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Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

I fear for my life, but I write.


Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Get Flush, Get Out (978 words)

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

As a music major and drama teacher I am in on this!

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Echo Cian posted:

Entrants this week don't have to use GDoc links, though it is an option for some quick comments. If you give a link post in the thread proper too.

Also submissions closed two hours ago or something.

Signups closed two hours ago, submissions go through Sunday.

Or else I'm hosed. :v:

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Submission! 919 words.

Etude #44

They were almost done with the inventory when Phillip got to the back room and found the piano. Russ came afterwards, through the doorway from some anteroom nearby. “What’s this?”

“Baby grand. Pretty old.” Phillip pushed aside a wilting Japanese art screen installment and revealed it, covered in a sheet that was more dust than muslin. He pulled the fabric in one long movement, letting it crumple to the ground, and examined the instrument, peering at it through rising specks that made the afternoon light fall in sharp angles on the peeling wood. It was brown, and weathered; it clearly had not been shown any love in quite some time. Somehow, it had been spared the juvenile tagging that ran rampant through the long abandoned house. Phillip thought it was a travesty; much of what they found bordered on the side of kitsch-artistry, and the delinquents who had been squatting in the place hadn’t even had the decency to be remotely artistic in their vandalism.

Russ pushed his hardhat back and took a few steps toward him. “That thing is beat up to poo poo.”

“Yeah.” Phillip moved to the keyboard and lifted the lid. The keys were cracked, yellowed, beautiful. They might have been ivory, once, before time and environmental protection took over the manufacturing process. Somewhere, there was a plaque, or the indentation of one, that would have told him the day and place this ancient relic was painstakingly put together, string by string, panel by panel. It didn’t matter, really; anyone who had cared about this instrument had long since made peace with abandoning it amongst the multitude of sheet covered pieces in the house. It made Phillip sad, how people could walk away from artistry; but he had long since hidden that piece of himself beneath a sheet as well.

He placed his hands on the keys, gently, systematically, feeling the anticipation of their weight beneath his fingertips. An E minor scale, arpeggiated, the bass note followed by the fifth of the chord and then the full chord realized, inverted, in the right hand, leading to the root on top. And then the natural progression to the relative fifth below, the same voicing throughout, and then – what? A modulation? A change to the major, unexpected, jarring, revitalizing? Maybe another chord, the natural and expected progression a step down, continuing the pattern that had been established by Pachelbel, only in the minor; but maybe that was too obvious. Really, it was the possibility of it all; that if he gave it enough time, enough devotion, it would figure itself out. The keys almost seemed warm under his touch.

He could feel that Russ was staring at him and glanced over at his partner. “Do you play, Phil?” Russ was scratching absently at his backside.

“I did, once.” He tried a note, pressing it like the skin of a lover. It was sour, and hung in the air like a shroud, like so many covered busts in a house nobody cared about anymore. But if someone would peel back the layers of dust…

He tried another. And another. Soon, it was flowing from him: the old familiar song, Chopin, his junior recital. He wasn’t standing in a fully forgotten house in Long Island, with the windows boarded up so nobody could peer inside; he was on a stage, his coat was in tails, split halfway at the bottom, his hands smooth rather than calloused. He had practiced for months, spent more days in the practice room than in his dorm room, learned how to make the cold faux-ivory spruce of the keys ache for his touch more than his girlfriend, who had been complaining about not seeing him enough, who had wondered why it was so important that he practice on her birthday instead of spending time with her. In two months, it would all fall apart: his scholarship, his relationship, his will to make the audience hold their breath. But for that one moment in time, he was a God; the air was full of notes, like flies. Not flies: faeries. They skipped and sang and played with the audience, created beautiful borealis streams in the air, and brought new life to ink that was more than one hundred years old. And in the stale air of an abandoned house on a late Saturday afternoon, Phillip felt alive for the first time in a long time.

He played the final chord, slowly, carefully, and let the final arpeggio hang in the air. The notes lingered, mixed with the dusty and fading sunlight. For a moment, everything was still.

Russell exhaled a breath. “Nice.”

“Thanks.” Phillip stretched his hands above him, flexed his fingers. The moment and memories were racing away from him.

He picked up his clipboard. “So, ‘one piano, poor condition.’”

Russell scribbled on his paper, nodding. “Anything else?”

Phillip glanced around, closing the lid of the keyboard. “I think that screen is probably worth making a note of. It might be genuine. The rest of it, garbage.”

“Gotcha.” Russell made a few checkmarks. “I think we have one more room, then we’re done.” He was already halfway out of the room. “How do you feel about Hooters after? I know a girl who works there.”

Phillip watched him step out of the room, then placed his hand on the worn wood, felt the subtlety of the grain. He gave the piano a small pat. “Sure,” he said, then followed his partner to finish the inventory.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

I cannot stay away, In for gambling fiction! Someone flash rule me and I'll try to follow the prompts this time~

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Hold 'Em
994 words.

I pushed open the door to the dining room and found him standing by the table with a knife pressed against my wife’s throat. I already had my piece drawn, so I pointed it at his head. He didn’t like that, and I saw his knuckles grow white around the blade. Jenny flinched for half a second, then her eyes returned to their glassy state as they bore into my face.

“Let her go, Ling.” My hand shifted from his forehead to his pupil. I hoped he didn’t know that I was shifting the weight because of how sweaty my palm was.

“gently caress you, pig.” He pressed the point of the blade into her jugular, not enough to draw blood but drat close. A vein in my forehead pulsed.

“I’m not a cop, you idiot.” I shifted the gun a second time, subtly, trying not to show my hand.

“Yeah? Explain that, then.” He nodded his head towards the canvas that hung above the table. Allan Pinkerton, my great-grandfather, glowered down at the scene in his uniform,. It was the same one I wore when I graduated from the academy, before I left to join the FBI. Ling was halfway there, but he had always been a lousy read. I figured I had maybe three minutes to work my grift.

“I won it in a blackjack hand.” I glanced around the rest of the room. Nothing to use to my advantage, and nothing was coming to me. I had brought a gun to a knife fight and I was bluffing. Until now I had been deep in the Chinese Underground for two years and I was going to lose my wife over a casual drunken remark at a poker game. Stupid.

“Funny, you two have the same nose.” Ling took a step back towards the kitchen, jerking Jenny with him. I couldn’t let him leave; if he got out the door, I had no chance. I needed a break.

Something moved in the painting. Pinkerton coughed, wiggled his nose then shifted his gaze to me. I kept my eyes locked on Ling then glanced casually at the canvas. Stay out of this, Gramps.

You’re the one communing with a painting, he seemed to say, his long beard shifting almost incomprehensibly as a small smile played on his lips. What’s the deal, Cowboy?

“Lots of guys got the same nose. It’s a painting, Ling.” I wasn’t sure who I was trying to convince here; Pinkerton seemed to be glancing between me and the foreigner in my dining room. “I swear to you, you’ve got this all wrong.”

“Stop your bullshit, rear end in a top hat.” He took a step back toward me, accompanied by another press of the blade into my wife’s neck. Her eyes widened, her pupils shifted toward pleading. “I know your tells. Your gun is soaked.” I was running out of time. He knew that no matter what move I made, if he sank the blade into her jugular, he would win the hand. This was his rainbow rag, and I was hosed.

I looked at my great grandfather. This was a tell in itself, but Ling didn’t know it. It was a tactic I hadn’t used since I broke into the organization, one I hadn’t pulled out since my days as a rookie shark on the Vegas scene. I had come to call it “desperation.” What do I do? I pleaded, hoping the cracking paint would answer me.

Pinkerton just smiled. He had his hand pressed against his chest. Had he always been in that pose? I wasn’t certain. From beneath his fingertips, an Ace of Spades peaked out from his lapel, crisp, laminated. I got it instantly.

My eyes darted back to Ling. “I’ll play you for her.”

Ling’s eyes widened a bit. “What?” His nostrils were flared, and the fingers around her arm twitched.

I let go of my gun with one hand, held it loosely in my sweaty palm as I moved to the side table and grabbed a dusty set of Bicycles that accompanied a long-neglected cribbage board. The confusion wavered on Ling’s face as I moved swiftly, spreading them cards on the table. Then I put the gun down next to the cards - a show of good faith. Jenny’s eyebrow twitched briefly; that was her tell. “One hand,” I said, holding the cards in front of me.

Ling hesitated, then smiled, slow, cold. “You’re insane, pig.” His knuckles were no longer white. I had him. “Let’s see the flop. Open hands.”

Instantly, I was shuffling the deck and dropping the cards. A two and a five for me, a jack and a seven for him. Then the flop, a three, another jack, and another three. Ling’s smile was broadening. “Check,” he said.

I ditched the first card and pulled the turn. A third jack stared at me. I looked at Ling, then up at Pinkerton. His right hand was raised in a solemn oath, captured at the moment the oil hit the canvas. I smiled. Thanks, Gramps.

The cards leapt from my hand one by one and struck Ling in the face. He cursed long enough for me to snatch up my pistol and fire two shots into his head. He fell, hard, onto the table, and Jenny fell to the ground, a scream escaping her lips. I dove to her, pulling her close to me. The knife was embedded between her neck and shoulder blade, but he hadn’t sliced her throat. Five to one she might be ok. I had my cellphone out instantly as my gun found Ling’s back, checking for signs of life even though I knew he had folded, permanently. As I punched the number for my supervisor, I chanced a look at my great grandfather, but he had returned his gaze to its myopic state, staring forward into the chandelier. I realized my hand was dry.

With the cards lying around me, I called.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

how do i roman numerated~

Thunderdome Week LXVII: Lions and Tigers and Bears

I am overjoyed and appalled at the judge's choice this week, but I live to serve the Blood God. As such, this go around, I would like everyone to write me a story about the zoo. Realistic fiction only - that means no sci-fi Matrix style people harvest plantations. Make the mundane interesting for me.

Word count is 500-999 (take that!). Since I'm a West Coast kid, submissions are due by :siren:Sunday, 12:01AM PST:siren:. That's at the tail end (zoo pun) of :siren: Saturday night :siren: for those not naturally timepiece inclined.

Have your signups in by 12:01AM PST on Friday night.

No flash rules this week because apparently that was a disaster last time.

Recruiting judges today, then I'll randomize the top posters in this thread and pick some!

Judges: Quidnose
Sad Rhino Guy


Bad Seafood
Bitchtits McGee
Erogenous Beef
Lazy Beggar
Nikaer Drekin
Nubile Hillock
Sitting Here


Quidthulhu fucked around with this message at 04:45 on Nov 16, 2013

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Somebody brawl me, I am bored waiting for zoo entries and not writing any.

I'm sure somebody has decided they hate me by now, TURN YOUR BURNING HATRED INTO WRITINNNGGG.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!


Also I still need judges so people sign up to judge my zoo-fest.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Hosana In Excelsis

There was a resounding chord from a distant and unseen choir of angels, and suddenly Larry and Mick were standing in front of the gate. Larry was sporting a gaping hole in his midsection. Mick had a knife in his ribs, right above the still-smoking shotgun.

The angel at the podium sighed and lifted his wrist to his mouth. “Clean up needed at Omega Gate.”

Larry glared at Mick. “Look what you loving did.” He pulled on the knife, but it wouldn’t budge. “Stop pointing that drat thing at me!”

“I’ll stop pointing it at you when you get your loving knife out of me, pig thief!” He raised the shotgun again, ignoring that pushing it into Larry’s arm would further inhibit the removal process.

“I told you not to call me no pig thief!” Larry pushed the gun away from his body and put both hands on the knife, pulling. It didn’t budge. He put one foot up on Mick’s waist and attempted to give it another tug, but Mick quickly butted the shorter man away with the end of his gun. “rear end in a top hat!”

Mick swung the gun at him. “Fucker!”

“Gentlemen!” The angel’s voice rang out sharp, causing the two to finally look his way. “Please state your name and occupation so I can process you.” He looked at his docket; a bus from Tokyo would be arriving in about five minutes. “And swiftly. We’re having a particularly busy day.”

Larry pushed Mick aside and marched to the podium, puffing out what was left of his chest in a show of superiority. “Larry Hanson, Farmer.”

“Make sure you add ‘dirty loving stealer’ to that as well!” Mick moved behind him and shoved the man’s shoulder, hard. “Mick Jenson, sir. Sorry this rear end is troublin’ you.”
Larry turned on him. “No Hanson has not never stolen nothin’ and you know it, you damned liar! Gimmie my knife back!” He reached out toward Mick again.

“Who you calling a liar, you ham nabber!” Mick batted Larry’s hand away and raised the gun once more. “I’ll loving kill you again!”

“GENTLEMEN.” The angel raised his hand to his temple. “This is not how we do things around here.”

“Well, he started it!” Larry shoved Mick back and pouted at the ground.

“Oh, nice! Now who’s the liar?” Mick spat at him. “You know damned well we’re here because your granpappy stole my gram’s best sow!”

“That sow ran away and you know it! My pa wouldn’t say ‘tweren’t so if it ‘twerent!”

The angel sighed. “Reason for travel?”

Both men answered in unison. “Self-defense.”

The angel paused and looked up at them from his docket. The men stared back, unflinching. With a small shrug, the angel picked up a stamp and pressed a single word onto their files: “PRIDE.” The clouds opened beneath them and swallowed the two men like a hungry mouth.

The gatekeeper returned the stamp to the podium and leaned into the microphone in front of him. “Next!”

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Oh, I had a week to do that? Bahahaha, I thought it was due tonight. :v:

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Is anyone going to offer to judge these with me or am I picking names out of a hat?

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

inthesto posted:

I'll judge if you're willing to tolerate a bunch of obtuse basketball jokes.


Inthesto and Rhino are now onboard.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

:siren: :siren: :siren: Just a reminder that signups are closing TONIGHT and posts are due TOMORROW NIGHT. :siren: :siren: :siren:

This is different than normal so don't be caught unawares!

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

:siren: Just reminding everyone your submissions are due TONIGHT, not tomorrow! :siren:

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Home a little late. :siren: Submissions now closed. :siren:

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Thunderdome Week LXVII: Lions and Tigers and Bears M-M-M-M-M-MEGA RESULTS!!

This week's prompt was inspired by Haruki Murakami's New York Mining Disaster, which starts out thusly:

Haruki Murakami posted:

A friend of mine has a habit of going to the zoo whenever there's a typhoon. He's been doing this for ten years. At a time when most people are closing their shutters, running out to stock up on mineral water, or checking to see if their radios and flashlights are working, my friend wraps himself in a Vietnam-era army surplus poncho, stuffs a couple of cans of beer into his pockets, and sets off. He lives about a fifteen-minute walk away.

That's about as much zoo centric story as we get in that story. I've learned this week that if you actually want stories about a zoo that are NOT set in a zoo, maybe you should say that. I've also learned that it's very hard to make the mundane interesting in a way where things actually happen. Not all of us can be Haruki Murakami, I suppose.

The winner this week is Erogenous Beef for a story that managed to not only be a slice in time, but to have actual character development where people changed and poo poo. Congrats, Beef Man. Close calls and honorable mentions go to Kaishai, who had a fantastic through-line, and crabrock for hilarious dysfunction turned poignant family. But seriously, why do all of you associate the zoo with divorce? Freud would have a field day with this thread.

Our loser this week is Nubile Hillock for a piece that is not so much about a zoo but features a zoo in it. I like your conceit, Nubile, but I can't make heads or tails of what is supposed to be going on, and we shift scenes faster than a Tarkovsky film. Ultimately, you lost because the prompt was totally tacked on.

Dishonorable mention goes to TheRamblingSoul for recounting a story I literally saw featured several nights in a row on KRON-4 in the Bay Area two years ago. Booooooo.

Sitting Here wins the "what the gently caress am I reading" story award for the week for her lovely portrayal of paraplegic boners. Congrats, I guess.

No shows of shame for the week: Pantology at least told us he wasn't going to be here. Bitchtits McGee, Jagermonster, and TenaCrane all went to the zoo or something. dmboogie posted a story I haven't even read yet but will crit.

I'll have my crits up in about an hour or so. Beef, take us to next week when you wake up, friendo!

Quidthulhu fucked around with this message at 06:33 on Nov 18, 2013

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Critique Post!

Sitting Here - A Portrait of the Endless Scatalogical Cycle of Life and Death

I don’t know much about progressive degenerative diseases and the psychological affects having one brings, but your protag is incredibly cynical. It fits with your story as it progresses – the contrast of the caged animals fornicating and the cage of your protag’s own body – but it is a tad disconcerting to read as it starts out, mostly because I have no sense of your protag’s age. He’s presented as both wise and naïve, which I guess is further “older person trapped in his degenerating body” territory, but he’s almost TOO young and old at the same time – being treated like a child and being annoyed by that and yet having sexually stunted language like “texting a girl” and “porno-type thoughts.” I think I’d like to see it fall one way or the other – either he’s old minded and physically sexually stunted but well versed in the language of loving since he’s sexually fixated, or he’s emotionally young all the way through. Other things that throw off this sense of his age are how clinical he is in describing himself – is he memorizing the speeches of the doctors? Why does he have such precise knowledge of the way his face looks? Again, I don’t have doctors pouring over me on a monthly basis, so maybe this is par for the course, but it strikes me as a bit odd.

That said, my problems with your story are very very nitpicky. Reading it again, I can see a solid through-line, and I like that you’ve worked in parallels with the zoo and his condition. I love the ending. I also love the title. There are a few sentence structure typos, and I dislike those. Overall, nice submission.

Fraction – The Eye of the Tiger

Calvin and Hobbes clone where the little girl kills her emotional issues by seeing a lazy tiger. Your omnipresent narrator feels too old for the childish behavior Lily is exhibiting, and I feel that works against your story – we get things in the beginning the make us feel Lily is older than her years (the exact date of the divorce, her cognizant analysis of her mother’s understanding re: Tia being different than hers, her analytical nature), but from a narrative standpoint we should see the things happening at the end, when she loses her desire to be a child. As such, the portrayals of her childish antics and the big problem – not dealing with her emotions because she’s pushing them on the tiger – just doesn’t work for me. This story might do better if you changed it to first-person, or if you kept the narrative’s voice for after the tiger experience and took on a more story-like, fantastical tone in the beginning.

Compare your story to this: This makes me sad because I have a background of their relationship and their fantastical adventures. If I were drawn in to Tia’s world in the beginning, I might care more about her loss of youth; as it is now, I don’t really care that this little girl is leaving her stuffed tiger behind.

Your story is well written and fits my prompt well. Examine how you wrote it, I guess!

Lazy Beggar – Nim

“Nim jumped down from his tree. He sauntered towards the hard, shiny trees to see who was there today.” The tree he was in and the new trees and tree tree a story about people in trees. You almost lost me right here. And then you said “tree” four more times in your first paragraph and I really wanted to stop reading.

I really have no idea what is going on in your story. I get the conceit – we’re looking at a monkey in a zoo – but I can make neither heads or tales of who the people in your story are or what Nim is feeling, and why I should care about what is happening (which is also unclear). Again, I think this is a narrator issue – we’ve got an omnipresent narrator who seems as clueless as Nim, and as such, your narrative is far too “I, the writer, know what I am saying but I refuse to tell you for ~monkey secrets~.” And yet, for Nim not being able to recognize people, he sure as hell has a ton of introspection about the sadness that comes with being a caged animal. And so your story attempts to be secretly deep, but in the end we’re left confused and unsure of what we just read.

Choose one: the monkey is a animal that is unable to distinguish people and moves on animal instinct. If so, put it in first person, and cut the introspection – make it about feelings and flashes of fear or whatever. OR – the monkey is an incredibly introspective being that we can empathize with on a humanistic level. In that case, let us know who the other people are in the story, at least by like “the one with the red hair” or something.

Who is calling his name in this story? Are these people his keepers or random people at the zoo? Is there another monkey they’re adding to his enclosure, is that the small thing, because it could also be a child looking through the bars with his or her mother. I just don’t get it. I think if you made the choice I’ve talked about here, it would make a lot more sense. Please don’t hide your meaning from the reader, we won’t think you’re awesome at creating the mystery of how animals think, we’ll say “what did I just read,” as I have.

Zack_Gochuck - Polar Bears

“John is an immature douche who left his wife and his son hates him for it.” There, I just told your whole story in one sentence.

I was really worried that nothing was going to happen in your story until the end, which actually salvaged it a little. Too much time is spent on seeing why their relationship doesn’t work and not enough time on why we should be sad about that. We get it, John is a lout – he likes fart jokes and he eats poo poo regardless of it being edible and he is loud and obnoxious. We get that this is not his son’s personality and that his son doesn’t want to spend time there. But your ending would work a lot better if there was a reason for us to care about that – right now we just walk away with “welp, John is and continues to be a tool.” I do like the way you showed us that in the final part – that John is going to attempt to fix his marriage via a text message and can’t even do that – and we do get to see that he cares about his son enough to potentially not be selfish, but one paragraph in 510 words is not enough for me to care. Especially since you’ve made Owen a mopey non-entity.

This could work very well; right now, it doesn’t.

Sicklysweet45 – Half the Battle

I love your take on the zoo theme. You managed to put people on display without having aliens or supernatural forces at play, which is absolutely fantastic. Your writing is very strong and engaging while managing to be very simple, and everything up until the ending works for me. But I don’t buy that one little girl can break this person’s commitment to her lifestyle being acceptable to the point that she immediately cries and howls. I think I’d rather see it plant that seed of doubt and nothing more – to me, having a small child create the crack rather than shatter the façade is much more powerful. And honestly, while I like the comparison to an animal when she roars, I feel like you made your story take a right turn to “I need the human to roar like an animal” rather than letting it naturally get there.

Furthering this point: Why does she laugh it off at the end? This thought of “human zoos are actually bad” that apparently she had never seriously entertained before (and now which has shattered her worldview) is quickly dismissed and dropped in a heartbeat. The message of your story doesn’t line up – either leave her destroyed or have her doubting or have her not care. All three don’t work for me.

Final nitpick point: “Hi, small one” is not broken English, that is a perfectly formed English sentence. Just because you say it to make this person sound foreign doesn’t mean it is so.

I’m being incredibly nitpicky overall, though, 2/3rds of your story worked for me. It was a very enjoyable read and I was engaged. Nice work there.

Sweet_Joke_Nectar – Farewell To Woodland Park


I like the intro to your story a lot. I like your writing in the beginning; it’s simple, descriptive, let’s us read between the lines a little bit. We get to see the difference between the two brothers, that Sam is still protective. “This is where it all began to fall apart” is where it began to fall apart for me, too – it’s a very hamfisted statement. And then the nostalgia conversation just doesn’t really do it for me, nor their conversation afterwards. Since Sam is the focus of your narrator, I think I’d rather just see his thoughts and how he deals with things and have him come to his own conclusions about their relationship based on their conversation. Yes, I understand this could be the place to have this kind of conversation, with everything all around them falling apart, but it still feels a bit stilted – these don’t seem like the kinds of brothers who would be having this kind of open, honest conversation about their feelings, and I don’t know why Sam knew this was the direction he was going to go.

You pull it back where I want it at the end – them not saying what’s really going on and Sam observing. That is what is more interesting to me. I think your story would be stronger without the overt telling of how they feel.

Still, it’s well written, it engaged me, and I liked it. A few tweaks from telling to showing and I think this could be a very strong piece. Some of your language is also very nice although on the border of purple – but then, that’s how I write, so I might be biased in thinking it fits ok.

Solid effort, scat man.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Critique post, part deux.

Nubile Hillock – A bird story

This is not a story about a zoo. This is a story about a drunken man who lives a drunken life and apparently passes in and out of consciousness, because that’s the only way I can parse your disjointed prose as making any semblance of sense with the timeshifts that happen randomly. I would have had less problems with the hamfisted way you stuck the zoo into the story if you had mentioned a few times “they had been to the zoo last week.” I actually wanted to see some stories that had the zoo play a part and that weren’t SET in the zoo, but not like this. The zoo plays zero part in your story. This does not meet the prompt.

Moving along from the prompt drop: I like stream of consciousness, but not like this. Give me some page breaks or something. Like I said, I can sort of understand “drunken stupor” but it doesn’t work me, I don’t want to be in a zoo and then suddenly without any sort of transitional warning be in bed. I don’t know which parts of your story are real and which parts are imagined, and not in a good way. I don’t know who your protagonist is and why I should care because I don’t really understand what’s going on. Your hook is good, really: two people breaking into a zoo and they see a cowboy. That’s weird. I never get it explained, because all of a sudden they’re both rockstars. The only hint we get of this is “opry” and with a cowboy standing in front of them I thought we were maybe in a zoo in the 1850s or something, but then there were cellphones. Everything is disjointed, I can’t follow it, and I don’t like it. I wanted the story to be about the random mystical cowboy in the zoo with the two people breaking in. You should have stuck with that.

Other nitpicks: Capitalize the beginnings of your sentences, even if it’s dialogue. It looks like YOU were drunk when you wrote this because of how it flows and how sloppy it is. Pagebreaks would help a lot, I would have less of a problem if I knew that you were shifting mid-conversation because there were a bunch of dashes (although I still might not like that you shifted.) I have a problem with one of your two main characters vanishing after three lines, and suddenly there being a cast of 8 or so nameless folks for 1000 words. Everything about this confuses me.

You are also 1 word over the word limit.

Crabrock – It’s All Happening

I love the idea of a dysfunctional, self-indulgent zoo serving as the backdrop of a day for a totally dysfunctional, self-indulgent family. The narrative is hilarious and your capture the ADHD infused, self-centered ten year old perfectly. You also do a great job of painting a picture of the father as a self-centered prick as well. Then reality comes crashing in and suddenly we get to see that Tommy actually is a child, and that the mother is also just as dysfunctional as the father. Clearly, there is a reason this family is not working at all. The only normal person seems to be the sister. I was going to say I wish I had seen more of her, but the fact that the lynchpin of normalcy in the family is completely ignored by your narrator is actually pretty awesome.

Everything about this works for me. Excellent effort.

Kaishai – The Worth of What We Love

This captured the “make the mundane interesting” aspect of the prompt perfectly for me, and managed to feel like a moment in time even if it took all day in actuality. It’s poignant without being hamfisted, even though it is sugary-sweet at the end of the day. I can’t really find much to say about this other than I really liked it – your writing is good, the through-line is natural and engaging, the parallel of his repeated thought-process is near perfection without feeling overdone. Very, very good.

Erogenous Beef – Untamed

Another interesting take on “zoo,” which I dig. I like the character shift of Bear from lumping the deputy in with the hypocrits and then coming around to sharing in the sadness with him. I like the message, and how it is presented; it’s classic, but not done in an overtly vomit inducing way. I like the zoo references to almost everyone involved, including Bear’s name and the monkey-circus. I like the turn, and the ending. Really, I like everything about this piece. It is well done.

Minor nitpicks: It’s only a beautiful afternoon to die if you are enjoying the killing – no one in their right mind going to murder what is essentially a family member is going to go “LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFUL TODAY IS” unless they are purposefully spitting the irony, which your narrator isn’t really doing here because we haven’t gotten into the story from the first line. I also don’t buy that this dude is out sleeping with the lions every day, but I get what you were going for.

Nikaer Drekin – Homo Delphinidae

Is this a Seapunk Fantasy or borderline Dolphin Erotica? Or maybe it’s Lisa Frank fanfiction. Anyway. I don’t mind your concept, but the problem I have is it gets too weird, and it feels like just for the sake of getting weird. I would have had less of a problem with this story if it had just been about a sad guy who goes to see a dolphin show and is disappointed and compares their captivity to his own sad life, or he goes there and is invigorated by their beauty, or he goes there and literally does anything other than get naked and swim with dolphins. It feels like this is a story where you said “I will write a story where at the end, the guy swims naked with dolphins” and the rest of the narrative is constructed around that.

So that leaves the rest of the narrative, and I’m not sure why it’s there. It sets up that he likes dolphins ~a lot~ but it does so for too long. The thing with not being able to connect with his wife is…I’m not sure why it’s in the story. We know he likes dolphins ~a lot~, do we really need to see that his marriage doesn’t work? If dolphin love and his inability to connect with things Not Dolphin is the point of your story, I think you set that up decently in the first two paragraphs. Basically, everything that happens up until the dolphin nudity is fluff that doesn’t set up the dolphin nudity well. The setup in itself is not a bad setup, but it is an ineffective setup for the right turn you give us.

TheRamblingSoul – The Tyger

Ok, aside from the fact that this story is stolen directly from an incident that occurred at the San Francisco Zoo, this is again a story that can be summed up in one sentence: “My friend got killed by a tiger at the zoo.” Let’s go into why this doesn’t work for me as a “slice in time”piece.

First, let’s look at this intro. Why is this intro here. It’s not bad for the first page of a Manga, but it’s totally unnecessary when words are a precious commodity. I think you’re trying to set up some moral connection with the end of the story – you directly state that the ending is important – but you never follow through. Your story just ends, with no tie-in to the intro. This is even more wasted space, and leaves us with questions – why does he feel it’s his fault? We see nothing in the story that tells us he feels bad about this, just that his friend is a tool. Either follow through, or don’t. Don’t set it up and then leave us hanging.

This story is honestly just one big cliché. All the dialogue is stilted characterization of stereotypes – the bad dude and the way you describe him initially, the hesitant newcomer, and the alcohol usage. And then his torn in half torso talks to his friend? I don’t get to know either of these characters beyond snap judgements I could pass on them just by watching them walk around the zoo for five minutes.
I also might be more forgiving if you hadn’t referenced William Blake in your title. You, sir, are no William Blake.

Bad Seafood – Nests

This story feels like a metaphor for the old country of Yuri’s youth, and I don’t know if that’s because of the two people’s names or if that’s what you were going for, but unfortunately approaching this in that mindset makes everything in the piece seem biased toward that idea. With that in my mind, everything feels a little too overt for me – the strength of the gnarled tree in spite of its flaws, the prison of the cage, etc. If you were trying to hit the Soviet Era undercurrent, I guess you succeeded ok, but I am not totally convinced this is what you were going for and it leaves me a little confused.

The main point of your story is that this kid is blind and the grandfather is telling him things he thinks he wants to know about birds, but I didn’t know he was blind until I was told so. I thought it was baby sign language at first or something. Ultimately, the whole thing just falls flat for me, first without knowing the kid was blind and then even after. It’s another case of “why do I want to be watching these people interacting.” It’s interesting, and well written, but not a slice of life I feel I need to observe.

Sebmojo – Outside The Walls

This was a better picture of a moment in time I wanted to see, and one of the best of the “divorce is the theme of the week” stories we had. You managed to capture a solid sense of the characters and who they were in a very short word count, which I was impressed with. I felt the story unfolded very naturally, and although the ending is a bit clichéd, I didn’t have a huge problem with it. Really, this story is not bad by any means; I enjoyed your writing and I enjoyed the story. At the end of the day, though, something doesn’t QUITE work for me, although I can’t put my finger on it and don’t know if I could tell you exactly what it is. It’s a solid showing, though.

Tyrannosaurus – Trying To Be A Father

I like your writing, T-rex. I like this story, actually. But I have two problems with it: first, legitimately nothing happens. If I’m going to read a story about nothing, I want to see at least a moment or two in it where it makes me think beyond “oh hey he’s like a monkey too.” Secondly, I don’t like how much he acts like a big oaf, pandering to his daughter as if she were a baby. He seems to recognize she’s intelligent, enough to have taken her to a zoo and to be placating her when she tells him information she already knows. So why is he baby talking her? Doesn’t make sense and plays against their relationship. I like the contrast of his own incarceration with the incarceration of the orangutan, although it is a bit “well that’s obvious.” Ultimately, I think this story has a lot of potential, I just want to see more of a change from beginning to end, rather than it simply being “man act like monkey.”

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!


* A jaunty, yet disturbing, ditty which reveals something about the character(s) who like it - think Psycho Dad
* At least one character is a human cannonball.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Hey, Incesto, maybe post some GODDAMNED crits from a week ago. TIA.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Full Fathoms Five posted:

Dammit, first time trying this and I got swamped with work all week. I'm going to flesh out what I've got and toss it up for crit in another thread, though, so at least it wasn't a total wash. I enjoyed the prompt.

Flesh out what you have and toss it in here, schlomo.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

Parachute Strategy
1174 words

He had been staring at my note for a good fifteen seconds, and I was starting to worry that I had found the only illiterate bank teller in all of Atlanta. I was trying to be patient; I knew it wasn’t what he had expected and I wasn’t even sure if they trained low-level employees anymore on how to handle themselves in the event of a bank robbery. I figured there had to be some kind of video series, with bright 1990s gradients and a full cast of aspiring young actors mixed with their washed up counterparts, who weren’t even recognized during shooting. Still, he didn’t seem to understand.

“I don’t understand,” he said, looking from the note to my sunglass and scarf covered face. They were both Armani; they made me feel good.

“Why don’t you read it again.” The speakers were tuned to an easy listening station that I didn’t think actually existed on the general airwaves. I had never heard the song before, but apparently someone on staff had a penchant for lovely jazz arrangements of monetary themed music. Dollars and cents, that smell of success!…dollars and cents, it takes care and finesse! Drum fills, a small horn section, swelling violins. Somewhere, Perry Como was shaking his head.

“’This is…a hold up?’” He raised his eyebrows again. My hands were shoved in the pockets of my jacket and it was all I could do to keep myself from taking them out and wringing his neck.

The old woman behind me coughed. She had been doing this since I walked up to the counter. I wanted to turn and shout “WAIT YOUR loving TURN, GRANDMA” but that would have gone against the whole “try not to be noticed” thing I had going. I wish I had actually brought a gun with me; I would have been satisfied shooting them both even if I left empty handed. Even if it had been a toy gun, I could have thrown it at the decrepit wretch with the walker who stood behind me. I would have liked that.

The teller was still racking his brains, as far as I could tell. I poked at the front of my jacket with my right hand, trying to look threatening. “Single bills are fine. Any bag you have will do.”

“I’m sorry, did you want to make a withdrawl?” My face fell behind my scarf. This wasn’t a ruse; his hands were on the counter, not fingering any sort of hidden buttons. He was actually this stupid. I clenched my teeth and tried to ignore the chant of Shoop-shoop, sha-doop wafting down from above me. “No, I want you to fill a bag with money, and then give it to me.”

The confusion deepened on his face. “Did you fill out a slip? I’ll need an account number first.”

I suddenly wished he couldn’t read; then I could have at least blamed the schools. But this clearly was not his fault. No, I thought, somewhere along the line, someone had to have failed this gentleman. A teacher, a parent, most probably the person who thought he was fit to handle and count large sums of money. If I ever meet that person, I will punch them in the neck. I had been daydreaming for over a month of rolling on a mattress of hundreds, and now my only desire was to deliver justice to the stranger who stood before me, this poor shloob who had apparently never seen a classic western. Maybe he didn’t have cable.

“Look, man, I’m trying to rob you.” I shrugged, defeated. “Just take me to the vault and hand me a random safety deposit box. At this point, I don’t care.” The whole situation was irritating me. I was off schedule and it was looking like I was going to miss lunch. Above me, the horns gave way to a vibraphone solo, as a chorus occasionally broke through with doooolllll-aaaars---andcents! The old woman behind me coughed. It was like a circle of hell.

The teller blinked. “I don’t have access to the vaults, sir. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with one of our account specialists, we could get you set up with your own Secure Storage Unit, as long as we have one available.”

I stared at him. “I’m not really interested in that.”

He smiled at me. “Our interest rates are at an all time low!” I wasn’t sure how that related to a safety deposit box, but he seemed very pleased with himself to have had an opportunity to deliver this information to a potential client. The song above me had reached a fever pitch of whimsy. Dollars and cents! Climb your waaaay to theeeee top! My stomach growled.

“Let me be very clear with you.” I abandoned all pretense of having a weapon and pushed a hand to my temple. I was starting to get a headache. “I would like you to give me some money. It is not my money. It is the bank’s money. I am stealing it, like a bank robber. Which is what I am.”

He blinked again. “So, you’re interested in our Money Market plan?”

I suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder and a cough in my ear. I turned slowly and looked into a face that only a mortician would love. The face was not pleased. “What’s the hold up?” she spewed. Her breath smelled like lavender and formaldehyde.

The teller smiled at the hag from over my shoulder. “I’ll be happy to take care of you as soon as I’m done with this gentleman, ma’am!”

She frowned. “Tell this deadbeat he needs to hurry the gently caress up.” She stood back, satisfied, and whistled along to the tinny sound of her youth.

I smiled and moved close to her, patting her bony shoulder. “Do you have a health care plan?”

Her eyes clouded a bit, the milk of her cataracts storming over with dark clouds of non-understanding. “What? Yes. Why?”

In one motion, I grabbed her by the back of her jumper and shoved my free arm between her legs, grasping her buttocks. She couldn’t have weighed more than ninety-five pounds, and when I stepped back, it was easy to throw her toward the front doors. She sailed for a moment in the air then landed with a crackling thud on the carefully waxed tile. She slid another foot before she came to a stop, her bony fingers resting on top of what little of her wig remained on her head. It was silent for a second, and then the song above me shifted: Every time it rains, it rains…pennies from heaven…

I looked back at the teller, who had turned pale. He swallowed hard. “I’m not sure this branch can help you with your banking needs today, sir.”

“That’s ok. I’ve always preferred the philosophy of the credit union.” I turned, picked up the walker, and, slinging it over my shoulder, headed out, dreaming of a ham sandwich.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!


Flash rule: Your story must not be set after 1960.


Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!


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