Deathmatch 2015 Quarterfinals Round 5


Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4

Deathmatch Moderator

Andrea Wrobel2Andrea Wrobel

Andrea is a cat and green tea lover who is fueled almost exclusively by the act of writing creatively. An entrepreneur and storyteller, she acts as writer and producer of A Space Films and a quirky crafter of handmade goods at Porch Light Toronto. Andrea aims at encouraging mindfulness and positive action through interaction with her work, whether it is visual, written, or… handmade soap. Andrea battled the harsh seas of the Broken Pencil Deathmatch last year and, believe it or not, she still lives to tell about it…


Step One: Read the stories.
Step Two: Vote for your favourite. Repeatedly. You can vote once every hour.
Step Three: Sound off in the comments.
Step Four: Blog, tweet, tell all your friends – help your favourite author win!
Step Five: Repeat until an Ultimate Winner is declared and all others lie bleeding in the dust.

Click here for Deathmatch rules and regulations and for links to all the people and presses that have generously donated awesome prizes for our winner and runners-up. VOTE AND COMMENT BELOW! By commenting you agree to be signed up for Broken Pencil’s newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time.

My Life as the Reincarnation of Dorothy Parker

by Talita Valle

I was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1993, and I am the reincarnation of
Dorothy Parker. I know because when I was eight years old I dressed up as her
for Carnival. I wore my grandpa’s patent leather shoes, a Snow White dress, and
purple fake eyelashes. It’s not easy, let me tell you – I was born with the ego of
the wittiest woman in New York and the social skills of a pale little girl with the
depressive gene, in post-dictatorship Rio. I was nervous of the ocean, and
ingrained with the impulse to arrange my social life around tables – therefore my
prepubescent years were spent away in after-school excursions to the
McDonald’s at the mall.

Read on...

Chicken and Bits

By Aerin Fogel

I had a sister right up until I was 32, when she publicly disowned me on The Tonight Show with flared nostrils. Her band, The Baby BooBoos, was on the show: a four-girl effort combining the disturbance of Phil Spector with the paranoia of Robert Fripp. It worked because you couldn’t really hear how bad they were. Growing up, our cat was named Jay Leno because of his chin.

Read on...

96 Responses to “Deathmatch 2015 Quarterfinals Round 5”

  1. Bobby says:

    At the end of the day it only makes sense for both women to go to the next round. This is not about being a good sport, it’s about doing the right thing. These ladies should not be put in an awkward position because of a system flaw. Send them both to the next round!

  2. Judith says:

    It doesn’t seem right to change what the counted votes were this morning, back to what they were at midnight. Since one couldn’t vote after midnight, all these additional votes were in before the deadline therefore, in the eyes of the law & the internet are legit.
    Shame on you not to honour all votes.

  3. Douglas says:

    I know it’s been said already but I feel it’s worth repeating. If you pulled the “Vote” button at midnight then it’s not possible for votes to be made after then and therefore any votes that were counted after midnight we’re obviously cast prior to. The system may have been slow on the count but that count is accurate and therefore Aerin Fogel really is the winner.

    It’s time you stop making excuses, come correct and honor the rightful victor.

  4. Alison Lang (Moderator) ( User Karma: 12 ) says:

    Hello everyone – we’ve spoken to our web developers, and here is what they say:

    It’s not a glitch or a bug, it’s more of a cached-page kind of thing. The button was removed/closed right at midnight, and the page refreshed/updated but for some users, based on their connections, computers etc. those additional 24 votes got captured, AFTER midnight, for Aerin. For the next round, we are making a filter as an additional precaution that will prevent this from happening.

    So end verdict – additional votes were cast after midnight and don’t count.”

    Talita is the winner based on the number of votes she received BY MIDNIGHT. Congrats to her!

    Many apologies for the confusion, we are working to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. We appreciate everyone coming out and giving energy and votes right until the final hour and beyond, and we thank Talita and Aerin for being such great competitors and good sports.

    • Gita says:

      Putting in a filter after the fact, does not speak to the accuracy of this contest here in round 5! I’m sure Talita would agree if the situation were in reverse right now. Sometimes your system lagged and did not take votes and sometimes it lagged and took extra on both sides. Either way, the vote count is the vote count! If it showed that Aerin won in the end then that was your vote count. 4010 votes this morning!

    • Gord-o says:

      Poor Aerin! Your observation about the votes being cast before midnight is actually what I saw as well!!!

      Alison, appreciate you are trying to explain but unfortunately your statement still falls short.

      It is clear that the totals displayed at midnight did not include the votes which were submitted on time, but had not yet counted due to delays at the back-end. People voted at midnight based on pages that were rendered by your system PRIOR to midnight. The system correctly accepted these votes, counted them and displayed them on your site for all to see well into the morning.

      Very upsetting for people that participated and the wonderful author who I imagine must feel very messed around.

    • Aerin Fogel says:

      The voting button disappeared at midnight which means people could not have submitted votes afterwards. The issue is with the server which took extra time to register votes that had already been cast. Please respect that.

      • Gita says:

        I agree with Aerin! You have set up the contest to drive a lot of traffic through your site and you need to respect accuracy. Your decision seems random. Many times there was so much traffic, my vote did not get registered. You can’t erase the ones that did.

        • Aerin Fogel says:

          Since the vote buttons were all taken away at midnight it seems to me that all votes still registering after would have been cast before. If the votes kept changing it was because the system was still processing…there was a whole lot of weird number jumping during the week so I wonder if what Talita said earlier is true, that maybe the lag had been happening all week but it’s only being noticed in the moment the ballot closed.

        • Talita Valle says:

          As I understood it, there was a lack of filter in the way the system was set up that meant some people did actually vote after midnight. It’s confusing to me too since Aerin’s vote count was still going up this morning, seven hours after the voting had officially closed, which to me doesn’t seem a matter of a few people getting in after midnight OR there being votes still being computed after the voting closed. It may have taken extra time but it’s hard to believe it would take seven hours.

    • Gita says:

      Votes could not get “captured” after midnight if the vote button closed. The vote button did not work for me at midnight even though I tried to vote. If these votes came through, then they were registered on time and showed up later. You can’t just say tough luck if your system is not working! This calls in the integrity of the whole vote. Aerin’s true numbers were 4010 and that should be counted. Or both writers have to move on to the next round if there is too much confusion.

  5. Gord-o says:

    I agree Gita! Great job by both authors driving so much traffic to the site, but …

    If the system had some votes queued up for Aerin that still needed to be counted, then the tally above should stand: Aerin-4005; Talita-3996.

  6. Norah ( User Karma: 416 ) says:

    Hi everyone! I’m on the Broken Pencil staff – I’m not sure what’s going on with the system (I will get in touch with the editor, Alison, right away), but I just wanted to let you know that I checked in at midnight and saw that Talita won. Congratulations to both of you, though! What a tight race!

    • Aerin Fogel says:

      I was at an event with about 50 people last night, who all voted 15 minutes before the voting closed. This means the system was slow in catching up, which is why the votes kept rising afterwards. But the voting button had disappeared, so these votes are legitimate since they were case before midnight. The issue is that the server took extra time to register, as both our votes continued to go up after people were able to actually cast them. They shouldn’t be discredited since there was no way for people to actually vote after midnight.

      • Talita Valle says:

        Actually that happened to me, too. I would check it because if the votes are rising automatically that means they could’ve been doing that during the whole week. It’s not just on Aerin’s side, my votes have risen quite a bit too since midnight.

        • Gita says:

          Yes it seems like votes were stuck queuing up in the system on both sides. If the votes were cast before midnight and waiting for the queue to show up, they are still valid. This doesn’t seem fair to either of these fine writers to have such inaccuracies. Both women had voters on different time zones but that shouldn’t affect an accurate system.

        • Talita Valle says:

          Maybe that’s even why they were always so close even though our voters are most likely on completely different timezones, meaning there would at least be peaks for each of us, which there didn’t seem to be…

  7. Talita Valle says:

    HOLY SHIT THAT WAS INTENSE. It is 5 in the morning. Not sure if I’m looking forward to another week of this in the finals but YUSSSSSSS THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!!!!!!

  8. Dot ( User Karma: 416 ) says:

    It’s weird that the conversation has been so subdued in the comment section because the voting is so wacky and stressful. Earlier today, it was a tie!

  9. Andrea Wrobel ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Talita and Aerin, do you want to shed some light on your writing styles? Do you write in complete silence? With music? All in one go? Or do you do a tonne of drafts? I’m always curious about the process!

    • Aerin Fogel says:

      usually when i write, if it doesn’t work the first time around, it’s never going to happen. my final drafts are not far off from how i originally blurted them out, at least sentence-wise. i do, however, end up chopping about half the story. the first time i read jesus’ son i was riveted by the idea that there was not a single gratuitous word in those stories, and i have tried ever since to say as little as possible to make the story come alive in its own right, bursting at the pockets with flavour. i also love to write in complete silence because it’s so easy to lose track when there are distractions. the first few hours of the night when everyone has already gone to sleep are magical. their sleeping bodies allow a kind of silence and absence of pressure, when my mind is the only one whirring. preferably with the crisp smell of autumn curling through an open window, if i can.

    • Talita Valle says:

      Love this question! Love knowing about other people’s processes too 😀 How do you write, Andrea??

      I feel like I’m doing writing wrong sometimes because I never do loads of revising – I’m more the kind of writer who spends ages in one sentence but when I’m done with a first draft, I’m very close to being done with the story. My final version is never THAT different from my first drafts, it’s usually just a bit of tweaking and rewording. I think that’s the tendency with people using computers to write, though. Sheila Heti said in a talk once, when someone was asking her something similar about her process and she said “there’s really no such thing as a first draft anymore, is there?”, like a first draft has become one of those things people feel nostalgic for when a less romantic yet more efficient technology comes along, like a quill or something.

      Sometimes I like to write in lots of really short bursts, about 15-20 minutes long. I hardly ever go for longer than 40 minutes in one go. Again, computer era-induced hyperactivity maybe?

  10. sara ( User Karma: 416 ) says:

    Wow, the scores are getting really close! I am back to vote for “Chicken and Bits.” I like both stories, but “Chicken and Bits” seems less heavy-handed to me. I really like what Alison said about the world of pop culture “swirling around” the characters in the story. I feel the same way, and I think that it speaks to Aerin’s skill as a writer. It is tough to write fiction that evokes a particular cultural imaginary and doesn’t sound contrived.

  11. Andrea Wrobel ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It is midday through day 2 of round 5! How are you feeling Talita and Aerin?? Are you employing any new social media tactics? Comprising virtual award speeches? What will happen this week??

  12. Jonathan Valelly ( User Karma: 81 ) says:

    Full disclosure, I didn’t get a chance to read Talita’s story first round, and I came into this round already pre-disposed to liking Chicken and Bits. But hoooooly shit, Talita, you put it DOWN!!!

    I love so many of the weird moments and techniques at play in “The Reincarnation”… the poetic instant messaging, the sort of random and unconvincing references to being the reincarnated Dorothy*, the references to the Brazilian neighbourhoods and the cheeky descriptions of the mall, the sometimes strange, but never incorrect word choices and sentences. I just found it so charming and delightful.

    That all said, “Chicken and Bits” is still weird and the distant, mean romance is an interesting comparison to the playful, unrequited game in “The Reincarnation”

    All around, I think Talita rocks weirdness with a healthy helping of sideways nostalgia and humour in a way that simply feels to hang together best. You got my vote!

    *Or Oscar Wilde, though y’all should know that I am, in fact, the reincarnation of Oscar Wilde… who was the reincarnation of Socrates and whose atoms passed through James Baldwin and Quentin Crisp before most recently settling in me.

    • Talita Valle says:

      Jonathan, you just made my day. Your comment is like the one nice person you meet on OkCupid after three weeks of fighting off weirdos that makes it all worth it. Here’s to another round of dirt, spamming, and using pictures of dogs that aren’t mine to self-promote!

  13. Alison Lang (Moderator) ( User Karma: 12 ) says:

    just wanted to chime in and say i love both these stories and I am also excited and nervous for the two writers. re-reading the stories, i love the way they both conflate and subvert different parts of pop culture as a framework for human relationships. i love that the main character in “Dorothy Parker” craves the “anti-aesthetic” of the McCafes she haunts even as she emulates one of the most stylishly witty and caustic women of all time. I love the way Dorothy Parker (and Hemingway, and Jean Seberg) represent a type of romance that doesn’t really have any weight in the world she actually inhabits. Meanwhile in “Chicken,” pop culture swirls around the world of the main character and Gillespie but it only barely seems to penetrate their consciousness. In a way I feel the main character is so detached and weirdly solipsistic that even her sister’s disowning occurs in a weird, distant, TV-framed reality.
    (caveat: these are my own readings, and might not be the correct ones)
    anyway, both great – i love these complex, not necessarily loveable female protagonists. this will be a tough vote.

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