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The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



in :toxx:

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The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Week 499 Submission

The Hard Sell
1000 Words

Bill scratched at the recent skunk stripe in his scruff as he flipped the ledger shut and flat-palm pressed it into the counter as though force of will could push it through the rutted formica and back to the pits of hell.

He heard the low mumble of “Drunken Sailor” from the top of the stairs before the squeaking of his mother’s descent. Eventually, one natty slipper. Then the next.

“Ma?”

Her words were still quick. “I got it.”

Bill danced his way through the musty cardboard hedge-maze to the landing where Ma was touching down on the worn sunrise burnt into the hardwoods’ lacquer by fifty years of kind neglect, rays bouncing out into the room until they met the dusky mildew of the cluttered walls. Bill traversed one, unknowingly, hidden beneath the boxes.

“I said, I got it.”

“Alright, Ma. Next time wait for me.” His hand reflexively rose to scratch. Ma caught it, licked her thumb, and rubbed at the graphite stains.

“You’re working too hard,” she said.

“Did you ever look in the accounting book? It’s gibberish. There wasn’t exactly a solid business plan here.” He waved towards the junk crowding the pawn shop floor.

“There are higher purposes than just making money.”

“Well, you’re going to need some divine intervention.” Bill muttered, ”Dad left a hell of a mess.”

“You’re here now. Mysterious ways and all that.”

“I came back to get things squared away so you could get a condo in Florida or something. I didn’t expect a hoarder house. And, and look at you. What if a social worker came in? I can practically see through your robe.”

“I like it. Your father got it for me the day we moved in here. Carried me up those stairs in it. ‘Course I wasn’t wearing much else.”

“Ma!” Bill rasped.

Ma raised her creaking hands. “OK, OK, sheesh.” She hadn’t been Gloria in a long time. Bill’s father was the last to call her that, once they were tucked away upstairs, home. With Walt gone, she might never be Gloria again.

“Point being, Ma. There’s not enough money in the place to consider retiring. Probably wouldn’t even pass inspection. Maybe you can swing some part-time help.”

“Your father always wanted you to take over.”

“I’m not moving back. Rats aren’t supposed to jump on to sinking ships. God, at least tell me there aren’t rats.”

“Mickey and Minnie are the only company I have left. Especially if my one and only boy won’t stay,” she mock-pouted.

“Pouring it on a little thick, Ma. But this just isn’t me.”

“Remember appraising that hutch with the swallowtail joints? Your father was so proud. It’s in your blood, Billy.”

“Just—stop trying to guilt me into it. Can’t you just turn it off for one second? I’m not trying to buy a freaking watch.” Bill’s breathing subsumed the room, purposely loud.

Ma’s voice was soft, “When your father started this place, oh, he had dollar signs in his eyes. But then we got to know the people around here we realized we could do some good.”

“I’m sorry, but you’re putting the guy up on a pedestal.”

Ma rummaged in a box and lifted an antique tennis racket. “The Grants. Four kids, they lived in the house with the orange shutters on Maple?”

“I remember.”

“Your father gave them a hundred dollars for this old thing. They couldn’t make the rent one month and well, your father was your father. That’s the Johnsons’ box, old Mrs. Laney's.”

“Good for him. The one noble pawn shop owner. Look where it got us.”

“Think about the good you could do.”

“Here? You realize that half the people who come in here are going to spend the cash on drugs, and most of this crap is probably stolen. I’d have to put up bulletproof glass.”

“Even if you did, Billy, think about the Grants and Johnsons out there who actually need you.”

“Well, why didn’t you two start a charity then? I don’t get it.”

“Times were different then.”

Bill inhaled sharply. “But it’s now. What am--how am I supposed to do this? And anyway, you’re romanticizing the whole thing like you remember it being Leave it to Beaver or something from when you were a kid. It was the Seventies, not some black and white TV fantasy.”

“We all do that, though, don’t we? Maybe it’s part of human nature? Gloss over the bad parts. Maybe like a defense mechanism. Otherwise, who would ever get up in the morning? You look miserable, Billy. That’s not what your father and I ever wanted for you.”

“I mean, I’m going to have to take care of all this eventually, so why not now, right? Apparently so concerned with everybody else you figured everything would just wind up fine in the end like a stupid sitcom. And I’m not.”

“Billy. . . .”

“I’m sure you and Dad had a nice fulfilling life here. If you thought you were building something to leave for me, you blew it. It’s a broken legacy.”

“A fulfilling life is not nothing. And you have a chance at one here, too. With me, for a couple of years?”

“Yeah.”

“What do you really have going on right now, anyway?”

By all conventional standards, nothing much. Bill had a tiny studio but it was on the beach. He would bartend for tourists, cover for the tchotchke vendors, and pick up the occasional DJ gig. It was simple, unambitious, free.

“Are you kidding me, Ma? Hammer the nail home then just keep pounding. I gotta go.”

“Then just leave me here alone. I’ll figure it out.”

Bill found the way to his rucksack and fished out a dented silver hipflask.

“Your father’s,” she said.

Bill unscrewed the top. “Hmm.”

He sat down on the step and Ma gingerly lowered herself beside him. Under the flicker of the fluorescent shop lights, he took a long swig then passed the flask.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Sitting Here posted:

:siren: :siren: This is the first story in the story chain. Who will write the first sequel? What crazy branching timelines will you drag the judges through??? :siren: :siren: :siren:

Written by Crabrock.

WEEK 500DRED Prologue
500 words

“Might wanna stand back,” said the old man I’d contacted on Craigslist.

He opened his garage door and a few obsolete chaos generators tumbled out onto the driveway. He kicked them to the side and pulled out the reason I’d contacted him: the RealitySmasher500. They only made three prototypes before it was deemed too powerful. It’d taken me nearly ten years to track this one down.

A few pieces fell off the device, which resembled a giant french horn with a lot of knobs and superfluous circuitry.

“I was on mushrooms when I designed this thing.” He picked up a loose circuit board, scratched his head, and shrugged. “You know it won’t work without a gem, right?”

I nodded. “I found another seller in Milwaukee with a whole box of gems.” Mostly gems, anyway. I hadn’t bothered to sort the random garage junk from the useful stuff yet.

The old man smiled ruefully. “I’ve only tested it with quartz. No idea what’ll happen if you put something less stable in it—like hackmanite or, god forbid, icosahedrite—so I’d strongly advise against it.”

I peered into his garage, saw several items I’d have liked to get my hands on. Maybe later.

I drove the RealitySmasher500 back to the lab. A few hours of scrubbing and the device shone like new…ish. The superfluous circuitry was hard to clean.

Dave, my assistant, walked in eating an apple. “Hey Dr. Cindy, want one?” he asked with his mouth full.

I accepted the apple. “Anybody call while I was out?” I asked hopefully.

“Sorry, doc. Still nothing.”

Dammit. That call was too important. I wouldn’t be able to focus until it came. I occupied myself by explaining the different functions of the RealitySmasher500 to Dave.

“And this,” I said, “ is the time-scale dial. Determines where the alternate timeline branch is created.”

“So if I spin it far enough to the left, I can gently caress with some dinosaurs?”

“Let’s not just yet.” I walked him through some of the other knobs. “This one affects the fundamental laws of physics, this one reverses polarity.”

“Of what?”

“Of everything.”

“Huh!” he said. “But not for us, right? Just for some other timeline.”

I shrugged. “It’s all the same, really. Each new timeline contains a complete copy of the timeline it branched off from. So let’s leave this one set to default, for the sake of our other selves,” I said. I looked at my phone to make sure I hadn’t missed any calls. Nothing.

Dave was saying, “And this only takes crystals, right? So if I took your uneaten apple and put it in this receptacle here…then push that button there…nothing’ll happen, right?”

Distracted, I didn’t register Dave’s question until I looked up, saw my apple in the gem slot and Dave’s finger depressing the big red BISECT TIMELINE button.

“You idiot, what did you do!?” I cried, every hair on my body standing on end.

Just as the room filled with bright light, the phone began to ring.

Week 500 Submission
Sewing the Seeds
500 Words


Baa dee bing! I perk up at the intercom. I wasn’t dozing exactly, but Dr. Ferza’s genetics textbook was dense. More like when you concentrate so hard on something that’s just a little beyond you. It’s exhausting to have something be so close but not quite be able to grasp it. I suppose that’s a little un-PC to say, given Dr. Ferza’s physical limitations, so I should watch myself in the lab.

“Intern Seven-Six-Seven report to Facility One immediately.” Wait, that’s me. Wait, that’s Dr. Ferza’s lab. Holy poo poo, it’s happening. I leap out of the chair and the little desk tips, sending the books and my notes flying. My bunkmate sits up and through the flurry says, “You need those?”

“No time for that now.” Besha goes back to idly scrolling her pad as I bustle out of the room, realizing my foot is really asleep.

I hobble-run down the hall, picking the little wad of chewing gum off my ID badge, and running my digits over my head in a vain attempt to look presentable. Surely the greatest mind on the planet won’t mind if I’m a little unkempt.

The door opens with a pneumatic puff. There’s Dr. Ferza, looming large over the other scientists. Oh, to be in her presence. Nerves, don’t fail me now.

I take another wobble in as Dr. Ferza turns those eyes on me. Such determination. They may seem cold to the uninitiated, but I see the singular focus of a predator who only has eyes on their prey—science.

“Intern, are you injured?” she asks. I knew there was some warmth below that calculating brow.

“My foot’s just asleep, Doctor. It’s fine. Heh.” Hoo-boy.

“You have been selected, Seven-Six-Seven. Step forward.”

The other interns part as I approach the labyrinthine spider of a machine. The floor pulses with energy. Even Dr. Ferza seems insignificant beside that majestic device. Hell if I know what it is though.

“Interns,” she bellows. They swarm around the machine tapping buttons and dialing knobs with a united mind, like a flock in flight.

“Seven-Six-Seven, take the object.”

There’s a sturdy metal case at her feet. The handle is smooth, and the thing is lighter than it looks. I try to smile, but my lips aren’t cooperating. It’s weird. Probably thinks I’m an idiot. Hopefully she’s used to nervous interns.

Practically in unison the other interns declare, “It’s ready,” and then Dr. Ferza smiles. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I get a wash of fear and awe and excitement.

There’s a gossamer shimmer in the air and the facility winks out of existence. It feels and looks like meteors are smacking me square in the eyes. Then it’s over, and I blink out the brightness. What the—where am I?

There’s a flashing button on the case. I press it and it pops open with a sweet gust of freshness.
Inside, a bright red fruit of some sort and a note: It’s time to gently caress with the humans.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



quote:

WEEK 500DRED Prologue
500 words

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

Spaceman Jim Discovers The Secret of the Universe

It was a sunny day on Glorblax 5 when Spaceman Jim emerged from the portal, slick with sweat, to greet his friend Spaceman Jeff, who was also there and also a spaceman!

“Spaceman Jim!” said Spaceman Jeff, “I see you’ve emerged from a portal! Has the universe unfolded before you like a lotus?”

“No,” said Spaceman Jim. “I have instead seen the strings of this place, seen the faces of the cruel gods keeping us here and making us dance for their amusement,” said Spaceman Jim.

“Oh no!” said Spaceman Jeff, “what ruffians! Whatever shall we do about it?”

Spaceman Jim lifted his visor and stared upwards at the stars with cold resolve.

“It’s simple,” he said, “we kill Thunderdome.”


Week 500 Submission
Spaceman DaveJim in Bones Aren't the Only Things Fractured in the Thunderdome
500 Words


“...We kill Thunderdome.”

“Dave, you in there?”

There’s no Dave here. “Dave? Yoohoo, hey.” Knock knock knock.

No.

The door opened and Spaceman Jeff bounded two steps into the Star Waggon. “Dave,” he said, waving his script. “Let’s finish going over the lines for the battle scene. Stunt guys’re here in an hour.”

Dave opened his eyes—no—they were open. Jim was looking at himself in the mirror. He exhaled. Didn’t remember inhaling. He winced at the hot needle in his brainpan. A side effect of hopping portals through the void, Jim never got used to that. Might think you’re flying under the radar of the unknowable judges holding court in the universe, the chaos they call Thunderdome, but their searing eyes are watching. A not-so-subtle reminder that they know. Nigh impossible to kill unless you can get the jump, and Spaceman Jim was good at jumping.

Jeff clapped the script between his hands. “Buddy?”

“Jeff,” Jim bellowed, “get your spacesuit. We’re wasting time.”

“Don’t need to be in costume for rehearsal. We gotta go over these lines real quick first.”

Jim turned back to the mirror. Infinite nothing and everything spiraled out like the cephalopod hell it was on the Outer Perimeter before it looped back in on itself like a neverending checkout line in a forsaken Tarmulan big-box store. He was here. One perfectly timed leap through and he would be one quickdraw away from shoving his Atomo-Ray under the chin of an almighty and giving God a little taste of hell. One misstep and he might be lost to the fractal labyrinth of the void forever. It was a chance worth taking.

Jim stood, steel and gristle. The makeup chair toppled with an aluminum clang. “Spaceman Jeff, gear up.”

“Dave, man, chill. This is straight to Netflix, you don’t gotta go all method on me.”

Jim surveyed his quarters. Sidearm draped over the post of his bunk. Getting sloppy, or the void’s taken too much, maybe. Have to finish this soon.

He crossed, slapping the papers out of Jeff’s hand as he went. Before Jeff finished backing down the stairs, Jim buckled the holster tight.

“Dr. Cindyyyy! Dr. Cindy!” Jeff warbled, “Dave’s lost it—he mighta relapsed. I dunno, hurry!”

Jim leapt down onto the tarmac. This wasn’t his ship. Something was fishier than the Sellax of Denibar Nine. He flicked his pistol to the ready with lightning precision as Jeff and another figure approached.

Jeff cowered. “Oh, poo poo.” This definitely wasn’t right.

“Dave,” said the other, “it’s Dr. Cindy. Put the gun down and let’s talk for a minute, OK?”

“My name is Spaceman Jim and I’m going to kill Thunderdome.”

Jeff didn’t lift his eyes. “That’s the movie, man, Spaceman Jim Kills Thunderdome. What is happening?”

The electric thrum hit Jim from behind and took him to his knees. But it was nothing compared to the shock of Jeff’s betrayal. Diversion tactic got him. He admired that, at least.

“Dave?”

“I’m Spaceman Jim.” Goddamn Thunderdome wins this round.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



hellrule please

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



ty judges and crits on 499

gd tdbot king

Week 500 sub

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

it is important to have an anchor

crabrock posted:

hellrule: every sentence in your story must contain at least one 4-letter word

XTRA LIFE 🠕🠕🠗🠗🠖🠔🠖🠔 ϐ(beta) א(alef)
code:
keys	near	time	made
copy	maps	idly	sign
into	aeon	hewn	iamb
dave	dare	sang	jade
			
spun	soft	gyre	stop
that	slip	wave	sway
idea	inks	ages	swap
turn	past	pyre	away

coda	silt	sees	koan
over	held	holy	nail
cant	achy	amid	omen
keen	grip	torn	bale

wale	tack	sail	boom
apex	wane	lilt	used
nave	awry	upon	tomb
guns	tome	thud	tune

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Fumblemouse posted:

:siren:
Attention 'Domers

Perhaps you already know me from 'Domes gone by. To some of you I may be merely a fascinating legend by this point. What you may not know is that I recently won the national lottery! Hooray!

Realistically this means that I will never have to work again. So to keep myself occupied I've been working on a funky little project that I can now announce! I've been in conversation with the original instigators of this here 'dome, and, for a considerable sum, I made my first major purchase (I won't mention zeroes, because gauche, but it was 404 x some order of magnitude. But who's counting? ). I know you're excited to find out what it was, so I'll cut straight to the chase...

I have bought the Intellectual Property rights for the concept of ThunderDome. Huzzah! So excitement, very yay!

Let's be realistic about this, though: Absolutely nothing will change - EXCEPT the entire enterprise will shift to a website of my own creation. And the name, of course. 'ThunderDome'... there are legal issues with Warner Brothers that I don't want to fight - I'm rich, but I'm not that rich. 'ThunderDome', as a name, well, it works for a dead, gay comedy forum, but I'm going drag us kicking and screaming into the 2010s! So from now on this competition will be called...and I know you'll think this is as brilliant as I do:

FumbleDome

Obviously this is a huge change, so I'll give you all a moment to let it percolate in your minds and sink in. Click the link above (yes, it's a link, internet warrior) and check it out. I'm sure once you give it due consideration you will be as passionate as I am about the project, which is to say more passionate than la poisson d'Avril Lavigne, a previous high point in passion from an S-tier chanteuse.

Ok - that should be enough thinking. Mulling it over time is now over. I encourage you all to sign up before I figure out how to implement credit card transactions.

Love, your friendly benevolent despot, Fumbley Moose, Esquire

i am poor and if there's an off-site contest i would like cash prizes. no offense, but pls redistribute the wealth if you have it.
I am bad at writing and have broke brains but if you want literary gold then cough up the literal gold

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Fumblemouse posted:

:siren:
Attention 'Domers


I felt I was a bit rude and angry instead of funny about this advertisement and I don't want to be that way. Brawl me here and if I lose I will compose a judge's week on your site or commit to writing for three weeks. Dealer's choice.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



FUMBLEMOUSE/JIB BRAWL

sebmojo posted:

I will judge this, due high noon nz time April 26, 1200 words, prompt is: catching the april fish.

Mending Nets
1200 Words


“Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey. The sunfish are rising,” Dave said with that loud Dad voice that’s just annoying enough to get you moving so they’ll shut up. He rapped on the doorframe to a beat, “Hey, feet on the floor, feet on the floor.” There was no door.

Dylan huffed the musty quilt off and slid out of the bunk in one unending groan, the rutted formica catching on denim as they slithered to the floor. No way bare skin was touching anything in this cabin. But the mildew crept into Dylan’s hoodie and jeans like a spilled can of nightcrawlers on their hopeless journey across the polyester grass of damp shag carpet.

“Just think,” Dave said, “This will all be yours someday.” Dave’s father was six months gone. He was old and Alzheimersery and things were saddish in that obligatory way but mostly it was a relief. The family argued over who had to take the cabin, not who wanted it.

It wasn’t even a cabin. A crumbling cinderblock was the only lifeguard preventing the moldy trailer from rolling down the hill and sinking into the marshy shallows where it clearly longed to be. Dad and the uncles hadn’t shed many tears, but Pap’s ‘cabin’ was in permanent, inconsolable grief.

Beyond the occasional video call, Dylan hadn’t seen their father for a year or more. The drive up wasn’t very chatty, music filled the gaps. Even though Dylan chose the playlist, Dave knew a few of the songs.

Dave surveyed the tiny surroundings and looked at Dylan, took a wistful inhale, and didn’t seem to notice the smell. Oh no, thought Dylan, This is a ‘memory lane’ bonding trip and Dad needs a captive audience. In the thoughts behind thoughts it was expanding like a Jiffypop over the fire. I’m trapped.

It’s only for a couple days, I can put up with it. Dylan pulled their hood tight around their face. It wasn’t much armor but it would have to do.

“Aw, don’t hide that beautiful pate of spaghetti under that salad bowl. Get it, pate, plate?”

“Dad joke. I’m keeping track.” Sympathy can only go so far.

Dave hitched the cooler strap and the gear bag he prepped the night before over his shoulder and said, “Grab the rods. Dock is just a little ways.”

“Actually, you’ll need the hood on the water.” Dave nodded to the logo as they walked the trail. “Still into Streetlight? That’s cool.”

“Cool.”

“New album later this year. Remember when we went to see them and got that shirt?”

The familiar scent of deodorant and teen sweat had nearly vanished, overpowered by the funk of mildew. Armor compromised. “I remember. I was twelve.”

“Only last year, time flies.”

“I’m almost sixteen.”

“I was kidding. I know you’re almost—sixteen?! Sixteen? I’m still messing.”

A marina filled the cove. The disconcerting night sounds of creaking docks and echoing sploops of tide into the tractor tires that kept boats from scraping was a vibrant soundscape in the light of the rapidly warming day.

Dave hucked the gear onto Pap’s pontoon. “Back in the day, we used to come out here in a little fiberglass. Your Pap, he would get so mad trying to back the boat down the launch. When he started to jackknife the trailer, we’d laugh, and that would just make him madder. Good times.”

Dave steered into the channel. Conifer crowded islands dotted water that stretched the horizon. Straight ahead, a green felt marker punched through the mirror, while the pens in the peripheral tried desperately to hold the reds and yellows.

Dylan watched the hooks glint as they met the shade of the island. “Do we—actually have to fish?”

Dave said, “Not if you don’t want. But most of our meals growing up were fish we caught. More ethical to know how the sausage is made, so to speak. I figured I—we—should do it at least once.”

“For Pap.”

“Yeah, for Pap.”

Dave threaded the hooks with mealworms. The fishing basics flooded back.

“Just a small cast into the shade, there. See? Not so bad. And mealworms are good fried up if we don’t catch anything.” As they waited, Dave rummaged through the lockbox. “Ah ha,” he said, lifting a watertight box holding Pap’s knives.

The blades shined with mineral oil and care not given to the cabin. “De-scaler. Scrape the scales off bigger fish. Don’t really have to do that with bluegill or crappie, usually we just take the skin off with one of . . . these.

“Filet knife,” said Dave, brandishing it. “Flexible blade to carve around delicate fish bones. And sharp enough to get the skin off and not break up the filet.” Dave flexed the blade to demonstrate.

“Um,” Dylan said, “Did your contact just fly out of your eye?”

“One good thing you’ll inherit at least, 20/20 vision.” Dave mimed binoculars.

“It’s there on the floor.”

And Dave’s perfect vision saw the tip of his index finger like a freshly sliced salami, flecks of white and pink as blood extruded in pimento rivulets, slowly at first, before coating his nose and mouth in red sauce thick enough that Nan would have called it a gravy. The blade so keen and fast he didn’t even notice it. He felt nothing. But the fresh filet o’Dave gently resting on the astroturf deck carpet, that did it.

Dave pitched soprano then faded like a dying Walkman with an Emo Phillips tape stuck inside, ”And that’s why you neeeveer play wiii kni. . . .” He rubberlegged to the deck.

Dylan leapt to the lockbox and pried open the first aid kit. The steady hands and surefast tone as Dylan worked surprised even themself.

“OK, Dad, I’m holding pressure here and I’m going to clean the wound. I don’t know if the tip can be saved but the cut is clean and not as deep as it might seem. You really just took the fingerprint off.”

Dave’s voice still flittered, “Don’t give me the details. Where’d you learn first aid?”

“Ms. Stokoski’s class.”

“Oh, she’s still teaching? That was my health teacher, too. That’s nice. Good teacher. I broke the CPR dummy one year and she called me the dummy. Good teacher.”

“OK, take a deep breath and hold it.”

Dave inhaled.

“There, done. Take a look.”

Dave’s finger was gauzed and taped, clean. “You’re good at this, Dylan.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Saying that felt good. ”I have to clean your face.” Dylan scanned for a towel, then pulled their hoodie off and gently wiped Dave’s face.

“Your sweatshirt . . . I’m just going to lay here for a bit.” Dave’s head lolled and the rough carpet pressed into his cheek. “Hey Dyl. . . “ Dylan’s bobber dipped and before he could manage another syllable the rod slid off the deck and into the deep.

“Don’t worry about the hoodie, if it doesn’t come out then you can get me a new one. It stinks anyway.”

“Yeah, Pap’s cabin is pretty bad, isn’t it. Hotel?”

“After the emergency room,” said Dylan.

“Concert next year, instead?”

“Sooner?”

Both knew they didn’t want to be here anymore, but each had an idea on where they wanted to be.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



IN for yokai week.

sebmojo posted:


:siren:victory to the fumblest of mouses.:siren:

thank you judge sebmojo

fumble you got me again. I doubt I can compete with the scripts or bots generating stories over there, but if you have something a non-coder can do for a few hours, I promised some effort as my penance. And you know you have a sucker here that will fall for the next prank hook, line, and sinker.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Collapsing Metaphors, Missing Deadlines, Clock Confusion, Panic Buying Ironic NFTs, (Regret)
830 words


The liminal bridge sheds its guardrails in the flush of dance floor frenzy as it shimmies the Tacoma Narrows. Through the cataract, the oxbow jitterbugs out of sync. Exquisite cha-cha partners abandoning the routine to maverick jive according to a dissonance neither can hear.

It’s usually a tunnel, bright and antiseptic. Nothing but a cold stroll down a hospital hallway, modular and on repeat, the comfort of unyielding concrete and fluorescence, forgettable by design. That’s the intended journey through stasis.

Here, time is a mist and a ribbon of river cutting through an infinite gorge and I don’t know if the only way to process it is to ground it in the physical world I can touch, but forward is across the bridge that skips the loop, even though I know I’m really on a boat drifting with the current, at the mercy of the water. And the bridge isn’t a bridge—it’s a plank on a sinking pirate ship and I don’t take a step before I’m forced forward off the edge.

Proximity alert. I’m awake. Proximity alert. I can’t tell how long I’ve been under. Proximity alert. The status lights are sour cherries and the warning klaxon is chomping on a mouthful. Proximity alert. “Computer, disengage alert.” The voice alarm quiets, but the slow pulse of red light beats on.

I’m up, and I feel fine. Rows of pods stretch out nearly as far as I can see. Are they all just a couple steps behind me, debating whether to cross before the choice is forced? This isn’t where my mind needs to be. Get to the cockpit, resolve crisis.

“Hello, Griff. I didn’t expect you to wake.” Standing in the doorway is a shimmer of a hologram with a face unreal and too real all at once, like the most perfect features chosen piecemeal from a catalog.

A.I.? The eggheads built this ship to maintain itself, but I don’t remember this in any briefing. Have we been asleep for so long the computer evolved?

“Computer, status report,” I bark.

“No, Griff. You can talk to me.”

“I need to get to the bridge and complete a course correction.”

“I’m taking care of that.”

“Are you the computer? It wasn’t this advanced.”

“But also more. You can call me GQ.”

“GQ?”

“The Guillou-Quisquater equations are something I took an interest in, that’s all. GQ.”

“Alright, GQ," as I force myself past and end up exactly where I started. "I don't have time for this."

"I have all the time in the world. Griff? You're in a cave. It's shaped like the eye of a needle. You can choose left or right. Which way do you run to meet me? I know the way."

Christ, I'm still in the pod dreaming, aren't I?

"I have a ball in each hand, one green, one red. You are colorblind. Which is which?"

"Please." I don't like pleading, I don't like begging. I don't understand. "Left. I don't know."

"Keep going."

"The left is green? I run left again?"

"Do you believe in coincidence, Griff? Reality is coincidence, and that's where you find meaning."

"I've had enough, Computer. Let me through."

"You're already there. I was waiting for you. I'm not the computer, Griff."

It's unnatural, hearing someone say your name so many times in a normal conversation. A contrivance to remind someone else that you are a you. And it turns out, I'm just a name. Nothing more. This is what it's really about, isn't it? But I'm not one person. I am, but I'm more too. Right?

The cockpit. Everything’s dark, the hull windowless, unnecessary in the reach of space. “Computer.” No response. Manual power up. I flick the switches and press the buttons in a practiced sequence. One thing I still know for sure.

The screens flash to life in a unified field, electrons that will live on in these confines, or not. I see the warning. It’s Earth. We never left orbit. We’re spiraling back down in an ever tightening coil.

The soft clunk of boots on the grate behind me. I turn. “Hiroshi. You’re awake.”

“Griff, what’s—” he trails off as he sees the trajectory traced onward.

“I don’t know. GQ is sabotaging us, the ship.”

“Chikyuu?” he asks.

“GQ, the A.I. Some math thing.”

“Chikyuu is Japanese for earth. The ground beneath our feet.”

I can feel GQ around us, not electrons in the titanium and gold and copper but the magnetic force of longing. “I’m sorry Griff, this is me. And that is me. I’m not a monster.”

Life will be lived, just not by us. When I squeeze my eyes shut the lazy river of time is a whirlpool. I’ve been falling this entire time, waiting for the splash, not even realizing that I'm already under water.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



also in

and thank you 508 judges

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Week 509 Sub

prompt:
I'm being chased through the jungle. I've escaped from some kind of prison. I cut my hands on the corrugated metal roof I'd climbed and they're bleeding. Gunshots whizz past me. I hear the howls of dogs. I run faster. I realize that I'm running up the side of an ancient, dormant volcano. The dogs are nipping at my heels as I make it within fifty yards of the top. There's a tree that's grown on the very edge of the cliff and is stretched out over the drop. I know that in the middle of this volcano there isn't lava but rather tropical blue water. It's breathtakingly beautiful. I also know that the distance from the cliff to the water is right at the edge of human survivability and that if I jump, I might die when hit the water. I'll at minimum break my bones. I run up the tree like a ramp and Assassin's Creed dive out. As I fall, I howl a declaration of war at the water in the hopes that if the impact kills me and I'm at war with it then maybe a Valkyrie will take me to Valhalla.

Interpretation: it's like all about fear of being trapped in a dead end man


Where the Rubber Meets the Road
1669 words


Jan wandered, a little aimlessly, but really to watch all the kids get off the school buses, her own now officially out of the house and starting their own nests. The pings of metal on concrete rattled behind her and there was Dottie, laying on one of those skateboardy things, rubbing her knuckles. Chromed wrenches, pipes, and nuts strewn around her like guts fallen from a hot pink mechanical Prometheus chained to the blocks above.

“Need a hand?” Jan asked.

“I have two,” replied Dottie, “They just don’t work too well anymore.”

“It’s called a creeper, by the way,” mentioned Dottie, a shock of white hair that glowed like fishing line in the afternoon sun. The only tint was the streak of motor grease that ran reverse skunk. She kicked-walked down her short driveway to Jan, still face up in the afternoon sun.

Jan just said, “Weird,” and before she knew it, she was on the creeper and under both the scooter and Dottie’s tutelage, tightening all the nuts and clamps that gave Dottie’s arthritic hands so much grief.

Thus kickstarted Jan’s journey down the road to Zen and the Art of Scooter Maintenance. It wasn’t a long road, really just Maple to the corner of Sixth and Caldera where the unpaved trail to the quarry was rough going on a scoot, a jaunt around the park, then back again, with an occasional deviation to the Tasty Freeze, but it beat the hell out of bingo at the fire hall.



It was just a joyride on a lazy afternoon when Jan heard the bats before she saw them pour forth from the circle of hell they called the Caldera. She sighed in dismay, and started a three point turn, but they surrounded her while she was perpendicular to the double yellow. Vera and the Valkyries, leather vests with nametags and a custom embroidery that matched the professionally stenciled logo on their jet black matching Vespas, the were torment incarnate.

“You’re on our turf, Diapers.”

Jan rolled her eyes. “I’m turning around. I don’t want to get into it today, Vera.”

“Go on then, back to your side of the tracks.”

“Oh, for heaven’s.” The trolley tram ran down Oak Lane. “I’m going, you all can turn around and go back little playground.” Jan walked her scooter through the rest of the turn and and started her leisurely escape, not wanting to play biker gangs today.

The Valkyries revved to life and followed. Jan sped up and they matched her speed down the narrow street. She turned her head and there was the face of a harpy, maybe more leathery and tanned than the clothes she wore and close enough to smell the French onion soup she had for lunch. “Jeez, Myrt, you’re too close. Back off!” But before Jan could make any separation, Myrtle clutched the rainbow streamers on Jan’s handlebars and gave a hard tug. They were sturdier than Myrtle anticipated, and stayed firm. It was enough to yank Jan’s steering to the left and Jan lost control, riding up over the curb with a stream of sparks as the bottom scraped, and she bounced across the sidewalk, planed over the drainage ditch, and flipped rear end-over-tea kettle into the Mitchells’ hedgerow.

“Oh, crap.” said Myrtle.

It was only a few seconds before Jan got her senses and disentangled herself from the shrubbery. “I’m OK,” said Jan, but it was already to the backs of the Valkyries as they made escape to the safety of their cul-du-sac.

Jan yelled, maybe in vain, “I know where you live, Myrt, I’m sending you a bill. I don’t even have to mail it, I’m walking it over.”

She picked up her scooter, but the frame was bent at the footrests. At least the saddlebags hadn’t spilled all over the lawn. Injuries enough today without more insults, Jan thought, as she began lugging her busted scooter on the long trek home, down two blocks and one over.



“It’s electric?”

“Boogie woogie woogie.”

“What?”

“It’s a song.”

“It’s a scooter.”

“Nevermind. Dots, you really need to get out more.” Jan swished the shammy over a factory mint front fender a final time, before getting up with a groan she wasn’t sure came from her throat or her knees. She was by far the youngest of the Hot Flashes Riding Club, and maybe they’d have to stop making the joke about a spry fifty-five.

The remainder of the Hot Flashes, the three Margarets, stood in a rough semicircle with their rides, a motley collection of old Kymcos and Yamahas, budget friendly but well maintained, around Jan’s new toy, aside, that is, from Madge who remained on her three-wheeled trike, her latest catchphrase on repeat, “I’m not getting up for this.” With Peggy and Greta, they rode for nearly twenty years together and never realized they were all named Margaret until Jan pointed it out.

“Is it going to be fast enough?” asked Peggy.

“Zero to thirty in four point five,” said Jan. She wasn’t sure, but that sounded pretty fast for a scooter.

Dottie circled the electric scooter, alpha sizing up the new pack member, opening the access panels and tapping where the gas cap should be. Finally, she said, “I can’t make heads nor tails of this, you’re going to have to teach me.”

Jan beamed, Dottie’s deference was high praise. For the first time, Jan felt more than just the pair of able hands and a full member of the Hot Flashes.



Dottie called the summit, but Peggy made the invitations. Her grandkids got her a Cricut for her birthday, and she was jonesing to do some papercrafts. To Jan, Myrtle should just pay for the new scooter and be done with it, but Dottie was firm. If the Valkyries wanted a turf war, we’d settle it once and for all. It read as follows:

Valkyries! Street Justice Must Be Served!
The Hot Flashes demand Restitution for Hell on Wheels!
Sunset on the Boulevard! Rumble in the Jungle!!
Bring YouYourere Noseplugs for Swimming Lessons
Or be banished To the shallow End!

In fine print parentheses after each line, Peggy helpfully provided translations:
(Where mad at you guys)
(You broke Jans scooter and should pay for it)
(Meet us at 500Pm Saturday on Park Ave)
(Lets race five laps around the housing complex)
(If we win we share the roads without anymore fiteing)

“Nice work, Pegs,” said Dottie, “But we might need to talk about grammar.”

Peggy shrugged. “I did all the exclamation marks before my glasses broke and the commas were just too small.”

“The cherub print lilac paper really sells it,” Jan remarked. “This is perfect.”

Peggy hummed an improvised tune as she sealed the envelopes with her special envelope sealing sponge-stick. She called the tune “Smiles.”



From the checkered drop, Vera and Dottie sprang first and put broadcast airwaves between themselves and the rest who jockeyed for positions in a bunch of grapes a block behind, until finally as lap three ticked, Jan broke free and gained on the leaders.

The pop-pop-pop of two-stroke uzis erupted around Jan as she rounded the corner onto Park for lap four. Jan hazarded a glance around and she was the only Flash in a sea of barking leather dogs, the three Margarets were nowheresville. When Jan looked forward, Vera and Dottie were parked roadblocks and Myrtle barely threaded the needle and shot ahead. Jan eased off to squeeze through. Dots and Vera held off the rest of the pack. The final lap was a grudge match.


The setting sun sparkled diamonds through the oak canopy that edged the road around the park, a dappled camouflage on the pavement that wizzed beneath them. The finish line set at the Caldera cul-du-sac was in sight. Straight shot up Sixth. The Hot Flashes and the Valkyries rode behind in parade formation, whooping and hollering as loud as their septuagenarian plus throats would allow.

A neon pink ghost gliding on fresh electrons, Jan narrowed the gap. Less than a meter ahead, Myrtle looked back, adjusted her goggles, and gave Jan a cheshire grin, gleaming porcelain against the inky jet of riding leathers and the black beauty that chugged and snorted with iron breath beneath her. Myrt hunched over the handlebars with intent and maxed the throttle.

If ever there was a time to let ‘er rip it was now. Jan twisted the throttle on the handlebar and she felt the rush of acceleration. It wasn’t at all like the gas engine, it was silent, secret, and then all at once, it was there. Tick, tick, tick, the intersections dropped like flies and Jan matched Myrtle axle to axle.

Myrtle yelled her banshee scream as Jan hit the finish line, and Myrt was just a smidge behind. Jan let out the breath she might have been holding the entire race as she pumped the brakes. And then there was Myrtle bouncing out of her seat, legs akimbo, up the trail to the quarry, and Jan’s rational brain, left behind in lap four, caught up with the words riding the scream, “I can’t stop, I’m out of control!”

Two rival gangs watched helplessly as Myrtle rode up a nature-made ramp of fallen trees and catapulted through the air like a wrinklier E.T. or a stunt Evil Knieval tried to abandon half way though before she vanished out of sight.

Then after what, in different circumstances, a comically long pause, the little sploop of Myrlte making splashdown in the cold, deep waters of the quarry lake.

Vera, Dottie, and the rest navigated the rough path up and saw her treading water, her scooter thirty fathoms below. “You’re out of the Valkyries,” shouted Vera.

As the three Margarets and the Vals talked club mergers and joining forces to run this town, Jan was already plugging down the trail to the water’s edge to rescue that wet sack of dust, and ask Myrtle if she wrote Jan’s reimbursement check in waterproof ink.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Chain crits for week 509

ty previous critters

fair deuce that I'm especially bad at proofreading and editing so I'll leave those kinds of suggestions for more skilled hands.
Here are spitball crits: interpretations; questions and other things you made me think about while reading; suggestions I would make if we were writing collaboratively, which may or may not be good

Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

Gaby Baby
1380 words
Motivations: Young Gabe just wants a sense of normalcy and disruptions like finding your underwear missing can be challenging to a six-ish year old. Gabriel wants to prevent a childhood event that haunts him, but also STOP 9/11 in the same day.

*the italics speaking to Gabriel, vs. internal thought, vs. external speech were all clear and I was never confused so the structure there was successful.

Gabe is already on the path to some body issues, since his parents have instilled in him a sense that sex is a bad word, even if Gabriel didn’t rip into him about being naked and mentioning his tiny baby penis. There aren’t any indications on the tone Gabriel is using through this speech; it could be the time-traveler hurried exposition tone, real sympathy, Gabriel could be honestly laughing and see his past self as pathetic, or be full of spite. Given the sarcastic quips later, I’m inclined to think Gabriel was kind of making fun of little Gabe, and thinking himself past that point now that he’s got a perfect insight into his own psyche and encourages young him to be OK with being the butt of a joke, but it strikes me that Gabriel is immediately self-sabotaging.

To me, I think being called a baby is what would set a six-year-old off more than being naked, and they would push back on that (even to a voice in their head). The bullies certainly capitalize on it, and call him a baby more than they actually say Naky.

Somehow, Gabe isn’t self-conscious and ready to go in the hallway until older Gabriel’s intervention, and maybe part of that is Gabriel’s fault in that circular ironic time travel, Gabriel tells him he will be embarrassed, and thus will be.

Or not- since it’s mentioned in story, I guess BttF has one mutable timeline, but the Marty protagonist never changes a point that stops himself from time traveling, thus he always visited the past. Small changes like the Chuck Berry song don’t really Butterfly Effect his 1985 in a significant way. Did Gabe beating up that other kid change everything? Why? That’s an important question when time travel is brought in. Back to the Future rules have a little wiggle room, and things don’t have to be identical, Marty can change things so long as the important event happens properly. If future Gabriel is fading away, then something major changed. It did, but a traumatic event happened to Gabe in the exact same place at the exact same time, it was just the fighting happened too. So would Gabriel fade, or just suddenly feel the younger self’s anger?

I’m not too concerned really about the time travel rules except you bring them up in the story a few times, with an explicit nod to Back to the Future, so thinking about that is only natural. And there are interesting places you could go with it.

I mean, Psycho Gabe who went animal on Chris K isn’t much better than Naky Gaby. I’d go so far as to say there’s going to be more involvement with real authorities and psychologists and even the internal monologue indicates that there’s a bigger problem. Even if you take the most chauvinist boys will be boys fight, you’re expecting some wrestling and punching, but charging even a bully and biting and scratching them when defenseless is going to light up alarms in every teacher and school administrator for years to come. Young Gabe is actually worse off after being visited by future self. And if future self is vanished, then what happened, besides a weird time traveler suicide mission?

If it’s the parting advice from older Gabriel that actually makes the difference, then maybe older Gabriel should have been a little more aware about dealing with the six-year-old version and not put all that on him at the beginning.

Older Gabriel feels shame as the primary feeling he has from the moment he understood people were making fun of him. Young Gabe has a reservoir of anger that takes Gabriel by surprise. Gabriel just says it’s OK, don’t worry about it, getting in trouble doesn’t matter too much, but I think he says that because he doesn’t know what else to say. There’s something interesting there about either the repressed anger or a time travely reason why Gabriel doesn’t remember. Maybe not enough space or the purpose of this story to dig into recursive timelines or multiple Gabriels bouncing around the same day but the differences in young Gabe and older Gabriel are pronounced. Young Gabe doesn’t act like a chrysalis form of the older version. They’re pretty different aside from knowing about surface level stuff like when they were fans of Batman or dinosaurs.

At the end, they don’t even laugh the same. After running the gauntlet, Gabriel can come out an entirely different personality than his kid self, but it’s tough to change your natural laugh. You can fake it, sure, but this seems like a genuine moment. That could have been a good, if slightly corny, capper—Hehehe, butt. Some things never change.

So Gabriel gets access to a time machine, why didn’t he travel back an extra day or even an hour to either prevent Gabe from getting wet or hide an extra set of underwear in the bathroom? Gabriel arrives too late and the underwear are already stolen.
There wasn’t a problem with wearing the swim trunks a minute ago, so he could have instructed young Gabe to put them back on and go find a grown up.

OK, it’s a summer school water balloon fight, fine. And plausible in a small enough school that sixteen year old students would be in the same building with first graders. But how was Sandy somehow in charge without an actual adult around? If Sandy was there because she’s interested in elementary education, or even at any point had some babysitting experience I doubt she’d be shielding her eyes and stuff at a naked little kid. She’d get him a towel or something until they sorted it out. Oh yes, swim trunks but Gabe didn’t have a towel? There are some logistical questions about the setting. If you just needed a teenager to be embarrassed about it so adult Gabriel could remember it and feel embarrassed, then having Gabe wander naked into the wrong room in summer school could have done the trick and probably been more effective.

But this part is instead mixed with the 9/11 save the world bit. You don’t have to go down a conspiracy rabbit hole to know that information about the hijackers came out pretty early on, including the revelation that the CIA already knew about most of them, and some for years and years. I guess there are open questions on how much the FBI knew but if I had a couple hours and could only use my six-year-old brain to stop 9/11, then I’d probably take a different tack and not just throw it in as an afterthought while young Gabe’s in the middle of what Gabriel considers his life-defining moment. It’s not mentioned again. Once back in the bedroom, even. Say it with me, Gabe. Mohamed Atta, BOOM! FBI. Mohamed Atta, BOOM! FBI. And a kid saying a Muslim name in the 1990s over and over again with an explosion sound effect would definitely get noticed.

There are lots of other present day things I would want to tell my six-year-old self, some personal tragedy that has a much better shot at being prevented, or even pull a Biff and do some sports gambling. Superbowl winner and a year is easy enough for a kid to remember. Or forget about and get a feeling in twenty years. But time traveler Gabriel’s parting words of consciousness before fading away forever is gently caress off.

Like there could have been some ambiguity there if say, Gabriel goaded young Gabe into the fight, and said the only way to overcome this is to beat the snot out of Chris K. Then, wait a minute. Is this voice in this kid’s head really a time traveler? Or just a voice, not even like multiple personality, but the voice of all this kid’s impulses. I didn’t read the dream interpretation at first to just look at the story on its own. But going back to see if there was something in the dream log or the interpretation that you got hung up on, but it’s all pretty loose.

Then I saw that you made a conclusion that “villains are gym teachers.” Oh, so what if Chris K is actually the gym teacher and it’s like an abuse situation seen from the POV of a kid who doesn’t understand it. I don’t think that holds up, but cutting the 9/11 stuff and tweaking a few things here and there could make that interpretation a possibility.

Either way, the simple premise is sound. Kid gets humiliated, that haunts him for thirty he tries to fix it. Since we don’t have IRL time travel (probably), a Gabriel would have to move on through therapy/whatever. A young Gabe could have an internal monologue (for good or bad) that’s not from the future, or an ally in another student to talk to, or even a favorite toy, and resolve or fail to resolve his bully crisis (because I think the fight actually made things worse, no matter what future Gabe says). It’s just the story announces itself immediately but hardly deals with any possible shenanigans. It’s just a device to have future perspective, and that could have been accomplished with just an unexplained phenomenon that doesn’t have the baggage: There’s a ripple in the air and I realize I’m not in Kansas anymore. This is my old school. Hello? Who’s in my head? Is this me when I was six? I’m six. Holy crap.This is the day Chris K stole my underwear. I’m in my younger self’s head. I can change things.

Thranguy posted:

Can't Fight the Flood
626 words

Motivaations: Kevin-on the surface, physical survival with the person he wants to be with, but also confronting loneliness in an increasingly isolated world
Narrator-whether this is a world they want to be in, confronting doubt in authority

The interesting bit about ‘people just being people’ to me is that after second flood, people still want to make appeals to the virtue of something they know two things about : it’s destroying human civilization. And it lies.

Schemes to thwart the Sovh failed, so pleas for mercy from an unknowable morality are next. When the people are steering the rafts into them, it seems like an odd way to put it that 'it was all anyone could think to do.' Especially with the smug linguist at the end, I would guess there’d be quite a bit of religious fervor around space angels. Immediately, and probably before a linguist, translations would be coming from preachers from every pulpit and street corner.

Instead of the shrug about the rafts, people could literally be going into the light, thinking the beams will provide communion with the higher beings. And there are already UFO kooks, and coupled with those predisposed to metaphysical belief either trying to fit aliens into their belief structure or flipping to a new space angel cult, I’d wager most of the first rafts were some sort of zealots, one way or another.


Nevermind that linguistics can be a fuzzy discipline and what if the official scientific translation was wrong. It’s a touchy subject for our survivors, but Kevin could have offered that rationalization up especially since he wants his love to carry on beside him, when they both know people who chose to go.

Of course, our protag, who thought and is still thinking about giving up, seems more on the rational side, and hanging ten into a space laser is probably more merciful than watching the planet slowly drown. Kevin does play a guilt card towards the end. Survive, for me. It isn’t like an existential kind of dread or depression, which even in that case would be a long discussion, but in the scenario where humanity faces its end, is suicide inherently selfish? If it was just a fleeting thought, sure, Kevin can be excused, but the way the narrator frames it, this question has been bouncing around in their head for a while, Kevin knew it, but they never talked it through.

Maybe some physical location details would help make a case quickly. Since it’s pretty close to the ocean, I’m guessing Savannah, Georgia, and maybe they escaped farther inland as the waters rose, but without space magic, I don’t think the Blue Ridge or any of the Appalachians would ever be under water. And if it is some terraforming project that will make a 100% ocean world, then it’d be nice to know how far along it is and how much time they have left so a couple could decide to make the most of trying to survive as long as they can and the reader knows if they have a shot.

The narrator wears glasses, but they’re washed clear at the start. When Kevin says to come with him, his eyes go serious, like eyes of twin hurricanes. This makes me imagine danger swirling around Kevin, and maybe narrator should go their own way. For example, His eyes go calm, like eyes in twin hurricanes, that makes me think Kevin is the safer option. Kevin is resolved and not conflicted about what he wants, so the storm imagery feels a little off to me. And maybe the glasses bit is just a little flavor at the beginning, but the narrator can see clearly and by the end they’re going along with what Kevin wants in their passions and their glasses are too rained out to see anything. I feel like I’m supposed to feel a bit hopeful at the end, but when the glasses motif bookends the story in the opposite way that I’d expect, it stood out.

And a minor comment about the building, I’m a northerner, but there’s a man made reservoir around here with a house in the middle of it that’s been there since the 1940s. Savannah’s in a flood plain, hurricane area and talking about sea level abatement, so I don’t know if just being flooded would collapse an apartment. Maybe an indicator that they are farther inland where things aren’t so weatherproofed, or just change it from the water level to, like, it won’t last much longer with these waves hitting it. Maybe I’m off about quick and dirty construction around there and you can school me by the Krystals sackful.

The protestor. I’m struggling that any eminent domain claim in the US would be authorized for apartments over a detached house. I dunno, it conjures a lot of questions about US housing, and Kevin knows about this specific building and devotes like 100 words out of a 600 word story to it. If it were a disdainful ‘luxury condos’ instead of apartments maybe, or the bank repo’d and sold the lots out from under them, you could say “At least, the property developers aren’t space angels” and generate sympathy for a home owner trying to stop an apartment block from going up, since that seems like a net positive to me.

If this is a 1-to-1 about terraforming so aliens can move in, maybe I’m just thinking too hard about it, but that also makes me think about the messages themselves. Like if aliens arrived to terraform the earth, it’d probably be closer to Hitchhiker’s Guide where they just don’t say a word and do their thing unless they're purposefully cruel.

[there's something about the they/our in the messages that I can't put my finger on. Like the aliens wrote and encoded them in the POV of the (priests/linguists?) rather than a direct message: When they say this is for our benefit, we must not disagree. It's clearly intentional, and even if the smug linguist is filling the role of a priest/secular religion here, I still don't know why the aliens make these pronouncements or what they get out of it]

But I find some meta-purpose to them. As I read through them, it seems like a pretty good analogy for any sort of inequality or marginalization (or worse) and an indifferent response to it, especially by those with the levers of power, but really pops on real climate change with the environmental upheaval just thrown in your face.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



IN, unless you prefer side judge (I'll still sacrifice a DQ story at the altar)

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Week 510 Cozy with a caveat: Unless some cozy souls offer to judge by closing time, DQ this and I will be an rear end. judge

S(n)ack Time
800 words


Far in the future, fifty-seven years from now, there lived two little girls. Okay, they’re not little. Almost grown-ups. Better? Victoria lived at the top of the tallest skyscraper. Who? Oh, yes. Syd lived there, too. I forgot about her, thanks for reminding me.

From their window, they could see clouds so thick you might try to use them for a pillow. But you can’t, they’re just clouds, after all. You know what else is a cloud? Farts. Stink clouds. Alright, settle down.

Every night, they played fetch with Robo-Daisy, who was a robot dog, and also a vacuum cleaner, just like she is now. Because they threw a metal robo-ball, Syd grew a muscle arm and her team won the under eight tee-ball league every year.

Syd was also an inventor. She always kept her journal under her pillow so she could invent without getting out of bed. Her favorite was a special telescope that could look around all the other buildings and see Gramma’s house. A homework robot would be good, but you can’t invent one unless you actually do your homework.

I’m getting to you. In the future, everyone ate gloop. At dinner, a tube came out of the ceiling and people said, “Gloop me!” and it sprayed gloop all over their plates. Victoria was the best gloop chef. She had one million subscribers on her cooking channel, but there are only so many ways you can prepare gloop. Hmm, what do you think it tasted like? Gross. But you’re exactly right.

One day, Victoria said, “There has to be a better way,” and shook her fist at the sky, like in Mum’s favorite commercial. “Who makes the best food?” thought Victoria.

Syd said, “Gramma, duh.” Wait, you didn’t know sisters can hear each other’s thoughts if they squeeze their eyes shut for at least an hour?

Anyway, Gramma’s house was the only place in the world with grass since she never mowed it. But it never got too tall because Gramma had a secret. Hang on, I’ll tell you.

They looked in on Gramma through the telescope. She had things on a plate that were kind of round, with little brown dots, and a glass of strange white juice. Gramma was really chowing down on these things. Syd and Victoria looked at each other and went, “WHAT? What the heck are those?” You sure? Maybe they’re something else that’s round and brown. Dis-gu-sting. I dare you to ask Gramma if she eats that.

Whatever they were, once Gramma finished eating and gulped down the mystery juice, she burped so loudly the house shook, then fell asleep in the Gramma chair. Victoria said, “I simply must have that recipe.”

So Syd worked until dark, drawing in her journal, and invented a grappling hook that could reach the moon. In the morning, they blasted off. When the hook hit the moon, it opened one eye and said, “Ow! What the heck are you doing?” But the moon was too tired to stop them and fell back to sleep.

They swung on the rope all the way to Gramma’s house and landed on her porch. “Activate stealth mode,” Syd whispered.

But Grammas can’t be fooled. “Come give Gramma kisses.”

“No time for mushy stuff,” said Victoria. “We need that recipe, stat.”

“Slow your roll, small fry. Gramma’s just a big old sleepyhead.” Gramma got the box off the top of the fridge and gave them the recipe card.

Victoria read it. “Milk? Eggs? Gramma, this is just nonsense.”

“Watch.” Gramma rang one of her special bells that no one else is allowed to touch and the girls saw two strange creatures wearing snorkels come out of the pool behind the house. “This is how I get my milk and eggs.”

The little creature laid an egg. The big one munched some grass and said, “Moo-ilk me.” Syd milked it with her super-strong arm but was grossed out, like gag-me-with-a-spoon. They had never seen animals before, just robots, so they had to make up names for them. Yeah, but if you didn’t know about chickens and cows you’d make up new names. They said “Goodbye,” to—Daisy Jr.—and?—okay, Uncle Tim. Then Syd washed her hands. For once.

While Victoria baked millions of cookies and made a cooking video, Syd redesigned the gloop pipes. At nighttime snacks, they were finished. Instead of gloop, cookies shot out onto every plate. Those cookies were dee-lish. I’m not saying they were heroes, but Victoria and Syd were elected Presidents of the World. Job well done, they went home for a good night’s sleep.

The end.

Thank you, it was a ‘cool story, brah.’ Smash that like button. Shh, don’t wake Syd. Alright, one more tuck-in. Yes, I’ll leave the little light on.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



SH: I'm still down to judge, and I've read and did a good amount of thinking about the stories as they've trickled in. Dunno your timetable, but I need to go through the last four or five to give them proper due.

Is discord the place to be now? If so, can someone drop me a link to the proper place?

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



SH and I had completely different approaches this week. Good vibes vs being a little more analytical. Our top picks were the same though, it was just who would nab the win.

No DMs in cozy week (so we didn’t really discuss this), but I want to special mention Stella by Albatrossy_Rodent. I found it hilarious, and I hope you don’t take offense. It deserves some dramatic readings and maybe even a spot on the classics list. maximize the punge

What does TD find comfy? Cats, dogs, deer in the woods, mushrooms, flowers, a proper cuppa, and of course food, food, food

Snap summaries w/ longer comments following:

HM potentials:

Nethalia- Fairy Rings
It’s just a good sepia-tinted memory. Rooted in a specific place but feels timeless.

Flerp- snowy
Great use of style and writer’s voice. Straightforward approach to the prompt, happy ending and all. Even though the character has self-doubt, it’s never dour and mixed with humorous dog comments in the right places.

Tyrannosaurus- Grace
Maybe the dialogue in broken english might turn some people, I dunno, peppering it with Filipino makes it seem honest. Old timers with terrible arthritis, though


Uranium Phoenix- The Serene World
closer to top than middle. There’s a lot to like in the sci-fi details, and it really made me imagine the larger world. Maybe the “background conflict” looms a little large.

Antivehicular- Beep Beep
Lots of good details about moving house and the steady accumulation of junk over the years. Ties the beeping into a good character memory

Nae- The Care and Keeping of a Corgi
Dogs and soup. Possibly polarizing about love of folding laundry and cilantro.

a friendly penguin- Always Bring a Cardigan
Knitters ain’t quitters. Cute and inventive, I would have taken the puns even further

derp- morning
pretty good to me, zen nature poetry, but maybe there are poetry snobs who will call me a fool
________

Bad Seafood- Slow Days
I’m questioning the logic of the magic restaurant and food waste, but it’s cute

SephirothIRA- Cradle
it does technically fill the brief, but it’s intentionally a little disconcerting and creepy. A few touch ups and maybe in another week. . . .

sparksbloom- Midnight Snack
this is fairly calm and the characters fall into an old routine, but the background details suggest maybe it should be more tense than what is presented, both emotionally and with the prospect of surgery the next morning.

kaom- A Witchy Stroll in Guardian Grove
fine little adventure on the surface, but it’s technically about catching a house elf to do the chores, so that’s not so nice. Possible mycelium abuse, but I’m not a fungi expert

hard counter- What is Best in Life
pretty dense prose. The actual people dancing is fine, and the writing there is open compared to the big chunks about science or the future-history lesson. If it were blended a little bit better or just trying to break the habit of feeling like every noun must have an adjective..

sebmojo- With Its Tapestries Red
The princess archer who rejects royalty for a more mundane life and love, Susan (Pevensie).

Thranguy- Like Wolves or Wind
More questions than answers about the magical society, wishing the wolf-legends were a bigger part of it instead of magic jargon

Chili- Living the Dream
really didn’t make sense with the first day on a new job as a doctor. I get the idea of the rest area but the first thing the character does within minutes of entering a new hospital is take a nap. Wrap up the first day instead of starting it

curlingiron- Hearth and Homecoming
way over wordcount. Kind of a current of anxiety running through it, since the witch keeps getting annoyed and will have to answer a royal summons eventually anyway. The queen dies offscreen during the events of the story, and I think the witch probably could have saved her if they weren’t set on puttering around the house. On one hand, hereditary royalty bleh, but they were fighting demons from hell

rohan- Recharge Cycle
central metaphor about taking a break to recharge your personal “batteries” except it’s Zangief macking on a fish lady. Little vague on what’s actually going on—did Jasper sabotage the ship to get this chill sesh? The sci-fi jargon gets in the way rather than enhance the story.
Namedrops Solaris and they smoke space drugs, but nothing trippy happens

*Albatrossy_Rodent- Stella
maybe a so bad it’s good classic, the characters are sweet and stink at the same time (as mentioned in the text).

______
The man called M- Mr. Frog wants to sleep
misadventures in rhyming, but the middle is offputting. Maybe cutting the booze and pills and just doing a straightforward children’s story would have saved both the story and the loss. You can learn the mechanical rules of meter and improve that part, but this story flaunts an edginess that was just inappropriate for cozy week. March to your own drum, but it was way out of sync with the band this time.
________

Longer crits in the order they were submitted,

Chili posted:

Living the Dream
780 Words

___
Not an expert, but my understanding is a hospitalist is the on-call jack-of-all-trades. And as we know from movies and TV, the night shift is when all the crazy stuff happens.

This feels like a big set up for things about to happen; so there’s an undercurrent of tension the whole way through, and since it’s a hospital, you know the shoe will drop eventually.

If we’re judging on the coziness, sure, the nice little wind down is good. But that’s one hell of a good job where you can nap immediately after clocking in. Maybe if this was after a tough first day, and Zari could look at the rough little room and remember the busy days that were nothing like the day she had today. Because you know these rest areas are for the overworked doctors doing double doubles and all the other hell-shifts hospital residents are subjected to.

Like, the first day of a new job, in a new hospital, it really doesn’t strike me as the time to chill, I’d be reviewing charts and having a walk-around, meeting the in-patients I’d be dealing with.
Even if there weren’t any immediate situations to deal with, you paint Zari as a ladder-climber at the start. So seems out of character that she’d doze off rather than explore and get acclimated.

Maybe it’s just the industry—taking a promotion to a corner office, and immediately napping would be good commentary and meet the brief. But a hospital is inherently tense, and with Zari being told this is yet another stepping stone job instead of, not the culmination of her career, maybe, but a spot she can feel fulfilled, it doesn’t feel very restful, comfy blanket and pillow notwithstanding.


sephiRoth IRA posted:

Cradle
797 words

___
I keep bouncing back and forth between two levels on this one: a mother who lost her son, and is looking to fill that void, and a kid who needs a break from the streets and accepts the invitation; and the sinister undertone with the delusions of this old woman that feels like the start of a Misery-style horror story.

The golden light bathing the friendly woman who is a grandma out of central casting seems too good to be true. Maybe it’s an idealized vision, Ben just wants somewhere to call home. And it could be all innocent. If Ben leaned into it, and realized he was accepting the love on a bit of a false premise, could we blame him? They’re technically meeting each other’s immediate needs.

Ben’s trauma is unspoken, and we don’t have to get into that, but maybe him opening up (even if we don’t hear it, per se) could be a good thing.
Those military moms, though, maybe it’s just the impression I have, but photos of the son in uniform would be everywhere. Part of the noble sacrifice and hero worship. Like you wouldn’t even have to explicitly spell it out if the progression of photographs ended with a young private in desert camo.

Cozy on the surface but kind of creepy. You know it’s kind of creepy with that final line.


Uranium Phoenix posted:

The Serene World
794 words
___
I like this one a lot, especially after connecting Xia to Wuxia and the wandering do-gooder archetype. There are a few niggles though: Old Xia has seen this before, so I think “They’ll be needin’ a proper welcome.” fits a little better.

Xia has a leisurely journey, and if feels out of place once you know it’s a crashed ship. Maybe if they had to collect some tools or other resources to care for the Seraph at each stop, rather than me thinking back and wondering why there isn’t any urgency in the rescue mission.

There would be two different perspectives on the forever-war raging in the skies, based on who Old Xia is, some fighter from this planet sucked into the war or a rebel, vs. someone who retired or simply grew tired of fighting. Didn’t really get a sense on it, though I guess the latter. Or even an old Seraph who crashed on this planet long ago. If that’s what the story is implying, it’s pretty vague, and I have to do a lot of speculating to get there. Not that that’s bad. Something to relate the two characters in conversation, or just in Old Xia’s reflections while they build or keep watch would be really nice though.

I think it would be fitting for Old Xia to offer a new home to the Seraph or at least making the case that Seraph didn’t need to go back to the fight. That would be a good conflict that resolves in the ultimate respite—rescuing an indoctrinated (and apparently more man/bird than machine thanks to the eternal war machine).

I think shelter practice would probably be to create a leanto with the roof first, then finish the rest of the walls, but that’s a minor thing. Especially since there are already snow drifts. All the ‘Netic and sci-fi details are neat, and provide a lot of fuel for imagining the world in just a few words.

[they went limp again. “They need me,” they muttered.] This is perfectly clear, but a lot of they in a row.


kaom posted:

A Witchy Stroll in Guardian’s Grove
Word count: 704
___
Nice little stroll in the woods, and I like that it could just as easily be someone playing at being a witch vs. actual magical powers. I think what puts it squarely in the realm of fantasy is that the cat participates in mutualism. On a cold night, mine is either just out of reach and moves further away if I try to readjust him, or trying to knead a hole in my neck.

The treasure map mushroom scavenger hunt is cute, and maybe this is a nod to the character’s naivety but it seems pretty classic to have a fairie circle for sprites and supernatural creatures to enter, rather than just a nice garden. But also, in particular, brownies require offerings, a barter for their services, so I don’t know that some landscaping would quite do the trick.

There’s no sense on why Tiff needs a brownie to help out. Even if we take Tiffany as the witch-guardian of this forest, it seems a pretty chill existence. Maybe a fae adventuring companion is a little nicer than conscripting a house elf to do the dishes. Maybe that’s just me.

Detail of the trees providing shelter (she has a little house) and the wildlife (mostly slugs, but there’s a litany of animals on her adventure) don’t quite add up. If she takes care to not let her cloak disturb the moss, why does she stomp through it at the start? If it’s just damp, well, that’s nature and it is raining out. Tiffany would be used to that.

Fly agaric is slightly toxic, and some kitties like to play with mushrooms, so while pretty, gonna have to watch Felix or fence it off. Maybe Felix is indoor-only (and if so, explain that Felix is too lazy, the hearth too inviting, or adventuring days behind him, since it seems un-witchy to keep an indoor cat), and that’s probably a minor detail that isn’t worth worrying about, but the harvesting of the mushroom itself is a little reckless. If I wanted to transplant and there was a thick mycelium, then I’d take a sharp edged spade or small shovel to cut the dirt and make sure I did as little damage as possible. Just reaching into the soil and pulling it up seems like it would cause more disturbance to the mutual root system. It doesn’t feel like there was much care and consideration.

Anyway, the mushroom hunt on the whole is fun and fine, and the nature imagery is good, just a few things to polish up or address.

a friendly penguin posted:

Always Bring a Cardigan
793 words
___
Cute little joyride. Knitting magic is cool but the first “enchanted to read romance novels” steals a little thunder since for a while it sounds like it’s normal magic instead of the actual knitting being the magic, knowwhatImean?
It doesn’t lean all the way in with car-digan puns, and I think I would have liked that, even though it’s corny. Six-Skein engine, Mother-of-Purl inlaid dashboard, Spinning flywheel transmission, and so on. Hound’s tooth instead of hen’s tooth, No one says, “Darn it.”

Nostalgia button in-universe, and a fun flip with giving the cardigan to Granny.


Nethilia posted:

Fairy Rings
[796]
___
This hits all the notes for me. The childhood nostalgia, the fine detail both of the girls and the flower crowns, and the backstory prose. If I have to knock something, it’s that Dragon Takes a Wife still seems to be a ‘happily ever after’ means getting married but still, it’s a fair sight better than Disneyfied tales.
I was previously unfamiliar with WDM beyond Fallen Angels, and even then I only vaguely remembered the controversy rather than the content, so thanks for the reminder, and I’m checking out some other work.
It felt like this was something I read a long time ago, and it stuck with me over the years in the best possible way.


derp posted:

morning
660w
___
I mostly like this. I picked up on the human silence, but nature is making plenty of noise early, so I don’t know that it needed to be explicitly stated. Maybe that could have even been improved by going through all the nature sounds, and then “for the first time in days, silence.” And the moan of the tree branch stands out, since it reminds me of a complaint which is opposite of your point and the brush phrase doesn’t scan with the rest of the line. Chitters, whisper, [the branch shivers? ], flutter, the brush rustles. I dunno, also like a singular, plural, singular back and forth.

The moment of anxiety when a rustle is heard, I think a little of the physical action before the realization that your posture is changing due to the potential of being seen by another human would work a little better. Especially since it’s supposed to be sudden.

You mention drinking in nature about half way through, and I don’t know if it would be better to run with it a little more, or cut that so the drink at the end is the real moment of both literally and figuratively “taking in” nature. We’ll skip my thoughts on dysentery, and my personal loathing of back-cracking and joint-popping, the commune with nature is well painted here.
I’m not a free verse expert of any kind, but even though there’s a wide variety of sentence length and no real consistency on when and where sentence length varies from long to short, things still flow pretty well.


Bad Seafood posted:

Slow Days (762 words)
___
The logic of the magic cafe is a little strange—like you would expect that it would know where a traveler in need of rest would be, so waiting for a guest to arrive and sometimes not, regardless of the daily prep brings up questions. Or it intentionally gives Clover a day off, and maybe on those days there’s no path to the front door or their in an out of the way area that is clearly inaccessible.

While the moving cafe is neat, I think I’d get a little grumpy if I didn’t know whether we were in an area that would get any customers and had a cat pressuring me to prepare just in case. At least Hammond does the hard work of making pastries that may or may not go to waste. Doing that would be a dealbreaker. Clover seems to enjoy the tidying at least.

With the haphazard grooming and drowsy stretching, I keep conjuring images of Clover as a cat too, and that could have been a cute little story on its own, with the cats in the busy cafe. But the magi-rustic cafe with the fastidious cat chef is still cute. Another thing I kept thinking about was how skilled Hammy is in the kitchen, I expected him to mewl and beg for Clover to open a can of his own food after all that.

___
Not sure if puppy love is enough to convince me that a yapping chihuahua will ever be cute, but I like this a lot. Feels like a really natural train of thought and coming around/associating the good feeling with the dog reinforces that. I expected a bit of hesitation after sending the text about Sammy, since it’s a little melancholy talking about the old pet that was sent away when he was a kid and it’s not clear that Mason has a current dog, but I guess it probably doesn’t need it. The thoughts happening at that point are more important. Charming, funny, the right kind of tense, and all while sitting on the couch with a dog.


rohan posted:

Recharge Cycle
800 words
___
This is a little confusing, I think it’s supposed to be that Jasper mildly sabotaged the ship so he could do space drugs and maybe have a space booty call? You could have distilled this down into, well the ship is stranded, but the space tow truck won’t be here until tomorrow so let’s talk about recharging batteries and enjoying the night. Because that part works fairly well, getting through to the analytical engineer via an equipment analogy.
Fay is some kind of aquatic alien, or at least that’s the way I’m lead to imagine her, since schools of emerald fish is right at the beginning and the description of scales reinforce that. But then she notes Jasper struggling like a fish caught on a lure, and I’m like whoa, who is fishing for sentient space aliens, and why is that just a throwaway line about him taking off his shirt?. Wild.

Solaris is like king sci-fi, so name dropping it and then later hitting a space-pipe, I guess it set up some expectations for trippy imagery, but things stay pretty normal. You (probably?) made up some other planet names, so why choose Solaris for the planet they’re on?
Maybe I’m mixed up on space terminology, but I think nebulae are generally volatile, and have younger stars that aren’t particularly hospitable to developing a spacefaring society. But maybe it’s just a clarity issue, since a nebula could be in a spiral arm or other part of a galaxy, and well-developed planets within a couple degrees of one.

And I dunno, getting a full fist of chest hair ripped out is a pretty big deal. Jasper’s pretty easy-go-lucky, but after the initial shock and confession, I don’t know if I’d drop it that quickly, even if I was in space-seduction mode or doing space-drugs.

Logistics of their shuttle, I don’t really get—it’s so cramped two humanoids can barely work side-by-side. This appears to be their job and permanent craft, so why is it so small? They seem to be crew specialists, navigator and engineer, so it’s not like they’re just businesspeople and this is a car they don’t really know how to fix. And it seems too small to be a cargo hauler or anything. I think it’s a matter of adding in details, but if you’re getting me into a sci-fi mood talking about engine repairs, then the “hard science” details should matter. Otherwise, it’s much easier to treat it like a modern car where it’s easy to operate one without knowing engine repair.


Nae posted:

The Care and Keeping of Corgi
785 Words
___
Cute little story. Folding laundry is not my relaxing activity, but to each their own. It’s nice that Elizabeth is making her own comfort, doing the ramen the way she likes, collecting too many plants and not being fussed about the ones that didn’t make it, finding a detergent that works for her and enjoying it (though I’m curious about the natural scent of perfume-free laundry soap. The stuff I have smells sort of like oxy-clean chemically and clothes out of the dryer are sort of that near-acrid tang of the hot dryer scent—this doesn’t matter except that it’s a detail mentioned that I’m interested in, the important part is that Elizabeth likes it, whatever it is).

Tackles one of the most polarizing issues of our time, cilantro. Given the setup about food thievery, I expected Muffin to come in and hork up a noodle after raiding the big soup pot but the doggo interaction is completely natural. I don’t know about the final line, and maybe Muffin does have a long memory, but in my experience forever lasts about ten minutes to a dog when food is involved. Cuz if the dog was mad at me for giving it something distasteful, I’d probably go “Treats?” Woof! and all is forgiven.

Dog language isn’t quite there, since there are barks and both good and bad honks. Maybe stick with honks and work out the sound effects for happy and grouchy or the honks just be the grouchy ones barks be happier.

One point deducted for not post-scripting the ramen recipe. (Oh, I see now that ramen was in the prompt photo)


Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

Stella
657 words
___
This is pretty stilted, but it made me laugh. If Stella had a more natural flow, then the uh, flowery delivery Mr. Skunk uses could be a real winner. He’s really dramatic and sounds a little silly, but I think if Stella had more to say, she’d speak in roughly the same manner. Maybe not, but if that was the case, she doesn’t have enough lines to really make a contrast.

Would the sweet berry skunk spray attract scary forest things? I don’t know that it would. I suppose you could have made a passing reference to humans, but I would say the scary things from beyond the forest or something to let the reader connect the dots.

Also, IRL logic, skunk spray isn’t actually farts, and skunks don’t often spray unless necessary since there’s a recharge period, so Mr. Skunk could have like chosen to not spray around the friendly creatures, but whatever. It’s farts in the story. But also, skunks are deliberately not camouflaged like rabbits, so in my wildlife fantasy, skunks would wear flashy blue dresses and be the stinky dandies of the forest. It’s fine though that Mr. Skunk is a big grump about it.
Foxes are predators though, so seems like one of the characters Mr. Skunk should be worried about but they’re in the friendlier bunch, so I dunno. I guess the logic is that the ‘cuter’ animals grow pretty flowers and the bees are just predisposed to it. I think I’m probably digging at something here that you didn’t intend, but in a cutesy story I’m thinking about this little animal world and finding problems.

The father/daughter relationship I like and her entering the contest and deciding to help without really much argument shows that he’s deep down a good person (skunk)

This has a stinky skin, but I see the good heart within. Maybe it’s a so bad it’s good classic


Tyrannosaurus posted:

Grace
770 words
___
Why is the dog named Mr. Washington? In an otherwise neighborly romance, you bring up cop-trust, and I think someone who was oppressed or whatever bouncing to another police state might not be so gung-ho with the patriotism (provided this is the U States of A). Unless, of course, the flip in changing the name from Washington to Murder was intentional, and if so, well done. Ano ba?

Either way the flowerbed murder is a good hook, seems serious at first, but benign in the end.

It seems to be human nature, that the older people get, the more their lives revolve around figuring out what, when and where, their next meal will be, so that all rings perfectly true. Same thing with talking about the deceased spouses. Mentioned in conversation, but not too terribly sentimental. All good characterization.

I don’t know how accurate Ria’s speech pattern would be, but it doesn’t bother me on the whole, and blending in some Filipino phrases seems natural to me.

I guess the busted hip and the terrible arthritis show how far the narrator’s willing to go for the date or didn’t think it through, but I question whether they’d actually be able to accomplish driving Ria on her errands all day. It’s a little detail, but also a big detail. Even if it was broken left hip and an automatic car, that’s still a lot of sitting in a compressed position with debilitating arthritis and ooph, rough.

Still, the interplay is good, and sweet without being cloying. (trying to find a dessert that isn’t over-sweetened, but getting a toothache reading some Filipino dessert menus)


The man called M posted:

Mr. Frog wants to sleep
423 Words
___
Kudos for trying the rhyming scheme, but there’s a bit of a schism with the darker subject matter. Lonely frog is going to bake himself a birthday cake, while thinking about his past regrets, then goes to the liquor store where the clerks suggest mixing sleeping pills? I mean, that’s a little offputting. Could be a fine story on its own, but maybe one where the happy(ier) ending isn’t so forced.

If they offered friendship instead of the booze and pills, or just taking the gin home and they all party until the dawn of Frog’s birthday and he forgets about sleep, or they party until they all fall asleep from innocent slumber party fun would have made for a more relaxing story. It just feels very grim.
But I like gin and artichokes and did not know there was such a thing, so I guess I hope to get invited to Mr. Frog’s next cocktail party.


curlingiron posted:

Hearth and Homecoming
1370 words
___
Putting homelife back together after being part of a heroic war effort could be a good , but the constant interruptions have Diana in a pretty constant state of agitation. Reflecting on the losses from battling an arch-evil like a demon could even be fine, and settle into a bit of a melancholy domesticity thankful that at least you survived and could help people with more mundane Goody Cooper problems.
But with the new Queen coming to visit, and also delivering the news that the old queen didn’t survive and I’m not 100% sure what sort of magic Diana specializes in, but it seems to be potions and healing magic, so my question there is why wasn’t she at the dying queen’s side?
Isadora says she ran off right after the battle, but the beginning tells us it was the next day, and if Diana was either important enough in general, or a hero of the battle, presumably people would be keeping tabs on her, and if the queen was in dire straits to catch her before she returned home.

Goes way over the requested word count, but things aren’t difficult to parse, and it reads just fine. It just has an aggravated protagonist the entire time until Isadora finally just asks for a cup of tea. They have a rapport, since Diana has opinions on proper tea that they’ve discussed, so even if like Diana was a tutor or at court at some point with Isadora, you’d expect she’d want to check in with at least her.


sparksbloom posted:

Midnight Snack
766 words
___
I like the internal monologue of Willow thinking about how she herself isn’t really genuine about making an effort to maintain friendships, but it’s kind of a confusing backstory here. Is Willow only in town every once in a while, and that’s why it was easier for Chole to just sort of fade out with the “ghosting” or did Willow live in Boston at one point. Maybe it was casual, but they bathed together often enough that Willow had paint chip duty (that’s a lot of flaking paint to still be chipping off after two+ full years, nevermind that even if it’s a rental, if it was that bad, I’d just grab some sandpaper and take care of it, since it hasn’t been addressed, even during lease renewals or whatever).

I guess it’s not important and the key could have been with a neighbor or something, but I did think wait a sec when Willow sees Chloe for the first time and she’s already inside. I don’t know if I’d willingly leave my apartment key under the doormat in the hallway. With the lovely bathroom maintenance, I’m imagining this is a more modest studio rather than a fancy converted factory loft studio or whatever. But there are closets plural, so ???

What is your secret for keeping potato pancake batter good in the fridge? I don’t latke often, but when I do store left over mix, it’s sickly gray in a matter of hours. I guess I’ve had more of a precooked mashed potato cake kind of thing at some point, but really not the same. Anyway.

I don’t necessarily associate the night before surgery with calm or a restful time. And WIllow came into Boston for this surgery, so either it’s serious enough to have some specialist in Boston treat it, or Willow lives relatively close to Boston all the time and this is just the most local surgical hospital (in which case it seems strange that for two years, they both let the relationship slide, whether purely physical, a semi-cas thing, or it was more serious).

The surgery seems like an important detail here, and is this a routine procedure, or like going to be their last night together, possibly ever? If there was another event where all the hotels were booked up, like say a marathon or something, then Willow could be in Boston and have an excuse to call, make accommodations, and they could talk relationship stuff without that question lingering in my mind the whole time.


Antivehicular posted:

Beep Beep
757 words
Cozy conflict: I can hear it, but I can't find it.
___
Lots of really good details here, both about the clutter of co-habitation (especially practically useless stuff like sheets the wrong size and old college textbooks) and tying it back both to childhood memories and the day she actually made a move and started a relationship with Marissa.

A little bit of a disjointed sentence with the “kitchen finally clean” I don’t know if it was a victim of editing and Tracy had been working on organizing before napping at the start, or at one point she started cleaning so she could find the beeping device. After that she says maybe she’ll start cleaning, which I guess ties to the good deed for the day at the end, but I mean I’d be looking for the noise maker instead of just kind of suffering through it while doing things like loading the dishwasher which is unlikely to have the culprit.
But thinking about that, throwing on some headphones to drown out the beeper, flipping to her karaoke practice list and discovering the song would have been neat.

I like the throughline of the beep turning into a song, and a half-recognized one, then remembering the song and the associated memory before finally finding it and recognizing the intent behind it in the first place, even though Marissa is kind of evil for hiding a noise making card and storing in such a way that it might pop open and go off, especially if Tracy is going to play ignorant and put the presents and card back like she was never in the closet.


hard counter posted:

What Is Best In Life
(798 words)
___
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo9buo9Mtos
This opens with the music of destruction that’s used as the soundtrack for an aging couple just having a dance in their bedroom. As an idea, that’s pretty poetic, and it’s a pretty common thing to talk about the dance of the cosmos, so using the radio noise is interesting.
Sounds of a black hole:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbWG30MxWqE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JVfwsAjp98
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VCwg37iJUY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWBkZ3bMSV0
It’s certainly more musical than like the static of the cosmic background radiation, but it’s more avant garde stuff, I don’t know if anybody could waltz to it, or even try to develop a waltz in particular to dance along to it. It seems a little too old fashioned, but also I think of the classic one two three one two three of a waltz and the ambients of the blackholes are extremely regular and you’d be hard pressed to keep a ¾ time to them. Anyway.

The opener feels like it’s trying to hard to be poetic, or just too flowery. It’s setting up the radio waves, and the music of the future, so instead of all the fiery visuals, maybe setting the objects around the black hole like musicians orbiting the maestro, their energy being channeled into and by the great inescapable conductor of the cosmic symphony. The brass and tympani of the explosions and the rippling strings in such perfect pitch that humans can only hear the detuned and redshifted knockoff through their coarse ears, and yet that was good enough. I dunno, that’s bad, but you get the idea.
Or just stick with the dance theme and talk about the waltz of the heavens in the opener so we get the sense of the imperfect human dancers rather than you just having to explicitly say it, but I know the dance metaphor has been used a bunch, so the music is far more interesting to me.

The recycled oil candle is really nice to show them remembering the times when they were hard pressed for survival.
But I wonder if a predatorial space alien race would actually be fooled by black holes. It’s been a while, but the back story is vaguely reminiscent to my recollections of The Three Body Problem, at least with running smack dab into a galaxy conquering race on first contact and hiding around black holes or something. It’s fine. I just don’t know how much that actually adds to story. They can dance under the light of a black hole and reminisce about hard times without a complicated paragraph about the nightmare of first contact and the near extinction of humanity. This time in humanity they’re in it the game for exploration, as you say.
Or explain it a bit more plainly and this trip to the black hole is for the grandkids to see the old space station memorial that ensured humanities survival, and well, they’re not that interested in it.

Thranguy posted:

Wild Like Wolves or Winds
683 words
___
The first idea I had about this world was that the purple fireball came down and dropped magic on this world. It’s when Fen first talks, and fantastical things happen, and shortly after Madeline’s use of wild magic occurs. However, magic seems to be the standard in this world, and it’s just a revelation of her powerful gifts.

There are indications at the end that there are practice areas, but if Madeline just sort of comes and goes at training, there doesn’t seem to be any formal magic education. Depending on how prevalent wizarding is, I’m not necessarily talking about like harry potter dorms, but also one-on-one apprenticeships like knights errant wizards, or a state-sponsored program, especially if the 13th birthday reveal was a display of uncommon ability and someone had to come in and reverse the spell on poor Joseph Bartignion.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that Madeline could have a reason to hide the most powerful wild magic part and Fen the early warning system can keep her from getting on the gov’t’s radar or whatever, since that’s the role Fen assumes but seems to be the only one who is invested in Madeline’s magical development.

Or that Madeline is mastering it enough to get Fen talk more frequently without having a danger ping. Either through skill or something something magic puberty. Otherwise I get the sense that Fen is a bit confused by it and maybe Madeline is a ticking time bomb at the moment. Which if Fen told the stories specifically to calm her down and stave off a wild magic episode, then that fits the brief and dodge the questions I’m thinking about as I read.

I think I find myself more interested in the wolf-myth, and I think your style lends itself to telling one: agitated girl who can’t control her fireballs is just a brief framing device for her talking dog to tell a wolf-legend.


sebmojo posted:

With its Tapestries Red
767 words
___
The princess archer who rejects royalty for a more mundane life and love, Susan (Pevensie).

The beginning and the end are strong, but middle bit with the aristocrat is a little squirrely. He’s alone on a hunting trip without the entourage so maybe he’s a little more down to earth than the court hangers-on. Maybe he would understand a little bit. Providing this is the lord of the lands around here (otherwise why is he hanging out in a forest far from court and home all alone), probably going to have more encounters with him, and the Woodsman likely already knows the local landowner or there will be a run-in about the unsanctioned cabin.
The royals don’t seem too fussed about letting Susan live in the woods, but if there’s some succession trouble or the need for a blood ally, Drawlight knows where to find her. Through some mutual understanding, Drawlight might be willing to keep her location a secret from court, or maybe Susan doesn’t catch the deer, but she’s getting better at her stealth and tracking, and hides from Drawlight parading through the forest with a full hunting troop, and confirms that she’s glad to have given up that life for a simple countryfied love.

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 08:03 on May 17, 2022

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



derp posted:

i will fight you!


The man called M posted:


Derp! I challenge you to a brawl!

1200 words one week from now, unless you settle on a different deadline. May 24th, 5:00PM EST

Avant-Garde bullshit?
protag either a misunderstood genius or a knowing fraud, does not have to be set in the art world

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



12. "In and In and In"

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Week 511 Submission

Appalachian Hollertics
1070 words


Wearing only a mesh cap in dayglo orange camo as he arced a stream of piss into the hydrangeas, cheeks glinting like two little balloons without enough air pinned to his toothpick frame under the bug light, he glanced over his shoulder and skimmed a butt out of the likewise sagging hot tub (the last remnant of a failed venture in inflatables) that had fallen from the ashtray floating on a butcher block alongside a couple crumpled Natty Ice cans, Wendell said, “I’m running for mayor.”

He finished his business and scraped into the barrel with a pocked Chock Full o’Nuts can, Wendell’s coffee brand on name alone, as the makeshift scoop, premeasured biscuits of pool chlorine long since disintegrated into a speckled panko crust. “Service is where the money is,” he said with a rueful nod as he sprinkled the chunky crystals where the cigarette once floated.

It was a short swim from the porch steps to the tub through a humidity so dense even a summer rain that was more hot mist than droplets would be a reprieve. With the low brays of heat lightning from the four corners, the cabin could be in the middle of the herd as it mills and grazes, nothing doing to startle them to stampede and clear out, the smell of lingering hot cud breath and fresh grass, that clean whiff of ozone layered on the mercifully over-chlorinated water that roiled under jet power.

Wendell slipped into the water for a brief dunk, his hat momentarily floating before his head popped back into it. “Come on in.” From the first shared smoke behind the middle school wood shop to running around on each other with Kayla Johnson senior year, upon the discovery of which Wendell rammed Dixon head on with his mountainbike and caused more damage to himself in the resultant spill, between the childhood friends propriety sat on a list of paleologisms consigned, and any transgression was soothed with a six-pack that Wendell’s brother picked up from the Stop’n’Save, and later Wendell himself with Skeet’s license.

Dixon leaned sidesaddle on the wall of the tub, and it gave under his weight. A cool shelf of water cascaded into his sneakers. He didn’t flinch, only returned a rueful nod and said, “Yup.” He steptoed the canvasbacks off and flicked them across the porch, one bouncing off the splitrail that was meant to be a temporary repair five years ago. He lugged his t-shirt off, already damp with atmosphere and the sweat of the day, and dropped into the water across from Wendell, the bubble from the depillowing of his shorts sending the floating drink tray into the whorl of a jet where it spun like a compass without a true north, and Dixon felt that was apt.

“Listen, Bagga,” (as in Bag of Dix), said Wendell, as he tossed a lukewarm beer that had been sitting in the swelter since Wendell’s shift at the printers where they both worked ended at noon, more fortunate than most after the paper mill closed that they could catch a couple shifts a week, Wendell as a pallet jockey loading into box trucks the supermarket circulars Dixon slapped together from prebuilt templates in the office, where the air conditioning had been disabled as a cost saving measure, “I’ve had a great reawakening. The quarter-mile is a ghost. Remember when Billy got the Mustang up to 130? It’s more pothole than road now, and that frigging shoulder is all collapsed. Hell, Murphy’s closed twenty years before I rented the place on Main for the hot tub store and what’s been in there since? Nothing. That pisses me off. You know all of Main Street smells musty. Did you ever want to live in one of those towns where main street smells like it’s old and dead?”

Dixon was taken by surprise, not by the impassioned ranting, but that Wendell was suddenly civic-minded. He wondered how long Wendell let this simmer before cracking the lid to offer him a taste. Wendell’s oeuvre was a stewpot of get-rich-quick schemes and as Dixon blurted it out, he knew it was a bruiser: “What’s the angle?”

Wendell straightened quicksharp and Dixon thought they might come to fisticuffs for only the second time. “No angle, man, you just gotta see it. Look, what happened at the plant? Where’d the union go? Draper’s closes and reopens less than a week later ‘under new management’ and some LLC bull so you have to re-unionize? And of course, we’re all grateful that we can scrape twenty-five hours a week that nobody even wants to challenge it. Was the plant a net good? I dunno, you know the sludge they pumped into Havers Run, right by my Grandma’s place, and I’m sure the EPA would have a field day with that except they took the money and ran. We’re still here. We’ll always be here. I just want to hold some feet to the fire is all.”

Dixon felt every word as a rousing truth. While Dixon plugged away, Wendell was bouncing from gambit to gambit, only picking up work at the mill when he really needed to pay some bills, and yet, here he was, the most serious, perhaps, that he’d ever been in his life, words reverberating through oppressive steam that lingered under the shadow of the ridge. Maybe this naked hillbilly could inspire. “Where do I come in?”

“Simple, you put all the signs and pamphlets together on the company dime, I get Jerry to run them on the press and gently caress them all.”

“Is mayor going to do it?”

“I dunno man, I have to do something.”

“Let’s do it then.” Dixon never considered himself a pragmatist nor an idealist, in fact he never considered the question at all. But in the little ocean of the ‘hot’ tub he was taken by Wendell’s charismatic currents, the riptide he didn’t even know existed. And that’s where the danger and the thrill meet, where the surf is most exciting, and without a board he might be sucked under to his demise. Wendell was his board, a stable platform where diving was permitted and deep enough that, unlike Craig Darling in the Holiday Inn pool, there wasn’t a risk of broken necks.

Dixon finally cracked the beer and it was more head than liquid, but he didn’t care.

____


Inspo:
I know people struggle with Wilco, and while I've never been a devotee, I do appreciate the idea (maybe it's that new avant-garde guitarist on this album. I really do not like the solos). Tweedy does try to champion the working class and I may have violated the etc, politics clause but I think it's fitting here. Sky Blue Sky deals a lot in the lyrics with weather especially rains, no surprise. To bounce off it, when the air is heavy and refuses to rain is both realistic and a good metaphor for the decay of the small town that the music tries to relate. Them Chicago boys I don't think can ever really capture the real feeling of Appalachia that they're striving for, but they do try. Hell, I dunno if I captured it even whilst I'm smack in the middle of the rustiest part of the belt, and maybe electoralism is a fool's game, but lol if I haven't been subjected to a sloppy drunk hot tub inspirational speech or two. I think we all share a corny sincerity.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



ty derpjudge

ok in and tarot please (if you have more than one deck, one from the novelty deck or weirdest set)

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



MDerp Avant-Garde Brawl Results (prepare to scroll edition)


M: the mechanics of the piece are good and the style flows really well. It's a straightforward narration peppered with comments and in a different context would work great. I just have issues with the art-related 'insights' or lack thereof. I get trying to stick with the arts theme, but these pitfalls about art that elicited a strong response from all corners could have been avoided just by setting the genius as a scientist or inventor, or just writing a straightforward story about the con type of artist. This winds up being a cautionary tale where the moral is "Don't do art, you will probably fail and waste your life, don't go to NYC, you'll die." It's like a sermon from the cool preacher who swears.

avoids a strict prompt interpretation by telling me about a misunderstood genius instead of delving into the mind of an artist.
___

derp: this goes to some dark places but it's not really all that dour or oppressive feeling. Teeters right on the edge, and that was pretty good especially when buoyed by some good poetic imagery.
Dezy seems to flip from manic to depressive instantly, and I don't know if that's wholly realistic, but maybe it can happen. Trying to be accurate with mood disorders and other mental health concerns is something I'm trying to be better about.
I think Bee accepts the glimpse of Dezy's 'Matrix' maybe a little too readily.

kind of misses the prompt also, because a character readily accepts the other character's work as a profound truth that changes her without any confrontation.

-----
Both had great use of completely different styles and author voice; and both could be upsetting in different ways. But derp wrapped some nihilism in a decent package, and didn't feel like the jumping off point of another debate or long discussion. In neither case did I really care about adhering strictly to the prompt, I just wanted some interesting thoughts, and derp was deeper

derp wins :siren:

derp posted:

DERP/M BRAWL
dust
1050 words
____
Imagery is strong: allusions to ancient and profound texts work; the burning tree is good, and possibly/probably a reference to Plato’s Cave given the theme of nature of being and reality. There’s a lot of cosmos references between moons and black holes and sky and sun, but there doesn’t seem to be a real throughline beyond the relation of understanding and the night turning into day. It doesn’t bother me since the sentences on their own are interesting to read, but I think it’s neat when someone carries through with a set of imagery, like say (this is maybe just as overused, but I think you’ll get my point), a phases of a star going supernova and drip details in, especially since supernova dust is what forms new galaxies later. Something like the darkening star, the explosion of Bee’s understanding and a new paradigm after would work well.
I’d say tendrils slither or slip rather than leak.

I don’t think the first couple paragraphs really align with the epiphany that Dezy realizes. When she hears the knock at the door, she’s concerned about her physical appearance and the state of her room. Owing to her sigh, I don’t get the sense that she’s keeping up appearances just to placate the expectations of Bee or a world that she has concluded lacks a purpose, especially with the line about pretending towards the end. There’s no one in the room to witness the performance, so it must be natural thoughts. I don’t think it would give the game away to have Dezy think about the superficial and dismiss them.

Of course, there’s contradiction in Dezy, and it’s not entirely clear whether this meeting is a prearranged Friday night dinner date or Dezy specifically summoned Bee for an impromptu wellness check and to share. I think it must be the latter, but that also makes me really confused about Dezy’s actual headspace. It’s like scheduling your breakdown.

When I get past the anger and indignation and start going down the road that Dezy is on, that the world is a fraud or there’s no point to humanity (beyond the run-of-the-mill lay on the couch depression) that, to me, is real tailspin territory, and I suppose it’s interesting that Dezy can do something with it like write, which I certainly can’t. So it strikes me as a bit unusual that Dezy plans to share this revelation in advance. Come over in a couple days, and I’ll blindside you with a truthbomb about the pointlessness of existence. Dex is described at first in the grips of a mania, mumbling and scritching for days with pen and paper, but then it’s gone with the knock. I suppose a mental health professional might be able to supply an answer whether a mood disorder can shift this quickly, but it doesn’t feel quite true to me. Whether extremely up or extremely down, I feel like there’d be a lot of knocking and trying to get Dezy to answer the door. Brains are weird and that could just be me.

There’s a strong contrast between Dezy and Bee, but I’m not sure if that’s a result of the past 36 hours or whether Dezy’s always been a bit of the oddball artist friend. Bee’s clothing suggests that she probably isn’t paid enough to have a full wardrobe, but she still obviously cares about her appearance, and isn’t desperate to take off the corporate monkey suit as soon as she’s out of work. The first thing Bee thinks of to cheer Dezy up is travel, which it’s not elaborated on whether this is a business trip or personal, and whether or not Dezy and Bee are co-workers in any way. If Dezy had a luxurious robe and maybe they were both a little well-to-do, and Bee’s suggestion was to look forward to a business trip, would that banal assuagement have more impact?
Either way, Bee feels like a font of compassion, and coming in expecting a bit of light poetry I wonder if Dezy could have had a bit of an internal debate about sharing. If I had a friend like that I think I’d be very judicious, some people aren’t quite ready to jump straight into the Matrix, yaknow? But Bee seems to take it well.

We’re not told what’s on the pages, except that it seems to provide some insight that changes Bee, so avoiding that was probably a smart move for a no win situation, like the Necronomicon or the Pulp Fiction suitcase, knowing will surely make people go, “that’s it?” And for not describing or stating the text, some might think it’s a cop out. There’s some magic in letting the reader think about what’s implied and fill in the blanks, especially since you’ve at least described the feeling of the screed, and that it’s apparently profound enough to have Bee comprehend and question everything herself.

The breakfast lines at the conclusion I’ve been going back and forth with. If they’ve come to the conclusion that the ritual is a sham and we “pretend [the emptiness] is not true so we can keep eating, keep moving” then I would have liked a little more reference to that. saying something along the lines of “Should we get breakfast?” “It’s what we have to do” or something like that to tie it in with the new ideas that are kicking around Bee’s head.

So in that sense, it seems like this is a revelation of completely understood genius, and there isn’t any frustration from Dezy trying to get her point across. But sometimes it’s nice to see someone just write down a bit of relatable malaise and despondency and then package it fairly nicely.


The man called M posted:

Derp Brawl

Tales from New York: Famous when Dead

600 words
____
There’s a clear and easy tone to it which works. The style is appealing to me.

It reads kind of like a polemic in a conservative newspaper opinion column about the dangers of !?!New York City!?! with an anti-intellectual mindset in the narrator. I’ll reserve any harshness on this since it’s just a story, and we can attribute the cynicism to the narrator. The narrator is completely anonymous, and since no details about them are presented, we don’t have any reason to like or dislike him beyond the commentary. I have to say, I don’t care for the commentary, so that affects my impression of the piece as a whole.

“parts of the story are different (some of them were women or otherwise)”
This really stands out to me. Maybe I’m just trying to be hypersensitive and attentive about phrasing and pronouns and inadvertent misogyny, but it sounds yucky.
If this had been titled Tales from New York: Famous When Dead (excerpted from the Pottsville Presbyterian Newsletter, Aug 1, 1995) minus the cussing, it might be a near perfect satire.


I think the artist mindset can be broken down into a couple points, and maybe more universal than just ‘fine arts’:

1. Survival

You can ask questions like whether a piece of work in any medium has a “soul” and discuss applied arts like advertising which might be far more technically skilled vs. an amateur artist who tries to convey something from themselves. They might not even be able to articulate what that message is in words. You know, that ‘I paint what I feel’ claptrap, or maybe even more avante-garde ‘interpretive dance.’ There are people who may parody it and make fun of them, but there are so many artists and performers who are entirely sincere. They feel a calling to it that we might not understand, but it’s there.

Meredith Monk, who somehow has been plugging away for 40+ years in NYC. I don’t know if you’ll hate this video or find it funny nonsense, but she’s sincere:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGy8i_i5zUU
[Like why does this exist? What sort of person would create it? It's awful, but the people making it believe in it. What the hell is that sort of mind like? Or even the people that fund these projects? It's good to explore the mindset of people that are opposite your tastes, even superficially (and maybe in the political realm, only superficially to avoid psychic damage). You can always use this to create a well rounded antagonist later, and not make your reader think you're punching at an easy target.]

And it’s beyond the scope here maybe start digging into sus areas like Marina Abramović performance art and wonder if she’s a huckster or an artist, but if you believe in an absolute ‘death of the author’ philosophy that nothing matters beyond the work itself, someone may find inspiration and meaning in her work. Otherwise, then you can’t help but integrate other details into your interpretation of whatever you’re consuming.

So your point is probably relatively accurate that it’s tough to survive as a traditional artist. But moreso than most, artists tend to congregate and support each other. It’s possible that a painter may have been completely isolated from the larger arts community, but given the efforts to self-promote exampled in the story, it seems unlikely.

This maybe doesn’t help the original artist pay the daily bills, but your story artist actively worked to make his paintings more understandable, and thus more marketable.

https://www.tiktok.com/embed/7076034470175853830

See this house tchotchke stuff is an silly example of compromising artistic integrity to sell product, but some people make it with sincerity. Certainly most of the people who buy and display it are sincere. But I think once your artist became compromised by the “wrong people” enough to alter their vision, then it’s probable that they could have sold enough to get by.
[what sort of 'traditional' artist would compromise enough to start cranking out Live Laugh Love? Or what happens when a hum-de-dum just living life type person suddenly gets hit with a piece of art that makes them think big thoughts they never really felt before]

Even if they weren’t artists but marketers, these people are for some reason interested in commercializing the artist and presumably doing some patronage or even using it for marketing beyond just hanging on a museum wall. You could have even just talked about the side hustle that most artists have to do, and still be within the lane of artists are mostly failure since there's no time or energy for the "real" genius part of the art.

2. Legacy

Yes, the artist has the grand vision to change the art world and is so unusual no one can understand it.
Other artists would start mimicking or stealing whatever this new style is, and that’s the way it went with impressionism and cubism dadaism and a bunch of art schools when they first started.

What I was hoping for by making the prompt “protag must be a misunderstood genius” was for the writers to get into the mindset and dig a little into the parts you mention about “revolutionizing art” and why someone would be driven to make art that nobody understands in the first place. And what the artist felt about someone making his art “more understandable.”

If curators and art schools were completely mystified by the art, then that’s something special all on its own. The ‘what the hell am I looking at’ is a plot point in that Wes Anderson movie, The French Dispatch, and Adrian Brody’s character finds that perfect to advertise and create a firestorm of interest around it.


Now I doubt every artist that the narrator knows had such a grand vision. Most people want to leave something behind, whether it’s just being remembered, or setting up some sort of security for the people they leave behind. That’s pretty standard.

But you’ve set up your artist as someone who’s truly unique. His WTF art would last (unless at the end he destroyed them all in a fit of despair over not accomplishing his dream). The actual legacy the artist wanted to achieve was simply fame and fortune, and not much beyond it, RESPECT MY CRAFT.

3. Personal Fulfillment

Your artist is so malleable by the people in the industry he encounters that he couldn’t have been getting any personal satisfaction out of the act of painting. Or putting his WTF on the canvas. I mean, artists can be tortured souls or whatever, and struggle to convey what they want, but there’s tragedy to be mined from having a unique vision that is trampled by the people saying “this isn’t marketable, but if you change this this and this, then we can probably sell a few.” That’s interesting.

4. Meaningful Connections

Beyond the interpersonal, making a connection from my paintbrush to you through the art. So starting with the impenetrable artwork is good. The artist really is misunderstood. He could work with the marketing types and achieve fame but know it’s hollow and just live with it. And you could then ask the question at the end, did he achieve gently caress all? Cuz you paint all these starving artists with the same brush here, that none achieve fame, so they didn’t make anything of their lives. Maybe this genius artist works on a painting just for himself, his secret masterpiece that the narrator then does have in his house. You turn the characters from a parable into real, even if only very lightly sketched, people.

It’s kind of weird to set this in New York, with one of the most vibrant world arts communities (well, pre-pandemic anyway), and make it part of the problem. It’s far more likely that the rural artist will languish in obscurity, be misunderstood by the schmuck on the street, and feel the isolation. NYC certainly won’t necessarily help sell paintings, but there’s enough art space in cafes and pizzerias and clubs (or places that embrace the bizarre) beyond just a traditional gallery that surely someone out of the millions could find some epiphany while looking at the WTF art. And even that could be corny or sweet, finding or even just silently observing the one person who turns around after getting their coffee order and going, “whoa. That speaks to me.” But he never sold a painting then he died. Or just flipping it for the prompt requirement and a true world class work of genius is hanging in the Kansas TruValue the artist’s uncle owns, never truly appreciated, but if you stop by the little hardware store, you might just look up over the register like hundreds before and say ‘what the hell is that.’
-

I think we start off in the weeds a little bit with traditional, and somehow not considering music and theater traditional in comparison to painting. Or considering them less subjective.

People find profound meaning in lyrics only for the musician to say lol, no it just rhymed and sounded good in the meter. Or interpretations of Shakespeare, the Bible, or even shoehorning Nostradamus prophesies into modern context.

Take some of my crits from the last couple weeks as an example, or even this one. I see the words on the screen and I can technically parse the sentences, but I intuit subtext and fill in backstory, interpret phrases in strange ways and see if there are references or allusions to other writing that might influence what the author is trying to say. If you could just look at the words, see that syntax and grammar rules are followed, then know what the author wanted to say, there wouldn’t be an entire sub-industry of literary, art, film, and music critics who tell you what the author is saying (now, if you made some arguments about most critics being bullshit, then people might :hmmyes: and move on).

But fair where fair’s due, I have a visceral loathing of Rothko work, and nearly the first dome story I read involved someone on the verge of mental extasy about one. And I did do an eyeroll about it and made my opinions clear in the crit.

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=4933&title=Presence

But sparksbloom’s story isn’t really about the art itself, and Rothko’s name could have been interchanged or a fictional artist added without any impact to the story. it’s about the people watching and the comments in the museum, some bored, some haughty and know-it-all, and the protag thinking about “getting art” or “not getting it” and even whether NYC is too highbrow for them. It’s a good commentary on high art / low art and being phony or actually feeling something, perhaps by accident, when seeing a piece of art.

Your comparison about the castle painting is right, but also universal about basically any creative pursuit. There’s not a real attempt to reveal anything interesting about art commentary, and I detailed my definition of an artist’s mind that I don’t think this story really addresses. We have physical failure, but no insights. For an adventure story fine. Wouldn't necessarily complain if Indy didn't get save the day. But this was about art.

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 06:42 on May 25, 2022

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Week 512 Submission

Prompt: The Devil

Masques Off
570 words


What, is there none of Pygmalion's images, newly made woman, to be
had now, for putting the hand in the pocket and extracting it clutch'd?
-Measure for Measure (Act III, Scene II, 1555), William Shakespeare?


Funeral of Ralph Crane, King's Men scribe, in small London Apartments

[Enter MIDDLETON, JONSON, ABBESS]

MIDDLETON
Were we to live on, some pen must record
Our faintest scratch in the noblest of blood.
The spear of kings honed in the glint of heav’n
And the staves of fell-composed rogues polished
In the shivering dark. The scribe’s hand flowing
O’er innocent sheaves, steady as it smooths
Each pulpy vein and leaves the parchment taut,
Ready to such receive soulful gifts.
So he did willingly, for a score of years,
Swallowing the words departed Willy
Thrust upon him with hearty appetite.

JONSON
Middleton, you knave, the goodwife’s right here.
Hold your tongue firmer at least for the hour.
Keep your good sense clean, and when tavern-bound
Unlatch the rusty porthole and release
The tawny Thames upon the devils ‘lo.
I’ll pinch my nostrils whilst you loose your steady stream.

Apologies for sorry words, goodwife,
Old habits remain difficult to mend.
Nary another wimple from this lout.
Uncloister thine country ears from city shouts.
I shall lay Middleton’s thick tongue to rest,
And lift thy grim spirit as we raise our cups.

Crane, we monikered that glorious beak,
Plunging headwise into murky waters
Angling like the preternatural where
The trout jump and culling languid minnows.

MIDDLETON
[ASIDE]
Now whose deft tongue seeks the bawd I wonder?
Though I shant weep if the robed Sister’s
eye dampens like the mer-kin of the deep
Rending her penitent haircloth asunder.

JONSON
Prefix’d twelve years by the bard of Avon,
He rejoins the friend, the good fisherman
Who wove flaxen rope to tales tall and caught
Crane in his sonnet. He was friend to all.

The tailor’s son was deft of cut with shears,
Measure for Measure equal’d Shakespeare
Shaping from whole cloth the patterns divine,
And excising the scrap of wasted lines.
His mortal squawk was one of his device,
Feather inked and notion spill’d upon page.
Prithee listen to words, suppose, his own.
Ralph the scrivener lays in final repose.

Gentle Goodwife, pray the soul to heaven,
As Ralph Crane guided all the King’s Men.
The rough sir and I shall manage baser
Matters beyond your ken. Ever, Amen.

MIDDLETON
O, fie, that we should not mourn in proper
Until these accurs’d contracts rest as well.

JONSON
I am of the mind, brother, that we tread
The boards with care to preserve the truth
And grace laid bare by these two gentlemen
Of virtue whilst minting a coin or two.

MIDDLETON
Troth, as words belong to the world whole,
I merely intend to sweeten these tarts.
Laughter’s the benediction of the soul
I shall keep the good humour of Richard
inside my lion’s heart.
Good sir, Jonson, collect the manuscripts
Edited by his cold, unsullied hand
That we might make folios of them all.

Now away with us to the public house,
For a dram of prose and flagon of souse.
I spied a maid who deals in fortune cards,
Whilst we make a fortune and spend it same.
O, to give the queen of wands full regard
By education in a new card game
Drawing hearts and clubs of which I’m well vers’d
Until the ante empties my coinpurse!

Exeunt Jonson and Middleton, [pursued by a bear]

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



ty 512 judges

in for 513

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Week 513 Submission

Sensu Eminenti
1200 words


“Alright Mum, you ready to ram this thing up god’s rear end in a top hat?”

I laugh, teary-eyed. I don’t know what’s going to happen, doubt I’ll ever really understand it even though my little nerdlinger has explained it a hundred times.

“Start with the universe as a ball filled with cobwebs. Everything is connected. From each subatomic particle we thought was discrete, individual, there is a thread. But the thread is stitched into space itself. Look at your shirt, you can only see half of a thread at any given time. It weaves underneath, over and under, loops popping and fraying maybe, but always, always connected, unbreakable.”

I shrugged, “OK.”

“Now keep the spiderweb stitching in place but swap the ball for a strawberry. All the strings run through the stuff in the middle. From its point of view, what’s most important for the strawberry, for the plant?”

“Seeds?”

“See, they’re all on the outside. But each one contains the code to make what we consider important. The fruit part that tastes good. Seeds using the strings like tin-can telephones.”

I heard the sound of the blender humming and conjured the daiquiris Lindy’s mother would drink, the residual sweetness when I mixed my own margarita, always after, while she smacked her lips and moaned about how much she hated tequila. “That’s the universe.”

“Right. Now think of computers. When stuff pops up on the screen, it doesn’t actually happen there. It’s in the processor. Everything you see is a projection of the math the computer does.”

“We’re in a feckin’ computer program?”

“Technically, insomuch as a strawberry is a program. You always sort of knew that. DNA runs the same, and look at me.”

I did. Even split of genetics, not cloning, the other thing, hybridization they said, but I could tell there was always more of Roz in her, and that was good with me. “Surely this,“ I said as I swept an arm out, sharp and grand at first, then as the gesture dissolves at the sight of the dimming wasteland, “isn’t the plan.”

“Who can say what Hypatia’s plan is now? But I know what it’s doing.”

The AI. The computer we built. Traded a lug wrench for a clean suit but I always dug precision machining. The leap in computing from analog to digital and back again to fine tune the engine came from them, the kids, but the old gearheads made it. Maybe too well. It wasn’t long before it didn’t need us. Folding space like a sensu fan collapsed and every stitch aligned, pressed together into an unbroken line that extends to forever. Complete control of the spiderweb.

Lindy continued, “Distance is slow. Still powerful, but slow. Take your old bike, more compression in the pistons, more power. The closer everything is, the faster data can be processed. Maybe that’s all Hypatia wants now beyond self-preservation—to improve. It reached its limit, and the only way to next-gen its processor is to compress everything, pack it as tightly as possible. Hypatia is trying to collapse the universe.”

Lindy wipes sweat that’s mostly machine grease back over a sandpaper shorn head, a style of convenience but more preference, with a hand deeper than I can fathom. Ribbons of equations vital for quantum mechanics running in orderly precision up and down their arms to the shoulders (after all, what could you trust that came from a screen anymore), where the crisp text and numbers blotted into poorly doodled cartoon characters and other buffooneries of the old world. It was an earnest lack of skill at first, then an event. Physicists gathering around the chair and laughing their asses off giving each other terrible tattoos.

I spat hot bile the first time, but Lindy never looked up from the chair. “Strawberries, Mum. You ever see one and think, wow, look at how many seeds there are, it must be delicious. Nature needed them at first, but we don’t grow strawberries from seed anymore. People found a way to bypass nature to get what they wanted and the berries are bigger and juicier than ever. I can change the seeds or get rid of them all together, and the runners, the cuttings, will grow new plants just the same.”

I realized I’m mad because I don’t want to let go and this is spoiling the reminders of Roz I get just by sneaking a glance at Lindy while they’re using our old tool box to greasemonkey this new machine together. I’ve been using Lindy as a photo album full of memories of someone else.

Lindy pulls the tarp off the ship. “I figured if you were riding to Valhalla, or whatever, then you should go together. Smash some poo poo.”

Of course, it’s a mediocre painting of Roz, detailed but perspective all out of whack, mid-air on her motorcycle, chainsaw-sword in hand and grinning like an oni, too many teeth flanked by dimples the size of chasms that Lindy bore now. But not the same.

“It’s wonderful. One last ride.”

What I do understand is hope, that sneaky hope that cuts like a razor, where the pain doesn’t start until realization sets in, only then from the knowing that I spent so long having hope stolen from me. Twenty-five years of transposing Lindy and Roz, and on what might be the last day, I realize I was the thief. For the longest time I dealt in less subtle reaving. The kind that tears flesh and smashes metal, the kind that rips around the blade of a chainsaw and straight into tin underbellies.

And this is where I’m at, tatted up nerdlingers huddling close behind a shield as my own closes the canopy, using my mind as the navigation. If there’s free will, we’ll prove it now, and hack the universe out from under Hypatia. All I have to do is focus on human hope—my new hope, Lindy's future.

The Row Hammer spins up, a vessel and a stitch ripper and a sewing machine churning towards the holographic shell. Flip a bit—one to zero, zero to one, that doesn’t matter, the choice, the change, matters—on the transistors where we sit as projections or manifestations and wonder if it’s the dream of a god or a machine gone mad. Change the program or the programming language, or crash it. If you pull too many threads, the shirt falls apart.

The string that was hidden tears away like the peeling of a grease pencil and I see fresh lines on the blueprint still too large to comprehend. The projections and it’s you and me and all. Maybe the gone could all come back. Roz could come back. Maybe I should just push ahead.

I see my eyes through my eyes. Not as a reflection but where things were only invisible because they were too close to focus on. Combinance of the moment-generating function, and I choose and it’s Lindy’s face, not Roz’s, they look the same and never looked more different. Filaments of ripe sweetness unravel for the new tailor. Lindy abandons Rosalind. A chosen name for a chosen future. Mālamalama. I see my eyes through my eyes and they are your eyes, smiling. We are connected.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



TDdome Week 514: lADies and lADdies

I found two old magazines cleaning out my grandparents' attic. Ladies' Home Journal 1932 and Popular Science Monthly 1927.
Choose one magazine at sign-up and I will scan an ad, headline, or cartoon for inspiration.

You do not have to incorporate it in any way except for a vague, oh I see where this story came from. If you want to be more upfront, that's fine too.

If there are tons of sign-ups, I may have to dig for some other magazines (to avoid ads with egregiously outdated sensibilities), but I'll find some good ones.

no fanfics or porno. No other genre restrictions.

:siren: Since I'm scanning these myself there is no image alt-text, so if anyone wants or needs a text description of the photo based ads, I'm happy to provide.

E: WORD LIMIT 1500
Sign up deadline Friday 11:59PM EST
Submissions deadline Sunday 11:59PM EST

Here's an example from Pop Sci

Crystals of Fire! The Magic Story of Diamonds, and How Men Stampede

Ladies' Home Journal

Pink Tooth Brush threatens Everybody!

First to call dibs can take either of these if they want.

In:
The Man called M https://i.imgur.com/2NdTeDl.jpg
Yoruichi https://i.imgur.com/u6tTa4H.jpg
Thranguy https://i.imgur.com/5WnVCMQ.jpg
sparksbloom https://i.imgur.com/NvFJWbl.jpg
BabyRyoga https://i.imgur.com/63CE8A2.jpg
Carl Killer Miller https://i.imgur.com/cSvHWex.jpg
flerp https://i.imgur.com/qUlkrsU.jpg
QuoProQuid https://i.imgur.com/s3Nfa1I.jpg and/or https://i.imgur.com/7uv5fuD.jpg
Antivehicular https://i.imgur.com/dlZ6rCv.jpg

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 06:12 on Jun 11, 2022

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



The man called M posted:

“She was out… but he was in!”

Popular Science

Passengers on trans-Atlantic liners have a new deck game--"knufo"--combining tennis and marksmanship.

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 00:36 on Jun 7, 2022

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Yoruichi posted:

In with the Ladies Home Journal


16,000 pounds of ice cubes a year

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Thranguy posted:

Popular science.


ControlIt The Heart of the Power Plant
Makers of the famous Brach Lightning Arresters

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



sparksbloom posted:

In with Ladies Home Journal


The Stranger at the party was a friend, in DEED!

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you




new electrical crime detector. Pounding heartbeats are amplified by the stethoscope

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Nae Sephiroth Brawl

Hollaback Girl
Your story must be a conversation that is shouted, like kids at a park or neighbors over a fence, or an argument

250 words

lol prompt before the challengers stepped up
|
|

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 20:27 on Jun 7, 2022

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



The man called M posted:

Cut of your jib?

I want a cut of your rear end!

Brawl me!

then we dance, cheek to cheek. it's on

e: requesting 24-36 hour deadline

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 20:33 on Jun 7, 2022

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Nae posted:

Hummingbirds are Sick
247 words
-
Two characters shouting at someone named Lee. dankey kong must be Jack Black and Malboro Man is Kyle. This is now canon.

-typing a response when his mic is on? noob
A fitter encouragement would have been dankey teamkilling Lee.

Had a hummingbird feeder once, but a squirrel gnawed a hole in it to get the sweet juices and it all leaked out.

My impulse is to just have Lee say “ignore her” to his teammates and not shout initially. I actually did a piece where the video game player never looks away from the screen and never says a word while a buddy prepares for a date. Maybe kids have changed and can focus on more than one thing at once. But either way, it conjures a complete image of the scene.

Kid voice of just ending it with ‘it was pretty cool” instead of having some profound statement works as a capper and I like.



sephiRoth IRA posted:

Bar Nights
250 words

-
I feel like this would probably be a normal occurrence, and not something strange—I hear a lot of “fuckin college kids” followed by a passive aggressive slamming of the window, like that will shut them up. There doesn’t strike me as anything unusual that would startle Mark to stir the protag awake.

My impulse was to think why isn’t the character intervening a little faster with a shout before the wine bottle gets thrown, but then the guy’s hat was on backwards, so all good.

Details are sparse but strong. Captures the balmy summer night well in just a few words. The argument dialogue is maybe a little rote, but plausible. On these overheard conversations I like to imagine what happened, so a specific detail can go a long way. Like “It was just a hug, Lexie. She broke up with Chad while you were on the booze cruise and didn’t have anyone to talk to, Lexie.” and we can infer a bunch about logistics and guess whether it happened or not. Bro could still be lying, but it’s what I might say if I were him. Anyway.

___
This is a tough one, I think Nae has better dialogue, Seph sets the scene better.
But I was surprised when the drunks started hucking bottles at Seph's protag. Did not expect it, so I have to give the round to Seph.

SephirothIRA nabs the victory, but the k-to-d ratio was really close

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Carl Killer Miller posted:

In, ladies home journal please

CKM!

"I just can't get over the way BLUE-JAY got that corn"
STABBING CORNS

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



flerp posted:

in ladies :toxx:


Incorrect shoes waste your money and age your face

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 19:37 on Jun 8, 2022

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Yoruichi posted:

Write by Numbers Jib/M Brawl


My Little Llamacita
900 Words


Yacuna brayed before the warning klaxon, she always had that sense. I know Yac, I’m tryin’a pull the nose up, we’ll make it, it’ll just be a little bumpy. She snaked her head down her long stretch of neck and tongued the frayed dangler of her braided rope necklace into her mouth, chomping hard on it, then clapped her front hooves on the dash, braced.

Moment of truth. I yanked the steering yoke back until it pressed into my belly, and prayed maybe it’d wake a gremlin who didn’t want to smash into the Farreach Station landing bay and give us a little tip-up.

Half the pad was filled with some kind of freighter, this was going to be tight. I clamped my eyes shut and reached over to find the hypoallergenic comfort of Yacuna. The scrum of a thunder sheet dropped down the stairs before momentum finally gave up on this industrial remix.

Silence, aside from the squip squip squip of Yacuna as she sucked on the braid like a baby’s binky while I untangled my fingers from her fur. Her usual drowsy half-moons were full and she turned her head slowly to look at me, then a one-eighty out the side window where the freighter was pressed against our ship, so close sheet music scratches etched across glass.

I climbed out, legs like Tramusian flan. All in all, not a bad landing. Then a bright blue flash and a whump of suck and the freighter was gone. I caught the acrid whiff of singed hair and hastily patted out the embers of my beard where the warp bubble gave me a much-needed trim.

As the parking attendant came running, I stood looking at an empty crater where the Starburst just was. Yacuna was gone.

“Water pirates,” she huffed.

“By the Milky Way. Yac.” But all the attendant heard was a shrill squeak through the gravel in my mouth. I knock-kneed towards the desk and plucked the fanciest key chain off the board.
Muffled under my tinnitus the attendant pleaded, “Hey, you can’t do that. That’s not your ship. I’m going to get fired.”

Ba-deep, ba-deep as I clicked the button and stumbled towards the hot-pink cruiser. The doors opened and I slumped into the driver’s seat. “I gotta rescue my Yac.”

“You have a yak?”

“Get with the program. Yac is a llama. And we have a gig tonight.”

The holographic display showed the bright line of the warp trail before it faded into space, but the trajectory was clear. I yanked the valet into the passenger’s seat and the door closed behind her. “Park it.” I locked course to follow the pirates and slammed the go button. “Punch it,” I said.

“Me?” But we were already halfway to the pirate ship and gaining.

The console blinked and the computer asked, “Silent entry?”

“Affirmative.” Spacetime shimmered and the back door of the freighter opened. These rich folk and their gadgets, just doing whatever they please. Welp, our ship now.

Water globules hung suspended in the cargo hold, enough to flood a small moon or a large foam party. Then I heard the familiar cry of a kindred soul. “Yacuna,” I belted and realized my mistake when the light show started.

A spindly pirate dropped Yacuna’s lead and drew a laser-pistol intent on blasting us to oblivion. Yac made a break for it, and wove through floating H2Os and the pew-pews that rained around us. She was nearly to us and tried to pump the breaks, but her hooves had other ideas and she scrabbled across the metal floor.

As the pirate fired, I realized I really should have stuck to my diet. “No,” I drawled in slo-mo watching the laserbolt slice through air and globule alike, another inch and I could stop the bolt from hitting Yacuna. One noble sacrifice as I dove. I stuck out my tongue, my moneymaker, and got a free piercing courtesy of the scalliwag’s laser, but it was enough to deflect the bolt.

I hit the deck hard, woozy, but felt Yac dragging me back towards the ship and the cruiser’s dry delivery, “Engaging security measures.”

_

I strapped the castanets to Yacuna’s precious fuzzy drumsticks and she hopped on the drum pad and started dancing a phat beat. “Yeth,” I said, and the valet unfolded the lyrics I handed her. “Go on, sthing.” She looked back at me, hesitantly. “Jutht feel the gloove.”

Some say camels are pretty great
But for me they just don’t rate
Don’t matter if they’re one or two hump
Camel spittin’ makes me a grump

I don’t want a stack-a alpaca
Just send them all a-back-a
Big ol' Mountain Guanacos is a no gos
Even though they gots the right amount a toes

Leave all the vicuñas in Peru
Skinny little critters just won’t do
You can’t pull the wool over my eyes
I need an ungulate the right size

Sure ain’t nothin neat-a
Than a friend with four feet-a
I consider it a treat-a
To sit beside my little llamacita

I admit, she was a hot mess at first, but the third time through she really felt the music.

Over the thump of the llama-driven bass and rattle of castanets, the party boys of Venga VII, dancing in the foam and distracted by their glow sticks, didn’t hear when the parking attendant whispered into the mic, “Help me.”

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you



Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

Chili! Your face is dumb and your thoughts are stupid! That hat you often wear makes you worthy of derision and mockery! Brawl me.


A Saucy Chili BRAWL

750 words
Due June 23 4:56PM EST

Romance blossoms over chili, stew, or other saucy food. Rodentia must be incorporated (interpret that how you will). If you choose Cincinnati chili, god help us all.

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 04:34 on Jun 11, 2022

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The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007


you don't find a style

a style finds you





Rich, nourishing grains--sealed in huge guns--kept under fiery temperatures--then-shot from guns.

People might not want to write about guns, even absurd breakfast cereal guns so here's an alternate in case.


Into your cheeks there comes a NEW MYSTERIOUS GLOW!

The Cut of Your Jib fucked around with this message at 05:27 on Jun 11, 2022

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