Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tommy Tomlinson

The "Local Paper's" Tommy Tomlinson has this thing he does from time to time, where he throws out a subject to the masses with the idea they will respond.

At first I was skeptical, and told Mr. Tomlinson people read his column because they want a break from life and not a do it yourself column.

But Tomlinson pressed on with a couple more "assignments" and finally he got to me with this one.

First you need to understand the source is McSweeney's which is a website/blog/forum full of the odd and strange. It's like the land of misfit toys for writers, but sometimes you can find really good stuff there. Check it out sometime.
Second .... well you'll see here's Tommy's assignment:

Have Photo, Need Story

Here's the latest installment in an occasional feature we're going to call Have Photo, Need Story.
The message below was in a box I got recently from McSweeney's, which produces all sorts of strange and interesting things. It would take too long to explain WHY this message was in the box... but it made sense at the time.

To enhance the head-sifting experience,
please remove and this
cardboard spacer.

Here's what I want you to do: Assume that this sentence is the first sentence of a story, and take it from there. This blogging software doesn't give you a whole lot of space in the comments -- something like 4,000 characters, including spaces -- so we're not looking for "War and Peace" here. But see where your mind takes you. My head feels more sifted already.
So in short the task is to take the odd and write from it, which is really hard for conservative thinking common sense kinda guy, but here goes:

He leaned against the high tech interactive black board and pondered the small cardboard spacer again. On one hand he certainly wanted his students to have the best possible experience, on the other if he removed and discarded the cardboard spacer he would open himself up to more scrutiny.

The memo was clear, DO NOT ADJUST OR MODIFY, but why then the additional instructions? Going against the system would be a mistake; departing from a mandate by school administration was always a career ender. But enhanced, clearly would be better, shouldn’t his students have the advantage of an enhanced experience?

The bell rang, exactly 7 seconds later the classroom door swung open as his 9:38 students began to push through the doorway in dribbles and droves, time was running out he had to choose.

Remove it he shouted to himself, pull it out now! No one will ever know!

The seconds spun by, the classroom was filling up quickly. Fear gripped his body, his mind raced as he tried to justify going against policy.

The bell rang again, the door opened and closed one last time as he slipped the cardboard spacer into his pocket.

Good Morning, page 359 and last night’s homework assignment on your desks, please.

So there you have my "master piece" ok so it was amateurish...

In defense of myself I took a writing class once in college. I passed with a C minus, but it was pure torture. The professor with nearly the entire alphabet listed after his name told me he'd given me a passing grade so I wouldn't have to take the course again. I thanked him, and he said no thank you!

So now a century later I'm challenged with an assignment from a master story teller Tommy Tomlinson after I told him it was a dumb idea, how freaking odd is that?

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