Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Order of Odd-Fish Contest

The Order of Odd-Fish's mission is to research an appendix to an encyclopedia.

"It is an appendix of dubious facts, rumors, and myths. A repository of questionable knowledge, and an opportunity to dither about," explains Colonel Korsakov. The appendix holds information that is "unreliable or useless."

To this end, each knight of the Odd-Fish specializes in an area of research.

Sir Oort studies discredited metaphysics.
Dame Isobel--usual smells
Sir Alasdair--unlikely musical instruments
Dame Delia--absurd animals
Dame Myra studies improbable botany
Sir Festus researches ludicrous weaponry.
The main character's father studied imaginary languages.
Her mother studied obscure cults.

You get the idea.


1. Describe your own Odd-Fish specialty.

2. Write a short proposal describing how you would go about pursuing your line of research.

3. Funny is good; absurd is better.

James has agreed to assist me with the judging. In the event of a disagreement, The Wife (mine) will cast the tie-breaker. (I'd ask Vice President Biden, but he's busy spreading mass panic.)

Contest runs through Sunday night at 9 p.m. EST. Any entry after that will have to be really good to win.

The winner will receive the following:
  • A personalized, hardcover copy of The Order of Odd-Fish, straight from James Kennedy's very own library.
  • The Order of Odd-Fish soundtrack, which can be heard here.
  • James has offered to critique your work-in-progress (or finished novel in a drawer-- whatever). He would like me to relay that he has never taken a single writing class. He has, however, promised to do a "diligent, careful, and supportive job." But let's face it-- anything he tells you is probably going to be more helpful than your Aunt Helen's feedback. He's got a high-powered agent, a book published with Random House, and he's extremely well-read, so at the very least he'll be able to give you his honest opinion as a reader and isn't that what really counts anyway?


Kelly said...

Very cool contest! I'm thinkin'.

Anita said...

I never should've read Kelly's. In my head, mine was so awesome, and now, after reading hers, in my head I just suck. I will be back, if I can scrape my self-esteem off the floor.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I'm seriously considering deleting Kelly's and bringing it back later so as not to discourage people.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Yep. I did it. Take it as a compliment, Kelly. I saved it to a Word doc and will repost later this weekend.

No hard feelings?

Anita said...

I, Dame Anita, will study hubcaps strewn about the side of roadways.

Proposal: For the next thirty days, I shall walk Americas highways and byways, carefully scouting for hubcaps strewn about the side of roadways. I will photograph each hubcap I find using a digital camera (I will carry extra batteries in the event many hubcaps are found and many photos need be taken). I will also sketch the hubcaps in a smallish sketchbook (smallish because I will carry it inside my smallish, Natalie Portman-style brassiere (and, yes, I had to look up spelling of "brassiere"). I will take measurements of the hubcaps, but not record the measurements, because my notebook is too small. I will memorize measurements and other pertinent information regarding hubcaps (my memory will be stronger than ever, because I will be taking deep, cleansing breaths every chance I get, as well as abstaining from diet sodas and reality TV, both of which I believe cause memory loss). At the end of the thirty days, I will publish my findings on my own blog (but I will provide links to both PMM's and James Kennedy's) and may or may not query various agents about my hubcap work...possibly Nathan Bransford, because I'd like another photo taken with him (not because I'm interested in him romantically, but because seeing me photographed with Nathan makes other writers jealous)...but in no way would I be taking this journey JUST SO I could get my photo taken with Nathan Bransford...that would be waaaay below the standards of the Dame I am.

Submitted Respectfully this 30th day of April, 20009 by
Dame Anita

Anita said...

I have a very high took 20 seconds to scrape it up. Put Kelly's back on!

Paul Michael Murphy said...


This is Kelly's entry:

I'm starting 7PBs in 7 Days tomorrow, so I thought if I didn't do this now, I wouldn't get it done. So here goes.
I study outdated dance moves with a subspecialty in headbanging

How will I go about this? I will rent old movies such as Saturday Night Fever, Footloose, Dirty Dancing, Flashdance, and even the B movie, Lambada . I will mimic each move until it is flawlessly performed by myself. I will watch old episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel Air til I find the one where Will Smith does the Running Man. I will laugh at his hilarity, then I will run like the Running Man. I will crash the wedding reception of that drunk guy at the Lagoon Lounge who hums ZZ Top off key. I will attend a cruise with old farts and do the limbo and the conga. I will go to the local roller rink and attempt the electric slide and the macarena on roller skates (don’t worry, I’ll wear kneepads). I will reconnect with my long lost pal that wore parachute pants in junior high and have him teach me “the worm” and some sweet breakdancing moves (but I’ll bring my husband, because if he was a big perv then, I’m sure he’s a perv now). I might even watch that Dance Kelly Dance video; I’m sure that chick had some outdated moves somewhere…
If time allows, I will study my subspecialty of headbanging by watching endless hours of Hairbangers Ball with Riki Rachtman. I will attend summer concerts of Poison, Motley Crue, Queensryche, and maybe even Slayer with my devil horns in the air and my Goody comb in my back pocket. I also intend to study if a mullet interferes with the precision of headbanging neck moves.

Big Plain V said...

I intend to specialize in foods with alcohol in them.

As I currently know very little about this subject, I shall proceed by mixing random alcoholic beverages with random food items (because researching existing alcoholic foods just seems like too much work).

Just off the top of my head, I suppose I'll start with Cheerios floating in Guinness. Then I might deep fry some carrots in a Guinness batter. For added variety, I'll "borrow" some syringes and needles from work, and inject an entire slab of bacon with -- not Guinness -- but Guinness Extra Stout.

Other dishes with research potential include: Guinness ravioli, Guinness Jell-o, Guiness enchalada soup, Peanut Butter and Guinness sandwiches, dried Guinness scraped off my kitchen counter and rolled into little balls... the possiblities are literally endless.

And to stress the scientificalness of my study, I shall develop a rating system based on complex graphs and pie charts. The more difficult it is to decipher the graph, the more trashed I must be, and thus -- the higher the rating for the food item.

(Assuming I've just won this contest, please forward my copy of Order of Odd Fish to the rehab center where I reside.)

Monica said...

wow..ok. i'm going to have to go away and think about this one.

Monica said...

I, Monica, the Muse of afterthoughts, will formulate a thesis on the things that "should have been". I will research statements made by historical and nonhistorical persons about things that were expected to go differently, but didnt. I will then determine alternate timelines for every possible outcome, and depict those timelines in a mural that will cover one side of one of the pyramids of Giza. I will then use that mural to formulate an algorithm for world leaders to use, to make decisions. The algorithm will support decisions made about warmongering, disease control, and inventions of new technology. With this algorithm, decision makers will be able to examine ramifications of decisions made, before they are decided, instead of waiting until afterwards. This algorithm will eventually be mandated for use in all areas of society.

chris said...

I, Sir Rylander, will study and research talking mustaches.

The focus of my research will not center so much on how mustaches are able to talk, because as we all know that would be like studying why it’s so easy to kill zebras with honey-coated spatulas. The answer is simply too obvious. Rather, my research will instead focus on what the mustaches actually have to say and why they say it.

For instance, my uncle Dieter’s mustache just the other night was trying to explain to me the difference between myelomeningocele and meningocele, two similar spinal cord malformations. Why ? I did not ask for such information, so why was Dieter’s mustache so presumptuous as to assume I wanted or needed to know this? And given that my uncle Dieter is a stay at home drunk and not a physician, it begs further investigation as to how his mustache acquired this knowledge. I suspect that his mustache sneaks out to library whenever my uncle Dieter hosts his weekly A-Team parties. Dieter is always the only attendee, so after spending a few hours drinking pomegranate liqueur and playing all of the characters in turn, he ends up passed out in the kitchen sink wearing only a gold chain and a Richard Nixon mask while pitying the fool who tries to draw on Tricky Dick’s face with a black marker.

My research will also examine some of the more famous mustaches in recent pop culture. Why, for instance, does John Waters’ mustache always feel compelled to apologize for the film DIVINE TRASH? We all know that’s a marvelous, heartwarming film, so what exactly is it that makes his mustache such an apologist? And why did Alex Trebek’s mustache make such grossly inappropriate remarks to that female contestant on Jeopardy last year? His mustache almost got Alex fired, and instead of apologizing, the mustache issued a statement that simply said, “Suck my bristles.”

And of course I can’t research and study talking mustaches without looking into Tom Selleck’s Stache. But in his case, I’ll be researching why it DOESN’T talk? Is his mustache simply a mute? Does it have an embarrassing speech impediment, or does the problem run far deeper? Perhaps it merely has nothing to say? Or maybe it’s simply too embarrassed to face the public after witnessing Tom’s canon of work? Rest assured, I will find out. I will find the answers to all of these questions. But I must go now, my uncle Dieter’s mustache is calling for me; it appears that Dieter has gotten his head stuck inside my hamster’s cage again.

Kelly said...

I am honored to be deleted and brought back to life!
Anita-I liked your Natalie Portman brassiere reference!
Monica-you sound incredibly smart...
V-I am astounded you HAVEN'T yet eaten Cheerios with Guinness yet.
And OMG Chris-talking mustaches! I have to say that made me giggle.
Sorry, I hijacked your comments, Murph. But this is a fun contest and I am enjoying reading the entries!

Betty said...

This was so much fun! :-)

I will be conducting my research on many different kinds of "Nose Blowing" techniques, with an emphasis on Nose Blowing folklore.

I plan on spending the next several months traveling around the country interviewing, documenting and recording those with allergies, sneezes, and excess snot. My hope is to record a wide assortment of "blowing" types, while also collecting information on previously unknown varieties. Some examples I am already familiar with are "The Honk," "The Flapper," and "The Snort & Sweet". Others have only been heard of in legend: "The Freight Train," "Wheezing Tiger Hidden Lougie" and "The Humpty Dumpty", which I believe requires a third nostril to perform.

As an added bonus, I plan to make a trip to Sneezeville, South Dakota to interview a woman who blew what she believes is the image of the Virgin Mary into her favorite blue hankerchief. Ms. Snoseful, a chronic sufferer from Sinus Infections, was praying fervently at the time that her ailment would be cured. Soon after, she brought her blue handkerchief to her nostrils and blew like she had never blown before. When she looked down, the holy mother was sitting right next to the pink flowers she had embroidered the year earlier. Ms. Snoseful had the hankerchief in question framed and it now hangs in a place of honor on her wall. Miracously, she has never again suffered from her sinuses, and in her words, she has been "snot-free" for two years now.

James Kennedy said...

These are all delightfully insane. Judging will be extremely difficult!

Paul Michael Murphy said...

The Murphblog followers are a creative bunch. I'm glad an obvious conflict of interest precludes me from participating.

Tina Lee said...

These are all fantastic! Fun contest with incredibly generous prize--it has been a great week of interviewing. I have been glad I found you Murphblog. And I'm glad I don't have your job(judging that is because otherwise my job has many similarities to yours)!

Here's my entry:
I, Dame Tina, will study children created from their father’s earwax. Initially removed from ears by the man’s pinky and held aloft, “look here’s my ear wax!” The mother proceeds to wrest this from them, molding it with whatever implement is at their beck and call (there is always something useful around) into the image of said man. Unless it is a particularly vain or creative woman who then molds the wax into a replica of herself or an implement of mass destruction(whatever that looks like), respectively.
I would study this phenomena by harvesting said earwax—-using my whiles until the men give it up willingly. Then, using other artistic skills to mold my own armies of baby wax children that will grow and keep growing into my personal force for evil—or good as I so choose(to be determined later).


Anita said...

OK. These are really funny. Really, really funny.

Myra said...

I always wondered if other writers took dance breaks. Good to know, Kelly, good to know.

Myra said...

Hem, hem. My name is Myra. I will not, however, study improbable botany. Mostly, I'm just glad my name isn't Isobel. Oh wait, that says "usual smells," not usually smells. Since Myra is already taken, I will use my stripper name, which is my grandmother's name plus the name of my first pet. (Hey Anita, how's that for a glimpse of my character? I used to work in Children's Ministry, you know.)

I, Dame Ruby Police Car, will study the propensity of children to eat their own rhinoliths (hereafter referred to by their scientific name...boogers).

I have extensive experience in the field, having had my own children (both booger eaters), and having worked with other people's children (also, mostly booger eaters).

I will disprove the myth that boogers actually do taste like chicken by conducting intense research. Not personally (because, really), but by using small children who annoy me. For example: Those who take their pants off in the grocery store, say curse words during religious services, put Christmas ornament glitter balls in their diapers (making more Christmas glitter...well), tell clerks at Target to eat poop, ask other shoppers why it is their breath smells so bad and finally, tell little old ladies at Steak and Shake to shut up or they will be punched in the face.

I shan't have to travel far from my own backyard (or out of it at all). One is supposed to write about what one knows. And I hold all these truths to be self-evident. If you don't believe it, check out my medicine cabinet.

(Word Verification - "reyst" - the reason they're going to give me for putting me in the home...)

Liana Brooks said...

I am Lady Liana and I shall do in depth research on improbable and illogical animals.

Using my extensive background of one semester of comparative vertebrate anatomy I will carefully catalog every single organism (fictional or otherwise) to decide whether it can logically exist or not.

I'll start with the lungfish (so terribly improbable it can't possibly exist) and carefully work my way through to mammals and reptiles with six appendages (dragons and griffins being at the top of the list).

Within one week I will present my findings, along with appropriate DNA samples, to the thesis board. My goal, of course, is to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that most species don't exist anyway and therefore we don't need to worry about them.

I will also present definitive proof on why the Sock-Wearing Homework-Eating monster is a real, nonfictional, entity and why my last term papers lateness can be blamed on this thoroughly probable creature.

Submitted respectfully ect ect ect

Ann Victor said...

Haha! Some pretty great entries. So good, in fact, my mind went blank (which is my excuse for not posting an entry!) :)

Tracy Edward Wymer said...


Lightning bugs.

My plan is to uncover the truth about lightning bugs' mating habits and displays of affection. (Note: the name firefly is not to be used in my presence. For these insects are a far glow from flies and they despise fire).

The first step is to rent and watch every movie having to do with insects, including Ants, Ticks, A Bug's Life, and Bee Movie, but excluding The Fly (as mentioned, anything having to do with flies will not be tolerated). I will do this to arrange my brain to think and talk like an insect, all while knowing that Glows (lightning bugs) are far more sophisticated than any of the insects in these films.

The second step is to move, pack up my things, and say good-bye to family and friends. Glows are not found in southern California, so I must go to a land beyond, where they live, date, and breed. Indiana. I will take up residence there in the humid summer and reconnect with my youth in the tree filled fields of floating flickers.

Once I'm in Indiana, I wait until sundown and leave my dank motel and the comparable strip club next door, and set out with a jar, an empty jar, with a hole-filled lid so the Glows can breathe. Then I go into a field and wait behind a bush until the lightning bugs begin to fill the twilight with their flickers. I jump from the bush and though their cautionary stop-light yellow tails tell me to stop, I run through the field, jar held high, legs pumping, until I catch at least ten.

Then I take the jar of ten Glows back to the motel and the gentlemen stumbling out of Soula's strip club. In my room I watch the Glows all night until I see one glowing nonstop to another. Then I watch until I see one mounted and record the unbearably short amount of time it takes to complete the process. I take notes in my journal, even draw a diagram, which looks more like a double decker car wash gone bad.

This is only the beginning of my research. It will go on for many more weeks, months, many more diagrams, all over the Midwestern states, until the Glows call it quits and retreat for the winter.

I will then gather my data and write a thesis to submit to Insect Science. My fame and fortune will win me fans amongst the Glows and perhaps a spot in their forthcoming film... Lightning Quick.

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

I would like to apologize in advance to Kelly for plagiarizing her movie renting plan. I had thought of it after reading the contest rules and decided to use it anyway because it fit the subject of my "thesis."

Kelly - If I win, I will split the book with you.

jambuku said...

My specialty is absent words. For this proposal, specifically the words missing hereafter.
Preliminary research will pursue ... ...... .. .... ... .. . ........ ....... ... .. . ..... ... readers' obligation ..... ..... ... .... ..... ............ .. . .. ...... ....... . .... ... .... ..... ....... ...... consistent approach further verified by Period Attribution Technique (PAT) ......... ... ......... ......... ................. .. . ... .... ...... .... ............ ...... relevant punctuation also ........ ..... ........... .. ..... ...... .. .. ...... .. ........... ............ ....... .... ............ .... .... e.g. tiramisu.
...... ....... ... ............. ......... ... . .. ...... ...... ......... ....... . .. ... .......... .. ......... ..... . ... ..... ..... fundamentally flawed as a standard of measurement. These ....... .... ................. ........... .... .............. ....... ..........and in the second instance allowing ...... .......... .............. .. .. ...... ............ . ...... ......... ... .......... . .... .... ............ .. ............. . ..... ....... .....kind of like ... .......... ... .. ............ ...... .. . ..... and that "forgotten" versus "overlooked"... ...... ............. ......... ... . ............... . .... ...... ...... .. ....... ....... ... .. .......... ........ .. .. ........ ....... .. ....... ..... .... further questions about the writer’s role.

Many thanks for the fun reading and the opportunity to dither.

Dawn said...

In the interest of preventing environmental pollution, I shall propose to study toots. I will leave no toot undiscovered, from animal and human alike. All toot types will be cataloged by sound quality, by frequency, by duration, and by odor-ology. Every modern technique for the study of sound and odor will be employed. Toot pollution consequences will be evaluated and lead to political action plans. Documentation of toot sources will lead to legislation limiting the most offensive perpetrators to environments already full of gas. Tooters that evade detection will be fined for evasion of pollution pretection practices. In addition, tooters that prove to contribute to global warming will be taxed in order to provide funds for fan distibution. Those who demonstrate talent for toot-talking shall be given priority employment as ambassadors in the education of those who only understand toot. As you can see, my dedication to this field of study is a natural consequence of my ability to produce verbal BS. While the proposals proposed prior to this post represent worthwhile endeavors, I hope you see the wisdom of world-wide toot elimination in the interest of the future a pollution-free planet.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Thanks everybody! The contest is now closed and it was a pleasure to read your entries. James and I will be discussing them and we will hopefully decide on a winner in the next couple of days.

Diana Murray said...

I know I'm too late, but I just got home. Just participating for fun:

I, Lady Luna will study stocking run stoppers. I will test the effectiveness of various run stoppers, including nail polish, hairspray, Elmer's glue and rubber cement. I will then test the effectiveness of said run stoppers in extreme real-world situations such as horseback riding, rugby and fencing.

DebraLSchubert said...

Paul, Hop on over to my blog. I left you something there.;-)

Anita said...

"decide on a winner in the next couple days" ????? C'mon! What could you two possibly be doing that's more important?! :)