There was a big crowd this year for Liz and Eric's Third Annual Scary Story Contest, and I was feeling some anxiety because I wanted to defend my crown . . . last year, I lucked out because two excellent stories were read back-to-back and, coincidentally, these two excellent stories were very similar in plot -- so I think they cancelled each other out, and so I was able to take the cash with this gross and silly tale ; this year the stories were all varied and all excellent . . . the theme was "it's the end of the world . . . as we know it" . . . and I was buried at number three in the order, so I didn't think I had a shot to win, but, miraculously, I pulled it out . . . most likely because I got a very good reading from my colleague Adam (and sadly, I repaid him the favor by kind of butchering his story, which he wrote in the dialect of what he described as "an elderly black man" but my interpretation sounded more like Benjy Compson from Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury . . . oops!) and so I won Best Story and took home the big cash prize -- and this despite the fact that my voice was easily recognized, the anonymous reading made no difference . . . on one of my ballots it said, "This is so Dave, I hate you Dave, and I hope you don't win again" . . . but the person still felt compelled to vote for my very silly story . . . and I am quite proud of the fact that I even garnered a few votes for The Scariest Story (no mean feat for a guy who is extremely skeptical of spooky stuff) and at the end of the night, as a bonus (someone called it "dessert") I read aloud my eight year old son Alex's story-- he wanted to enter the contest and win some money and so he dictated a story to me minutes before we left for Liz and Eric's house -- I think the babysitter thought the whole family was batshit crazy -- and, coincidentally, his story is quite similar to mine, which says something about my depth and sophistication as a writer . . . you can read both stories over here at Gheorghe: The Blog -- and thanks again to Eric and Liz for a fantastic party, and for all the writers, readers and attendees . . . definitely my favorite party of the year, and if you can ever attend, I recommend it: we sit in their spooky wood panelled basement in the dark, sip beverages, and listen to the stories -- and this low-tech fun is entertainment enough -- but then when you add the gambling to the mix, it makes for a truly memorable evening.