Tournament 2016 Final Round: JUDGEMENT!

twat-ii-round-7-main-judgement-01Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. It’s been a year in the making, but today we crown a new Writer’s Arena Champion.

Today’s international bout is a rematch of our first tournament. Our fighters, Donald Jacob Uitvlugt and David Webb have clawed, scratched, and flown their way into this final story battle on the wings of birds.

This avian activity has brought out the best in our writers, who both delivered amazing stories. After what the 2016 tournament has already put them through, it’s amazing they had anything left in the tank to deliver such incredible work.

Before we determine a winner, be sure to check out the stories here:

Donald Jacob Uitvlugt defends his crown with “Cloudcukooland.”

David Webb looks to swoop down and steal a victory with “Of a Feather.”

Just a recap for our new friends: We have two judges who will give their judgement. If they are in agreement, the win goes to the story they picked. If they are not, it goes to our popular vote which you can view at the bottom of this post or in the battle thread.

Rich Alix is our first judge. He is a patron of The Human Echoes Podcast, and an all-around awesome guy. He is the voice of the common man in this contest, and here are his thoughts:

Birds. Sources of inspiration, disease carrying pests, or something in between? We have given meaning to birds in many stories, movies, fables, and sayings. What did our authors think about our feathered friends? Let’s see:


“Cloudcuckooland” by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt –  I like the tone that this story adopts early on. From the very beginning with “Once upon a time”, this story has a very fairy tale, magical feel to it which works perfectly with the subject matter.


I’ll admit, I cringed a little when I read “sick child” we’ve been down that path a few times and those stories always seem to be powerfully emotional. Not sure I wanted another one of those, but luckily I didn’t get one. Not exactly anyways.


I enjoyed the idea of bird songs having words and that Victor has somehow figured them out. What he hears was not what he (or we as readers) quite expected.


The tale of Don Caravaggio de la Palma is one that has been told before but not quite like this. The tale of true love, sacrifice,  and loss transcends species and speaks to everyone.


My favorite part of the story is the end. Just as we think that Don Caravaggio is free and off to find his Dulcinea we see that might not be the case. Victor’s Mom tells him that his canary has died despite all the vet tried. Victor thinks that Don Caravaggio was just playing dead to escape his parents. We are left to choose which we want to believe. Is this a tale of magic and bird-princes or is this a tale of the hope of a sick child and the product of his feverish dreams?


When offered another bird, Victor shows compassion and wisdom and says he would rather go see them outside. Here, Mr Uitvlugt manages to sneak in one more twist, one more layer to this story that I still am not sure how I feel about. The line, “And he wondered what he might do, if freed too.” casts a number of things in a different light. Comparing himself to a bird in a cage made me wonder who is keeping him there? His illness? His parents? Is he, maybe, not as sick as we are lead to believe and maybe his parents are taking over-protectiveness to the extreme? We don’t know.


I may be overthinking this all but given Mr Uitvlugt’s propensity for making a few words say quite a bit I might not be.


Well done, sir, well done.


“Of a Feather” by David Webb – I’ll admit it right now, I read this story the first time without any idea it was based on a true story(even though Mr Webb tells us plainly that it is, i just assumed that was a little artistic license). It rides that groove between hyper-realistic fiction and fantasical truth perfectly. I googled a bit after and was a little surprised to find where the truth was but that didn’t take away from this story one bit.


We start with the kernel of truth that a girl was feeding some birds and they began to bring her odds and ends, shiny things and trinkets. The brilliance of this story is where it breaks from reality and we are treated to the birds side of things.


Crows and ravens are known to be intelligent and great scavengers so the discussions we see in this story fit right in. From the crows seeing her off in the morning, to the discussions on economic theory (which I genuinely laughed out loud at and then had to explain it to everyone within earshot), to the conversation the girl ultimately has with them; it all seems to fit in.


The way that the conversations with the raven were handled was very well done. The whole “dream” sequence that never quite works and the way that eventually Chloe just accepts that they can talk seemed really natural in a completely unnatural way.


I enjoyed the rise and fall of celebrity as it applied to the little girl and her birds. I also liked the idea of the raven not wanting to go back to the way things were and wanting to be more than “small time”. The scene with the candidate at the end was funny but maybe a little too much and a little too abrupt of an jump.


Another fantastic entry to Battle Bird.


This is always the toughest job of the year. It all comes down to this. Mr Uitvlugt and Mr Webb have battled their way back to the finals in a rematch of last years Butter Battle. We have seen a number of new stories from each of them this year and have gotten to know them both rather well. That should make it harder for them to impress me as I should know what to expect but happily that is not the case. This years final featured two fantastic stories that I could very easily recommend to anyone who reads. Whichever story (and author)  wins will be truly worthy of the title and the glory of Arena Champion. I am required to pick one, however, and have gone back and forth a few times. Ultimately, though, there was one story that I felt stood out just a tiny bit more. My vote for this years winner is “Of a Feather” by David Webb.


There is one vote for David Webb. He can end it if Christina Durner sides with him.

Our first judge is Christina Durner, and she is a freelance writer based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and websites including Creepypasta, The Gunpowder Review, The Foodie Bugle, Examiner, and Fine Print. She also works independently as an editor. Christina loves to chat with readers and can be reached at

There are 9,956 different species of birds. Each one is unique in appearance, habit, and temperament. Whether we are talking about a pod of pelicans or a band of blue jays, birds are infamous for their absolute freedom and their abilities as scavengers. That’s what our stories in the TWA Championship final round focuses on. Let’s start with Donald Jacob Uitvlugt and a bird that comes from a group known as an opera: the canary.


“Cloudcuckooland” tells the tale of Victor, an ailing child who befriends a pet canary. But this is no ordinary canary; it’s one who only speaks to him. The bird’s beautiful songs help to cheer the little boy up. But when he stops singing the little boy is concerned. No one ever thought to ask the bird why he stopped singing, no one except Victor. We learn that Victor’s canary has lost his song because he is a prisoner on the day that should be his wedding.


This story gives an explicit backstory for the little yellow bird, whose real name is Don Caravaggio de la Palma, Prince of the Canary Islands. We learn of his fiancé who made a promise to meet and marry him in two years’ time, the parliament of birds that results in violence, and of Don Caravaggio’s capture resulting in his gilded cage in Victor’s room. Victor sets the bird free to meet his true love. However, the next morning his parents inform him that his bird died in the night.


“Cloudcuckooland” is a touching story that examines a sick child’s way of coping with death and the fear of death. It has a fairytale quality to it that adds charm and heartfelt sentiment to the story. The backstory of Don Caravaggio de la Palma is imaginative and compelling. This story is incredibly well written and enjoyable to read.


Now we move on to our second story, “Of a Feather” by David Webb. This story focuses on a group of crows (which is known as a murder of crows) and a lone raven (who comes from a group referred to as an unkindness of ravens.) After receiving a chicken nugget that was accidentally dropped by a small girl, the crows begin to sit outside her house daily in hopes of obtaining a new treat. But when the little girl ignores them, a sly raven joins their troupe and devises a plan that leads to more treats.


Eventually, the group of birds brings the little girl, Chloe, gifts in the hopes that they will continue to receive nourishment from her and in turn, she becomes famous with the local newspapers. This was a very clever story. Very well-written with a grand sense of humor and wit. I enjoyed reading this but felt the ending could have been a little more finely tuned. But overall this was an enjoyable read for me.


Both stories were unique and captured captivating exchanges between feather friends and humans. Both were enthralling and well-written. But a decision must be made, and a vote must be cast. Therefore, I cast my vote for the story that I feel is slightly more honed and detailed. That story is “Cloudcuckooland” by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt.


A split decision! Our championship will come down to you, our dear reader. Let’s see who won.

Drum roll, please.

Your new champion is David Webb! The title of Writer’s Arena Champion heads across the pond to Mr. Webb and his wonderful clone.

Donald, you fought valiantly once again. You made it to the finish and should be incredibly proud of your work.

Thank you so much, friends. This year has been loaded with so many amazing stories, pitched battles, and talented authors. We’ve seen so many of our friends grow as authors, and found many new ones who entered the arena for the first time. It’s been an incredible 2016, and a tournament to remember.

One final congratulations to our friend David Webb, Arena Champion.

Until next time, we bid you a fond farewell.

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One Comment

  1. I don’t do acceptance speeches, so here is one:

    Rich and Christina, thank you for your comments and judgement. I couldn’t have called this.

    Fellow tournament participants: thank you for all of your stories. It has been a really entertaining contest. As ever, the readers are the real winners here.

    Joe, Al, Tony: Thank you, gentlemen, for your continued Arena presence and encouragement. Long may it continue.

    Donald: You’re buying. Dude, wanna be on a podcast?

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