T H E   M c S W E E N E Y ' S
A L L E G O R Y   C O N T E S T:

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Some weeks ago, we announced a contest calling for allegories. Entrants, encouraged by some samples we had received, were to submit an allegory about, well, the interesting pickle everyone seems to think we have gotten ourselves into.

Yes, we will admit, the entries didn't fly through the door, or port, or however it is that things get into this computer of ours. That doesn't mean, however, that that we don't appreciate the fine, fine entries we did receive.

The McSweeney's contest-manager-persons have toiled through the weekend to select a winner, presented below, courtesy of Harry J. Tipple. As promised, he will receive a photo montage of a scene of a Woody Allen film of his choice, as interpreted by the McSweeney's Players. Thank you all for participating, and we look forward to your participation in future contests.

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Recently I ran into the colossal ballerina hip-hop artist known as MC Chuckle-Face in the parking garage behind Royal Chaw. Her career had taken a nosedive so sheíd accepted the role of spokeswoman for the out-of-favor company. Recent magazines featured a new ad: an enormous MC Chuckle-Face covered in glitter, pirouetting in nothing but a large tobacco leaf, spitting Royal Chaw juice into an ornate cuspidor. Unfortunately I was daydreaming when I ran into her.

What happened was something like a BB chunked at a beach ball. The beach ball was there first—building a sand fortress near the incoming tide with little sticks in the moat for spikes—when someone waltzed out of the shadows of the boardwalk dragging a closed pool umbrella, an air rifle hidden inside. This person opened the umbrella as rain suddenly fell from the clear blue sky, but guess what? The rifle was clogged. So a single BB was tossed instead, the person still thinking that maybe the beach ball would roll into the ebbing tide and give up the sand fortress. This person hoping to transform it into an alligator sculpture with wooden stick fangs, one that was also, at the same time, still a sand fortress. In other words, I simply didnít see the huge body of MC Chuckle-Face trundling in my direction. It probably doesnít help that I was blindfolded.

When I awoke on the concrete sometime later, Chuckle-Face had multiplied. Now there were three of her, each massive mouth sticking out a big wet tongue to lick my face. That large body was kneeling all around, humming different parts of a hip-hop song. Somewhat blurred in the distance were the ballerina slippers of yet a fourth Chuckle-Face, busting the rap portion of the rhyme, conjuring up memories of the days when I too aspired to be a hip-hop star. I wanted to rap along but instead I just laughed, clapped my hands and feet, and watched. Could I have been somehow responsible for this wonderful spontaneous quadruple cloning of a major pop star?

"Hey Chuckle-Face, you must be that performer I heard about," I said. "Thanks for hanging around. You have given me a very special free show. I used to smoke 83 cigarettes a day until I quit 3 to 12 years ago."

Chuckle-Face reached into her leather fannypack and brought out a tin of Royal Chaw. "You ready to bust a little hop?" she said. This was the original one speaking, I think. She was making me an offer to bust some freestyle. I was not ready and shook my head to indicate no.

"How about some dip?" said one of the Chuckle-Face clones. They were passing the tin around. "This shitíll get you hummin." I shook my head more vehemently. It did not look appealing the way the Chuckle-Faces were packing their cheeks and communally spitting into the sliver can. Then we made small talk for a while. The Chuckle-Faces and me. And finally I was okay to leave. I wanted to pick Chuckle-Faceís brain to discover what made her tick—perhaps Iíd discover a small clock in there—but now I didnít know which was which. Also, it was time to find my car and return home for dinner. My wife was preparing a meatloaf.

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T H E   M c S W E E N E Y ' S
A L L E G O R Y   C O N T E S T:

We don't acknowledge enough the satisfaction of receiving a well-written, thoughtful piece of writing. Oftentimes we have no sensible place to publish it, and it languishes, if electronic files can be said to do this, somewhere in our computer. This makes us sad.

We also occassionally run contests in order to publicize this writing. Now is one such time.

We have recently received a number of elegantly written allegories about—. But to be so obvious mitigates the utitility of a finely crafted allegory. So we will show some recent works to serve as an example, and perhaps, a standard.

The Samples

Sample One
The adjective is overused. Subjects should stand alone. Don't you agree?


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Sample Two
Some time ago, I bought a new tree for my patio. I only have a patio and so I searched for anything small and pretty. Apparently these requirements translate into Miniature and Ornamental at my local garden center. I loosened the rope and burlap, shook out my Miniature Ornamental and placed it in its new container. I filled the pot with dirt, watered it one pint glass at a time, gave it some bright pink plant food and felt pretty good about it. Friends came over and welcomed it. They would visit it regularly, picking off dead leaves, talking to it, commenting to me on its new growth and handsome appearance, occasionally bringing flowers and greens to plant at the base of its pot.

After some time, I discovered a small fungus that had attached itself to the trunk. I tried to ignore it. It grew. I scraped it off. It grew. It never overtook Miniature Ornamental, but it remained. Never trying to start its own colony elsewhere. My other plants remain uninhabited. Within the last week, I've noticed the color of the fungus changing. I thought maybe this would happen. I thought that the fungus would come out of its preliminary colonization and erupt with brilliance or toxicity or something, forcing me to deal with it. Instead, it dulled itself to a grainy gray-brown, matching the trunk itself. I can see it doesn't belong there, but it is becoming less and less important to me that it goes away. The fungus is inconsequential and, for the most part, irrelevant. The Miniature Ornamental remains both miniature and ornamental and I guess that is all that matters, right?

None of my digits are the least bit green, so any assistance you may offer would be appreciated.

Thanks, and keep up the good work!

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Sample Three
Today I gaze at two yellow butterflies. Something akin to a plastic bag in the wind, I watch them flutter by in circles, in loops, in impossibly swift dives. I wonder why they are here. Spring arrives only through the exact refraction of sunlight off of steel and glass - that is four months away. The building I lean against is concrete. I shout, Oh you corny media-savvy insects. You flashy sentimental creatures. They pick up the pace then. They worry themselves and take on big poses and move with daring aggression higher and higher. Quickly, faster, one breaks off and then reverses headed straight into the other. They collide and one falls down dead. I find that puzzling. I am puzzled.

-Jako Williamson


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The Contest
Submit an allegory of publishable length, following the guidelines set forth in the submissions section, except that you must include "ALLEGORY ENTRY" in your subject heading. The contest will run until Cinco de Mayo.

The Prize
Many, many entries (we hesitate to say 'all' because that would be silly), particularly the ones that make us smile, will be published here, or very near here. The winners, a number to be fixed by the editor-persons upon review of the entries, will each receive a series of color instant photographs ('Polaroids') depicting the McSweeney's Players performing a scene of the entrant's choice from a Woody Allen film. Entrants may specify the scene in their entry, with the following conditions: it must occur outside, and within the boundaries of Manhattan, New York. Entrants need not include a mailing address (we will notify you if you are a winner). The photo-montage will be created on or about the weekend of May 11th, and winner(s) will recieve their prize(s) shortly thereafter.

The quality of the prizes will depend upon the weather, and the complexity of the entrant's request.

This is a real offer.