"Competition of the Week" story # 12

Grand Rapids, Michigan           October 7, 2001

MODERN ODDYSEUS´ GUIDE TO ALWAYS WINNING # 8 - When times are desperate and no one´s looking, rip off an idea from a classic legend - like Edgar Allen Poe.
     Only my creative brother and I wrote poems before the "Competition of the Week" 9: the poetry contest´s Saturday deadline. A cute, young, chipmunk-cheeked blonde, Janelle Dykstra, who has poetry on the internet, was the judge. She read the two entries and declared victory to: "The Obese Pigeon."
     Which could only mean one thing ... the distinguished winner of "Competition of the Week" 9 ... celebrating all the way at his college in Maine ... my brother, Brandon!
     Rats. I wrote the losing octopus poem.
     My brother has written better stuff. But, he´d beaten me again. Just like so many times before in Michigan. Tsk, tsk.
     Michigan. What else was there unfortunate about Michigan? What else was fortunate about it? Well, there´s only one waY TO fIND OUT!
     With a brand-new (at the time I´m writing this) MODERN ODDYSEUS´ TOP 5!!! Heeeere weeeeeeee goooooooooooo ...

All right. This one´s going to be a little biased. I am, after all, a Michigander. The Top 5 Best Things About Michigan!:


3. BONO´S PIZZA - This restaurant is the world´s finest establishment, far and away. In my opinion. It´s in Grand Rapids, at 1418 Plainfield or somewhere near Leonard St. The toasted ham-and-cheese subs are great. The gargantuan serving of soft breadsticks and sugary, runny sauce are to kill for. The big, amply-topped pizzas are always the best meal I´ve ever had. Oh, mmmm! Sometimes, I miss this place more than my family.

4. THE GREAT LAKES - North Bar Lake, a deep dune-threatened lake a stone´s throw from Great Lake Michigan, is my second-favorite place in the world (after Ft. Desoto Beach, Florida). Lake Michigan is full of soft sand beaches, large dunes, quiet islands, and walks though coastal forest. The lake spreads bluely to the horizon, but the water is fresh. In the hot summer, it provides a cold dip. In the winter, you can walk out on the ice a good ways and look at the small icebergs floating for acres. And, Michigan has three Great Lakes more.

5. CHILDHOOD SUMMERS - There´s nothing like being free from school for the summer and having warmth and daylight until ten at night. You can only imagine the running around, sports, bike-riding, park-adventuring, pool-swimming, ball-tagging, toy-playing, cook-outs, and beach trips I did with Brandon, my best friend Chris, Chris´s sister, my neighbor, and my mom and dad, grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles.

HONORABLE MENTION includes GETTING WARM IN WINTER (hot chocolate, fireplaces, flannel sheets in a many-covered bed, and laying with my mom beneath an afghan blanket and comforter with a good movie); PLAYING IN WINTER (snowball fights, sledding, skiing, chasing around the happy dog); MIDWESTERN VALUES, which are friendly, faithful, hardworking, and old-fashioned; and, IT´S MY HOME!
     I miss it already.

Here, brace yourself. The bad´s coming at you now. Here´s ... The Top 5 Worst Things About Michigan!

1. WINTER - Winter has some good points. But, they´re few. Christmas with snow, for example, is beautiful.
     The days are short, the darkness dominant. It´s cold. You don´t want to go outside, but the heat in your house also doesn´t keep you warm enough.
     Imagine this, if you dare. You wake up for work or school. It´s still very dark. Your bed has finally reached a snug coziness, and you have to leave to have each un-clothed part of your body picked on by the cold. By the time you bring yourself to turn off the warm shower, your poor body trembles as it dries.
     You put on seventeen articles of cold-weather clothing in all, but snow gets snuck between your boots and your socks, your cold nose reddens, and your finger-tips feel heavy and painful because it takes ten minutes to scrape the snow and ice off your car windows.
     If you´re lucky, you don´t have to plow the driveway. Slowly, you back the car down - careful not to veer and get stuck in the snowbank. On the slushy, slippery road, you drive fifteen miles an hour, trying to see through the fog on the windows. Perhaps, falling snow is all you can see. Maybe there´s a traffic jam. The car temperature rises above freezing and your cheeks stop shivering only once you arrive where you´re going. You wade across the icy parking lot, only to arrive inside at a sloshy floor you also might slip on. Once your day inside is done, it´s dark again.
     Only four months more of this to go!

2. NOTHING NEW - My city, Grand Rapids, has been growing like crazy. But, rarely does anything interesting ever sprout. We have some sports teams, a symphony, and some okay rock bars. Only recently have we started to get more than a few discotechs, but they´re all about crappy music and "gettin´ booty."

3. SPREAD-OUT CITIES - Due to the big yards and suburbs Americans prefer, my city is huge for its population in comparison to foreign cities. You rather need to have a car, which I think is what makes winters so bad. Nobody walks anywhere. Nobody gathers on the streets, kids don´t easily play in big groups, and streetside cafes or restaurants exist in rare spots. It´s less of a community.

4. LIFE PLAN - Young people grow up on the path to eventually get trapped in a career or office job. No alternatives to this are presented, and kids aren´t pushed to follow something they love unless they directly know how it´s going to bring them money and security. The eventual career is usually something they don´t love, often something they don´t like, and many times a job that exists mainly to bring a few people money and helps the world, in general, none.
     In addition, the pressure on and security of getting married probably motivates a lot of weddings that lack the love they should have.

5. ONE WAY OF THINKING - Most people in Michigan were born there, and generation after generation they think the same way about the same things. Michiganders travel rarely. They know their country is the most powerful, so why question what the country believes in?
     Michiganders consume a lot. They probably know people in other countries have much less, but I´m sure few have ever considered it long enough to wonder what could be done to improve things.

Well, there you have it. Another MODERN ODDYSEUS´ TOP 5!!! wrapped up and in the books.
     Michigan´s winter is the one thing that makes me think I won´t end up living there. But, I do like Michigan.
     I´m proud to say I´m from there, and I wouldn´t trade my childhood there for anything. The people have fun. They don´t drink too much. Autumn´s kind of nice. Spring, too.
     Now, if you´ll excuse me, please, I´ve got another competition to train for.

- Modern Oddyseus the bard (4-4)

Add´l stats. Onomatopoeias, Alliterations, Metaphors, and Similes:
Brandon - 3, 23, 3, and 0
me - 1, 4, 3, and 7

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