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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vwNcNOTVzY

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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


docbeard posted:

Nowhere to go but up. Or laterally, I suppose. Or further down is always an option.

Nowhere to go but in a direction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOngRDVtEQI

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfWlot6h_JM

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


kurona_bright posted:

I will probably (definitely) regret this, but I crashed and burned the first time this prompt came around. Time for a second try!

In.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWA2pjMjpBs

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsgCZKASA3s

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m326LNIRB3k

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Tyrannosaurus posted:

We're still supposed to write horror, yeah?

yes.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Djeser posted:

Oh if this is a horror week, then count me in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWOyfLBYtuU

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


JuniperCake posted:

Awesome prompt. I'm in!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lai0kxyvGzE

Blue Wher posted:

gently caress it, I'm in to torture you all with bad writing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMwImTbn_HE

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlcIKh6sBtc

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


SPECIAL ONE-TIME OFFER

In front of you:

Door #1
Door #2
Door #3


There's a song behind each door. Sign up, pick one, you get 200 extra words. I'm not promising these songs will be easy. First come, first served.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


curlingiron posted:

Question: can we pick a door if we already signed up?

For the time being, this is intended for people who haven't picked a song yet.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


flerp posted:

i dont want a door but can i get a flash rule?

Your story must take place on a planet other than Earth.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Alright, if someone takes door #2 tonight I'll open all the doors. curlingiron, WLOTM, you already respectively called dibs on Doors # 1 and 3, unless you want to switch.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


curlingiron posted:



E: Door 1, I guess.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD6qXgKjKzU

Benny Profane posted:

I'll take Door #2.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plvpV9p0ywg

CANNIBAL GIRLS posted:

If so I want door 3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwTZ2xpQwpA

Each of you get 200 extra words. curlingiron, WLOTM, you do not need to use both songs, you have effectively switched your former songs for these ones.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Signups closed, get to it TD

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


flerp posted:

1443 words

The Ocean’s Sorry, He Really Is

“I hate this,” the girl said. “I hate the ocean.”

“I’m sorry,” the ocean said, his words being eaten by the tossing waves. “I didn’t mean to.” She couldn’t hear him. She was lying on the raft, the sun hitting her rough skin, the waves squirming beneath her.
There’s a hint of conflict, but not much of a scene at all. You’re starting your story with dialogue, which—I mean, I’ve never gotten up in arms about that, but I can understand why some people do, because it usually tells you a lot less about the story you’re about to read.

He was angry a couple days before. He was thrashing, screaming. Huge waves reached up high into the sky. He wasn’t sure why he was angry, he just was. He never knows why.
Getting flashbacks to your Gray story. Two characters, one a young child, one a force of nature, talking over each other and past each other. Hopefully there’s more of a point to this story than the other one. Also, “he never knows why”? Whose PoV is this story from?

“God,” she said, dipping her feet into the water. The ocean felt her kick, ripples fluttering through the water. She wanted to leave, but he wasn’t angry. He understood why she hated him. He hated himself too. He kept the waves short, calm, hoping she’d not be knocked over. “Why’d this happen?”

The ocean didn’t remember that night well. All he knew he was angry, like he gets, Yeah, we get it
and that the waves pushed and pulled and he wanted to tear apart everything. There was a ship, and he could seem them struggling, pulling on the masts, and he didn’t care. So far, I kinda don’t care either. We know what the ocean does. Why’s he focused on this one girl?


“I’m sorry,” the ocean said and the waves died down. They stopped and the ocean was flat and still. “Goddamnit, I’m sorry.” Wobbly timeline here, is this present or past?


He remembered what he did.

#

The night he hurt the girl, he was more angry than ever before. He just wanted to scream and shout, but no one ever heard him. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if we got a reason why the ocean was angry? All they saw were the waves. Everything got gray and dark and he saw that ship, struggling against the waves, and he couldn’t stop himself. He slammed it with wave after wave, stronger and stronger, until he could hear the wood splinter. There was shouting, crying, splashes as people fell overboard. The waves grabbed them, pulled them down. He was angry. He didn’t want to be, but he was. Yeah, no, we get it, we understand He kept thrashing. Everything got darker but he kept thrashing. He couldn’t see anything. He was screaming, everyone else was screaming, and the waves were churning and screaming with them. This is kind of effective but it’s still in this facile method of description and I don’t know why. Why not give the ocean an older voice?

Day came. He stopped, still angry, but not wanting to scream. He saw the girl on the raft, drifting through the waves. Her shirt cut up through them like the ocean had slipped a knife through the fabric. ??? Her shirt cut through the waves, vice versa, I can’t picture this He said he was sorry, he was always saying he was sorry, but she never heard him. She kept rowing, off through the waves, and the ocean tried to stay calm.

She yelled at him that night. She asked why, and he tried to answer, but the waves were too loud. She slapped the water, over and over, until her palm was red and bleeding. How old is this girl? She’s old enough to row the boat effectively but she throws a tantrum at the ocean like the ocean will answer her? Then, she used her other hand until that bled too. Odd waste of energy, but she’s not in her right mind, I guess She kept shouting and shouting and shouting, and the waves shrunk. The ocean wanted to sink down, to sink to the bottom, to forget, to stop being so angry.

“I hate this,” she said, her voice echoing in the darkness. “I hate this. I hate this.” She kept saying it until she started crying. The tears hit the ocean, joined him, and he wanted them to stop hitting the ocean. Wanted them to stop making him so cold. The tears? Have you never heard the metaphor “a drop in the ocean” before He wanted to reach up, to do something, to say he can help. Check your tenses, sir He could save her, he could, but whenever he tried to say it, he couldn’t. He couldn’t ever say it out loud, the words dying in the wave. Just the one wave, you see. That one. *points*

#

He screamed, and the memories faded. Hmmmm. The waves rocked the raft. She fell over, a loud thunk crashing through the air, and the ocean stopped. He wanted to say he was sorry, but she was crying so loud he couldn’t even hear himself.

“Why?” she said again, but her voice wasn’t sharp or loud. It was a whimper, but it hurt more than anything else. Nice.

“I can help you,” he said again, but she couldn’t hear him. “I can help. I mean it.”

Her stomach growled and she closed her eyes. Tears streamed down her cheeks, through the cracks in the raft. The ocean got so cold that he felt like he was frozen solid. I see the magical realist thing you’re going for here but I can’t quite buy it. The ocean’s already cold. It’s the ocean.

He got mad, and the waves struggled and slammed against each other and he wanted to scream. He wanted her to hear him. But whenever he screamed, no one would hear the words. They would heard WHOOPS the crashing of waves. Everything would break, and wood would splinter and shatter and everyone will WHOOOOOOPSdrown. He didn’t want them to drown. He just got angry.

The ocean held in his shouts, his screams. He felt it shaking underneath him. On the surface, the waves areSeriously, dude, check your tenses. This stuff knocks the reader out of whatever dream you’re creating for them. weak, rocking the raft softly. But there was a rumbling pooling inside of him. It was this circling tide, swimming underneath the waves. it was like he was about to burst, like there was a huge wave inside of him that was about to jump through the air and collapse on everything when he finally let go. This is really difficult for me to picture. She was still crying, and between the sobs, she was saying something. He couldn’t hear it, but he wanted to. He needed to. There’s this conflict that’s never going to be addressed or resolved because each other’s EXISTENCE is enough to set them off. Which is fine, but I don’t feel like I know enough about the two characters to care why they want what they want. Yes, she’s afraid of the ocean. We all would be, in this circumstance. Give me something else to grab onto.

Then, she stopped. She pulled herself up, and looked at the ocean, the small waves that hid the shaking inside of the ocean. She closed her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” the ocean said. The words were only for him, though. He could feel everything inside of him tumbling over each other, waves and waves crashing onto each other. These descriptions are getting a little repetitive. So many tumblings and crashings. He couldn’t think or feel, he could just hear the waves crashing and aching to scream.

Through all the noise, though, he remembered something. He remembered how she looked up at the stars, and she pointed to one. She didn’t say anything, but the next day, she started paddling towards it. She kept pulling with her hands, saying something, but he was too angry to hear her back then. Too mad at the cold tears and splintersplintered wood, too mad at himself.

She stopped rowing a few days ago. Later, you mean. Her eyes were sunken and swollen and her skin was stained red and peeling. She couldn’t stand up. She’d look out at the distance, and for the first time, the ocean understood. A bit unearned.

He felt the turmoil inside of him fade, like the wave inside of him fadeWHOOPS and all the crashing water became a single raindrop. She was lying on the raft, eyes glazed over, and he pushed it. Just now? Finally? The raft moved along, and she didn’t even notice. She just kept her eyes closed and waited.

He kept pushing the raft, through days and night. She’d take small sips out of her canteen as she looked up at the sun, the waves pushing her along. Sometimes, she’d cry. Sometimes she’d shake. Sometimes she’d scream. The ocean didn’t say anything. He just kept pushing her. Oh, so because she stopped struggling, now she’s being saved? If there’s a moral here, I don’t get it.

The water changed, got warmer and brighter, and he knew was getting closer. He heard the girl’s stomach rumble, and she clenched it tight. She panted and shook, and the ocean made the waves bounce a fish up on the raft. Again, can’t picture this. She reached over and ate it. Then, she sat over the edge of the raft. She was looking into the waves, her eyes blank and tired. She touched the waves, the cold waters slipping between her fingers. Then, he saw it. This little glisten in her eyes, and the ocean kept pushing the raft towards the star she pointed at.

Days kept passing. She was out of water. Then, he felt it. That shift in the water. A ship, big enough to save her. He kept pushing her towards the shifting water. Days still passed. She was getting more tired. She wouldn’t sit up. She wouldn’t move sometimes. The ocean kept pushing. He had to. He was sorry. They couldn’t ever hear him, but he was. I get that the sentence fragments are a part of the voice, but they also keep you from saying anything complex or interesting.

Then, the ship appeared in the distance. There was shouting and screaming, and the girl lifted her head up. She saw the ship loom over her, a huge shade in the waves. She pushed herself up, aching and tired. Oh, good, glad that’s over

The ocean didn’t say anything. He just kept pushing her closer. He saw her smiling, eyes wider than ever before.

“Thank you,” she said to the air. The ocean knew she wasn’t saying it to him, but he didn’t mind. He didn’t say anything. They couldn’t hear him, after all.

That didn’t matter though, because the waves were small and short, and she was smiling and he didn’t want to scream.

The ocean still screams sometimes and feels that churning inside of him. He still wants to say he’s sorry, but as long as he’s got that smile, he knows that it’s alright as long as he tries. Kinda touching at the end, but everything in this story feels so flat and facile that I don’t know what anybody earned through it, including me for reading it.



Sitting Here posted:

The Show
1300 words
Flash Rule: 98) Venice (The Books)

More than ten million people watched Yacob Chen lean over his sink, look in the mirror, and stretch his mouth into an oblong ‘O’ so he could get a closer shave. His headset partially concealed his left eye behind a tinted lens, which reflected the mirror reflecting Yacob. The camera mounted over his left ear captured every bit of black hair that fell to the white porcelain. The microphones captured, with stereoscopic technology, the wet sandpaper sound of his straight razor scraping over stubble. Language is sharp, and it definitely sets the tone and tenor of the story. I want to know why he has ten million people watching him.

Dan Hufflaw from Idaho said, Commissioned a custom str8 razor just like @YaChen’s, never had a closer shave! and his comment was buoyed to the top of cross-platform newsfeed aggregators by an oceanic swell of ‘likes’ and favorable replies. Within hours, it was the featured comment beneath Yacob Chen’s live video feed.

But then a new faction appeared. Dan, @YaChen taught himself metalworking so he could make his own razor, but you non-brands just see something original and throw money around trying to copy it, said Gage Remo from Oregon. There was a small, fierce avalanche of agreement, and a volley of ‘dislikes’ rained down like arrowscliché on Dan Hufflaw.

If you want to have on-brands, you have to have non-brands, Dan said. Creators need emulators and spectators or there’s no point. Somewhere in Idaho, his phone buzzed off the hook as the ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ poured in. I like this, although it might go on a bit too long for this length of a story. But I’m glad we see into his audience right away.

Yacob Chen finished shaving, washed his face, then moisturized with some homemade cream, which he scooped out of the stone mortar with two fingers and spread across his high, fine cheekbones like cake frosting. Which you spread across your cheekbones? Sshh, his fingers whispered as they moved over his freshly shaved skin. Sshh. He was careful to not smear any on his eyepiece. And, for just a moment, his viewers hushed. This was @YaChen, after all. The simple novelty of his morning routine could at any moment unfold into spectacle. The steps in his shaving ritual were, as far as his audience was concerned, no different than plot beats in a film script. This metaphor falls flat for me.

Blue-balled, Gage Remo commented when Yacob Chen finished moisturizing without incident and proceeded to get dressed. Yacob’s walk-in closet was famously austere; rather than filling the racks with clothing, he arranged his handful of outfits like visual merchandising displaysWhich look like what, exactly, a neo-normcore rainbow of greys and beiges and blue jeans.

After he was dressed, Yacob sat in his armchair and stared at his living room for twelve hours. Commenters inspected the video feed pixel by pixel. The image was divided into quadrants and @YaChen fans collaborated in poring over every last couch fiber, looking for some clue as to what Yacob was up to. Why would anybody just sit in a chair for twelve hours, even if they are in fact this Andy Kaufman-type performer? ANYBODY would get bored.

At exactly nine o’clock central time, the lights in Yacob’s house went out, and there was a collective international gasp. The stream was still live, but pitch black. There were shuffling fabric noises and heavy breathing. Within thirty seconds, Yacob’s steady viewership of ten million jumped up to twelve million as casual fans caught wind of the hubbub and tuned in.

At fifteen million viewers, the lights came back on. I get what you mean here, but the sentence is structured like the lights are directly controlled by the number of viewers. Yacob Chen was standing with his back to a full-length mirror, looking over his shoulder so the camera could capture his reflection. His stance was bowlegged and he was naked from the waist down.

Neither Dan Hufflaw of Idaho nor Gage Remo of Oregon could summon the words for a comment. Do we know at this point why the focus is on these two in particular? Somewhere in the real world, Dan’s finger was pumping the PRTSCRN button like a piston. nice detail

Yacob crouched down, his backside still facing the mirror. He reached. His fingers dug around inside of his body until, with effort, he produced a small ball from his anus. It dangled there, swaying slightly. Worth a street value of one milli—oh. With a gesture from Yacob, the camera on his headset zoomed in on the reflection of the ball and the fleshy environs surrounding it. There were words on the ball, apparently hand-written and in Sharpie.

PDX
8/20/18

So, this is…something, at least. I’m disgusted, but like the viewers of the video, I’m not looking away.
*

Here’s Why @YaChen’s Portland Performance Will Be the Most Important Show of This Century, proclaimed the front page of the Portland Mercury. Could we get an excerpt, because I still don’t know why. The alternative newspaper’s website had become a sort of ad hoc outlet for Yacob Chen news and speculation.

Ticketmaster’s website slowed to a crawl. Dan from Idaho was in the digital queue, his whole body quivering with tachycardic excitement. A bit of an awkward phrasing. In another browser tab, he compared ticket prices from Coeur d’alene to Portland. Gage Remo in Oregon actually went to the box office at the Keller Auditorium, physically, redundant to stand in line and get his paper ticket, which was actually just a printed copy of the E-Ticket. Seems like an unnecessary detail.

Yacob Chen arrived in Portland a few days before the show. Crowds gathered where he went, whether he was sampling the local food trucks or exploring the famous japanese Capitalize gardens of Washington Park. How is he able to –walk- anywhere? Nearly one thousand people were waiting outside of the old Cinema 21 when Yacob emerged from an afternoon showing of Man on the Moon, Dan and Gage among them. Everyone had their phones, tablets and headsets out, watching Yacob watch them watch him. This is where the Black Mirror vibe gets a little heavy-handed.

I liked that movie before @YaChen made it cool, Gage Remo commented on the stream as the Portland drizzle fell lightly on his phone’s screen. He saw the top of his own head in the crowd on the video feed, his face angled down at his phone. He saw, from Yacob’s perspective, Yacob hold up two open pans of gold paint. Then, like a holy man giving darśana to his followers, he swung the cans by their handles and doused everyone within fifteen feet with liquid gold. Cries of protest and confusion went up as expensive electronics were ruined. Twenty million viewers watched Yacob Chen watch his fans watch themselves get covered in paint. I like the scene, but what does it add other than satisfying the prompt?

*

@YaChen Promotional Event Turns Into Panopticon of Chaos reported the Portland Mercury the following day, hours before Yacob was set to take the stage at the Keller Auditorium.

I haven’t washed the paint off my hand yet, Dan Hufflaw commented, and attached a picture of his gold-spattered hand as proof. So psyched for the show.

Dan replied with an eye-rolling emoticon and said, You’d eat up any spectacle they set in front of you if it got enough enough shares in your social network. It’s weird, things are happening within the story but it doesn’t feel like there’s any sort of real progression. No one’s really changing. Maybe if the gold paint had spurred something within one of the characters.

Both men were seated in the front row at the Keller Auditorium. The room was quiet except for quiet quiet quietmurmuring between those few who’d come with friends. White-blue screen light from nearly three thousand phones made everything look ghostly. All eyes were on Yacob’s feed. He was watching them from somewhere. The audience watched themselves through his camera, trying to suss out the angle from which Yacob was observing them.

At eight o’clock, the house lights went down, the stage lights went up, and the audience fell into an excited silence, like inverted applause. -Is- silence the opposite of applause?

Dan and Gage crainedcraned their necks, trying to see through the tiny gap in the red velvet stage curtains.

The curtains opened. The stage was sparse, empty of everything except a large, hanging screen, which was bathed in empty white light from a projector. There was a long beat, like the gap between songs on a randomized playlist, where anything was possible. I’m torn on whether I like or hate this simile. It’s shallow, but that fits the story. All eyes in the auditorium were on the stage, their devices temporarily forgotten.

On the projected screen, credits began to roll:

STARRING:

Kaylee Buxton……………………………………….10,344 Comments
Pradeep Krishnan…………………………………...10,011 Comments
Dan Hufflaw………………………………………….9,804 Comments
Gage Remo…………………………………………..9,804 Comments
Mirna Smoot………………………………………….9,799 Comments

And on, and on, and on. The house lights went up. Ushers came down the aisles to escort the disabled and elderly to the exits. ha

The stream was over. Dan and Gage filed out of the auditorium in the gush of bewildered fans, viewers with nothing to view except their own gape-mouthed reflections against the black of a dead video feed.
We never get a “why”, is the problem. There’s plenty of “what”, and the “what” is flashy and captivating, but the lack of any central character motivation leaves the readers on the wrong side of that twist ending.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Also, deadline is in less than eleven hours.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


And that's it, subs closed.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


TD WEEK 185 RESULTS: SIXTEEN BODIES UNDER MY GARAGE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL_Bbyi3ub8

You know those moments in a horror movie where characters inevitably make stupid mistakes that ultimately get them killed? That was almost every single story this week. Almost all of your stories went into the basement despite the protests of the audience, and then they had sex, drank, did drugs, and rubbed their ballsacks all over an ancient Indian burial ground. That was what this week was. It was a lot of easy mistakes and flaws that hamstrung stories that either could have been good or were never that good from the beginning.

Muffin, Thranguy, ghost crow, spectres of autism and CANNIBAL GIRLS all go down in a DM bloodbath and win special places under the garage for various reasons, but one lucky TD author gets to be buried with his head and body on opposite sides of the garage. BlueWher, unfortunately this was not good, not very good at all. It was barely a story, and it certainly wasn’t scary. You take the Loss this week.

And crabrock wins, in what may be the widest margin of victory that Thunderdome has ever seen. Seriously, this was not a close call for any of the judges whatsoever. This had legitimate terror, a definite arc, immediate intrigue, and a protagonist who was mostly a vegetable and still managed to be an active character at the end, something that should bring shame upon the rest of your heads. Therefore, crabrock is not only the lone survivor of the TD House of Horrors, he gets a Win for his troubles.

Crabrock, take up the TD Mantle. The rest of you, Rest In Piss.

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 00:29 on Feb 23, 2016

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Also, once again ing to have Week 185 crits done before the next results post.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Week 185 Crits Part 1


The South Sea Shuffle

Was not expecting this week to start out with splatstick, so…thanks? for that.

Really, it shouldn’t be a shocker that this received a DM—this was a story that tried to be both disgusting and funny, and the failure of the latter heavily outweighed the success of the former. And once you strip all the gore away, there’s not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to the bare structure of the story. She’s a leper/zombie who’s built up a cult following on social media, so much so that she’s literally devoured by her followers. If there was more subtext there, it wasn’t worth sifting through the medical waste to find it. I’m glad that you took a risk and went for funny horror this week, but I’m more glad that you were the only one that took that risk. At any rate, you seemed to have fun writing it, so that’s good.

Lingering Things

At first, when I saddled you with this song, I thought I might’ve given you too many themes to work with. But that didn’t turn out to be the core problem.

Making the antagonist a literal storm of chocolate rain was a bad instinct, as that’s a really difficult monster to accept as a threat. But beyond that, this story is basically a long prelude to a much longer work. It’s a decent prelude, but on its own, it’s heavily lopsided and there are so many elements—the bank robbing, the radio station, the trucker—that never come to fruition. You were missing the 4K or so words that could’ve made this into a story with a point. The character is intriguing though, at least until the monster shows up. You could salvage some of this, or maybe even just cut the literal chocolate rain out entirely and work with a different threat.

A Stop Along Briarwood Way

The first half of this story, before the husband showed up, was really enjoyable. I thought you conveyed the tension between Toby and Jenna very effectively and I was legitimately excited to see where it went.

And then it went right down the middle of the road with the cliché Lovecraftian fleshbeast. It sounds comical even saying it that way, but it did feel like a letdown. You could have incorporated the song in a different way that burned slower, but I suppose you were running out of words anyway, which leads me to another criticism: that it’s another prelude, another story that doesn’t really stick the landing. I suspect you’re already aware of this, though. The setting was well done, and the characters were set up very nicely. If you’d managed to tie it off better at the end, you’d have done better this week. Take that ability to create tension and marry it to a more concise and unique plot.

Analogues

I think out of the three judges this week, this story hit me the best on a first read. I liked the concept, I liked how so much was left unsaid, I liked the ominous note it ended on, and I thought the characters were decent. On a second pass, though, there are things you can’t ignore, like the djinn. I had no idea what the djinn’s purpose was as a side effect of this drug that was in all other aspects meant to be this addictive poison. You could’ve focused on the main character taking more measures to fight against this corruption within his world rather than wasting words on this dream hallucination and having his whole crusade be nipped in the bud during a paragraph break. Out of the 5 DMs this week, this is the one I might feel the most reluctant about, but ultimately…it didn’t hang together as well as I was hoping it would.

Tuesday Night Lock-In

This story probably had the least suspense out of all the ones we read this week. I kinda knew where it was going as soon as I got the Masque of the Red Death vibes from the first few paragraphs, and sure enough, that’s how it progresses, and how it ends. It’s on the same track from start to finish, and as well-described and neon as some of the scenes are, suspense is a huge part of a story being scary. As soon as the girl coughed up blood, that was all she wrote. Also, how did she get in in the first place? And what was the whole story behind the disease? It just exists, there’s no depth to it or any of the people that it kills.

I’ll Never Be

This had a lot in common with Analogues for me in that I really enjoyed it on a first read, but then all the holes in the story made themselves visible. Who wouldn’t notice that all this was going on, between the celebrity in question being gone for that length of time, or her becoming worn-down and decrepit and Suddenly becoming young and fresh again. It’s an interesting concept that leaves too many lingering threads unresolved, and ultimately, the protagonist does no work to fight against her fate beyond making it three feet down the hallway. And besides her being passive, she’s not much of a character, period. She’s literally a cipher meant to be filled by this other person, which I understand is part of the plot, but it’s a part of the plot that really worked against you developing a character that your reader could care about.

The Fate of The Animals

I could buy this as horror, albeit a loose interpretation of horror, but it’s another Passive Protagonist and another Concept, Not A Story. It’s very visually striking, but not much more than that. I gave out this flash rule in order to challenge you, have you create a story that would take place in an alien environment but would still be human and relatable. And that’s where this fails: it’s completely and irrevocably alien. If you’d continued this and developed the character some more, it might’ve had a better reception—you had a nice chunk of words left over.

I Have To Take Care of Everything

I guess this was an attempt at humor/horror but not in the same way Muffin’s was—this was a lot more low-key, which did good and bad things for this story. Even though some of the dialogue just fell flat, it was charming in its own special way, and I enjoyed the tone that it conveyed. But then we got to the basement scene, and the conversation and everything that surrounded it felt cheesy as hell, like an unsuccessful Shymalan twist, especially the protagonist’s dialogue. And then she just decides to Roll With It and the story ends at Subway. It felt like another story that set up a concept that was way too unwieldy to resolve successfully. If you’d worked on the pacing, that could’ve helped matters, considering the closing scene takes up about half the story.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Week 185 Crits Part Deux


The Mob Of Darts

The song is called Paper Planes. This is a story about paper planes that kill people.



Ok, so I’m not going to tell you to stop with the unconventional formats, because it’s a theme you’re very infatuated with even though it’s usually to your detriment. So learn how to do them better. Make it so that there’s an actual resolution to the story beyond “good deus ex machina paper planes come in and save the day.” Another tip: maybe make the testimonials more related to each other. You can have tension in a format like this, but the different personal accounts have to lead into each other and continue an over-arching story, rather than just dump a truckload of exposition in the middle of the narrative. It’s interesting to you, but the longer it goes on, the lower the odds that it’s interesting to someone else.

Turn Forever Hand in Hand

I was so ready to love this story. It’s a slow build, sure, and a lot of the events are mundane, but the imagery was some of the most disturbing I saw all week and I really enjoyed it. I could only imagine what the resolution would be, who Dr. Gillicuddy would turn out to be and what awful plans were in store for the protagonist.

And then it just ends before the climax, as if to say gently caress YOU, READER.

You ran out of words, I guess. Doesn’t make it any less of a shame. The barbecue scene really hit me, as well as a lot of the neighbor’s dialogue. Come back to this one and maybe give us more visual detail in the town itself, because the setting felt a bit flat at points. Also write a second half. :P

Deliver Me From Fireflies

As Bleusman stated, it’s really hard to sell carnivorous fireflies as an antagonist, and beyond that, the ending felt more like a triumph for the protag than any sort of gruesome demise. I was happy for him, he finally got to sleep. But it didn’t feel like much of a horror story at all. It was a guy talking to himself, then dying. Also, the apocalypse.

Really, my best advice to you if you want to make a go at writing better is to read more, because some of these sentences sound really awkward and run-on. “The day I had been fired, I could have sworn that my boss was a Lovecraftian monster, tentacles threatening to eat both me and my little dog final paycheck, too.” “My insomnia had gotten so bad, that the doctor he had seen just the day before - who honestly looked more like a minotaur than an actual human - told me that my insomnia was causing me to hallucinate.” It’s worth reading a few short stories on a regular basis just to get more of a sense of how these sort of sentences could be written in a more straightforward way.

A Moment of Your Time

The biggest problem with this story was not the lack of an ending, the biggest problem with this story was the lack of any agency in the protagonist whatsoever. I can understand if you want to just paint this tableau of a person’s misery and make it entirely about his lovely situation, but if you do that then everything about the story and the main character has to be vivid and unique enough to make up for the lack of a plot, and this in no way had that. Beyond your prose, which is always solid and was solid here as well, this just felt like a nondescript office and a nondescript version of Hell, and I couldn’t get myself to care about it. You had such a kickass song, too, and you turned it into something as middle-class as this.

Night Drive

Yeah, I don’t know what happened here. It was a shiny vignette, but I was really missing an emotional component. It was a glimpse into a world that was well-described and haunting, but it was ultimately just a glimpse, and some of the details—like the ghost in the back of the car, the death by sunlight—just felt like they were thrown in to create artificial intrigue by remaining unresolved. I think you did the prompt just enough justice, but nowhere near enough to grab a positive mention. It’s a missed opportunity.

Whispers

The only thing I really wanted from this story was for it to go further into the narrator’s personal hell, and I think it could if you extended it some more in the future. Otherwise, it delivered on all counts, from beginning to end. It’s one of those stories that makes me think that you could’ve taken any song this week and made a decent story out of it, because the song I gave you wasn’t exactly the most hospitable. Good work.

Sensorium

This was a bit too all-over-the-place to land, for me. There’s a lot of world-specific detail here, which was alright, but it left too much about the actual conflict to the imagination. The end scene is meant to be this big horrifying revelation, but it just felt comical. It felt like you spent more time creating this world than making sure that what happened inside of it was important or worth reading about. You needed to simplify, badly—or at the very least assess what someone else would take away from this story.

Excerpts From The Journals of Doctor Lorraine Felt

This wasn’t half bad. I felt like you were semi-successful in the form you chose, mainly because you knew how much detail to give and how much to leave out. But it seems like a prologue to something larger than a full story. Again, there’s no real resolution to the piece, just an ellipsis suggesting something more interesting later. And it didn’t really seem like there was much horror in the story until the very end, and even then it’s kind of too little, too late. If you’d found a way to create more tension or conflict earlier on in this piece, it would’ve been much more successful.

Candy Shop

I was surprised by how effective some of this was. It absolutely was not a perfect or even an above-average piece, and the way you handled that flashback was a slight against the TD Gods and you should be ashamed about that. But still, there were some things it did right. I liked the setting, I liked the way the boy’s mind was manipulated by the alien presence, I liked how he turned out to be the real antagonist at the end. You had a lot of good things here that needed a fair amount of polish. This wasn’t a great ending to this week, but it still ended on an alright note, so thanks for that. Keep at it.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


In with Komorebi (Japanese).

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


E: scrub'dd

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 17:43 on Dec 31, 2016

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


TD WEEK CLXXXVIII: Insomniac Olympics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhDztJ9UY-c

No, this is not another music week, nor is it another brawling sports week.

This week, your story must:

  • begin no earlier than sunset
  • end no later than dawn
  • take place over the course of one night
    and
  • everyone must be awake.

Sleepless nights. Everyone has them. Last-minute assignments. Drunken benders. Emergency-room visits. Hours where people are only awake because they have to be. Why can’t you sleep?

Hopefully we’ll find out.

Words: 1500
No: nonfic, fanfic, erotica
Signups Deadline: 2359 EST, Friday, March 11
Submissions Deadline: 659 EST, Monday, March 14.

Judges
Ironic Twist
Djeser
TBA

Insomniacs
Grizzled Patriarch
QuoProQuid
Killer-Of-Lawyers
ghost crow
sparksbloom
Bird Tyrant
Guiness13
flerp
Thranguy
anime was right
Sitting Here
Rathlord
spectres of autism
Carl Killer Miller
Julias
J.A.B.C.
Wangsbig
sebmojo
hotsoupdinner
SlipUp
Titus82
FreudianSlippers
Tyrannosaurus

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 03:59 on Mar 12, 2016

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTFUM4Uh_6Y

Subs closed.

Tramontate, stelle. All'alba vincerò.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


12 hours until deadline.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Subs (have been) closed (for two hours).

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


JUDGMENT FOR WEEK 188: SUN’S UP, SHITDICKS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO88HHSWg-c

I’ll make this quick. Not a bad week, not a great week.

Dishonorable Mentions go to:

FreudianSlippers for Castle Doctrine, which was a lot of lazy plotting and lazy, un-proofread writing
Killer-of-Lawyers for Beat, which was a boring story about a man falling off a streetlight and a cop getting existential,
and
Tyrannosaurus for Listening to: (Stronger) What Doesn’t Kill You, a story where the humor didn’t hit and there wasn’t much else to hold it up.

Loss goes to Carl Killer Miller for Dust Dust Dust All Night, which was really hard to enjoy or admire, from characters to plot to writing to using bulletpoints to convey plot.

Honorable Mentions go to:

spectres of autism for Things (Sirens), which was a vivid and thought-provoking piece that could have used just that much more polish,
and
sparksbloom for Reroll, which had possibly the most creative concept this week and was very successful at executing it.

The Win this week goes to what we ultimately agreed was the most solid and complete story, and definitely the most charming one.

Enjoy your breakfast-in-bed, anime was right.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


ing to have Week 188 crits done by 11:59 PM Monday, March 21st.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Sitting Here posted:

We also confirm conclusively that Team Ock sucks.


crabrock posted:

Even with a forfiet we got within 1 vote of winning, and we didn't even have to tap into our latent nazi genes, so team mermans is the best team with the best stories. They will make an underdog sports story about us some day. I love u guys. RUDY



pucker up

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


WEEK 188 CRITS PART 1

For Old Times’ Sake

This is…bland, for the most part. Some of the interactions between Tig and the narrator have life to them, but it feels like you came up with a conflict and then didn’t know what to do with it, because the conflict’s resolved in a very anti-climactic way. The characters don’t really grow over the course of the story, and by the end there’s nothing to suggest that the narrator’s had any more reluctance to cut Tig out of his life than he had at the beginning. If you get a chance, look up “The Rich Brother” by Tobias Wolff—it’s a story that’s similar to this one in that there’s two male relatives, one of them a constant gently caress-up and the other who feels he’s always tasked with looking after his gently caress-up brother. The difference between that story and this story is that, for one, there’s a lot more depth and distinction to the two characters, and secondly, there are strengths and flaws in both characters that make it a true conflict in the reader’s head. This story is just a one-sided affair, where Tig is the only one with flaws but he’s also the only one with any sort of depth to him, and thus we can barely see why the narrator keeps looking after him in the first place.

Off Week

This is probably more interesting than most of the stories that came in this week, but the problem is it doesn’t have much of a contained arc to it. The ending doesn’t feel like a real ending, more like a segue into the next chapter of a longer work. I appreciate the effort to open in medias res, but the story’d really work better if you opened with the actual ghost scene. Other than that…there isn’t much of a hurdle or any sort of difficulty that can pique the reader’s interest and create tension. The scene with the ghost ended too easily for my taste. That’s my ultimate advice to you if you want to keep the story this length, to introduce a heavier conflict.

Ivory Ornament

Second paragraph is a much snappier opening than the first.

On the whole, I thought this was pretty good. I was missing a bit of character depth from the protagonist, but I thought the simplistic approach you took towards the plot worked in the story’s favor. I feel like the moon’s absence would have a lot more immediate effects on the Earth, but it wasn’t that kind of story, I guess. I had a bit of trouble sussing out the metaphor at the end, but I appreciated it once I did. Job well done, I just wish the main character was more of their own person, with their own way of looking at the world.

Reroll

This was my initial win pick for this week, mainly because I thought that the concept and execution were both really well done. What ultimately swayed my final opinion was the fact that a lot of loose ends were just left hanging after the story was over. I’m fine with not knowing what the creature was, but I at least wanted to know what happened to the baby after it survived. Or why it survived at all, considering it was covered in gasoline inside a burning house. The voice was my favorite part of the story, especially in the latter half when it tried to break down the baby’s will. I think if you worked at the voice even more, you could create an even more captivating protagonist, because its voice would start to color everything it could see through its own lens.

Bring Me Down to the River

This was a heavy story, one of those stories where even a glimmer of hope at the end could be considered a satisfying resolution. My main issue I had with it is that it felt like too much of it was rooted in the story’s past, and that not enough happened during the present. Their situation is so bleak, and the narrator’s outlook is so bleak, that it’s hard to sustain that tension that the story would have if the narrator was able to fight harder. As it is, most of the action in the story is framed by the setting, not by any sort of individuality in the narrator. We get more background on this deadly disease than any of the people who are fighting against it, and there’s only so much intrigue you can give to a disease. I would’ve enjoyed more of a focus on the narrator and her sister, with the disease just being ominously hinted at throughout the course of the story. If you could combine the oppressive environment with strength of character, you’d have something.

Louder Than Moonlight

I enjoyed this story, but agreed with my co-judge’s criticisms of it, which were that it seemed too rooted in fantasy tropes, even though they were interesting ones for the most part. The much bigger problem is that the real conflict only shows up until the very end of the story, and until that point we’re just wandering through this environment along with the narrator, which makes me think you were more invested in creating this world than making sure that it had a point to it. And when the point shows up, it’s never resolved. And we’re never given much of an insight into Violet’s character or her relationship with Nightshade, so we have to sort of go along with the narrator when she says that their relationship is solid. Without Violet, this last-ditch conflict doesn’t exist, yet she’s still barely a character to begin with. If you’d moved the actual conflict much farther up in this story, the story would’ve been more successful.

Come Hell or High Water

This had a decent amount in common with the winning story, in that they both had conflicts that were clear dilemmas, ones that the narrators spent the entire story trying to remedy. In your story, it really comes down to polish, because I liked a lot of the details here. I liked the opening scene with the sheriff, I liked the way the narrator had to try to convince himself not to commit suicide, I generally liked the main character as a person. But a lot of these sentence-level things trip the story up. “That was when he noticed the driftwood was staring at him with cold reptile eyes.” Just mention the alligator. No need to be cute in a 1500-word story. Also, the weaving in of the story of the dead girl comes off as a bit confusing and heavy-handed. A lot of these sentences are really divorced from the main character’s PoV, as well—lots of simple descriptions but little character. You need to be able to combine the flashbacks, which have character depth, with the present moments, which are interesting but removed from the emotion of the moment.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Sitting Here posted:

I was crushing upstarts before you came into this dome and i'll be crushing upstarts when you're a smear across the floor

only reply to this if you're brave enough to get crushed, by me, in a brawl again

Upstart? You need someone to teach you what words mean.

Someone judge.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Sitting Here posted:

up·start
noun (derogatory)

a person who has risen suddenly to wealth or high position, especially one who behaves arrogantly.
"the upstarts who dare to challenge the legitimacy of his rule"

synonyms: parvenu, arriviste, nouveau riche, status seeker, social climber, a jumped-up ——, johnny-come-lately

"these upstarts, they don't know their place"

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh



--the one time you've posted an active character

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


crabrock posted:

i am gonna judge this brawl.

Fools' Brawl - Ironic Twist v. Sitting Here

April fools'! That's what you're writing about. A prank. A story in which one person pranks another person. Is it an innocent prank, and everybody laughs at the end? Or is it one of those mean pranks where people cry? I don't like those pranks. I think pranks should be silly.

Twist - Your challenge is to write a story that doesn't crawl up its own butthole in terms of ~style~ and can actually convey a straightforward narrative.

Sitting Here - Your challenge is to write an active character that has his or her poo poo put together.

In a way, this is a brawl against yourself, because both of you are strong writers, and it's really about not loving yourself over by settling for your comfort zone.

Let the pranks begin!

Word count: 1500
Due date: April 1, 22:00 EST. THAT'S 10PM/7PM. don't loving ask me for extensions.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


In.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


WEEK 188 CRITS PART 2

Castle Doctrine

The one thing that intrigued me about this story was the relationship between the narrator and the cop that used to pick him up for petty crimes, and I think that if you focused a future story on that enhanced relationship you could turn it into something. Beyond that, it was a series of bad decisions, not the least of which was the opening, which landed like a lead balloon. flerp went over it already in his crits, but seriously, assume the reader has better things to do than read your story and don’t waste their time by describing a door with locks on it for the first 100 words of your flash piece. The dialogue in the convenience store scene was ham-handed, where the cop has just the right plot-relevant info to move the story forward. It’s all maddeningly vague, from the characters to the plot to the setting, and the door turns out to have received the most attention from the author. In the future, provide a sharper focus to these things. Giving yourself time to edit (and proofread) certainly helps.

Things (Sirens)

Nebulous and undefined, but in such a way that I really want to know what’s going on underneath the surface of this story, even though there are some places where I have no clue. Is it general sleeplessness, or a drug trip, or a combination of the two? The world you’re describing is intriguing and captivating, but at the same time your protags are so removed from it they may as well be ghosts, or parasites on the surface of a much larger creature. I’m not sure what this is, but I know that the language and the sentences and the individual moments were very worthwhile, even though they had their issues forming connections. Focus on approaching stories from a more human perspective in the future.

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)

The flipside to writing stories that are based primarily around intriguing and likeable characters is that when your characters turn out to be neither intriguing nor likeable, you’re not left with much else. And beyond that, this story had me stopping and asking questions so many times that I felt like I was being sleep-tortured when I was supposed to be lost in a vivid and continuous dream. Why can a vampire also turn into a wolf puppy? Why is a unlistened-to mixtape the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Why is the main story told in reverse for no reason at all? Why do these ageless vampires sound like twentysomethings? Why is it implied that she kills him—again, over a mixtape—by sunlight at the end of the story? Why is this the only conflict the reader is left to care about? It’s just a weird and impotent direction to take the prompt, and it’s sunk by execution that makes little sense.

Dust Dust Dust All Night

This reads like a teenage power fantasy, ostensibly from the perspective of a character who’s much older and should know better. He’s this Needful Things-esque Master Manipulator that’s able to whip up an entire room full of people, turn them against each other, dose them with angel dust, and watch the carnage begin—except none of the characters are really defined beyond the surface level or given any sort of likeable qualities, so we’re essentially left watching crash-test-dummies crash into each other. And then it turns out we don’t even get to see it, because Our Relatable Protagonist is hiding up in the bathroom just listening to all this stuff go down from the safety of his hiding place. Even if this didn’t have a lot of issues with polish on a sentence level, there’s nothing here for a reader to hold onto, whatsoever. Please think about the type of person that would read a potential story in the future, because I can’t fathom the reading audience for this one.

You Could Be A Winner

You already know what I’m going to say, GP. The second half of the story you wrote does not really match up with or resolve the first half. The writing is very vivid and evocative, as always, the scene at the hospital is unsettling, the scene with the mall seems like it will pay off in an interesting way, and then…he has the invisible ants now? And that makes him a winner? It seems like you dove into this story plot-first and ran out of room, because it’s an ending that only hints at something greater rather than putting it on the paper. Maybe if you’d either kept the story in the mall or cut out that scene entirely and limited it to the telephone conversation, you’d have had more room to work.


story about a dog who can’t fall asleep

A Lost Boy And A Lost Dog Find Each Other. What Happens Next Will Make You Cry!

Yeah, based on the title and the story that followed it, I’m going to make an assumption about the amount of effort that went into the story. I mean, it’s still a fairly decent story, it just lacks a lot of character or intrigue. The dog’s lost, the boy’s lost, then they’re both found, happy ending. It’s not the worst member of TD’s Pantheon of Dog Stories, but it’s squarely in the middle, and I end the story feeling heartwarmed but ultimately saying “so what?”

Beat

I feel like you tried to do something more high-concept and cerebral this week, and ultimately it missed the mark because there’s not a whole lot of room to be cerebral or introspective in a 1000-word story. You take the voice and the description away, and what you’re left with is “A guy falls off a streetlamp in front of a cop, then the cop eats a kebab.” Stuff has to happen in flash fiction. Again, you need to give your reader a reason to read your story and take away all the reasons for them to turn away. I’m betting that if you had a dialogue with your own character, who’s supposedly this cop that’s been on the job for years, he’d have many more interesting stories to tell than this one.

Condom wrappers and Woodstock cans

This was shorter than a lot of the other efforts this week, but there was a lot more voice and plot packed in. I enjoyed a lot of this, mainly because the character was interesting enough in their own right to carry the story—but not completely. It does end in a sort of clusterfuck with the branch breaking and blowing cover, which is kind of a satisfying ending, but not really. Plus, this isn’t really a narrative over the course of one night, just one moment, and there’s an opportunity to resolve that moment that’s never taken. Not bad enough to DM, not polished enough to HM.

Stuck Animation

I liked a lot of the ideas that were at play here, but I wished there was more of an interesting framework to hold them up. It’s another one of those stories where not a whole lot happens, and we’re left with the characters monologuing these ideas rather than really…demonstrating them, in an interesting way. They’re sort of caught in the same pantomime that the video game sprites are, which I guess is kind of the point, but in the end it undercuts the story a bit. The moment at the end loses a bit of pathos as a result, because as the reader we’re supposed to infer the depth to their relationship that we can’t quite see. I think, with some more time and more words, this could turn into something more that the sum of the parts that currently create it.

Sunset

There are lines in here that I really enjoyed, and the situation you create is pleasantly dire. But again, this is another one of those stories where not a whole lot happens. It felt like you got caught up in the language until it became a substitute for depth. What little conflict there was—escaping the sun—seemed far removed from the more interesting events of the story. My advice to you in the future is to work with a plot that moves forward in amore interesting and accessible way. Give me the actual immediacy, don’t start the story years after the fact.

September Selves

This reads less like a story, and more like a premise. There were parts of it that sounded more like a book jacket, to be honest. I didn’t get the presence of the Terror, which is supposedly the main antagonist, until the last couple paragraphs of the story. This definitely feels unfinished, and I would recommend you start with the characters. Figure out who they are, what they want, how they fit into this world you’ve created, and then go from there. Also, start with a line that’s specific and striking, in order to grab the reader. The way this starts now, it feels more like you’re Bob Ross painting a landscape rather than Julias writing a story. People are more immediately relatable than smoldering ashes or autumn leaves, and you don’t want to waste any more time than you have to when you’re writing a story this short.

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Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Three Left in Omaha
E: wiped

Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 03:29 on Apr 16, 2016

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