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  • Locked thread
SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Alright, sure. I need to get writing again.

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autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

gently caress all you motherfucking fuckers and your retarded loving family

I'm in.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I to the N that's IN

Radioactive Bears
Jun 27, 2012

Creatures of horrid visage and disposition.


In.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


In for trouble.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







I would like to write a story please

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.



In. I'll start working on my excuses.

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006


yeh ok

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

:eurovision: Critiques for Week XL: Everybody on the Dance Floor :eurovision:

To judge this wild mess of spangles and lights, I watched the chosen videos and read the lyrics first, making notes on each. As I read your stories, I looked for the themes I'd seen as well as visual connections. Most of you made it easy to tie your work to both your song and your aphorism. Your interpretations were interesting to see, including those of which I was less than wholeheartedly fond. Let's dance!


magnificent7, for Romania: "The Choreographer"
Lyrics: Cezar - "It's My Life"
Aphorism: Anger is never without a reason but seldom with a good one.

Kai's Video Notes: A man in a glittering tuxedo sings while Goths dance behind him in leather jackets and silk-scarf skirts. How much eyeliner does this guy have on? His falsetto rises to glory with a bunch of fire jets. Listen to that vibrato! I think I'm watching a Vampire LARP and it's everything I ever could have dreamed. Themes: love and life, possibly immortal life spent sucking people's blood and warbling about it.

Falsetto Dracula wept. How does this relate to your song or video in any way beyond people snickering at the voice of your never-seen lead singer? You could have written this piece about any musical performance with a male lead and a female backup dancer, it didn't have to be Mr. Warbling Romanian at all, and that's such a failure of concept it takes my breath away. You flunked that prompt even harder than you did last week's. That is astounding.

You did hit the aphorism. Your interpretation is straightforward, taken to incredible extremes, but I see Mr. Franklin's wisdom in the piece; due credit there.

Never mind the prompts for a minute. Look at the story itself. It's too busy being edgy to bother being good. The premise of a woman being told she's too talented to sleep her way to the top is cliche; hell, it's straight out of Showgirls. So is the rampant vulgarity. So is the gleeful flinging about of bodily fluids. Suspicious of your murder method, I took a wire hanger out of my closet and tried to pull it over my head: surprise, it wouldn't fit. Virginia at least needed to warp that thing out of shape before it would do as a garrote.

Now let's consider your grammar in terms of dialogue. It is terrible. Do you see this line? 'She said, “shut up idiot. I know what I’m doing.”' You put the first word of a sentence in lowercase.

Never do that again.

Never.

EVER.

I suspect the confusion comes from that comma after 'said.' Dialogue is a special beast with special rules. Here is a site that can serve as a guide around the common pitfalls.

Outside of dialogue, you don't have that many sentence-level errors. In the sentence 'Out of the corner of her eye she caught a short man leaning in a doorway,' a better phrase would be 'caught sight of.' 'His faded getup blended into the grey hallway so well that she initially overlooked him' uses the wrong tense: it should be 'she'd initially overlooked him,' unless you mean she continues to overlook him after he speaks and after she notices his clothes. 'Alexander felt the slap from across the hall.' Bizarre. Did she slap him with telekinesis? If she crossed the hall to slap him, say that; if the distance between them is short enough she could just lean in to hit him, don't make it sound like they're far apart.

This story inspires me to consider strangling myself with that hanger, but alas, I doubt it would work. Your piece for the brawl week was much better. I'm probably going to put together links to past winning stories/poems in TD and post them soon. It wouldn't hurt to read them--along with the relevant crits, if you're feeling studious--and think about what made them successful.

The American judge gives you: 1 point.

**********

systran, for England: "Cephus' Blessing"
Lyrics: Bonnie Tyler - "Believe in Me"
Aphorism: ‘Tis easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.

Kai's Video Notes: This is such a country song. Bonnie's voice has roughened a bit from her "Total Eclipse of the Heart" days. The beach is a better backdrop than the white farmhouse, and the sweeping sky shots are beautiful; there's still not much to this video beside the song itself. The house and beach emphasize Bonnie's isolation--when she sings 'When you're reaching out for something and there's nothing,' she should be singing to a mirror. Themes: pessimism, solitude, isolation, a plea for faith, possibly hollow faith.

I somehow suspect Bonnie Tyler singing alone in an all-white house isn't the video you'd have chosen for yourself, but what can I say? Your torment amuses us. The flash rule could have limited or freed you: if there wasn't much to work from, there wasn't much to trip you up, either. The challenge was to turn something bland into something compelling. So how'd you do?

All told, not bad. Your story suffers from an overload of exposition that still doesn't explain the religion you've created to my satisfaction. It seems to be centered on a belief in soul-mating and destined love, on faith in salvation through that love, and on... stalking and emotional blackmail? Creepy! Lindsey's line (side note: Lyra and Lindsey are too visually similar for such a short piece), “I thought Cephism was just that religion where, like, you get married and then even if the other person never converts... it’s fine as long as you don’t get divorced,” doesn't explain anything; it sets the reader up to be confused. 'You get married and then shouldn't get divorced' doesn't distinguish Cephism much from other faiths, and the marriage question appears to be a lot more complex than that.

(Also, I want to share what I found while Googling Cephus to make sure this faith isn't real: 'Definition of CEPHUS: a genus (the type of the family Cephidae) of small sawflies having larvae that bore in the stems of plants and including serious pests esp. of cereal grasses.' Romantic!)

Going back to the creepy bit, Lyra is right: Vaughn isn't being fair to her or presenting himself as a man she should be with when he puts himself in a position where he has to marry her or be a monk for fifteen years without talking to her about it first. I felt sympathy for both parties, but I couldn't root for them as a couple. At least you leave some room for interpretation with the ending--Lyra is glad he's there, but she isn't falling over herself with love for him; their issues aren't magically resolved, and I appreciate that.

You made a good choice in not sticking slavishly to the visuals in the video and working instead with the heart and spirit of the song. It's all about love, belief, and faith, and you invoke those. You do so in a way that's far from pedestrian. You also catch the edge of desperation in Ms. Tyler's love song; intentionally or no, you show some of the problems as well as some of the wonders of such tenacious devotion. Your chosen aphorism applies in a different way than I would have expected. The desires Lyra has difficulty satisfying aren't her own.

It's still clunky, especially in the beginning, although this is a good point at which to mention that your grammar has gotten noticeably stronger over time. I looked for things to nitpick and didn't turn up any outright errors, although '"Your drink is already paid for, ma'am"' could certainly use an attribution, and the running-through-fire scene has a few repetitive beats, with two sentences in a row ending in 'hand,' two sentences in row using variants of 'pull,' and two uses of 'the heat' in a short span. I wouldn't contort the text too much to avoid these, but you could say 'Vaughn's hand dropped away from Lyra's,' for example, and possibly 'her fingers still clasping Vaughn's' or something similar.

You won't win, but you've brought no more shame on your Bonnietar than Bonnie brought on it first by making that video.

The American judge gives you: 6 points.

**********

CancerCakes, for Montenegro: "BitchFight"
Lyrics: Igranka - "Who See"
Aphorism: Great beauty, great strength, and great riches are really and truly of no great use; a right heart exceeds all.

Kai's Video Notes: Why the hazmat suits and golden drills? Why is that woman giving the Invisible Man a lap dance? Ninja! The women look like they're about to have a dance-off, only now there are harlequin masks. Shake your butt a bit more, lady: the video's still too subtle. E. Beef wasn't kidding about the stripper nuns, but I don't think they're nuns, more like... baton twirlers? I'm not convinced any lyrics in the world could make this make sense. (After reading the lyrics: Nope!) Themes: sex, dancing, testosterone, sex, masquerades, sex, parties, not wearing a shirt.

CancerCakes. :allears: Someday the bro stories are going to get old, but they haven't yet for this judge, and Montenegro's entry begged for something absurd. I'm disappointed not to have seen harlequin masks, but you worked so much else in that I'll try not to hold it against you. You got the hazmat suits! The pipe welders! The women's clothing! The fighting! What's especially good is that you include all of this, and it doesn't read like a checklist you're marking off. This thing doesn't need its video for support. Ideally, of course, the stories wouldn't, but considering yours involves hazmat suits and caged fights between women in lingerie, having come up with a coherent explanation for them is quite a feat.

Don't get too excited: I don't have much but praise for this (although there will be grammatical nitpicks; oh, yes), but as much as I like your piece, I like others more. I don't think this will be a win for you. It's very close to being the most entertaining thing on the field, though. Whatever vibe you were channeling here, bring it to future rounds and a crown may be yours yet.

Grammar, now... your errors look to be of the 'didn't catch them in proofing' kind rather than the 'don't know what you're doing' kind, but 'Its my advertising' still makes my face curdle. You spell Proprietor as 'Proprieter' at one point, and you aren't consistent with whether 'The' is capitalized in his title. The phrase 'the roof of the cage' is too distinctive to repeat within three sentences as you do at one point. (Drop 'the cage' from the second use and it should be fine.) And then there's this: 'money,you.' Rrrrrrrgh. There are a couple of misplaced/mislaid hyphens and commas too.

Everything here--the cyberpunk, the brotagonist, the inspiration--is over the top, and it's a gaudy, glorious-horrible monstrosity of bad taste that made me laugh. You nailed the video. You soooooort of got the aphorism. Great strength wasn't supposed to be of great use! But the spirit of the thing is there. Is it sufficiently in the style of Martello? I'll have to confer with my fellow judges on that one, but you're probably closer to the style of Nubile Hillock when all's said and done.

The American judge gives you: 8 points.

**********

Fumblemouse, for Belgium: "His Feminine Side"
Lyrics: Roberto Bellarosa - "Love Kills"
Aphorism: If you would have a faithful servant and one that you like — serve yourself.

Kai's Video Notes: Those are some eyebrows. If we could combine this guy and Lithuania's singer, astounding things would happen. Women are springing out of his shoulders. Sir, please stop using women's hands to grope yourself. There's something unsettling in general about his interactions with these women, and what the hell did that one lady do when he touched her chin? I like the distinctly 80s sound of the song, but I have to wonder if "Love Kills" is something Mr. Intensity means literally. Themes: love, pain, despair, intensity, death of emotion, emptiness.

You evidently picked up a similar vibe from that video. Your interpretation of the women splitting out of Bellarosa (I knew what I'd find at the 40s mark) is inspired. It's more literal than I would have expected, and in this case that's a good thing: you made a woman fissuring from a man work as something more than an odd visual. That's the only obvious visual cue you took, but I see the creepy emotionlessness of those women at play in Jo's sociopathy. The way Mr. Intensity interacts with his fembots may also play into your theme of gender relations.

I respect your work with the prompts more than I like the resulting piece, though--it's good work, strong, but the ending wasn't sufficiently foreshadowed for my taste. It didn't come out of nowhere; I can see clues, but I wanted more. The opening paragraph implies that Joe hit his girlfriend. That's the strongest suggestion we ever see that he's the kind of bastard whose feminine side would be a murderous bitch because she's just like him. The story portrays him as an agreeable guy otherwise. Maybe he could have a more open mind toward therapy and a cleaner floor, but there's nothing to justify his subconscious (feminine or otherwise) being this coldblooded.

The mood of the story's midsection is light and even warm; Joe cleaning house with his alter-ego is companionable, not chilling; and then Shell(e)y's revelation that the Femisil may be 'dangerous' is too vague to get much anxiety going before Jo pulls out that knife. You could argue that the tonal contrast makes the ending more shocking. But Joe's amiable demeanor raises a serious question: why is Jo a bitch? Because she's his feminine side--but if Joe isn't established as a bad man, then that line reads like she's a psycho because she's female, not because she's his mirror. Not what you intended, I think.

(Maybe neither was intended to be true? Are her homicidal ways completely the drug's fault? There's less to suggest this, yet it would make some sense.)

The lack of an ominous mood and the dubious justification for the gore made this less effective as horror than it could have been. That said, there are some clues that the way Jo 'serves' Joe as per the aphorism is by killing Shell(e)y, and that he wanted Jo on some level. His personality as shown works against this, too, though. I wonder if I'm only seeing that because it would make the aphorism fit. If the implication was intended, I like it; it just needs Joe to be more of a bastard to stick.

Technical fussbudgetry: Shell(e)y's name is spelled two ways. The first paragraph feels long, and I'd break it before 'Still.' 'When he opened his eyes, she was sitting across from him'--who? The one woman you've talked about is Shell(e)y; the use of 'she' is confusing, so you should probably go with 'a woman,' or with 'his female image' or a similar phrase if you're not looking for suspense on that point. 'Jo looked back at him and twirled her finger against her head in child-sign for ‘crazy’.' The period here should be within the single quotes, assuming American English. You've got an ellipsis with two dots in it, f'God's sake.

After all the complaining I've done, it may not be obvious this vacillated in and out of my top three. I respect the hell out of the mileage you got from your chosen video, and the piece was interesting and clever. It could have been better; it was still good.

The American judge gives you: 8 points.

**********

crabrock, for Georgia: A kidney stone.

While what you've produced may be more unpleasant than the losing story, I'd have to see it to be sure; I've suffered enough without that, and so have you.

**********

Nikaer Drekin, for Latvia: "Passionate"
Lyrics: PeR - "Here We Go"
Aphorism: Man’s tongue is soft, and bone doth lack; yet a stroke therewith may break a man’s back.

Kai's Video Notes: It's young men bouncing around in sparkly jackets and pants. The silver jacket has tassels and swag like the guy wearing it is the most dazzling of Revolutionary War military generals, and it would be brilliant if it only covered a shirt. Love the keytar. What are those light-up boxes the mohawked one keeps tapping? I hope it's Eurovision's answer to Simon. Themes: glitter, youthful energy, vivacious life, refusal to submit to anxiety or despair.

Cute, but problematic. You took a long time to get to anything related to your video. The first half or so is Mr. Brandike first settling in at work, then being threatened by a nervous man with a gun; there's some tension in this, so why does it feel like it drags? You've got extraneous text, but the bigger issue may be a disconnect in tone and thrust. Mr. Brandike is an rear end in a top hat, but not enough of one to be a cartoon (sad though that is), and his danger seems real. It reminds me of the opening of Sixth Sense when Bruce Willis was menaced by half-naked Donny Wahlberg. Wallace being so nervous makes him more perilous, not less.

Then the second half kicks in, and you bring in a combination of Project Runway and American Idol that amuses me--it helps that I've watched both shows. Is Simon CowellMr. Brandike going to die for crushing this young man's dreams? Will the joie de vivre of Latvia's entry be utterly turned on its head? No. You went for the laugh. Wendell has a Looney Tunes moment with his gun. I love humor, but this choice completes the tonal disjunction: the first, serious half now feels thoroughly out of place, and the story won't gel.

What's in the canister? You never say. I'm assuming mace, but I can't stop picturing Cheez Whiz. Eyes shouldn't bubble unless it's a gory horror piece.

You got your aphorism. You mixed the aphorism fairly well with the video you were given, too, but your connection to Latvia's entry is sketchy. The energy and joy of it aren't here at all. Maybe if you'd shown more of Wendell being happy and hopeful before Jim brought him down? Then it would be a subversion and potentially poignant, but as-is Wendell is a brief, flat figure before the critique that changes his life. You don't engage with the visuals of the video except to make fun of them, which is acceptable but disappointing. It might have helped with that as well if I could have formed my own opinion of pre-crit Wendell and didn't have to rely on Jim's.

Your grammar's generally good; you use more words than you need and describe things you shouldn't, like the 'titanium-grade hand dryer.' 'Not only did his driver fail to show' uses the wrong tense; 'Not only had his driver failed to show' would be the ideal here.

This entertained me in a light way: it's cute, as I said before. It lacks either gravitas or significant humor, though.

The American judge gives you: 6 points.

**********

JonasSalk, for Switzerland: "Do the young die?"
Lyrics: Takasa - "You and Me"
Aphorism: Wish not so much to live long as to live well.

Kai's Video Notes: Aww, look at those friendly road-trippers giving the old man a ride. You shouldn't do that to a cello. WTF, musicians. I would kill trombone guy if I were in that car. Very friendly energy, though, and it makes me want to go on a road trip with these people (minus trombone) even if Vegas is right about the geometry. Uh, minus the peeing in a field too. Themes: friendship, togetherness, travel, helping one another through adversity, inappropriate treatment of musical instruments.

I don't much like your execution, JonasSalk, but your subversion of the Switzerland video is rather neat. The old man gives a lift to the young in your version; in place of helpfulness and togetherness, he plans to kill them. They ultimately betray him and steal from him and cause his death. It's so opposite to what the song is about that it's still a response--and if this is a happy coincidence, that doesn't matter; it works. You've invoked visuals too, of course, with the very old man and his car. I sort of wish the young people had killed him by braining him with a trombone, but one can't have everything.

Plus, your basic idea is pretty nice. A world where only one man ages and dies? How horrible it would be to be that man. Chuck keeps my sympathy through his decision to kill the others (though I'm sure it helps that he doesn't manage it) because his situation is terrible enough that it would have to warp his mind.

Opening each section with a brief thought from Chuck worked for me, and you've got some good individual lines: 'I was headed that way too' is absolutely poignant. 'You’ve come far enough, we think' vocalizes your theme. You nailed your aphorism.

These bright points are buried in bad text. At 658 words, you still have far too many. Take this paragraph: 'Yes, Chuck was that guy from tv. He was “the world’s old guy”, and that had always been fun enough. With age had come a legitimate celebrity and Chuck had enjoyed it. He’d enjoyed being an oddity, and was a regular on the late night talk shows due to his quick wit and easy going sense of humor.' Grammar quirks aside ('TV' should be in caps; the comma after guy should be within the quote marks; there shouldn't be a comma after 'oddity'; 'easygoing' is one word), you don't need this at all. How does it add to the story? It shows a facet of Chuck's character--but it's a facet that never comes into play. The young man's comment that he's 'that guy from TV, the world's oldest guy' sets up that he has a sort of celebrity without needing elaboration.

Along the same lines, 'Chuck was one of the few people in the world able to own a gun, having reached a biological age where he was eligible to possess one. Most people stopped aging at 16, and a few went so far as 17, but almost no one reached 18. The clock turned off around this time and never turned back on' is a bunch of unnecessary and frankly nonsensical information. Why would gun possession be limited to biological age in this world? That's bizarre. What does it matter? Chuck has a gun; that's all we need to know. The details about when people stop aging are interesting but extraneous.

I would like it much, much better if you used the italicized thoughts without adding 'Chuck thought' afterward (this wouldn't always be a good idea, but in this story the second thought--'these kids are far too trusting'--clearly is a thought and is clearly being thought by Chuck, which sets up the context for the rest of them), but if you're going to do that, don't split the thought and the attribution across paragraphs. Instead, it should be like this: 'Young people never appreciate death, Chuck thought as he drove his car down the road.' When they're attributed like this, treat thoughts as you would speech insofar as punctuation goes.

It's all very passive, too, a lot of tell with little show. This doesn't bother me a ton, but you overdo it.

'At his age, a fall from a moving vehicle was as good a way to get killed as a bullet to the head'--I assume Chuck is dead or dying? But this is such a vague way to show it. Did he hit his head? Did he break a hip? Was it instant? Painless? Slow? Here's where you want some detail, to take us through Chuck's end. I don't mean get graphic with the violence--it wouldn't suit your tone--but make it crystal clear what happened to him. 'Not that he’d needed it now' is terrible. I'm guessing you meant either 'he needed' or 'he'd need,' depending on whether he's alive at that moment.

This was in my bottom three, but it's much, much better than your entry from last week. Keep improving!

The American judge gives you: 4 points.

**********

SurreptitiousMuffin, for Finland 2006: "Chainsaw Buffet"
Lyrics: Lordi - "Hard Rock Hallelujah"
Aphorism: Join, or die.

Kai's Video Notes: Look at that hat. Look at those pants. I haven't seen such dedication to make-up since I watched the making-of video for Thriller. The demon guitarists are the best goddamn thing. Themes: faith, the power of rock, rock as spiritual salvation, rebellion, triumph of the righteous, sticking a spark-showering battle axe in Europe's eye. Tons of energy and balls like steel. Best possible video choice save Ukraine 2007 (maybe), but the story will have to be amazing to live up to it.

And what do you know? It is.

It's maaaaaaybe too close to being Lordi fanfic--oh, hell, it is, and I wish you hadn't called the demons by that name, but it's a perfect blood-hued garnet of a flash. You give to your demon band a Biblical weight. You've made fanfic about a guy wearing a Finland hat feel powerful, mythic. I sense the wildness of Bacchic rites in the ways of Lordi's followers and find them not so hard to believe. "Hard Rock Hallelujah" isn't this serious ('Arockalypse,' c'mon); you've transformed it into what it might want to be.

'Oh come, all ye faithful. Come into our arms so we might love you, carry you finally home.' I love this line. It's shiversome.

The prompts and rules are all present and accounted for. Your chosen Biblical verses fit the video/aphorism combination so well I doubt that you had to stretch much; I note the pipes. Lordi's hat. Goddamn, Lordi's hat. It's perfect. It's so close to tripping over the line between epic and stupid, but it doesn't.

So before this crit gets cheesier from praise than the whole of the Ireland video, I should go into what I didn't like as well. This is an artwork, an image, a myth. A story? Not really. There's no character in it at all, as Lordi are presented as more of a force than as beings; it has no arc or plot, none of that. It's also predictable. I barely care since what I expected from Lordi's entry is awesome and awesome squared is what I got, but this shows more mastery of language and beautiful style than innovative thinking. That's probably what tipped me toward my other favorite at the wire. Yet the piece is an ideal example of its kind. For at least this once, not winning doesn't mean you need to change anything.

Except the lack of a period after 'his hat of blue and white.' Change that.

The American judge gives you: 12 points.

**********

perpetulance, for San Marino: "Graceful Exit"
Lyrics: Valentina Monetta - "Crisalide"
Aphorism: Men take more pains to mask than mend.

Kai's Video Notes: That glowing ball represents an egg, I think. The shroud is a cocoon. And... now an elderly lady is taking a bag off her head. Okay. It's all very dramatic, vaguely dark, and Meaningful until the giant red swaths of cloth show up. Maybe she's emerged from her pupation as an attendant of the opera into her true life as a singing scarf rack. Themes: a chrysalis, shrouds, facades, transformation into joy, dark into light.

You went heavy on the themes, light on the visuals. I envisioned Mary as the elderly lady with a bag on her head in the video, although I doubt they're meant to be one and the same. I'm all right with this interpretation: it let you go to a completely unexpected place, and Mary shedding the chrysalis of her diseased body is fitting, if terribly somber. The bright half of the entry is missing. Hopefully Mary will find it in her pills.

Your approach to the aphorism is the most muddled: Mary is taking many pains to try to mend her cancer, as are the people who developed her drugs, her doctors, etc. Martin is trying to 'mend' Mary's wish for death, however ineffectually. I can sort of see how everything everyone does for Mary is only an attempt to pretend her death isn't inevitable, but it's a stretch.

There are grammar errors, none so serious or so frequent they do the story much damage. Some can be overlooked because of your first-person narrator, but I'll pick on a few others. 'The doctor said its because'--auuuuuugh. It's! A pastor and a religious woman would likely both know it's 'Thou shalt not kill.' You've used a few commas where you oughtn't, usually before a dependent clause such as in this case: 'He wished me well, and said he'd see me next Sunday.' That usage could be a quirk of Mary's, but it doesn't add anything to her characterization. In the sentence 'The kids across the road were outside in the sun, playing and laughing when Martin left,' you should have a comma after 'laughing.'

Despite all that, the prose is competent, the ending sadly appropriate, and the diary format handled well. I like Mary. Her ultimate choice is obvious from the title; you justified it as well as you could. I sympathized with her exhaustion and isolation and the pill-filled tedium of her days. The down side of that is that it's a depressing piece, slow and sad, and not a joy to read, but not everything has to be.

The American judge gives you: 7 points.

**********

Bad Seafood, for Greece: "Old Habits"
Lyrics: Koza Mostra, featuring Agathon Iakovidis - "Alcohol Is Free"
Aphorism: The wolf sheds his coat once a year, his disposition never.

Kai's Video Notes: Greece! Kilts! Accordion! Moustache! I don't understand this video; I like it that way. Who the man with the cheese is, why he's stalking them, why he strokes his moustache so compulsively... I yearn for a story to explain these things to me, yet I cherish the mystery. I'm not looking at the lyrics until I absolutely have to. Themes: fraternity/friendship, stalking, coincidences that aren't, the inexplicable, fleeing what one doesn't understand, moustaches, facing problems head-on.

I love this story. After conferring with my co-judges I have a better idea of its flaws, but I still love it. You chose one of the easier videos to work with, since Greece's entry strongly implies a story of some kind; you used what it gave you, but you went in a sufficiently different direction that I didn't see this coming from a mile off. You shaved away the absurdity--mostly. There's just enough left to make it beautiful as well as sad. That line about tracing the moustache in the clouds is perfect. Well. Almost. It's missing a whole word. Took me a couple of reads to notice, though.

'I heard a small loud' is probably meant to be something else. ('Sound'?) 'I had never seen its equal, and suspect I never will' is slightly problematic given how the story ends, in that it makes me wonder how the narrator could hope to see more moustaches--for that matter, how he could tell the reader any of this. But his fate is uncertain; that he tells a story now makes it more so, and there's something to be said for that. 'He looked nothing like Arsen, but when I turned around there he was' doesn't read clearly: I can't tell whether you mean the eggplant-seller changed to look like Arsen (seems likely) or that the protagonist turned away from the seller to see Arsen elsewhere. In the sentence 'The man stood trembling with eggplants in hand,' I would prefer 'That man,' to make it as clear as possible that it's the protagonist you're talking about.

I'm torn on what I think of the references to Arsen's popularity, because at first blush that doesn't seem to go anywhere. As I thought about it, though, I wondered whether this might be another and more subtle way that your aphorism is coming into play. Arsen wandered far and touched lives in life; he was everywhere. He can't shed that disposition in death.

You've brought in plenty of visuals from your video and worked the title in besides. If my guess about the aphorism above is wrong, the words are still present in the protagonist's inability to get clear of alcohol. And you explained the moustache. You made the moustache-touching touching. The creepy stalker guy has become someone I want to know.

The American judge gives you: 12 points.

**********

Voliun, for Malta: "Paradoxical Gambit"
Lyrics: Gianluca - "Tomorrow"
Aphorism: Tomorrow, every fault is to be amended; but that tomorrow never comes.

Kai's Video Notes: Fluffy, sweet, like a Kodak commercial. Friends in a park with ukuleles singing about nerd romance. Jeremy looks like Jeff Goldblum. His lady is from the 50s. Themes: love, pursuit, attraction of the unobtainable, the lure and inevitability of the future. The drummer's fro is amazing. Why are so many in the band wearing fedoras?

I want so badly for this to make sense, Voliun, because I can almost... sort of... kind of... maybe wrap my brain around it? Then I read it again, and my fragile understanding collapses. Was I ever close at all? Have I stared too long into the abyss? Someday there will be answers, won't there? I feel the approach of an epiphany, but perhaps that is only encroaching madness.

Okay. Seriously. I may be alone in this, but I see improvement here. Here's what I get as far as the plot goes: Maxwell is a time traveler, and at some point, perhaps in the far future, he throws himself in a river because his quest through time in search of a particular man has been futile. A necklace may have something to do with his time travel? He doesn't die. Instead, someone--Meline? And a man?--reset his timeline, bringing him back to his desk at some corporate office, on the day (May 12, cute) on which he remembers he's destined to meet Meline for the first time. He rushes toward the elevator, where the meeting will take place. But first Jeremy confronts him. It turns out Jeremy is the man who brought him back from the future, and Jeremy may have masterminded all this time travel in order to fix Maxwell up romantically with Meline, because Jeremy can't be with her himself but wants her to be happy.

Is that remotely close?

Let's say it is. It's still a bad story. It's overcomplicated, vague, badly structured, and the next best thing to incomprehensible. It has an ending, though! There's a final beat! Meeting Meline again restarts whatever time loop Maxwell just got out of; it hits that 'inevitability of the future' theme I see in the video/lyrics square in the face. The Groundhog Day-esque time looping addresses your aphorism, too. Addresses it well. This calls for a dance party.



Of course, I have endless questions. I don't understand the necklace, why Meline was a ghost, what the 'this' is that Meline isn't the only one in on, what the bit about clemency meant, what the 'just that' is that Maxwell is the most viable candidate to do, how a hot knife striking the spine would sting anyone with cold, etceteras, etceteras.

The prose is better than in "S.O.S." It really is: 'Broken up smoke faded along the night's skyline as it reached out to the crescent moon' is a drat sight better than anything you said about those olive wines. But most of the lines are far from good. 'A calendar that is on the month of May with every day before the twelfth day was marked off with an 'x'.' Goddammit. You mean 'A calendar turned to the month of May, with every day before the twelfth marked off with an X,' I suppose. There are other clunky phrases, and if I tried pointing them all out we'd be here until next week. Poor grammar and proofing continue to be part of the issue, such as in 'Maxwell watched Meline skipped inside,' 'as the man made his decent deeper,' and 'Time passed and Maxwell has no idea what just happened.'

The idea that there's a story here somewhere could be no more than a short circuit in my brain, but you undeniably used your video and aphorism for inspiration, and that edged you off the lowest rung.

The American judge gives you: 2 points.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 15:08 on May 14, 2013

Jagermonster
May 7, 2005

Hey - NIZE HAT!


In

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


In.

For real this time.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Not dead, so: in.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

In!

(Also, thanks for the crits, Kaishai. I rattled this one off pretty quick so it's helpful to know where it's tonally weird, I didn't give myself enough space to go back and look at it with a clear head. I totally get what you're saying about it, though, and I agree that it could have used a little more of Latvia's pep.)

JonasSalk
May 27, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Thanks for the crits, Kaishai. Improving is pretty much all I want to do, and it's nice to know that I am.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Kaishai posted:

Falsetto Dracula wept.
The American judge gives you: 1 point.
Thanks for going into so much detail, and I'll check out the link you provided.

And I went back and assembled the first 5 or 6 winners from the first post in this thread, I read them, I read the comments, and then started to write this story. I have no idea what I'm doing.

Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi
Mar 26, 2005



In for mischief week.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Kaishai posted:

It's so close to tripping over the line between epic and stupid, but it doesn't.
This was my whole intention for the story. This is all I needed to hear. Thank you. :3:

monkeyboydc
Dec 2, 2007

Unfortunately, we had to kut the English budget at the Ivalice Magick Ackcademy.

Oh god, I'm in!

Impermanent
Apr 1, 2010








I'm in!

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

ESB can't "judge" again until he brawls muffin and posts the crits from three weeks ago... from the last time he "judged."

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


You can't make "rules."

ESB stop being a pussy bitch and post your brawl with Muffin.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


He's got three days, then I'm claiming victory by default.

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


Fine, I will deign to grace you with my words once more, my darling subjects.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


In.

CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006


:siren:Black Griffon:siren: I need to know if I need to buy PMs for Jagermonster, brawl judgement please!

I'm doubling down - if I win I'm brawling Kaishai with the same PM conditions. I'm sick of you giving me good crits and not being able to message you.

You will be pleased to hear that Tommy started that story standing in front of a mirror checking out his newly modded buttcheeks, but was cut due to word count.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


I liked your story, 'Cakes. I wouldn't say it was my style, but I could call it your style in a crazier corner of my world.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

CancerCakes posted:

:siren:Black Griffon:siren: I need to know if I need to buy PMs for Jagermonster, brawl judgement please!

I'm doubling down - if I win I'm brawling Kaishai with the same PM conditions. I'm sick of you giving me good crits and not being able to message you.

You will be pleased to hear that Tommy started that story standing in front of a mirror checking out his newly modded buttcheeks, but was cut due to word count.

I'll meet you on the sands, CancerCakes, but gambling money is not in my cards. Would you consider alternative stakes? If you win, I'll ask someone to PM you an e-mail address at which you can reach me, and I'll write you a sonnet, sestina, or some other rule-bound form of poem on a topic of your choosing. Name your doom, bridgekeeper; I am not afraid.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Martello posted:

I liked your story, 'Cakes. I wouldn't say it was my style, but I could call it your style in a crazier corner of my world.

I think we have a brawl we need to finish too, care of ESB. Let's make it the same deadline as the current prompt.

Martello
Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW


You got it pal.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Let me in.

CancerCakes posted:

:siren:Black Griffon:siren: I need to know if I need to buy PMs for Jagermonster, brawl judgement please!

Crap, I knew I'd forgotten something.

Jagermonster with Best Worst Office Party, your story is kind of sweet, but pretty boring, and there's too much muttering, grumbling and squealing. Make use of "said". You've made good use of the picture, and the characters are good enough for such a short word count.

CancerCakes with Metastasis, your story is well crafted, but it's neither funny nor touching. It's entertaining and humorous, don't get me wrong, but it didn't quite reach the mark in regards to the prompt. Still, it's well written and has some neat touches.

I declare CancerCakes the winner because despite Best Worst Office Party being closer to the prompt, Metastasis has better writing and a more poignant ending. Hooray and so forth.

V for Vegas
Aug 31, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Crits round 2.

Cancercakes

This story is a good example of what James Woods’ calls the ‘free indirect style’.

“As soon as someone tells a story about a character, narrative seems to want to bend around that character, wants to merge with that character, to take on his or her way of thinking and speaking. A novelist’s omniscience soon enough becomes a kind of secret sharing; this is called ‘free indirect style,’ a term novelists have lots of nicknames for—‘close third person,’ or ‘going into character’” (How Fiction Works).

This style gives authors a deal of freedom in that they can narrate in the voice of the character and use words the character would use. But from a third person perspective. When the action shifts to another character, the author can then change their tone and write from the other characters view. This gives a lot of freedom to change registers. Registers in music relate to the ‘pitch’ of a piece. Flutes have a high register, Cellos have a low register. In this piece, Tommy has a low register, earthy and guttural. He uses simple, uncouth language. We are reading the piece at his register and with the occasional wink to the audience, it is fun to go along with.

While first person narrative locks you into the one register, the register of your protagonist, free indirect style lets an author change the register of piece. It is still the same ‘song’ being played, but now there is a new instrument simply by using words the character would never use. In this piece, using the word ‘utilitarian’ to describe the Proprietor is a good example. It is a word the Proprietor would use, not Tommy. Suddenly we have gone from listening to Tommy’s low cello to hearing a higher pitched violin coming over the top. Playing at the Proprietor’s register. So when he speaks later on, using much more refined language, it is simply continuing the pitch of language that has already been established. This was very well done in this story. The point where it doesn’t work is describing the ‘cultivated eyebrow’. Is that a word Roxy would use? Otherwise, good work Cancercakes.

If this were a Eurovision song, which country was it from? Russia. Those crazy Russians, eh?


Nikaer Drekin

First up, congrats on not having anyone die in your story! Rare for a thunderdome entry. Second up, I had the exact same thought that the guy was wearing a weird shirt, but then came to the horrible realisation that it was his skin. Urgh.

The writing in this is solid, the scene is drawn quite well and it all makes sense and mechanically sound. Otherwise, this was just a bit ho-hum wasn’t it? There have been a few ‘reality TV’ pieces in the TD before and they never really work that well. I think the problem is reality TV people, judges, contestants or whathaveyou, are not that likeable and most of us have become pretty cynical about the whole process to want to read about their personal trials and tribulations. It’s like country and western music. I’m sure it’s a rich and vibrant genre of music, where very talented musicians make a lot of great songs in their style. But I really couldn’t listen to more than a couple of songs before jamming a letter opener into my ear drums. There needs to be something a bit catchier and different to really engage me, and here you just have two people standing in a room talking. Neither are relatable or likeable. I don’t want to know more about Mr Brandike or Wendall, and given the most exciting interaction between them happened before the story even started, why do I care about what they’re doing?

If this were a Eurovision song, which country was it from? Texas.



Muffin.

This reminded me of the Witches’ Sabbath, the final movement in Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique.

“He sees himself at a witches’ sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the sabbath ... Roar of delight at her arrival ... She joins the diabolical orgy ... The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies Irae, the dance of the witches. The dance of the witches combined with the Dies Irae.”

What works so well in this movement is the call back to the earlier, untainted melody in the first movements. It has been twisted here into something grotesque and, uh… twisted I guess. You kind of do this with the use of the bible verses, but I think that could have been expanded upon. What I would have liked was for some more set up, with this part being the deranged conclusion to the piece, rather than the whole work itself.

If this were a Eurovision song, which country was it from? Norseland

Perpetulance

Writing a serious piece in a TD week about Eurovision is a gutsy move. Unfortunately, it didn’t really pay off, but writing melancholy stories is very hard, so don’t give up on it. The inspiration for this piece, what it should be aspiring to evoke in the reader, should be something akin to Eleanor Rigby. Not just for the subject matter, but for the fact that it was written in a minor key.

There have been some fairly interesting studies recently on why we think major keys are happy, and minor keys are sad. One theory is that the acoustics of major keys mirror excited speech, while minor keys mirror the acoustics of subdued speech. It is arguable what came first, but it is probably a learned association. One of the features of minor keys is that they are dissonant from a major key. This dissonance is what you should try to capture in writing, to make it feel like a song played in a minor key.

‘That sounds all fine and dandy’ I hear you say. ‘But what the hell are you talking about?’ Good question! Let’s go back to the Beatles to find out. If you look at the lyrics for the song, they are written in a certain style: ‘Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been’. The line was made to fit the song, but it is completely arse about when it comes to grammar. Mixing up grammatical forms like that creates a feeling of unease in the reader (it also may annoy them and draw criticism that you don’t know how to write. Use carefully!). Mixing up time frames and tenses is another way to create that dissonance. Withholding information also works (your piece would have been better if you didn’t explain what she was dying from). It’s a fine line, but make the reader uncomfortable, without being annoyed, and you have them feeling something is not quite right about this story. They will be more receptive to the horrible things you have them reading about.

If this were a Eurovision song, which country was it from? Malta, the saddest of countries.



Jonas

Obviously I gave the flash rule to the wrong person. Watching the clip I felt sorry for that old guy being shoved into that car with those kids. I would have preferred if he were the one who shot them all at the end, rather than being on the receiving end. Also, negative points for quoting the aphorism in the story! Otherwise I don’t have much to say about this story I’m afraid, apart from maybe read my other reviews. It reads well. Exposition is a little heavy handed – see my review of systran. It could have used some different registers like I described in cancercakes review. It could have used some stronger voices as well, the old man and the kids voices were not that distinct – see my Bad Seafood review. It could have done with a more effective build up of tension – see my Mag7 review. The progression could have been shaken up – see my Fumblemouse review. Otherwise good!

If this were a Eurovision song, which country was it from? Turkey. If it were just a little better in every way it would be part of Europe.

fart particle
May 14, 2013

by toby


I'm in.

perpetulance
Mar 24, 2013

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Gotta thank all you guys for the crits. Absurdly helpful.

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


DrKloctopussy has committed a crime and must be punished. She knows what she did.

Her punishment is to write a POEM about some Indian dude's ear. She also knows what that's about.

She's got like two days or something to finish it and post it here.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

perpetulance posted:

Gotta thank all you guys for the crits. Absurdly helpful.

STOP WHINING write more

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Erik Shawn-Bohner posted:

Her punishment is to write a POEM about some Indian dude's ear. She also knows what that's about.

I like that dude's ear.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

V for Vegas posted:

If this were a Eurovision song, which country was it from? Texas.

..and the state?

(Also, solid feedback, and I'm sorry you had to experience the same Latvian chest revelation I did. Another sentence to add to the pile of "ones I never thought I'd write out")

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Bad Seafood posted:

Thunderdome Week XLI: Get Everybody and the Stuff Together
Magnificent7 - A knife with tally marks scratched into the handle
Sometimes, a short story simply writes itself in the headlines of a newspaper.
Florida woman allegedly stabs boyfriend after he farts in her face

Erik Shawn-Bohner
Mar 21, 2010

by XyloJW


I'm in a really good mood today :D How are ya'll?

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CancerCakes
Jan 10, 2006


I got soaked by the rain on the way to work, and it was a tough day where things didn't really go the way I wanted. But in the end things might work out ok, and it was sunny on the way home.

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