Let me start by saying how proud I am of the readers of this site!

We are creative, giving optimists with a great sense of humor and a glass-half-full world view. But the thing I am most amazed by is the white-hot talent on display!

I gave you an assignment in “Spinoff: The Contest”: Pick a minor character from a famous movie and imagine a prequel or sequel for him or her that catches the spirit of the original movie, yet is uniquely new.

Whether you know it or not, these fun little contests are the “Wax on, Wax off” exercises that help us stretch some very important muscles. Not only do we practice writing better loglines, but by addressing the confines of an “assignment” that is so like others we will face in our careers, the skills to “Give me the same thing, only different!” are strengthened.  And having just seen the play Wicked for the first time recently –the “prequel” of how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be in The Wizard of Oz —  it’s not out of the range of possibility that this exercise could lead to similar success. It’s a great thought-starter for sure!

The contest asked you to mine the depths of your cinema subconsci to find those minor personalities tucked away in the corners of our movie memories — and what amazing Dennis Miller-like minutia we were treated to! Shawn M.L (#146) wondered what happened to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after he was hauled out of the cockpit in Airplane! Kimota (#158) remembered “The Godmother,” wife of Marlon Brando’s Godfather,  and posed further adventures for Mrs. Corleone. Alison Block (#78) considered what Toto told his animal friends after he got back from Oz, with a hilariously titled “What Happens in Kansas, Stays in Kansas,” and Mike  Sweeney started with Steve Buscemi’s character in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski and gave us a “Donny” Kerabtsos bowling league prequel. Others like Andy Brown’s (#17) “Woodcock,” which told the further doings of the hapless Union Pacific guard in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and jwmiller’s (#168) musing on “Saving Corporal Upham” made me say: Whooooa! Clearly this is a site for movie fans!

There were also some examples of movies I would actually like to see, and Pixar et al take note! If anyone is looking for possible sequels that sound as creative as their progenitors, check out Andrew M’s (#6) “Back to the Future Part IV,” Shawn M.L’s (#13) “Mutant Toy Story,” YeOlde Falconer’s (#83) “Mouse in the Matrix,” stina_maria’s (#120) “Professor Trelawney and the Sibyl of Sekhmet” Harry Potter re-do, and Rebecca Sharp’s (#79) really sharp idea for more Finding Nemo  called “Finding Dory.”  But the winner of the best idea for a sequel, no kidding, is Smitty (#48), who even gave us the poster: “Pixar Presents Cars 2 : Later Mater.” I’m serious, this would make a great direct to DVD release and has a terrific plot line. Bravo, Smitty!

Tales from the darkside got our attention and many a guilty laugh. I’m embarrassed to say I laughed out loud when I read  Don WIllis’ (#155) topical “SE’X’ Files,”  Russell Nichols’ (#129) “Grandpa Joe and the Chocolate Factory,” and Robby Garfinkel’s (#30) “Hello, Neighbor!” — brilliant!  But the guiltiest laughs are Hunter’s (#62) “The Little Melanoma” and Saeed’s (#63) “Jackass 3” — HA!! Ooops! I mean…. Hee-hee-hee…

Funny titles? Take a bow! crAZRick’s (#5) “Snakes Changing Planes,” Randy Harrison’s (#23) “While You Were Peeping,” Russell Nichols’ (#37) “Pulp Free,” Scott W’s “Lethalest Weapon” are all great, but the one that makes me giggle most is Risa Romano (#138), who posed two in a row, “The Day After The Earth Stood Still” — awesome! — and maybe my favorite given the logline that follows, “Die Simply” — if only!

Am I stalling? You bet! So let’s get to the batch of RUNNERS UP that is so good any one of these beauties could be the winner — and got a lot of votes from our judges. These are just so great! They include:

— Shawn M.L. (#27) “The Wilson Triangle”

— John F.’s (#68) “Smooth Chazz, Funeral Crasher”

— David T. Harwood (#125) “There Will Be Blush!”

— Hunter’s (#3) “Stockholm” — the early odds-on favorite!

Finally, down to our three winners, and oh how I hate to just pick three!

THIRD PLACE: ($50 gift certificate to Writers Store): Andy Brown’s (#24) “It’s A Wonderfully Loud Life” — Zuzu Bailey is now a full grown, married woman with four kids, that has become obsessed with ringing bells to help “angels get their wings.” After her husband is driven to the brink of insanity by  Zuzu’s incessant bell-ringing,  Zuzu must find a way to prove she’s not crazy, keep her family from falling apart and continue her calling as “an angel to the angels.”

SECOND PLACE:  ($100 gift certificate to the Writers Store): Doug J’s (#65) “Daddy Wars” — Balancing a busy schedule in the Senate, leading the rebel alliance and raising a teenage daughter is no easy feat for single dad Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits). Feisty daughter Leia (Amber Tamblyn) wants to follow in Dad’s political footsteps as class president but is side-tracked by the new bad boy (Shia LeBeouf) in school.  Droid butlers C-3PO and R2D2 make a special appearance providing comic relief or a shoulder to cry on just at the right moment. PG (adult situations, excessive visual effects, clunky dialogue and mild Jar Jar.)

FIRST PLACE: ($200 Gift Certificate to the Writers Store):  –Andrew W. (# 34) “Old” — In this sequel to “Big”, after a vicious wedgie at school, Billy Kopecki decides that he too wants to be big. He tracks down Zoltar, declares his wish to be “old,” and wakes up to find he looks like Mickey Rooney. Josh Baskin must convince the aged Billy to give up his decadent lifestyle of plaid pants, shuffleboard and 4 pm dinners.

Congratulations to everyone!