all you have to do is click on any of the links at the bottom of this post and you can read my previously witty and insightful reviews of popular and not-so-popular movies — likely, wittier and more insightful than this review as I’m older and hence less driven to perfection.

You should at least read the Thor and Thor: The Dark World reviews before reading this review.

As a rule, sequels are a bit like the chili joke. What do you mean, “What chili joke?” Look, I don’t have time right now. Got me a review to write, but I’ll add the joke after all the links, OK? OK. 

Anyway, Thor: Ragnarok . . . I’ll save you the suspense; we both hated it. I mean, there was one, and only one, bright moment — we find out that Thor and Jane Foster have split up. I actually got up and did a little dance of joy. It’s OK, we were in the last row. 

I haven’t done movie reviews in a while. Wanna know why? It’s the same ole story. Most new movies are vapid efforts concentrating more on CGI than characters, on action more than plot. 

I don’t know if it’s my advancing age or the fact that I claimed the mantle of “writer,” but one or both come with undesirable side-effects; no matter what I watch, I’m attuned to “things that ain’t quite right.” It kind of sucks to be me sometimes. 

In the next few posts, I’ll review three movies we’ve recently watched; one that we saw at the theater and two released last year that we finally watched on Netflix and Amazon. The first review is of Rogue One.

Since January, I’ve averaged exactly twelve (12) posts per month. That is a huge drop from years past. In 2015, for instance, my average was more than one post a day and that’s when I was working. It’s not just posts. I used to write more opinions, more fiction, and shoot and process more photos. 

Wait . . . that’s not exactly true. Through the end of May, I’ve shot 4,330 photographs. That’s on track with the 8,394 photos I shot in 2016 and I’ll easily beat the 5,804 photos total for 2015. 

However, 2016 is an outlier year because a lot of those photos are for the items we were selling on eBay.  But, 2014 had me shoot 11,982 photos. 

Of course, it’s not really the number of photos that matter. It’s the number of photos I post; that’s the number that matter . . . but WordPress doesn’t make it easy to get those numbers. 

Anyways, where was I . . . oh, yeah . . .