Monday, December 12, 2011

Spookymilk Survivor X: Grab Bag Challenge

Last week, we learned that Vogons are as vulnerable to nonsubs as any other team (though you will note that we still had the highest scoring team... for the seventh consecutive week). Can all that vogonning be contained? Will another team break from our shadow and live in the glorious limelight for a week? Will enough people submit for it to actually matter?

For the ADD-impaired, or for people who don't want to waste their time reading my take on my own (fairly poor) entry this week, the answers are no, no, and no.

This week, Spooky put a few of the various entries from the Create-a-Challenge. The challenge was that each member of a given team had to pick a different challenge and complete it. No two teammates could pick the same challenge. The one I picked was "I Put a Spell on You, Because You're Hermione", where I make up a Harry Potter spell and let Hogwarts' resident know-it-all do her thing.

Here's my entry:

Everyone knew that if you had a problem, she could solve it. It was just a matter of that price… She spoke up before the boy could change his mind for a fifth time.

“May I help you?”
“My name’s Albin”
“I’ve conjured Sanjuro’s Unending Fire and bound it to my Herbology textbook. There’s a spell to remove it – Liberate Te Ex Infernis– but I’ve tried for hours to cast it, and it just doesn’t work.”
“Of course it works, you’re not saying it properly. You know my fee? Two weeks of displaying the House Elf Liberation Front pin…”
“…oh, God.”
“…and one favor for me to call upon at any time I choose, day or night.”
“Do you want to complete Herbology?”
“You’re placing emphasis on the wrong syllable. The pronunciation is “Libera-TAY te ex in-FER-nis…”

Hermione cast the spell on Albin’s textbook. The fire disappeared.

“Odd that you’d choose that spell. It has a tendency to…”

A scream came from a nearby classroom.

“…redirect to unexpected places.”

Students poured from the room.

“Rutilda’s hair has caught fire! No one knows how to extinguish it!”

Albin was going to owe her double for this one…

And here is what our fair judges had to say:

K: It felt true to the source material and referenced Kurosawa (I assume this was intentional). No complaints here. 4

DK: A lot of the structural details of how spells are cast in the Harry Potter world are going over my head, but I can pick up enough to get a sense of what’s going on. This works fine as an idea, but it didn’t hit me as particularly clever as it could have been. 3

Okay, first things first... I didn't completely care for this one. I mostly took it because someone was going to have to, and the quicker someone took one of the more variable ones (honestly, the difference between a 2 and a 5 in this challenge particularly was more a matter of how the writing and biases struck a particular judge, rather than how well it was presented.) I was going to be busy all week/weekend, and I figured I'd leave the more fine-tunable challenges for those who would be able to put in some time.

My initial concept was a sort of "Encyclopedia Brown", but with Hermione in place of the Boy Detective. Kind of a lame idea, but it was the only one that struck me at all (and it did, in fact, strike me while I was drunkenly watching Archer reruns on Netflix with my buddy and his girlfriend). I typed it all up, polished it a bit, and copied it into a word counter...

427 words.

Which brings me to my second point, I would've loved a 300-word word limit on this one. Most of the other challenges got one, it would have been nice if this one would've too. By the time I had finished chopping and mutilating my original, it had no breath left in it. Sometimes a hard word count forces me to be more concise and lean about things (I do tend to get a bit wordy). This particular time it gutted what I was going for, I probably should've trashed the concept and gone with something else. This would be why, as DK said, "not as clever as it could've been" (though there was no way I was going to axe "Sanjuro's Unending Fire", even if that particular name doesn't jive with the Harry Potter universe at all), I left quite a bit a flavor on the floor.

In fairness the other user to try his hand at this challenge had me beat both in concept and execution, and even if I would've gotten my 300 words, it wouldn't have been much more than a 3.5, anyway. The finished product just would've looked nicer, which is all I'm looking for, because...

...even though Vogons went ahead and Vogonned for the 8th straight week (!!!), two nonsubs made it all academic. It's a little sad, the Vogons are showing such dominance (most weeks, even if each nonsub got a 5, we still would've won), and the story of this season so far is the fact that slowly, but surely no one is showing up.


  1. I say non-submissions stop before the final week for sure.

  2. It's so draining to talk about this season. I want to talk about it, but all we've got is a list of people lucky or unlucky enough to on a team with no non-submitters or a bunch of them. The dominance of your team - seven players to four on each of the others - is completely deadened by the fact that I could have jumbled the 15 players onto any team and it would still be 7-4-4, if you get my meaning.

    I just want to talk Survivor, and to experience it. This is driving me nuts. Leif's "I didn't forget...I just didn't care" email to his team and to me was the last straw. God, I'm still pissed about that.