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Sep 3, 2020


In, give me two entities!


Sep 3, 2020


A Cars Fanfic for Beezus - 1486 words
- A Porsche 911 with a heart of gold (any year)
- Gytrash
- AUTHOR'S NOTE: I asked Beezus if they assigned the Porsche 911 because they wanted Cars fanfic, and Beezus replied: "I've never seen Cars but yes," so I'm allowed to break the no fanfic rule. This is legal!

The sunset bled over the horizon, staining Route 66 a blackened red. Sally Carerra whistled through her exhaust pipes. “Sure is beautiful…” It would’ve been safer if there’d been more lights along the way, but Sally had said goodbye to flashy lights when she left the Porsche dealership in California and moved to Radiator Springs. In a perfect world, she would’ve stayed away from California forever, but the world wasn’t perfect, and neither was she.

Her sister had called her out of the blue a week before, wanting to reconnect. “There’s a Porsche convention in Carlsbad! You have to come!” She said it like she and Sally were loving model-mates, and not vague acquaintances who’d been driven apart by miles and years. And in that moment, when Sally heard her sister’s voice through her window, she wanted to believe it. She wanted to go home again, to join the family she’d left behind.

So she packed her trunk and said goodbye to her friends, promising them she’d be back soon. They made a big show of crying and hugging her, wrapping their worn tires around her hood, and they wished her all the best. Mater the tow truck also told her to steer clear of the black-bodied Gytrash haunting the road, but she didn’t pay him any mind. Ghost-cars hadn’t scared her since she rolled off the assembly line in Stuttgart. Still, she thanked him for looking out for her anyway.

“You don’t have nuthin’ to worry about, Miss Sally!” he replied. “The Gytrash only haunts bad cars, so it ain’t gonna bother you one bit!”

He meant well, as always, but she still felt like a bad car when she was driving away while he shouted: “You better come back, Miss Sally! We need you!” That got her crying, flooding her windshield with fluid and dust. It wasn’t until the Springs was miles behind that she wiped her eyes and started looking towards the future. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to look at.

Route 66 was an amazing highway, but a car could go for miles without seeing civilization. When Sally cleared her windshield, the only proof of life she found was a cement-grey garage littered with toys. The toys were rusted and worn, but it was still sweet to see signs of a little car driving around. Signs of a family, just like hers.

Red lights flashed across her vision. Something was hurtling towards her: something small, light, and way too fast.

She jerked her wheel to the right. Pain tore through her tires as they squealed against the asphalt. As she careened off the road, oil sloshing sickeningly inside her gas tank, a fleet of thoughts raced through her mind. Toys on the lawn; a garage that fit a family. A child, small and fast. A child on the road.

Her wild ride ended in a cloud of sand. Engine shaking, she checked herself for damage. Her left rear tire ached, but otherwise, she was fine. Lucky, too: if she’d drifted a foot to the left, she would’ve hit the garage and wrecked for sure. But at least the other car would’ve survived.

Her high beams flashed in sudden horror. “The other car!”

She sped back to the highway. When she arrived, she found nothing but darkness. No lights on the road; no lights in the garage. Just pure, pitch black, the same color Mater’s fabled Gytrash.

Her A/C unit flickered on and off, sending chills through her body. She narrowed her eyes and straightened her tires. “Don’t be stupid,” she muttered. Those lights weren’t a Gytrash; they were a trick of the sunlight, which had long since abandoned her. When had that happened?

She started driving again. The way her tire was aching, she might’ve punctured something, but she was too far from the Springs to head back. She had to keep going. She’d been away from home for so long, and she wasn’t going to stop because she was scared. What did she have to be scared of? Mater’s silly Gytrash?

The darkness grew as she traveled the desert road. She couldn’t shake the fear that had her headlights flickering and her A/C blasting. Something wasn’t right, hadn’t been right since the garage. She could’ve sworn she’d seen someone coming, but there was nobody there. Maybe there was, but they left her to break down alone. Why not? She’d done the same thing to her family. “We’re Porsches,” they said. “Porsches stick together.” But she left California, and then the others left, too, and it was all because she’d gone first. If she’d just stayed, they’d still be together, and—

Red lights flashed in her rearview mirror. Sally slammed on the accelerator. She leaped forward, as reckless as a car on her first ride, but the speed didn’t scare her. Red lights did.

“I’m seeing things,” she stammered. Her chassis shook as she checked her rearview mirror. Two red lights, coming right at her.

She sped up, ignoring the mounting pain in her tires. Cars weren’t supposed to have red lights on the front; red lights were for breaks, and this car wasn’t breaking. It also wasn’t any type of car she’d seen before. But that was what Mater said about the Gytrash, wasn’t it? No one knew what make it was; ‘Gytrash’ was just the model name the locals gave it. That was the only thing they could agree about—that, and the notion that the Gytrash haunted bad cars.

The roar of her engine dulled to a rumble. “That’s it, isn’t it?” Her burning tires slowed as the fear died inside her. She was a bad car. She’d left her family behind, and they fell apart, and she’d just done the same thing to her friends in Radiator Springs. She’d done it to the car by the garage, too. If she’d really cared, she could’ve searched harder for it, but she hadn’t. She’d sped away, too worried about getting home to care about anyone but herself.

When the black car pulled up next to her, as slow and quiet as death, Sally prepared herself for all manner of otherworldly punishments. What she didn’t prepare for was a low, gentle voice that said: “You got a flat there, kid. Need a tow?”

She glanced to her side. It was still too dark to see much of anything, but the car had old, kind eyes, and its headlights were a soothing white. Maybe they’d always been white. Maybe she’d knocked something loose in that accident, something that got inside her mind.

“Yeah…yeah,” she said. “A tow sounds great.”

“Sure thing. What’s your name?”

“It’s Sally. Sally Carerra. And you?”

He must’ve said something, but she was so tired that she didn’t catch it. By the time his hook hit her bumper, her eyelids were halfway down her windshield, and they didn’t open again until she rolled to a stop in a gas station parking lot.

As her savior drove up on her side, Sally blinked and mumbled: “We stopping for a fill-up?”

He chuckled gently. “No, just thought I’d catch the morning news.” Using one of his windshield wipers, he gestured at the television in the store. “You might want to look, too.”

Sally peered through the window. Her vision was still blurry, but she could make out the news-car parked near a wreck beneath a white sheet. She could also read the chyron below: “PORSCHE 911 TOTALED ON 66.”

Her gas froze in the tank. “What?”

“Sad story.” The black car tutted his bumper. “Real nice lady from Radiator Springs wrecked trying to avoid a kid. At least the kid’s all right. Look, there he is now.”

A Smart car no bigger than Sally’s trunk trembled in the corner of the screen. Sally couldn’t hear him, but she could see the red decals on his headlights just fine. He’d probably put them on there to be flashy. Small cars did that sort of thing all the time. They didn’t know how dangerous it could be to play with your lights.

The white sheet fluttered behind the news-car. Sally gripped the ground. “Is that…?”

“A car who gave her life to save someone else’s.” Her savior’s bumper curved in a sad imitation of a smile. “A good car, through and through.”

Thin streams of wiper fluid trickled beneath Sally’s windshield. “I’m totaled.”

“ ‘Fraid so, ma’am.”

“But you can see me.”

“I can.”

“Are you the Gytrash?”

“Call me Guy,” he said. “I’m here to take you home.”

“Home…” She lifted her gaze to the horizon, where the sun was rising over the buttes. Another beautiful morning on Route 66, just like all the ones that had come before.

She turned her tires one way and then other. They felt lighter than they had in a long time.

“I’ll be all right,” she said. “I think I know the way.”

Sep 3, 2020



Sep 3, 2020


Crits for Week 493: Hope is Absurd

Royce at the End of the World - organburner

You’ve got a few things to work on here. You use a lot of distancing language (he felt, he saw, etc) which removes us from the protagonist’s perspective. Your voices aren’t distinct from each other (everybody says gently caress? Is this Big Fucker Academy? If it is, you need to tell us that!) You tell us how characters are feeling instead of illustrating it through their actions (lines like “Royce could tell the principle was angry” have no impact, whereas “the principles nostrils were flared and his fists were clenched” says the same thing and also provides an image).

My unsolicited advice: Read the Winner and HMs for this week and pay close attention to their prose. They’re all using different styles, but they each have close character work, distinct voices, and illustrated emotions. Pick apart how they did it, see what you like, see what you don’t like, and try and apply what you like to your own work. This is the way.

Johan, Johan! - Ceighk

drat! That was really good. It fit the prompt, it fit the subprompt, it was well-paced, the characterization was solid, the prose was really nice (with room for improvement in a few places) The ending felt a little abrupt, could’ve used a line or two more, and the opening paragraph doesn’t quite fit the timeline of the rest of the story. Nevertheless, I loved it and I’d happily read more with these characters. Nice work!

The Monument - Staggy

This is an example of what I’ve mentally dubbed ‘The Thunderdome House Style. Beautiful imagery, thematically consistent, structurally solid, but very little grounded character work. The protagonist seemingly has nothing tying them to this world (No family? No friends?) and their grieving is largely performative. Still, everything else in the piece is solid. It’s not my cup of tea, since I read for characters above all else, but I can’t deny that it’s nicely executed.

To Those Who Came After - SurreptitiousMuffin

Lovely. Great 17776 vibes. Also reminded me of Metal Like Blood in the Dark by T Kingfisher. I felt for the robots, even if I didn’t/couldn’t understand them as individuals. (But maybe I wasn’t supposed to. )

The line “Mars-Colony-008 has zero confirmed survivors, and yet somehow they persist” threw me at first; were there survivors off the map, or do the dead persist in the memory of the robots? (It’s the latter). I think the second paragraph goes on a little too long, which seems common in this week’s entries. You don’t have to worry so much about setting up the themes and tone when they’re consistently applied throughout the work. Also, the run-on sentences make more sense once the cadence and character of the narrators is established, but it’s a little much up front.

I appreciated the through-lines: the puns, the persistence, the orange seeds, the war paint, the cursing, and the relentless contradictions that come from living without being alive. Close to perfect with room for clean-up work. Edit it and submit it to Uncanny; it seems right up their alley.

Don’t Forget to get a To-Go Plate - Noah

This is one of those odd stories that made me feel like I missed something because so many things were happening at once, and the supernatural elements came and went without much fanfare or explanation. My fellow judges liked it more than me, however, so I won’t sit here and say it’s objectively not working. I think it just wasn’t for me, because I am a baby who likes things explained to me.

Goblin-mother - My Shark Waifu

Cute. Not great, not bad; cute. The pacing dropped off in the second half since the adventurers weren’t actually a threat. Have the adventurers pose a real threat to the goblins, one that forces Griselda to make a difficult choice, and then you’ve got a story.

The Sea Turtle and the Octopus - Albatrossy Rodent

Short but sweet. I liked the message, I liked the old Octopus and the Sea Turtle, and I thought their bumbling interactions were well-done. It probably could have used another hundred words to flesh out things like the Octopus’s desire for further adventures and the Sea Turtles desire for female hatchlings, but overall, it was a competent piece given the prompt and the space.

Super Crypto Bros. - Idle Amalgam

The ‘Some years later’ section is disjointed. Aside from that, it’s a pretty boilerplate retelling of the crypto story we’ve all heard in one form or another. Guy misses out on Bitcoin, goes all in on subsequent -coins and NFTs. What this piece is missing is something to make it stand out from the archetype—something that turns this from a post into a story. What makes this guy different than all the other crypto guys? Why did you choose to write about him?

Priorities - GrandmaParty

You can cut paragraphs 1-3 and weave the necessary exposition into the body of the work. In doing so, ask yourself how much of that backstory was really needed for the story to make sense. I did like the characters, though, and I thought the progression of the conversation worked well.

Paper Hearts - Chernobyl Princess

I liked it! The middle was a little dull, as the obstacles they faced on the walk to the house didn’t actually challenge them (husband waved the birds off with a stick and then they got bored and left). I thought the husband and wife were cute and I liked their dilemma, and their solution was natural without feeling too obvious. Having said that, their solution is only a band-aid over the creator’s inevitable death, so it didn’t leave me feeling as hopeful as it could have.

in front of a funky green sky, a banjo player gets some bad news - Tyrannosaurus

More buried ledes than an r/relationship post! I thought this had way too many weird concepts for the small space, but my fellow judges disagreed with me and they won me over, probably because I actually liked the story a lot. Still, the relentless barrage of new concepts forced me to stop and reorient myself every paragraph, so consider that dumb readers (like me) may not pick up everything you’re throwing down and adjust accordingly.

The Basilisk Score - Thranguy

You need to get out of your own way when you’re working with such a small amount of space. This kind of pseudo-philosophical poo poo works when it’s 1100 words in the middle of a larger work, not when it’s the whole thing. Scrap the big brain over-explaining and just tell me a story.

How Andy became a man - The Man Called M

Watch your verb tenses. Also way too much telling. The dialogue is unrealistic, too. “I want to, as well, but The Kettle?” What teen says ‘As well?’ In general, your prose needs real work.

My unsolicited advice is the same I gave Royce: go back and read the winner and the HMs and pay attention to how they structure each sentence. Those stories are very different from each other, but they all have strong voices and competent, confident prose. As you read these stories, ask yourself what else they have in common, then see what lesson you can apply to your own work. Also, SH is right that you should ask people for crits on your work before you post it. Believe it or not, us other domers are here to help, so let us help!

“Deep Rich”, Excursion 385 - yeah ok ok yeah

A vibe, I guess. Not good, not bad; a solid ‘eh.’ I get what you were trying to do with the sub-prompt and the text, but it didn’t pay off in any meaningful way. If you’re going to throw in garbo text because you have to, try and make it mean something.

The Dead City Marches On - A classy ghost

Good concept, saw the ending coming, pacing was off. Clunky prose, though Metropolich is a great word. You can cut out a lot of the cruft up top and use the space to develop the apprentice’s relationship with the maggots to add weight to the end.

Final Exam - Caligula Kangaroo

Oh, I liked that. Good use of setting, good character work. The prose needs work and that’s the main thing holding the piece back. Sentence structure lacks variety, both in size and construction. Get more practice shaking up your prose and you’ll be in good shape.

Liebrary - crabrock

poo poo, that’s a lot of prompt to pack into a little space. Given that, you did admirably, but your exposition dump at the start is still unforgivable. I’m also not a huge fan of the Whedonesque dialogue where everybody has a clever comeback. I know some people still love it, but I’ve seen a lot of snark in the past few decades, and I’m just so tired of it. But again, kudos for doing what you could with the prompt. It was DENSE.

To the Reclaimers - flerp

Lovely prose. Poignant message. Not a story, though. It’s more akin to an essay, like something your protagonist would slip through the cracks in the crumbling building that once housed The Atlantic. Now apparently, as SH explained to me, this ‘vignette-not-a-story’ concept is completely legitimate for flash fiction, and that explains a lot about Thunderdome that I never understood, but it’s going to take me a while to wrap my head around the idea that flash can be a scene without progression. Until then, if you see me judging again, just write me some drat characters!

Sep 3, 2020


A Place to Rest
1,190 Words
Prompt: he's a walker, he walks everywhere, ain't nobody who has walked as far, has seen as much up close and beautiful, but the world is getting too drat fast

To walk upon the earth was to worship it, and the Walker always worshipped. Each day, he walked the roads, pressing his bare feet into the soil, and each night, he slept in a hut he conjured from the same dirt he walked on. It was an honest life, one that rewarded his stubbornness and his courage, but modern men didn’t respect it like he did. They wanted permanent houses, houses where they could laze about, and so they drained the power from the trees to conjure wooden structures that could stand for years. They weren’t homes, though; not to the Walker. Homes had to be built with respect for the ground, and the tree-killers respected nothing.

The Walker avoided the tree-killers during his daily worship, but he could not dodge them forever. There came a time in his old age when he stumbled across a newly formed village in a forest that had been empty the day before. He gripped his walking stick and swore to himself. Thousands of trees had died to make those blooming houses, all because selfish people were willing to kill for their own comfort. What kind of Walker would he be if he didn’t defend the soil’s offspring against its attackers?

Fist clenched around his staff, he strode into the center of the freshly-grown town. It was full of people, more than he’d seen in ages. Men, women, children: all crowded around leafy benches, sharing sweet drinks and heaping helpings of food. A roasted pig rested in the center of the festivities, its skin as shiny as the apple in its maw. A perfect dish for a celebration.

And yet something in the air was wrong.

It was the mood, the Walker thought. There should have been singing, cheering, and shouting, but there was none. There was drinking, yes, but the conversation was quiet, and no one could look at the man serving the suckling pig.

At a glance, the pig-man didn’t appear to be a threat. He was the Walker’s age, if not a touch younger, but his body had seen less wear. His eyes, though—they held a sorrow as deep and dark as the soil at his feet.

The Walker lowered his stick and approached the pig-man. As he did, the other people in the glade lowered their drinks to watch. “You there…” he said to the pig-man. “Did you summon these houses?”

The pig-man’s smile spread too wide, like someone had hooks in it and they were pulling it past its limits. “No sir! That’d be my son, Erelon.” He gestured to a fresh-faced man wearing green robes and an uneasy stare. “He finished conjuring this whole village yesterday.”

The Walker narrowed his eyes at the boy. “So you’re the tree-killer.”

A slim hand wound around his elbow. A woman with imploring eyes held a stein of beer up to him. “Sit with me, won’t you?”

“I want to talk to the tree-killer.”

“For leaves’ sake,” she hissed in his ear. “Leave him alone. His brother just died!”

The Walker’s grip went slack around his stick. The pig-man, seemingly oblivious yet painfully aware, smiled that much wider and offered the Walker a plate. “Stay, won’t you?”

Dazed and blinking, the Walker nodded and took his plate. With the none-too-subtle guidance of the woman at his arm, he sat at a table in the corner of the festivities. As soon as he was seated, his guide tried to walk away.

He grabbed her arm: payback for earlier. “The tree-killer’s brother—he was the pig-man’s son, too?”

“Yes,” she said, though she had to glance at the host before she realized who he was talking about. “Aren. He tripped and hit his head on rock three days ago. It was stupid,” she added bitterly. “It could have happened to any of us.”

The Walker had so many more questions, but she yanked her arm away and left him. He’d seen all manner of horrible things in his life—his uncle pinned beneath a poorly-summoned wall, his father cursing the unending toil of worship as he died—yet he’d never seen something as profoundly unsettling as the pig-man’s death party. Were they so desperate to celebrate a tree-killer that they would ignore a child’s death? If that was the case, the Walker would call the soil to swallow every last house in the village.

He hobbled up to the center table, where the pig-man was dispensing drinks. “Pig-man! I want a word with you.”

“You do?” The pig-man’s rictus grin faltered. Setting aside his tools, he wiped his hands on his apron. “Come with me.”

They walked together to the edge of the glade, where the pig-man let out a ragged sigh and tilted back his head. “You’re the only person who’s talked to me tonight, you know that?”

“I am?” said the Walker.

“Oh, sure, everyone’s told me they’re sorry for my loss—and they are—but no one will really talk to me. It’s like they don’t even see me.”

The Walker knew that feeling. He felt it whenever the tree-killers drove by him in their vine-covered carriages, kicking mud onto his clothes.

“We were Walkers once, too,” said the pig-man. “I don’t like this magic any more than you do.” The pig-man dragged his hand down his face. When he peeled it away, his haunting grin was gone, replaced with a remorseful frown. “But Erelon couldn’t take the walking any longer. His feet were so tired. And Aren was tired, too.” His voice cracked. “He needed to rest. And now he’s gone. If it’s my punishment for abandoning the faith, I can take it, but…but he just wanted a home.”

The Walker twisted his stick between his knuckles. “Do you still bury your dead?”

The pig-man swallowed hard. “We buried Aren yesterday.”

“That’s good,” he murmured. “Going back to the soil is good.” He flexed his toes in the dirt. He'd forgotten how his feet ached when he stood still. His family's feet had ached, too. Those who couldn't stand the pain walked away from the faith; those who stayed died for it. Now they were together in the same earth he was standing on. A place to call home; a place where they could rest. If the trees had gone there, too, and Aren with them, then they were among good company.

“You should stay,” said the pig-man. “I know you have to walk again, but please. Enjoy the party. I know no one else is, but Aren was so excited when Erelon learned to summon…he wanted to celebrate this. I want to celebrate this.” The setting sun caught the film of tears covering his eyes. “I want something good to come from this.”

The Walker closed his eyes. It’d been a long time since he stopped and sat a spell; longer still since he sat with others. If he could walk to honor his fallen customs, and fight to honor the fallen trees, he could stay to honor a fallen child. And maybe, just maybe, he could rest.

“I’ll stay,” he said. “But I’ll need another beer.”

The pig-man smiled a genuine smile. “Done.”

Sep 3, 2020



Sep 3, 2020


Chili posted:

I'll be your post mule.

If you still need a judge for this, I can take a crack at it.

Sep 3, 2020



You’re all such talented writers, aren’t you? You’re so clever with your pretty words and your big ideas, yes you are. You can wring the emotion out of a dry sponge with your fancy prose and your poignant plots, which is why I’ve got a very special challenge for you four.

Sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, ‘cause what's a hero? But sometimes, there's a man—but I’m not talking about the Dude. I am talking about a 90’s man, though. A very special type of 90’s man, one who oozes pure cool fuel.

You may not know him by his face, but you know him by his clothes. He’s got the slickest sunglasses you’ve ever seen, an all-around love for black, and that oh-so-special long coat that sets him apart from the lesser men who worship at his feet.

This is…

Your mission, should you choose to accept it (jk you already did) is to write a story with a bona-fide 90’s duster guy, the kind of badass motherfucker who can make a room fifty times cooler just by waltzing through the door. But that’s not all you have to do! You also—and here’s the sticking point—you also have to make me like this dude. And I don’t mean just by having him do cool poo poo, either, although he should be extremely cool. No, I want you four literary powerhouses to give this slick slate of a protagonist some honest-to-god emotion. Give him wants and needs that extend beyond kicking rear end; give him doubts and flaws that make said rear end-kickings harder. And do it all in 1800 words.

You have until February 13th at 11:59 PM PST to submit your stories to Chili, who will be posting them anonymously so I can read them all on Valentine’s Day. That’s right: this is my Valentine’s Day present to me, so you’d better warm my cold heart with a hot duster dude.

Sep 3, 2020


Comfort Food
1489 words

Red-orange bubbles rolled and popped in the pot of tomato sauce, spattering the stovetop with specks of grease. Steam bathed Clara’s cheeks as she leaned close to inspect her handiwork. She wasn’t Italian, not even a little bit, but Tony was, and he’d been craving his Nonny’s Sunday gravy since she passed. Little did he know that Clara had been trying to duplicate that recipe since she first tasted it when they were teens. While there were some ingredients she couldn’t find anymore, like the basil from Nonny’s garden or the sausage from the old butcher, she’d done her best and gotten pretty drat close. Hopefully, Tony would think so, too. Or maybe he wouldn’t and he’d throw her out of his condo. They’d been friends for twenty years, but after a few months of truncated texts and aborted dinner plans, who knew what kind of mood he would be in when they finally met again?

Keys jingled in the entryway. An errant sauce bubble popped, flecking Clara’s borrowed apron. She cursed and blotted the spots, then wiped the rest away and plopped a lid on the pot. “Tony?” she called. “Is that you?”

Tony had never been good at greetings, but the muffled ‘gently caress!’ Clara caught was a new low for him—so low that she started to panic. He’d been turning down her requests to get together again for ages. She hadn’t exactly kept on top of correspondence, either, but she’d still been pleased when he finally picked a weekend to meet. What if she’d misread him, though? What if the friendship was finished?

She had a half-dozen apologies ready when he poked his head through the doorway. He was still as handsome as ever—even a gold-star lesbian like her could appreciate strong shoulders and a square jaw—but he didn’t look great. His pale eyes were dull and drooping, bereft of their usual spark, and his heart-shaped lips lacked their usual smile. Put plainly, he looked like poo poo.

“I’m so sorry,” she stammered, “I know you said I should come by but you’ve been busy and I should have called before letting myself in and—”

“I forgot you were coming.” There was a sadness in his posture that made her heart ache. “Sorry I’m late.”

“You don’t have to be sorry for anything.” She hesitated. “Is everything all right?”

“Fine.” He turned away, hiding his face. “It doesn’t matter, anyway.”

“What doesn’t?”

The silence lasted for long that Clara was starting to wonder if he was about to throw her out when he sniffed the air and blinked. “Is that Sunday gravy?”

“Friday gravy, technically.”

He peeked around the kitchen corner, where the simmering sauce awaited his judgment. “You made it?”

“I did, but I still need a few more minutes to boil the noodles.” She gestured to the bar table in the corner. “Want to catch up while we wait?”

He shrank back, glancing away. Whatever had him bothered, she’d have to approach it gently.

“Come on,” she said. “I’ll pour us some wine, fill you in on the latest nonsense with my in-laws, and you can laugh at me until dinner is ready.”

That got a smile out of him. “That bad, huh?”


The promise of family drama was enough to coax Tony onto a stool, which allowed him to relax enough to listen while she updated him on such minor troubles as ‘the missing socks that broke up the marriage’ and ‘the battered mailbox that landed four people in jail.’

“I don’t know how you can stand them,” he said when she finished. “It’s a miracle your wife survived to adulthood.”

“Julie is a miraculous woman. She says hello, by the way—she’s sorry she couldn’t make it.” Clara traced the edge of her wine glass with her fingertip. “Work travel’s been brutal this year.”

At the mention of ‘work,’ Tony’s tentative smile slid into a frown. Etiquette and common sense both told Clara to change the subject again, but wine and concern had finally given her enough courage to prod. She and Tony had collided on the volleyball court more than once back in high school; if anyone accepted how pushy she could be, it was him.

“What happened at work today?” she asked.

His whole body tensed like he’d been shocked. “Nothing.”

“Not nothing. You came in here looking like a kicked dog and you’re cringing every time I mention work. I know it’s been too long since we’ve seen each other, but there’s no way you’ve changed that much.” She sank back in her seat, giving him space. “You can tell me, Tony. No matter what’s going on.”

He massaged his forehead with the heel of his hand. “It’s stupid. You’ll make fun of me.”

“I will not.”

“All right, fine…” He glanced over his shoulder, then sank into his stool. “It wasn’t today, exactly. It’s been a…problem for a while now.”

“How long is a while?”

“A few months.”

Clara kept her face neutral, but ‘a few months’ roughly matched how long he’d been dodging her. “Go on.”

“There’s this woman, my boss”—he swallowed hard—“I don’t know how to handle her. She keeps ignoring my input, making decisions without telling me, and every time I ask her about it, she’ll make some stupid comment.”


He gestured helplessly at himself. “All this.”

“Oh.” ‘All this’ meant his appearance: the very thing that had made him the most popular boy in school while simultaneously isolating him from his peers. No one cared when he tried to talk to them about how much he loved volleyball; they only wanted to stare at him while he darted around the court, women and men both. Little wonder that she and he became friends when they did. She was the unapproachably surly lesbian, he was the unapproachably hot jock; if they hadn’t found each other, they wouldn’t have had anyone.

“It’s stupid, I know,” he murmured.

“It’s not stupid,” she replied. “Did she say something to you today?”

“Yeah. I had a client meeting that I thought went really well last week, and I tried to tell her how it went, and she started laughing at me. Said it was funny I thought the client was listening to me. And here I thought—” He winced like he’d been struck. “Like it matters. Apparently, I’m not paid to think.”

Clara ground her back teeth together as Tony dragged his hands down his face. Her first instinct was to get up and hug him; her second was to get that bitch’s number and spike a volleyball through her skull. Since Tony didn’t like being touched and assault was a felony, neither were particularly helpful impulses, so Clara forced herself to sit still and listen.

“You know what’s embarrassing?” he went on. “That I’m even complaining about this. Look at me: I’m white, I’m male, I’m healthy, I’m rich, and I guess I’m really good looking, too.” He clicked his tongue against his teeth, then covered his face again. “So why do I feel so worthless?”

“Oh, Tony…”

He peeked through his fingertips, exposing the corner of a frown. “Let me guess, you’re gonna say that I’m a baby? That women have it so much harder?”


“Because I get it, you know. I know what you go through. I know I’m pathetic.”

Clara’s chair skidded backward as she shot upright. “You are not pathetic, and you are not worthless. You are clever, compassionate, and insightful, and if your boss can’t see that, then you’re too good to be working for her.”


“Of course really.”

“You don’t think I’m being a baby?”

“For God’s sake, you’re not a baby. You’re a victim.”

“Men can’t be victims.”

“Yes, you can be. And you are”

He hesitated. “Am I?”

“Yes,” she replied. “And it’s okay.”

Tears formed in the corner of his eyes. “What should I do?”

“There’s a lot you can do. But you can do it tomorrow. Tonight, all you need to do is sit back, relax, and know that if anyone tries to hurt you, I’m throwing a pot at them.”

“With the gravy in it?” he said.

“God no. We’re having that now.”

Without giving him any time to dwell on tomorrow, she whisked the sauce from the stove and prepared two plates: one with extra meatballs (for him) and one with extra parm (for her). She set the dishes at the bar, topped off the wine, and joined him at the table.

He gazed longingly at the healthy helping on his plate. “You really made this for me?”

“It won’t be the same as Nonny’s…” she cautioned, but he twirled up a forkful and tried it all the same. Her fingers tensed as he chewed once, twice, and swallowed the entire bite.

“What do you think?” she said.

He beamed like they were kids again, laughing and playing in the sand. “I think it’s perfect.”

Sep 3, 2020


In, gimme a flash.

Sep 3, 2020


The Future is Warbots
1999 words

- removed because I'm sending it out -

Nae fucked around with this message at 04:51 on Apr 1, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


Thunderdome Week 497: Our Fuzzy, Fluffy Friends

There’s something you should know about me, Thunderdome: I liked stuffed animals. A lot. I also have a lot of them, and sometimes, in fleeting moments of moral weakness, I like to invent little backstories for them. Is this madness? Yes, perhaps, but this is also Thunderdome, and I am not the only madwoman here. Perhaps some of you, too, have cherished childhood toys you’ve invented little stories for. Perhaps you still remember some of those stories—or perhaps you’d like to write a story now. Come and play with me, won’t you?

You cool kids are all way more familiar with this flash concept than I am, so I’m giving you 800 Words to write some flash about some stuffed animal friends. At a word-count this scant, I won’t be demanding a fully developed story so much as I am a feeling or a vibe (as this is apparently a valid expression of flash!) However, if you find these 800 precious words too limiting, there are two ways you can get more:

+200 words if you post a picture of a stuffed animal of your own choosing, whether it’s one of your own or one you want to own or one you just think is neat, and you include them in your story
+200 words if you want to roll the dice on one of my weirdo animals! I’ve got some real wildcards in here, and I promise you, I will not run out. (The stuffed animals pictured in this prompt are not my collection, by the way. My taste is MUCH more refined.)

Usual Thunderdome rules apply, including no erotica and no fanfic. Having said that, you may want to use a stuffed animal (or you may be assigned a stuffed animal) from a recognizable IP, so what do you do? You do what you did when you were five, dummy: use your imagination! Give them a life outside their IP, one entirely unique to them. I promise you, some of these little guys could use it.

Sign-ups close 11:59 pm pacific time Friday
Entries close 11:59 pm pacific time Sunday

- Nae
- Beezus
- ???

Stuffed Animal Friends:
- Staggy
- Chernobyl Princess
- yeah ok ok yeah
- flerp
- The Man Called M
- Thranguy
- CaligulaKangaroo
- rohan
- My Shark Waifuu
- crabrock
- Chairchucker
- GrandmaParty
- Albatrossy_Rodent
- Chili
- t a s t e
- sebmojo
- Bad Seafood
- Antivehicular
- QuoProQuid

Nae fucked around with this message at 06:52 on Feb 12, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


Beezus posted:

I would like to read and judge the stuffed animal stories this week if Nae will have me.


Sep 3, 2020


Staggy posted:

In, gimme a weirdo.

You're the first person to request, so you get the #1 bear. Please note: he is #1 at EVERYTHING.

Nae fucked around with this message at 21:00 on Feb 8, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


yeah ok ok yeah posted:


Gimme yer weirdest weirdo.

Auntie Anne the Anteater is huge. So is her guitar.

Nae fucked around with this message at 21:00 on Feb 8, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


flerp posted:

in give me a friend

this bird has seen hell.

Nae fucked around with this message at 21:00 on Feb 8, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


The man called M posted:


Give me a bizarre one.

Eggs. Eggs! This bird loves eggs, loves them so much. But some of the eggs are broken?!

Nae fucked around with this message at 21:01 on Feb 8, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


Thranguy posted:

In, and I'll take a plush weirdo.

The plague doctor, keeper of secrets and keys and ethernet cables.

Nae fucked around with this message at 21:01 on Feb 8, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


CaligulaKangaroo posted:


One weirdo please!

He is pondering his orb. What does he see?

Sep 3, 2020


rohan posted:

in, :toxx:

I’ll take a strange friend please :)

Is this a plush of a ghost dog, or a ghost of a plush dog? Only you can decide!

Sep 3, 2020


Chairchucker posted:

Plush me pls

Did you guys think there would only be one anteater? lol. lmao. This guy can eat 35,000 ants a day, and so can all his friends.

Sep 3, 2020


GrandmaParty posted:

This is profoundly out of my comfort zone. In, can you give me a weirdo please?

Have a comfortable friend: a bison who loves cookies.

Sep 3, 2020


Nae posted:


Due to extraordinary circumstances, a domer has requested an extension. Now, I am normally a hateful judge, with a withered and black heart, but in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I am extending you all a One Week Extension!

You now have until February 20th at 11:59 PM PST to submit your stories to Chili, who will be posting them anonymously, as per the previous instructions.

Now, if you're reading this and don't need the extension and you're thinking "Nae you harlot, you she-devil, you have deprived me of the chance to write!", let me remind you that I'm ALSO the judge of this week's dome and you still have time to write about a plush friend! The choice is yours and yours alone..........

Sep 3, 2020


sebmojo posted:

Yeah I'm in, gimme something sassy

Oh you want sassy, do you? Have this extremely sassy dog, who has accompanied me on every trip I've ever been on--including a lot of wild midwest lakehouse parties in my twenties, where the liquor was flavored and bad.

Sep 3, 2020


Bad Seafood posted:


Gimme a friend.

Someone bought this teddy bear a laptop. Is he doomscrolling on it? Checking his stocks? Posting on somethingawful dot com? Perhaps he's buying NFTs. Who knows!

Sep 3, 2020


QuoProQuid posted:

In. Give me a stuffed animal.

This devoted pig was purchased from a Russian Build-a-Bear knock-off at the South Jersey Shore. Some have speculated he's ex-KGB; others say he might still serve...

Sep 3, 2020


Signups are closed!

Sep 3, 2020


Playtime's over, kids! Submissions are closed.

Sep 3, 2020


yeah ok ok yeah posted:

March of the Ginormo Ants
984 Words

All right, all right, I'll allow it. But you'd better be going somewhere with this, counselor!

Sep 3, 2020


Judging will occur sometime later tomorrow because I left my laptop in someone else’s house three hours away so I’ll be driving all morning and afternoon! Yay!

Sep 3, 2020


Enough of cute things! Let the cruelty of the judges wash over this friendly land!

This was a good week with some fierce competition. Our HM piles were big and beefy, as were our winners piles, but in the end, only one can prevail. This week, the winner is:

flerp, you took a big angry bird and used him to tell a story about the anger that comes from helplessness and the toll relationships can take on us. Take your bird and your win and your seat upon the blood throne!

For HMs, we've got three: CaligulaKangaroo, who wrote an absolutely charming poem about a sad little rock named Dumpy; rohan, who legitimately made me cry with his ghost dog story; and Bad Seafood, whose meditation on moving and memory captured a wonderful sense of melancholy. Bravo, you three!

For DMs, just one this week: My Shark Waifuu, who wrote a story with a lot of characters without much meat to justify their presence. At this length, every word is precious, so you've got to scrutinize everything you add to make sure it's important (or so I'm told...)

For the Loss, it breaks my heart to say it, but it's going once again to TheManCalledM. It didn't do much with the prompt beyond using a chicken as a stand-in for your autobiography, and your prose still has a ways to go before you're on the level of most of the regulars here.


This is the best story you've submitted so far. Your tenses were all good, the story had a natural beginning and ending, and--this is the big one here--you wrote something honest. There are writers who will go their whole lives without writing a single honest word; you are not one of them. You took a risk and put your real feelings on the page, and even if the execution didn't meet the level of what we usually see here, your story still has merit because it says something real. Keep writing, and keep writing honestly. You're improving and I'm more and more impressed each week you come back to show us what you've learned. You may have lost, but you have a lot to be proud of.

Sep 3, 2020


It’s Valentine’s Day (belated) so in addition to your crits, I’m telling every one of you something I loved about your story. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chili - A Name - This was very cute. I think your pacing was a touch off in both the opening and the ending, since the opening went on a little long and the ending was a little short. Also this early line with the nested colons threw me off a little. “Bunny’s heart filled with warmth: an invitation: an invitation to the high court.” I don’t know if double colons is street legal or not, but there’s got to be a better way to express the thought.
⁃ I loved: The idea of a council that gives names to the animals. It’s a very good conceit with a lot of potential for other worlds and stories. Happy Valentine's Day, Chili!

Bad Seafood - What We Remember - Quiet and heartbreaking. Really captured the discomfort surrounding moving well, and how that translates to how our lives change as we grow. Re: naming the mom and daughter Dorothy, I see what you were going for, but I’m not sure the thematic benefits added enough to balance out the momentary confusion it caused in a couple of places.
⁃ I loved: Cody’s quiet patience in the face of Agatha’s innocence. You made these characters come alive in a way I found very touching. Happy Valentine's Day, Bad Seafood!

Flerp - Angry Bird - You really made this bird’s anger relatable and understandable and tragic. I’m reading it again to find some flaw to critique, but it’s moving me all over again. I’m sure I could find something to nitpick if I tried, but honestly, sometimes I just want to sit with a piece, and this is one of those pieces. Really nice work.
⁃ I loved: Annie punching Dan and Dan not being angry at her, just angry at everything that surrounds her, is really beautiful. Happy Valentine's Day, flerp!

Chernobyl Princess - Blind Race - Another cute one! Zoe and Homer are both very good animals, and I thought you did a good job expressing their relationship. The thing that the piece was missing for me was why anyone aside from Zoe was invested in the race. Homer had a vendetta against Monster, sure, but what meaning does the race have to him and the other animals? Why do they keep doing it when it’s so dangerous? If there’s a reason (which I assume is something like ‘it’s fun’), it should come through more in the text.
⁃ I loved: Your opening line. Great rhythm, great energy, perfect start to the story. Happy Valentine's Day, Cherynobyl Princess!

The Man Called M - Not Beyond Turduckendome - I already told you in TD chat the general reason you keep losing (a skill-gap issue), but for the sake of this crit, I’m going to focus on a single place where you can improve: fleshing out scenes from brief descriptions.

Take this line, for example: “After graduating from Cluck University, Clark had no idea what to do with his life and he was bored.” This tells us a lot about Clark on a surface level, but there’s no emotion behind it. What does Clark’s boredom look like? (We’re pretending we’re talking about a chicken here and not you, even though this is very clearly autobiographical.) Does Clark sit in the same chair all day, flipping through hundreds of channels without committing to a single show? Does he keep picking up hobbies and dropping them when he hits a roadblock? Does he irritate his friends because he’s dismissive of everything? These scenarios all describe a person struggling with boredom, yet each one of them paints a different picture of who this person is. You’ve got bored/depressed, bored/flighty, bored/hostile: they all take the same concept in completely different directions.

Using the line above as an example, try looking at other places in your story where you state something in plain terms, then imagine how you could add details to transform the sentence into a scene that feels real. As a hint, I’ll give you another line to try playing with: “When he entered, he was amazed to see more animals than his fellow poultry!” What does that amazement look like? How does it feel in scene?

⁃ I loved: This is a story that could have only been written by you, which makes it your first step towards finding your voice as a writer. You probably shouldn’t be quite so obvious with your autobiographical details next time, but drawing from life is what makes writing come alive. To practice with this without making a story straight autobiography, try taking details from completely different sections of your life. How would your third grade teacher work as a character in a story about the first place you ever worked? What would happen if someone ran drove your favorite car through the front window of your favorite store? Mix and match, see what works and what doesn’t. It won’t all work; try it anyway! Happy Valentine's Day, TheManCalled M!

Staggy - Number One Bear - Reminds me of the story about the rainbow fish with the colorful scales, the name of which escapes me. Good moral, good story for children. Like a lot of pieces this week, it didn’t rank because it didn’t have the emotional heft of some of the heavy-hitters, but it was still a competently written story. I enjoyed it quite a bit and I’d happily read it to my nephews, who I’m sure would enjoy it, too.
⁃ I loved: The premise of a bear making more bears out of his own fur so he can have more friends. It’s a great concept. Happy Valentine's Day, Staggy!

Chairchucker - For Gallantry in the Face of Ants - I think I got what was going on here, and I know I liked it. Not totally sold on a kid understanding asymmetrical warfare, even if they just learned about symmetry. I also would have liked to know a tiny bit more about where the mom is. You hinted at it enough to pique my interest, but didn’t go the distance with it. Just give me a tiny bit more! I’m slow!
⁃ I loved: How you handled the relationship between Judith and Allie. Judith’s quiet, unending patience was so calming in the face of Allie’s childish excitement, and their dynamic came through wonderfully. Happy Valentine's Day, Chairchucker!

CaligulaKangaroo - Dumpy and the Fortune Teller - Oh poo poo this was really good. I’m not really qualified to crit poetry beyond the occasional simple meter slip-up, but I know it made me love Dumpy and his beautiful orb.
⁃ I loved: the surprisingly solid characterization for a silly poem! I felt bad for dumpy and I was very happy when he made friends using the power of Orb. Also, Dumpy is such a good name for my precious boy (who is an unnamed Nu from Chrono Trigger, if you’re curious about wtf it is). Happy Valentine's Day, CaligulaKangaroo!

Rohan - Good Boy - I wasn’t always clear on what was going on, but I did say I’d take vibes over a structurally solid story, and that’s where you delivered. I cried, you sicko. This story combines everything I love about pets with everything I love about kids with everything I love about dolls with everything I love about humanity. Beautiful and tragic. Go to hell.
⁃ I loved: crying alone on Valentine’s Day. I’ll kill you. Happy Valentine's Day, Rohan!

GrandmaParty - Blood and Comfort - Took me a little bit to figure out what was going on, but when I did, it really came together for me. Original, clever idea, but the execution was a little wobbly up front.
⁃ I loved: the concept of forcing someone to experience life as a stuffed animal. Reminded me a little of the movie Fluke (Matthew Modine is a bad person who dies and comes back to life as…his family’ s golden retriever? It’s better than it sounds) but more creative. Happy Valentine's Day, GrandmaParty!

Albatrossy_Rodent - Fake Midna in the Forgotten Forest - It ended when it was just getting started! I want to read more about Fake Midna and Katrina’s trip to the rainbow bridge, and what happens if/when they find it. I also want to read more about Fake Midna in general because she’s very cute.
⁃ I loved: the way Fake Midna was oblivious, yet compassionate. Really fit the mood of the piece. Happy Valentine's Day, Albatrossy_Rodent!

Taste - Morning in the Mud - Another cute one! Really resonates with me after having a string of lovely days. Another competently written story that didn’t necessarily reach the highs of the winners, but doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. Reminded me of the Frog and Toad stories, which have always been favorites of mine.
⁃ I loved: your opening line, even with the two ‘verys’. It sets up the story perfectly, telling you what kind of frog Francis is and what kind of story we can expect in a single line. Happy Valentine's Day, Taste!

Thranguy - Birds and Sovereigns - Oh, this was an eerie one. You almost got an HM for the feel alone, but it was a tough week and there were too many good entries. I think it could have benefitted from a few more words though, because I was left asking many, many questions. Still, good atmosphere!
⁃ I loved: the whole vibe of this piece, and how compellingly creepy Praxis was (Great name, too). Happy Valentine's Day, Thranguy!

My Shark Waifuu - Call of the Wild - A lot of characters. It was all right, but there were quite a few stories like it. On that note, I’ll give you the same crit I gave another story: why is this sledding run important to them? I don’t need the origin story of why they’re doing it, I just need to know why they care if Lucky messes it up.
⁃ I loved: Lucky covering his eyes with his floppy ears. Charming little details like that really elevate a piece for me and make it come alive. Happy Valentine's Day, My Shark Waifuu!

Antivehicular - A Signal in the Fog - This one was super cool, and it was another one that didn’t quite get the HM, but might have even won on another week. I think the biggest weakness is that Laura doesn’t really come through as a character. I know who Foghorn is, but I want to know a little more who she is so his desire to help her has more meaning.
⁃ I loved: the concept of a plush helping its owner through dreams. This is such a cool idea and I love Foghorn for coming up with it. Happy Valentine's Day, Antivehicular!

Sebmojo - Alco-pop - Pretty good vibes and the imagery was on point. I’m not quite sure what tipped Mansour towards pulling his life together at the end, though. A few extra sentences to expand on Mansour’s decision to get it together would improve the story a lot.
⁃ I loved: a plush dog drinking human booze out of a dog bowl at a human bar is really, really funny to me. Happy Valentine's Day, Sebmojo!

Yeah ok ok yeah - March of the Ginormo Ants - Wildly creative, beautifully illustrated, lovingly crafted. I told myself not to factor your illustrations into judging, however, since this is a writing contest and not an art contest, so I begrudgingly judged your story on its own merits and it didn’t quite reach the threshold to HM in such a stacked week.
⁃ I loved: the illustrations! I know I said I didn’t factor them in judging, and I didn’t, but it killed me to ignore them because they conveyed emotion and momentum and I never want you to stop drawing, not ever. Happy Valentine's Day, yeah ok ok yeah!


yeah ok ok yeah posted:

I did not want this to influence the results of the judges, so now that it's done I just wanted to post that I'm super pumped that I got this one in--even if I was 15 minutes past the deadline. I got the 'VID last week and was feeling pretty laid out. Witness me. That is all.

You are witnessed. Now get some rest!

Nae fucked around with this message at 08:20 on Feb 17, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


The Great Duster-Dustoff has come to a conclusion, and my decision has been rendered unto the 'Dome. Let the word go forth! The winner is:


Ah, the fabled duster gal! Now, I didn’t say you could do a duster gal, but I also didn’t say you couldn’t, and lord knows the 90s had their fair share of duster gals. Trish from Devil May Cry, Trinity from the Matrix, the Major from Ghost in the Shell, and Julia from Cowboy Bebop all fall into this ‘too cool for school’ category, and I’m glad someone had the good sense to acknowledge such ladies in spite of my oversight.

But that's not why you won, mystery writer, oh no. You won because, unlike these other rodeo clowns, you took your duster gal and actually made me care about her, which was all I really wanted. Congratulations, whoever you are. And to the rest of you, may your suffering be legendary, even in Hell.

Now for the crits!


The world-building was rich and delicious, so rich that it swallowed the rest of the story. I know the history of the ancient’s tower, the power of the stars, the molecular width of the sword, the refractor technology behind the shields, every line of the old creed, and a hundred other details about the setting, but all I wanted to know was who Arag-Ek-Anum was. By the end of the story, all I can tell you is who he’s lost, and I can’t tell you much about who those people were, either. Who was Kav, aside from husband and lover? Those words don’t tell me anything by themselves; I need more than that to know how Kav made Arag feel and what his absence means. Same story for the conflict between Arag and Ulug. I know they have history, but I don’t get a sense of what that history means to Arag. How has it shaped him up to this point? How does he feel once Ulug is gone?

Now, it wasn’t all dire. You did do some nice work with the relationship between Arag and Med, so I did learn enough about Arag to know he cares about animals, but that’s true of most people. I didn’t come here to learn about most people: I came here to learn about Arag, and you left me wanting. If you don't like it, brawl me about it!

Hump Day

Your assignment was to make me care about your protagonist, but you made me care about his target instead. I kept waiting for Lucien to make a genuine connection with him, but the closest you got was with the Wednesday dialogue, where Lucien struck me as more dismissive than empathetic. When Lucien dove after Derek, that had potential, but it ended with Derek dying and Lucien vaping and laughing. Badass, sure, but not in an endearing way.

I did like your world-building details, sparse though they were. I’m a sucker for any city called Neo-X, because it falls into the same ‘stupid/cool’ niche as the duster guy, and it set the tone for the rest of the story. The inclusion of the make and model of Lucien’s gun was a good touch for this kind of story, as well. Having said that, your desire to set the scene up front knocked your pacing off balance, since the conflict didn’t start until Derek said he didn’t want to go with Lucien, and that was at the ~700/1700 word mark. If you ever want to retool this story, try getting Derek on the phone sooner and interspersing his complaints with the action. The combination of the two will elevate both halves, creating something that’s stronger than the sum of its parts.


I knew you’d won as soon as I hit the line “She stepped into the morning light, feeling well-hosed and wise, and lit her cigarette.” That line captures the essence of the duster guy (or gal): someone who projects an image of being clever and aloof while simultaneously doing stupid and self-destructive things. I wasn’t going to hand you the win unless you made me care about your protag, however, so it’s a drat good thing you pulled it off.

I’ll tell you how you did it, too—it was this series of lines right here: “Brenda found herself looking between those two cherry stems and the mostly-full Shirley Temple…In the entirety of their professional relationship, Brenda had never considered Florin as a human being with cherry-eating habits; now she saw his crisp facade as the tip of a great iceberg she would never have cause to understand.” You set up Brenda’s idea of herself as a wise individual early on, and in this scene you showed her that wisdom was false. That was how you won.

Also, nice bait and switch at the end with the Fool not being the first tarot card to show up. I’m glad you had it come off the pile eventually, but you made me wait for it and I like that about you. Well done, scamp.

The Chronicles of Spiderman James: Spiderman James and the Vampire’s Sword

You had some good lines and imagery in here, and you kept the silly tone consistent, but Spiderman James’s motivation of ‘fighting to defend the family he might have in the future’ isn’t super-compelling. With all the words to spare, you could’ve either added in an actual sibling for him to defend, or expanded more on how the absence of a real family has impacted his decision-making. As it stands, you could excise the two paragraphs that mention family and the story wouldn’t change, which tells me you didn’t do enough to connect the protagonist’s motivations to the plot progression.

On a quasi-related note, I’m torn about your decision to occasionally switch to Vlad’s perspective. Given the tone of your story, I don’t think it’s beyond the pale—that’s a little vampire joke for you—but I question whether it added enough to the story to justify asking the reader to reorient themself in a different perspective. All you seem to have gained from it is the early reveal that the talking sword is Vlad’s, and I think you could have found another way to tip your hand on that. Ultimately, your protagonist’s underdeveloped motivations did more to hurt the story than any perspective tricks, but this feedback is something you might want to keep in mind should you try the same technique in a future story.

Sep 3, 2020


In for the Tremors love, give me three things to get weird with.

Sep 3, 2020


The Last Supper

A couple of doomsday preppers residing in a derelict lighthouse must win an international cooking competition.

- removed so I can shop it around -

Nae fucked around with this message at 04:51 on Apr 1, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


Mangia, Thunderdome! It's pasta week, where we celebrate mankind's finest dish: the noble noodle. You have 1250 words to write a story involving pasta. Want another 250 words? Molto bene! Order the chef's choice and I'll assign you the pasta of my choosing, and I'll even throw in a recipe! Do you have to use the exact recipe in your story? No, you don't, but you do have to sit through a paragraph about what the recipe means to me, which is how food blogging works these ways. Sorry, but that's the way the biscotti crumbles!

Note about the recipes: I've vetted a good portion of these myself, but I haven't had a chance to cook all of them. If you request vegan or vegetarian, I'll be happy to dig you up a recipe, but chances are I won't have made it myself. Sorry!

Signups close at 11:59pm Pacific on Friday, March 18th.
Submissions close at 11:59 Pacific on Sunday, March 20th.

Hapless Line Cooks:
- Thranguy - Baked Feta Campanelle
- Albatrossy_Rodent - Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Hawklad
- Chairchucker - Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Beezus
- derp - Lasagne with Béchamel Sauce
- The man called M - Pasta Carbonara
- Bacon Terrorist
- The Saddest Rhino - Baked Ziti
- sparksbloom - Fettucini Alfredo

Belligerent Food Critics:
- Nae
- rohan
- Chernobyl Princess

Nae fucked around with this message at 03:46 on Mar 18, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


Thranguy posted:

In, chef's choice.

Bellissimo! You get tiktok's viral sensation, Baked Feta Campanelle! My sister made this dish for my family last Christmas. Now, I love me some feta, so a giant brick of oven baked feta mixed in with delicious tomatoes and olive oil? Mwah! But my husband, so sad, he hates feta, and this man basically wept when the night was over because there wasn't a single noodle that wasn't coated in the greekest of cheeses. Poor guy. Still, can't wait to make this again sometime.

Here's your recipe. Bon appetit!

Sep 3, 2020


Albatrossy_Rodent posted:

Fettucine, pasta me.

Rodents in the kitchen? Mamma mia! For this egregious sin, you get Ina Garten's Spaghetti and Weird Nutmeg Meatballs, which I once made during my Food Network bingeing days in college. I thought 'This woman looks like a nice lady! I'll bet her meatball recipe is delicious!' Well, I was wrong. The meatballs tasted like pucks of Skyline Chili, which, if you've never been to Ohio or had Ohio-kin, is a whole weird taste in and of itself.

If you want to write about regular spaghetti and meatballs, I'll forgive you. If you want to know about the weird nutmeg balls, here you go:

Nae fucked around with this message at 20:46 on Mar 15, 2022

Sep 3, 2020


Chairchucker posted:

hello may i have some pasta

Have I got a dish for you! It's Ricotta Stuffed Shells, made by a little old Italian Grandma. Now, I hate ricotta more than anything else on this dread earth, but my mother-in-law (a true little old Italian Grandma) loves to make stuffed shells for the family every Easter. I love this woman, I truly do, so I have to smile and take a biiiiiiiiig bite of the ricotta shells every year to honor the resurrection of Christ. He died for ricotta's sins!

This isn't my mother-in-law's recipe, but it's made by an old italian lady and contains 2 lbs of ricotta, so I'm thinking it's pretty close.


Sep 3, 2020


derp posted:

okay i gotta write something this year. gimme a posta, chef

For you, a special dish: Lasagne with Béchamel Sauce. As I mentioned above, I hate ricotta with my whole heart, so I spent my childhood thinking lasagne was bad. But behold! You can make lasagne with béchamel sauce, which is a cream sauce that uses butter, flour, milk, and parm. Delicious!

I haven't made this exact recipe before (since I can't find my favorite lasagne recipe, wtf!) but this looks pretty close. Note of warning: if you try to use lactose-free milk, as I have in the past, your béchamel is far more likely to split. This is the kind of recipe you want full-fat, fresh, unaltered dairy in. God bless!

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