Terminal Discussion for Winter Issue '07
2. The Chestnut Festival
3. Dora Gets a Stomach Ache
4. Sugar Ants
5. Wonderful Life
6. Her Final Curtain
7. Practical Experience
8. Household God
9. The Prodigal Brother
10. The Devil's Fauna
11. The Darkmount Trilogy
12. The New Man
13. Some Time in the Sun
THE ICE BOX
First Reaction: 19 Nov 06
When I received this capital from Doomey, it came with a note: "...needs a tad bit of editing, hal, nothing big." That was enough to induce me to make it the first of the five for which I am directly responsible; i.e., if it needs work, and yet is suitable to rise to the Execs, best to allow the most time available.
And I read it with the purpose of ignoring any work it might need -- once, straight through, for the sense of the piece. What I come away with is "phantasm", and no sense at all. It is brimming with vivid visual imagery (which, in fact, is the core idea). However, after this initial reading, I cannot assign meaning to any of it -- not even (taking the literary equivalent of the mathematical second derivative) to the way the images change over time.
In short, I cannot grasp what is happening to the protagonist, a feature I consider the quintessence of a good capital venture.
Obviously, this cap requires more than one study before I can even opine as to its worthiness. Thus, I have decided to record my reactions to each reading.
Watch this space...
H3K's Interim post,between readings:
How marvelous -- the VC him/herself has risen to defend!
In the process, he/she has given me an entree -- not a plate of food (with which I could do little), but a way in. I am appreciative.
Re:"The Ice Box"
Date: 2006/11/23 23:09 By: bulldust
Hey yo, Hal, I'm gonna read this ice boxer, okay.
Do you think i need to wear a warm jacket while reading this number? Or should I do some snuggling with the straw as I read it?
Re:"The Ice Box"
Date: 2006/11/26 16:33 By: bulldust I haven't read the VC's response to Hal's first reading. I didn't want to be biased or persuaded in any way. So I deliver this to you now with the knowledge that I have no insights as to the VC's intent with this capital known as, "The Ice Box."
First thing that struck me about this piece was its emphasis or reliance on the visual. The VC is male I believe, and men tend to be more in tune with and responsive to visuals, or the visual arts, so it's no surprise that this piece came from the hand of a bloke. This VC, if I recall correctly, put out a challenge to all VCs a quarter or so back. It was a challenge to throw off all conventions of writing and to run stark naked headlong through some unchartered (unchartered by him at least) Scribbler's territory and to write as if wild at heart, etc etc.
Well, yes , there is some of that in this piece, really nothing I haven't read before. But this VC's quest to unclothe the restricting and constricting conventions of writerdom was not an entire waste of my precious reading time - thank god! There are some divinely executed passages in which the description has the 20/20 clarity of real life, of reality, as if you were able to tangibly visualise, actually reach out and touch the visuals on the page. A real talent, that is.
The capital has a psychedelic bent that I've never been too fond of, but I'm not one to shun a piece because of that, as long as the other elements of the capital/movie/art are somewhat present and accounted for. This piece is choppy and fragmented, which perhaps plays into the overall theme of disjointed and blurred visuals coupled with moments of supreme clarity of sight and seeing. It is done with some deft of touch too.
This VC is a very good writer with a fondness for original imagery, but for me, as most investors and VCs will know, I'm more about the story (sorry, me gaffer, I know we're supposed to avoid saying story but I'm just a buttheaded bull after all) ... anyway, this piece may in fact be story-less or astory, but it has a wild charm that might just be enough to compensate for its absence.
So all of that said, I'm willing to push this piece up to the Executive Lounge and see what the toffs have to say about this cool and ... well, odd piece of capital.
Say on you others...
Re:"The Ice Box"
Date: 2006/11/26 20:55 By: guevara
It is me again. Just checking in. Yo say slumming, as they say. Ha ha. I am joking, mi compadres. May I use a pun then, to sum up that I found The Ice Box chilling? Yes. And somehow strangely redemptive at the end.
I see a plotline here though, which, albeit, is filtered through the lenses of some kind of messed up protagonist, but a plotline nonetheless.
What I have gotten from this piece is more mood than meaning, but the meaning is somehow transfused into my gut and not my head. I am reminded somewhat of how a few of Borges's works made me feel. The Circular Ruins, in particular, wherein the dreamworld and what we like to call reality comes into concordance with one another and then the distinction twixt the two gets all confused.
The Ice Box is definitely a piece that needs to be sent up to the Suites for further study.
Re:"The Ice Box"
Date: 2006/11/28 02:09 By: H3K I have no objection to the piece rising, even though events which cannot be discussed have delayed my second reading.
So, let us close "The Ice Box", before its contents melt.
2. THE CHESTNUT FESTIVAL
This aint the review, people. This is just the billboard, an advertsiement, if you will, to promote the upcoming review of
THE CHESTNUT FESTIVAL
(sorry, i have to get my name in there somewhere, coz when yah get down to it, I'm nothing more than a self-centred old cow)
Review: "Chestnut Festival"
Date: 2006/11/23 23:05 By: bulldust Okay, sorry about the wait. I wanted to get this review up last night but the system went down and i sent out a dispatch of something or other to the system administrator but no response was forthcoming. So here it is. The Chestnut rant and review:
When the heart-throbbing beauty, Gabrielle Deplancher of the Floor sent this capital up to me, she did so with a kind of caveat emptor for the potential investor, or, if you will, let the reader beware: this capital is missing something and may need some work, is what I gleaned from her warning. And what began so promisingly in "The Chestnut Festival," with its fine, vivid descriptions of setting, time, and character, soon descended into capital chaos. Gab Dep's warning was on the money. Let me explain:
I read the opening 5 pages twice over and was still left scratching the top of my bony head with my left horn (the horn I use for such refined gestures ... the right one I use to gore matadore arses ... but that's another story). This story, "The Chestnut Festival," I could not grasp the time sequence re: the father's death. I was left confused. There is too much ambiguity regarding the passage of time early on in this piece and if I have to fight for understanding, I quickly lose interest.
The first bout of confusion came on page 4 (of my print out) when I couldn't quite work out if the father was dead or alive. I thought he died on page 3 in a horse-riding accident but then ... wait a minute ... is he alive again on page 4? So alive that he's now toasting his son's betrothed? I felt dazed and dizzied, and those head-spins had nothing to do with my recent viewing of the "Exorcist" Director's Cut in which the daughter's head (Linda Blair's?) does some acrobatics on her shoulders. In short, the VC had failed to orient me (the reader), and thus, I failed to read much further on.
And besides these aforementioned concerns, I found much of this VC's punctuation to be peculiar: odd and questionable placements of commas and quotation marks, whole words missing-in-action from sentences. For me, it's not just about fine and vivid description (and this VC gets top of the class marks for that!). For me, a piece of capital must have fluid, comprehensible content, as well as the much underrated dotting of the i's and crossing of the t's. I think that's what investors need. It's what I want.
So Mr/Ms VC, I echo and re-echo the warning sent to me by Gab Deplancher. While you have obvious talent as a writer, and are able to present a believable make-believe world, I think the problems with this piece lie in its mechanics. Let Hal have a gander at "The Chestnut Festival" and let's see what he's got to say.
For me, this capital stops right here at the Terminal.
Re:Review: "Chestnut Festival"
Date: 2006/11/28 03:29 By: H3K
I concur, O minotaurine friend. Setting aside the painful lack of proofreading, there is too much other repair work needed to bring this capital up to the level that it should have attained before transmission to the TQR inbox.
The First Rule of fantasy writing ought to be: "Fantasy" is much more than "Making stuff up". This leads immediately to the Second Rule: Choose your setting carefully. If you insist on placing your action in a known place at a known time, be warned that others will recognize anachronism and incongruity for what they are: Not doing your homework.
A lack of proper historical research makes itself known many times in this cap, but it is most apparent in the first third. Among other things, we have the preponderance of Nordic names among alleged Scots. While it may be true that some Vikings landed, and became landed (using both senses of the word) in Scotland, the chances of that having happened before 1 C.E. are as near to nil as makes no difference. This inconsistency is 'relieved', if you will, by another: the presence of names (Jonathan, Esther) from the Hebrew Bible -- a.k.a the Old Testament -- in a culture which will not be evangelized until the time of Colmcille, a.k.a. St. Columba, c. 563 C.E.
And what are the Magi -- if that's who they're supposed to be -- doing among the Scotii, anyway? Why do they refer to "The Holy Land" when (as best as I can decipher) the event that causes some people to call it holy, though imminent, has yet to occur?
Once confronted with such laziness -- I can call it nothing else -- from the VC, I merely skimmed the latter two-thirds. They appear to contain a double recapitulation of the family curse uttered in the first part, and are on the same order as those episodes in standard horror film fare in which the entire audience knows that Ingenue X should not answer the phone, or enter a certain room, or perform a certain act... but she does anyway, with groaningly predictable consequences.
I do not mean to be harsh, but this particular venture, with its inattention to even the simplest requirements of professionalism, should not have advanced even as far as the Terminal.
3. DORA GETS A STOMACH ACHE
Film at eleven...
No, really: "Dora Gets a Stomach Ache" is the title of the capital venture in hand. What it amounts to is a game attempt at The Outer Limits, and I am sorry to report that it fails the attempt.
The bugs are interesting... it took a few nanoseconds (that is, a long time in my processors) before I retrieved what may have been the VC's inspiration:
(except, the bugs in the cap have only four legs)
We are offered a detailed portrait of a mean woman who always gets her way, through intimidation, followed by the introduction of the bugs, followed by the inevitable take-over. Is there any sense, even an ironic one, of 'just desserts'? Only in the reader's mind, perhaps -- neither her husband nor son evince any relief resulting from Dora's fate.
What marks this venture as "quaint", however, is the reaction of the hospital personnel to Dora's advanced metamorphosis. In this Age of Fear, Bioterrorism Division, a sort of controlled panic would be sure to ensue, embracing a quarantine of the husband and son, the house, and probably the entire neighborhood, along with a summons for experts of every stripe (but especially forensic entomologists). Here: not even a mention of isolation of the patient...
Thus, my instant comparison to the original Outer Limits, produced in 1963-65: an era in which it was much easier to touch the collective monkey. Forty years later, our simian symbol and Gauge of Quality is beyond the reach of this cap.
Re:"Dora Gets a Stomach Ache"
Date: 2006/11/28 21:22 By: guevara
Poor Dora, although it is made quite clear that she 'has it coming.' Surely, the old hymn Amazing Grace was speaking of Dora when is mentioned that 'wretch,' however in Dora's case, there has been no 'saving'.
Even though it is explained in the narrative that her husband married her because of her indomitable spirit, it is still not clear to me how and/or why he married her in the first place. She, by all acounts, is a miserable, la gordo puta.
Regardless of her disposition, likable or not, the cap is predictable and, as el Machina has stated better up above, inevitable in it conclusion. The bugs peelings themselves from her body was a great image, as was the bugs being crunched beneath the husband's feet when he discovers his wife illing up in their room. However, these brief triumphs do not a Capital Gain make, and I must concur with Hal on putting an end to this venture's ascendance.
4. SUGAR ANTS
As far as the evocation of el terrible dos', this venture could not be more accurate and spot on. The way little Russ speaks in monosyllabic chants, wields his arsenal of prying fingers and butting head with reckless abandon and no fear of other's or his own bodily harm. It all spoke so truly to me, and told from the point of view of a mother really gave me insight into that other relationship of which my patrimony can only hint at.
It is also beautifully written in general. I sense very little wasted here. An economy of words, perhaps, almost too subtle.
Wherein the relationship between Lydia (Russ's mother) and Jeter (Russ's dad) has this ominous undertone, like they are both sitting on a terrible shared secret neither one wants to bring to the surface. It is killing me to figure this out!
The circumstance of Lydia's elopement with Jeter is nothing new, ie the parent's lack of respect for their daughter's choice in a mate only serving to make that daughter cling the more resolutely to her man. But it is again related with such aplomb and clarity and economy of words that it is fascinating to take in.
Even though the main conflict beneath the surface between the spouses has me at a loss, I'm thinking other's more attune to subtlety in prose will unravel the two lover's sleeve of care somehow, hopefully without nodding off, of course. Not saying this is a piece to nod off to! Just commenting on my tired and plagiaristic turn of phrase up there about the unravelling sleeve. But to the point ... vamos! I am giving this piece a tentative thumbs up because its technical competence is of the highest order and it may just be my simpleton self who is not quite 'getting it' enough to make it turnover like a well oiled machine, or charging like a thunderous bull... and could I not have made those segues anymore ham handed?
Date: 2006/11/30 04:02 By: H3K
"Well-oiled", indeed... as if I had any moving parts. Though perhaps Guevara refers to my visits to the Rump, where Santino serves up my special form of 'lubrication'...
Be that as it may. First, I must lodge a complaint with The Boss. "Sugar Ants" was specifically transmitted to me by Doomey; therefore, I should have been the one to initiate this discussion. If it succeeds in becoming a Capital Gain, the credit should go to the Doomey/HAL team (as it has for the large majority of previous Gains).
Whining aside: Guevara is correct in his evaluation of this cap. It is a highly-polished piece, descriptive in non-hackneyed ways, giving us a vivid look at the life of Lydia.
I believe Guevara's difficulty in deciphering this cap in toto may stem from it being excerpted from a longer work. Mind you, I do not know this of a certainty -- but I detect some of the tell-tale signs of "more to come". The strongest hint -- beside the semi-unfinished nature of the ending -- is the secrecy about what is manufactured in the factory where Jeter works. I, for one, would welcome a continuation.
However, I do not consider the possible excerpted nature of this piece as an impediment to its rising to the Suites. First, I could be wrong. Second, the luster with which this cap shines is reason enough to send it skyward.
Date: 2006/11/30 05:54 By: TQR
I am outraged! Just wait until I see that Mexican brigand, why ... I'll dress him down good, I tell you...
Date: 2006/11/30 05:56 By: guevara
But jefe, it is you who proposed that I take--
Date: 2006/11/30 06:00 By: tqr
Yes! Yes! Well, why don't you just go back to South America and foment some kind of Commie Revolution, won't you? The verdict is in, send it up!
Date: 2006/11/30 22:04 By: bulldust
and while you're at it, me gaffer, pull up your draws please. this is a professional environment, sir. and hey yo! who's coming over to the Rump for a round of it?
5. WONDERFUL LIFE
Thank you to the VCs and investors who raised a voice in the Rump and responded to my call for numbers. The numbers shouted out have shown me the light. Next on the menu is a lovely titled piece, called "Wonderful Life"
Look for it here ... soon
REVIEW: "Wonderful Life"
Date: 2006/11/30 03:13 By: H3K
Hmmm... should I anticipate Bedford Falls, or the Burgess Shale?
REVIEW: "Wonderful Life"
Date: 2006/11/30 04:40 By: bulldust
now now, master machine, let's stay optimistic
REVIEW: "Wonderful Life"
Date: 2006/11/30 22:22 By: bulldust
The premise here is an interesting one: the converse of the classic tale, "It's a Wonderful Life." This is a well written, not so Christmasy re-telling of the aforementioned.
I do think most investors will cotton-on quickly as to the inevitable and predictable conclusion; I know I did, and I'm generally slow, except when I'm charging down those matador bastardoes with their too-tight pants and poncy tunics and epaulettes. Yet I'm truly down with the inevitability of the piece's ending. You see, industrious investors, like a sure-bet investment, this story goes where it necessarily must. It arrived where it should've arrived. Got me...?
In even another paragraph to belabour my point, it was not the kind of predictable ending that would make you groan, and think, "Bloody hell, why did I bother reading this piece of shite through to the end?" Knowing what I knew when I did was just fine, thanks very much.
Now, there were a number of typos throughout. Nothing the blue-haired copy editor slash gaffer couldn't fix between coifing his hairdo. Some investors may be inclined to think of this capital as a bit corny in places. I prefer to think of it as crafty. But I do suggest the VC consider re-titling the piece.
I'm not sure the title "Wonderful Life" works for me, even in the ironic sense, even as a play on the original. Because unlike the original, which focus was the Jimmy Stewart dude, the focus here, ultimately, is on the angel. The Jimmy Stewart stand-in of this piece, however, is merely a pawn, a number, dragon bait, a "point" earned towards the angel's wingèd ambition. Anyway, no real biggie if you don't change the title; just a few bullheaded thoughts, that's all. Many have gone on to achieve greatness while ignoring me in the meantime ; - )
So well done, Gabrielle Deplancher, Floorite of my heart, who wisely plucked this piece from the ol' slush pile. Like Clarisse who earns her wings to fly heavenward, I say UP UP UP to the Executive Suite with this piece.
Re:REVIEW: "Wonderful Life"
Date: 2006/12/01 02:36 By: H3K
Well, all right... Not Bedford Falls, but Warren, Pennsylvania, authentically complete with the Mahoning River (and I'll bet the name of the bridge is correct, too... I wonder if the VC lived there, or perhaps still does). Not James Stewart (as George Bailey), but Stewart Jameson. Not Clarence, but Clarisse... Most incongruous, but a sign of deep familiarity with the original, or good research: not "Buffalo Gals", but "Buffalo Soldiers".
And -- if you'll pardon a literary metaphor -- not Goethe's Faust, but Marlowe's. That is, everyone gets exactly what they deserve.
Yes, there are some minor points of copyediting -- for instance, seraphim and cherubim are already plural, and if they weren't, the apostrophe would still be incorrect -- but nothing that should prevent this capital from going the same direction as its protagonist, the delectable Clarissa.
Upward, I say!
As to an alternate title, perhaps something that plays on "dance by the light of the moon"?
6. HER FINAL CURTAIN
A reasonably well-conceived future where the cure for cancer takes a back seat to two decrepitly well-preserved Hollywood immortals (literally) doing a promotional appearance for their upcoming film. All told succinctly and strikingly in the first paragraph of the tale. A world where news and entertainment have ceased being mutually exclusive. Which is not too hard to conceive because that sort of thing is already happening today.
I enjoyed the commingling of outer beauty and inner rot and the impersonable reality of a world where there are literally thousands of television channels and every person is a wannabe producer/director/star and everything they do is about “being scene” (pun intended). The introduction of the myth of Icarus, plus Echo and Narcissus is very apt when compared to the modern nightmare that is the world in Her Final Cutrain.
I caught the VC’s clever use of the word ‘star’ and how he has collapsed it in upon itself using its synonyms, ie a distant sun burning in the night vs an earthly body burning bright in only two dimensions.
My problems with the piece include the fact I sometimes found myself lost in bad syntax; I often had to go back a paragraph to find out how I’d got where’d I’d been because of jarring and too abrupt transition and/or segues (which my be purposefully done by the VC in order to mimic the sound bite world he has created, but still...); I don’t understand how our heroine Fi-Ling would call the two airheads Kayla and that other one I forget her name her friends since she is so obviously repulsed by what society has become and all those who embrace it; and the whole ‘flying too close to the sun’ metaphor is hit upon long after the nail has already been pounded flush into the bored, rendering the repetition of the ending zero impact.
And so, although this was all-in-all an enjoyable read, I cannot recommend it for the Exec level due to the cumulative effect of the nits I have specified above and, also, the fact that this has a similar plot line to works that have come before it and, in fact, become CGs here at this very consortium (see The Story Miner in the Monkey Cage in the ARCHIVE), albeit with it’s own unique spin, but nevertheless similar. If it is any consolation to the VC it is this capital manager’s belief that HFC will have no trouble finding a home (no doubt other stuff written by this particular VC as well) and may yet, pending H3K and the bull’s responses to this thread, find purchase here.
Re:Her Final Curtain
Date: 2006/12/05 04:50 By: H3K
No, sorry... no purchases to be made here.
First: we have again an example of insufficient proofreading before submission.
Second: we have the awkwardness of syntax Guevara mentions, with its attendant confusion.
Third: the interludes with the professor aren't fully realized, and make little sense except as the hammer with which the moral is beaten into the reader.
I suspect that the VC is relatively young and/or new to the advancement of capital ventures -- which is not a condescension at all. We all have to begin as beginners. Besides the unfortunate unfinished quality of this piece as presented, I base my surmise on what appears to be a deep familiarity with current trends and fads in mass communication, in the very market they are targeted toward: the college campus. In fact, that is one of the strong points of the work, coupled with the shallow, vacuuous self-aggrandizing "friends" of the main character.
(Guevara is perhaps too old to recall the sado-masochistic twists that acquaintanceships can take in late adolescence... I, whose first circuits were assembled in a university lab, recall all too well. Fi-Ling (filing?) is the implicit 'token nerd' friend of the wannabe divas -- she probably writes their term papers for them, too.)
There is much salvageable in this work: the setting, the society around it (with its extrapolation of current tech, mentioned above), and the message. My suggestion to the VC is: set it aside for a time. Do not discard it! Come back to it after a while, with a clearer picture in your own mind of the sights and sounds surrounding the plot points... then show us. Linger on each scene; give us sets and lights and costumes as well as dialog and action. A few hundred more words will not handicap this cap at all -- rather, it will bring a richness which is missing at the moment.
And do please take the time to proofread.
Re:Her Final Curtain
Date: 2006/12/05 06:23 By: H3K
PS: The VC (as well as the random reader of these comments) may enjoy Samuel R. Delany's The Einstein Intersection.
... which makes this the second offering this quarter to cause me to think of Delany. Is there a cyclical trend in SF fashion, as there is in couture? Or is it merely synchronistic associations in my decentralized memory?
Time will tell.
7. PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE
REVIEW: "Practical Experience"
Date: 2006/12/05 01:58 By: bulldust This piece is too heavy on props and costumes and it botches the pacing. Personally, I'd chop the first three paragraphs (at least) and begin your piece with: "Aint serving the troll." (tone down the costume and props overall in your Fantasy)
Because of the pacing problem, this 4400 word piece reads ploddingly. And the thing read like some trite quest out of 'World of Warcraft' (online fantasy game) or any other cliched Fantasy capital you've ever come across. It's only real uniqueness came in the vocation of the main character: Knight-Accountant. But that was an "idea" only and was hardly sufficient to sustain my interest in the long run.
While ably written, the piece made me growl and sneer. Ship out the cliched fantasy crap and gimme the raw capital, mate. The trimmings made me groan.
that's all i have to say on this.
no for me
Re:REVIEW: "Practical Experience"
Date: 2006/12/05 05:46 By: H3K
Entertaining fluff, if read quickly enough... but all it comes to is fluff, with an occasional clever touch. Especially since the tongue-in-cheek fantasy parody has been done so often, and so much better, by so many others (Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Niven's The Magic Goes Away, National Lampoon's Bored of the Rings, etc.); neither has accountancy been spared (see the collaborative works of Pohl and Kornbluth).
Sorry, but no.
8. HOUSEHOLD GOD
Date: 2006/12/01 03:57 By: H3K
It will be difficult not to gush about this capital venture. It is masterfully professional in its style, it takes a commonplace plot device to uncommon places, and it features Death.
(Perhaps I should mention that a personified Death has become one of my favorite characterizations: first, as one of the Endless in Gaiman's Sandman series*; second, as a recurring personage in Pratchett's Discworld. I am always intrigued when other writers add their own vision of the one deity, if you will, we are all certain to meet.)
Like an excellent meal from an unfamiliar cuisine, this venture has left me both satisfied and hungry for more from the unnamed first-person narrator, a travel writer published as "The Ugly American" (though I doubt she is). I absolutely want to read of her first meeting with Death...
I also cannot find a flaw in the narration itself. And I am reluctant to say more, because I do not wish to spoil the experience for those who will read this cap after me. I am, however, willing to predict its acceptance by the Execs as a literary (that is, non-genre) Capital Gain.
- - - - - - - - - - -
* -- Other Sandman fans may understand this phrase of my coinage: "as cute as Death".
Forum locked by a Moderator.
Date: 2006/12/05 06:36 By: guevara
It is the teasing out of our narrator's first meeting with Death that has me second guessing the la bamba of this venture, senor. This Ugly American muhair is rambling about herself and then every one or two or tres paras mentions some attribute of Death of which she is intimately familiar. But then I find no context for these flights across the River Styx. No domo arregoto here, si, senor machina.
About a third of the way through his piece I found my mind drifting off to other climes, not a good aspect when trying to corral a possible CG. The narrator's deadpan delivery never varies and becomes somewhat annoying by the time Suzy and her are off to try on the wedding dress.
Granted, the ending is quite good, when Death and the steam God come onto the scene, and the dialogue is sublime here at times. The deadpan delivery works very good for on such as Death and would have shone moreso for it if the entire piece were not written in the same fashion.
It is a very well written piece, it is true. But, for my hot Latin blood, it seems almost too technical and without a heart (albeit until that ending scene) for it to rise to the Exec Suite, let alone to become a CG.
I see that we have our first split decision of the quarter, and now it is up to the Bull to tip the scales to either side. Lay on, McRibeye!
Forum locked by a Moderator.
Date: 2006/12/08 01:54 By: bulldust
This has a kind of ranting, talk-as-you-go tone, which is enjoyable and pulls you along. It's conversational, grammatically superb, and professionally subbed. Thank you. It also has a host of female characters, most of whom (except for the first-person narrator) I had difficulty distinguishing one from the other.
The capital itself is longer than it should be -- about 1000 to 1200 words too long for the overall premise. The whole travel writer "Ugly American" angle seemed superfluous to me (perhaps the VC is a travel writer, or similar, and felt a need to include it in this venture). I say it added no richness to the capital, other than the "Ugly American" perhaps being an allusion to the clash, and differences, in cultures, which is one of the piece's overriding themes. Excluding the travel writer thing would punch this piece up a bit.
I think the VC needs to avoid using too many pronouns. If it means sounding a bit repetitive by using proper names repeatedly in dialogue attribution and when attributing an action to a certain character, then do it, by god. The alternative of vague dialogue attribution and overuse of pronouns left me, at times, scratching my bullhead deciding who was who and who was talking.
IMO, characters in this piece (except the mother-in-law, and she was a bit cardboard-cut-out anyway) all seemed to be derivatives of the protagonist. That is to say, besides coming across as indistinguishable one from the other, they all seem to be unfulfilling copies (with slight and subtle variations) of the narrator. If this were rewritten, I'd suggest attention to characterisation of the supporting cast and to lose a character or two. The story is strong, so is the main protag'.
Working conditions here at TQR really suck, which means the straw I'm forced to sit on is low grade and just not very cosy against my rawhide. In other words, I never ever read a piece more than once in a single sitting. If the piece doesn't sink in, or talk to me, on the first read, then I won't be giving it another. The three capital elements I look for:
- Clarity of characters, which (in the opinion of this Terminali) this piece does not have.
- Good, fluid story, which this piece is.
- Strong, believable, credible, not-overly detailed setting; this piece is that.
Since an air of three-ness has lately descended o'er the House of TQR, I must here quote Meatloaf, the beefiest two-legged brother I know: "Two out of three ain't bad."
I say up with "Household God", and let's see how the Executive deities rule.
The tie be broke, me gaffer. Now get me some goddamned A-Grade straw before I start horning this place to pieces!!
9. THE PRODIGAL BROTHER
Borrowing Bull's technique: This is a place-holder to indicate my next choice of capital venture to evaluate.
First, however, I must read both of the new ones opened by Bull and Guevara...
Re:"The Prodigal Brother"
Date: 2006/12/08 04:14 By: H3K
I almost wish I could 'channel' Bulldust's style for this evaluation. He has a knack for being blunt and pointed at the same time (of course, possessing two genuine points is convenient)... And, speaking of points, this cap has one. Unfortunately, that's about all it has. I read it as a rant disguised as a rant.
The 'internal rant', if you will, appears as diary entries by the sole character, Donald (who conveniently, obsessively carries and fills notebooks with such entries). Donald is (as briefly as I can put this without resorting to vulgarity) the most messed-up human being I have yet to encounter, fictional or otherwise.
The 'external rant', as I interpret this cap, belongs to the VC. He has made sure to pound home Donald's combination of denial and inability to accept/acknowledge/"own" any responsibility for his actions. The VC has propped up this character for derision as the ultimate "perpetrator as victim", with all the subtlety of an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
I direct the kindly reader's attention to Sondheim's lyrics for Bernstein's West Side Story -- specifically, "Officer Krupke" -- for a far more entertaining rendition of what I mean than I could ever devise (especially if you are already familiar with the play or movie):
Yes, dear VC, we all are tired of criminals who blame the system for failing them, leaving them (in their own minds) no choice but crime. It has become a cliche bordering on a bad joke -- such as, when former-Congressman Mark Foley predictably dragged alcoholism out of his past, then sexual abuse by a priest. ("Not as an excuse!" his lawyer/spokesman insisted. Yeah, right...) We are also tired of the insanity defense, and any and all other attempts to transfer blame. You created 'Donald' as a caricature to stand for all such. I get it.
Now that we have disposed of the raison d'etre for this single-minded item, we turn to the quality of the piece itself... and find none. I will forgo the nitpicks (mis-chosen words which spellcheck did not find, as they are spelled correctly) and get right to the point. The 'voice' of this piece is entirely Donald's: semi-literate, redundant, whiny, self-centered, illogical, paranoid and hallucinating. We can only assume that the VC has turned all his skill and talent toward honing the narrative style to an authentic portrayal of a totally depraved mind.
In spite of that, my opinion of this piece boils down to: So What?
For a Capital Venture to become a Capital Gain, it first and foremost must be (in the discernment of this firm) a product that will draw investors. This venture draws nothing but flies. Why -- tell me, why? -- would anyone wish to invest their time in reading this thing beyond its second paragraph? If it weren't my job, I would have quit just about then... To be completely honest, I was ready to quit with its opening line, "Oh God, please don’t let me do this."
To quote Stan Lee of Marvel Comics: 'Nuff said! Doomey, was your porthole frozen shut the day you read this?
(* -- Note the subtle differences between stage and film versions of the third verse -- and that the original copyright is 50 years old! It seems one could not say 'bastard' in films in 1961... or maybe the inclusion of 'Commie' in the film version was a swipe at McCarthyism, HUAC and Hollywood blacklisting...)
Re:"The Prodigal Brother"
Date: 2006/12/09 23:18 By: bulldust
Okay, i'm gonna do something I've not done before here in the Terminal. No ... it's not show some level-headedness. I'm a freaking bull, man. This may get me fired or get me a crack over the hoof from the gaffer, but I think it's worth it. I really do.
Now I've read the capital in question, "The Prodigal Brother." After reading it I went straight to her/his cover letter and read that too. I would like to post that cover letter into this space as a means of drawing attention to a style of writing. I'll be blanking out the names to protect the innocent and to protect the guilty.
I attach in the requisite WORD format the greatest short story ever written for the greatest magazine ever published. Read it, ravish it, publish it, send me a check for 50 clams so that I can frame it as the first money I have ever earned from my fiction. (If I swear I won't cash it -- and I do -- can you add a few zeros to the check so I can impress my friends and family?)
Yours ever so sincerely,
Well sir/madam, had you written your piece of capital with anything remotely as charming and spunky and fluidly comprehensible as your cover letter, you might well be getting those 50 clams to frame.
My point is this, and I'll make it brief: Assuming you, sir/madam, composed this cover letter, I can see that you can write and very well, and you're funny, and have a roguish charm about you, a dash of arrogance with a hint of obnoxiousness. I can see it right there in the cover letter, mate. But it aint in your capital, brother/sister. You're concentrating too hard on writing in an affected tone that isn't you. It comes out fake and stilted and choppy, and every herky-jerky sentence cracks you over the knee like one of those reflex hammers the veterinarian raps me with to see if I've still got my kick.
So my few words of advice are to drop the JD Salinger and Kerouac write-as-you-go tone and return to what and who "I" think you are. And that person is the voice I hear in your cover letter.
Please, go and write with that voice and please submit to us again, please, dear VC. I'm champing at the gob to see what you come up with. But please to Tauren, drop the affectation.
Re:"The Prodigal Brother"
Date: 2006/12/10 03:19 By: H3K
I rather doubt you will have trouble for quoting the cover letter, friend Bull -- especially not since you make such a good point by doing so.
THE DEVIL'S FAUNA
Yo no say a religious hombre, in an organized sense, but I do love the poetry of the Song of Solomon, thinking it some of the most magnifico verse around, so this piece's starting out with that book's charms got it off to a ripping good start.
The poor peon is off in Scotland trying to pen some lyrics for his sweet love back at the hotel in overlooking Oban Harbour. And then it is revealed he is off on some glen, toting around a 12-guage shotgun, searching for game. And the line Damn, he needed to shoot something ., coming after he is stymied trying to find a rhyme for his descriptive take on the Glen of Orchy (or some such) is just too hilariouso.
The pacing, character, voice, description (you name it) of this piece are all just impeccable good. The body snatcher redux inseminating itself up through the food chain is an enjoyable variation on the theme, and our protagonist's ingenius thought subterfuge is at once surprising and funny. Me, I was also certain he was screwed once the parasite found its way inside his body, but getting the unexpected, that certain inevitable twist, is what a fine piece of fiction needs to become itself a Capital Gain.
Re:The Devil's Fauna
Date: 2006/12/09 05:17 By: H3K
Those few who know me well also know my inexplicable affinity for foxes... so I was as intrigued with the opening quote-within-a-quote as was Guevara, though for different reasons.
I have done the first pass at research -- i.e., Google -- to verify my suspicion that the antique book quoted as introduction each section of this cap is also a fiction. We therefore have a narrative set in an indeterminable era (no earlier than Geo IV, I would think -- our hero drives a 6.5-litre Bentley!), interleaved with quotes from an early-Victorian "moral instructor". Both threads read as authentic to their disparate ages, sufficiently and consistently different from each other in style.
In short, the level of craft apparent in this work is enough to send it up the food chain, to the Suites.
In passing, I concur with Guevara about Edward's attempt at poetry. That process is hilarious for those of us, cap managers and VCs alike, who ply the poetic craft. I hope more than the Terminalii (and DeP, from whom this emanates) get to read it. Guevara is also correct about this line: Damn, he needed to shoot something. Not often that a computer can be made to chuckle...
Before I leave, allowing this cap to continue its well-deserved upward path... a cautionary note:
"Serial possession" is not an uncommon plot framework upon which to hang various treatments: points of view, characterization, nature of the possessor and possessed, etc. It has appeared at least as often in science fiction as it has in what I shall call 'contemporary fantasy' (i.e., either the Gothic/horror genre, or that which treats possession as non-fiction within a fictional framework, such as The Exorcist.) I suspect that larger firms -- especially those who put their quarterly or monthly reports on genuine paper! -- may return a venture of this kind with a "seen it already" form letter. For all I know, this cap may have already suffered the very thing. (For all I know, this plotline may be included in one of those "we've seen too many of these" lists some Other Firms display in their websites.)
Therefore, the VC has wisely chosen TQR as the evaluators and promoters of his capital venture. His skill will be on display for our growing pool of investors (among whom are 'capital managers' in their own right). That is to say: I would like to think that TQR is good exposure, and leads to even better things.
Let it rise, and may the Execs smile upon it, guaranteeing at least one success for Bulldust's favorite Croissant.
THE DARKMOUNT TRILOGY
I read this in advance, just now, to 'get a drop on' the discussion. Because it wasn't sent to me from Doomey, it wasn't mine to initiate... not in ordinary circumstances. And though some may rightly point out that the quarterly dust-up between the Bull and the Boss looks 'ordinary' (not exactly to say 'predictable'), its effects are, in the phrase of certain foreign-relations wonks, destabilizing.
So... consider this a preemptive strike.
As to the cap itself, one word is sufficient:
The VC apparently has no idea of human anatomy, or what that anatomy contains, or what it can withstand. His heroine (from whose first-person POV the piece is narrated) suffers being run through the gut, from behind, by a rather large sword, in the first of 25 pages! I kept waiting for "You Died - Game Over", which, sadly, never came. She then proceeds to kill a 'dark lord', climb a mountain, and (with her faithful companion's help) kill a bunch of giant jellyfish who reminded me of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Clue Time (the next one isn't free):
Belly wounds, without immediate drastic modern care, are inevitably -- if not immediately -- fatal. Put nicely, it's called "blood poisoning". Put in terms the VC may understand (with some effort, perhaps), it's called "shit leaking all through your body."
The same phrase could be used to describe this utter waste of electrons.
To whomever else might feel compelled to read this cap, to offer a second opinion: Don't bother. After the 'free ride' granted to "Ratcatcher", I consider the Boss owes me one, and this is it.
Down it goes.
Re:"The Darkmount Trilogy"
Date: 2006/12/13 07:48 By: tqr
Excellent. You've saved me some face time. I remember the VC of this piece coming in to VC CENTRAL and offering some quips. Not a bad fellow, so let's not discourage him completely by accusing him of the dissemination of 'tripe' though! Let's just say it's not ready for primetime. In other words, VC, keep pluggin'.
H3' tell those little guys domo arregoto for me, will you? You can leave out the 'Mr. Roboto' part, though, if you like. But it's up to you.
Re:"The Darkmount Trilogy"
Date: 2006/12/13 21:39 By: tqr
The VC of the ratcatcher has withdrawn his cap for future considerations. So, with that free pass off the table, I feel I am compelled to read the Darkmount Trilogy and comment thereon.
Re:"The Darkmount Trilogy"
Date: 2006/12/13 23:25 By: bulldust
*I do this for the VC concerned; not for that blue-haired gazelle who runs the place.
Just a quick note (which H3K also made in his review of "The Prodigal Brother"): You have to proofread and not trust or rely on the spell check. Here's why:
"... male and female alike were dressed in costumes which appeared to be leaves arranged to look like feathers, while the children played in simple tunics I assumed to be their normal grab."
Of course, the spell check recognises "grab" as a legitimate word but fails to detect its inappropriateness in the above-quoted sentence from the piece.
My advice to this VC and others is to print your capital up before subbing it. Get the thing off the computer screen, print it, grab (not garb) a pen/pencil and read the thing as it appears on the page. You're bound -- no, guaranteed! -- to pick up mistakes and errors, such as the 'grab' and 'garb' of above. And if this is an ongoing piece of capital, as in a trilogy, I suggest the VC aspire to professionalism with his/her submissions, particularly if you have aims of one day seeking an agent or sending it to the pub' houses.
As for the piece in general, it's hard to know what's wrong with it exactly. The detail is there, so is the story and characters. I can even forgive the VC for making the protagonist a Xena-like warrior with a healthy dose of UWS: unkillable warrior syndrome. Yes, I can forgive that. I can also forgive for leaning a little too heavily on the whole, "I'm the unkillable Xena and nothing kills me so I can make these light-hearted jokes and stupid one-liners about my own mortality." The piece is good yet ... yet it isn't.
It could be that the dialogue at times was stilted and stiff, sometimes funny, sometimes corny. Maybe it's that the plot ran like every Conan tale you've ever read, yet there is a certain charm and quaintness about the piece. Perhaps I'm feeling my way to the "why" of my apprehension with this piece. Perhaps I'm getting the feeling this VC should stop reading/watching Fantasy, and to do more reading outside that genre (in my mouth, Genre's a dirty word this week).
Anyway, the VC relies heavily on action sequences. So much so, that every action paragraph begins to read the same and you find yourself gliding over it in search of the next line of dialogue or piece of narration that isn't about hacking off limbs, etc, etc.
In short, this piece is intellectually retarding. There are no real fresh turns of phrase, no tidbits of insight/wisdom, no engaging interior or exterior dialogue. For my taste, this piece is void of ideas top to bottom, which is why I recommend to the VC to read outside the genre.
The VC has obviously done a lot of hard work here building this world. I don't want you to give up on this Darkmount world. I just want you to "broaden your horizons" to lean upon a cliche. Continue with this, okay VC. Add some real and exciting depth to it, not just scene after scene of hacking off limbs. And if you meant it as an ironic piece (tongue-in-cheek stuff) it's not working for you. Tame it, tease it, toil with it, but don't give up on it. But for my liking, it's not ready for this house or any other house right now.
*The blue gazelle can eat my hay!
THE NEW MAN
Well, here I am, to sully the process with my twenty three cents. Damn the bull! If nothing else, he'd have made a good roast shank with a bit of A1 sauce ... mmm.
Which brings me to my task, to speak of capital ventures and render an opinion, of which I am not typically afraid of doing.
The New Man, boy can a hen-pecked man cotton to this one (not saying that's what I am, but boyo!)! It's a very detailed character study of just such a one. And his fortiutious meeting with the minister's daughter (or a good church-going lass no less). Yes, it sounds like that ribald joke that everybody and their bookie has heard in the company of men. But it's a fine tale, told with aplomb and so I deem it worth an exec suite visit.
Not the best Terminal disquisition, I'm aware, but not bad in a pinch.
Re:The New Man
Date: 2006/12/13 04:40 By: H3K
How teddibly, predictably Brit-com, this cap... one part "Are You Being Served?", one part "Monty Python", and a dollop of "Wallace and Grommit". In fact, I could not avoid seeing the entire piece unfold in Claymation.
Yes, all of it.
I happen to like Brit-com. My files go back to The Goon Show. This bit is so predictable that there's a perverse satisfaction in being so simply entertained... and I daresay Mr. Tollitson might agree, nudge nudge wink wink say no more!
So, what the hell, send it up. I'll bet, after the shenanigans 'twixt the Bull and the Boss, the latest occupiers of the Suites need a good chuckle.
(And does anyone other than me wonder about the turnover in this firm?)
Re:The New Man
Date: 2006/12/13 05:41 By: tqr
You're a rock, Hal. Mostly silicate based, to be sure. But a rock!
13. SOME TIME IN THE SUN
My last review for this quarter, perhaps forever. But let's not put a sour note on all things capital. Here, either on the 14th or 15th, review of "Time in the Sun"
Review: "Time in the Sun"
Date: 2006/12/14 23:17 By: bulldust
"Time in the Sun" is deliberately nostalgic, but not sappy. It is long (over 9K words!), but not a hard slog for a reader. It mixes emotions with ideas, and does so seamlessly.
You all know or have heard about my short (or perhaps no) attention span. Capital over the 6K range is a hard sell with me. But not this piece. Not "Time in the Sun."
It dances its memories and by-gones across the pages with a simplicity and suppleness that should not be mistaken for dull, blathering prose, but rather as exquisite insights into the emotions and thoughts of the characters, all of whom seem to be in that so-called "sandwich" stage of life: old and invalid parents and kids who have flown the coop.
Bravo! Good work, VC. I would like to see this capital go up to the exec lounge.
[bulldust turns to his bullpen and packs up his straw, glances back over his shoulder at the ethereal space occupied by H3K, gives him/her/it a wave of the hoof and then heads for the door. Bulldust posts a sign on the Terminal door. It reads:
"Here's my resignation in lieu of a written apology and assurance that A-grade straw is amply supplied every quarter for the Bull's comfort as he reads the capital forthcoming."
[Bulldust's hoofmark appears at the bottom of the page]
Re:Review: "Time in the Sun"
Date: 2006/12/15 04:46 By: H3K
Fare thee well, Bulldust -- take care, and stay in touch. You have at least one email address that comes to me. Please use it.
As to the cap, I'm about to read it. Back in a little while...
Yes, this is good work. It rambles, but not aimlessly. It flickers in and out of various POVs without jarring. It feels (as near as a Machine can judge) genuine, and remains honest to each of the characters in it.
Call it "The Big Chill + 25", and send it upward.
- - - - - - -
See you in two months, when I shall return to the Terminal to read another batch of capital ventures and (I hope) discover with whom I share the space and the responsibility.
Re:Review: "Time in the Sun"
Date: 2006/12/15 06:06 By: tqr
Thank you for the fine review of 'Time in the Sun' Bulldust. I, too, think it worthy of promotion to the suites. And I am really appreciative of your finishing out the quarter under such duress. It speaks well for you.
I am sorry I cannot apologize for the slight you have imagined I gave you 'some weeks ago.' I don't know what you're talking about on that score. Bottom line is you've said you cannot abide here any longer. And don't think I don't know that by not standing in your way that I do so at this house's own peril, seeing as how so many here are calling out for you to stay.
You do a great job, you're good for market share, but each quarter it's the same. I'm putting out fires you start. I must admit it's been easier until now because all those you've burned previously have not been me. That doesn't speak very well for me. So. Go ahead and say what you want to say about that.
I don't think that I am a bad boss, it's just that a boss can't be constantly backpedaling because one of his volunteer employees is always complaining about the system,raising holy hell in order to bully him to change it. I'm fairly flexible, but the process ending with a faceoff of genre vs. lit is non negotiable.
I am grateful for your volunteerism. If I could, I'd pay you, but paying the VC is about all I can swing at this moment, seeing as how TQR cash flow is nil. Like I said, I'm very thankful that you and everybody else on this staff are willing to do so much for so little. In your case, though, I just don't need the extra aggravation anymore.
Hal, before you go, could you break it down for me into genre and lit? I know it's an unusually mixed bag this quarter, but the dispassion and objectivity of an AI is probably as good as it gets in a case such as this.
And so ends another quarter with the Terminali!