Pale Stars and Bones now here.
Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at 19:48 on Apr 8, 2017
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 03:59|
|# ? Jun 24, 2021 12:50|
The writer stare with glassy eyes
Defies the empty page
His beard is white, his face is lined
And streaked with tears of rage
Thirty years ago, how the words would flow
With passion and precision
But now his mind is dark and dulled
By sickness and indecision
Over the drainage ditch. Down the steep trail, mindful of low-hanging branches. Left at the charred tree husk and the clearing full of purple flowers. Onto a smaller, less obvious trail that meandered through a purgatory of blackberry bushes. Into the cathedral shade of ancient evergreen trees. Across the foundation of the burned down house, where shards of glass still sparkled even after decades of weather.
Hunter and Ethan could find the route to the shrine in their sleep, or while drunk, or in the dark with a giddy girl out past her curfew.
It wasn’t really a shrine, of course, though everyone who went there agreed there was something extraordinary about it. Sometime in the past, someone had trained a holly tree to ignore the sun and plunge her branches into the ground. The result was a thick, leafy dome that offered shelter from sun and rain alike. Above the dome, the leaves changed from stiff and spiny to soft and deciduous. The branches were spaced further apart and reached upward, toward the sun, like a proper, sensible tree.
One trunk. Two trees. Hunter and Ethan had, as teenagers, agonized over the strange tree. They’d searched the internet and even asked the high school biology teacher about it. When they couldn’t find a definitive explanation, they shrugged it off and decided it was just one of those things. They didn’t need to understand it to appreciate it.
Outside of the shrine, it was a drizzly day. Underneath, the earth was dry and the air smelled of dust.
Ethan was saying, “I know it makes me sound like a dick, but I found this place. Finding something makes a person feel a sense of ownership, you know? That’s normal. So if Olivia wants to come back here ever again, she’s going to have to talk to me.” He leaned against the trunk of the uncanny tree, hands in his pockets.
“Yeah, I dunno dude,” Hunter said. He was crouched in front of a pile of bric-a-brac that he’d hauled through the woods in a black garbage bag. He stroked his stubbly chin and looked down thoughtfully at the assortment of objects. There was costume jewelry, interesting-looking cans and jars, string, duct tape, streetcar tokens, ribbon, and an assortment of polished, decorative branches, of the sort that a certain local florist used in her arrangements.
Ethan looked down at Hunter. “Did you burgel the thrift store dumpster, or something?”
“I was thinking about how we used to make shrine guardians,” Hunter said. “Like, you know, those stick dudes. We kind of just stopped doing that.”
Ethan nodded. “Every summer. ‘Til we figured out with was more fun to have makeouts back here.”
“Our makeout partners were very impressed with this place back in high school,” Hunter agreed solemnly.
“Be honest with me. Has Olivia brought any guys back here? Since. You know.”
“I really dunno, dude.”
Ethan crossed his arms and glared out at the drizzle. Hunter appeared to be focusing entirely on the arrangement of items in front of him, as though he could pull them together into something cohesive with sheer willpower.
“I feel useless,” Ethan said at last. “Gonna see if I can still climb to the top.”
“Don’t land on me when you fall,” Hunter said, not looking up.
Ethen hoisted himself up between the thick canopy of holly branches, wincing as the spiny leaves scraped against his exposed hands and cheeks. As soon as he was above the upper arc of the tree dome, though, the branches spaced out and the leaves softened. It was an easy climb to the upper layers of the canopy.
The shrine was in a patch of forest on the edge of town. From his perch, Ethan could see some of Main Street and the businesses that crouched along its length. Not many folks were out and about, due to the weather, and the endless curtains of drizzle gave the town a faded, forgotten look.
Though he couldn’t see it from his vantage point, he knew that Main Street curved out to the river. After crossing the river, it narrowed into a winding two lane road that led up to a poorer, more rural neighborhood in the hills. Olivia’s neighborhood.
That winding road was a bitch to drive at night. Especially if you were driving someone else’s car. And especially if that someone had begged you to drive them home even though you’d had a couple drinks too many. Granted, Olivia had been wasted. Ethan told himself that he’d been looking out for her; the drunk guys at the party were certainly eyeing her with something a little predatory in their expressions. That’s how Ethan remembered it. Horny-looking dudes, drunk Olivia, and their mutual desire to leave the party.
They could’ve just hung out in the car, but Olivia had been a serious barf risk, and he’d told himself that she would be pissed at him if he let her puke in her own car. So he’d bundled her into the passenger seat, rolled down the windows, and started the five mile trek to her family’s homestead, way up on Tokul Road.
Things were going fine until, somewhere along that winding bitch of a road, Ethan thought he saw something--an animal, maybe, he couldn’t remember anymore--and swerved straight into a power pole. Olivia got whiplash and a concussion. The car was totaled.
After the hospital, they just...didn’t speak again. No one talked to Ethan about it, not really, but he gleaned that the community had judged him soundly at fault. He’d been fined and given community service, along with a mark on his record, which, Ethan thought that was fair. He’d always be a criminal. Why did they have to rub it in?
“You’re lucky Olivia’s family doesn’t got enough money for lawyers,” one of the baristas at the coffee shop had remarked as she handed him a cappuccino.
The persistent chill of rain on his face brought Ethan back to the present. He needed to make Olivia understand, he decided. He’d been silent too long. He’d only been looking out for her, trying to get her out of a potentially bad situation.
“I’m gonna write her a letter, man,” he called down to Hunter. “It’s been three months. I can’t let her just throw away a cool thing because of this bullshit.”
Silence from the base of the tree. Then: “I dunno, dude. I really. Dun. Know.”
Ethan clamored down from from the upper branches of the tree, swearing as he eased his way through the narrow gap in the holly branches at the bottom. He stumbled as he hit the ground, then turned to glare down at Hunter.
“Are you part of the ‘punish Ethan forever’ brigade too?” he demanded. “I know I hosed up. But you don’t know someone your whole life and never gently caress up once.”
“She never hosed you over,” Hunter said coolly. He’d sorted the different objects into two piles.
“Oh, so now I didn’t just gently caress up, I hosed her over. Cool.” Ethan ran a hand through his damp hair. “loving someone over is something you do on purpose. loving up just happens. The accident just happened. I wish every day that I’d got her home safe. And that’s what I need her to understand.”
“She lost her job, man,” Hunter said. He stood up and dusted dry loam off the knees of his jeans. The look he gave Ethan was hard and sharp, and Ethan had to look away. “She drove pizza for a living. You know she saved up, like, five months’ pay for that piece of poo poo? She was proud of it. And you, I’m sorry to say, took all that away. Even if you didn’t mean it, that’s still the definition of hosed over.”
“You’re actually mad at me,” Ethan said, his voice breathy with disbelief. “Just like the rest of this idiot town. Why’re we even hanging out?”
“Because you found this place and are way too possessive of it and I want to build a shrine guardian here,” Hunter said. “I don’t hate you or anything. I just think you hosed Olivia over.”
“I’m gonna write her a letter,” Ethan repeated. He could hear how petulant and childish he sounded, but he didn’t care. You didn’t just throw away a friendship because of an accident.
They ended up at the Rolling Log tavern, like they did most nights. There were other, nicer spots in town, but the Rolling Log was where all the townies and bikers went, and the bartender didn’t glare at Ethan like he was the spawn of the devil.
By unspoken agreement, he paid for Hunter’s drink. It’d been a quiet, awkward walk out of the woods and into town, and he felt a little bad about taking things out on Hunter. The guy was caught between sides, after all, and Ethan didn’t want to put any pressure on Hunter to choose him over Olivia.
They talked sports, bitched about their jobs, and commented on the flatness of the beer. They didn’t talk about Olivia, or Ethan’s plan to write a letter.
It was dark by the time they finished, though the drizzle was no less persistent.
“I’m gonna retrace our steps. Thought I saw some kinda animal bones in the bushes on the way here,” Hunter said.
“What the hell do you need with animal bones?” Ethan asked, pulling his jacket tight against the chill.
“For the shrine guardian,” Hunter said.
They walked back the way they’d come, out to the edge of town. Sure enough, there was a half-buried pile of bones under a stunted, unkempt magnolia shrub that occupied the yard of an abandoned house.
Hunter and Ethan looked at each other, then went in search of sticks. After acquiring the necessary tools, they got down on their hands and knees and worked together to drag the corpse out from under the bush. It was tedious, delicate work that required them to hook their sticks in the gaps between the creature’s bones and tug it gently out of the earth’s clingy grip.
“Cat or raccoon, you think?” Ethan said.
“Gonna assume it’s a raccoon. Too sad if it was a cat.”
Finally, it was unearthed enough that Hunter could coax the skull away from the other bits. He scooped it up with the black trash bag that he’d used to carry materials out to the shrine.
“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, that’ll do perfectly.”
They turned back to the street, ready to make their way to their respective homes. A familiar laugh stopped Ethan in his tracks.
Across the street, just outside of the small trailer park where the town’s most destitute lived, was Olivia. She was leaning against a mud-spattered Jeep, very much in the arms of a guy Ethan didn’t recognize. Her smile was bright under the orange streetlight.
“Come on, dude,” Hunter said, putting an arm around Ethan’s shoulder. “I’ll bet we can still find our way to the shrine in the dark.”
Ethan let himself be ushered out onto the sidewalk and down the street. His blood was loud in his ears.
“I didn’t know she was…” he said.
“Seeing someone? Yeah. Ever since after the. You know. The thing. That happened.”
“And you didn’t tell me?”
“Would you tell you?”
“You’re not me,” Ethan said, shrugging off Hunter’s arm. “You’re like. A good person, or whatever.”
They reached the edge of the shrine forest. Ethan squinted up into the darkness. “Yo, what’s this sign? I didn’t notice it earlier.”
“Oh yeah, that’s been there for a while,” Hunter said, his voice bitter. “‘Proposal of Land Use Action.’ They’re gonna put a housing development here.”
“They’re gonna take out the shrine? What the gently caress,” Ethan said.
“The comment period is still open. I said my peace. Now all I can do is build stupid guardians and pray that, I dunno, god will intervene or something, pretty much,” Hunter said. “Here, I got a flashlight app on my phone. Let’s get to the shrine before it gets too late. I’m not bringing a gross animal skull home.”
They jumped the drainage ditch and made their way down the precarious path, past the hulking mass of the dead, charred tree. They were nearly drenched from the drizzle by the time they reached the shelter of the shrine’s dome.
“I still can’t loving believe it,” Ethan said. They set their phones on the ground so that the shrine was lit by pale, eerie light. “Olivia dating. Dumb housing development taking out our shrine. What the hell.”
“You’re blocking the light,” Hunter said. He was once again crouched over his piles of sticks and trinkets and, now, an animal skull.
“Can I help, or something?” Ethan asked.
Hunter’s hands worked mechanically, methodically, as he used a combination of sticks and duct tape to create the semblance of a human figure. The finished product was about the height of a toddler and Ethan thought it looked sufficiently witchy.
“Not done yet,” Hunter grunted. He leaned the effigy against the trunk of the tree and began draping it with jewelry and ribbons. Soon, it had tin cans for boots and nearly a pound of plastic and scintillating cubic zirconia for armor. Hunter sat back on his heels, considering his creation, then reached for the garbage bag. Gingerly, he set the raccoon skull on a jutting bit of wood that served as the effigy’s neck.
“poo poo,” Ethan said after a long moment of silence. In the pale light of their cellphones, the thing had a spectral quality, like it could leap up and start dancing some arcane dance at any moment. After another beat of silence, he said, “So, you gonna like, say a prayer to stop the development, or something?”
“Naw,” Hunter said. “Mainly just wanted to have something freaky-looking out here to scare the surveyors when they show up.”
“You really think they’re gonna go through with it? Like, other people came to the shrine. They know this is out here.”
“Dude, they’ve got other things to worry about. Half of them are moving away. No one cares about some dumb tree fort they played in as kids, or whatever.” Hunter took a deep breath, made a sound like he was going to say something else, then fell silent.
“Hey, what? What is it?” Ethan said, prodding Hunter in the arm.
Hunter sighed. “So, I heard that Olivia and Nick--that guy she was with--are moving out of town. Closer to the city. Better public transportation. More opportunities, and all that type of stuff.”
“You ‘heard’ or she told you?”
Hunter didn’t say anything.
“gently caress, dude. You know how I feel about her.”
“I know. Which is why you should want her to be happy.”
Ethan gritted his teeth. His blood roared in his ears. His fists clenched and unclenched of their own accord. The effigy’s eye sockets regarded him with black mockery.
With Olivia, it’d been something special. Sure, they only kissed a couple of times, but they’d been practically inseparable. Ethan liked the slow burn, the will-they-won’t-they tension. And he knew Olivia felt it too. They held hands during movies and brought each other as dates to family functions. Before the accident, it seemed like there’d been all the time in the world to play out their small town romance.
Before the accident.
Ethan stared at the skull--he was really sure it was, in fact, a cat and not a raccoon--and thought about how if he’d been going just a little bit faster, if he’d swerved just a little harder, Olivia might’ve ended up as a bunch of bones in the ground. It was something that, in three months of griping penance, he’d never let himself think about.
You could’ve killed her, his brain told him. Instead, you just took away half her life. How gracious of you.
He fell back onto his rear end, head spinning from booze and realization. “I took it away,” he breathed. “She could’ve been happy here. In this town. And I could’ve said, no dude, let’s wait. But I drove and I took it away. And she’s not dead. No thanks to me.”
“No poo poo,” Hunter said. He gave Ethan’s shoulder a rough squeeze. “But you know, I wouldn’t want to have to think about this stuff either if I was you. It’s heavy.”
Another interval of silence, interrupted only by the patter of rain on leaves.
“I’m not gonna write that letter, am I?”
“I gotta let her go, don’t I?”
“Why does everything cool have to stop?”
Hunter settled down on the ground beside Ethan. “For what it’s worth, she forgives you. She wanted me to tell you that. I thought it would just make you mad to hear, but. She forgives you. She’s just gotta go.”
Ethan turned to Hunter. “Okay, well. We’re not letting this place go. I’m gonna write into the city. We’re gonna get everyone in town to write in. We’ll take them here, show them this place. Maybe they can like, preserve it, or something.”
“I like your spirit, but it’s not gonna happen. There’s like, millions of dollars going into developing this land. It’s probably a done deal, even if they gotta go through the formalities first.”
Ethan rested his forehead on his knees. “Everything good is turning bad.”
“That’s how it goes. Magical poo poo doesn’t last forever. At least, you can’t keep going back to the same magical poo poo over and over. You have to branch out, magically speaking. And what we had out here is magic. But stuff changes, and sometimes it’s our fault. So you go with it.”
Ethan breathed deep. “You ever think about getting out of here, too?” he said to his knees.
“All the time.”
“You ever think about enlisting a roommate?”
“Just been waiting for you to pull your head out of your rear end.”
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 03:59|
Sitting Back and Doing Nothing Works Sometimes
Rich’s marriage was simultaneously more and less open than he wanted. The free love thing they had in the 90s turned into dinner parties with board games that wrapped up before ten on most Friday nights. Then Sue would head out and if she returned at all, it would be after the bars closed.
Rich sat alone in the angle of the big L-shaped couch that took up the corner of the living room. It was an open and modern plan, one Rich designed himself and he did most of the remodeling. It was a grand project; and though if his grandmother were alive to see it, she’d lament that it wasn’t ‘homey’ and looked like an office lobby; Rich was proud of it.
There was a little paunch over his belt, but he thought he could still turn a head. Or were dad bods passé already? Or was that all one big joke aimed at his ilk, now that he was closer to fifty than forty and couldn’t even pretend he was any younger. He was always a little behind on that sort of thing. Most of his friends had teenagers who kept up on what was cool, but Rich and Sue decided against having children. It just wasn’t part of the plan.
Sometimes he wondered how things would be different if they had started a family. More accurately, he wondered how Sue would be different. Maybe not at all. That was a chilly thought. Should kids change you? He really couldn’t fault Sue for being free, it was who she was.
But as he sat alone more and more often, and listened to the grandfather clock chime a-quarter-to-three, he thought selfish thoughts. Then he would get mad for thinking them. He could be out there just as she, trying to find some adventurous company. Maybe his adventuring days were over. It would be nice to have a quiet evening in his wife’s company.
That was likely to cause a row all on its own if he said it aloud. The ‘w’-word hadn’t been uttered since their wedding, and that was by accident. Sue wrote up the whole spiel, but out of habit, the magistrate slipped and said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” When Rich casually asked if getting married was a good idea one day, he said it to the air, really; Sue was already Dr. Wagner and the honorifics issue was settled before the question ever came up. She would forever be Dr. Wagner, and Rich would be Richard Randall. That’s just the way it was.
He tried it. “Mrs. Randall,” he said. It was hushed—scandalous, like a first curseword. It certainly didn’t feel like he was referring to Sue. But he was. He wondered if that was sexist or romantic? It seemed absurd to even contemplate. DIdn’t he have the right to want his wife all to himself? Or maybe he was just jealous. Too late at night for those sort of thoughts. He was just a little punchy from being in an empty house during the quiet hours, that’s all.
He should just go to bed. Then he heard the traditional fumbling at the lock, and the click of heels on the ceramic in the foyer. Sue had returned.
The spice of strong cologne. Rich caught it on the breeze as the door slammed behind her.
“Doctorate of partying,” Sue said again, a little louder so they could hear. She wanted to be fun. To feel youthful, is what she really wanted. There wasn’t any glamour in public policy analysis. Not to kids in a bar, anyway. Rich could understand it and even add some insight. He was a smart conversationalist. It always sounded like an old person’s job, though. Nevermind how fascinating it really was. So that was how she compartmentalized. Her actual passion pretended away so she could frolic on the dance floor with these nymphs.
Sue was pressed against them, intertwined limbs flowing like a wheat field. And when she thought she couldn’t dance another second, one of these boys made of matchsticks and sinew dragged her to the booth and slid across the old vinyl as Sue plopped.
He poured water from a pitcher that used be ice. “So what do you really do?” He asked.
“I already told you.” She felt the strain in her calf, but she stretched it across the booth and landed the heel next to him. Not quite in his lap, but hopefully a distraction.
It wasn’t. He pressed the question again, and she rebuffed him. He shrugged and slid out as easily as he landed. “I just wanted to get to know you.” He returned to the dance floor and Sue saw them turn as a group and stare at her.
They weren’t being fair. The dinner party wrapped hours ago. The time for polite conversation was over. There were other things she wanted now.
She wasn’t being fair. They seemed perfectly pleasant. Just not interested how she wanted them to be. And she supposed her behavior made her into some carnival act. Or worse, the old drunk lady.
Maybe it was time to give it up and head home. One more drink and one more dance, and maybe some other fish will take the bait. The awkward encounter with that guy poisoned the waters, and the fish swirl around like ribbons on the current, steering clear of her. Sue Wagner, Dr. Party was officially a bad scene.
“Rich,” Sue called before she turned the corner into the living room, drunk-hopping to flip her heels off.
Rich was still looking towards the hallway with the expectation that the cologne bearer was following when Sue crashed face first on the couch. He smelled it on her, and any remnant of the Chanel she left the house wearing was gone.
“RIch,” she said into the cushion. “They didn’t want me.”
“I’m sure that’s not true. It was just a bad night.”
“They don’t. I’m a laughingstock now. I made a fool of myself.”
“You do call yourself Dr. Party. It was bound to happen.” Rich placed his hand on the back of her head. “You’re still my Sue.”
“I am. My little homebody.”
“Well, come on, Dr. Party. Let’s go up to bed.”
Sue stomped up the stairs in fake pout, and Rich followed, smiling. He felt bad for a second when he knew that Sue wouldn’t want to go out next weekend, and that was a part of her that might be gone. But she’d be here with him, and hopefully start something new. He was happy. He hoped she was still horny, too.
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 04:02|
Yo Hawklad I gotta flake out of writing this week so to make up for it, I'll be a co-judge if you need one.
I harangued Fuschia and Kaishai over PMs so I'm all set but thx
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 04:24|
really how the hell is video game avatar shooty man slash fiction of them NOT EVEN HAVING SEX, JESUS CHRIST something from your heart, it might as well be the glowing pulsating red heart that pops up as the "SHOOT HERE PLEASE" at the very last stage of a video game and then you shoot it and then we get the credits sequence and i'm not sure where i'm getting into, but that pulsating red target video game heart doesn't even have a valve open to insert a boner so WHAT THE gently caress, MAN
it was an editorial decision
anyways ty for the crits Rhino <3
kurona_bright fucked around with this message at 05:37 on Mar 20, 2017
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 05:33|
cut of your jib vs gen joe
The Meek and the Feeble
Moving to a new city was just as bad as he thought it would be. He was a tech writer, and he would be writing about printers, mostly. This was his first job. His work had HP as their big-grab client, and they drat well made sure he knew it during the fly-in.
There were three main take-aways from his interview: that there wasn't single person under the age of forty-five manning a cubicle; that Hewlett-Packard was One and that Hewlett-Packard was All; and the ever-seductive, middle-class phrase: "twenty-five an hour with benefits." He settled in two weeks later.
That's not the point of this story, though. This, my friend, is a story about sports. Electronic sports.
Friendless, he goes to the 14th Street Arcade on Thursday nights, where there's a weekly ten-dollar tournament. He was considered good in college — like, that was all he did really.
But here, at this arcade, he was much more than good. In the local parlance, he was a God-Tier.
"Hey man, good luck man," his opponent said, unknowing to the doom-scribed fate that was spelled upon him.
This was our protagonist’s second tournament, but there were only a few faces he recognized from the last, and this man was not one of them — his brown goatee and Jesus-hair wholly unfamiliar. They sat side-by-side with their fighting sticks on their laps, and the timer counted down from three on the plasma in front of them.
His opponent mashed furiously, unrelentingly, on the fighting stick’s buttons, hoping to catch him off guard — but our protagonist had prepared for this. He blocked the onslaught, and when the opening presented itself, he threw his opponent on the ground. And then he did it again. And again. And then one more time. At last, he was deemed winner of the round.
"drat man, that's good," his opponent said — but don't be fooled. The opponent was, in all likelihood, emotionally smitten, roiling internally in an immense furor.
"You can crouch-tech those grabs. Try holding downback when you parry."
The second round started. He went to throw his opponent, and was delighted when the two characters were forced apart by a successful parry. He then went on and dominated his opponent with his high-game.
"Okay, now you need to punish those overheads. They aren't safe at all."
"Gotcha man. Thanks man.” he said, screaming internally, most likely.
His first overhead was blocked and countered and he was swept to the floor. He gave his opponent a "great job," and then he beat him honest.
His opponent, now resigned to his plot in life, made small conversation with him afterwards.
"You're pretty good, man. What do you do for a living?"
"Printers, mostly. I write about them."
"Uh, I couldn't land a spot on the Printer's Best editorial."
"...But I'm a tech writer."
"Oh that's pretty cool! My name's Johnson, man."
They shook hands and walked together to the judge so they could tell him the outcome of their game.
The tournament finale was between our protagonist and another man he hadn't yet met, named Pete. Pete was tall and had quite a thick neck, but in the realm of electronic sports, such advantages do not translate well. On the other hand, Pete also had the temper of a boar.
Our protagonist had won the first round, handily, and Pete began twitching in his seat, and then when Pete lost the second round, he slapped his fist, hard, against the fighting stick on his lap. The spectators yelled hype! and oh lord! as the rounds progressed and as Pete lost his cool.
The game console, after the final round, decreed the victor: "Balrog (note: our protagonist's character) wins!” it said.
Pete threw his stick against the wall in an unseeing fury. It bounced to the floor with a plastic-crunching thud.
"That's some Grade-A bullshit dude, you're going to let a loving ringer into the tourney like that?" Pete said to the judge. The judge was much smaller than Pete and Pete was now standing at full height. “Jesus gently caress man,” Pete continued.
Johnson, sitting in the spectator’s crowd, rose his hand like a patient schoolchild. Pete and the judge noticed him, and the two paused.
"What's up, Johnson," the judge said.
“Hey man, Chris was super helpful during the preliminaries... I mean, I'm saying... he might be way good, but he's still making us better, you know?" Having said his piece, Johnson sat back down.
The judge gave our protagonist a hard look, nodded, and then turned to Pete and told him to find his cool. Pete backed down and shook our protagonist’s hand.
Our protagonist won two hundred dollars after the rake — as well a new friend in Johnson. And the moral of the story?
Even the weak, like Johnson, serve their fated purpose, in a world where the strong must trounce the feeble. Never forget that, my friend.
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 06:16|
Okay submissions CLOSED. Judgement forthcoming.
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 06:24|
thank you for the crits rhino and also jitzu
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 07:03|
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 08:13|
Okay submissions CLOSED. Judgement forthcoming.
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 08:23|
Okay submissions CLOSED. Judgement forthcoming.
hawklad is a loser who's become a winner, even if the process took like a couple of weeks rather than the usual 2-3 years: scroll him up with a new av if you think it warranted.
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 09:30 on Mar 20, 2017
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 09:01|
:fjgj: cutofyourjib vs genjoe judgment :fjgj:
i didnt expect any of these stories to be good so you didnt disappoint me there. i was more using u guys to fulfill my fantasy of people writing esports so im sry about that (im not)
i stopped reading this after a bit. not because the writing was bad but because nothing was happening. i think u were going for a voice driven thing which isnt bad it was kinda just the voice and nothing else. it wouldve been nice to have a story or something in it, which you eventually get to in about the last half w/r/t Deb and the drugs but by then its just too little too late. ur words rnt bad but they are wasted on trying to develop a voice and nothing but a voice. it's interesting, in that sense if there was a story actually revolving around this character i wouldve prob liked it, but the story itself is boring. it just constantly establishes that the guy is an ambitious dick (which is fine) and then never rly does anything with this. still, the writing is decent and you incorporate images and ideas well, but it's all done retrospectively or disjointedly that I find myself unable to be attached to the present. like, its hard to tell when the retrospective ends and when we get into the story proper w/ Deb. especially considering that like 75% of the story is him being retrospective.
ok first of all, it's called a throw tech not a parry. at first i was thinking maybe this was a different fighting game but this is street fighter. also, holding down back doesnt throw tech you have to press grab within the first couple frames of the throw in order to throw tech. if anything, holding down back is actually the worse advice to give somebody who is getting thrown a lot because you cant block throws. also its not a judge its a TO. also if that dude actually complained irl that he lost because the guy was too good i would sincerely hope everyone in the venue would say shut the gently caress up because thats the dumbest excuse in the world. hes too good wtf thats bullshit. nah you idiot you have to get good. and man what tourney has a 200 dollar payout for SF? it doesnt seem like a major or anything, it feels more like a local but thats a lot of money for a local. maybe there was a pot bonus?
i think i can safely say that you and i both know this isnt a good story. it starts w/ whatever where its like no the real story is esports which is like why even have anything before that if its not part of the story??? i do like how the narrator is making this all grandiose and the protag is rly humble. its interesting but its not enough to carry the story which the plot is just "guy does good at a tourney and someone gets mad at him for being too good." i mean i dont rly have much to say about this story because it is very slight. your characterization is weak, theres not a lot of description (how r u not gonna bring up the tourney BO man), and the plot is barebone. BUT i read it all the way through so that counts for something. and my natural desire to see esports stories maybe paint my impression more favorably for this story because lets be fair, its not rly great or good. heck it might even be bad
you know at first i was like yeah this easily goes to jib because his words were good but then i was like what a goddamn second i legit stopped reading his and why should somebody who wrote a story that made me stop reading get the win so now this is kinda tough. i think it still has to go to jib because his words were better even if his story was poo-poo but if joe's story was just a little bit more interesting or a little bit better written then he wouldve gotten the win.
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 15:49|
Critiques for Weeks CCXXXIX and CCXL: Kill Like an Egyptian
Sometimes reading Thunderdome is like working as a literary coroner: it's corpses everywhere you look, and the causes of death get weirder all the time.
Week 239: Stop trying to crit me and crit me!
Jay W. Friks, "Single Bedroom. Two Residents": The formatting is as bad as that of your last entry, in a different way. You've probably seen this post, but if you haven't, read it carefully. The variety in errors makes me think you're trying to do better; I'd like to see you succeed so this issue can stop plaguing you. On to the content! Your premise is that divorce proceedings are settled through fights to the death in a 1984-ish dystopia. Lucille and Morris are unhappy with life together in their small studio space, so they elect to murder each other. All right. The story needs to offer more insight into these two people to be compelling, but that's a reasonable premise for a combat-centered flash. The delivery is just so friggin' flat. You spend a lot of words on the dystopian details that don't matter, including a description of the view of the court from a helicopter, while the fight itself is made the opposite of visceral by lines like She spent a moment considering the ax--slow, inactive prose that drags what should be a fast, vicious, tense scene down to a crawl. Verbs such as deposited don't help: they're formal, clinical. There's no punch in this death match despite the blood spilled. The key to saving the concept would be to focus more on Morris and Lucille as people, so that their battle would have stakes and the reader would care about the outcome. The dystopia is a distraction: chop it, reduce it, or make it the setting of a different story.
Julias, "Black and Blues": I like what you're attempting in the first section. The mechanics of the first paragraph are a train wreck, but I get a sense of tension both on and off the stage. The hook embedded in the question of what's up with Lizzie does its job: I'm curious enough to keep reading past the too-short-and-inconsequential-to-stand-apart second section, to Samantha and Lizzie's confrontation. Here's where you lose me. Lizzie gets physical (in a poorly blocked way; you could be much clearer about what's going on) without much provocation. Then she shouts sound effects. This isn't a manga! She's a bitch for beating on someone who's showing care, and if she's so weakened by disease, I'm at a loss for how she manages to shove blunt drumsticks through a human throat. That is arguably more difficult than drilling someone in the eyes with ears of corn. It's slightly less dumb, maybe, but talk about damning with faint praise.
Week 240: These Bits Don't Ad Up
Mrenda, "Do You Trust Me?": Your protagonist should have a name. Your compound modifiers (bleach-soaked, caked-in) should have hyphens. This mysterious "test" is annoying me rather than intriguing me, and I'm remembering that your Week 229 story tried the same trick of hiding information from the reader with a similarly negative result. I'd like the story to come out and say what Nameless's deal is instead of playing coy. I'm interested in what Nick knows and what he thinks will happen, but the end of the story arrives and I'm still not sure. Nameless drugs her boyfriends and poses them in a bunch of death photos. She leaves diaries full of lies for them to find. Ultimately she kills them because--go figure why--they don't trust her; her motivation appears to boil down to just being crazy, alas. The game she and Nick play with drugs and antidotes is confusing, and it drags on a long time. The "revelation" that she's a murderous psycho is anticlimactic.
Chili, "No Shirt? No Shoes? A Gun Will Do.": WTF, man? Two robbers hold up a convenience store with very little trouble from the customers, and without camera surveillance--a WTF point in itself. They think the clerk is a drug dealer, but he's trying to help his son. This triggers the robber who's probably been abused by his own dad into blaming the son's problems entirely on the father and breaking the clerk's teeth for the heinous sin of calling the robber "Champ." (Also a little WTF, but okay, people say strange things when guns are pointed at their heads.) That Michael chooses to shoot his ally to protect a relative stranger is a decent enough plot twist, but don't drop the mic and run away. Take a longer look at why Michael had to do that, at what his relationship to Jake had been, at the chaos in his mind now. You need introspection and/or more exploration of Jake and Michael's partnership for his choice to be truly wrenching.
Jay W. Friks, "As Cool as Slate": You start calling your main character "Eyeliner girl" partway through the story, and that's both distracting and silly, but then silly is such an accurate description of the whole piece that maybe I shouldn't get hung up on particulars. Points to you--seriously--for trying something different. I strongly suspect you're stabbing at humor here, what with the way you don't reinterpret your image so much as fling it into the story in all its glory. The moment when Chad Derringer first appears does a sweet skateboard flip right into the so-bad-it's-great zone. Unfortunately, most of the goofy elements come off as randomness for the sake of randomness, so your basic idea of an Ur Coolkid stealing souls to power his immortal tubularity is weighed down by moments, lines, and images that want to be funny but aren't. That's all without getting into the too-long word count or the lack of an ending. Those last points surely gave the judges little choice but to send you to the block, though between you and me, I kind of love this work's insane and pyramidal heart.
|# ? Mar 20, 2017 18:23|
Thunderdome CCXLI: From Zero to Hero: JUDG(e)MENT
Thanks to Kaishai and Fuschia tude for co-judging!
This was a giant sloggy pile of middling stories, each with their own unique flaws, from which rose three entries that we felt both hit the prompt and used good words to get there:
Deltasquid with his story 'The Hanged Men" earns an Honorable Mention for his depiction of how war is hell. Heavy on dialogue, light on plot, but it pulled together the redemption arc nicely.
Our second Honorable Mention goes to sebmojo for "Metamorphic" for some clever prose. Despite the contrived nature of the ending it hit the prompt and the flash lyrics square on the nose.
We have one Dishonorable Mention to dole out, which goes to The Cut of Your Jib for his drivel "Sitting Back and Doing Nothing Works Sometimes" for its terrible character sketch, lack of plot, complete lack of redemption arc, and cringe-inducing ending.
So that brings us to our WINNER: Uranium Phoenix - Pale Stars and Bones. A complete story, with strong redemption arc and vivid imagery and a strong entry overall.
And our LOSER: Metrofreak - Oasis. A tedious exploration of a crappy videogame and it's boring, boring protagonist.
Uranium Phoenix: the throne is yours.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 04:48|
Honestly, I'm surprised it took this long.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 04:52|
Is a Mushroom a Thallic Symbol?
A cute little story with some groan-inducing puns and wordplay. Not much meat on this one, the plot is very thin and it relies on the banter between the Marvin and Ulysses to drive the story. Mostly this banter was breezy and enjoyable, even clever in spots. The redemption factor was there, although it was not very deeply fleshed out -- basically he gets a call from his wife the Queen, who he conveniently ‘forgot’ about, and she nags him to come back and reconquer his old kingdom. Which he does rather grudgingly. Your last line kind of sums of this story for me: it’s fine, and it more or less hits the prompt, as long as you don’t think too much about it. Because the more you do the more you realize there’s nothing much to see here.
Who Suffers Their Penance
At times confusing, at times overly melodramatic, but there’s some potential here. The atmosphere was sufficiently brooding, and the dark secrets harbored by the residents of this small town provide the story a menacing undercurrent. Her idea of returning to the scene of the crime and burning down her childhood home, confessing her crime to the local police, all resonate well and provide a strong redemption arc. The fact that she ultimately fails at this leaves the ending unsatisfying, however. At the end her plans change and when she decides it’s the priest that needs burning things get very interesting with her dousing him with petrol -- but then we cut away to her confession and we learn she never went through with it, and in the end she gets nothing she came for. No discovery of her brother’s body, no confession to the police (as far as we know - I suppose that could still happen), no burning of her childhood home, no vengeance against the priest, nothing. So everything in the story sets up for the redemption and then it ends with nothing at all resolved for Aoife, nothing changed, no accountability, just keep the past in the past. That she gets no redemption is a problem for this story. I’m not looking for a happy ending here, that wouldn’t suit the piece. But something should change, something should get resolved, otherwise what was the point?
Something in the Blood
Okay so the guy gets bit by a bat in the neck and he just sits down and eats some toast? When you write about their relationship and how he watched her wither and die the writing is evocative and good. But juxtaposed with that good writing is the crazy bat jumping and squeaking and ripping up old photos of Mary, which I’m sorry just doesn’t make any sense to me. Is the bat supposed to be her spirit, or sent by her spirit, to help him break from the past and move on? That’s the obvious theme here, and maybe he senses this because he straight up talks to the bat like it’s a person, but then why does it keep biting him? You say it’s a vampire bat. Seems like if he was getting bitten all over by a vampire bat he should become one (if it’s a vampire bat in the magical sense) or at least be worried about getting rabies or something. He just sort of shrugs it off and keeps on being melancholy about this wife. And in the end he saves just the one photo, of her being sick in the hospital, and the bat is cool with that and flies away. Why? This week’s theme is redemption. What is being redeemed here? Redemption is more than just moving on from the past, it’s taking a past misdeed and making it right. Was he complicit in his wife’s death? I can’t find any evidence of this. I can’t tell what is being redeemed, or if indeed anything has changed by the end of the story except for the pruning down of his photo collection and him being perforated by a rogue bat.
This story gave the impression of one that was made up as you went along. So many loose threads, the only one unifying idea being that Nicole is a drunk rear end in a top hat who randomly flies off the handle at complete strangers. Spending over 1300 words inside her head gives no real insight into her motivation, or what the hell is going on in the story. She’s waiting for Jonah to apologize for throwing up on him, this kid is also waiting for braided-beard David for some reason that isn’t explained. So Nicole screws up everyone’s day with her anger management problems, with angry outbursts and boiling milk everywhere. Was there any redemption? I guess her intention was to redeem herself with Jonah through apology, and redeem herself with the kid by getting him the chai, but none of it works out, and she sabotages her own feeble attempts at redemption before they even get off the ground. But there was just too much in this that seemed tacked-on, from the guy in the red car (what did he realize as he drove away?), to the David drive-by at the end, to why she suddenly went bananas at the end and got carted off to jail. Not very coherent, sorry.
Right away the story grabs my attention and I’m sucked in. I like this Va, and your characterization of him as a vengeful and angry god is solid. But then there’s a boggy middle to this story--the Witch House element could have been introduced sooner. The reveals - Moggi being a witch, Ray’s complicity in the crime, are handled pretty well overall. But the ending doesn’t make sense to me. Moggi says they deserve death, and worse, for killing her father and sister. She’s in for some serious vengeance, attempted to poison them. But then she finds out Ray was complicit also, and all of a sudden she decides to spare them all? And go with Va to his torture-chamber? Why would her motivation change so quickly? If anything her motivation to kill should be stronger, because even her friend was in on it in his own way. So in the end Va gets a buddy and neither Va, Moggi, or any of the townspeople get redemption, and the story ends. Your strong beginning leads to a mediocre middle and an unsatisfying ending.
The Hanged Men
A good opening line, I’m interested in the setting and the characters right off. But then they start talking and my interest wanes. This story meanders around too much and the short clips of back-and-forth dialogue grow tiresome. The idea that war scars us, and these two men carry around that baggage as they wander from place to place has some potential. But there’s no clear sense of direction - they are going home to Gotha, sure, but why? The war isn’t over so why did they desert? They seem to be strolling around much too casually for deserters, and then get sidetracked by the peasant woman’s quest. By doing this one good deed Dieter tries to find some redemption (after much arguing with his buddy about it) but I’m not finding it very redeeming, or believable that his grizzled soldier would undertake such a dangerous mission on such a flimsy pretense. So overall the dialogue isn’t enough to carry the story or make his motivation believable. It has some good bits though, so with a rewrite there could be a solid story here.
There is a jarring switch in perspective in the second paragraph, from Owen to Millie that threw me for a second. Your dialogue is not tight. Read it out loud and chop out all the extraneous words. Also, the purpose of the dialogue read like story exposition rather than two people actually talking to each other. I started to like it when it got into the whole atonement is bullshit thing, how it’s not some grand gesture but little things that can redeem us. But then it just dissolved into her whining about Owen’s selfishness. I don’t know if you were working out some personal grievance here but I found that section weak. His act was clearly heinous, scarring the guy for life, shouldn’t he be trying to redeem himself for that act? He tried to apologize I guess but that was about it, and Millie’s diatribe about how he needs to watch anime better was not even close to commensurate with his crime. The ending fell flat for me - I suppose the statue as metaphor for human connection was okay, but didn’t seem in fitting with what you just told me about Owen’s personality. Millie makes it all about her, when she’s not central to this story -- it should be the story of Owen and Bobby.
Some good prose here, although I think it tries to be too clever in spots. But it’s got energy and propels the story forward, and there’s a few phrases that I really liked. I feel like he’s just too drat happy to be killing himself, not sure you really sell the premise with the abusive mom and absent dad. But it’s actually kind of sweet when he meets in the kid a reflection of himself and sees a chance to rescue him, and by extension himself. So a pretty solid effort overall.
Didn’t care for this. First of all, since the entire story takes place within a videogame there are no stakes for the protagonist. This could possibly work if what happens in Blightlands teaches us something about Wilbur, or changes him in some way IRL, but that doesn’t happen. He gets good at a game, he starts over, steals the vial that changes the game, becomes the Watcher, and then quits. Where’s the redemption? Why should I care in the least about Wilbur, or his game characters? It’s just an empty story with no point or hook to engage the reader.
Pale Stars and Bones
The best of the lot so far. A strong redemption arc - I like they way you tell Nebet’s story twice, from each perspective, adding more, crucial information the second time it is told. The ending is poignant and suitably tragic. Your writing is smooth and there is just enough description to draw a picture in the reader’s mind without bogging down the story. Hit the theme the best of all the stories. Her never-ending quest for redemption, and how in it Ekun also finds a purpose for his life, is believable and affecting.
is one has a quiet grace to it, a strong setting and solid imagery. The indecision faced by Ethan and his regrets about the accident carry the story. He wants to redeem himself in her eyes, but doesn’t really know how. I’m not sure how he exactly wronged her -- yes, there was an accident, but he had good intentions and it was her that got too drunk to drive. When he discovers that she’s seeing someone else he discovers that his actions will not be redeemed, and he has to move on. The theme of letting go of our youth and not being able to ‘make everything right’ is mature and well done in this story.
Sitting Back and Doing Nothing Works Sometimes
Just not enough here to make it a story. Some proofreading problems, mainly with capitalization. Rich, our protag, sits alone in an empty couch all night while his wife hits up the bars to sleep with younger men, and he’s just fine with that? There’s no indication that he’s getting anything out of this open marriage, so I’m not really buying that he’d be totally okay with her swinging every weekend and not coming home. I need more backstory on him or their relationship to make it believable. Then she comes home and she’s discouraged that she’s too old now so he takes her upstairs and evidently tries to bang her. The end. Sorry but not enough goes on here, and the redemption angle is weak.
Hawklad fucked around with this message at 05:03 on Mar 21, 2017
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 04:57|
Thunderdome Week #CCXLII: Resonance of Words
Music is often the inspiration of a story. Sounds that have nothing to do with words can be the origin for a tone, scene, character, or feeling you want a story to convey. Often when I'm writing, I'll replay a song over and over to write a scene, or the music I'm listening to will influence the arc of a character, a plot point, or a dramatic moment. Plenty of authors have talked about how connected their story was to music.
(Prompt Credit: Mostly Djeser)
Deadlines: Signups close 11:59 PM Friday Pacific Time. Submissions close 11:59 PM Sunday Pacific Time.
-Killer of Lawyers, zillertal (toxx)
-The Cut of Your Jib, laiko
-Djeser, heavy christmas
-flerp, melodic progressive metal (toxx)
-Thranguy, bossa nova jazz
-sitting here, classic schlager
-SkaAndScreenplays, abstract beats
-Solitair, nl folk
-Flesnolk, chinese tradiational
-sebmojo, christian alternative rock
-Chairchucker, deep indian pop
-vintagepurple, c86 (toxx)
-Jay W. Friks, desi
-Dr. Kloctopussy, goregrind
*Find your song easily by using list mode and searching. Control-F is your friend.
Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at 03:07 on Mar 27, 2017
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:18|
In and this time.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:22|
Fair crit and thanks for the others upthread
IN for tunes
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:27|
You got "zillertal", and your example song is Zillertaler Haderlumpen "1, 2 ODER 3000 JAHRE"
In and this time.
Sorted by "List," it's #1070.
You got "laiko", and your example song is Giannis Plourtarhos "M' Exei Parei Apo Kato"
Fair crit and thanks for the others upthread
Sorted by "List," it's #727.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:31|
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:31|
Not found in list mode, because reasons?
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:36|
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:43|
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:47|
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:49|
#1206 in list mode.
#1142 in list mode
#1192 in list mode
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:52|
I would toxx for my continued pattern of failures but I've spent like at least 3 times in as many months and am trying to move into an apartment so :/
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 05:53|
You got "heavy christmas", which apparently is a category of music. Your example song is The Darkness "Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)"
sweet I always wanted to write fanfic about Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 06:00|
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 06:08|
You got "classic schlager" and your example song is Rene Carol "Rote Rosen, Rote Lippen, roter Wein"
#1205 in list mode
You got "abstract beats" and your example song is Elaquent "Bucket List"
#789 in list mode
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 06:17|
This site looks dope. I'm in.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 06:24|
You got "nl folk" and your example song is Ron Hynes "No Change In Me"
This site looks dope. I'm in.
#1102 in list mode
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 06:26|
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 06:33|
You got "chinese traditional" and your example song is Zhang Weiliang "Moored By a River on an Autumn Night"
#1309 in list mode
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 06:38|
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 07:54|
Also If BeefSupreme is reading this, I'll gladly take any recommendations he has for awesome action movies and scenes.
Beef Recommends -- Hong Kong Edition!
One of the most fertile regions for action movies during the 80s and 90s was Hong Kong. The industry over there pumped out entertaining action classics. If you're looking to learn what makes an engaging fight sequence, from blocking, to camera work, to interesting characters and stakes, Hong Kong is a great place to start. Here are a few exemplars for you.
Hard Boiled, from classic gun fu guru John Woo. All the argument you ever need that reloading is overrated.
Legend of the Drunken Master, perhaps Jackie Chan's greatest achievement. A masterclass in fight choreography as well as in how to shoot a fight!
Hero, as my personal favorite wuxia film. It's ravishingly beautiful and interweaves themes effortlessly into its fights. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the more well known, and it's no slouch. But Hero is better.
Of course, no discussion of Hong Kong action cinema would be complete without mention of the coolest martial artist of all time, Bruce Lee. Dude had swagger.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 08:59|
Interesting prompt. I'm in.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 09:01|
Thanks for the new av! Its...wow.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 13:11|
I would like to tune in to this.
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 13:15|
|# ? Jun 24, 2021 12:50|
You got "christian alternative rock" and your example song is Newsboys "God's Not Dead (Like a Lion)"
#125 in list mode
You got "electropowerpop" and your example song is Breathe Carolina "Can't Take It"
Interesting prompt. I'm in.
#544 in list mode
You got "mbalax" and your example song is Pape Diouf "Du Den"
I would like to tune in to this.
#984 in list mode
|# ? Mar 21, 2017 13:47|