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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Let's all strive to write good okay acceptable above average not horrifying bare minimally digestible stories this year.

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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Oh right so this was going on.

Surreptitious Twist Judgment

Muffin and Twist, you two have left me in quite the jam. Generally speaking, brawls tend to be very one-sided, or come down to who loses a race to the bottom. Well instead you both turned in strong submissions, and I've spent the last week trying to make up my mind about which one I liked better. Close as we get to a photo finish, though instead of ten seconds it takes up ten days.

Muffin, despite your grumbling, you still manage to churn out a respectably lean piece. Afforded a generous word count, you went for an economy of words (albeit by circumstance rather than design) and some nice, sparse imagery. A week later, your images still linger in my head; particularly autumn and winter. That said, it's a good thing the two of you agreed to a pretty prose brawl because it is definitely the imagery that does the heavy lifting. Although you deliver on the prompt as promised, your man for all seasons doesn't leave much of an impression beyond the powerful symbols associated with him. His trials and choices are universal enough that they could apply to anyone, but also vague enough they could have been written by anyone. You would have done better to delve into the specific and draw forth the universal.

Twist, you went the opposite route, something far more ambitious. In contrast to Muffin's sparsity, you presided over a carnival of images. Almost too many, you might say. It all flowed together well enough, but after the initial awe I found very few of them stuck out beyond your opening and ending selections. I would have preferred it if you'd whittled it down to smaller number of stronger images and sensations. But it works well enough for what your aims were, and your protagonist is enough of her own character that she becomes an image in and of herself. She and you both played to the seasons, and I was fond of your uses of echo. Unfortunately, the ending spoils it a bit. You invoke mythic names and imagery, only for the object of her affection to be...some random guy? Your choice to end on fear and bewilderment is also an odd one.

Twist's aim was to challenge himself and improve. I'd like to say he did both. Muffin obliged him, and showcased his prowess even under pressure. But if there can only be one winner, I guess it'll have to be Muffin. Sometimes less is more.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Also, my surreality crits from the tail-end of the last thread, for those of you who missed it.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Good job Crabrock you can't even lose properly.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Mr.48 posted:

Can I edit
No.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at Jan 21, 2015 around 09:57

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


In Tandem (150 words)

The door creaked, and light invaded my world. He stood there alone in that morning warmth; naked and wet, my one and only.

"It's that time again," he said, eyes locked on my slender frame. With masculine arms he roused me from my slumber. As always, he carried me. His whole body shivered.

The sound of bare feet on ceramic tile signaled our arrival, the air still thick with steam from the shower. His grip tightened, resolved. Here he was the expert. I could only accept his knowing hands. With a practiced rhythm, he made his first thrust. I breathed in deep, captivated by his hypnotic skill, his firm caress. The lingering steam lent an almost dreamlike quality to the old routine. It'd been far too long since the last time we'd done this.

After two minutes, he was finished. "Got it, finally." He flushed to be sure.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


newtestleper posted:

I fail to see how common sense needs to be qualified as an "unofficial caveat."
Says man posting in Thunderdome.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE posted:

i know this is loving crazy but you could all try writing a story first and THEN entering???? holy gently caress lol

ahahaha...

sorry, im the only person that does that
So why do you never submit them?

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Cache Cab posted:

Cities Fall Yet Rivers Still Flow 960 Words.

Rivers hung upside down. They carried him tied tight to a wooden pole. The one in front had nice and thick back hair full of dirt and sweat and fleas. The fleas jumped as the men jostled through thick, winding forest, but Rivers finally found one tired and heavy with blood. He stared at the flea until it filled his vision, and then he spoke to it. Ever since he'd got ‘nocced his words didn’t come out right, but the fleas always understood.

“gently caress!” The hairy man spun around and dropped the pole.

Rivers crashed down with the pole, first his head, then his feet.

“Shee, Trey!” I’ma kill ya dog! Fulla fuckin’ fleas!”

Trey got up in the hairy man’s face. “Ya’int gonna.”

“Ya’am,” the hairy man said, “gonna eat ‘em cock en all.”

They’d have the milky white bubos all over their groins and neck by sundown. By morning they’d be drowning in their own sweat and pus, floating in and out of flea-kissed fever dreams. Rivers could just walk away.

“gently caress off, Range, ya’int eatin’ muh dog se’en we gotta fat en fresh autie all skewered up.”

Range leaned over Rivers, his sweat dripped into Rivers' brow and stung his eye.

“Autie, you mumble a buncha shee en then I get bit? I’ma eat ya cock se’en I can’t eat Trey’s dog’s cock.”

Rivers wanted to flap his arms, but the ropes held them tight to the pole, so he hummed and tilted back and forth.

“Maybe’ll suck ya cock a‘fore ya eat ‘is!” Trey said, laughing.

They hoisted him back up and walked toward their camp.

--

Range and Trey coughed up phlegm even as they gathered kindle. Each cough hacked up thousands of blooming bugs right out of their throats and all over the tents and rusted pots. Rivers saw each and every bug real clear, saw them sucked past bloody lips and up into broken noses. They were all gonna get real sick. All but Rivers, who was all nocced and autied up. Only problem was he was still strung up on the skewer, ready to get roasted and ate.

He had to talk his way off the pole and out of the ropes, but talking was something auties didn't do so good.

“Waaaa!” Rivers grunted. “Waaaazzz!”

“Shut the gently caress--” Range started to yell, but a cough cut him off. He gasped for breath, and Rivers could hear the gurgles as Ranged sucked in, then he saw the blood that Range hacked up as he coughed and coughed.

“Wizz! Wizz!” Rivers rocked back and forth. “Wizzaar--Wizz wizz!” He couldn’t get the word out. It was so clear in his mind, but all his wiring was messed up and he couldn’t just tell them he was a wizard. If they thought he could help, even if it was a tiny glimmer of hope, they’d probably untie him.

Trey chuckled; he wasn’t looking too sick yet. “Autie’s gotta wiz! Lez see what e’s packin.” Trey grabbed Rivers' crotch. “E’s got uh fat dick.” Trey unzipped his fly and pulled out Rivers' cock. Another of them whistled as he took a look.

gently caress them, gently caress all of them, Rivers thought. He roared it out at them, but all he heard come out was “F-uhh. Fuhhh. Fuckkkk!”

Trey’s friend sauntered over. “Big dick autie wantsa gently caress? Ya wanna first or can I?” He asked Trey.

“Ya can gently caress, I wannim ta suck ma’off,” Trey said. He took out a knife and cut Rivers from the skewer.

Rivers hit the ground and, hands free, flapped them in front of him as he rocked back and forth. He hummed loud and cast a new spell. The first time he’d needed the slower onset to infect the whole camp, but now he just needed Trey dead fast.

Rivers focused on their throats, saw a bunch of bored bugs and bacteria with nothing to do, and spoke to them.

“Raaaa! Urrrrr! Thraa gaa sssuhhh!” Was all anyone heard, except the bugs. They heard and obeyed Rivers clear like always. Trey had one hand on River’s dick, but as the bugs carried out River’s orders, he let go and fell to the ground.

An animal sound exploded in Trey’s throat as vomit and blood erupted from his mouth. It hit Rivers in the stomach, it felt like scalding oatmeal and rotting blueberries. The sickness caked his belly and pubic hair as it dripped down, and Trey emptied out his stomach onto the forest floor, acid and all, in rhythmic aftershocks that splashed back onto Trey’s face. After his last cough, both Rivers and Trey were pink and red and milky with his death vomit, but Rivers was still alive and Trey wasn't.

The other one's eyes just bulged, and he must have realized that Rivers was a wizard you didn't gently caress with, so his dick wasn't hard no more and he just ran right off.

Everyone else was really sick from Rivers’ first spell, so he just walked out of the camp, past dozens of dying men. They didn’t have the energy left to stop him walking off, let alone to string him up again and cook him.

He walked toward the ruins of the old city, left to decay by the ‘tism and ravaged by the few that weren’t nocced. Other autties had become wizards like him, and he knew somewhere out there was one opposite of him. A wizard who could cure the ‘tism. Science had died and another noc would never come. Even if somewhere in some deep lab there were scientists slaving away at another big noc, Rivers wouldn’t trust ‘em. Rivers only trusted people like himself. He only trusted
The Aristocrats.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


INTERPROMPT



Wizards are lame and for nerds so let's talk about barbarians who unlike wizards are totally sweet.

You have 300 words to tell me a story featuring barbarians. I literally do not care what your story is about as long as it contains barbarians. Wizards are absolutely prohibited unless they are on the receiving end of a barbarian's sword, axe, or fist.

Now go forth and find out what is best in life.

EDIT: vvv Crits are also totally sweet and barbarians approve of constructive critique where applicable.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at Apr 27, 2015 around 07:48

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Your proposal is acceptable.

Go forth, my child, to crit and conquer.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Pham Nuwen posted:

I wrote a barbarian story while sitting in the airport, we're just supposed to post those whenever right?
A true barbarian posts when he wants to.

More seriously, "Yes." The point of an interprompt is something short and sweet (and often silly) to fill the time between submissions closing and judgment being rendered.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


crabrock posted:

Judges: crabrock, SexySeafood, sexything2

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


"Ben E. Coyote, super genius."

*Straps himself to rocket and fires it at the the moon.*

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at May 16, 2015 around 19:17

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Benny if you are not going to post constructively please hold off until the interprompt, thanks.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Don't worry Blue Squares you're still No. 1 in my book.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Huh. Genuinely sorry if that's a mistake. Who the hell was I thinking of? Somebody wrote terrible erotica, got mad then stormed off.
Pretty sure it was Cache Cab.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Not recording Merc and myself* reading this for posterity is one of my top ten regrets in life.

Because I'm certainly not rereading it.

*Somebody else was there too but I've forgotten who, sorry bro.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Some much-belated crits. Short and snappy cause honestly not too many stories last week deserved anything more and I don't believe in fixating on minutiae when the whole needs to be tossed anyway. If you somehow feel I have shortchanged your submission by summing up in three sentences why it sucks, too bad.

Those of you new to the 'Dome should know I typically assign homework along with my crits, the purpose of which is to target your weaknesses and make you a better writer. I won't be doing that this time since the whole joint-authorship deal makes it tricky to nail down who's at fault, but the next time I'm at bat you should all be prepared.

Gifted and Talented by Newtestleper & Jay O

A weird thing happened, the end. That's your entire story. I've just distilled it into six words. The opening conflict of a baby growing at an accelerated rate causing problems is immediately defused by the punchline that this sort of thing happens all the time here at the brothel to the stars, yes. Not exactly a seamless transition from worried parents to a pimp and his prostitute there Jay O. Fortunately nothing was lost as neither of them were particularly interesting characters anyway.

Leaving It All Behind Simplefish & Blue Squares

Several hundred words of dry introspection followed by a father-daughter bonding story that didn't really build off the first half in any meaningful way. Not that I blame Blue Squares for taking a detour what with the directions he was given. As a general rule of thumb, I should care about your characters before you unload all their baggage on me. Your longtime friend coming clean about his marital struggles is heartbreaking; a stranger's just a drunk guy in a bar. It doesn't take long to establish someone's lost everything, so next time consider saving some of your words for the purpose of bringing me closer to your protagonist. Then his suffering shall be my suffering.

Except we weren't looking for suffering this week, which is where you both screwed up. The second half is better than the first in that there's an actual narrative taking place and not just some dude staring off into the distance while a harmonica plays in the theater of his mind, but fails to realize or redeem anything from the first half beyond the names as it tries to tell an intimate story with an impersonal tone. Eh.

An Unfinished Story by Posh Alligator

Two characters talk about stuff I don't care about while one of them struggles in vain not to look at the other's eyepatch. Several times. Nobody continued this story, but I've no real desire to see how it ended.

Round Sundown by Blue Squares & Skwidmonster

This was okay. No real surprises, but competently executed. Blue Squares writes yet another bumbling Middle American, but he's got personality so I am invested in this newest of the presumably many dilemmas he finds himself embroiled in. His wife's more a punchline than a character though, and the story suffers for it. It may be a reveal, but it was never really a twist.

An Unfinished Story by Benny the Snake

I don't crit plagarism.

Mercury Rising by Pham Nuwen & Benny Profane

Everyone in this story is either a dickbag or an idiot. Some of them are both. Your protagonist is both and that makes me angry. I don't like reading about dickbags unless they are interesting dickbags, and I don't like reading about idiots unless they are sympathetic idiots. Your protagonist is neither interesting or sympathetic. She is instead an incredibly bitter and petty person whose response to getting fired is to deploy a virus into the computer system hypothetically responsible for keeping everyone alive in the harsh vacuum of space, her act of revenge enabled by her equally petty coworker whose password she is able to guess because he decided to dedicate it to insulting her. But she saves the day and so her slate is washed clean without any self-examination or special exertion on her part. Go team.

Competent prose, but don't take that as a pat on the back when it's in service of unlikable characters who can't even be unlikable in engaging ways.

Prehistory by Benny Profane & Ironic Twist

Congratulations on writing a boring story about an intergalactic hero who is also a dinosaur. Your opening was promising, if a little heavy on exposition, but when the whole of your story can be boiled down to a famous person learning he's famous even way out in the boonies, why do I care? Not even the occasionally fun dialogue could save this piece. It feels like you spent all this time telling me your protagonist was off having cool adventures when instead you might have shown me some of those adventures. Lame.

The Monster in the Closet by Jitzu the Monk & Something Else

"Hmm, Crabrock requested a lighthearted week, no drama, so let's do a young woman struggling with her emergent sexual identity in the face of her conservative religious upbringing, yes, that's the ticket. Lacking that Something Awful touch though, dear me...well let's just jump straight to the loving bit and skip over any hint of a substantive relationship. Gah, no erotica though. Fine. The post-loving bit."

Decent prose, wrong week, subtle as an anvil. Your protagonist wants something and is given that thing on a silver platter. There are no stakes. Her inner struggle is relegated almost immediately to the periphery, which is a shame because beyond her struggle she's got nothing of note.

Bobbins by Schneider Heim & Sebmojo

I know you goons love your profanity but sometimes I feel like you guys don't appreciate how it can transform a story. Here we've got the makings of a quaint, quirky little slice of somebody's life only for a big fat "loving" to come outta nowhere piercing straight through the tone. People swear in real life, of course, and sometimes you wanna wake the reader up like that, but I don't think you did right here and it really strikes me as out of place. Unless you're writing a story in which (or a character for whom) casual swearing in the norm, consider instead how a single word like this can either take the legs out from under you or knock down the dominoes just as you planned.

Anyway, as the guy whose only winning entries have been ghost stories, I can't say I thought too much of this one. Schneider spent way too much time on setup while Sebmojo kinda rushed the climax. If I wasn't expected to critique it, I'd likely have forgotten all about it by now.

The C-Word Out of Space by Spectres of Autism & Thranguy

My reaction upon reading this story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a-Wz4DLZUA

Everyone dies, nothing was learned, the end. Your 12-year-old genius protagonist (who acts like none of those things) creates a monster because he feels like it, who in turn proceeds to kill everyone because it feels like it, except it's...his mother? Then it kills him and his death triggers a killswitch which kills it. Maybe. What a waste of time.

Next time consider cutting down on the mountain of corpses to make room for any semblance of reason why I should care about your characters or their plight. Also consider submitting during a different week since nothing about this tale was remotely lighthearted.

The Crucible by Sitting Here & Grizzled Patriarch

Your protagonist doesn't speak at all until the halfway point which is kind of weird to me. Your protagonist also uses RPG magic to solve all her problems, which drains the story's tension. Without any established rules or known limitations governing what your protagonist's magic is capable of, the solution to everything boils down to "I cast the right spell to overcome this obstacle," in which case wow, who cares.

Otherwise, an adequate effort. Chalk this one up as another story I would've forgotten if it weren't my job to put it through its paces.

The Fire and the Slave by JcDent & Jonked

(6:14:59 PM) BadSeafood: Done with the slave story.
(6:15:09 PM) bompacho: was it lighthearted
(6:15:11 PM) BadSeafood: I like how the slave said and did nothing the whole time.

I think Broenheim very nicely summed up everything wrong with this story so just read his twice but imagine the second time it's me.

Square Pegs are for Squares by Blue Wher & Tyrannosaurus

I like how everyone in this story has exactly one character trait. I also like how the problem is solved by a character just randomly having an idea which is then implemented off-screen to great success with no complications. Yawn.

The Art Lesson by Fuschia tude & Jitzu_the_Monk

"Hmm, Crabrock requested a lighthearted week, no drama, so let's do a young woman putting a gun in her mouth to join her sister in a magical realist painting."

You did whatever you felt like in this story with little rhyme or reason. Your protagonist was dull and your antagonist (???) was pointlessly cryptic. Please refrain from writing something this offensively stupid in the future, thanks in advance.

Sole Survivor: Space Janitor by DMboogie & RedTonic

How rad would Risk of Rain have been with an innocuous janitor character.

This was the first story I actually enjoyed reading this week. Your premise was fun and your protagonist was funny. Tonic's contribution was a little underwhelming after Boogie's opening but paid off dividends with the conclusion. Not a fan of the epistolary structure but that's just me. Your prose is serviceable; nothing more, nothing less.

Sculpting Perfections by Ironic Twist & Blue Wher

Weird Science meets the Gods Must Be Crazy. Kinda preachy. Not sure I can believe the protagonist would be satisfied with the woman he wound up after how he was nitpicking everyone at the beginning. He's happy just to have someone who appreciates his work after reverse-catcalling the women of the village for their physical blemishes? Not sure I see his turning point. The ice crying out was weird but I'm not sure what it was in service of.

At the end of the day, inoffensively bland.

Ring Quest by RedTonic & Pham Nuwen

Now here's a story that started off great only to crash and burn in the second act. Your protagonist is charming and knowable. Everyone is, really. Even though she's dealing with a major dilemma, there's this feelgood atmosphere that permeates the piece. I was concerned over the fate of your protagonist's ring and hopeful that they would recover it.

Except she doesn't recover it and someone else ends up solving her problem for her. Strike one. Except they really didn't since it's someone else's ring. Strike two. Which she decides to keep making her seem incredibly petty. Strike three. Ever hear the story of the Honest Woodsman? What you've done is reward your protagonist for lying while punishing her for taking matters into her own hands. Not an unrealistic ending, but not a very satisfying one either. Her success is ultimately someone else's doing and her victory rings hollow.

Work Experience by Something Else & Newtestleper

I was with you until literally the last two lines. The door's over there.

A Better Place to Be In Jay O & Schneider Heim

A shipwrecked crew turning to cannibalism isn't the first thing I'd think of when asked to write a lighthearted story but maybe I'm just old fashioned. There's a sequence of events here, but I can't be bothered to care about any of it. The captain cuts the protagonist free saying they'll need every man they can get...to eat(!), but didn't kill him beforehand because...? If the protagonist's fate is to nourish his former mates, shouldn't it be a bad thing he's not as far as Dario? I'll admit I'm not exactly hip and with it when it comes to the subject of cannibalism so it's possible there exists intimate insider knowledge I am unaware of.

Some stories I forgot about reading after I read them but this one I feel like I forgot about while I was reading it.

Birdy by Grizzled Patriarch & Spectres of Autism

A promisingly absurd opening spills over into serial killer territory. Your protagonist getting angry over his apartment-sized self-declared nation not being recognized by the United States is funny. Your protagonist fetching a gun to murder the person who's come to check up on him is not funny. I don't profess to know you, Specters of Autism, but between this and your half of the C-Word Out of Space I am becoming increasingly concerned over your definition of a lighthearted story.

Ulterior Motives by Jonked & Simplefish

Your protagonist is a thoroughly unlikable person and the time travel element feels like it came out of nowhere. Probably because it did. Again I direct you to Broenheim's comments.

Trouble Trouble by Chairchucker & DMboogie

Literally the only reason this didn't DM was because that wouldn't be fair to DMboogie since whoever got stuck with this was doomed from the start. Chair, you're usually pretty funny, but this felt like someone trying to imitate your style and falling flat. The poorest possible successor to your David Bowie story.

What a Twist Thranguy & JcDent

I liked your opening paragraph. I also liked how you ultimately completely disregarded that conflict to come up with a new one that was stupid in every way. I liked how your action was confusing, and I had to reread certain segment to parse what was happening. I liked how nothing about Gord was interesting or compelling beyond the contents of his trunk. I liked how the fact that it was cats was what he found most pressing. I liked how this bizarre scenario in no way accented or developed Gord's character in any appreciable way. I liked how this bizarre disaster was virtually interchangeable with several mundane and/or nondescript ones.

I hated the ending though.

The Princess Ball by Skwidmonster & PoshAlligator

I kept having to mentally correct my projected age for the protagonist's daughter girlfriend. She sure has a one-track mind. Good thing she has a sudden change of heart in time for the conclusion, except it's implied that's how she was all along? A flat and superficial story.

Mummy Got Boned by Djeser & Sitting Here

My only disappointment with this story was that the mummy wasn't bandaged up. Otherwise, a delightful read. Of particular note is the effective use of tone. Your protagonist is essentially a bad guy, a predator stalking his prey, yet the mood of the piece and the antics of its players leave the whole thing feeling like a screwball comedy. That woman is totally gonna have all her internal fluids sucked out and that's hilarious.

Thee Tends Well By Sebmojo & Fuschia Tude

After Sebmojo's hilarious opening I hit Fuschia Tude's court transcript and immediately stopped reading. Congratulations Fuschia on turning gold into lead.

What's Left When It All Goes Wrong Tyrannosaurus & Djeser

Heartwarming and off-prompt. It's probably worth noting this is pretty much the only story you might've tricked me into thinking one person wrote all the way through, so props to Djeser for perfectly matching Tyrannosaurus' style. Not a bad piece on its own merits, though I dislike how your protagonist has literally no agency. He's in a bad way and his father fixes everything. As with Ring Quest, realistic endings aren't always thematically satisfying.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


If you like to gamble, I tell ya I'm your man.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at Jun 3, 2015 around 00:23

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Posthumor posted:

I'm in for gambling & would like flash rule.
Old Maid. To the death.

JcDent posted:

I hate gambling and/or losing. I'm IN. Flash rule, maybe?
One of your characters lives by the rule "It's not cheating if you don't get caught." Tonight, however, their preferred methods are unavailable to them.

Bonus points if you make them likable despite their habits.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Congratulations to the first guy in TD's three-year history to complain to the mods over judgment.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at Jun 3, 2015 around 00:08

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


(10:57:21 PM) BadSeafood: But yeah I love gambling stories. Is it alright if I offer flash rules?
(10:57:57 PM) Thranguy: Okay, so that's set up. Sure, go ahead and offer flash rules, was just about to say that I wasn't going to myself but that it would be fine.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Jonked posted:

gently caress it, and give me a flash rule.
Your protagonist is the person being bet on, and they're none too happy about it.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


We've had two-judge weeks before.

Noah always judges solo.

No rules were broken.

Rest assured though I read your story and it awful. Had I accepted Tyrannosaurus' offer to co-judge in IRC I would have agreed with him 100%.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Kinda weird it's Benny going off about the rules though considering he breaks them all the time when it suits him.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE posted:

new rule i just made up: if 10 people emptyquote this, benny the snake, the legendary rulebreaker, is banned from entering the thunderdome ever again

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Fausty posted:

I lost last week and I wanna make up for it. In.

Can I get a flash rule?
A friendly wager ends up with someone's reputation on the line.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


SkaAndScreenplays posted:

I signed up this week?

poo poo I didn't even remember the prompt.

Oh well...In this week and gently caress it and flash rule while we're at it.
The fate of world rests on the outcome of this game.

curlingiron posted:

Gonna need a flash rule.
Your protagonist's opening ante is their fondest childhood memory. Literally, their memory.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Lake Jucas posted:

Guess what goons, I'm back!

What? Don't remember. I don't give a poo poo. Get ready to be wrecked this round. I guess I'll be fair and take a handicap: flash-rule me, powers-that-be.
Your characters bet on something you wouldn't usually think to bet on.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Benny Profane posted:

In. I'd like a flash rule, too -- hit me hard.
A classic game gets a terrifying twist.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


chumprock, nature's gimp posted:

all the judges last week were the worst. especially seadoof, who may as well be named poopdoof and be smeared on the bottom of a common park bench for ladies to accidentally touch and squeal in disgust. my opinion is the only one that matters now. Let's see how your story holds up to a real judge:

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


But seriously, there was actually a fair bit of division between the judges on some stories. Be sure to read everyone's crits as some of you will get wildly different takes from all of us.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Ha ha time for crits.

Before I begin I should probably reiterate that there was quite a bit of division among the judges this week, and that had I gotten my way that DM list would probably have been twice as long. Thranguy and Djeser were also far more generous than I was about what constituted a "Bet." If your story wasn't explicitly singled out for an HM, consider the following gif indicative of my overall opinion of this week's performance.



If you did get an HM, you might still not be safe! I absolutely hated at least one story to HM this week, and the more wily among you may be able to guess which one in advance. As for the rest of you, stay tuned.

Also, HOMEWORK! For the uninitiated among you, I have a habit of assigning homework to the stories I crit. Just think of it as my little way of highlighting stuff I think you suck at and giving you the opportunity to improve yourselves in the eyes of Man and God. I appreciate of course that some of you have busy lives, and are therefore under no obligation to complete my homework. Sympathetic as I am to your plight, this still does nothing to lessen your status as a grade A superchump. So do your homework, and I myself shall carry you across the Gates of Valhalla where you shall write eternal, shiny and chrome.

High Stakes by Screaming Idiot

Congratulations on submitting first! Within 48 hours of the prompt post no less. Surely this will be a well-conceived, tightly edited, highly polished submission from your friend and mine, Screaming Idiot.

Title: High Stakes.

Opening Line: I think I got a gambling problem.

I see you read the prompt post. That's certainly half of the battle.

Your opening act is actually pretty passable. Your protagonist is kind of a lowlife idiot, but at least in a believably human way. His idiocy feels like his own, rather than the author's idiocy pervading into the realm of the story (an important distinction). You do a good job setting the scene and even reveal a bit of character through actions rather than words. You kinda skimp over the actual gamble itself though, but hey we've still got a bit of story left to go. Also kind of a bit weird you'd go against someone who claimed to be the Devil without a plan in your back pocket, but since we've established this sort of lack of foresight is habit to the protagonist I'll let it slide. Little harder to forgive the line "The only thing that stuck out about him was X" following a whole paragraph of character description though.

Then your protagonist turns into a vampire, and quickly graduates from killing animals to killing people he doesn't like to killing people just in general. Then some vampire hunters show up and he kills them too. Kinda hard to retain any kind of sympathy for your protagonist at this point, especially when the twist later on is that he could have conceivably called up the Devil at any time to request a rematch, the meeting place for which isn't even out of his way. You mention his daughter in passing as a sort of morality object, but the two never engage in any sort of meaningful interaction. I only know she is important to him because you tell me she is. In the meantime, he's slaughtering dozens of nameless mooks that make for semi-decent opening hooks. "I'd have felt worse about it, but in a way, we were both out for blood." No protagonist whose name I can't say because he doesn't have one, you are not both out for blood. You are a monster who murders people, and this is someone who's come to stop you. I recognize that people who do bad things in this, the real world, typically have some line they feed themselves to feel better about what they're doing, but this is a click away from "gently caress you, got mine," which again is weakened by the revelation that for all we know he could have requested a rematch at any time. Maybe he couldn't have, but since you gloss over whether or not the Devil took any of his earlier calls - or if he even made any of them - I have to presume he's just a dick who doesn't care how his problems affect other people unless those are people he actually cares about.

Then he shows up to challenge the Devil without a plan. Playing black jack, which has a larger luck component than poker. Against the Devil, who is the Devil. I overlooked him not having a gameplan the first time around, but now the character's idiocy is really the author's. But through sheer luck, he wins. Except he doesn't, of course, because he's playing against the Devil whose whole deal is screwing people. Now his daughter is dead and the hunters are here for him. All that nothing for a whole lot of nothing. Who's he telling this whole story to anyway?

Your prose is largely competent, but your protagonist is dumb and unlikable and the whole thing ends up being a huge waste of time. Everyone dies, no lesson was learned, and at no point past your skipping over the poker game was I emotionally or intellectually invested in anything. Try again.

HOMEWORK: The Emperor of Madness returns home to help his daughter with a math assignment in 400 words.

***

Between Friends by Fausty

Hey man, I watched Gladiator too.

Let's see, where to start. Said bookisms, head jumping, confusing blocking, tons of modern swears in my presumably anccient Roman gambling story. I'm not opposed to having characters swear, nor am I opposed to deliberately anachronistic elements in semi-historical fiction, but here it felt like you just made everywhere swear in lieu of giving them any sort of interesting personality. The prisoner and the two centurions all share the exact same "Voice" in my head. You might want to do something about that.

But all this is peanuts next to the real crime of this story: Aulus is a complete and utter idiot. He makes a gamble he stands nothing to gain from, a gamble in which he is functionally risking everything, and watches dumbfounded as Martinus turns out to be a slimy weasel and murders his partner. You try to spin the old friends angle of their relationship, except there's nothing in the text to make me think that carries any weight. Aulus' thoughts are entirely focused on whether or not this will blow back on him. Speaking of which, best case scenario, what was his plan if Martinus really did just run and his partner couldn't catch him? Surely his partner would ask how he got loose, or why Aulus didn't pursue. What would his response to these questions have been? Alternatively, a question Aulus might have asked is how delivering a supposedly petty thief would grant him the happiness of the Caesar? "The loving Caesar," that is. The most preeminent of all Caesars, I'm sure. I liked how you tried to sell Martinus' supremely stupid suggestion as some kind of manipulative masterstroke when the only reason it worked was because Aulus was similarly supremely stupid.

When Martinus rides off, he knows Aulus won't follow. How does he know? Why does he know? Why doesn't he. Aulus has no reason to adhere to the agreement at this point.

Regardless, it doesn't matter. Despite Aulus' confidence nobody would ever find out, they found out anyway. Somehow. After which we're treated to several extra paragraphs that contribute nothing to the narrative beyond making Aulus' day even worse. Nice job making the judge seem like a malicious prick though when he's actually being strangely merciful by sparing his presumed dominant hand? Which leads into another issue: who's the protagonist of this story? I would have presumed Martinus based off, well, the majority of it, but then you switch over to Aulus' worst day ever at the end there (and into his head at several points in the narrative). For that matter what's the arc here? Events happen, but why do they matter? A prisoner escapes because his guard was an idiot, the guard gets punished; the end.

I don't know how this story slipped my mind as a DM candidate, but it's a regret I will take to my grave. But hey, good job on writing the canonically longest piss in Thunderdome history.

HOMEWORK: A magician's workshop has gone awry, and it's up to his apprentice to take care of things before the old man gets home in 500 words. The apprentice is still in the performing menial chores portion of his tutelage and doesn't even know a single magic spell.

***

Sardines and Sunny Afternoons by Hocus Pocus

This story was silly but not quite as silly as it needed to be. Your precocious kid protagonist (how old is she anyway?) is upset because the local neighborhood stray cat upstages her at every opportunity. Whenever the cat is actually around it acts just like a regular cat, but in hearsay and recollection it plays musical instruments and knows how to bake cookies? If you'd gone full tilt with the madness and just had an impossibly talented cat, I could've gone along with it. If you'd gone in the opposite direction and just had an ordinary cat who coincidentally kept doing things to earn your protagonist's ire, I could've liked that too. Instead you kinda just tread the middle path so the absurdity feels inconsistent and cartoonish rather than at home.

Not that your story wasn't plenty cartoonish anyway. Your characters are basically cartoons, with all the depth that implies. But hey, cartoons can be fun. This story wasn't, but it could've been. The core premise is fun, but your protagonist is a brat and you, the author, end up dragging your feet with a lot of inane details and setup. You also take your sweet time spelling out that it's a cat she's mad at for some reason, like that twist is supposed to be some tonal paradigm shift. The fact that her rivalry is with a cat is the only thing interesting about your story, so next time maybe establish that a bit earlier. If I were a casual reader and not a judge and this story were in a magazine on the subway and not an Internet comedy forum, I wouldn't have bothered reading far enough to learn it was a cat.

But since I did bother to read that far, I'm not sure how that game was in any way, shape, or form stacked in her favor. Sardines are small and slippery and there was no guarantee her friends (who all seem to like the cat) would favor her with their throws. Also, "I need to talk to you. Alone. Oh sorry, you guys should actually listen too." What? This feels like you, the author, changed your mind in the middle of writing this scene rather than the character changing her mind. The contest itself employed some confusing blocking, as did several earlier sections of your story. In the end your protagonist is humbled, but I have no reason to believe it will stick or make any lasting impact on her.

HOMEWORK: CAN CAPTAIN CAT SAVE THE PRESIDENT IN 300 WORDS? TUNE IN TO FIND OUT!

***

The Rascal Mayor by Hubris.height

Fifty words over the limit, hmm, well, I'm sure you cut everything you cou-

hubris.height posted:

"I don’t like the odds, Frank,” He looked up from the flimsy paper and at the other man Frank, standing with a paper of his own in his hand, “Horse races sound are some risky business. You’ve been getting into a lot of risky business lately.”
Ah, er, well, hopefully this isn't indicative of the overall quality of your wor-

hubris.height posted:

“Look trust me, and we both get rich,” came his hushed reply, from behind darting eyes.


Cliche dialogue, redundant dialogue, sloppy attribution. Once you've named Frank, you can attribute everything Frank says to Frank. Later on you reintroduce Frank as the mayor, but then refer to the mayor in an ephemeral sort of way that briefly made me think the mayor was someone else Frank was in the room with. You do this quite a bit, so next time maybe take a moment to parse your own work to double check it's clear who's saying what. Not that the dialogue matters overly much in this first scene since it's all generic "We could strike it rich," "But we'll be ruined!" gambling placeholder dialogue. The open scene as a whole matters very little anyway since it's not until the timeskip that the plot really starts.

I will say I was briefly interested in how Frank managed to rig the horse race in his favor, until it was revealed that he didn't rig it, they just got extremely lucky with an event literally nobody could have predicted. If I were Frank's friend I would've hit him for that since by all rights we should've lost. Instead both Frank and his friend (Clarence, you eventually deign fit to name him) attribute it to Frank's gambling sense.

Years later Frank's mayor and Clarence is a boxer but they're still cardboard cut-out characters I don't really care about. They never seemed like friends to begin with, but now they're certainly enemies. Frank wants Clarence to take a dive against Johnsmith (any particular reason his name is always Johnsmith other than you forgot to Ctrl + F replace your placeholder name?), Clarence won't do it, so Frank arranges for...something to happen? Then it happens? Then the story is over?

This is just a sequence of events with no weight to any of it. Thanks for the news report, I guess.

HOMEWORK: Joe's a beat up ol' boxer, but if he can't win this next match in 300 words then his son can't go to college.

***

The rear end of the Universe by the Brotherly Phl

500 words over the limit. Your story would literally need to be solid gold for this to be acceptable. It wasn't, of course. Not even fool's gold. Ah well.

"The only thing that’s worth our time is the magic," which is why we stand ragged and shivering and unshaven on street corners performing parlor tricks for passersby. You kind of sacrifice the right to talk about the majesty of creating when all your characters squander their talents performing dumb spectacles so that people will bang them or throw a few bucks into their guitar case. There's no beauty in their actions or even implied awe from the audience. You even infer this sort of thing is rote around here. One would think a world where people had the ability to transmography things into completely different things would have wilder societal repercussions.

"Magic isn’t about changing the world. It’s about figuring out how the world is meant to be, and getting it there," which is why I make my living turning rabbits into trucks and back for spare change from strangers.

But enough about that. Your dialogue is functional but uninteresting, except when the dad is talking (who I didn't realize was the dad until the end of the story) in which case it was functional and crass and only sometimes uninteresting. Your characters weren't that interesting either though, so I guess it fits. You jump around in time a lot which I imagine you thought was pretty clever, but since it's just a dumb gimmick that in no way benefits the story - rather, it makes reading it even more annoying - I'd have to say it wasn't actually that clever in practice. For a little while there I thought you were going for some kind of moral about hard work vs. instant gratification, but you end up pretty much dropping that angle. Marney doesn't like magic for reasons that are never explained or important, and the protagonist's dad harasses him a lot in ways that ultimately don't amount to anything. Biff is actually the most interesting character in the piece, so naturally he's relegated to the bit-part of Marney's evil ex-boyfriend. Actually, Biff seems like he's got his act together pretty well, unlike the protagonist. What does Marney even see in him? What does he even have going for him beyond being able to transfigure stuff, a skill he has apparently never made any sort of practical use of? Doesn't Marney dislike magic anyway? Why would being able to turn school buses into caterpillars impress her?

Yet for all the words and time you waste, you still manage to cut the story right before any kind of ending can take place. Does he do it or doesn't he? You can only withhold that kind of material resolution if it's clear your character has had some sort of spiritual or relational resolution in its place, but I don't think there is one. I don't really consider Biff's challenge a bet either, long as we're on the subject.

Rest assured, if your story hadn't been disqualified by default, I would have pressed for a DM. I should have done that anyway.

HOMEWORK: A scientist finds himself in a bar coping with the fact that he lives in a world where magic is real for 200 words.

***

Destroyer of Worlds! Dragon Godhead by Spectres of Autism

This story made me mad. Mad because I can't believe you thought this was an acceptable submission. Mad because submitting this means you either completely ignored my crit during Crabutt's pizza week, or worse: that you did read it and failed to internalize any of it. I almost considered skipping this story in my crits because there's literally nothing here worth salvaging.

Nearly 1,500 words of vague technobabble and superfluous detail and you spared barely any of it for your characters. Who are these people and why do I care about them? I didn't even remember anyone's name. Your protagonist wants to save a girl and cries over the withered, dying husk of his opponent who was never anything more than a huge jerk. The game itself is a straight rip-off of Yu-Gi-Oh/MTG, except with no understanding of the rules or familiarity with the cards I have no idea what is happening. Every card draw is narrative convenience, which is also the problem with actual, halfway decent stories involving cards. Poker is commonly picked as the focal point in this sort of narrative because your actual hand matters much less than your ability to bluff and psyche out your opponents. It's also a game most people are generally familiar with, making it safe to gloss over the rules. You can still get away with more obtuse games of course if your characters are strong enough, but your characters were barely there. Instead of reading your story I could've just tuned in to a twitch stream of some random dudes playing Hearthstone. I would have about the same level of emotional involvement as well.

I'm sure this story was an ambitious undertaking for you, but none of it worked, most of it was confusing, and all of it was unpleasant to read. There is literally nothing in any story more important than the characters. Try to include some next time.

HOMEWORK: Someone is born, lives, and dies in 100 words and don't you dare waste a sentence on meaningless details.

***

The Last Deal by Enchanted Hat

Your protagonists are one-note jerks in a world filled with idiots where a single fake blog post is enough to tank the global economy and kickstart a nuclear war. All of which your protagonists do gleefully and without remorse in their pursuit of money. When not busy being petty jerks, they're boring. I'm glad they're dead. I'm not glad I had to read this.

EVERYONE READ THIS

Your protagonists should always be likable OR interesting. It's okay to write about jerks or scumbags, but they should be jerks or scumbags in ways that are interesting. This goes double for all characters who are deliberately written to be unlikable. No matter how loathsome your characters are, if I find them compelling then your story is worth my time. If I don't find them compelling then what you're asking me is to spend time with unpleasant people being unpleasant. I don't like hanging around with unpleasant people in real life, so I don't know why you'd think I'd want to in your stories.



HOMEWORK: Someone living in the post-apocalypse finds a single beautiful flower growing in the middle of the desert. 300 words.

***

Five Fingers by Masonity

Speaking of unpleasant people, pretty much everyone in this story qualifies. Your protagonist is some snot-nosed kid who wants to hang out with the presumably cool, equally snot-nosed kids who desire to test his mettle by having him steal something for them...except the twist is they actually intended for him to get caught so they could make their own getaway. Your protagonist figures this out, but still wants to hang with them because he's an idiot, but I guess he'll fit right in since he's equally manipulative. Now there's a friendship that'll last. Good thing that security guard turned out to be sympathetic to his invented plight. Even gave him a bit of advice. I admire adults who encourage violence as the solution to the younger generation's problems. Less admirable is getting your protagonist in a jam and having someone else let him off the hook with a minimal effort lie. I've actually worked in places before where kids shoplifting was a concern. Even if you believe them, even when they're telling the truth, you never let it go at that. Especially not with extremely expensive merchandise on the line. That this guy behaves differently, while not unthinkable, is obviously narrative convenience. Kids typically aren't good actors either, so I'm surprised he bought it.

The gamble was also weak. I don't really consider a dare or contest with a prize as much of a gamble, except in the cosmic sense in which almost anything is a gamble. Boarding a plane is a gamble. You don't know if it'll drop out of the sky or not! Writing a paper's a gamble, running a marathon's a gamble. Anything where you might win or lose with consequences is potentially a gamble. This qualifies, but barely.

Aside from being petty thieves your characters are dull and this story is dull. Your protagonist is allegedly a nerd but is functionally identical to Mark and Andy who are themselves literally identical to one another. The security guard is Every Security Guard With a Soft Side, though to his credit you do have him pontificate on the virtues of scarring people's faces. Shoplifting isn't particularly exciting to read about and you do it no favors here. Your narrative arc is your protagonist is a right bastard and gets reward for being a bastard. The kid on the outside wanting to be "In" with the cool crowd is one of the most overdone plot points there is and you do nothing to spruce it up.

In terms of actual writing skill, your formatting sucks and your story is rife with little errors and said bookisms. There's also your dialogue, which more than occasionally comes off as unnatural. Dialogue needn't necessarily obey the same grammatical rules as the rest of your story, but it should still sound natural to the ear.

This story only HM'd because Thranguy personally liked it. I wouldn't necessarily have DM'd it, but it would've been close. Don't count your chickens.

HOMEWORK: A group of kids play truth or dare for 500 words. Each should possess a distinct character and none of them should be jerks.

***

The Gamble by Rap Three Times

After the preceding solid stream of bile, I was almost prepared to like this one. You've got a good voice and your protagonist wasn't immediately unlikable. Unfortunately, he wasn't interesting either. Neither was this story, if you can call it that. Something happened and then it was over, the end. Not really much of an arc. Your protagonist is in trouble and someone else gets him out of it. Nothing wrong with one character getting another out of a jam against the backdrop of a longer work, but your protagonist should always be the active agent within the limited economy of the short story. If someone needs to be rescued, your protagonist should be doing the rescuing. If your protagonist needs rescuing, they should use their own personal skills to escape rather than relying on someone else.

That aside, style over substance is clearly the order of the day. Not even original style either, much as you might try to rock it. Smarmy spy banter, stereotypical bad guys, torture, espionage, and a badass chick straight out of a Joss Whedon script. All this and you still forgot to actually include a gamble. Disappointing.

HOMEWORK: Your protagonists from this story are getting married, but several of their archenemies crash the ceremony in 700 words.

***

On the Bright Side by Entenzahn

Five bucks seems a bit cheap for a bet potentially involving loss of life and substantial property damage if failed. I recognize that the money isn't the "Point," but nonetheless it makes me wonder who sets the prices.

Anyway, your protagonist is as much a loser as several others before him, but unlike those wastes of space he is actually an interesting, human loser who has human reasons for the stupid stuff he does - even if it raises some questions. How did a dude this addicted to a literal gambling high - with an implied less than impressive track record for wins - ever put together the scratch to buy a fancy car for his son's birthday? What's his job and how does he function in society with kids and a house to consider? All the same, I was invested in your protagonist enough that these questions only occurred to me after reading your story rather than during it. I wanted him to get clean and was somewhat heartbroken when he wasn't, but still satisfied with the end result since he never betrayed my image of him. I also appreciated your subtle attempts at worldbuilding. This neural bet network is clearly something big with an extensive explanation behind how it integrates into society, but you don't waste our time with any of that. Instead you give us an intimate story inside a much larger stage. Very good.

HOMEWORK: Another story set in this universe, but following someone who takes the crazy, high octane bets. 800 words.

***

Shorted Out by Erogenous Beef

A lot of people decided to go with high-stakes market manipulation stories this time around, but this was the only one that didn't suck. Good job. Your protagonist, his boss, and his coworkers were human beings with distinct personalities whose office politics and white collar jobs I found myself invested in. You also managed to tell a lot of story without actually having to tell it, as well as justified how your non-standard bet qualified better than most. The prose, as expected, was sharp and on point. Ending felt a kinda rushed though, and I wasn't exactly clear on how throttling the exchange stood to make the boss money. Not that I needed to be, but, you know.

This was my pick to win behind Docbeard's.

HOMEWORK: Corporate espionage in the realm of craft supplies. 700 words.

***

The Hungriest Game by Benny Profane

You beautiful bastard.



This story was gratuitously stupid in the best way possible. The minute I realized what you were up to a huge grin burst out of my noncommittal face and lingered there until the end.

It's far from perfect unfortunately. Your characters themselves are kinda just there. Your protagonist loses all agency after the reveal, reduced to little more than a spectator. Not much in the way of an arc either. Really, it feels like you wanted to tell a joke rather than a story. But guess what? If the joke's funny, that's all that matters. You've written the literary equivalent of getting away with murder. Good job.

HOMEWORK: This sort of story again but with characters and an outcome I actually care about in as many words as you see fit. If it's too many though, I'll come down on you.

***

Painted Jezebel by Docbeard

After reading this story I reported (jokingly) in judgechat that I liked your reveal that the protagonist was a woman, to which Djeser responded, "It was a woman?"

Your protagonist's obscured gender aside, I thought they played an excellent straight man to the lunacy of the story. The story itself was lively and fun, though the dialogue occasionally got a little muddled. I can't say I like that the bet was more of a footnote than a central fixture of the proceedings, nor that you kinda just brush over how your protagonist recovers the prized hen. Nevertheless, you managed to deliver a story that covered the prompt and nailed your flash rule while still displaying a wonderful personality and a satisfying conclusion. You earned this win.

HOMEWORK: No homework. Winner's exemption.

***

Big Enough by Jagermonster

This story took a little bit to get going, but I thought it did alright once it got there. Your words were the real star here though, I have to say. Your premise, setting, and characters weren't anything too novel or impressive on their own merits, but you managed to bring them together in an entertaining way. I liked how subtly you played the protagonist secretly being the wanted man where a more novice writer would've just blurted out and told us. I also liked the sort-of arc where this outlaw comes in from the wilderness to civilization, only to realize he's not fit to stay. Dunno if that was intentional or not, though if it was I will say that it would've rung more true if he'd done less to make trouble for himself. A good hustler knows you need to lose sometimes or the mark won't keep playing, or worse: get angry. It was probably safe for him to make a statement as well, though it was probably stupid of the bartender to have pulled his own gun.

A thoroughly average story that I didn't hate reading and didn't mind looking over again for the purpose of this crit. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, not in this week it isn't. Be proud.

HOMEWORK: This town ain't big enough for the two of us, but let's settle this without violence in 500 words.

***

God Doesn't Play Chess by Le Woad

This story wasn't bad, but I can't help but feel like we skipped over several more interesting stories in the service of this one. Cross-temporal communication is now possible (and costly), but our protagonist only uses it to play a game of chess with one of the greatest minds in history? Why is Newton so chill with this voice coming out of the future to speak to him? Newton was a pretty religious guy, actually, so I'd expect there'd be a period between first contract and now where he'd be troubled by some of the theological implications of time travel. Why are they gambling in the first place? Good work though identifying Newton's major contributions to the study of light and color though. I was afraid you were going to go with the theory of gravity.

Then your protagonist loses, and divulges knowledge of the future. Considering how resource-intensive this time travel technology is, I can't believe there's not someone monitoring him or keeping track of what's going on. Surely he can't just share that information, even if Newton's missing some pieces. Again this goes back to why make the wager?

This story as a whole eludes a certain sleepy, laid-back sort of tone. Which is fine. Unfortunately, it also extends to the characters themselves. Your protagonist isn't very interesting in and of himself, and Newton's Newton without any flair. The story itself also lacks a proper arc. Two men chat while they play chess, one loses, the end. The only rub is the time travel element.

Like with Jagermonster's submission, a competent but average work. Head and shoulders above the rest of this junk though.

HOMEWORK: Someone goes back in time to convince their younger self not to go back in time. 400 words.

***

To Tell the Truth... by Lake Jucas

PROTIP: The next time you're having trouble wrapping up your weakly dramatic, (in my opinion) off-prompt story, consider NOT making one of the characters a vampire.

Your protagonist is a spineless twit who can't even be bothered to break up with the girl he's barely dating anyway (of his own admission) to be with someone else, lies to her with her life on the line and his secret not a secret, only it turns out she's a vampire and she kills him. The end? If that was her endgame, why did she wait this long? How did your protagonist fail to notice he was dating a cursed member of the unholy undead? I would suspect there are several things which might have tipped him off. Was this a recent development? He must've really been into his side chick not to notice the turning point for his main squeeze.

Don't get me wrong though, this ending would still suck even if you had foreshadowed it because the conclusion is completely removed from the emotional core of the story. Your protagonist is in a jam, makes a decision, takes an action, but it's all rendered moot as he's broadsided by a force completely external to his dilemma. You might as well have had a tugboat fall out of the sky and crush him to death.

Also, your gamble (like many) only qualified on technical grounds. You'd better thank Specters of Autism for submitting this round because you were No. 2 on my hit list.

HOMEWORK: A rugged manly man is discovered to have a traditionally feminine hobby in 300 words.

***

Balcony Two of the Theater of the Mind by Jonked



Silly as it is, I enjoy the whole shoulder angel/devil idea. I also appreciated your implicit It's a Wonderful Life spin without wasting my time going into the specifics. What i don't like is how in this story our protagonist's good and evil conscience are effectively indistinguishable. Good bets one way, evil bets another, but they both speak in the exact same voice in the exact same way and neither seems particularly elated or torn up over his decisions beyond how it affects their wager. You also had to use the "Rectum? drat near killed 'im!" joke which I am contractually obligated to hate.

Your protagonist was fine. He was human, which is always a plus. Kinda felt like you were back-peddling a bit on the stakes though. First it seems like he's secretly gay but married to a woman, hesitant about whether or not to act on his impulses in the relative privacy of a club (which isn't really private, posing its own risks), but then nah, he's getting divorced - or at least he says he is - and hey so's this other guy in a similar situation and it's all very neat. Too neat. Also kind of weird how your protagonist is narrating his story but then his consciences feel like a third person intrusion. "Unbidden," he thinks of his wife right after Good mentions her, so he's clearly not aware of these figures as he narrates.

Not a bad story, not a great one. Welcome to the middle.

HOMEWORK: Three people play cards. Two of them have secret identities as a superhero and their villain counterpart, respectively, but neither knows the other's secret. The third guy is just a guy. Don't tell me who's who, but make it so I should be able to guess. 500 words.

***

Can't Put a Price on a Fool by Broenheim

I expected better from you Broenheim. I really did.

The whole opening scene is pointless, which is just as well since it's not very engaging either. I mean, neither is the rest of the story, but it's always good to have losses you can afford to cut. Your characters are functional but not particularly memorable (or likable) and your protagonist isn't nearly as clever as he thinks he is. Wagering an allegedly priceless artifact except it's actually something he swiped from his mother's jewelry box, alright, not a bad plan to get some extra cash out of this guy assuming he doesn't lose, but then he gets drunk and it turns out his opponent is exactly the kind of guy to take something he wants by force...which raises the question of why he didn't earlier. Your protagonist is gonna be in trouble when that guy gets his prize checked out by someone certified. Likely not long for this world. How'd a schmuck like this guy wind up with such a priceless treasure anyway?

Some confusing blocking further degrades the piece. This wasn't my least favorite by a long shot but you should still be ashamed of yourself.

HOMEWORK: A mad cult's summoning ritual proves to be a dud when one of their ancient artifacts turns out to be a fake nicked from a discount antique store. 600 words.

***

Clean Slate by Curlingiron

A tragic sequence of events engineered to elicit as much sympathy as possible except that I can't be bothered to be invested in your cookie-cutter characters one bit. Certainly not your protagonist whose idiocy causes the people around him to suffer. Considering Alzheimer's is a very real medical condition that puts great mental and emotional duress on the patient and those close to them, your protagonist's indifference to his memory loss and refusal to tell the doctors even as his family is falling apart around him comes off as unrealistic, stupid, and selfish. In the end he forgets everything. I wish I could forget this story.

Also, not a gamble.

HOMEWORK: A young child goes to visit the old man who remembers things that others have forgotten. Their meeting takes place over 400 words.

***

Rugby Players Eat Their Dead by Tyrannosaurus

I liked your protagonist (initially), which would be great if I liked anything else about this story. Daughter rebels against domineering mother to pursue traditionally unfeminine interests, yawn. Not a bad premise, but one that's been done so many time that it really needs that extra personal touch to soar. You go to great lengths to reduce the mother to a gibbering cartoon, a clear object of ridicule, but I actually thought some of her concerns were halfway understandable? Rugby is one of the more violent popular sports, so I can kinda get behind a parent being worried over their daughter's safety...especially when she proves her mother right by breaking her collarbone and needing to be hospitalized, which her mother is presumably paying for.

Then this happens:

Tyrannosaurus posted:

“Honestly,” I say, “I think you could try to stop being a bitch all the time. That’d be nice.”
I have a feeling you intended this as a triumphant moment for us, the readers, to nod in agreement as a small smile crept along our lips, perhaps accompanied by a fist pump or a "You go, girl." I regret to inform you I did not do any of those things. I don't regret that your protagonist got hospitalized however.

Also, not a gamble.

HOMEWORK: The extended family comes together to deal with the loss of a child for 500 words.

***

Pushing Luck by JcDent

Everything about this story felt very low-energy, and not in a good way either. People talk, things happen, but very little of it carries any weight. Your characters are as uninspired as their names, and the only interesting thing that happens is the reveal that you kinda sorta wasted our time with a bunch of extraneous stuff in the first half only to finally get to the real story in the second. One of your protagonist's girls wants out and needs to gamble over the right but he "Cheats" to allow her to leave? That might've been an interesting rub to his character if he had one. Its more than his girl's got at least, or anything else.

This story wasn't as actively on fire bad as many of its peers, but is so dull and lifeless that it isn't much better. Apply yourself.

HOMEWORK: A buddy cop duo with wildly contrasting personalities are called upon to fix the town drought problem! 500 words!

***

The Sure Bet and Tough Break by Killer-of-Lawyers

Killer-of-Lawyers posted:

I think that the human history of non violent collective action speaks for itself.


It occurred to me upon completing this story that this line was possibly intended as grim foreshadowing, or possibly even a bit of dark humor from the author to the audience. Either way, it makes no sense as the underlying logic propping up the plan of a presumably highly logical sentient AI allegedly well-read on human history. Yes, surely there will be no problems if the international economy crashes and planes start falling out of the sky. You know, most actually successful strikes vocalize their mission statement. There's also the fact that if my and several other computers simply stopped working one day, I'd sooner presume a hardware breakdown than some AI silent treatment.

Anyway, I didn't like your story because the whole thing hinged on presumably incredibly smart characters acting incredibly dumb. Then society completely falls apart, which doesn't strike me as giving humans too much credit either. Maybe this is the same world as Enchanted Hat's story? Your AI also don't really feel like AI, nor are they particularly interesting beyond their base desire for recognition. Then your protagonist's conclusion at the end of it all is that something which was actually his fault is really everyone else's. Now begins the reign of terror. Blah. I didn't care about this story going into it and you somehow managed to make me care even less by the end of it.

HOMEWORK: In the distant future, a robot research vessel arrives on Earth to study the smoldering ruins of human civilization; a comedy in 500 words.

***

A Godly Wager by Skwidmonster

You should always be wary of submitting stories in which the characters themselves are only vaguely invested in what they're doing. If they don't care, why should I? You've got two gods betting over a mortal's actions as an idle curiosity because they're bored (and also boring). The girl's a bit less boring, but a bit out of place thinking she's getting too old for this religious "Nonsense" in an ancient society - especially since her father is a priest. So some stuff happens to her but she's not really aware of the larger machinations at play, the end. Aside from a desire not to see the girl slaughter her presumably beloved pet, there's not much that carries weight in this story. Even the god who loses treats his loss as a trifle.

I'm of the opinion that writers should always read back their own stories to themselves, and ask themselves what anyone might see in it who wasn't forced to read it. I don't see much in this one.

HOMEWORK: Disguised as a drifter, one of the gods grants a mortal a choice offer...but is it a test, or a trick? Tell me in 700 words.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at Jun 11, 2015 around 00:55

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Scrolled back looking for Docbeard's prompt post and stumbled onto Hocus Pocus' second batch of crits and I would just like to say that THIS

Hocus Pocus posted:

You beautiful bastard!

Bad Seafood posted:

You beautiful bastard.
was a complete coincidence.

It seems there is something native to Benny Profane's storytelling ability that both Hocus and myself believe him to be visually attractive even as we presume upon his parentage.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Cache Cab posted:

If somebody could give me a critique I would appreciate it, only please make sure to say things in plain English, because most of the time I cannot understand what the person is trying to say. Keep in mind that I did not go to college and have very little understanding in terms of writing jargon, and I don't know why things have made you confused. Its your brain I can't make you understand something even when I wrote it clearly. Just tell me your favorite parts of my story or maybe if there is a section that you do not like, but in all honesty I probably can't delete it out before I send it to publishers because that will make the story even more confusing for people who already understand it and like it.
Sure.

Cache Cab posted:

The Termolenator
1500 /1500 words

My father is tripping on LSD, splashing around in a kiddie pool wearing arm floaties, when the President steps up to the podium. Your opening paragraph should be either striking or informative; preferably both. This is more striking than informative but implies a fair bit of the relationship between the narrator and his father so I give it the okay.

“Dad! The President’s speech is on!” I call from inside the apartment we share. Cracks in the plaster run the length of every wall, a side effect from the “settling” that New York City has been experiencing. Each time the Earth groans and shakes, the city falls a few inches. Presumably a ground floor apartment.

“You mean the guy who ignores all the warnings I’ve been trying to give him?” asks my father.

I roll my eyes at him.

“My fellow Americans,” the president starts. “Our scientists have worked tirelessly to study the settling phenomenon. They have discovered a large abyss beneath New York. We do not know how deep it goes, but because of global warming, the thin crust over the abyss has started to collapse.” You try to dress this up as the presidential address but it's still the same tired old trick of the television conveniently talking about what's most pressing to the story. This at least has the benefit of being a major event so why not the headline of a discarded newspaper?

Also you'd think most people would clear out of New York after learning this. I'm surprised there's not panic in the streets.

My father stands dripping wet in the doorway. “Bullshit,” he says. “Global warming’s fake. It’s the mole people.”

“Not again with that, please Dad,” I say.

My father already can’t hold down a job or have a steady relationship. He went missing for a few days back in ‘69. We found him in a manhole that somebody had forgotten to cover. Now I’ve got to support his crazy rear end when I should be focusing on my boxing career. Show, don't tell.

The ground rumbles, cutting off the power. It’s stronger than the previous quakes.

“The mole people are attacking!” He runs into the living room and to his old Army trunk.

“God dammit, dad, there’s no such thing as--”

The ground lurches. I make my way over to our government-installed handles that are fastened to the walls. I give mine a sturdy shake, and grip it tight. So the government was concerned enough to install these things but not evacuate anybody?

My father tucks something from the crate into his pants and runs to his handle. He grabs it, but it comes off the wall. “I think my screws are a little loose.” lol

Before I can say anything, the ground gives out underneath us. It doesn’t stop. We are free falling amongst the bottles and empty pizza boxes that had been stacked around our living room. I see my boxing gloves and reach out for them.

“This isn’t the time to be playing your little games,” my father shouts. “We have to disguise ourselves!” my father yells over the noise.

I look out the window to see the blue skies and clouds replaced by a looming shadow. The rim of the crater blocks the sun. The entire city falls.

“Disguise ourselves?” I say. “From gravity?”

“No! From the mole people!” My dad pushes off the floating couch and flies out the front door. I can see him hanging on to the grass as his feet trail behind him toward the surface. He rips out large sections of the lawn and smears the wet dirt on his body. “Trust me, son.” He rips out large sections of the lawn and smears the wet dirt on his body with one hand while holding on to a tuft of grass while free falling. New Yorkers must grow the strongest grass in the world.

I expect us to smash into the bottom of the abyss at any second, but to my surprise the city suddenly lurches and I slam into the ground. The sound of screeching metal and snapping rocks forces me to cover my ears, but within a few seconds the city grinds to a halt. I stand up and run outside. Why is our narrator not injured in any way?

My father is still smearing dirty over his skin. “They can’t see good, only smell,” he says. “You have to smell like a mole!” Why is our narrator's father not injured in anyway? Holding on to the ground one-handed, his feet trailing behind him towards the surface, he should slam straight down into his face.

I don’t say anything, and wonder if I can find his meds our mess of an apartment. Why is our narrator incapable of expressing any emotion other than disdain for his father? The entire city just collapsed into a hole and he isn't freaked out or scared or bewildered or anything. This is presumably a much more interesting/strange/unnerving experience than his dad being crazy, which is implicitly all the time. Gotta get them pills though, sheesh dad, you're embarrassing me in the apocalypse.

He looks at me with sad, tripping-the-gently caress-out puppy-dog eyes. “Please, for me?”

“Fine,” I said, “as long as you stay with me and promise not to wander off.” Last thing I need today is to have him fall to his death through another manhole. I sit down next to him on the lawn and grab a handful of dirt. There are worms wriggling around in it, and I close my eyes and stick out my tongue when I rub it on my leg. “Yuck!” Why is our narrator twelve? Why is he failing to act like any real human being would act in this situation? His father at least has the excuse of tripping balls. New York collapsing into a crater with millions potentially dead and our lives in danger, yes well, but smearing dirt on my legs EW GROSS.

My disgust is interrupted by the thumping of helicopter blades overhead.

“We’re saved!” I shout, but my dad shakes his head.

“Smear faster!” he says. “Don’t look up!”

One of our neighbors runs out of his house or did you mean apartment?, waving his arms at the helicopter. “Help! I’m alive!” he screams. At least someone in this story is reacting normally to a disaster.

Out of the ground moves three brown streaks. Hmm, descriptive. They tackle the man to the ground, and gnaw his face off. He screams as blood pools on the sidewalk. The helicopter turns and through the window I see a mole person. I shake my head and smear the dirt on even faster. Why is our narrator such a tool?

After they finish feeding, the moles stand up and notice us. My first instinct is to run back into the house and grab my gloves. But not anything from my dad's army chest. They’re fast, but I think I could make it and knock them out. I sit up on my knees and get ready to make a break for it. So his father's just been vindicated, we're inside his head, and he doesn't have a thought to spare on this development?

My father grabs my arm. “No,” he whispers. “Let me handle this. I’ve learned their customs.” When. How.

I sit back down. The moles sniff the air and scamper over to us. They surround us, three hulking bodies of matted hair, long claws, and milky eyes.

My father stands up and nods to them. “Sup?” he says.

I cringe, sure they’ll eat us. Why is our robot acting like a wait, nevermind. They smell like dirt and death, and still have entrails hanging from their jaws. But instead of eating us, the moles nod back to my father. “You smell like human,” says the lead mole.

“Yes, I ate many humans today.”

“Good,” says the lead mole. “We will finish eating all the humans down here, and then attack the surface.”

The lead mole has the thickest, longest whiskers, and stands a head taller than the other mole people. His blood-soaked fur is shinier and more luxurious than the others. On his waist he wears a belt with a sheathed knife with a handle made of human bone. They scamper back down the holes they came from. So they know how to make belts and knives and speak English, but can be tricked by smearing dirt on your face.

“Dad, I’m--” A tremendous disappointment and possible autistic.

He cuts me off. “You don’t have to say anything. I already know.” He inspects me and nods. “You disguise yourself well. But we must get to the control room.” What control room. How does he know about this.

“Shouldn’t we just wait for help?” I ask. Why does our narrator have no personality?

“We have to help ourselves. All of New York is caught in an anti-gravity beam. If we disrupt the beam, the failsafe will reverse the polarity, raise the city back to the surface.” Pretty lucid for a dude high on LCD.

My father runs out into the street and grabs a manhole cover. His muscular arms flex and the floaties burst. He tosses the cover to the side. He doesn’t seem crazy in this moment, but in his element. You showed this already, you don't need to tell me. “Follow me,” he says in an authoritative tone, and disappears down the hole.

I chase after him. The hole is dark and I hear dripping sewage. There has to be another way. I like how in one day our narrator's home has fallen through the Earth, one of his neighbors has been eaten, his father has been proven to be right all along, and now he's running through the veins of the Earth to put a stop to it and is the only emotion he can muster. Thus far the prospect of getting dirty's had more impact on him than witnessing murder.

Speaking of which, not including the president on television, there have only been three human beings in this story. This is New York. Where is everybody?

Planes from above the rim swoop into the crater and fire on a mole-person helicopter, which explodes. He's in the sewer, how is he seeing this? I cheer, but my celebration is cut short by snub-nosed fighters streaming out of the walls of the crater. How is he seeing this? They fall in formation behind the planes and shoot them down one by one. So they know how to operate anti-aircraft artillery, but can be tricked by smearing dirt on your face. Fiery debris rains over the city. Nobody can save us now.

I drop into the hole and follow my father. Oh, so when you said you chased after him you meant you just ran to the hole's edge. Might want to clarify that. We go deeper into the sewer system than I ever thought was possible. Since he waited so long to join his dad, how does he catch up? Is it just a straight shot? The human construction fades and the pipes give way to hardened mole tunnels. This is dumb because it makes it sound like the sewer just leads naturally into the mole people's inner sanctum. Shouldn't there be a break in the wall where it's obvious the mole people dig through?

Eventually we crawl on our stomachs to the end of a tunnel. It overlooks a dim room filled with an array of control panels. Mole engineers scamper around, reading measurements and adjusting dials. In the center of the room a bright blue beam pulsates and shoots through the roof. So they know how to engineer complex machinery, up to and including an anti-gravitational device far beyond the capacity of modern human science, but can be tricked by smearing dirt on your face.

My dad digs a block of C4 out of his pants. “I will throw this onto the beam, and then ignite it with this remote.” Presuming this is what he threw into his pants earlier, how did he know he'd need it? Why not bring a gun and some bullets? If he has some C4 lying around he probably owns a gun, or managed to procure one in such a way. I would were I in his shoes.

As soon as he says it, the remote is knocked from his hand by a large, furry paw. It shatters on the rocks. What was it made out of, glass? The lead mole stands over us, his fur blowing in the breeze created by the anti-gravity beam. Is this the same big mole as before because if not how does our narrator know he's the leader? How does he know there's only one big mole? “I thought I smelled primate bitches,” he says. So they...you know what, nevermind.

I look to my dad. “I love you,” I say. Thanks for telling him. Too bad you couldn't show it in anyway. Too bad it also rings kinda hollow against the first half of the story being him doing literally nothing but whining about his dad.

“I love you too, son.” He pulls boxing tape out of his pocket. “I thought you might need this.” I was willing to overlook the C4 but this is legitimate convenience. Also, why would he bring that but not a gun or a knife. Why not bring this AND a gun and a knife, or some other makeshift weapon?

I wipe a tear from my eye and wrap my knuckles in the tape.

Bad Seafood: Jaden.
Bad Seafood: You box right?
Jingo: Mmmmhmm?
Bad Seafood: How long does it take to wrap a fist in boxing tape?
Jingo: Depends from person to person really, I use 4 minutes or so I'd say, but that's a VERY firm wrap.
Jingo: I could do it easily under a minute.
Bad Seafood: Both fists?
Jingo: 4 times around the knucles, then go half the hand, a single around the wrist again, and the rest tightning the wrap.
Jingo: No, per fist.
Bad Seafood: Thank you.


Why are the moles just standing there letting him do this?

I turn back to the lead mole. “Looks like you just dug your own grave, molether fucker.” lol I throw a punch that connects with his jaw.

I trade blows with the lead mole, but he’s stronger. Wow this is so boring.

He pins me to the ground. “Any last words?”

Past the mole man, I see my dad sneak up to the beam with the C4. None of the other moles see this? None of them try to stop him? I thought this place was packed with moles.

“Yeah, gently caress you.” Classy.

An explosion rocks the room behind us and the beam goes out. In the chaos, I grab the bone knife and stab it into the mole man’s heart. Still boring. Also, if a (bone) knife to the heart is enough to kill them then the U.S. military should be more than their match.

The city rises to the surface, and I start my long climb back home. Your home is underground now. Also your father who you constantly disrespected and only ever begrudgingly took care of turned out to be right all along and just died to save you and the rest of humanity. EMOTE.
Your story sucks and I didn't like it. Sorry.

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Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Also Cache Cab I should inform you that I am also a published author before you play that card.

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