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Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Can't participate as a writer this week, but I can judge if needed.

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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






WEEK 267 CRITS

Themes this week: Scary moms, bodies in freezers, folksy, faux-southern narrative voice, child exploitation, me using the word "grotesque" a lot.


Ma! He's Making Eyes At Me by Burkion

My biggest complaint about this story is that I’m not really sure what having big lungs/being a good singer have to do with….anything that happens at the end of this story. Does the old man purchase her to do private pop music performances? I mean, obviously the implications of the ending are frightening and terrible, but I am honestly confused as to what I’m supposed to think about the last line of the story. Is “Con Conrad’s” (was this a leftover from T-rex’s recent crazy names week?) last remark about Little Lilly’s lungs ironic? Meaningful? Is her lung capacity somehow relevant to his plans for her?

Clearly, this story is about human trafficking, and the horrible things some people will do to their children in order to survive. It’s just...everything other than that broad concept is really confusing. None of the individual parts of the story really connect. Is this like America’s Got Talent, but with wealthy pedophiles?

Finally, the tone of the story bothers me. I get that it’s supposed to be a folksy, sheltered child’s point of view, but gosh it got a little tiresome at times. I get it. The narrative is all gee golly, this is the darkest story you ever did see! Like it’s meant to contrast with the fundamentally evil things happening in the story. So you had the right instinct. But it didn’t read like an actual child. Kids, especially under-educated kids, use lots of weird metaphors and turns of phrase because their brains are still experimenting with language. Most kids don’t sound like they’re doing a vague impression of the rural south.

All that said, I felt a strong sense of intention here. The story arc is there, even if I don’t understand the particulars.


Love on the Rocks by derp

The prose in this story had some really good moments, and overall this was a pleasure to read. I don’t get to say that often in TD, so congrats! I gather you know what you’re doing.

This story probably needs more discerning eyes than mine to give a truly incisive crit. I can tell you that I found myself skimming the latter parts of the story, looking for something unexpected. Teresa’s obsession with Li-Mei and her preoccupation with things becoming a part of her all point toward the Neon Demon-esque ending of this story. And really, the foreshadowing is well done. I guess the problem is simply that the revelation at the end of the story is essentially what I expected from the beginning. So really it came down to whether or not I liked the writing. Luckily, I did!

IDK how this story will do this week (as of the time I’m writing this crit). The writing is honestly better than 95% of what we see here in TD, so it could win on that basis. On the other hand, it does feel like a lot of other gloomy short stories I’ve read, so it’ll really depend on how our lead judge feels, I suppose.


Why did the bee hum? By Exmond

First of all, this unauthorized biography of the life and times of Little Richard seems way off base. But I’m no expert. FAKE EDIT: Okay, I finally took a look at your album cover, and holy cow, there’s actually an armless, legless musician named Little Richard Miller. For the record, this was my mental image while reading:



I straight up laughed when the cop shot at the bee.

But so, okay. Let’s go through this together. So you’ve got some psychic bees who want to, for whatever reason, possess humans to sing their weird bee song? They claim to be benign, though their behavior (or at least, the results of their “help”) seems to suggest otherwise.

The beginning of this story had me rolling my eyes. You wasted too many words on Jeremy’s nameless, Whole Foods-shopping harpy wife. So much so that I was surprised by the ending, where Jeremy gives up some or all of his autonomy to help his family. I think the point is that he’s not really a hero; i mean, the whole impetus for accepting the bee’s help was the fact that his son….has a sensitive digestive system? Is kind of a whimp?

The bee itself talked kinda cool, IMO, but...there was so much of its dialog, and eventually the style grated on me. OH, and there was this bit:

quote:

“Yes, you need convincing. Convincing that you are a star. This one has many tales. Shall we talk about the writer typing their dreams into ones and zeros, their meaning lost in the BuzzFeed? Or about the judge who sees words and wants to die? She cries herself to sleep in ink-stained sheets. She is immortal she cannot die.“ The bee jumped up and around, amping itself up for its performance.

If this isn’t meant to be meta, I don’t know how to take it. Don’t do a meta thing, goons.

Anyway, this is part of a long lineage of Thunderdome stories that amount to, essentially, a theme park ride through a haunted house. The protagonist is carted from scene to scene, doing little more than responding to events with shock and fear. Jeremy does, I suppose, make a choice at the end, but is it really his choice? I don’t think it counts if overwhelmingly psychic bees made you do it.

Finally, let’s go back to the flash rule. This story should’ve been about Little Richard Miller himself. You could’ve easily ditched the weak framing device that is Jeremy and focused on the bee’s relationship with this limbless child.


Hands and knees by Okua

This is fairly good. There is a lot of physicality, descriptions of the narrator’s body and movements. That’s fine because this was meant to be pretty tight and visceral. I found myself skimming, though. The prose itself was serviceable, but not super exciting. Which, considering what a tight perspective this is, you could’ve used some more creative metaphors and turns of phrase.

While I think this story is fairly well done, it doesn’t quite do it for me. I’m not fond of stories that are simply “character suffers while reflecting on their backstory”. I dunno. Maybe it’s a fine way to tell a story, but Thunderdome has jaded me. I guess the real story here is that the gradual reveal that the narrator has a deeply religious and deeply unhealthy connection to his mother. I dunno if I like the ending, where he finally summons the strength to take the medicine only when mom shows up. Like, i get it, it’s a meaningful act of defiance for this guy, but it didn’t land for me because everything he was doing was already basically defiant.



The Frogs Remain by Thrangles

Hmm I wish the weird zombie frog thing had been foreshadowed or...something. I dunno. This started out cool and tight and intriguing, and then it kind of exploded out into a grab bag of horror things. What’s with all the mommy issues this week? Not that I’m holding it against anyone, but yikes. Go hug your moms, goons.

Anyway.

I think the premise here was plenty scary without the weird frog zombies. It’s like you gave me a nice, sinister chocolate horror cake and then for some reason slathered a bunch of sriracha on top. The real story is how hosed up this family is. If you took away the supernatural bits, you’d have the sort of story that they make true crime mini series about. You had the words to resolve the “mundane” horror of this piece, so why add the stuff with the frogs?? I think i would’ve tolerated some supernatural element, but as it is, the ending of this story is like tacking a scifi channel original onto the end of a creeping psychological horror film.

Looking at your prompt image, I can see where you got some of the weirder elements. I just dunno if they fit very well.


Hell Mary by Jay W Friks

I shouldn’t be surprised that you seem at home in the horror genre. This has got to be one of your stronger TD pieces so far, in the opinion of this judge. I like how the story moves from mundane grotesquery to the supernatural. I think you successfully created rising tension as you escalated the bizarre imagery, like with Mary’s bones rotating around inside her skin.

Proofing...eh, there were a few small errors here and there, but nothing that couldn’t be tidied up quickly. One thing that was a little jarring was when Mary put her hand on Kat’s head. Up until that point, only Mary’s, erm, innards were moving around. So it was a small moment where a little bit of extra description about the characters’ positions would’ve helped.

Ordinarily, Kat would be the idiot girl who goes into the dark scary basement when it’s obvious she shouldn’t. But she’s not like the typical horror movie heroine; she feels she has nothing to lose. Meanwhile, i think her inherent vulnerability makes her sympathetic to the reader. Her inner struggle re: her revelation about the human condition made her interesting.

I dig how you used your prompt image, too. I can see exactly where you got the imagery in your story, but you did something entirely your own with it.


The Lamb Feast by Captain_Indigo

I was with you on this one until it became obvious that poo poo was gonna go all Lord of the Flies. This is one of the few stories this week where the addition of a supernatural element might’ve sustained the intrigue? I dunno. Like, the fact that this was a christian megachurch cruise didn’t really have any bearing on the ending, even though I think you wanted it to. This could’ve played out the exact same way if it was a Disney cruise, or whatever.

It’s not really enough for a story to just say “look, even christians are basically hypocritical human animals like the rest of us.” The narrative basically suggests that from the get-go, with the gawking at the bovine herds of passengers. You needed to push the absurdity of the situation harder. Or you need to scale back the heavy-handed foreshadowing in the very beginning. Let me tell you, as a child of hysterical, 90s-era DYI protestant churches, protestants can come up with some weird poo poo that is way less hackneyed than cannibalism.

After a point, a lot of the description in this story felt...gross for grossness’ sake. That kind of description can be effective, but in this case, you’re trying to make it carry the story.


Pigheaded by Tyrannosaurus

This was fun. Possibly too fun to be a proper horror story. Sure, the old lady’s end is fundamentally horrible, but since this story confirms the existence of an afterlife (with the optional, intermediate step of being a ghost with fun ghost powers), I don’t feel terribly afraid for her. You made good use of the wordcount, IMO. None of the characters felt particularly stock, which is always a nice surprise in TD.

The only thing that felt a little weak and hand-wavy to me was the ghosts’ “power”. I think maybe it needed to come up more directly earlier in the story? As it is, it reads like you realized these ghosts needed an obstacle to how much they could affect the physical world. I think you could’ve worked it in when they narrator is recalling all the ways he’d tried to kill off the old lady.

Overall solid piece though, gj bruh


MockingQuantum

Looking back on this story, i think it slipped out of my brain when i was sorting my high/low picks this week. That’s because nothing terribly interesting or surprising happened. You’ve got jo running through town, thinking about the SUPER DARK SUPER SECRETIVE SECRET that everyone in town is somehow casually aware of. So I mean obviously he’s going to end up in the spooky thicket with spooky zombified people.

I think the saving grace, for me anyway, is that this was reminiscent of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern reach trilogy. Which is to say, it is about a small, overgrown territory that is slowly expanding and apparently altering things within its boundaries. I’m kind of a sucker for creepy explorations. I kinda wish you’d come up with an entirely different plot for the setting, though. As it is, Jo’s hunt for Sammy and subsequent run-in with a “dead” uncle weren’t enough to make this story stand out. Most of it was just Jo does this, jo that does, and he’s not really interacting with the forest in a meaningful way.


Sonata by Muffin

Here is another goon who is at home in the horror genre. You’re really good at writing narratives viewed through the fragmented lens of madness, and your ability to play with language and format really showed here.

My only problem with this piece is not really something you could “fix” without fundamentally changing the piece. These stories of yours tend to kind of spiral around one fact, which is that the narrator’s perspective has been shattered. This is probably my favorite take on that theme so far; I like the idea of this horrible flesh golem trying to calm its constituent parts by katamariing up even more people. I guess I just normally prefer stories that are more than a rumination on one experience or perspective.

That’s just me coming up with words to pad this crit with, though. This was a solid pick for the win and you should feel good about it. Cool use of the prompt image, too.


QuoProQuid

This is another story that I think is basically proficient, but still managed to touch on some of my personal pet peeves. So take this crit with a grain of salt. The problem I had with this story was basically the same problem I had with Okua and (to some extent) Muffin’s stories. I don’t like it when a story has the character mostly staying in one place as their backstory unfolds. That’s just me. Maybe there are loads of people who enjoy the sub-sub-genre of “people in car crashes reflecting on prior events as they work up the gumption to free themselves”.

Once again, maybe I’ve just read too many TD stories, to the point where “flashbacks in the wake of a car wreck” is its own trope in my mind. This place fucks you up after a while, man. I guess I’m supposed to feel stuff because Alice is (was?) pregnant and her boyfriend was the only true support she had. I guess I wish I knew more about the family and why they hated Liam. Everything about these people is kinda vague, so Alice’s final struggle to get to the road, well written as it is, fell short for me.

I do think you landed the very last bit, where we see the “beginning” of the story. I just wanted more details about these people and less physical anguish, I guess. This is way more Lifetime Original than horror, and I don’t especially see how your prompt image plays into this piece. I guess all the gore in the car was supposed to be a nod to the picture, but I was kind of disappointed that you didn’t do something crazier.


Eden’s Island by FOURplay

I was kinda surprised only one person wrote a straight-up slasher story this week. And boy does this cling really closely to slasher tropes. It was pretty easy to predict who would die and when, for one thing.

Some of the dialog is straight up ridiculous:

quote:

“How could you not have warned Kevin? How could you could not have shouted for help? Clearly you did something to let Kevin die. He was my best friend!” Mike reached out and slapped Sarah so hard she hit the ground. “When we get out of this, you’re going to pay dearly!”

Yes this is how all the hep teens are speaking.

I almost lol’d when Jennifer immediately found the boat and rowed the gently caress away. I did actually lol when axe dude pops out out of the water like some kind of axe-wielding murder dolphin.

But so okay, it was easy to see that Sarah was gonna make it through because she was the ~purest of heart~ or something. Everyone else showed obvious, cliche character flaws: Lust, wrath, and cowardice for Kevin, Mike, and Jennifer, respectively.

But so like, was the whole thing that this ghost murderer was pissed because the angel statue got overgrown? Like you’d think it would just tell someone that instead of murdering them. If this were a B movie, i might have some fun hate-watching it. As a short story, though, it really does feel like an attempt to recreate all the worst parts of the ghost/slasher genres.


Index Case by Profane

This really shouldn’t work. We’re thrown into a gross, visceral situation with no context, light characterization, and a tremendous amount of nasty, nasty poo poo.

And yet, for reasons that are difficult to explain, I had fun reading this story. Every inch of this story is oozing and crawling and chittering and clicking chiten. It was a bit of a train wreck situation, but in a positive way. I couldn’t look away from the things my brain was imagining in response to your words.

Another thing I liked about this piece is just how...routine the events of the story seem, right up until the characters get in waaay over their heads (in a fetid slop). It’s a subtle thing. These guys seem like ordinary hard working guys, though not to the extent that they read like stock characters. This is kind of just an average workday gone horribly horribly wrong.

Anyway, good job you twisted bastard.


Discoloration by Uranium Phoenix

Too many characters and everyone dies. Your writing made reading this not a chore, but I was kind of on autopilot waiting to see if the story would do something other than what I was expecting. I think you could have honed in more tightly on Tanis and Sherida’s attempt (and ultimate failure) to survive. Scrap the flim-flam with security cameras, ditch a couple characters, and make me care more.

I really can’t see how you used the inspiration, other than the people on your album cover are kinda spacey. That wasn’t a factor for me while judging, but in retrospect, I feel like you could’ve done something more original and aesthetically bold with your prompt.

Also, you made the fungus bad :colbert: that will never fly well with me.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016


Got Out.

Grimey Drawer

Thanks for the crits sh.

Maigius
Jun 29, 2013




I'm IN.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


magnificent7 posted:

Hey I've sucked at submitting, so, can I judge instead*? I'm working on my writing, and reading all the other submissions is definitely inspiration to do more writing.

IF y'all still need a third judge.

if not, fine, I'm in for whatever this Magic Card Trick thing is.

Either or.

* I've judged before - Muffin and Sebmojo can vouch for me, OR can point out I sucked at judging.
Sure, you're on.

Gimme Skittering Heartstopper

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I like a man who knows what he wants
Oh, this is perfect. Thanks!

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012
Probation
Can't post for 15 hours!


I'll do a thing.

Maybe.

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


I'm in, please. I know nothing of M:TG. Does it have cute puppies or is this the wrong kind of game for that

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



[extremely goon voice] wha...what is this...mah-gick?

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat


Djeser posted:

[extremely goon voice] wha...what is this...mah-gick?
I don't know if I love or hate that I saw what you did there.

bigperm
Jul 10, 2001
some obscure reference

In

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


in :toxx:

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Plans got cancelled for Sunday.

I'm in; throw one of your silly nerd papers at me.

Captain_Indigo
Jul 29, 2007

"That’s cheating! You know the rules: once you sacrifice something here, you don’t get it back!"



I am in. Got my fingers crossed for a super rare shiny!

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


:toxx: gimme the jankiest card you got.

derp
Jan 21, 2010

when i get up all i want to do is go to bed again



Lipstick Apathy

ty for those crits SH

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


archived.

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 22:05 on Oct 31, 2017

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Hey guys... It's been awhile, but I'm IN this week.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Djeser posted:

[extremely goon voice] wha...what is this...mah-gick?
what who told u u can cast magick with these cards ahaha no thats not a thing

llamaguccii posted:

Hey guys... It's been awhile, but I'm IN this week.
It is a Time of Heroes


ThirdEmperor posted:

:toxx: gimme the jankiest card you got.
Gotcha


Captain_Indigo posted:

I am in. Got my fingers crossed for a super rare shiny!
Hoo boy it's a Baleful Strix


Chili posted:

Plans got cancelled for Sunday.

I'm in; throw one of your silly nerd papers at me.
silly you say?


Murmuring Phantasm


this got rejected as card art but it's cool as hell


Deltasquid posted:

I'm in, please. I know nothing of M:TG. Does it have cute puppies or is this the wrong kind of game for that
fear the Anger of the Gods


Flesnolk posted:

I'll do a thing.

Maybe.
check out my buddy Reflector Mage

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




exmond why did the bee hum crit

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FoHBXTLLD4vBvoc4jCXF1sKdmnGQ6O3dfwGzi3IkBxQ/edit?usp=sharing

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


If anyone needs help understanding the rich lore of Magic the Gathering's decades long metastory, y'know, so you can really appreciate what's going on in these rich tableaus, I'd be glad to explain things. I'm really quite the expert. :grin:

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


ThirdEmperor posted:

If anyone needs help understanding the rich lore of Magic the Gathering's decades long metastory, y'know, so you can really appreciate what's going on in these rich tableaus, I'd be glad to explain things. I'm really quite the expert. :grin:
Don't listen to this. MTG fanfic is against the rules and will get you DQd.

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


drat. a plot worthy of bolas, foiled.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


i know this was a plot to find your one true love and teach her the rich lore of magic the gathering but it will have to wait for another day

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







you are all horrible monsters that need to be punished Speak up if you agree and want a savage :siren:flash rule:siren: branded on your hide.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




sebmojo posted:

you are all horrible monsters that need to be punished Speak up if you agree and want a savage :siren:flash rule:siren: branded on your hide.

hi

Jan
Feb 26, 2008

The disruptive powers of excessive national fecundity may have played a greater part in bursting the bonds of convention than either the power of ideas or the errors of autocracy.

hai guise is this the magic the gathering megathread? i found this "black lotus" card in my big brother's deck, is it good for anything tia.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




sebmojo posted:

you are all horrible monsters that need to be punished Speak up if you agree and want a savage :siren:flash rule:siren: branded on your hide.

yo.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk








your story takes place in complete darkness


your protagonist is a turtle

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


heya.

i'm too lazy to quote. just do the flash thing.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016


Got Out.

Grimey Drawer

sebmojo posted:

you are all horrible monsters that need to be punished Speak up if you agree and want a savage :siren:flash rule:siren: branded on your hide.

Okay, hit me Seb.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







ThirdEmperor posted:

heya.

i'm too lazy to quote. just do the flash thing.

i lay down one day and couldn't get up

Jay W. Friks posted:

Okay, hit me Seb.

violence is the last refuge of the incontinent

Deltasquid
Apr 10, 2013

awww...
you guys made me ink!


THUNDERDOME


sebmojo posted:

you are all horrible monsters that need to be punished Speak up if you agree and want a savage :siren:flash rule:siren: branded on your hide.

Hit me up

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk








Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide

Xelkelvos
Dec 19, 2012


First time trying this as I try to get my writing skills up to speed.

I'm IN.

CantDecideOnAName
Jan 1, 2012

And I understand if you ask
Was this life,
was this all?


No guts, no glory. Give it to me, fuckman.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016


Got Out.

Grimey Drawer

Gonna bow out this week. Taking a break from TD.

(gently caress it. I had a burst of inspiration. I'm back in)

Jay W. Friks fucked around with this message at 03:20 on Sep 25, 2017

Pippin
May 25, 2016


sebmojo posted:

you are all horrible monsters that need to be punished Speak up if you agree and want a savage :siren:flash rule:siren: branded on your hide.

yeah why not

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







CantDecideOnAName posted:

No guts, no glory. Give it to me, fuckman.

I can't remember what it is I've forgotten

Pippin posted:

yeah why not

an apple a day leaves the whole world blind

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SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Jan posted:

hai guise is this the magic the gathering megathread? i found this "black lotus" card in my big brother's deck, is it good for anything tia.
please don't Die Young

Xelkelvos posted:

First time trying this as I try to get my writing skills up to speed.

I'm IN.
look out it's Thought Gorger

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