Print Story WFC7: the Voting Story
By ana (Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 02:28:34 AM EST) WFC, WFC7, Writing, Fun Challenge (all tags)
In which the author calls for a vote.

There are lots of really good stories this time. Go read them, enjoy them, and then vote.

The time is up. Put your pencils down. The following stories have been submitted to Writing Fun Challenge, part the Seventh. Please to select a few typically three, in the past) and vote for them. Critiques are welcome, as is snark.

Note that the stories are anonymous for now; authors will be revealed at the end of the voting time, in about a week.

There are also covers to choose:

< THE CHORUS DOESN'T MATTER | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
WFC7: the Voting Story | 86 comments (86 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
WFC reviews. by toxicfur (4.00 / 5) #1 Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 03:28:29 PM EST
I can't believe I'm leaving the first reviews. Other people must have lives.

Anyway. I thought this was one of the best groups of stories in a long while, and -- with one exception -- I haven't quite decided which ones to vote for yet. Reviews to follow:

If you don't get a Bonnie, my universe will not make sense. --blixco
(mini-) reviews and comments by ana (4.00 / 4) #2 Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 03:46:40 PM EST
I'm most impressed with the stories this time. It's hard to choose; perhaps as hard as ever.

And now on a completely different note, why does the spellchecker want to replace Whodathunk with Vietcong?

Power up your flaming yo-yos already! --StackyMcRacky

My Review of the WFC7 Stories by Gedvondur (4.00 / 4) #3 Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 09:35:38 AM EST
Below is my own impression of each story in the WFC7.  I am unaware of who authored what at the time of this writing.  I analyzed the prose and the story separately.  Having your writing reviewed by another is difficult and painful.  I know it happens to me all the time.

I offer my sincere apologies to anyone that is offended by my evaluation of their stories.  My intent is not to harm, but to give my honest opinion on the prose I read.    Again, I mean no offense; although I am aware I may cause offense or otherwise upset some authors.   

Please be aware that there may be SPOILERS in each review.  I recommend you read the stories before reading my reviews.

!!!!!!!!Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!!!!

Enclosed  6/10 Rating

The prose in this entry occasionally was breathtaking, but it also stumbled badly here and there.  Reading of the story went pretty smoothly without too much cause to stop and re-read. 

I wonder if the author was trying to make the main character’s loneliness more real by making it seem as if the main character was indifferent at times.  Clearly, Joe was everything to him, and the rage he felt against the pilot that killed Joe was impressive.  Yet, the story had many elements of dystopia that could lead us to a larger loneliness, loneliness for two billion dead and a planet forever changed.  I found the story depressing but considering the subject of WFC7, that isn’t surprising.  I didn’t care for the story, but I don’t like dystopias either.  It fulfilled the purpose of the WFC7, if in a somewhat rambling way.

3:17am  7/10 Rating

An easy reading story.  Well constructed and to the point.  I found the prose itself pleasing and while not particularly pithy of phrase, it flowed smoothly.

The story itself brought to mind a cook who simply couldn’t make a cake, despite having all of the ingredients, equipment, and time needed.  Love was present, marriage was present, sexual attraction was present.  Yet, our protagonist was lonely.  So lonely that infidelity was considered a possible way out.  The only thing I didn’t understand about the story was the emphasis on marriage.  It was put on the same pedestal as love.  Yet, the protagonist considered infidelity to end it, albeit as a last resort.  I would almost say that the author places marriage on a higher pedestal than the protagonist does.  The story ended in a way I found acceptable, if not satisfying.  The protagonist was beginning to let his feelings be known.  It’s a start.  This story fits the WFC and was generally well done.

Spike  9/10 Rating  --Voted

Unlike the previous two stories, this one contained lots of dialog.  Good dialog and good characterization.  The flow of the story was easy, with the exception of the name Sherry and Sherwood.  I never got if the protagonist was a man or a woman.  Not that it matters to the outcome of the story, just a little weave to the outside.

The story leads us on a small journey in a magical world where magicians, math, science and parallel universes are all dealt with.  It was a fascinating glimpse into a new world.  I have to say to the Author, that the world concept behind Spike has legs.  Flesh it out and run with it.  Fascinating.

“Spike” fulfilled the lost object portion of the WFC7 and was an excellent representative.  Well done and an enjoyable read.

Sylvia Endicott Weld, from the Fall of 2004 to the Spring 2006  5/10 Rating

The writing of this story is good, the pacing good as well.  We get to know Sylvia, we get to know Paul, such as there is of him.  The prose moves well, doesn’t trip over itself.  Although I have to admit I had to look up what “anchorite” meant. 

The story itself is interesting.  I don’t know if it fulfills WFC7.  Clearly there is loneliness and clearly there is something lost and then found.  It seems to me to be about someone with a mental illness.   It was a good story, but….I’m not sure I get the connections.  It is possible they are simply too subtle for me.  I tend to take things at face value and perhaps that is why I am missing something in the story.  It left me wondering why another’s horror of pornography had anything to do with the clinical depression Sylvia had.  I have to say this story had tremendous promise and it let me down.  Well written, but the story craft is either poor or beyond me.

Hello, What’s This?  3/10 Rating

This story could flat out use editing.  The prose is halting, the eye has to frequently re-read sentences to get this gist.  The entire feel of the story was “first draft”  Also, for reasons that are probably not the author’s fault, the story was spaced in a manner that made me want to tear my hair out. 

The story itself was a bit of a rambling mess and the characters elicited no emotion from me.  I spent most of the story confused, then bored, then not caring.  The WFC themes seem to be minimally present.  In short, I don’t have much good to say about this story. It didn’t even engage me enough to leave me wanting.

The Alley  4/10 Rating

The writing is good in this story, not too polished, but not jerky or displeasing either.  It works in the background, allowing me to concentrate on the story, not on the writing itself.  Very workman like and well done in that respect.

The rest of the story had me going “Um, what?”  I don’t really see the WFC7 themes.   I appreciate that there isn’t always time to make full explanations with limited space, but this read like a chapter chopped out of a bigger book.  I have no idea what was going on and no real emotion for any of the characters. The story has potential, it just never goes anywhere. 

Broken Glass  8/10 Rating  --Voted

This story flowed well, it never gave me pause to wonder about a turn of phrase or stutter in sentence.  It seems complete and polished.  A good effort.

The story didn’t seem as if it was going to end up going anywhere, but to my surprise and gratification it did.  The story, after a somewhat slow start, hauled me in and held me there. The themes of loneliness and lost objects were woven in delicately, rather than hit us over the head.  Very well done.

Mother’s Bible  7/10 Rating  --Voted

The prose is well done, and while not the most polished thing, it certainly allowed me to get to the meat of the story without any trouble.  The feel of the story was that of a finished product, and the product of a mind that can plan more then one move ahead.

The story itself was satisfying, if a tad depressing at the end.  It included the elements of the WFC7 and did so with a fast, sharp ending that pierced the “A Christmas Story” feel with a brutal certainty.  Well done.

Connecting Train 7/10 Rating

The writing was good on this piece, the prose smooth enough to get you through the story.  Perhaps a little too much body detail where it wasn’t necessary, but still.  I felt that the writing here was effective.

The story itself was a bit confusing at first, but then came together nicely.  It was well thought out and had some surprising elements.  The main characters, with the exception of the wallet contents, were all a more or less props.  Yet, it was still an effective way to show the transitory nature of things, loss, loneliness, and the finding of objects.  It fulfills the WFC7 requirements and overall left me satisfied.  A solid effort.

Haunted House 6/10 Rating

Good writing, directly to the point.  Descriptions only where needed and a clean feel to the writing.  Not terribly polished or complicated, but none the less serviceable.

The story itself was refreshingly clean.  A simple tale of loneliness and the death of a loved one.  The story did not confuse or obfuscate the issue, it presented it as it was, no frills.  A good effort and not frustrating.  However, not terribly original either. 

Frame of Reference 4/10 Rating

The prose in this piece is difficult.  The author suffers from the same affliction that I have oftentimes in my own writing, a penchant for commas and lists of things that are happening.  The prose got in the way of the story, some sentences had to be re-read or went on a long time.  On top of that, the “chapter” format for a very short work of 2500 words or less feels like a crutch.  The work could do with some revision.

The story itself fulfilled the requirements of the WFC7, but left me cold.  I can only think that the protagonist is insane or simple.  Considering the university setting, I imagine that simple is not likely.  I didn’t identify with the protagonist nor did I care about nearly anything that happened in the story.  It was strangely lifeless.  Not a bad story, but not a good one either.

Well I for one by blixco (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 10:07:43 AM EST
am offended.

(not really, just wanted to fulfill my drama quotient for the afternoon)
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Tease n/t by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 10:11:45 AM EST

"It is virtually impossible to effectively aim a jellyfish, a creature created by God almost solely for the purpose of not flying."- CRwM
[ Parent ]
Dear historically minded WFC fans, by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 12:07:57 PM EST
Does anybody remember if we've had a writer win two of these thingies yet?

I'm not poised to win again (far from it, in fact), but I reckon we get the five or six guys every contest plus three or new or irregular contestants - if we haven't already got a two-time winner, we're due for one, right?

By my reckoning... by ana (4.00 / 2) #7 Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 12:19:48 PM EST
here are the previous results:
  1. CRwM (well, theantix got more votes, but didn't actually enter)
  2. fleece
  3. two plus three equals five
  4. Kellnerin and persimmon
  5. 256
  6. ana
  7. ... still in progress

So no, not yet. Could happen this time.

Power up your flaming yo-yos already! --StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
reviews by BlueOregon (3.50 / 6) #8 Tue Oct 30, 2007 at 07:10:36 PM EST

They all suck. Let's get that part out of the way. I wouldn't publish any of these, though a couple show promise. This is supposed to be a a "Writing FUN Challenge," but I wonder if some of the authors were having "fun." Others clearly did and exercised their imaginations along the way.

I didn't have much to say about all of them. Sometimes I just focused on the style, formatting, or word choice. With others -- generally those that didn't have glaring errors a copyeditor should have caught -- I could only nitpick regarding plot, character, or things that rubbed me the wrong way. Don't take that to mean that I liked your effort.

I had grades (A-F as well as "Shows Promise," "Needs Revisions," "Hopeless," and "Not worth the space of 256's server it takes up") worked out as well, but for the sake of brevity cut them.

1. Enclosed
I don't like "a sterile hollow feel." My first inclination with 'feel' as a noun is to treat it not as an emotion, but a grope. Bah, language of 'myth' and a 'god' as a way to pump up 'climate change.' How cliche. OOH, nature is so big and powerful! "Truthful total honesty"? In contrast to the non-truthful kind of honesty? "Since the invasion" and no comma. Why capitalize "Armies" in "Armies of the US"? I hate the use of the colon after "have goals like" -- no colon. There is no list coming. And so on.

Lots of non-sentences. Something approaching interesting description in the paragraph beginning "The room was being heavily pelted now," but it goes downhill again with a return to abstractions and important Capital Letter Terms. Would you say "a picture of I"? -- I didn't think so.

I don't care about Joe or the narrator. I don't care about this storm or the "setting" or "situation." And stop with the double-space between sentences. It's sort of okay for typewriters, but f*cking annoying anywhere else. Bored now.


2. 3:17 AM
Take the comma out of the first sentence and I might like it. What a whiny narrator. So emo. So much I. Comma after "green glory." No comma after "Destroying the marriage." What you've written does not parse as such as requires reader intervention. And "an" not "and." "What was I thinking" is a question.

The narrator claims loneliness, but I see no evidence except these protestations. The narrator is a whiny pansy, and one who makes a three paragraph narrative look like seven paragraph one by repeating things over and over to no great effect.

Except my boredom.


3. Spike
Dump the pop-culture references (see: Hogwarts). In any case, it's Harry Potter meets Jasper Fforde. Hyphens-as-m-dashes make me cry. "I should have been cheesy" should be "It should have been cheesy." Stories with spikes need vampires, and this one doesn't have them. At least it came in under the word count. Barely.

The "conclusion" just seems like a way to wrap it up (close on the word count) with passing attention given to making it "meaningful." The spike works as a Magical Plot Device. It makes the main character feel confident or with purpose until Bob/Robert is found, and then it doesn't. So then it is contemplated, and then Bob pontificates about "finding your own." How therapeutic. Otherwise the math-plus-'magic'-plus-whatever epistemology and ontology shows promise. There is some playfulness in/to the system, but the ending ruins it for me.


4. Sylvia Endicott Weld, from the Fall of 2004 to the Spring 2006
Dump the first comma. And the one in the second segment after "Other times." The paragraph "Even Paul ..." has a failed é. Lots of 'tell' rather than 'show,' but lots of over-deterministic details that seem to serve as 'characterization.' I do like "a cross between the odor of fried chicken and the scent of rotting grass clippings."

I can accept "The chief draw of the obscene was the window it gave her on the affectless chasm of nothing within her." This, though, like the rest of the narrative, points to emptiness and not loneliness. Sylvia is a boring cipher; the prose is more interesting than the tale. Then with the post-wine-and-porn segment the piece awakens and moves forward. I can only take "strong but sympathetic personality" as either irony or mischaracterization, preferably the former. Yet since this comes from a first person narrator this makes said narrator too unreliable for my taste, since such a narrator would undermine the whole piece. The therapy-though-feeding-on-others'-discomfort makes Sylvia a potentially interesting emotional vampire, and the "near un-dead" state, etc., mentioned earlier support this interpretation, but I say only "potentially." Sylvia's emotional distance followed by bizarre porn needs mirrors the superior Piano Teacher, perhaps seasoned with a dash of Radley Metzger's The Image (aka The Punishment of Anne).


5. Hello, What's This?
How quaint, that font.

Great, more student/school fiction. Just what we need: fiction about academics and IT professionals on a site full of both. Even if the fiction in question also has strong genre elements. The 2nd paragraph ends with a simile and the 3rd begins with one. I find it awkward. And then it's followed by a "you," and it's not clear whether this comes from our still-unnamed "she" or from the narrator. Ah, this guy snores in bed; the wife was snoring just a couple snories/stories ago. Lots of punctuated one-worders -- "Guy. Whatever," "ahem" and so on. Almost a variation of mutant Valley Speak.

Ah, David and Maria. "It's never a good idea to make jokes suggested by someone's name. They've heard all of them before." And I've read that before.

Another 'whatever.' It works less like a part of the narrative and more like a quirk of the author. The same with 'well.' Followed later by Maria's "OK, that was a bit breezy" it all comes across as a bit nervous and self-conscious, which I find fine for characters' psyches but less so in the fabric of the narrative itself.

The latter three segments of the story are, until toward the end of the final segment, three different stories: there's loneliness after a "failed" relationship, there's psychedelic sci-fi, and there's lovey-dovey witty banter. The sci-fi-ish stuff reappears late, but the sci-fi concept does nothing for me, for while as actual space-time-continuum bending or just mere what-if-dreaming it does provide glimpses of futures and potential futures with David, it doesn't really inform the characters, based on my reading, and the multiple versions do nothing but exchange banter. The sci-fi-ish concept is a plot device only, and one that doesn't stand on its own or develop in any way. A shared dream would have been as good, a feverish hallucination would have worked, as would have some other High Concept. And where did Maria's characterization go? Her background, so carefully established early on, plays no real role. The background in "Sylvia Endicott ..." at least allows the whole setting to work as social satire of sorts.


6. The Alley
Ooh, a trenchcoat. Fluttering impotently. Hell-issued even. Who needs subtlety? And Urban or Contemporary Fantasy. As if there isn't enough of that on the market. It's the anti-"Spike" in a way.

As anti-contemporary-fantasy it also has potential, turning Bradley merely into a reject from the "World" of accounting. He's a man who has lost his marbles.

And gained some psychoses and a pop/soda can. Or you can call it a hellish companion and a Key.

However, the middle part of the "Ok, then" paragraph doesn't work for me (from the "Wait. I was on my own" part). Then it picks up again, especially as Bradley takes his key/can and ends up at the playground. He's such a pathetic figure here. Something about the whole Charlie & Loretta ending just does not work for me, though. No, it started not working somewhere around "This isn't even a real place. You didn't notice? Who's doing your training?" The expression 'copout' comes to mind for some reason. There's a nice thematic link with all the "small" words in the final paragraph, but they don't really contribute to the story in a way I care about. It does, however, relate, if only tangentially or perhaps unintentionally, to "trying to look larger" from the first paragraph. Still, it's a non-ending.


Broken Glass
Shattered Glass was already a movie. As was Broken Flowers. The problem with the second sentence and its two clauses should be obvious. The third paragraph dangles in an unresolved sort of way. The fourth features a colon I don't like, but I can accept it. So the glass is not fracture-sharp, but still far from dull, and yet Keith's fingers plunged into the sand? Either the author went overboard with a love of useless imagery or Keith is a f*cking idiot. Or both.

Ah, "construction-paper-and-magic-marker sign." Precious.

Overall it has nice imagery and is relatively compact. The misdirection is rather obvious, though it helps to sort of hide the significance of the glass (well, plus there is the final metaphor, which is unnecessary but poetic in its own way). The "sodas" pulled from the fridge that first meeting aren't mentioned as being glass until later, so the reason why the glass on the shore reminds Keith of Melissa is hidden until later, even though it is made explicit early on that it has to do with the first time they met. Something about this strikes me as sloppy in an otherwise tidy piece.

It's formula, though, the same tale I've heard and read before, just packaged differently. College romance -- yawn. It has an object; the loneliness is less tangible, though the threesome provides yearning.


Mother's Bible

It's 2007: get a clue.

The second sentences isn't a sentence. Many more long noun phrases and such clutter this piece.

This is not a pipe.

All the talk of Mother and Father makes me think of some cult. It's psychotic reverence. The whole "For the second time ..." line is a waste of good letters. Words. ASCII characters. Whatever. We gain no new, useful information here. Of course the narrator wonders what it is; it was just introduced as something unrecognized. Of course, this narrator just like to talk when nobody is around. Another sign of psychosis.

"I wonder what this is?" That's even worse than "Oh, nothing could happen now ..." or "Duck? Where?"

And then the letter that is not offset or quoted comes, at first appearing as part of the continuing narrative. I did a double-take at "written," expecting "read" (on the part of the narrator).

The "What the hell ..." belongs to an idiot of a narrator. I can understand it as a response after the narrator looks at the date of the letter but not before. The "My God" is likewise melodramatic -- sorry: mellow dramatic -- and immediately deep-sixed any lingering sympathy I had for this text.

The sad part is that there is a decent story here, in concept if not in execution. It's a three-part narrative: 1) the table and naive memories of childhood; 2) the uncovering of history, history that calls the known-past into question; and 3) a return to those memories now as an outsider. The title is wrong; this has little if anything to do with the Bible in question. The table is a better "object" of interest as well as object around which to develop a title. We have various objects but no real consideration of loneliness.


Connecting Train
Such coincidences. I call such narratives over-determined.

Ah, the conceit of the talking-object. How quaint. The items in the wallet have voices, almost as if this were urban fantasy or magical realism. What's next, talking animals?

Speaking of which: a woman named Springer with "canine black eyes." Please tell me this is a joke. And "parlance of our times"? Watch Lebowski much?

As for Ros's boney shoulder -- I would expect so at 6'0" and 140lbs. What is this, Skeletons R Us? Ros establishes Willis as a voyeur, but I find this a needless detail, since it doesn't seem to follow from his actual behavior in the first segment. Sure, I guess "different voices" can view the world and characters differently, but this feels somehow disjointed.

I guess that's appropriate since Willis has no cigarettes.


Haunted House
Perhaps it's a typo, perhaps it's inconsistency with tenses: paragraph 2, "She's grown."

It's a non-ending, with the sudden introduction of the man Jackie shares her bed with. It's unimportant. There's not much a story here, though what there is is revealed meticulously and by the numbers. Every detail fits in a well-crafted paragraph. There are no surprises. More prose is spent describing regions and neighborhoods than anything else. Phoenix this, California that, Brooklyn this, and oh, this accent, and here be stoops.

I've sort of gotten to know Jackie, but I don't care about her. There is no development in her I care about. Sure, she develops a certain peace of mind and desire to return home, but that's uninteresting, and we already knew she wanted to go home. The knowledge gained is that her mother, who never dated after the parents split, isn't lonely. But I don't think we ever feared that she did, or felt that Jackie feared she did. Or cared. There's no conflict or plot; it's just a lot of description.


Frame of Reference
Lots of precious 90s cultural references throughout this one -- that's not necessarily a good thing. These details and the named "characters" are all just ciphers and inkblots. There's no there there. But this is Manhattan, KS, not Oakland.

In the second paragraph, you want mimeograph to be plural and followed by a comma, not a period. This is too short for "chapters." Pretentious. In "Chapter 2," the first paragraph, the sentence beginning "Through her glasses" makes no sense. In the "I nodded at the door" paragraph the segment "Dr. Carla P-, stopping for the day" makes no sense. Stopping what for the day? Stopping where? Something is missing. The same is true toward the end of "Chapter 4," in the sentence containing "The RA-ship I can office." You probably mean "offer." Unless this is some sort of joke dealing with the supposed precision of this recollection. One paragraph later "pocked" should be "pocketed."

I get the "point" of the final "chapter" and sentences -- the reverse of who/what is/was lonely and who/what was the 'found' object -- but it's awkwardly phrased to the point of being near-gibberish. The so-called editing on this one leaves a lot to be desired.




Was this by blixco (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 02:37:03 AM EST
just some sort of experiment in getting the authors mad?
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin
[ Parent ]
bo is practicing... by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #10 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 03:32:51 AM EST
for becoming Stanley Fish, acerbic academic extrordinaire.
If you don't get a Bonnie, my universe will not make sense. --blixco
[ Parent ]
Whatever it is, by blixco (4.00 / 2) #11 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 04:07:10 AM EST
I love it!
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin
[ Parent ]
Don't forget ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 04:15:31 AM EST

... that unlike the other 'reviewers' I also practiced -- very mild, very mild -- 'art criticism.'

[ Parent ]
If I'm still alive to post this ... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 2) #12 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 04:13:45 AM EST

... it hasn't worked ...

That having been said, the bo is a harsh master (apologies to RAH), someone had to do persimmon's job for her, and Gedvondur set the tone. I just cut the "it's alright, you need to accept criticism" placation device. And let out my inner asshole for a few seconds of recess.

Were I merely and purely to rank the stories in the order in which I enjoyed them most, I get the feeling after reading toxicfur's, ana's, and Gedvondur's commentaries that we liked entirely different stories. For some of the "well written" or "very well written" comments I see no justification at all. I decided to 'accentuate,' if you will, different aspects than did the other readers.

In all the other WFCs -- for which I've written mini-reviews -- I attempted to highlight the positive; I decided it was time for a bit of a change, one based mainly on the nagging things that hit me while reading these (not skimming them).

I'm interested in how stories work. These WFC entries are different than many of the previous. There are no stories-as-letters. No poems. No recipes, email archives, tales told radically out of order. There's little formal experimentation, little stretching of the author's voice. Thinly veiled autobiographical sketches do little for me. The same stories told the same way do nothing for me. That having been said, there are quite a few I rather enjoyed.

"Spike" has an interesting concept and the author has the conviction to stick to it. There's no rationalization at the end ("this is how this math+magic+BLAH system works"), and the author sticks to his/her metaphorical guns. "Sylvia Endicott Weld ..." likewise embraces its world and is meticulous in its depiction, its voice. "Hello, What's That?" has a great number of character moments I adore as well as the "dreamcatcher" and the 52-cycle tone. "The Alley" has the potential to be the grittiest and most psychologically engaging of the entries. "Broken Glass" is perhaps the most well-crafted story here and features a lot of very nice language. Just because I do not mention the rest does not mean I found them worthless (I mean, it could mean that ...).

[ Parent ]
I gotta say by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #14 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:06:19 AM EST
I didn't much care for your reviews.  I find unbridled criticism with sarcasm that seems to only be meant to offend a waste of time.

I admit, I feel that you have made a bit of a mockery of my own review of the WFC7 stories.  You made a mockery of the time and effort I put into giving an honest review. 

I'm irritated and a bit upset by the whole thing. 

I don't think its funny, I don't even think it is that good as a critical review.  A review just to be negative is worthless.

"It is virtually impossible to effectively aim a jellyfish, a creature created by God almost solely for the purpose of not flying."- CRwM

[ Parent ]
Indeed. by blixco (4.00 / 1) #15 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:15:57 AM EST
I took a lot from your review, and I didn't get much from bo except acidity.

But I didn't read his critiques as a riff on yours.  I suspected he was either off his meds or entirely serious, and of the two was leaning toward the latter.

I am sure no offense was intended, though I have mis-read him at least once today.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Well I appreciate that by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #16 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:18:16 AM EST
Even if he didn't intend to mock my reviews, that is the end result of his post.

"It is virtually impossible to effectively aim a jellyfish, a creature created by God almost solely for the purpose of not flying."- CRwM

[ Parent ]
I agree with blixco. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #18 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:21:55 AM EST
Unsurprisingly. I seem to do that a lot. Your reviews were much appreciated, and while I don't mind harsh reviews at all, bo's were kind of over-the-top, especially for a *fun* challenge.
If you don't get a Bonnie, my universe will not make sense. --blixco
[ Parent ]
Who said ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:20:53 AM EST

... I was being sarcastic? Slightly sarcastic or snarky moments with regard to some works? Perhaps. But "unbridled sarcasm"? Hardly. I fail to see how I made a mockery of yours. And since when was I trying to be funny?

I put time and effort into reading the stories and commenting on them, and my views and reviews are honest.

And I was not entirely negative.

But not caring for my reviews is fine.

[ Parent ]
Going back -- by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #19 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:23:54 AM EST

-- the only reference I made to your reviews was not in my 'reviews' but in my response to blixco, where I mentioned yours and what persimmon has done in the past. But there is no connection between your reviews and mine in other regards. The first part of that response to blixco was clealy tongue-in-cheek.

[ Parent ]
Fine by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:32:59 AM EST
I can accept that you have not made any specific attack on my review. 

But I can't help but feel that your review diminished the value of any review in this WFC.

"It is virtually impossible to effectively aim a jellyfish, a creature created by God almost solely for the purpose of not flying."- CRwM

[ Parent ]
Nah. by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 1) #40 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:37:56 AM EST
But I can't help but feel that your review diminished the value of any review in this WFC

Don't give him that much credit. His review didn't stop me from posting mine, and it shouldn't inhibit anyone else.

-- Do the math.

[ Parent ]
That's sad by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #20 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:31:06 AM EST
I am not going to get into a specific quoting pissing match with you over what was sarcastic and what wasn't.

If you didn't intend some of your text to be sarcastic, I can accept that.  However, be aware that much of it came across to me as sarcastic.

As to your negativity, no, you were not entirely negative.  You were just negative enough that it is difficult to read your reviews and not think they are mean-spirited.

"It is virtually impossible to effectively aim a jellyfish, a creature created by God almost solely for the purpose of not flying."- CRwM

[ Parent ]
I found the negativity warranted ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #24 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 06:12:03 AM EST

... to a great extent.

I take my "introduction" to the 'reviews' quite seriously. This is supposed to be a writing Fun challenge. You know where I saw the most 'fun'? Spike and The Alley. But half the stories? None at all.

Spike and The Alley were followed by Sylvia Endicott, then Hello, What's This? and Broken Glass. Actually, I'm not entirely sure about Broken Glass, but it's what I think right now. There was almost certainly fun had with Connecting Train.

But the rest? They seem like "exercises." It's WFC-time, I need to submit something. There's far too much 'academic fanfiction' -- notice how the only positive things said about Frame of Reference come from toxicfur and ana, who fill-in-the-academic blanks in an otherwise paint-by-numbers exercise? they have an academic background -- as well as the same relationship problems, lost loves, lost loved ones, etc. we've seen in previous WFCs. Enclosed is a story we haven't seen before, which is a good thing.

I write shittastic fiction. The people around here know that. I expect the fiction I read by others to be better than what I can do, and of course most of what we have here is, but if I read something and think "I could have done this" rather than "I wish I had done this" it's already a sort of failure.

I think I reserved "mean spirited" only for Mother's Bible, and I don't feel bad about it. It has nothing to do with the writer as a person (or nickname that will be revealed to me less than a week from now) and everything to do with text encoding, formatting, and writing that simply does not work (in this text). For all the rest I think things are rather clearly separated into 1) what I think the 'text' needs in terms of editing, 2) how I think the story functions/works (or doesn't; mechanics), and 3) how or whether a section/sentence/whatever worked for me, regardless of author intent. The comments were written as I read and each story got two reads, one interrupted by commenting and one not. The comments are a reaction to the texts as they affected me as I read them. Minus the flowery bits.

As you say, "I am not going to get into a specific quoting pissing match." It's not about that, I hope. I figure if people bother reading my reviews (I expect more along the lines of skimming and/or 'oh, bo wrote this: pass'), they'll read your response, then my response to your response, etc., and so for those readers rather than for you or me I find the continued commentary worthwhile. I'm stupidly optimistic that way.

Regarding 'sarcastic' -- well, clearly certain expressions were meant sarcastically. I think just about any use of "precious" as a stand-alone expression (rather than 'precious gem,' etc.) has to be taken so.

[ Parent ]
I though Mrs. Weld was funny. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #37 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:14:20 AM EST
The porn shop conversation was certainly meant to be a gag.

"I'm looking for your most offensive film. Several, actually. Let us say that I need copies of your four most upsetting films."
"Are you, like, a cop or something?"
"Oh, no. I assure that I simply wish to purchase some of your pornography."

How can that be taken seriously?

The listing of schools behind the characters' names. The jaded voice of the framing narrator.

Phrases like "soft hurrumphing" and "A well-regulated and fashionable saintliness was her only rebellion."

Humor's not something anybody can explain into being funny, but I think that Weld was intended as a black absurd comedy.

That doesn't mean every body will find it funny, but it suggests to me that the writer had fun with it.

[ Parent ]
Not surprisingely ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #44 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 09:00:43 AM EST

... I agree.

Even without a close reading of style (not that close I guess) it seems to me that the authors of Spike and The Alley had fun -- it seems they were having fun with the concept, the fictional worlds they established. Running with ideas (scissors?), expanding and developing.

With "Sylvia Endicott ..." I feel pretty confident that the types of things (text passages) you mentioned were meant to be a type of (slightly dark) humor, and the type of thing that pointed to the author having fun with it. But in this case I didn't want to read too much into 'intent' -- it's one of those things I feel 90% sure about, not 95% (arbitrary higher %), and so I feel less sure saying, "Yeah, this author BLAH BLAH BLAH" rather than "Wow, this really came across as BLAHIGGITY BLAH when I read it." The other thing about Sylvia Endicott ... is that with all the detail and details, about names and places and school, etc., I felt the need not to look things up but to ponder, "Hey, are these significant?" And for me that's actually part of the fun -- reading a text as a puzzle.

[ Parent ]
Confused about that last bit. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #45 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 09:21:58 AM EST
Do you mean the details didn't strike you as relevant? Or that the question of relevance seemed more important than whether or not they were real places?

You just lost me for a second.

[ Parent ]
Poorly written/edited ... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #46 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 09:34:05 AM EST

I should have written something more like:

"The other thing about 'Sylvia Endicott ...' is that with all the detail and details (about names and places and school, etc.) I didn't feet the need to look things up but rather to ponder, 'Hey, are these significant?' And for me that's actually part of the fun -- reading a text as a puzzle."

That is to say, the names & details weren't confusing, but rather chewy Halloween surprises that enhanced my enjoyment. Other details -- or rather (I like the word 'rather') detailing (meant here as the act of providing details) -- felt a bit tacked on: not over-the-top/extreme enough to qualify as a satirical/humorous stylistic quirk, but enough to be almost ponderous. But in stories with a sense of humor I love the "A B, of the $TOWN Bs, married X Y Z of the $CITY -- and not $SHIRE -- Zs" stuff.

Then I ask myself, "Hey, is $LASTNAME relevant or just picked out of a hat?" The answer can be fun; more often it's finding the answer that is fun.

[ Parent ]
Well, by blixco (4.00 / 2) #23 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:53:35 AM EST
that's fine.  I mean, I'm all for being an asshole.

Keep in mind, though, that this is a fun challenge, and not a literary contest worth any merit.  We do this for the same reason we record music in the musical fun challenges: fun.

You know, that thing the you aren't having any of right now.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Now a *Reading Fun Challenge* ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 06:21:08 AM EST

... where we have to make sure the readers are having fun ... that could be interesting. Probably a failure, though.

Seriously, though, fun is what mattered to me when reading these. I had a fun with a few -- and who didn't have fun with the "calls for midgets" line? -- but it's hard to escape the feeling that some writers were submitting pieces as part of some "oh, deadline approaching; need to submit something ... quick!" mentality. That doesn't scream fun to me, and to me it shows in the writing/texts. I think you'll agree that in the texts I picked out in my first reply to you there is fun happening. Writers who had ideas and who said, "Hey ... what if?"

I loved those vapid 80s HP "What if ..." commercials.

And I hope I didn't give the impression that I considered this a "literary contest" -- but don't think I think formatting, linguistic skills, and copyediting belong to "literary merit." ana gave us a month for this; things had better be, if not polished, at least 'cleaned up.'

As for 'fun,' I would have liked a bit more "creative rule breaking" this time around. And I would have really liked Kellnerin's -- perhaps tongue in cheek -- network and LDAP server story. A lot.

[ Parent ]
Well, by blixco (4.00 / 1) #26 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 06:36:31 AM EST
I will say that your critique has done more to sharpen my mood than most things I've read today, including some hate mail from my users.

But hey, you're playing the part of the jerk, so I'll play the part of the victim-of-jerk and say: your critiques are not only wrong-headed, but hurt the very nature of "events" like this.  Maybe you're reading too much into "challenge" or "fun" or maybe you're just a vile fuck.  In which case, I specialize in vile fucks.  I have a great repertoire of tools and accessories that are designed  and tuned specifically to deal with vile fucks.

Aside from name calling and the occasional urge for violent hyperbole as a venting or coping mechanism, I've never really understood criticism that wasn't technical in nature.  Mean spirited crap doesn't help anyone, including the critic.  If you are, actually, as serious about our writing ability as you seem to be, maybe something more constructive would serve everyone better.

Not that coddling is entirely necessary, either, but you seem to be one of many intelligent people I've run into in life who consider cruelty and honesty to be one and the same.

So, guy, what'll it be?  How can we help you alleviate your boredom, beyond response to the numerous impersonal jabs leveled at our untalented, wastes of disk space?
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
With ... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #29 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 07:24:05 AM EST

... some stories I wanted to print them out, read them again, and write notes in red in the margins. Edit them. Offer suggestions, and send them back. I used to do that for a living, but not for fiction (or intentional fiction, at least). Or just sit down with the author and figure out what was being said or intended (the author is dead! screams Michel).

You know what I look forward to now? The Postmortems. I want all the authors to relate their inspiration for these stories. I want to hear about how "a turn of phrase became an excuse for something else, but dangnabbit purple prose or not, it's my language and I loved it too much to cut it, I had too much fun it it, and I'm glad I took part in the WFC." I've have created more than my share of purple prose and mangled metaphors.

As for mistaking or conflating cruelty and honesty, not only do I not confuse those, I am baffled by the idea that anyone who has read the shit I write could ever conclude that. Perhaps too much is being read into one possibly over-harsh but hardly cruel review of one of the stories.

Take that, victim of the jerk.

[ Parent ]
Nope. by blixco (2.00 / 0) #31 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 07:36:25 AM EST
I re-read the original post, and you're not trying to help.  It reads like a professor of lit throwing his hands up at the county fair story tent, yelling at the crowd.

You'll get no postmortem from me, jerk.

In re: cruelty, seriously?  You don't get any tone off of your original post?  That whole thing smacks of someone who wants the authors to be put down, harshly, for even trying to pretend they could write in public.  That sort of tone (or stance or whatever the proper term is) does not help anyone except you.  Which, I guess, is fine.  It's a free country, sort of.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
As ... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #35 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:10:17 AM EST

... Gedvondur said (von Dur, Ged, Citations: Policing net Traffic, 2003), this isn't a cite-the-quote-pissing contest, but it's easy to see lots of things that are, alone or in the larger context, meant not as put-downs but suggestions. Questions and observations. Such as my comment about being confused by the use of "you" in Hello, What's This? as well as a similar issue in Broken Glass (both in WFC the Seventh, Hulver Press, 2007) regarding the mentioning of when the soda bottles were mentioned as bottles. Even my comments on Mother's Bible, which were arguably my harshest, concluded with how I thought the story would work.

And comments about fixing spelling, punctuation -- I recommend you consider the MLA Handbook, 7th Edition, or the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition or later as your point of reference --, and the like were not tied to any sort of "hey idiot, what's wrong with you?" vibe (excepting the 'quotation marks' in Mother's Bible -- we had the same issue in WFC6 [as you're aware, Greenspun and Balmer covered this extensively in Eunuchs and Unicode: Microsoftization and Internationalization, Donutwheel Press, 2002]).

And the harshest and most obnoxious comments (of which there are many, and which any educated reader can see are primarily in a mix of iambs, trochees, and dactyls -- you are educmacated, aren't you?) tend to be meta-comments or asides that are for my own amusement and clearly have nothing to do with the story under consideration, and while this makes such comments extraneous in a 'review' (and I never claimed to write good reviews), there's little evidence that such comments are meant to belittle the crowd, belittle the authors, etc. I think my own self-belittlement is obvious. YMMV.

And "re: cruelty, seriously?" -- "That whole thing smacks of someone who wants the authors to be put down, harshly, for even trying to pretend they could write in public." Oh come on. It doesn't take much to figure out who at least half the authors of given stories are and guess if not the author-work match at least that a certain author entered something for many of the rest, and I know as well as you do who these folks are and that they can write. That information alone makes your suggestion strange; were that to be the tone taken from the post, it could only be understood as a 'pose' or 'affect.'


[ Parent ]
So, by blixco (4.00 / 3) #38 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:24:49 AM EST
then, to sum up...let me see if I can be concise, and I'll leave it at that.

Most criticism of my work makes me want to improve my work.

Yours does not.

There!  This has actually been a fascinating set of threads, regardless of the jerk-like intent or quality of my posts.  Really, in my job I don't get to ponder the nature of criticism.  I just get nailed for fucking up.  Maybe that's the key here.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
There there ... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #42 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:42:03 AM EST

/me pats blixco on the head ...

"You didn't fuck up," says the asshole. "And since you didn't fuck up, you didn't get nailed for it." The asshole is a pedant that way.

"But what about all that criticism -- only from you -- that doesn't make me want to improve my work?"

"You have several ways to approach it," replies the asshole, settling down in his chair for a text box of didactic badness. "Nobody takes this asshole seriously anyway, so why should you? I'm not saying that you do; I'm just covering the bases." At this the asshole held up one finger. "Secondly," he continued, putting up a second, "assuming yours is the one I think it is -- and that will be revealed at the end of voting -- then the constructive criticism (which would have probably come across as condescending and been unwelcome ['I think this would work better,' 'Why does ...?' 'Did you think of ...?']) I had in mind would have been too much for an already bloated series of reviews."

"I object. That's not really a good excuse," points out the injured party.

"You are entirely correct," replies the asshole, putting down his fingers after realizing he won't get to points three and four. "But said 'reviews' were also prefaced with a reference to traditional hatred in similar reviews and the tradition of every $INSERTTHING sucking, such as operating systems or computers, with the addendum that some just suck less than others." The asshole took a breath and considered his considerable verbiage. He then stood, showed out the victim of the jerk, and once the door was closed contemplated the lonely New Diary Entry text box that demanded his attention.

[ Parent ]
Hey wait: by blixco (2.00 / 0) #32 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 07:45:30 AM EST
how about an Editing Fun Challenge?

We draw straws to determine the authors...max of three.  Those three write out some sort of story..fiction, news, bio, journal, whatever we decide on.  Then the stories show up on a web site, and you + any other editor-types can show us how it's supposed to be done!
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
It's only *fun* .... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #36 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:14:11 AM EST

... if, as in the regular *FCs -- or at least the WFCs -- cheating is encouraged. Basic proofreading and copyediting would be tedious, but truly twisting and even butchering something, editing as extreme text makeover, translation, that could be fun. And why would it be for "you + any other editor-types"? Unless "editor-types" includes just about anyone here who has an interest in the *FCs.

[ Parent ]
I wrote about LDAP by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #49 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 04:50:40 PM EST
but didn't get to the SSL part, which would have given it its poignancy, until after the deadline. And, it wasn't fiction, though some of the feedback I got on it was harsher than anything you posted here.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM
[ Parent ]
just imagine ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #50 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:04:13 PM EST
... how harsh the feedback would have been if you had posted it and I'd had a chance to comment on it. I'm really only good for negative, non-constructive things, really. I hope it included bo-bads, perhaps something like "LDAP or perish ..." or "He had to SSL his soul."

[ Parent ]
Define "worked." by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 1) #28 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 07:18:51 AM EST
…the bo is a harsh master.

No. "The bo" has decided to act like a pretentious ass, but given that "the bo,"  in his third-person-ness, is in an academic field that (in my very humble opinion) exists entirely due to intellectual pretencion, it may be that pretentious ass is his default setting, nay, even his very nature. Certainly, a perusal of his diaries reinforces the impression, at least to this reader, and yet, shouldn't an academic be attuned to when he's behaving in the lowest-common-denominator form of testosterone-fuelled intellectual penis enhancement? The only potential saving graceto be found within the original screed, and a poor grace at best,  is the notion that it is highly likely "the bo" subjected his own story to such "harsh mastery."

-- Do the math.

[ Parent ]
I just wanted to sound off. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #27 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 06:51:04 AM EST
If people can't take criticism - well or ill meant - then they shouldn't be posting stories on the Internet. Releasing work into the public means that people are going to form opinions about it and those opinions are almost never going to jib with the opinions of the writer.

I didn't have any problem with your reviews. And, yes, I did get the business end of your insight.

I should add too that it might be an entirely different thing if it were clear that you hadn't read the stories and were just spouting crap. That would be a kinda BS thing to do. But real feedback, regardless of tone (and ana did say that snark was appreciated), is a valid response.

[ Parent ]
Criticism is one thing. by blixco (4.00 / 1) #30 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 07:31:35 AM EST
This was something else.  I didn't see much in the way of real feedback here that wasn't immediately drowned out by the sheer mean spirit of the words chosen.

I might add that the intent wasn't kind.  The intent wasn't critique, as I read it.  We (BO and I) are off on another thread touching on that, but I really think that this sort of critical answer to a very light hearted gathering is sort of like smoking crack at a tea party: offensive and stupid, but probably defensible by some sort of linguistic trick (I mean, the invite read "party" for fuck sake).
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
I disagree. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #33 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 07:59:51 AM EST
There's a subset of comments that always follow these things that play a sort of one-up game of snarkiness. The tradition was set with the very first one when the winner was actually a dude who didn't enter.

Almost Blue, as we call him 'round the way, took it too far. Sure. Have a respected member of the community PM him and hash it out.

But I think making a federal case out of it, as we're doing, will only make BO (what an unfortunate acronym) more defensive, which in turn will make the conversation more spiteful on all sides.

Blue's not usually a dick to people. This was clearly not part of an established pattern of behavior. And, in all honesty, though it is more than we now see regarding the WFC, it isn't even the among the harshest comments I've seen regular users leave one another on this site. And God forbid the subject of religion should come up . . .

He crossed a line. We should all tisk-tisk and move on.

As one of the allegedly wronged authors (he did talk smack about my story too - and, to add insult to non-injury, I'm getting my ass handed to me at the polls) I just wanted him to know that I still think he's a groovy cat and I don't take offense.

I understand that I don't speak for everybody.

[ Parent ]
Making mountains by blixco (2.00 / 0) #34 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:04:04 AM EST
is my speciality with regards to this website.

Much like our stories, when you are critical of someone, you shouldn't expect them to just sit back and say, hey, sure.  I hate me too.  You're right.

His critique is being answered in turn.  Is it too far?  Sure, maybe.  Or just in kind and thus equally too far.  Sure.  I'll concede he's not normally a jerk.

Have someone PM me.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
I see your point. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #39 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:25:13 AM EST
Leaving a snarky comment gives you the same vulnerability that leaving a story does. You should expect all sorts of responses.

In this case, I guess I feel that if it were somebody besides Blue Moon of Kentucky doin' this, I might feel different. But it's a dude who is not normally a jerk and who is a regular and consistent part of the community. He was going with the flow of comments and went to far.

I guess I'm saying that you give a guy whose current comments look like aberrations the benefit of the doubt.

That said, it would be nice and politic if he'd just say, "Sorry if I pissed you off. I may have overstepped the bounds of ha-has and gone to far."

[ Parent ]
must disagree by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #41 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:40:53 AM EST
I guess I'm saying that you give a guy whose current comments look like aberrations the benefit of the doubt.

That's not a tenable solution when he's using a lot of pixels to defend the comment in question.

-- Do the math.

[ Parent ]
I mentioned that earlier. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #43 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:51:13 AM EST
I think it is common for folks on a site like this to grow more defensive when they perceive they've been attacked. Something about anonymity and the sense of victim-hood seems to feed into the behavior.

I think turning the other cheek or making light of it would take the pressure off and make him less defensive.

Though it's a bit late for that now.

[ Parent ]
still don't buy it by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #47 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 11:14:25 AM EST
Maybe Blue Oregon adopted an asshole character called "the bo," in the spirit of Bono's The Fly character on the Zooropa tour.

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
Now, I didn't read any of the stories by MohammedNiyalSayeed (4.00 / 2) #79 Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:50:04 PM EST

nor am I interested in butting into y'all's conversation here, but, for the record, smoking crack always has been, and always will be, cooler than going to tea parties.

Just so nobody gets it twisted.

You can build the most elegant fountain in the world, but eventually a winged rat will be using it as a drinking bowl.
[ Parent ]
My 2% of a dollar by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 7) #22 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 05:36:10 AM EST
EnclosedI like dialog in a story, but you can't chat with a dead man without it coming off stilted. I could see the setting, see that glimpse of the post-greenhouse effect world, feel the I'm pissed at the pilot, but I've got bigger problems right now sense of detachment. Very cool.

3:17 AM It wants to be literary, but reads like an above-average quality diary entry. I want to say, "Good for you, and good luck with that" to our narrator, but that's all.

Spike A case of something that feels like part of something bigger. I'm not sure I buy the idea of a preppy in IT, but it's a quibble. I like the concept of metamathematics.

Sylvia Endicott Weld, from the Fall of 2004 to the Spring 2006 I sort of liked it, but I didn't think it was good. There are some good turns of phrase, but it falls into a literary category that I inherently do not enjoy.

Hello, What’s This? I like the image of her sitting on the top of her dresser, drinking tequila and watching him, but that's the only hint we really get of what kind of person she is. We get almost nothing of him, of why she falls for him so hard, or why he can't come back without the doohicky activated if he knows what time and day he met her. Plus, they sound alike. The dialog is sort of flat. I liked it a lot up to the second #, and then it fell over.

The Alley "It's a case that practically screams for the midgets." I like this line. I like this story, but have to agree with the previous comment that it feels like part of something bigger.

Broken Glass Oh, so close. This is very good, so much that I want to add five words to a sentence in the opening section. I think it also could stand about one or two hundred more words from the author.

Mother's Bible Good effort, but something about it doesn't touch me. Actually, nothing about it touches me, but I'm an unsentimental bastard.

Connecting Train I had to read it twice. The first time was an annoying experience of what-the-fuck? The second time, it was kind of cool. But I don't like to work that hard. I'm a lazy bastard, too.

Haunted House Signifiers, or whatever they're called: "the woman," "the old woman." They distance the reader, and the daughter, and remove any impact of this particular ghost. Also, we already know that Brooklyn is different from Phoenix, and you don't need to say it more than once, if at all, but I did like the description of walking back through the neighborhood.

Frame of Reference "…a schoolgirl uniform for bearish cross-dressers." It's good to have at least one strong image, but there wasn't anything else in the story I cared about.  It seemed overly dependent upon the academic environment, like I was meant to be filling in blanks. That's it: academe fanfiction. Sort of.

-- Do the math.

speaking of more words by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #80 Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 01:49:42 AM EST
I'm very curious which five words, and where.

You can PM me if you don't want to post here, or in my diary.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
Can't remember now by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #82 Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 09:05:20 AM EST
I think they had to do with clarifying who he was with (wife as opposed to remembered friend), and the fact that the original cokes were in bottles.

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
critique or snark by Kellnerin (4.00 / 5) #48 Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 04:40:09 PM EST
I think discussion is cool, and I'd rather people have violently negative reactions to something I wrote than no opinion at all, so in that vein:
  1. Enclosed Wow, was this not the story I was expecting from the title. Hell of an opening line. The theme could lead to a very moody, contemplative kind of story (as many of the entries were) but this wasn't, and that was refreshing.
  2. 3:17 AM Felt a bit too sketchy. The premise and the intersection of loneliness/finding was fine, but needed to be more fleshed out, made distinctive somehow.
  3. Spike "Information architecture" is peripherally part of my job description, and man do I want to do that kind of info arch. If I had to quibble, I'd say the dialogue felt a little flat, exposition-y, but the description itself was excellent.
  4. Sylvia Endicott Weld, from the Fall of 2004 to the Spring 2006 I can appreciate the quirky angle on the theme in this story, but it's just not my speed. Sorry.
  5. Hello, What's This? Fun, if a bit familiar. This is what I think of as a spirograph sort of story, that keeps looping around a point without necessarily getting to it. That's not a judgment in and of itself -- it could either be made more stripped-down or given room to stretch. Title didn't feel well-matched to the story.
  6. The Alley I liked the narrative voice, or Voice -- it felt easy and confident. Some nice turns of phrase in this, though the ending threw me for a loop.
  7. Broken Glass The narration in this one, particularly in the framing story, is somewhat twisty, or maybe like an unraveled thread. Who'd have thought the theme of loneliness would inspire so many stories about math.
  8. Mother's Bible I liked the table details. The story felt a little like it was cropped at both ends, without much setup for the protagonist sitting down to go through the boxes, and a bit too abrupt of an ending/resolution.
  9. Connecting Train A little gimmicky, though who am I to diss a gimmick. I like how much of this story lies in the things that the respective characters don't know, the spaces between them that aren't bridged.
  10. Haunted House Nice sense of mood and place. It's perfectly well executed, though other stories just grabbed me more this round.
  11. Frame of Reference Sloppily edited, yes. But what's there is charming in places. Objects almost being characters without being narrators.
As always, thanks, ana, for throwing the party and planting the seed that gave us these stories.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (4.00 / 6) #51 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 03:57:23 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

(Comment Deleted) by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 2) #52 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:28:59 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by 2 plus 3 equals 5

[ Parent ]
The hours. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 3) #53 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:11:26 AM EST
When I first read your comment, I felt really bad.

I mean, I apparently I helped a bunch of dudes steal three hours - THREE WHOLE HOURS - of your life. Who wouldn't feel bad?

And think of the larger consequences! What if, when you die, your last words are, "If only I had three more hours to commit to my cancer research - I was so close - so close"? I may have unintentionally contributed to the unnecessary deaths of millions. And cancer kills grandmas and ice cream men and puppies and the Irish and stuff, so it's especially tragic.

But then it occurred to me that reading these things is strictly voluntary. Admittedly, there was some discussion early on in the WFCs about hunting down every Hulver user and forcing, at gun point or sword point or ferret point, to read every entry. But this was deemed time prohibitive and, to my knowledge, no ferret-wielding rogue element of WFC writers has attempted it on their own.

I guess what I'm saying is that it is incumbent on a reader to stop reading crap they don't like. Your intro makes me think of a guy who, after gobbling all the free finger-foods at your party, complains that they weren't very good. If you don't like it, stop eating it. You're not doing the hosts any favors by forcing yourself to choke down snacks you dislike.

Perhaps this is as close to "noble sacrifice" as one can come on scoop site, but I speak for all the writers when I say that taking one for the team in such a chivalrous way wasn't needed.

I'm not sure the WFCs are solely about pleasing readers. Some writers want to challenge themselves by trying something new, some writers hope to shock, some writers have reasons and aims all their own.

As for forming a separate writing circle: I rarely listen to the MFCs and its even rarer that I vote for a song. It just isn't my bag. But I found a secret way to avoid being forced to listen to each and every song. The trick is when you see a link to stuff you think you might not like, you don't click on it. Seriously. It totally works.

True, this isn't as easy as things would be if people who were going to write things you didn't like simply never wrote said things where you might accidentally come across said things. But the problem is that some writers - most taller ones, I've found - don't automatically know what will please you. Sure I do, but I'm special that way.

Acting like you're the victim of a bad WFC challenge is like getting pissed because you found some money on the sidewalk, but it wasn't as much as you'd hoped to find.

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (2.00 / 2) #54 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:33:44 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

[ Parent ]
Oh God! by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #60 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 07:46:51 AM EST
Another precious moment gone! What contributions have we lost now? A solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict? A viable peace plan for Darfur? A two-minute waltz that can be done in a minute and fifteen?

This WFC hasn't just torn this site apart! It's doomed the whole human race! You insane and unfun WFC writers! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #61 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 07:54:51 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

[ Parent ]
I cede you your point. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #62 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:06:41 AM EST
That last one was comic overstatement. Hence the slightly reworked line from "Planet of the Apes."

Though, originally, to keep the joke going I was going to write:


[That's the subject line, right? So it is up alone by itself. Then . . .]

"Don't you know children are starving in China? Don't you know that Ellen and Portia broke up? Do you understand that every moment you spend jawing at me is another moment lost to humanity in the eternal race between mankind and doom?

"Honestly, Yack-Attack, I think you're just using us as your excuse not to save all mankind. And that's pretty selfish of you."

It's kind of a slow day for me.

Though, honestly, is my eagerness stinky? Or did you misuse "fetid"? Did you mean fervid?

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #63 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:17:55 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

[ Parent ]
One thing this WFC *has* by blixco (4.00 / 4) #55 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:35:53 AM EST
taught me (besides a lot of thinking about what criticism is and does, both in the larger universal academic sense and in the more personal "you suck" sense) is: confine the fiction to other spaces.  The WFCs seem to be more an exercise in critique and self-examination (the post mortem) than in actual writing or fun.  I've avoided them in the past strictly because I am not a writer, and the way I write does not work well without editing, or without heavy re-formation over time, which I do not have much of.

But this one sounded fun, because I had this idea which is based on a true story.

So in the future, maybe I'll use diaries or some random other web site if I need an audience, but this seems less constructive...less fun than I want to have.
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin

[ Parent ]
Yeah, me, too. by toxicfur (4.00 / 2) #56 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:41:50 AM EST
I'm not much of a fiction writer, and when I write fiction, it's strictly for fun. I don't have plans to rewrite and submit somewhere, and so the reviews -- especially the harsh, academic ones -- are just not so useful or enjoyable. *shrug*
If you don't get a Bonnie, my universe will not make sense. --blixco
[ Parent ]
This is what I think kareoke singers by garlic (2.00 / 0) #86 Mon Feb 04, 2008 at 12:57:41 PM EST
who post their videos on youtube learn. You might have had a blast singing and dancing. It doesn't mean your song is interesting to anyone else. If it's not, and you don't really care for feedback, don't share it.

[ Parent ]
criticism by Kellnerin (4.00 / 4) #64 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:11:19 PM EST
One thing I've learned, or had reinforced, lately is this: when it comes to criticism, harsh and valid are orthogonal. And there's a broad spectrum for both. Every judgment is also personal -- I mean that it is the opinion of the person judging, not that it means anything definitive about the thing being judged. I used "thing" deliberately there; whether someone enjoys my story or thinks they would rather not have read it has no bearing on whether I, as a person, suck or not. A piece of fiction, especially, is never correct or incorrect, it is just effective (for whatever definition of effective) for a particular individual or not.

That's just a pile of platitudes, maybe, but you've made me think about my motivations for doing WFCs. I've made it kind of a point of pride (or maybe just sheer stubbornness) to enter every one so far. Why? It's a challenge I find fun. I like the excuse to exercise that part of my brain, especially in a way (due to the theme) that I might not have chosen on my own. Why do I post it? For purely selfish reasons, I guess. Because I would like people to read it and it is interesting to me, when they are done, whether they were happy to have read it or not. It's really all about me, me, me.

Why do I write the reviews? Because I think other people who've submitted stories might be curious what other people -- not necessarily me, but I am one of said people -- thought of their story. I guess it's a slightly more altruistic impulse than writing the story in the first place (though I'd be pretty arrogant to think that people really care), but it also helps me think about which stories to vote for, and why I like a story more or less than another.

I don't have any ambitions to be a published writer of fiction (perhaps I know too much about that game to want to play it), but I do like to write and I want to get better at it. Even if I don't necessarily revise any of the stories I've written for the WFC and gotten reactions to, I like to think I learn something -- about what works, what doesn't -- that maybe I can use next time. Not necessarily the next WFC, but the next time I write something, anything.

Anyway, maybe it's getting to be a bit like a writing group. Maybe that's not a bad thing. Maybe thinking "hey, it would be great if more people entered, if more people voted, if more people reviewed" is not actually a worthwhile goal. Maybe it's a "by people who write, for people who write" thing and that's OK. It's cool when people read, vote, and comment who haven't entered, but maybe we (I) should stop thinking people ought to be interested, and readers should expect that hey, maybe some of the stories will kinda suck. No promises, no commitments, either way.

Anyway -- and I say this as much for myself, talking out loud, as anyone else -- there is nothing important about this, and it doesn't define this site; it's just one of the many things we do. And I've written far too much about it, here.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
You don't speak for me by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 1) #57 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 07:19:09 AM EST

The deal is, out of the context of the bo's comment, this wouldn't have been so bad. To my twisted sense of humor, this was funnier, and put almost all the negative comments as how yicky-yacky felt about it. Without straying into the bo's academic territory, I think that by placing the comments in context to himself and his reactions, it comes off to me as snark, albeit honest negative reaction.  The bo stated things as absolutes, which has a lot to do with it sounding more mean-spirited. But many of us have been primed by the bo to be touchier, the abrasion of his words (and his self-admitted intent) having left raw patches.

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
I stand corrected. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 2) #59 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 07:30:44 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Thanks by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 1) #58 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 07:23:49 AM EST
I deleted my original comment because on hindsight, it seemed like a case of "Thank you, sir. May I have another?"

The major point is that not having written a story, you took the time to comment, and even if others take issue with your style or tone, I don't.

-- Do the math.

[ Parent ]
Reviews by Driusan (4.00 / 4) #65 Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 05:34:54 PM EST
I never got around to reading any of the stories. I'm not very good at reading fiction on computer screens, I'm far too easily distracted. There's just too many stories with too many words in these WFCs for me to read them all. I feel like as a good HuSite I should contribute something to this, though. I did skim over the comments here and read the story titles, so I've decided to post a review of what I think I'd think of the stories had I taken the time to read them.

Enclosed: I think this is probably not really my style. It sounds like it's probably the type of thing that people who take literature too seriously would enjoy, but this is supposed to be about fun.
3:17AM: This could go either way, really. The fact that toxicfur described it as sad but hopeful sounds appealing, but taking a time in the middle of the night when no one's around as a metaphor for loneliness in the name of the story is kind of cliche.
Spike: It sounds like this is probably a good story. I voted for it, but I don't think I'll read it. I don't want to disillusion myself.
Sylvia Endicott Weld, from the Fall of 2004 to the Spring of 2006: The title sounds a little too much like it's the name of a Sufjan Stevens song for my liking.
Hello, What's This?: It just doesn't grab me. I don't know what to say. I don't like questions in story names, although I acknowledge that's a pretty stupid criticism.
The Alley: Voted. I can't quite place my finger on what it is, but something about how people were criticizing this story makes me think it hits that sweet spot of being good without having mass appeal.
Broken Glass: Voted. Excellent name for a story about loneliness. Haunting, says ana? Flowed well, says Gedvondor? It's really a pity I didn't read it.
Mother's Bible: It sounds like it's probably effete.
Connecting Train: I'm not really into crime stories, but taking the point of view of something in the wallet is most likely an interesting, quirky gimmick.
Haunted House: The reviews make me suspect that merekat wrote this, based on previous WFC entries. If I'm correct, I'd probably like it since I've voted for her stories in most other WFCs. I don't so much mind the lack of an ending because I didn't read it, and I read a lot of Neal Stephenson when I was a teenager.
Frame of Reference: It sounds like it's probably very pseudo-intellectual, based on the title and the fact that it's about a grad student, I'm told. I get the appeal of writing something like that, but unless it's well done I generally don't enjoy reading it.

Vive le Montréal libre.

Some notes by Scrymarch (4.00 / 6) #66 Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 08:21:34 AM EST
enclosed - I dug the description, but the United States setting didn't give me the shock I think it was supposed to.

3:17 AM - Mother's Bible - Sorry, just not my denomination of meatloaf.

Spike - What's the product of a meme and an anti-hero, integrated over the exchange of ideas in an internet chat room?

Sylvia - I like the way the well-mannered style of this echoes the polite Society conventions of the class involved. I can't pick which Bostonian it belongs to though.

Hello - The Time Traveller's Girlfriend? I liked it but the banter got a bit clever-clever on me by the end.

The Alley - Broken Glass - Together with the previous few, I felt like the school of Husi was flying in close formation on this theme. They are all good and also sharing a lot of tone. I suspect it is the theme bringing out the urban fantasy middle-class angst, because my own effort also had these elements if not the consistent quality ...

Connecting Train - Don't know if I was just zoned, but you nearly lost me with the wallet-cam in the middle there

Haunted House - I thought this was going to lose me in editorialising somewhere in the middle, but I liked the ending, if not the last sentence.

Frame of Reference - I would guess BlueOregon ... elegant enough ... had been thinking it too comprehensible but the later chapters put paid to that.

I forgot to select a cover in the poll until about 100 milliseconds after clicking Vote.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

Sylvia by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #67 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 04:32:04 AM EST
My money's not on a Bostonian author on that one. Not because the details are off, but I just think I have the usual suspects pegged this time. My guess is someone who's been to Boston, though.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM
[ Parent ]
So spill the beans! by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #73 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 01:04:20 PM EST
Whom do you peg for what?

I much preferred when the WFC voting stories were dominated by speculation about who wrote what instead of the weird nastiness that seems to have surfaced this time out.

[ Parent ]
OK by Kellnerin (4.00 / 2) #74 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 02:20:22 PM EST
I've never posted guesses, but here are some incomplete ones. Some I can't identify with any reasonable certainty, and I'm not going to reveal my own just yet (though I guess you can count the stories on this list as anti-revelations):
Enclosed - blixco
Sylvia Endicott Weld - CRwM
Hello, What's This? - ana
The Alley - toxicfur
Haunted House - aethucyn
Frame of Reference - bo
Even the ones I'm listing here are speculation, based on impressions formed while reading the stories, before reading the discussion here.

So now it's your turn -- share your author guesses and/or your traditional endorsement for your favorite(s) of the bunch.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
I never guess. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #76 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 05:31:35 PM EST
I can't think of a single instance when I've been correct. But, as is my way, I voted for a single story and that was "The Alley." There was a rawness there that caught my attention. For me, this vote came down to an issue of "voice" - as ill defined a concept as that is. A sly and jagged tone, like a girl that's smarter than you 'cause she's been hurt before. I found that one intriguing.

[ Parent ]
sneaky by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #81 Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 01:53:26 AM EST
... my own effort also had these elements ...

It wasn't till I read this that I realized nothing struck me as Scrymarchian this round, and I still couldn't pick one for you after. Now I know why. Hope we'll see something from you in a future round.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
Heh by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #83 Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 12:49:46 PM EST
Yeah, posting what I had would given a little too abrupt an ending, even by my standards :) It was disappointing to miss this one but I'll be back ...

Have been off the non-work net for a few weeks, planning to sift through the post-wfc stuff now I have a chance.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
you can always by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #84 Sun Nov 18, 2007 at 01:27:34 PM EST
post-mort your non-entry -- I think WFC6 set the precedent.

Regardless, I look forward to your WFC comeback :)

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
Careful what you wish for by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #85 Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 08:44:41 AM EST

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
Blue Oregon's Critique by mpacks (4.00 / 4) #68 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 08:44:48 AM EST

It's 2007: get a clue."

Here's the problem with your criticism.  It starts off with a stroke of arrogance.  If you know how to do something, everybody else must and if they don't, they're clueless.  What are decent criticisms that follow are overwhelmed by your arrogance.  Arrogance, by the way, with respect to something that has nothing to do with the quality, or lack thereof, found in the story.

Here's a clue for you ... I wrote Mother's Bible.  It was an exercise.  It was fun.  Which is what I thought this website was about.  Given the time frames involved, no story is going to be perfect.  The only reason to write a story for a website like this under the guidelines is to have fun with something.

Some of your criticisms are valid.  But, I've never posted an html document, never tried to format an html document, never edited an html document before.  If you had read the comments prior to the posting deadline, you would have realized that there was somebody out there trying to post a story who didn't know how to.  Instead of being an ass, maybe you could have offered some help.  Every other commenter managed to look past the issue and provided real, constructive comments -- some praise, some negative comments.

I'll choose to ignore you and focus on those who could be adults and, hopefully, produce a better product next time.  Maybe you can help out by helping me understand how to post an html document.  And, I'll help you enter the 21st century, too, and teach you about something I know how to do that you don't have a friggin' clue about.  But, I won't be an arrogant ass about it.

you don't say ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #69 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 09:58:27 AM EST

Then somebody gave you bad advice in the other HuSi 'story.' Or other failed to give advice. Such as: turn off 'smart quotes' and/or never copy and paste from a MS Word document. Or actually use a tool to save it to HTML and include a <DOCTYPE ...>. Otherwise a significant number (though I'm sure there are a number of Windows users out there who just don't care) get stinking smart-quotes-as-question-marks, etc. The same crap we see on message boards and other documents scattered around the internet.

But you won't read this. Because you've already made up your mind. I'm being ignored. You're bitter. Out for spite and possible revenge -- if I were dying on a street corner you'd pass me by and say "serves you right." Feel better now?

I'm not going to apologize for what I wrote. I stand by it. I am sorry, however, that you didn't have the context to interpret my comments the way they were intended. I'm sure somebody will come along and say (well, not say it, because they won't find it worthwhile, but still) "But BlueOregon, we shouldn't need context to interpret what you wrote. We have your words on the virtual page!" BS. If it weren't such a simplistic document peppered with obvious references to other things, sure, but in addition I write a lot on this site, even if most people don't read it, and if they don't want to put this in the context of what else I've written, that's fine, but that means they should ignore this like they ignore the other things I write.

And it's not arrogance to assume everybody else can do what I can do when I'm just an average person. Hell, look at what 2 + 3 = 5 wrote (the same person who keeps using 'the bo' for some inexplicable reason) -- I'm below average. I'm a parasite, an invalid. So do I expect people to do what I can do and better? Yes.

And I'm glad you had "fun."

I didn't single your story out for criticism. The history of WFC mini-reviews includes a tendency for authors of stories to review theirs more harshly than the rest, perhaps so they don't give themselves away by not criticizing their own sufficiently, perhaps out of a feeling of guilt or self-deprecation. Of course it backfires; if you do not already know the author of a story based upon telltale stylistic signs, then you do based upon the review that is most biting. This is a generalization. As usual my attempt at a WFC entry sucked; I still had to save my harshest words for myself, but I also had to spread them around a little for the sake of fairness and obfuscation.

Finally a note/hint: I wrote "MORE QUESTION MARKS ..." This implies we've (or I've) seen this before in a WFC submission (in the last WFC, in fact), and it's clearly not a reference to an earlier entry in this WFC (based on reading what I wrote before, or the stories themselves). As such -- an intertextual reference of sorts -- it's not exclusively (or even primarily) about your story. So don't take it as some holier-than-thou personal attack.

[ Parent ]
Not buying it by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (4.00 / 1) #70 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 11:47:49 AM EST
You set yourself up.

If I'm still alive to post this ...
... it hasn't worked ...

That having been said, the bo is a harsh master (apologies to RAH), someone had to do persimmon's job for her, and Gedvondur set the tone. I just cut the "it's alright, you need to accept criticism" placation device. And let out my inner asshole for a few seconds of recess.

I took "the bo" from your own self-description, dude, and the linked comment made me think you were ready for whatever it was you got back. I don't have an inner asshole. I am such an  asshole that I've had to learn to tone it down. I didn't tone down anything in my comment to you, but in the same way you're saying people didn't read what you wrote, let me throw that one back at you, too.

Hell, look at what 2 + 3 = 5 wrote (the same person who keeps using 'the bo' for some inexplicable reason) -- I'm below average. I'm a parasite, an invalid.

I never said any of those things. I said you were acting like a pretentious ass, conjectured that it might be your default state, and pissed on your whole field, all in the most overblown language I could muster.  You tell mpacks that you expect people to do what you can do, and better. Guess what? I can't do what you do. I can't read German, and I don't know a trochee from a tryrannosaur. So fucking what? To cover the shame of my ignorance, I pretend I'm superior by dissing your chosen passion. Didn't like it, did you? (I'm not planning to apologize for it.) But none of that called you below average, a parasite, or an invalid. You read that into it. Should I read into your comments that I suck as a human because I can't dissect German poetry? Not going to.

For the record, I had no problem with your original set of critiques, but you're no persimmon. You're not enough of an asshole by nature, and you overdid it. Those of us who know we're assholes all the time have learned the skills of the kind of sarcasm that works, and less is more. It wasn't until you posted the response to blixco's first comment and hamster-wheeled into defense mode through the entire thread that any of this annoyed me.

-- Do the math.

[ Parent ]
mistake by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #71 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 11:48:28 AM EST
the cite should have ended after "recess."

-- Do the math.
[ Parent ]
Buy what you will. It's your money. by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #72 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 12:31:50 PM EST
...the bo is a harsh master.

No. "The bo" has decided to act like a pretentious ass, but given that "the bo," in his third-person-ness, is in an academic field that (in my very humble opinion) exists entirely due to intellectual pretencion, it may be that pretentious ass is his default setting, nay, even his very nature. Certainly, a perusal of his diaries reinforces the impression, at least to this reader, and yet, shouldn't an academic be attuned to when he's behaving in the lowest-common-denominator form of testosterone-fuelled intellectual penis enhancement? The only potential saving graceto be found within the original screed, and a poor grace at best, is the notion that it is highly likely "the bo" subjected his own story to such "harsh mastery."

Indeed, I did put words in your mouth. For that I apologize. You didn't say parasite, etc. You just accused me of pretentiousness, penis-enhancement, being lowest-common-demonimator, and a suspected asshole by default. But not parasite, invalid, or below-average. There is a slight difference.

You are aware, I hope, that "the bo" is not a 'self-description' in any context except the mangled Heinlein reference, but you keep using it. There is no continual use of third-person-self-reference only a completely-obvious-to-everybody stupid joke. That it's not funny is a different matter, but you keep running with it. Perhaps it amuses you.

And indeed, I wouldn't expect you to speak German if it's not your native language or you hadn't studied it for a year or two. As for metric feet in verse, I'd expect you to have passed high school English or the equivalent. Hell, I think the "German" poems I post are the only thing I post that require anything other than a high school education -- but wait, I post them in English, too.

But continue your "dissing" -- knock yourself out, if that's what gets you off. We have nothing in common, aren't in conversation, and aren't attempting to learn from one another, so I find it hard to take much interest in it.

[ Parent ]
read carefully by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #77 Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 04:28:46 AM EST
I commented on your behavior, not yourself. The behavior is LCD, and based in sublimations of "mine's bigger." Whatever you think your motivations were, that's how it came off to me.

I meta-commented using exactly that same behavior in the comment you quoted. In the parent comment to yours, I planted a damn flag on it: To cover the shame of my ignorance, I pretend I'm superior by dissing your chosen passion. Dude, I even used the pissing analogy to make it clear what I was doing.

I've just been holding up a mirror.

Yet we are fully alive to the faults of others and prone to criticize especially those faults of which we are most guilty. We are even so shocked at other people's blindness that we want to say to them Nosce te ipsum.
Wilkins, Eliza. Delphic Maxims in Literature. 1929 (reprinted in 1994).

If you'd left toxicfur's comment to stand, or maybe trimmed yours to the one sentence about letting out your inner asshole, you'd have come out of this with the original comment seeming like a one-shot. I've learned a thing or two from observing your behavior, and the major lesson is that I should now bow out of the exchange. I'm used to what I'm seeing in this mirror, but I don't always like it.

-- Do the math.

[ Parent ]
blah, blah, blah by mpacks (4.00 / 1) #75 Sat Nov 03, 2007 at 03:28:39 PM EST
Well, dang, I had a comprehensive rebuttal to your sterling response to my initial post here.  I posted it and it seems to have disappeared.  I'm not going to bother repeating it.  But, I will make a couple of comments.

I don't think your critique of my story was the harshest one.  Other than your initial need to call me clueless, I thought you had valid points.  I thought some of your other criticisms were much harsher.

I actually dream of getting real, valid, constructive criticism of what I write and rarely get it.  What you posted was tainted by your initial and irrelevant need to show your superiority.

The problem is that your entire set of criticisms reeks of arrogance, self-importance, and negativity.  It does nobody any good.  Well, except for you.  Anybody who looks at it and has been around message boards for awhile can see it for what it is.  A means to draw attention to the poster.  Well, you got attention and now you're whining about it.

So, go on, battle this out with others.  If you respond to this, you'll be right, I won't respond.  I've wasted too much time over the years engaging in these fruitless "neener, neener, neener, your mother wears combat boots" types of discussions and swore I wouldn't engage in them again.

I'll focus on the people who actually post constructive comments in a helpful manner.

Just post in the hole by randomxs (4.00 / 2) #78 Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 04:23:34 PM EST
and often you get excellent criticism and sometimes not. Then in a month or so it just disappears and it doesn't matter what you wrote or what people said about it. This way you get all the benefits.

Most of what I have written is some sorry stuff and I post it there to see if it truly is. Most of the time I get a little encouragement, sometimes i get a flame or two but it is when I get good criticism that makes it worth it.

For someone to post a good critique takes time, effort and thought. I enjoy the fact that anyone would comment at all even negatively. To me it means I shook something loose and they responded to it. It also means they are likely correct.

"When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him." - Thomas Szasz

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