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Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
I'm in!

Back in the Thunderdome for the first time in a while.


Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
Well, here's my entry.

Inspired by Taco's version of "Puttin' on the Ritz".


Puttin' on the Ritz
1000 words

A cloud moved, and the dull orange light of dusk escaped. It shone through the open, panelled double doors accompanied by a slow, yet constant breeze. This wind lifted the thin white curtains up into the air as if held in place by a tall and invisible man., revealing the weedy, overgrown garden.

This gently awoke him from his sleep. He’d been led across a three-seat sofa, atop the white sheets that covered it. Eyelids fluttered open. It had been an unexpected sleep. The sort you forget entering into, as deep as to leave all memories of life behind, to shape its own existence. The sort of sleep that lends credence to the possibility of a peaceful death. The sort of sleep where waking is like being born again.

He sat up, swinging his legs around so that his bare feet nestled into the thick carpet. A sigh. He rubbed his bare thighs that had never been as hairy as he would have liked. It had been a good sleep. But it changed nothing. He thought about checking his phone, left in his pocket, part of the heap of clothing on the floor.

Standing, he drew his back upright, feeling each cramped bone snap into place. He moved into the hallway. No carpet. Wooden floorboards. With a layer of dust. He was careful to place each bare-footed step into the shoe prints he had left coming the other way.

The first flight of steps did not creak. For some reason he thought that they would. He wasn’t sure if that was disappointing or not. Neither did the second flight. Or the third.

He felt the cold draft of air as soon as he stood in the third floor hallway. At the far end a bookshelf was half-open on a hinge. He knew that was where he had to go, but he couldn’t resist a quick detour into the second room on the right.

It was brighter than he remembered. Even after all the time that had passed. Memory does that. Changes. Has a language of its own. Posters, faded, retained the breadth of their colours. Books with their rainbow of sleeves. He pulled the white sheets from his old bed. The blue and red chequered duvet. It would all make so much sense to an outsider. The desire for a good life for him had been there once. But desire is an easy thing to have.

Back in the hallway. He pulled the bookshelf open further. The design of the manor interior immediately gave way to plain, red brick and dark, brown wood. A spiral staircase led upwards. Metal. No wood to offer the promise of creaking. It clattered softly as he made his way around them, the cold steps burning the soles of his feet. But he’d known it would clatter. The clatter between the walls at night.

The tucked away room at the top of the manor was dark, but the dim lighting still worked. It was smaller than he remembered. The wooden floor creaked as he walked to the large, grey trunk at the far side of the room. He winced as he felt a splinter dig into his toe.

He remained fixed on the trunk, refusing to let his eyes wander over the various other instruments in the room. Some he could see from the corner of his eyes, some he knew to be tucked away in drawers, boxes, discreet bags.

The trunk popped open easily, and swung silently on its hinges. He took the neatly folded bundle out.

He slipped the soft, black socks on first, taking it slow over the splinter. Then the black underwear. A bit tight, but acceptable. The striped trousers went on easily. Baggy. He left them unbuttoned. The white shirt with the Arrow collar next. Tucked into the trousers. The trousers tightened. The bracers slipped on to keep them steady. The cuff-links with those red, shiny stones – the ones that would catch his ear – carefully threaded into the shirt.

The black coat, a cutaway, fit perfectly. As if it has been tailored for him. It flowed over his body in just the right way.

Out of the cupboard in the corner, from the hatbox at the bottom, the high hat that had been such a staple of the silhouette belonging to the man who had worn it before.

He checked himself in the grimy mirror. He was almost complete.

It took him longer than he thought it would to find the box. It had fallen behind a battered dresser. His initials greeted him from the lid. Once shiny, now dull. It sprang open with a light touch.

The bow-tie. His bow-tie. The small, metal box next to it.

He dragged a wooden chair into the centre of the room. Pulled his trousers out as he sat down comfortably.

The tie around his neck. One end longer than the other. The weight square on the nape of his neck. The long end folded over the shorter. Then under. Afterwards, the tricky part. His fingers shook. Sweaty. The short end into a bow as he held the longer end, then that end folded other, back on itself, then through the centre of the first bow. He got it on the fourth try.

He sat there. Finished. “In the Ritz”. He held the metal box in front of him, and drew the aerial out. He turned a dial down. Pressed a button. A jolt at the back of the neck.

The dial all the way up. Pressed again. The pain quickly became so unbearable as to no longer register. He threw the box onto the floor, and began to stamp on it. Crushed and smoking. The buzzing on his neck went on. His eyesight began to blur. He fell forwards. Onto his knees. Crumpled.

The final embers of dusk ducked behind the horizon, and the wind stopped. The curtains fell still once again.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
Yeah I've gotta be in.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
Well, this is what I've got. I'm not 100% on it, but I may as well post it.


In Between
900 Words

Something drifted out of the vague blur of thoughts. A cracking. Rhythmic, over and over again. Each rise of the tremendous crack gave way to some something else. A rough gale. Tornado. No, traffic, realised Ryan. He sighed deeply, feeling his chest expand over the empty sheets beside him. Woken by the construction again.

As usual, he wasn’t sure exactly when he’d stopped dreaming, but he could already feel the weight of the hammer bearing down on his mood for the day.

He ruffled the sheets over his head, listening to the soft movement right next to his ear. He smiled. Then the cracking outside started up again. He threw the sheets to the end of the bed, hearing them crumple defeated, as he wished he could.

He swivelled himself so he was sat on the edge of his bed. He tapped the edge of his nightstand and moved to the familiar location of the alarm clock. He ran his finger over the bumpy ridges of the first button from the right, to the second, pushing down to turn it off. He hadn’t heard the horrible droning for days since the construction started. He didn’t know how good he’d had it, he thought, smirking.

He opened up his wardrobe, feeling the neatly tagged packages of clothing Janine put together for him on the weekends. Nice girl. Almost too chatty, but she always made the effort to look him in the face while they talked. He could feel that.

Ryan touched the doorframe to his bathroom as he entered, running his hand along the bumpy wallpaper, and stopping to grip the plastic screen of the walk-in shower. He twisted the dial, wincing as the cold stream of water burned his skin. He grew numb. Then the pellets of water grew warmer, the heat massaging his skin.

Fully cleaned he turned it off and stood in the silence for a moment. Something clittered against wood, just to his right, next to his face. He reeled away. Slipped on the wet tiles. He caught himself on the screen but his knee had already collapsed to the floor. He grunted in pain.

The things in the walls again.

Between the foot of the stairs and the kitchen he stopped. Sniffed. It was still there. The smell reminded him of marijuana, bringing to mind his younger days, the house parties he’d go to with Izzy. More her friends than his. Then, the strain that had always been on their relationship. Her having to always be there, to look after him, to guide him. Well, not any more. But there was something bad about the smell, something off. Decay. Sour. The sort that would hit him hard when he opened the milk after too long, his only way of knowing the expiration date.

“Gotta be something dead,” he muttered.

There was a loose panel under the stairs the decorator guys had forgot to fix up. He tapped it as he moved past it and into the kitchen, hearing the hollow tap of his house, reminding him of the spaces in between the walls. He had tried to convince Janine to have a look inside with the flashlight and see if it was something dead, but she was too scared. He’d phoned the housing people with her there, to demand the exterminators, but they blew him off as usual. “It’s probably just the construction scaring them about, nothing dead. It’ll settle down.”

He put the coffee on, as he usually did waiting for Jake to pick him up, sliding his fingers over the buttons on the machine, following the familiar map of grooves that would make it just as he liked. He stood in front of it as it brewed. The aromas would slowly build and make their way up to his nose. Coffee was a favourite of his. They say that 70% of taste is actually smell. Ryan believed there had to be a little bit of sight in there too. The roasting of the beans, that bitter, dark quality. When he waited he could swear he could see the whole spectrum of flavour in his mind’s eye.

Jake had helped him pick out the machine. It was a good one. They’d driven to the shop after work and Jake had helped him pick on out.

The machine clicked, and began to calm down, steam warming his face, condensation tickling his chin.

The quiet ticking again, in the walls.

He thought for a second about asking Jake if he could take a look for him. That’s what disgusted him the most. That he thought about it.

It’s not like he could be scared of the dark anyway. It was all dark to him.

He made his way to the loose panel and pulled it off. It flopped loudly to the floor. He squatted down, putting his hands on the edge of the hole. He patted a short way in front of him. Rough wood. A prick. Splinter.

Skittering moved away from him as he moved in.

He felt something soft, spongy, unmoving. It felt like he imagined mice to look. He’d been right.

He held it in his hand for a moment. Lifeless and rotting. The stench was unbearable. How did they manage? Living with the dead?

He took it out to the bins, making a mental note to pick up some humane mousetraps after work.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
All right, this is moderately confusing but I'm in and will do my best.

Kurt Geyser is a failing stand-up comedian whose life has gone downhill ever since he left his cosy, secure gig as an entertainer at a middling holiday park on the coast of Devon. He thought he was on the up and up after his agent booked him a gig headlining at the Los Grano D'oro Improv, but as he got off the aeroplane and checking his phone it turned out he had mistakenly been booked instead of Burt Geyser, a regular on UK comedy panels shows. He's now replacing Kurt at the Improv, but the comedy club has been kind of enough to let Kurt keep the hotel room for the few days he had been booked. He decides to stay on and check out Los Grano D'oro, the furthest away from home he's ever been. Maybe he can find somewhere to network or hit up a couple of open mics. Maybe he can just enjoy himself for the time in forever.

M/42 Funny, wacky guy looking for someone to show me the sights of Los Grano D'oro, have a good time, and talk about the meaningless of life.

I think somebody messed up my Thunderdome loser title?

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
I was going to tap out, but then I wrote this. I suppose it's up to you to decide whether I should have actually bowed out or not. Enjoy?


Funniest Staff Member
-A Los Grano D'oro Moment-

760 words

Kurt leant with his elbows against the cold, metal railing. From this high up he could see most of Los Grano D'oro sprawling out in front of him. It had looked impressive coming in on the plane, but now under naught but the dim glow of neon and streetlights it was more than that. It was beautiful, he realised, a word that seemed out of place in his mind due to underuse. The last time he remembered thinking it was back in Devon, the night he had won the “funniest staff member” award, looking out to the sea.

He knew he could never return to Devon now. The dissonance between himself and his ill-judged choice of word was now too great. He’d fallen. He didn’t deserve the beauty. Not Devon. Not Los Grano D'oro. At first he had hated the Improv for replacing him with Burt. But Burt was a funny guy. He deserved it.

He glanced down next to his feet at the black briefcase that rested against the dark railings of the bridge. Garrett from the Open Mic place had given it to him.

“Wasn’t this Mr. Petri’s briefcase?” he had asked Kurt. “The man you were with the other night. Could you return it to him, Kurt?”

His heart had leapt then. Maybe he could get in at the Improv after all. But then he had stopped here at the bridge and it had all started to become clear. Had his heart really leapt at the opportunity to curry favour with Mr. Petri? Or was it all because of what the briefcase had represented to him subconsciously? He lowered his gaze from the skyline to the raging river below. Then he let his eyelids close, and he remembered.

His first night performing as an entertainer at Happy Sands. It was improvisational comedy, and he’d gotten on the set due to a coincidental encounter with a producer at a gig his comedy improv group had done at his university. He membered he was nervous before going on. Due to the quiet country roads in the area he’d been late. Didn’t have enough time to properly meet the other comedians he’d be performing alongside.

He’d tried his best, but all of his jokes and hilarious slapstick bits fell upon the dull ears of holiday park guests, drinking half pints and chewing on pork scratchings, their children running riot. His fellows were good though, would jump in to save him each time, the crowd relishing in laughter each time.

But then the last segment of the night came up. Kyle, one of the other comedians, placed a black briefcase on a table centre stage. He eyed Kurt. This one is for you, he seemed to say. Kurt remembered breathing in, stepping forwards by the briefcase. Pretending he was at a bar, ordering a drink. Kelly came over to ask for the briefcase, like some sort of crime exchange. But after he gave it to her he pretended to suddenly realise she wasn’t the right contact after all. Hilarity ensued.

Kurt had been carried out onto the decking by the crowd that night, tossed joyously amidst the browning plastic furniture, finally being released into the cold, welcoming waters of the pool, choking on the dead autumn leaves, shed by the trees.

Just like those trees, Kurt realised, he’d shed his comedic edge, his predilection for laddish banter, his quick-witted humour. There was nothing for him now. He could neither go forwards or backwards. He was trapped, and Los Grano D'oro was his purgatory.

His eyes glanced at a sign that read: “danger, don’t jump, people die when they jump from here so don’t do it, call this number if you feel like you want to and do not jump because you will likely die”. It was in comic sans. His final goodbye would be on a hilarious high, he realised.

The briefcase would stay on the bridge and he would plummet away, so far away from it. Like a catapult, he thought. A hilarious, gigantic, human-sized catapult, like what was good in Road Runner. He smiled.

“That’s the real punchline,” he whispered as he flipped himself over the edge of the bridge and hurtled into the torrent of water below.


He awoke on a beach as a child threw sand onto his face, the shrill laughter cutting into his ear.

The dry sand specked his mouth and he coughed. But he smiled.

It was good to hear the laughter again. And it was all him.

His eyes opened, and he was engulfed by a bright light.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.

systran posted:

I am doing crits in google docs. The scores are initial impressions and are subject to change based on how good/bad everything is. Winners/losers for each brawl will be decided based on all three judges, so even if the score you see on here beats your opponent, don't assume you won!

I'm also judging this week and will also be working on them in a Google Doc throughout the day. However, while I have an idea of the scores while writing, I will not be releasing any of them publicly until I've read all the stories. However you'll probably get a good sense based on what I've written about them.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
I'm in too. Hit me up.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
Here is my Thunderdome entry. It's pretty early as I've got other stuff I've got to do, but I put a decent amount of time into it, more than some other entries. I actually kind of like it even if everyone else probably won't.

I hope it's okay that I've withheld my five BINGO selections until the end. I thought it would be better to give the option of going in blind, but feel free to scroll down and look if you want to, it won't make me sad.


The Fate of the Tale of Black Jesus (almost titled "The Curse of the Tale of Black Jesus")
(1202 Words)

Google Drive link:

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
Why not? I'm in!

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
Under the Museum
1400 Words (not including title)
Spoilered prompt: PoshAlligator (574 Genre Art; note Wiki's definition of the term)


“Ah, the girl from the university? Yes, I think I recall being told you were going to stop by. What was your name again, dear?”

“Sophia Mallado,” I replied.

He clicked the mouse a few times, his eyes darting over the monitor that stood on the wooden partition between us. He frowned.

“Only I thought you were meant to be coming in on Thursday?”

“Really? I’m sure I told the lady on the phone Tuesday.”

His bearded cheek began to wiggle slightly as he chewed at it from the inside.

“It’s this cold I’ve had,” I continued, wrinkling my nose. “I’m surprised she could hear what I was saying at all.”

His lips turned into a smile. “Yes, there’s been something going around I think.”

“Will I have to come back? I’ve come a long way. I only have a room booked for tonight, and I’m not sure the grant will stretch.”

His hand shot up to his half-framed glasses and he adjusted them, the smile still on his face.

“Oh no, I’m sure it will be quite fine. Sorry to worry you like that, I’m sure we can fiddle the system around. Not that anyone checks up on us much down here anyway.”

His cheek wiggled slightly as he looked over my identification, but I quickly waylaid his fears by popping on the glasses from my jacket pocket. “Contacts,” I explained.

He led me to a large service elevator and we rumbled down into the depths of the museum. He apologised for not introducing himself.

“Of course I know who you are, I’ve read a lot of your papers Dr. Percival.”

He seemed genuinely pleased by this, but couldn’t resist twitching his head and correcting me. “Professor Percival, actually. But please, Kevin is fine.”

I should have known, inwardly cursing myself for getting comfortable. Kevin didn’t seem put out though, and began to ramble on about his work without much prompting. “Some interesting data,” “waiting to hear from the IOT journal,” “my highly respected novel on the subject.” I placated him with a few generic comments as he led us through further corridors, and tried to orient myself with what I knew of the museum layout, and to add these undocumented tunnels to my mental blueprint.

“This is it,” Kevin concluded, stopping before a set of dull, brown double doors, with chips of paint missing from the bottom. “Ready? It’s quite different from just reading about it I assure you.”

I nodded.

He adjusted his glasses again and smirked. He pushed open the double doors widely so I could follow through, and led me into the Jaruthian Chambers of the Goddess.

The first thing that hit me were just how many bodies were present. On paper a hundred and fifty six people doesn’t seem like a lot, but seeing them all packed together in only a few rooms of space is something else. The chambers were all pink metal and carvings, opulence and jewels, but they were just reconstructions, as Kevin reminded me. Look at it from just the right angle and the falseness is clear. Not to mention large portions of the walls were finely polished glass, so the whole thing could be more easily seen by the viewer.

The last moments of everyone present in the chambers at the time of the solar flare disaster were captured perfectly. A woman near where we entered popped out at me, her dress clearly one of poverty, thinking she could find refuge in this once sacred place. Two children, tiny things, were pressed against her, protected from the sight of their doom forever. Almost like she’d known, though the flare was near instantaneous.

Each pose told a story, a guard with his chest puffed out, partway through addressing a mass of people, another guard in the shadows, clutching a photograph, now yellowed, of a loved one, taking a break that would just be a moment.

The avatar of the goddess herself was in the central chamber, sat on a throne of crystal carved into flowers, with her eyelids just barely covering her eyes shut. She looked as if every muscle in her body was loose and relaxed, calmly waiting. Endlessly waiting.

“New wave genre art is what some of the restorers started calling it,” said Kevin, breaking the silence we had both lapsed into. “All their records lost. Culture forgotten. Even the goddess is just Chinese whispers these days. All we have is this scene, these people, frozen. There’s not much difference.”

“Not much difference? But these are real people.”

“You’d think you wouldn’t forget that, wouldn’t you? But you do after a while.” He looked away from me.

“And they’re all dead. Just one hundred and fifty six corpses as an art installation.”

“I think of it more as a memorial. Also, they’re not dead, not really. But they’re not alive, either. Somewhere in between. Completely frozen in their final moments.”

“Could they ever be revived?” I leant towards a bearded man with wide eyes and large, dilated pupils.

“Theoretically yes, but the science dictates they would probably just decay to dust instantly.”

“It seems wrong somehow.” I moved through an archway and Kevin hummed after me, our footsteps echoing on the marble floor.

“Well, you tell me, you’re the one writing a paper on ‘ethics in art’, after all. I just do my job, upkeep and analysis and all that. Between you and me you’re probably right. There’s a reason the plans to showcase it have been in limbo the last ten years.”

“That’s not just because of protest from the Children of the Goddess?”

“Well, you know what those COG fanatics are like. They’ve tried to abduct the avatar’s body a few times. They still think she’ll live again, on account of the missing goddess stone on the throne, they say.”

I turned around, taking in the whole scene from our new angle opposite the doors.

“I wonder how they felt,” I said.

“For them it was just a normal day.”

“I mean on Station VI.”

“Oh, yes, well, they didn’t completely fail. They saved something of the planet, even if it wasn’t quite how they intended.”

I slipped the familiar, battered notebook out of my pocket.

“I’d be happy to answer any questions.” Kevin had his eye on the book.

“Is there a bathroom I could visit?”

Kevin stuck close to me we took the short hallways to the bathroom.

“I’ll just be out here,” he said as I went through the door.

It was a good job Kevin Percival had been assigned to show me around. I hadn’t even considered what I would have done if a woman had shadowed me into the bathroom.

I sat on a closed toilet seat and flipped through my journal. It had all led to this. I slid a worn photograph of my great, great, grandmother from a sleeve at the back. Found in the back of an unfamiliar and deceased relative’s storage, it was the only photo I had. My nose looked like her’s, I thought, and it seemed our hair would be similar if she wasn’t wearing it in that old fashioned way.

I took out my phone and called the front desk.

“Hi,” I said confidently with a sparkle in my voice. “I’m from IOT publishing, I’m looking for Professor Percival.”

Kevin seemed agitated when I came out. “I shouldn’t really leave you down here on your own, but I’ll only be a minute, it’s very important.”

I gave him my warmest smile. “You don’t have to worry about me. I’ll just take some notes.”

Without Kevin hounding me I was free to inspect the chambers, but even then she proved difficult to find. That was good in a way. Even in death, or whatever this technically was, she was elusive. I liked that.

Great, great grandmother was cloaked in the far chamber from the door, her nose giving her away.

I checked Kevin wasn’t about to walk in, and then patted her down. A hidden pocket in her cloak revealed it: the goddess stone. Getting it out was difficult, as the cloak was caught on her rigid leg.

“Thanks,” I whispered.

I made for the exit and turned to look at the scene one last time.

The frozen gaze of the avatar seemed to be locked on me.

I shuddered, and left to find Kevin.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
Not in, but I can judge if you'll have me?

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.

Grizzled Patriarch posted:

:siren: Sign-ups close in 8 hours for all you last-minute folks out there. :siren:

If someone can come up with some kind of way to measure entrants with how late they leave both signing up and submitting their stories against their wins/losses/DMs/HMs that would be interesting, I think.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.
:siren:Thunderdome Episode CIX: Attack of the Clones: Crits, by PoshAlligator

Tyrannosaurus (Chikamatsu Tokuzô)
I’m not a fan of these lines ‘“Help!” she lied, “Help! Help!”’, ‘“I love you, too,” she lied.’, because I hate being told when someone is lying like that in fiction. I think it would have been more powerful if we’d known it without being told. With that said, I like literally everything else about this. I’m no buff on Japanese theatre, but I did find it somewhat odd that this wasn’t a contemporary piece when Tokuzo was so well known for sewamono, but this is still a lovely(?) tale, and is definitely one of my favourites. The extra words were put to good use.

tenniseveryone (Ernest Hemingway)
Absolutely terrible. I broke out into a cold sweat reading this, and became bedridden for days.

Phobia (Dorothy Parker)
As I began to read my eyelids forcibly closed to spare me from the abomination that was your story.

I literally vomited.

God Over Djinn (David Foster Wallace)
David Foster Wallace haunted me for a week after reading this asking “why” “why” “why”, without question marks, because he knew why. He knew.

Sitting Here (David Foster Wallace)
An actual story. Literary fiction. Real nice, emotional. I thought it was weird that the perspective I assume is a child describes her mum’s yells at “orgasmic” but okay. Dreamlike and detailed, but it felt very real at the same time. I liked this. Good.

cargohills (H.G. Wells)
War of the Worlds? More like War of the Bad. F-

Skwid (Lemony Snicket)
This is probably the most ham-fisted use of another author’s style. This story mainly seems to utilise exact trands from the Series of Unfortunate Events themselves, asking the reader if they want to read something else and reminding them that they still could. Full stop it just does not work in a short story format, and this short story doesn’t have any of the charm(?) of the Series of Unfortunate Events that leads Snicket (I forgot the dude’s real name) to get away with that sort of thing. Instead this story just falls flat at presenting the horror of Milo’s situation, ending twee-formal-dud-dark-comedy-letter. Skwid’s previous TD entry had much more promise than this.

crabrock (Ernest Hemingway)
I really dig the closeness to Hemingway here. There’s some pretty rad minimalism, and the story itself evokes a lot of Hemingway, too. Unfortunately though I felt the story lacked that little bit of extra depth that I love about Hemingway. It seemed a bit surface. In that respect this story is a bit dull, and not that memorable in any respect besides the fact it’s, for the most part, very well crafted. This is terrible: “Anything that hadn’t fallen to the floor”. Though Crabrock might be my one true mentor and guide, I don’t think I can do anything but hate that use of italics.

Djeser (J.G. Ballard) (800 word limit)
Not bad overall, and I think the 800 word limit was used very well. I’ve only read a couple of JG Ballard short stories, and I’m not really getting a sense of his writing from this? The Preacher Tom x Missus Robinson thing is way too overt it’s eye rolly, and the ending is just very flat.

Entenzahn (Jim Butcher)
I get the Jim Butcher sort of urban fantasy vibe from this and I think it hits that goal right away. At first I was a bit eye-rolly about the concept of this story, but I think it went to quite nice places once the different realities started to overlap a bit. It would be easy to step that sort of thing into a mess but I think it actually elevated the story and was handled really well. Let down, perhaps, by a bit of a flat and predictable ending.

sebmojo (Italo Calvino)
drat, this is really good. Very stylised too. Very believable, very ‘real’. Good stuff. I don’t know what to say. Real literary fiction here. I don’t have much to say, sorry. I guess this works for in a sort of Winnesburg, Ohio way (I’m not really familiar with Calvino, sorry), and something more could probably be made from this where the connections are a bit more fleshed out.

newtestleper (Donald Barthelme)
There’s a lot I like about this, but I’m not really sure why? The ending does feel a bit muddled to me, though. I’m no Barthelme expert, but I actually think this fits his sort of flash fiction style quite nicely. And the way it focuses on specific things that then relate back. I really get what you’re going for with this, and for me, it works. I suppose it could use maybe a little bit of tightening here and there.

Blade_of_tyshalle (Matthew Woodring Stover)
“There's a reason most of us wear black trousers, limpdick”… because everyone is pissing themselves all the time? I like the hardass old guy is all about skating, that’s kind of nice it its own way, and also a bit funny that he is worked up over ice skating. There’s a good amount of figure skating lexicon to sell me on it, too. There’s a nice balance between hardass sci-fi and lightness to this that I really like the effect that creates. ALERT: Twist says this isn’t sci-fi, so that might have just been me thinking it was because that’s how I’m familiar with Stover. I was imagining some sort of hard sci-fi future where figure skating is super intense and brutal.

Amused Frog (Iain Banks)
This is sort of vile and grotesque, which I think works. The juxtaposition between those elements and the toytown setting are intriguing and in that respect it works very well. It falls down on selling me on toytown, though. Besides the odd mention of a button for an eye or stitching I find it hard to feel immersed in toytown and find myself asking why it is set in a toytown at all. While that might be the intention, it takes away from the aforementioned juxtaposition which I enjoyed, which is a minus. I really wanted to be sold on the toytown concept. Plot-wise it is obvious Andy’s penis/metaphor for a penis was taken from early on, and the main drive for the reader is the question “why did this happen?” “how does this relate to the toytown”, etc., but this ever get dealt with sufficiently for me. Image-wise I love that final picture that is painted, it summarises the feel of the story for me, but I don’t feel it did enough getting there.

McStephenson (Ray Bradbury)
Fahrenheit 451? More like Fahrenheit 45-DONE. As in, I’m done, with this.

Benny the Snake (Jim Butcher)
I guess I like the sawdust angle. The writing in this story is kind of hard to pindown. It’s very detached in that sort of detective pulp way, but it’s not really engaging enough to hit that for me. It gets kind of ridiculous in places, and in that way it’s almost enjoyable, but it doesn’t have the charm of self-awareness to capitalise on that and pull it off, instead leaving it a bit of a damp pool or words. It seems to have enough knowledge of the sort of urban fantasy genre to know what sort of things to do, but not quite enough commitment into figuring out how to make those sort of elements work. It’s just… there’s a level of confidence to this, but it seems like surface level confidence, like you’re hoping this will work. But what it really needs is real confidence, I think. You can probably find your hole in this genre if you keep at it – I can see it there, but you’re not quite there yet.

SurreptitiousMuffin (Ted Berrigan)
I’m no Barrigan expert, but your overall structure doesn’t seem to fit with the work of his that I am familiar with. By which I mean your mixed stanza lengths. With that said I appreciate your use of mixed stanzas and is does give it a sort of story-like pace which fits this piece, I think. As for you use of enjambment, it was very Barrigan – and I quite like that sort of thing that made me happy. I like the focus on the topic of communication and the usage of words, and I think this poem does a good job at sticking to that one thing and exploring what that means in a few different ways rather than tackling quite a few things and then thinking about how those things connects. In this way I appreciate the clarity which nicely contrasts the loose focus that comprises the tone of the poem. I’m not crazy about the fourth stanza, and I can’t quite pin down why. I think its different pace throws me off, and if that is the intention then well done.

Thalamas (Neil Gaiman)
What starts out promising just sort of devolves into things just happening because they do. It feels like there is too much idea to be condensed into a story this short, and so it all just sort of happens. I think in some respects this story shows too much promise, that ultimately it doesn’t live up to what I want from it. The beginning was slow but I liked the way it built atmosphere, and then I loved the blunt tone shift (a not unbroadcast tone shift) that comes after the break. But after that it just seemed like a bunch of stuff. This could have used more focus, I think, into hitting the right notes throughout.

Fumblemouse (J.P. Martin)
JP Martin is the Uncle, guy, right? This ending is dark as poo poo. This didn’t really hit the right notes of fantastical to me as far as JP Martin is concerned, but I’m not expert I guess. This reminded me more of Torchwood (that fairy episode from series 1 I think). Still, there’s a good mood and atmosphere to this – the bottom of the garden does feel fantastical in that sort of sinister way. I’m not too crazy about the plot, and I’m not really sure what happened. Some angel-guy whispers riddles at her and then hangs her? All right.

Hammer Bro. (Jack Vance and Brent Weeks)
Well style-wise this is indeed pretty “fantasy”. I found it a bit complex with who wanted want and who was doing what. I’m not really sure what happened or what it meant. I think Felix subconsciously remembered something important about conjuring up ghostborn, because he drank some special magic potion? I guess this is a style thing but the word choice in this is massively pretentious and unnecessary. That only added to how hard this was to follow, and I think the other judges had issue with this too.

Kaishai (Agatha Christie)
Agatha Christie style but in space. I dig it. I really love a lot about this story. It all just makes sense and fits together really well. The themes work really well. This is one of my favourites for sure. I don’t have much to say because it was really good. I think was a fresh look at something that I initially thought could be quite cliché, and I found the ending genuinely moving.

Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.

Mercedes posted:

I'm going to need 3 volunteers, preferably past 'Domers that have not won a week, for a 3 way brawl... :byodood:WITH A PRIZE:byodood:!

First three to sign up are in.

Unwitting rascals:
Fuschia Tude


Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.

Mercedes posted:


I'm almost done with mine! No excuses, but life has been throwing a lot at me all of a sudden, both good and bad, but have required time to deal with. I thought about dropping out but then I realised that's not my way.

With that said your prompt managed to inspire in me some ideas I'm fond of, and there are some bits in this story I'm quite happy with for what it is. Now I'm just sort of slotting it all together.


Jan 9, 2012

When SEO just isn't enough.

Mercedes posted:


You bastards need proper motivation to get into the right mindset.

This is the prize list in where the winner get's to pick a game from.

Now, for the prompt.

A 2,500 word story about a heist or con-job set in any time period your rascally hearts desire. I'll allow this to be a 4-man-brawl. So with a baller prize (I think) on the line, you get two weeks to work on this poo poo. September 23, 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time. No loving extensions allowed.

Your stories better be polished, so get some help if you have to.

Fuschia tude, Posh Alligator, Hammer Bros and Thalamas; you better give me the best you got, you sons of bitches.

Here is my debut brawl entry, a story about a bizarre con-job:

The Lost Treasure of Captain Bowridge
(2479 words)

Sorry it's a Google Doc, but ideally I'd like to control what is searchable online or whatever.

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