Let me in and give me a thing, please.
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2017 00:13|
|# ¿ Dec 5, 2023 05:43|
(Removed on the off chance I can rework and publish it.)
Solitair fucked around with this message at 20:00 on Dec 28, 2017
|# ¿ Feb 20, 2017 04:36|
Anyone wanna trade crits with me?
|# ¿ Feb 21, 2017 19:06|
Thanks hawkland, great crit.
Solitair I could give it a try
Okua, "The Grand Escape from Humanity"
First of all, it looks like you pressed enter mid-sentence here:
My attic room was built of dark wood, the roof slanted so that little sunlight came through a small window. On the floor, empty cages contained only empty nests and useless notes. Gone were the animals I had studied. All I had
In the second scene, the one where the narrator has the alien jellyfish cutting on his ship, there are two places where you leave two blank lines between paragraphs instead of one, and I'm unclear if this is meant to indicate the passage of time in the same place. I don't know how long it's been since the guy started sailing with it, and that whole scene has a 'reel missing from the movie' effect.
That said, the finale works pretty well. The imagery you chose to depict the alien growing to apocalyptic size at the end did actually make me go "oh poo poo." Unfortunately, the build-up is kind of bare bones, telling me the minimum of what I needed to know to get to this point. It needs more fleshing out, but at least I get the gist of your story's intended progression.
Solitair fucked around with this message at 07:15 on Feb 22, 2017
|# ¿ Feb 22, 2017 07:03|
I'm closing off the crit trade offer here. This is plenty, aside from the tardier judges.
BeefSupreme, "More Human Than Human"
For 30 minutes, nobody moved a muscle. We just watched the numbers drop on the screen, as we approached our warp-drop. thank you for saying 'drop' twice in the same sentence The warp screen was up, so we couldn’t even see outside. We just… stood there.
There it was.
Marshall, Liz, and I headed out of the ship, while Meiko remained behind. “
“She’s going to be fine.”
In summation, what happened to the rest of the story? This seems like it's leading up to something else that never happens. It's not satisfying to just leave off on this planet, having encountered no greater obstacles than a single doppelganger, and I don't think you meant to be so withholding. Also, the situation with the UN deciding to ship refugees into space seems a bit too absurd to fit in with the rest of the story as presented, and the characters on the shuttle are interchangeable. I wish I knew what you were getting at here.
But I do know the last waiter who became unwell has smashed the aquarium. Does he actually know this or is it just a gut feeling based on his own experience?
The story makes it seem like there'll be a slow build-up to the fish's influence on the narrator and then the payoff comes almost immediately. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I wish there was more here. I really like the imagery of the restaurant turning the fish inside-out for the sake of making upper-class twits feel like they're eating something special. Maybe make that more visceral. Now that I think of it, why isn't the narrator the one smashing the aquarium at the end? Why do we get resolution on the restaurant in a distant "and then I heard this happened" epilogue?
|# ¿ Feb 25, 2017 00:22|
Also, put me in, coach. For the regular prompt, not whatever else is going on ITT.
|# ¿ Feb 25, 2017 00:24|
The Party Line
Dear true believers,
It's been a while since I last updated, and I owe you an explanation. It involves that most dreaded of beast, drama on the internet, and if that sort of thing makes your eyes roll out of your head, then I apologize for being honest with how I use my time.
Not only do I spend a considerable amount of time combing through comments on my own blog, I also like to check and see how my stories do on various parts of the internet. You might say that I shouldn't let the haters get me down, but I want to improve my ability to stimulate my audience, and what better way to do that than to hear the word on the street? I fully expected to see the usual disconnected grumblings about my mistakes, which I might be able to connect into good advice. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that someone on Goodreads had given in-depth reviews to several of my short stories, to the point where he's starting to get a significant following, by Goodreads standards.
bizcasfri, as he goes by on that site, always puts his reviews at over five hundred words each, and with my stories he often tops a thousand. Some of those words were on point, especially when it came to structural and metaphorical issues, but at other times he seemed to miss the point of the story entirely, going off on odd, accusatory tangents that go so far as to besmirch my integrity as a writer. I could have left him and his followers alone with those misconceptions, but he still seemed like a smart guy with some good ideas whose advice I'd be ill-advised to dismiss, so one day I worked up the nerve to talk to my most prominent critic.
Our initial conversation didn't go well, per se, but it could have gone worse. After the usual are-you-really-THE-Rich-Andrews vetting and his initial skittishness at being reminded that people can respond to his criticisms, I drove the conversation into mutually beneficial waters, where we exchanged ideas on how best to write a story. He seemed awfully insistent on correcting me on sociological issues, but when I pressed for a more thorough education on the subject he turtled up again. I was perfectly willing to learn more about his values, but it seems he isn't often willing to talk about them, except on his own terms.
Each conversation continued to deteriorate more and more until I found that he'd blocked me. I yearned to ask him what faux pas I committed that made him so ill-disposed towards me, all while he continued to crank out reviews that got even more sensational and vitriolic. Thankfully, my webmaster gave me some help in that regard, and with her help I managed to resume our conversation on Facebook, with Jen acting as a proxy between us. (By the way, thanks a million, Jen! I owe you one!) The two of us managed to get bizcasfri, a.k.a. Tyrone Bell, to open up a lot more in that context, and for much longer. Unfortunately it couldn't last, and Tyrone eventually fell down the same road that led him to break off ties with me on Goodreads, except this time the parting was far more histrionic.
At this point I was concerned that, in addition to the misinformation he spread regarding my work, that he would do something drastic that he and his loved ones would soon regret. With more help from Jen, I discovered the next step of the process and sent Tyrone a cautionary message telling him that I'd be paying him a personal visit for his own safety. With a fraction of my nest egg I flew over to Tampa Bay, a decent place to live if you don't mind the humid air and the feeling of a low-rent miami without the glitz and glamour.
He lived in this pueblo-looking house in a middle-class part of town, and didn't answer me when I knocked on his door. For hours I sat on his doorstep, knocking on occasion and browsing the web on my phone. (By now we are well into the period of sparse activity on my part that some of you have noted with concern, true believers!) I only caught a glimpse of Tyrone once, glimpsing at his window when he happened to have the curtains open. His room looked sparsely decorated, his face haggard and unshaved with bloodshot eyes. After one more knock on the door, I approached the window, at which point he shut the curtains again. Sadly, I had to cut my attempts at conversation short, as I remembered a prior engagement and opportunity to promote myself to the more receptive citizens of Tampa Bay.
I just got back from that fine city yesterday, and now I turn to you, true believers, because Jen and I have reached the end of what we can do for Tyrone by ourselves. His reviews of my work continue, and have reached the point where I can call them unhinged and slanderous without a trace of hyperbole. The atrocity tourism crowd, drawn to his lurid lies, have spread his name around like wildfire, especially in the wasteland of Tumblr. Put simply, Tyrone needs help, and all of you are the people who can give it to him. He lives at XXXX St. Margarets Ave., Saint Petersburg FL, 33710. You can reach him by phone at (813) XXX-XXXX, on Twitter at @bizcasfri, and by email at email@example.com.
Good luck, true believers. Perhaps one of you can be more loquacious than I, as unbelievable as that may sound.
|# ¿ Feb 27, 2017 05:51|
Merry Critmas, y'all.
Crits for Week #238, part 1:
"Black mold" by Okua
I can't think of very much to say about this. It's a low-key story with nothing obviously broken in it and nothing compelling enough to be worth remembering. I think the implication is that the main character is confusing the Jason at the library with her husband, or even fabricating library Jason's existence, but the ambiguity isn't compelling enough to make me want to know more.
"That way of hers" by Chernabog
The illness got worse, comma splice it is degenerative after all. She'd stop in the middle of a sentence and ask me what she was doing. She could be holding a knife or writing a letter or taking a shower. Anything, really. And I'd just stare sadly, my lips frowned in a sympathetic thin line. I'd calm her down and explain what was going on. To this day I can still hear her reply: 'Don't worry luv, everything will be okay,' Her voice soft and mournful.
I try to wake up from my vision, to yank myself out through sheer force of will. I thrash violently in bed but my attempt proves futile, I am still here. Her lips form a sympathetic thin line as the meds begin to flood my system. She then smiles at me, though it is not an honest smile. She holds resentment I know awkward sentence that needs either a comma or a complete rewrite. It's not her fault, I don't blame her. I am like this because destiny itself defined me as such. She picks up a clipboard and begins writing as my consciousness slips away. Her presence brings me some solace at least, she will never abandon me.
I try to wake up from my vision, to yank myself out through sheer force of will. I thrash violently in bed but my attempt proves futile, comma splice I am still here. Her lips form a sympathetic thin line as the meds begin to flood my system. She then smiles at me, though it is not an honest smile. She holds resentment I know. It's not her fault, I don't blame her. I am like this because destiny itself defined me as such. She picks up a clipboard and begins writing as my consciousness slips away. Her presence brings me some solace at least, she will never abandon me.
Not a bad description of how a degenerative disease can change people, but the need to have an unreliable narrator gets in the way. By the end, I have nothing to go on.
"Cleaner" by Erogenous Beef
This isn't a finished story, it's thick with noir cliches, and the narrator isn't the unreliable character. You earned your DM.
"I, Sir Alaric" by Deltasquid
My least unfavorite so far, given that it resembles a story with an arc. It took me a while to see how it followed the prompt, but it works. It still feels tropey and the characters aren't developed, though.
|# ¿ Mar 7, 2017 21:32|
Crits for Week #238, Part 2:
"On a Playground" by Chili
“Yeah, I was there,” Jared spun his baseball cap so that it sat backward on his head, “I was just trying to play with Connie and she kept on losing.” Use periods to separate action from dialogue, not commas.
“Of course I did, it was Connie!” Comma splice.
Reese kicked Pollack under the desk, “go on Connie,” he said. Commas in place of a period and you forgot to capitalize 'go'? See me after class.
At that, Connie burst into tears, they tried to comfort her, but she was inconsolable. Comma splice.
“Connie looked upset,” he started, “you know she had nothing to do with this right?” Use periods. Don't use 'started' as a speaking verb. I'm counting this as a comma splice, too.
Talk to Millie, she’ll tell you something different, and as she’s the only one that is clearly innocent in all of this, you may get somewhere.” COMMA SPLICE X2 COMBO: WEIRD AL'S REVENGE. Also, Vincent's dialogue is so unlike how a child would talk that I'm imagining him being played by Fred Savage.
“OK” Millie started, quickly. Put a comma after OK, cut the adverb.
“That’s fine, Millie,” Reese said, “please what else did you see?” Comma splice.
Millie sighed, “I was just happy to be at recess. Too many dumb things happen in class, y’know? Like just today, when we were all going out, Ms. Hellman gave Vincent a special picnic lunch in the classroom and didn’t even tell any of us why. I like the playground. It’s funny, and there’s monkey bars!” That's a lot of words to fit in a single sigh.
This story uses commas so haphazardly that it's a real distraction from how pointless the events are. Most of it reads like a dopey kid's book version of Rashomon up until the profanity at the end. I wish this story structure was used on the noir stuff from that other story this week, but as it stands this is another well-chosen DM.
"Journal, Pages 467-472" by Hawklad
So I look away and there's Brittany, rolling them so hard I thought she might tip over in her chair.
A thrill shivers through me. What.
This story went pretty much how I thought it would. It doesn't make sense to call it a journal; if this was written down after the fact by the narrator, you'd think her thoughts on Jonah's Hatred cosplay would reflect the terror of a school shooting retroactively. Then again, that terror barely registers even after Jonah shoots Trey. I'm left with the vague feeling that the main character is unrealistically stupid. The best thing I can say for this story is that it didn't annoy me on a grammatical level like Chili's story did.
"Haunted" by Metrofreak
“Dad! I heard something downstairs!” he’d cry. I’d have to reassure him, let him sleep in our bed (I made him promise not to wet it, I am eternally grateful for him upholding that particular bargain). It worked out ok, given that most nights he came knocking were when Lauren’s filming ran late, or she was otherwise busy. He had a sense for it, I suspect he just missed her. Questionable use of parentheses.
Course, any moaning for a while was easily attributed to mommy being on vicodin, And once she went back to work the house felt quiet. Don't capitalize 'and.'
I miss him, he writes less than he should, but facebook lets you chat on video now. He doesn’t call that much, but it’s fine. We call him, maybe once every week or two. He posts his projects online, Lauren says they’re really well shot, I believe her. Kid’s got a bright future. Says he’s working with a buddy to do a horror flick on the cheap, something about shadow men I think, he’s had to do some rewrites. I can’t wait to see it. Four comma splices in two sentences.
I like this one. There's some grammar bullshit here, but otherwise I'd have vouched for giving this an HM. Maybe this week has lowered my standards.
|# ¿ Mar 8, 2017 22:22|
|# ¿ Mar 8, 2017 22:24|
Crits for Week #238, Part 3:
"Faith" by BeefSupreme
The police told me they’d found him in an apartment in La Habra. Said the neighbors called it in. I guess my dad’s presence really was unmistakable, even after death. They said he’d been living there for 4 years, though. I don’t know what to do with that. You repeat this last sentence twice, and the sentences are in close proximity. The second one is more impactful, making this one superfluous.
This story gives me a vivid sense of who the dead man is, and feels more real than anything else this week. Dunno how it fits the prompt, but it's still a good story.
"A Dark Day" by The Cut of Your Jib
Every patron’s an abandoned DIY project half-done, or something nice that was left to slowly rot away. I particularly like this sentence.
Good atmosphere, barely anything else. I have a much better sense of the bar than any of the individuals in it. It's another story that seems like it'd work better as the start to a longer work.
"Coping Well" by llamaguccii
I get that having this guy ramble, jumping through time and space between paragraphs, is how he's processing grief, but it makes it pretty hard to get sucked into this story.
"The Tower" by Dr. Klocktopussy
This one leaves me with so many questions, which I suppose is the point for this week. "Is the protagonist just crazy?" the story wants me to ask, but knowing that this is the intended purpose makes me lose interest. I want to know more about the moon civilization that feels the need to lock princesses in towers for some reason, and intuiting that it's just some poor woman's fantasy doesn't count.
|# ¿ Mar 9, 2017 03:03|
Together in the Same Boat
On Millie's birthday I woke up half-past noon, face planted on the rug and fingers smoking inches away from said rug. Once I realized the situation drunk me had put me in, the resulting jolt of panic woke me up way better than any energy drink could.
"poo poo!" I shouted, checking the carpet for any damage. Unfortunately, there were a pair of handprint-shaped singes, which caused me to start muttering "goddammit" under my breath. This continued as I repositioned the rug to cover them up and resigned myself to kissing my security deposit goodbye. Drunk me is such a dipshit; he can't control the temperature of our hands and he throws off our entire sleep schedule in his desperate pursuit of entertainment. Someday he'll probably just burn down the whole apartment, so why did I let him in? The answer lay in the ashes of the pink slip that he scattered on the kitchen counter.
I muttered louder when I noticed the time. No shower today, though I took the time to wash the char off my hands. "Goddammit, goddammit, goddammit," I said as I wasted half a minute searching for her birthday present, a hand-sculpted pig iron statue of John Oliver sitting at the Last Week Tonight desk. If my super-hands couldn't help me find steady employment—and I had just received a grim reminder that this was the case—they could at least be a productive way to distract myself and others. Still, as I rushed across town to get to Millie's place, I wish I'd been blessed with rocket feet instead. I'd be the most sensational pizza deliveryman in Miller's Crossing.
The first knock on Millie's door was me colliding with it head-on after I failed to skid to a stop. I checked my hands for the glow of heat before I gave the door a decent person's knock. Millie wasn't much of a party person, so there was no grand celebration I missed today, thank God. For all I know she could have just went off to her parents' house or her girlfriend's house. Instead, she opened the door and I got a look at her red and puffy face, the face of a woman who didn't know whether she wanted to let me in or kick me out.
"Happy birthday?" I asked. With a grunt I hefted a sculpture that I didn't have the foresight to make hollow up to face level so she could get a closer look.
The ghost of a smile graced her face. "Thanks, Owen." She stepped aside to clear a path for me and little John.
Once we got settled in on the couch, letting the glow of her plasma screen wash over us and some sleepy anime play in the background, she sighed and looked at me. "Jane dumped me."
"Over text message."
"Jeez!" For a moment I looked at her like I was tempted to laugh. It seemed so absurd that I couldn't believe my ears. It was a feeling I'd gotten used to over the past year or so. "On your birthday?"
Millie snorted. "I think she forgot."
"Anything I can do to help?"
She fell silent while the characters on screen had a conversation about how tough it is being a single catgirl in this day and age. "Nah, just stay here and watch this show with me. Cake's over there if you want some."
I spent most of the time fiddling with my phone, not really paying attention to the screen, but she didn't notice.
Half an hour later, the two of us worked up enough energy to go on a walk. We skirted around the pond and caught the eye of a couple of cops in the area. They haven't liked me since that incident with Bobby Kimball, especially when they found out I don't have fingerprints. Given my hoodie and scruffy face, and Millie's worn-out clothing and lack of make-up, I wonder how many people would find us the most suspicious characters in town. When we were teens we would have gotten a kick out of that, but now the thought makes me want to groan.
"Any idea what you want to do next?" Millie asked. I told her I got fired on the way over.
"I dunno. Nobody wants anything welded around here anymore, especially not by hand." I kicked a large pebble into the pond and watched it sink. "I'll check around, but if I find anything besides IT or data entry, I'll be shocked."
"That might not be so bad, as long as you don't melt the keyboard." She got another smile on, one that looked like it came from genuine amusement. "Besides, can't you do hardware repairs or something?"
Groan. "You know how thin wires and circuitboards are?" I asked her. "You know how much precision and control I'd need to fix those things if they're broken? When you saw my statue you thought it was of Rachel Maddow!" I broke out into laughter, the kind of weird, schadenfreude laughter I get from watching something go unusually wrong. "If I messed up the likeness that badly, how can I fix broken hardware?"
"Well, it's not like I watch the news that often," Millie said, tilting her face and rolling her eyes. "Why'd you even make that guy?"
"I dunno, I wanted to make something, but I don't know poo poo about those animes you like, so I just panicked and thought of John Oliver." I slumped down on a bench, looking like a bum. Millie joined me; she merely looked like a couch-surfer.
"You'll still try, right?" Millie asked after another long pause. "To do something, powers or no powers."
I shrugged. I didn't like calling what I could do a power, since it never made me feel like I had any, but what else could I call it? "Sure. You gonna give up on love or give it another shot?"
Millie smirked. "I dunno. Maybe I'll be okay with the bachelorette life for a while."
"It's worked out pretty well for me so far." I grabbed another pebble in my hand and heated it up, until it felt like it'd been in an oven. With a flick of my wrist I flicked it across the pond. It skipped five times, each time emitting a hiss and a cute little plume of steam, before it sank to the bottom.
"You wanna get some birthday dinner or something?" I asked her.
"Yeah," Millie said as she got up from the bench. "I need something that isn't loaded with sugar for a change."
Our day was much more normal from that point on. We could pretend that our lives were going the way we wanted them to go, and that we'd prepared for adulthood in a way that was even remotely adequate. By the time the sun set, I could almost believe it, all thanks to her.
|# ¿ Mar 13, 2017 03:56|
|# ¿ Mar 14, 2017 01:16|
Thanks for the fast critting, everyone.
|# ¿ Mar 14, 2017 04:33|
At the decaying corpse of the foundry on the outskirts of town, its last employee toiled in a sleeveless uniform, repurposing the shell of industry into something more to his liking. Owen's hands glowed white with heat as he took metal from the railings, walkways and wiring in the walls, anywhere that wasn't load-bearing, and pooled it into nuggets he could carry and put on the stone floor.
When he felt ready to get to work, he started to mold them together, but noticed a woman dressed for sweltering weather standing in the doorway. Millie sighed in relief when she caught sight of him, and glanced down at his hands and the melting metal around them. "Hey," she said as she walked over to steps that Owen had yet to dismantle.
"What's up?" he asked as he arranged the melting nuggets into two piles of slag. The glow surrounding them intensified as he molded them together like potter's clay.
"Well," Millie said, "I haven't seen hide or hair of you in a week, and I'm having trouble remembering the last time that happened. I asked five people where you've been and they didn't have a clue, either. I just got lucky finding you here. Now what's up with you, and why are you hiding here?"
"I tried talking to Bobby Kimball the other day."
Millie jolted in surprise and fumbled to regain her voice. "What? Why?"
"He's still hurt from the burns, Millie. That's on me. I thought I could do something to make up for it."
"How exactly do you make up for scarring the poo poo out of his face?"
Owen winced and sucked air through his teeth. It sounded like the sizzle of fresh steam. "Dunno. That's why I thought I'd ask him. It didn't turn out well. He blocked me on every messenger he uses, and things got tense when I tried to visit him in person.
"The first five minutes or so, I had to convince him that I didn't want to hurt him again. I could see him shake and glance past me, like he was looking for a way to run or something. Holding up my hands in front of me didn't help, either. I'm glad there weren't that many people around to see us both looking like the most uncomfortable, twitchy guys in town. He didn't change his attitude until my voice cracked and he realized I was about to start crying.
"Once he started letting me pour my heart out to him, he got pissed, like he just found out I took a dump in his sink. 'You think some waterworks are gonna make me feel sorry for you?' he asked me. 'Fuckers already feel sorry for me all the time, and I deserve that way more than you do! So unless you just got some kind of face-fixing power, your apology ain't worth poo poo.'
"Then he stormed off and went back to his place. I tried following him, but he slammed the door in my face and pointed a shotgun out the window. So I gave up and went home, then here."
Millie scoffed and shook her head. "Well, it's nice to know that Bobby's still just as much of an angry rear end in a top hat as he used to be."
"Dude, come on," he said. "If your face was mostly scar tissue you'd have a serious problem dealing with other people, too. He may have been an rear end in a top hat before, but he didn't deserve what I did to him."
"You know what?" she said. "You got a point there. I'm glad I wasn't there to see that. But if you feel like you need to make up for it, that's what juvie was for. Why do you have to torture yourself on top of that?"
"It was worth a shot, alright?"
"Was it worth a shotgun?"
"Ha ha. I thought maybe he'd be more amenable after all these years, or that I'd get a chance to do something to make it up to him."
"Like what? You think you could use your burning hands to save his life from a freak accident or something?"
Owen looked back at the heap of metal in front of him, turning his back to Millie before she could see how easily he'd seen through him. He grunted with the effort it took him to continue shaping the metal as it cooled. The first step was over; he could see what he wanted to make in the crude shape before him. The hard part would be making small details on the outside, keeping his hands at just the right temperature to adjust the surface without making the whole thing collapse.
"Did I ever tell you about some of the poo poo I got up to in middle school, before we met?" Millie asked
Owen shook his head, glancing her way before looking at his sculpture again.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes before continuing. "There was this girl Andrea in sixth grade. I went to a pretty sheltered grade school, so Andrea was the first black person I'd ever seen who wasn't on a screen or in a photo. My parents raised me right, so I did my best to make her feel welcome, but I did that stupid thing where I made a big deal about how I didn't mind her being black, and kept asking her these really cringeworthy questions like 'Do you know about this other black person you'd have no other way of knowing about?' and just assuming that she stood in for black people in general.
"Now Andrea was a really quiet girl. She mumbled a lot, so I didn't catch the answers to some of my questions. I really didn't catch how uncomfortable I made her, but after she started to avoid me coming out of class I thought I got the point. The rest of the year I was obsessed with the idea of making it up to her. Anytime it looked like she was in trouble, I'd try and fight her battles for her. Most of the time it was someone giving her a hard time, and I'd always assume they were being racist to her. Eventually her parents had to take me aside and tell me that I shouldn't hang out with her anymore. They did their best to be polite, but looking back on it I think they really wanted to yell at me for being such an idiot."
"So I've been doing the same thing you learned not to do at age twelve?" Owen asked. "That's embarrassing."
"Dude, it's not that big a deal. I had an opportunity to make those mistakes and learn from them early. What I learned is that people get this grand romantic notion of atonement or whatever you want to call it. They hear about the stars aligning and the scenario where someone hosed up happening again, only this time, they can make the right choice! So they wait around for their own opportunity, playing it out in their head and letting everything else slip by, when they're just as likely to have it as they are to win the lottery. Turns out you don't get do-overs for the things that lodge in your psyche. Bobby Kimball is never going to like you, and he has no obligation to forgive you for burning him. He was always an rear end in a top hat anyway."
"But he didn't deserve that," said Owen.
"No, but it happened anyway. Can't do anything about it now." Millie got up from her seat and walked around Owen's workstation, leaning against a wall so she could see what he worked on. At that point it was only a reddish-orange arch with ovoid bulges near the end.
"Of course, if you want to improve yourself, there are more effective ways," she said. "They're slow, hard, boring and not the stuff of legend, but they actually work. For starters, you could stand to treat your actual friends a little better."
A sudden movement send Owen's finger inches into the metal. He hurriedly tried to fill the hole back in as he gave Millie a sheepish grin. "I guess I've been blowing you all off, huh?"
She shrugged. "Yeah, plus there's other things. Remember my birthday? The one after I got dumped and you got fired? I pretended it was a good time, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't. It's like you were trying to make it all about you."
A skeptical frown from Owen. "Aren't you being a little hyperbolic?"
"Maybe. I mean, joining me on the couch to watch anime was sweet in theory, but you just kept staring at your phone the whole time. The least you could do is try and take interest in other people's hobbies. You know I hate it when people who are watching things with me don't actually watch that thing. It's super rude."
"I don't think you actually told me that was a pet peeve."
Millie's eyes darted to the ceiling as she combed through her memory of past conversations. "I'm pretty sure I did. Either way, you know now. Try not to do it again. Also, I hate to say it, but your gift kind of sucked."
"Excuse me? Do you know how long it took me to make that?"
"I can guess, but lemme explain. Can you follow along with me for a bit?"
Owen threw his hands up fast enough to throw droplets of copper and iron to the floor in front of him. "Fine."
"So imagine your birthday came up, and I got you a Blu-Ray box set of some anime you've never heard of. You don't have any interest in watching it, but it looks just like the sort of thing I'd be into. You'd ask me why I got you a gift which is clearly intended for me, but it looks super expensive even though it's also aesthetically unappealing, so you don't want to press the issue. Also, you don't know where you're going to put it and you don't want to throw it out in case it hurts my feelings. And for some reason it weighs a ton and it's a pain to move."
"Alright, alright. I get what you're trying to say, but why didn't you talk to me about it the day of, when we were out walking?"
"I didn't think it was the right time. You seemed really bummed about being laid off and I didn't want to make you feel worse."
Owen chuckled. "What about now?"
"Now I'm using this as an example of something you can improve on. You're not going to have another opportunity to avoid burning Bobby's face in anger—at least I hope not—but you'll have plenty of opportunities to be more considerate. There's some other stuff that might make you feel better, but let's just take this one step at a time, alright?"
His fingers now moved with light, feathery strokes, pinching, prodding and adding texture to metal that had cooled to a dull maroon. "Tell you what," he said. "If you're free sometime soon, let's try and do that night over. I'll leave my phone in the other room and actually watch cartoons with you, then I'll take that bust home and make it into a figurine set or something."
"Sounds like fun. Stop by my place around seven and we'll get you some reference material."
"Can I ask you a kind of personal question?" he asked.
"Sure," she said.
"Why are you taking all this trouble to check up on me? I didn't think you liked me that much anymore."
Millie's eyes darted to a disused crucible, then to a stripped doorframe, and finally back to Owen again. She leaned her face on one hand and bit her lip, trying to find the explanation for something she took for granted.
"It's not that I stopped liking you as much. You were gone so long that I didn't know how to deal with it. By the time you got out, I changed a lot about my life. But I still remember when we were so tight it felt like we could tell each other anything, and I'd like to see if I can bring some of that back, even if we can't be teens anymore."
Silence filled the air as he made the last few touches to his work. "Makes sense to me," he said, looking back up at Millie with the same grin he used to give her before he put Bobby in the hospital.
They said their goodbyes, and before Millie left, she took another look at Owen's latest as he poured water over it. Two busts of people with no features faced apart from each other, connected by a bridge of hair that looked like the gnarled arch of a fallen tree. Each bust was made from a different color of metal—the female head a dull brown like a bastard shade of bronze, the male the color of a scorched car—and as they joined at the center of the arch, the colors smeared into a gleaming alloy that reflected the world around it.
|# ¿ Mar 20, 2017 03:01|
This site looks dope. I'm in.
|# ¿ Mar 21, 2017 06:24|
Wise Up Ghost
Genre: NL Folk
Sample Song: "No Change in Me" by Ron Hynes.
(I might be able to rework and publish this, so it's gone now.)
Solitair fucked around with this message at 20:04 on Dec 28, 2017
|# ¿ Mar 27, 2017 06:02|
The Crits That Time Forgot
Week #25: What They Deserve (Part 1)
“Thunderdome XXV Entry” by supermikhail
There are two main problems I have with this story: chronology and motive. This is the story of how this guy Sherrek quickly gains and loses full dominion over Hynasia, but the beginning makes it look like he’s making a desperate last stand… and is already emperor? My best guess is that he’s already a conqueror who’s about to lose his war, but then he makes a bargain with an enigmatic figure who turns things around for him, and then they both betray each other for some reason. The sequence of events is unclear, and so are the characters’ motives, especially Marshall. I got a chuckle out of there being an entire legion of Marshalls out there, but that doesn’t work as anything other than comedy. Ultimately, this story just raises a whole bunch of questions, but in a way that’s more annoying than intriguing.
“Solve for X” by V for Vegas
This is a much better story. A good sense of pacing and suspense make up for the well-worn subject of the plot. Unfortunately, there are some glaring issues with the punctuation that really should have been smoothed over before submission. Also, the framing device of Trelawney doing noir-ish gestures as he tells the story doesn’t add much. Since it’s mentioned that he’s telling the story to a detective, I’m wondering why that detective never interjected with a question. Trelawney must have one hell of a stage presence.
“Power Lies” by STONE OF MADNESS
No problems here. It’s spooky, it’s atmospheric, the language is on point, and I have just enough context to . As far as I know this is as good as horror gets in a thousand words or so. Read it.
“A Hobson’s Choice” by SC Bracer
Aside from one instance where the author forgot to separate two paragraphs, I can’t think of much technically wrong with this one. It’s just that I feel disappointed at the end. This story doesn’t grab my focus as hard as “Power Lies” did, probably because we’re splitting the difference between the faculty office in the present and the bleacher assault in the past. I never really believed that the faculty would openly rebuke the narrator for telling them about what he saw, and the narrator’s relief in the moment seems short-sighted. There’s no guarantee they’ll do anything or effectively protect him, so I thought he’d still be on the verge of making GBS threads his pants when the meeting ended. I guess he trusts people running schools to do the right thing more than I do.
”An Apocalypse of Peters” by CancerCakes
This story is loving hilarious and I don’t know how much of it the author intended it to be. The dialogue is somehow even cornier and less natural than in the Cixin Liu collection I’m reading, there’s a clumsy reference to Doctor Who and (I think) Lost, and there’s a whole bunch other little touches of dumbassery I lost count of. Then the author pulls the veil from our eyes and reveals an apocalypse that is somehow more ludicrous than the one I imagined from the title. I’m also going to recommend that you read the hell out of it right now. It’s like the Reefer Madness of Thunderdome, unappreciated in its time by a philistine judge who wouldn’t know quality shitposting if it snatched a golden bean off his genitals. Holy poo poo.
“Welcome Back” by Steriletom
Here’s an important lesson you can learn from this story: In a conversation, you really ought to make a new paragraph every time there’s a new speaker. It’s one of those rules that you break only when you know what the hell you’re doing. When Thomas Pynchon did it, it fit the chaotic atmosphere of Against the Day, and even then he only did it once. How is this technique apropos for a ho-hum scene of some schmoes catching up on old times to no apparent effect? I posit that it is not. Whatever Steriletom was hinting at underneath the surface here, he needed to drop a few more hints, and learn to use the enter key while he was at it.
“COLORADO MANEATER” by twinkle cave
I don’t mind phonetic accents and dialect in the dialogue, except when it obscures grammatical and spelling mistakes like it does here. What I do mind is when a story spoils itself. Gasp! The man the introductory paragraphs hinted at committing cannibalism ends up committing cannibalism! The characters are so flat that I’m surprised they don’t turn to tortillas in Packer’s pan. Overall, this strikes me as a story that needs to be expanded beyond the limits of what Thunderdome would allow if it wants to invest a reader into caring when people get turned into trail mix.
“Family Night” by Beezle Bug
Decent, but the unexplained circumstances behind why this guy has to wear a mask and full body suit are distracting.
”Look at you, sport” by GorfZaplen
So many goddamn comma splices, and the way the story is written makes the kid look whiny. I know it’s a harsh thing for me to say, considering he’s that way because of his father being an alcoholic, but the story didn’t sell me on his pain at all. I’m not saying the father’s in the right and his ungrateful family should get off his back or anything, but the situation is a flat facsimile of what should be biting pathos.
Solitair fucked around with this message at 14:26 on Apr 14, 2017
|# ¿ Apr 14, 2017 14:23|
Fast[?] Critting, Good[?] Critting
Week #244: Unspecified Word Disorder (Part 1)
“The Noise When I Stop” by Mrenda
I think this story got lost in the shuffle of my first time judging, but coming back to it I wish I’d given it an HM. In another story the grammar on display here, with all the run-on sentences, incomplete sentences and haphazard comma placement, would be a cause for concern. Here, though, it represents the jittery, haphazard way the protagonist thinks, and it’s the reason why it works as well as it does.
“Only Horse” by Okua
"Excuse me?" asks the mother, hand resting protectively on her daughter's shoulder. "Can't you see she's upset? We'te getting hold of a veterinarian."
This isn’t as broken as I thought it would be, but when I figured out what the imagery was supposed to represent, it didn’t provoke a reaction aside from “Oh, okay.” It’s the story of someone from a poor country where food was scarce, and his fear of starvation from that upbringing makes him binge when a horse drops dead on his property. My only real complaint, aside from it being less interesting than my synopsis would indicate, is that it’s too melodramatic. The writing makes it seem like the narrator is having actual hallucinations of his homeland’s soil and Famine sitting at his kitchen table. I’m pretty sure that’s something else in the DSM.
“Aurumvorax” by Jay W. Friks
Lorenzo stoked the kiln with a flick of the switch. A sharp pain jumped inside his belly. He coughed and spit into his palm. He rubbed the saliva onto a long iron poker with a little lead bead welded to the end, THIS COMMA SHOULD NOT BE HEREhe could remember a time when this whole process wouldn’t make him feel ill.
The shop had become a place he dreaded because his cravings were at their worst there. He slid his finger down the border of a three leaf plant on the bracelet design,
He took it with a nod of thanks. "Is he a friend of yours?" Shanna asked. "No. Just an acquaintance of my cousin." He answered as he pushed the poker into the kiln and quickly retracted it. The saliva was gone in a puff of steam. Don’t put two speakers in the same paragraph.
"You're not in trouble comma are you Lorrie?" She do not capitalize asked. He turned from the basket and looked into her eyes. He gave a certain look at that question. He did it with his roommate as well as his ex-wife when he had begun having unreasonable cravings. Not a hard rule, but try not to have your sentences start with the same word in such close proximity.
First of all, at least one of the other judges has grumbled about your formatting, since this is apparently not the first time you aren’t doing it right. The fact that you have two blank lines between paragraphs instead of one is probably what they were talking about, but I was willing to let that slide until I got about halfway through the story and all of its other problems kept adding up.
Several of the sentences feel awkward and choppy, and not in a way that ties into what’s going on like in Mrenda’s story. You aren’t doing anything in the story beyond demonstrating what pica is; I have no idea why Lorrie has this condition or if he has any other traits as a person. The doctor at the end confuses me even more, since he seems really into fishing gold out of this man’s stomach. Does he get to keep whatever he finds in exchange for keeping Lorrie’s secret? That’s never made a focus in the story, so I’m guessing because it’s the only thing that makes sense.
“Aurumvorax” doesn’t even feel like it comes together like a jigsaw puzzle the way “Only Horse” does. It’s just a half-baked mess. I’d advise starting from scratch and adding more concrete ideas and details than just “this guy has pica.”
“Julian” by Jitzu_the_Monk
This story is highly resonant and I would love to see something like it become a bestselling novel that gets widely discussed in the book-reading community. It asks interesting questions about whether people are as good as they think they are, how much people are actually willing to help the mentally ill, and how accurate society’s moral certainties are, plus it’s hard not to feel betrayed by Julian’s family. However, I do have to echo other judges’ concerns that the car crash scene is incongruous with the rest of the story, not to mention more cliched, and it could easily be removed without being missed.
“Look, Sometimes It Just Happens, Okay?” by flerp
I appreciate the subject matter being used this way, though in all other respects this story’s kind of bland. The couple don’t leave much of an impression on me, even though I felt for the guy’s embarrassment when he shat his pants. Kind of sweet, but otherwise forgettable. It needs something else to give it a new dimension.
“After the End” by Fleta McGurn
This story has the kind of depth that puts it over stories like the last one. It gets to the root of why hoarding happens; everything has a past, and it can hurt to let just a piece of your life go if you’re scared of losing everything. It also presents the interesting scenario of mental illness spreading between family members not because of genetics, but because of uncritical empathy, being unwilling to question someone in pain and realize that they might not know what’s best for themselves. I don’t have a problem with this one.
“Chorea (the Dance)” by God Over Djinn
A nice, tender look at a loving couple and their difficulties with one of them having a degenerative disease. Another one with no complaints, except I’m not sure about the implications of the last line. It seems like the story’s building up to a reconciliation between the two after a minor fight, but the line about buying groceries alone might indicate that things aren’t on the up and up after all.
“Future Not Included” by ThirdEmperor
Almost immediately we run into another formatting issue. Instead of paragraphs getting spaced out too much, some of them aren’t spaced out at all, making an even more annoying result. The idea of somebody getting PTSD from super-immersive VR games is a good one, but by the end of the story I get the impression that our protagonist is actually addicted to VR. I would think that somebody who got PTSD would avoid their trigger like the plague, but what do I know about mental illness? Also, aside from the stuff about advertising at the beginning and the VR stuff there’s nothing to indicate that this is setting is even slightly futuristic. This needs a complete rewrite. I do like that you specified it was a “thingie” of peas.
“The Unsolvable Problem” by Thranguy
I’m the judge that pushed for this to get an HM. I appreciated this frank but sentimental look at the life cycle of a fandom, since I’ve seen (and been part of) this life cycle of passion and burnout multiple times. I wasn’t expecting to see this kind of story on Something Awful, and I would like to say that it was my favorite story this week. Problem is, the execution on its own doesn’t jibe with narcissistic personality disorder prompt. Yes, these people put a lot of importance on an obscure TV show that might not deserve the hype, but people can find enjoyment and meaning in odd things without that alone being a sign of mental illness. The narrator is too self-aware to be a convincing narcissist; the only person who probably fits the bill is Amos. Maybe this was the right story at the wrong time, or maybe there just aren’t many other people on TD who can relate to this. Too bad.
“Patterns” by SurreptitiousMuffin
It’s interesting that instead of trying to make the reader feel what it’s like to have the specified mental disorder, this story prefers to talk about how lovely life can be for someone with a disability that slips through the cracks. The tangent about land ownership and how our main character prefers the Native American way to the corporate way is sad, but the link between that and his mental predicament is tenuous. This feels like a broad strokes version of something better.
“Broken Wires, Broken Minds” by Killer-of-Lawyers
Here we have someone trying to take the tough love approach, with results that will probably disappoint in the long run. I don't know if the forced jocularity between Estrada and Lachowski makes me comfortable or uncomfortable. No problems here, but I only kind of like this one, partly because I'm lukewarm on mil-SF.
Solitair fucked around with this message at 16:40 on Apr 30, 2017
|# ¿ Apr 30, 2017 16:35|
Also me if I don't finish these Week #25 and Week #244 crits by May 15.
|# ¿ Apr 30, 2017 17:54|
The Crits That Time Forgot
Week #25: What They Deserve (Part 2)
“Spaced” by Nubile Hillock
First of all, you put the ending of the story in the first paragraph for no reason and didn’t even use formatting to indicate that it’s a flash-forward. Some people use drugs on a spaceship, one of them gets caught and launched into space. That scene where the narrator first takes the drug makes them and their friend seem like teens who are trying to find a good time through chemistry. There’s talk about revolution, but it seems like something you see on the news and discuss as small talk. Only when the narrator is actually getting on the spaceship does the story realize that we need tension in it, so suddenly they get pushed around and finally spaced. I don’t care.
“Sermon” by Fanky Malloons
I like the structure, alternating between moderately-sized paragraphs and isolated sentences. The story has a clear emotional through-line, and I can get behind the idea of exposing the hypocrisy that too often goes hand in hand with the belief in being saved through grace. That said, this story lays it on a bit thick. I honestly would have preferred a less dramatic, more impotent ending. There are also some big grammatical hiccups here and there.
“Authorial Intent” by Canadian Surf Club
First, there’s this awkward paragraph:
Will flipped the lid open and scribbled a series of loops and squiggles before slapping the cover shut. "Thank-you, good day."
The entire story feels like it should be read aloud in that stilted voice that people use to heavily telegraph someone else’s bad acting. It’s a shame, because the twist is actually pretty good. The prose just needed to be tightened up a lot.
“Tribal Politics” by budgieinspector
At first this story looks like it’s going to take the issue of cultural appropriation somewhat seriously, but then it goes to the most absurd conclusion possible. I laughed at the end, but I also don’t know what point, if any, the story is making. Don’t pretend to be an ethnicity that you’re not, I guess?
“Daddy Gave Me No Name” by Chairchucker
He was going to be the dad his dad hasn’t. ’Hasn’t’ feels wrong here. Try something like “He would be the dad that his dad hadn’t been” or something like that.
Well, this sure was uncomfortable. I can’t help but feel that Ron’s made a horrible mistake, but I can kind of see why. I can’t even decide if the group home would have put a stop to this, or if it’s none of their business. The prose is very downbeat, but the subject matter is interesting enough to make up for it. I feel like there’s something else I should criticize about this story, but I can’t put my finger on what it is. It’s still one of the better ones from this week.
“Work Related Injury” by Noah
This story has too many comma splices for me to bother pointing them all out.
Running full speed up the stairs, he could feel it pulse and shudder. Wetness seeped out from the folds of the coupons, coating his hands in slick, ruddy colored blood. There’s no need to use “ruddy colored.” “Ruddy” is fine by itself. He threw a shoulder against his front door but it wouldn’t budge. Fumbling with his pocket for his keys, he got blood all over his pants, keys and finally the door itself. With each short breath the heart beat in rhythm, as though the heart could sense his urgency.
Pretty decent scenario and execution. I especially like the Stephen King vibe I get off the whole piece. It just needs another proofreading pass, but it needs one pretty badly.
“Show Hand” by The Saddest Rhino
“How’s it like, now that you're a Mrs?” I asked Lori.
“Nobody likes that game! It’s horrible!” I said with a laugh.
We played for some time, and the ladies were clearly enjoying it. I tried to bluff my way with debunked myths like “Bats use sonar because they are blind in the dark,” but Abbie and Lori
Not bad. I thought I might get something cartoonishly overwrought, like the “Never Have I Ever” game from Unfriended, but instead there’s just one insecure guy and a bunch of perfectly normal people. Questionable word choices aside, this is fine, but not inspiring or revelatory. Not sure if that’s what Lori deserved, either.
“Finders Keepers” by Governor Guycott
Frogface rolled his eyes, going so far as to stomp his ten-year old foot Why do you need to point out that the foot specifically is ten years old? on the ground, “Come on! It's Saturday, you can do that crap later! You don't gotta be scared either, I know karate so if that homeless guy comes around we'll be fine.”
Thomas shoved his hands back in his pockets and followed Frogface through the dry creek bed. None of the overgrowth had been disturbed as far as Thomas could see. The foliage was thick on the hills that lined the creekside, save for the few spots where people had worn trails through the bushes. “I don't think there is a car down here Vic,” Thomas said. “You're making it up again. I want to get home before it rains, are we almost there? I got homework.”
After a minute of shoving a stick where the lock used to be on the back, Frogface jumped back a step as the trunk door swung open. A battered looking suitcase was sitting on top of chewed up jumper cables. Frogface pulled it out, "Man, I have been dying to open this up. I wanted it to save it for you, 'cause you're the only kid who still hangs out with me (Bit on the nose, huh?). Gimme a rock."
This is pretty good. It’s a shame the author didn’t stick around. It has plenty of details and atmosphere, plus the grammar was better than usual. One of the best uses of the prompt, too; I’m on the fence about whether Thomas deserved what happened to him, but he’s in a good position to learn a lesson from it either way.
“Dao of the range” by Benagain
They found Josh leaning against a rock at the bottom of a gulch, one boot propped up on a tortoise. Both appeared equally resigned to their situation. The posse approached cautiously, an unspoken agreement meaning that no one went and fired off their gun or hollered like a drat fool, every man creeping respectfully closer. No one wanted to disturb him unduly, after all. There was a bit of an awkward shuffle because of that since no one wanted to speak first, but the
So is the idea here that this is a version of the Wild West where everybody’s calm, but they still go through the motions anyway? If so, what was the deal with that one guy in the crowd who shouted at Josh? I think the idea here got lost in translation and I doubt it was a very good idea to begin with.
|# ¿ May 5, 2017 05:54|
IN. Gimme a cover, and I'm open to collaboration.
|# ¿ May 10, 2017 20:52|
Fast[?] Critting, Good[?] Critting
Week #244: Unspecified Word Disorder (Part 2)
“Messiah’s Redoubt” by Sitting Here
I got excited when I saw that the prompt left an option to use multiple disorders by means of different characters bumping into each other. That would add more dimensions to the story by default, even if it makes things harder for the writer to conceive. So I’m both disappointed that nobody else tried that option this week, and not surprised that this story won as a result. It’s fun, it’s smooth, and the characters, while simple, feel like real examples of people with their disorders, especially Rabbit. It’s the interaction between the two of them, and the explanation for why such an interaction has to remain brief, that makes the story interesting. A good choice for the winner.
“Pinballers” by Ironic Twist
This story is hella obnoxious at the start, but it serves a purpose in setting up a tonal shift down the line that makes the story end on a better note than it started on. These three men are wearing equipment that protects them when they bounce off walls and they get paid to wreck rooms for a living. On its own, that’s dumb and I didn’t get the point of it in-universe, not helped by the tryhard way the narrator spells his friends’ names. My best guess is that it’s some sort of game show, though how their boss keeps track of their progress is never mentioned. The reveal that they’re actually wrecking real people’s apartments, and that cHryss (lol) wrecked the resident as well changed the context to make it an exploitative capitalist nightmare, which is driven home by Matt’s (How would you spell that name in a hip and edgy way?) memory at the end. This culture is stupid, and the story knows it, so I like this story. On the grammatical side, be sure to check and make sure that you have a space after every period.
“Well Then” by sparksbloom
Where are you? I texted her. I got up from the green room and went outside to get some fresh air, or
Well, poo poo. How was I supposed to track her down with an hour to go before the show? I tried calling her directly, but she just ignored my calls. I thought about calling her mom -- the only person Katrina’d always listen to, without question -- but it was too late, and besides, some trump cards are never meant to be played. She hadn’t checked in on social media accounts, either. That was how I tracked her down when I couldn’t find her in Minneapolis. She’d gone to some hip-as-gently caress record store in the other half of the city, and I only caught up to her because she was Unnecessary return
The go-nowhere, insular reminiscing of the narration is somewhat frustrating, especially considering that the story ends with nothing having essentially changed, a moment of deliberate disappointment. I appreciate how subtly the gender stuff was handled, leaving the lion’s share of wordcount to demonstrate a disorder that gets relatively little attention. The narrator’s dilemma is relatable to people with judgmental mindspaces, and it’s left to the reader’s attitude to decide who’s right or wrong here. Cop-out or ambiguity? You decide!
That said, boy are those big blocks of text intimidating. Maybe break them up a bit more? Also, I’m only barely interested in the characters beyond the question of whether it’s right to be so judgmental, and the shithead joke is pushing it.
“The Life, Times, and Comeback of Dana Han” by Radical and BADical!
I’m not feeling this one. You’re trying to cover a very broad life full of incident in a small allotted wordcount, and it just makes the whole story feel shallow. Dana’s mother is a cartoon villain, and her menacing presence over Dana’s life isn’t given the time or nuance to be fully convincing. I’m willing to buy into the idea that other people in authority are willing to look the other way with her abusive behavior as long as you give a half-decent reason why, which you didn’t do. You also establish Dana’s inability to speak in her mother’s conservatory too late for her miraculous ability to do so in the present day to have any emotional weight. I can’t recommend this one at all.
“Fire Season” by Kaishai
I particularly like these lines:
The battered Jeep on the side of the highway has its hood popped up to display its failings to the world.
The polish on the last line tells me I'm not the first to hear this tale.
The prose in this story is more assured and exact than in many of the stories I read this week. I probably didn’t vote to give it an HM because the basic flow of the story (explaining the source of the narrator’s disorder and having him find a way to make good use of it) is fairly typical of this week. That said, I can’t argue with this award. The story’s a pretty solid mood piece.
“Floodgates” by Uranium Phoenix
Right off the bat we have a huge block of speech text from one person that’s a chore to read and makes our only exposure to the narrator’s father completely unpleasant. The only reason a reader might have for agreeing that he shouldn’t say anything is the cultural, out-of-context understanding that suicide is bad. It’s not because I actually like the father that I want him to stay alive. Moreover, the narrator just happening to meet someone who’s in the same boat he’s in at this party feels like a cliché, and it’s barely connected to that whole issue with his father. I have to take back what I said about Sitting Here’s entry; putting two different mental illnesses in one story is harder than I gave it credit for.
“Spit” by The Cut of Your Jib
Pretty good. The story does a lot to make me feel for the indignities and smoldering resentment that Greg feels, especially to this self-centered woman who doesn’t fully understand what she did to him way back when. I especially like the interjections between Greg’s broken-up dialogue describing his off-the-cuff thoughts. Not entirely sure about Melanie’s character or if she deserves to be forgiven. It took me until my second or third read-through to notice that, at the end, Greg spending time with her wasn’t begrudging, since the sentence at the end led me away from that conclusion.
“Hook, Line and Sinker” by crabrock
I head to the mall to feast on the buffet. I squeeze past people on the escalator, lingering for a second longer than necessary as my thin dress presses into the arm of some unsuspecting mother of four. I find the busiest aisle in the shoe store and make my way through, biting my lip as I my thighs brush the back of a woman trying to shove her feet into heels two sizes too small. She’s so focused, she doesn’t even notice when I double back and do it again.
I’m of two minds on this story. I remember agreeing with my co-judges’ assessment to gently caress this story during the judging period, but now I kind of chuckle at the punchline at the end. Question is, does this make up for the narrator being a complete piece of poo poo? In this climate, I’m going to say no. I would expect, even prefer, that someone with a disorder involving sex like this one to be self-conscious and ashamed about it, and instead this guy is like a flasher. If anything she’s gleeful at the prospect of unwittingly molesting people. Getting her wallet stolen is the least that he deserves. gently caress off, lady.
“Mental Illness in a World of Magic” by RandomPauI
This is a sloppy mess of a story. You forgot to put spaces between the paragraphs until halfway through. You spelled “through” as “thru,” which I will only let slide if you’re transcribing a text message, not regular dialogue. Comma splices abound, and the sentences don’t flow together. All of these badly structured words nonsensically build up to a generic platitude that could apply to absolutely anyone who’s in a bad place in their lives, or at least that’s what I assume because nothing else in this story is clear at all. I’m glad you didn’t get too discouraged from how this story turned out, but now I’m starting to wonder if this shouldn’t have been the loser instead of “Aurumvorax.”
“The Academy” by Hawklad
I’m torn between this situation being too much of a cliche or very real. There’s an instance early on where you forgot to put the open quote on a piece of dialogue. Otherwise, it’s decently executed but nothing I haven’t seen before. I would have given this no mention.
|# ¿ May 10, 2017 22:18|
The Crits That Time Forgot
Week #25: What They Deserve (Part 3)
“Beautiful Morning” by BlackFrost
“Jesus loving Christ! Don’t tell me you did this. Don’t tell me you lit Frank’s car on fire.”
This is the moment where the story went hit my limit for being too cutesy-poo with its tone. This is a clunky line and it’s hard for me to see anybody actually talking like this. I appreciate the double application of the prompt, but to what end? It’s a shallow story with a shallow protagonist and I won’t remember it after I’m done with these crits.
“Empty Glass” by Impermanent
Didn’t I already critique this story, when it was called “Spaced?” That was another story about a drug user who I definitively did not care about suffering a terrible fate because of the drugs they took. I’m no straight-edge prude by any means, but these stories prepare me for the tension of accidental death by reminding me how annoying high people can be through sober eyes. In this case, you introduced us to Corey by having him appropriate an Eastern faith that he explicitly doesn’t know poo poo about. Everyone hates that guy. Sorry if that got a little ranty, but I have little else to go on here. I get the feeling this story would have better if it started with John waking up in a panic instead of ending that way. Also, you’d think if John gave a poo poo about Corey he would have looked up what an overdose on that drug does to people; even I did that.
“Snitches get Stitches” by Greatbacon
Goddammit. This story started off so well and then it just fell apart. It does a good job of selling me on a noir-ish bar atmosphere from the early 20th century and Jacob’s thoughts about his marriage. Then the other guy comes in and I can practically see Greatbacon gradually giving up on revising his story until the dashed off “gently caress it I’m done” obituary ending. Commas are missing when they should be there, as well as a colon after “It read” proceeding that obituary. The implications of who even killed Jacob are lost on me. Lionel can see that Jacob did his best, and it’s already established that his wife isn’t unforgiving enough to resort to murder. The author did not live up to their name this week.
“Arena” by Sedgr
Patrice does not talk like a human being and his dialogue has the biggest concentration of bad grammar in the story. If you set a story in an arena and you build up to what you say is your protagonist’s last fight in the arena, don’t spend all of your time drawing out details that don’t matter, building up to a reveal that a ten-year-old could predict in their sleep, and cutting before you get to a fight that could save all of this wasted time. Awful.
“Birdfeeders” by Bad Seafood
The child’s eyes were sharp and cold, a boy who believed in no illusions. You shifted the subject of the sentence between clauses. Perhaps you should switch the clauses around instead. He stood at the sound of footsteps and remained so as they entered one by one, the captain and the carpenter. They were twins, or might have been. The carpenter stooped and coughed, face lined with worry as he shut the door. The captain simply stood, a statue in black uniform, a single cigarette burning softly between his lips. The carpenter too drew a cigarette, hands trembling.
“Do you know the position this puts me in, Walter? Do you understand?”
“But you did.” The captain leaned back. “You did announce it, here and now.” If your out-of-dialogue sentence is based around an action that isn’t speaking, don’t connect it to the dialogue with commas. Also, it feels weird that this is the only action shown in a lengthy exchange.
“Kurt. Where is your family, Kurt?”
“There were men with bags and cars. Papa worked at the police. Only dead people go in bags. They were alive at the time, perhaps, but I cannot imagine living people being stuffed into bags.”An uncharacteristically eloquent line of dialogue, not just for this scared little boy, but for the story in general with its clipped sentences and tense atmosphere. Why?
The lighter clicked a third time and produced a modest flame. The captain breathed in deep and satisfied.
“What are their names?”
Finally we get a half-decent story by an actual writer. Thank Christ. Those of you reading at home might disagree, but I thought that, for all of the lack of happenstance in this story, it’s still intriguing because it presents itself in a way that implies that more might be happening than it lets on. It does this very well, aside from the incongruities I pointed out, and I’m still curious to learn more about this captain fellow. Yeah, it’s kind of mystery-boxy, but that’s still more than a lot of other stories had this week.
“(Liar liar)Girl on Fire” by Sitting Here
Jesus. Sitting Here kills it again. How the hell did this not get an HM? SH should look up that em-dash tip I gave Bad Seafood, but other than that, I have no problems with this one.
“Brenda” by swaziloo
Seriously though, the sleaziness and scumminess on display here successfully made me uncomfortable, so mission accomplished I guess. Pretty tame and lame ending for something with that much buildup, though.
Recommended reading for Week 25: “Power Lies,” “Daddy Gave Me No Name,” “Work Related Injury,” “Finders Keepers,” “Birdfeeders,” “(Liar liar)Girl on Fire.”
”Recommended” reading for Week 25: “The Apocalypse of Peters.”
|# ¿ May 12, 2017 05:53|
Overthinking It (1441 words)
(Might rework and publish, so just in case)
Solitair fucked around with this message at 20:12 on Dec 28, 2017
|# ¿ May 15, 2017 06:32|
Thunderdome Week 250: Everything Means Nothing Anymore
I never thought for one moment that I would actually win Thunderdome last week. It just goes to show that sometimes all of the assumptions one makes about the world can reflect nothing about the way it actually works. We cling to flawed beliefs, warped by confirmation bias, until something comes along that shatters everything we ever thought possible. For me, reality got redefined in my favor, but most people aren't so lucky.
This week, I want reflections of a universe in flux, bursting the fragile soap bubbles of people's worldviews in the dumbest way possible. I want to laugh at other people's hangups and nothing making sense to them, the poor deluded fools. Dignity is for poo poo, and the emperor has no clothes.
That said, the rules of grammar and poo poo nobody wants to read still apply, even if the rules of sanity do not. If I see fanfic, porn, or a comma splice, I will end your rear end, unless there's seriously nothing better going on this week and I'm forced to pass the crown of "good enough, I guess" to my heir apparent.
Word count: 2000 words (+500 for a , +500 for a flash rule)
Signups due Saturday 3 AM Eastern Time
Submissions due Monday 3 AM Eastern Time
Arbiters of Chaos:
Fools of Fate:
Jay W. Friks
The Saddest Rhino
The Cut of Your Jib
Solitair fucked around with this message at 16:54 on May 20, 2017
|# ¿ May 16, 2017 17:12|
In with a flashrule
|# ¿ May 16, 2017 17:38|
In, with a flash.
|# ¿ May 16, 2017 18:03|
|# ¿ May 17, 2017 03:37|
Solitair, I didn't ask for a flash before, but can I have one? Also, what the hell
|# ¿ May 17, 2017 04:17|
Signups for this week close in three hours.
|# ¿ May 20, 2017 04:00|
Signups are now closed.
But I'm still missing a judge so if you want to sign up for that that's cool.
|# ¿ May 20, 2017 07:19|
I'll be the third if Solitair wants.
Judge signups are now closed.
|# ¿ May 20, 2017 16:52|
SUBMISSIONS ARE CLOSED
|# ¿ May 22, 2017 07:28|
Judgment for Week 250
Ah, the big bisesquecentennial or whatever the gently caress you want to call it. Who better to mark the occasion than someone who's been here for barely two months? Only a small bunch of people were brave enough to risk my wrath, and none of them reached my wildest expectations. The best of them found other ways to make me happy instead. The worst were at least varied in their methods of disappointment.
The DMs go to Meinberb's "Nihilism Is My Kink" for having the most pedestrian, predictable, boring interpretation of a prompt that was supposed to encourage balls-craziness; and Killer-of-Lawyers' Fragmented for mistaking vagueness and pointless obfuscation for atmosphere and intrigue.
Neither of those stories was as obnoxious as the loser, with its obnoxious meta moments, obnoxious attitude, and obnoxious failure to understand my prompt even the tiniest bit. For "Anemic Structure," I declare The Cut of Your Jib the biggest loser!
The HMs go to Thranguy's "Girl, You'll be a Wolfman, Soon," for making me feel the most for any given character this week and telling a heartwarming story when I didn't expect it; and Fleta Mcgurn's "The Girl in the Vlog" for hitting uncomfortably close to home and surprising me with a pretty good twist.
This week's winner is the story that came closest to what I originally envisioned when I came up with this prompt. It has a problem or two, but it captures the madcap, absurdist-yet-pessimistic spirit I wanted from all of you. It's "Satyric Humor!" I bequeath unto ThirdEmperor the meager responsibility of PROOOOOMPT and FJGJ.
Solitair fucked around with this message at 17:10 on May 23, 2017
|# ¿ May 23, 2017 05:13|
WEEK 250: EVERYTHING MEANS NOTHING ANYMORE, PART 1/2
“Forever, South Carolina” by Tweezer Reprise
The walk isn’t strenuous for Aman, as he’s young; he was only seventeen when the Wipe eviscerated the world, and he had planted nearly no personal tendrils of his own; the biggest loss that he had incurred was that of his parents. I told you, dog! I warned you about comma splices!
Norman had founded Forever originally of himself and the handful of survivors he had befriended after the Wipe. This reads awkwardly, like it was translated from some other language.
Aman was one of the first draftees, and he and Norman had met under the knife. In the adjoining swamp that stretched laterally, hugging the coast, the young man had visible ribs, two fresh, bleeding slash wounds, gleaned from a man that was ultimately after his organs, and an acute case of mortal terror. The bolded part should be part of the prior sentence, not the sentence about what Aman looked like at the time.
“I saw him again,” he offers, scratching the back of one hand with the nails of another.
To his credit, no one but Jeffery seemed to be suspicious of Patch Guy
Everything had been obliterated. Aman had been tricked cruelly, and he had been tricked for the last time. When Bernard’s goon finally came around, up to this point only having had to follow the obvious trail left by the sole escapees, Aman hopped out from behind a tree, gesturing to his blood-soaked shirt, and to his dead friend. Whether or not the armed man could translate Aman’s furious, sobby shouting, which amounted to an informal request to shoot, just shoot, please just loving shoot him already, he was only so happy to oblige. Bravo. Why couldn’t the rest of the story be written like this?
Welcome to Thunderdome! You’re already showing a lot of improvement with your second story, so don’t take it too hard when I say that the prose in your debut is terrible. You always seem to structure your sentences wrong, or use the wrong word or wrong punctuation mark at the wrong time, not to mention the confusing, haphazardly switching between past and present tense. The post-apocalyptic Waco scenario you present here can’t help but fall flat because of these technical errors. If not for your last paragraph, which is perfectly constructed in comparison to the others and would have been devastating if the build-up had worked, I may have given this a DM.
“a literal story about a shaggy dog” by SurreptitiousMuffin
I want to dock this one points for the slapped-together blog feel of it, but that’s kind of the point and you do bring up an analogy that makes me empathize with the dog, even though the writer is still a weird sociopath who doesn’t know when to quit. Still, this minimal style is a turn-off. I gave you a high word limit with the expectation that you would make use of it, and you didn’t exactly do more with less.
BRB reading other stories now.
“Nihilism is My Kink” by Meinberg
Here’s something I’m personally familiar with: a decent technical execution of a bad idea. It hits the letter of my prompt while missing the spirit. In asking for stories of lives turned on their head and expectations being shattered, I hoped that submitters would try to shatter mine as well. I wanted some off-the-wall poo poo happening, and the events of this story are glued to the wall in a beige picture frame.
The main problem I have with the story, aside from that, is how cartoonishly sure Jacob is that everything in his life will turn out alright. I’m sure that there are people out there who think this way, though they’ve been on the decline ever since World War I, but do any of them picture it in such blunt, fate-tempting terms? This is basic, first-level faith-shaking. Most of us don’t need a tragedy like this to think that our life might be spiralling out of control, or that there is no big plan for everybody to follow. We have not, however, internalized the concept of a pointless universe; we can still lead a regular, daily life; we still have expectations of what will happen to us or could happen to us. The events of this story are normal for a society that’s been molded by the upheaval of the 20th century. I wanted something weirder than that.
“Girl, You’ll Be a Wolfman, Soon” by Thranguy
Now this is more like it. Cassie is a much more believable character; she’s glib without being annoying, and has some initiative in dealing with stuff like that pedophile and that jerk boyfriend. I also appreciate that this is a story about her finding an upside to the major life changes forced on her that doesn’t feel like a consolation prize. If I were to pick at something, it’s the premise that Cassie isn’t just telling this story to the reader, but to some witch or therapist she’s been talking to about her condition. This isn’t even apparent until the start of the third scene, and it’s not the smoothest transition. There might also be more depths to plump in the idea that the curse also forces Cassie’s physical sex to change, but this could also have been done so much worse. If you wanted to leave what you’ve got alone, I understand why, and you’d probably still be ahead of the curve.
“Satyric Humor” by ThirdEmperor
This is pretty much exactly what I wanted. It’s a situation that’s ridiculous when you look at it from the outside, but it’s pretty awful for poor Ambrose. One of my co-judges said that the story seemed a bit shallow for them, but it’s hard to notice with the imagery of satyrs invading a man’s space to the point where they’re in his toilet, and when his insecurities in wrestling with how other people perceive him overwhelm him over time. I’ve tried, but I can’t think of anything that would make this story better.
Solitair fucked around with this message at 03:51 on Jun 9, 2017
|# ¿ Jun 4, 2017 00:09|
In with flash story and flash rule.
|# ¿ Jun 7, 2017 17:42|
Thanks for the crit, UP.
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2017 04:41|
WEEK 250: EVERYTHING MEANS NOTHING ANYMORE, PART 2/2
“Bunnies, Dust” by The Saddest Rhino
As the world loads, I walk into the kitchenette to make tea. It hurts worse now to walk. The doctors say there’s a pinched nerve in my left thigh but does not recommend scanning with an ultrasound. How many doctors did he see? They will find more problems and you’ll just worry more, she said.
Why don’t I love this? Back when I judged it, I didn’t know you ripped this straight from a real news article about Second Life or whatever (I’m disappointed. Thranguy didn’t do that and I gave him a real fake news article for a flash rule.), so I could have seen this as a novel idea at the time. Some of it might be because of the unlife/undeath thing, which aimed for poetic repetition and build-up but kind of annoyed me instead. It could also be my confusion about what effect tossing the carrots and releasing the rabbits has, especially in relation to the mention of glitches. That leaves me unclear as to whether the grand gesture of letting the pets go so the main character can remember them at their best was anything more than that. One judge wanted this to HM, but I couldn’t agree. Sorry.
“Anemic Structure” by The Cut of Your Jib
EVERYTHING IS WRONG. The recap crew already went over a lot of what’s wrong with this story, but for those who missed it, nothing about this story works. It needs proofreading, especially for the random shifts in tense that happen in the middle of scenes. Why does that one lady’s name keep changing? Did you seriously think that the other lady’s judgmental, assholish, Nice Gal personality would be the least bit endearing or interesting? What is the point of bringing up the Bechdel Test in dialogue, if not to weakly paper over a bad story with cheap meta so you look cool? If “vampires exist and that’s why your boyfriend has to die (except maybe your friend’s just an evil, possessive poo poo)” is supposed to be your interpretation of the prompt, it’s a drat weak one. The flow of this story is choppy and the point of it unclear; that was all I remembered come judgment time and that alone was enough for me to toss this on the ash heap. I get wanting to get anything on a page when the deadline’s coming up, but I’m pretty sure you can do better than this.
“The Girl in the Vlog” by Fleta Mcgurn
Part of the reason why I like this story so much is because it deals with dumb fandom stuff like that Thranguy story, but also because, sap that I am, I didn’t think that you’d pull a double swerve on me. You rocked this woman’s world twice, though she kind of had it coming. I like the debate the recappers had about how convincing Venus-chan is as a character. In my eyes, it didn’t seem that implausible that she was more self-aware than she first looked, despite willingly making a fool of herself on the internet for who knows how long. Maybe it’s too obvious a moral that people tend to dehumanize and underestimate the most socially awkward people with no self-awareness on the internet, but it’s still worth thinking about. I have no real complaints about this story; in another week that I also happen to set the prompt for, I’d have no problems making this the winner.
“tell me about your mother” by Propaganda Machine
This was pretty cheesy, but harmless and competently written for what it is. It falls flat and isn’t terribly creative, looking good mostly in relation to the other, more awful stories of the week. There’s not a whole lot else worth saying about this one, though other critters are welcome to prove me wrong.
“Fragmented” by Killer-of-Lawyers
Fragmented is right. This story keeps everything so close to the chest that I can’t get interested in it or curious about it. I can only get annoyed at the vague crypto-speak the characters talk in during the first half of the story and the lack of context to almost anything, though the computer diagnostics in bold near the end were a nice touch. You need to flesh this out much more. That’s why the word limit was two to three thousand; I expected people to use those words.
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2017 03:47|
|# ¿ Dec 5, 2023 05:43|
Bent beneath the weight of a god
Collapse Sonata (741 words)
(My favorite story I wrote ITT this year. Definitely want to try again with this one.)
Solitair fucked around with this message at 20:13 on Dec 28, 2017
|# ¿ Jun 11, 2017 19:32|