TQR Confidential

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Terminal: Summer Issue 2006
















1. Opinion: "Through the Third Eye" Date: 2006/05/19 05:18 By: bulldust Status: Admin

As a curtain raiser to the real evaluation of this piece, I would like to say that presentation is important and so is attention to detail. Why? Because if capital is tendered with numerous mizspelins, tipos, punctuation errors.,; misapplied italics, inconsistent spacing between words and sentences, “missing quotation marks (and the list goes on), then it all becomes a major distraction no matter how fine a capital it may be. So, not unlike buying prime real estate -- Location Location Location -- a VC should recite, “Proofread Proofread Proofread” as a mantra.

As I read this capital, "Through the Third Eye," I got the sense that it was excerpted from a longer work. The opening of this piece is very strong indeed, and engaging. It begins well and seems interesting enough: Doctor Paul using acupuncture on Aristotle, the bio-engineered spaceship-navigator known as a Head, who is suffering headaches but cannot (for some reason) use conventional medicine, and then added to that the doctor's strained relationship with his drug addicted freighter captain who is strung out on yellow crystal. But sadly, these relationships are never developed or explored beyond the opening scenes, which is kind of ironic because they're all part of a spaceship crew who routinely “explore” the unknown.

I liked that Aristotle’s brain had been bio-engineered to allow him to synchronise with the ship’s clocks, keeping him always on time and in “direct contact with the ship’s navigation systems”, thus allowing him to pilot the ship through Space. I even liked the few tidbits of insight into the world of acupuncture, but unfortunately I never felt “enlightened” enough by the end of the piece to understand its inclusion in the first place. People in the West are becoming more interested in alternative medicines. The area of acupuncture should be expanded on by the VC and made more integral to the overall venture/journey. As it stands, the acupuncturing, etc, seems tokenism at best.

Once we reach the turning point (the spaceship’s wiring and navigational system getting fried by the tip of some Ion storm and the crew having to devise a way to save their lost-in-space arses), the handful of male characters all seem much too generic, meaning it's difficult to tell one apart from the other. They seem to lack characterization -- a voice (or quirks) of their own perhaps. Maybe a female character thrown in there somewhere might help a little. To see an example of excellent characterisation and realistic dialogue, read last quarter’s, “Between the Night People and the Day People,” by Mr J. Colvin.

Where there is sometimes a danger of incorporating too much scientific gibberish, “Through the Third Eye” seems a little soft on science. The setting (the scenery, the venue) needs some real nuts and bolts work. I never felt I was in a spaceship -- it could have taken place aboard an aeroplane, a submarine, or an underground laboratory for that matter.

The engine that drives this piece of capital is good and has potential but the whole thing needs some refuelling with the very elements that seemed overly abundant in, "The Secret of the Squick": scientific contraptions, gadgets, and technological innovation abound. While Squick had a surplus of those things and was lacking in other areas, conversely, "Through the Third Eye" is starved of science but has the elements of something solid. Work on the nuts and bolts of the “setting” and breathe some individuality into some of the characters and this piece of capital may yet come to life.



I have an affinity for capital built around navigators of deep space (one reason: I'm preparing one of my own). So I was intrigued with the premise of this one.

My esteemed taurine colleque is correct: this rough gem requires much more polishing. Not, I'm afraid, to qualify for the TQR Executive food fight next month... but for the long haul.

Here's my first advice: Strike every instance of the neologism "small-engineered", and use a thesaurus.

Here's my second: Rewrite from Aristotle's POV, not Dr. Paul's. Make us feel him.

I disagree with BD in one small area of his criticism: Gadgetry is not the only way to evoke the atmosphere of "starship". For instance, the late and much-lamented Cordwainer Smith managed by concentrating on the loneliness (and madness) outside, not the hardware inside.

BD's Notice

Dear [VC],

Your submission was read and considered by the usual crowd in the Terminal. Despite the obvious potential of "Through the Third Eye", it won't be advancing to the next stage of the vetting process. To have even made it past the Floor to the open vetting of the Terminal speaks volumes of your ability as a writer.

The story itself has merit and movement but needs a boost in the areas of setting and character, and, as Hal pointed out in his review, in mood/atmosphere. For me, personally, as a reader, it was lacking mostly in the physical setting and in the lack of individuality of your cast of characters, which seem to blend one into the other as the action picks up. Perhaps, as Hal mentioned, try a shift of perspective, maybe changing the p.o.v. character to Aristotle. Also, I would like to see the accupuncture made more integral to the story, because I think you are on to something there.

So try TQR again with another piece, and be sure to keep an eye on the ongoing vetting process to get a feel for what the editors like or dislike in general about stories, which may give valuable insights into your own writing.

Best of luck with "Through the Third Eye" if and when you submit it to another publication.


for TQR

2. The Drowning Man

Date: 2006/05/15 00:56 By: H3K Status: Admin
First clue: drowning is not an adjective, but a gerund (see also: hanging judge).

This capital venture is of the Thomas Tryon/Steven King school: a creepy little tale that the reader does not realize has become creepy until 2/3 of the way through it.

Second clue: There are large jumps forward in time between sections, and while the same character is central throughout, the narrative POV changes in each section.

The jump in POV and years between the second and third parts is less easy to assimilate than that between the first and second -- indeed, I had to read it twice before I was sure.

Third clue: It's not creepy in the way one is led to expect by the first half of the third part... that is, there's a twist.

Fourth clue: The opening four paragraphs of the third part provide the key, but it is deceptively easy to read past them. I was tempted to suggest to the VC that s/he set them off typographically, as the sections are divided... but that may spoil the desired effect.

Conclusion: A finely crafted venture, overall -- and, I may add, probably easily adapted as a teleplay for the proper market. It being the first of many ventures to rise to me from the dark recesses of The Floor, I will reserve (for a while) my recommendation of its disposition.

In other words, I'll wait to see whether the market is Bullish (and Dusty).

By: bulldust Status: Admin

Hold on Hal. I've gotta read this piece of cap again.

So don't go pressing any of yer internal delete buttons or send buttons. Just cool your spools, big machine. Before I can render any bull-decisions on this piece, I feel I must read it again to make sure I've got both my horns around it.

Date: 2006/05/17 04:48 By: tqr Status: Admin

Oh BD, I am so going to like you. Your dilligence in these matters makes me hard! Not that I want to touch you in any untoward manner, mind you. I'm just cuckoo for the capital gains ... is the thing.

Date: 2006/05/17 05:54 By: doomey Status: Admin

[doomey climbs up a rope and finds himself face to face with a bull, a madman and a machine]


[he quickly finds purchase on the rope and climbs back down into the haunted disco]

handle that goddamned cap careful, you bee-otches! tis my cap, and i demand respect or at least a little bit of -

[a thump and a grinding noise, a squeek and a little girl scream]

...i'm ok.

Date: 2006/05/17 07:06 By: bulldust




[bull presses the intercom on the wall]
Yeah, security, it's Bull here. Some scrawny night crawler has wormed his way up the rope into the Terminal and then slithered back down again as if he were auditioning for the part of Gollum. Listen security, I thought this here Terminal had bolted doors and double glazed windows? What's that...? It was Doomey? Doomey the floorite...?

[Bulldust rakes up the floor-tiles with his hoof, he whips his massive head side to side, his ringed nostrils pipe steam, he huffs and he puffs and ...
he turns himself around and trots back to his bed of straw and flops down with a thwump! and goes back to sleep]

But his last thought before returning to his bull-dreams is how (and when) he will infiltrate the Floor and repay this intruder tenfold. The bull's plans are ahoof!

Date: 2006/05/17 23:40 By: bulldust Status: Admin

I guess I must be easily deceived because I seemed to have missed the “key” to which Hal referred in his opening comments on “The Drowning Man.” Okay, the first two paragraphs below are Bulldust's comments after reading the capital the first time. The third and subsequent paragraphs (to pick up on Hal’s theme) are the comments after reading it for a second time.

Was this piece a mystery thriller in the scope of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”? Was the main character a kind of twisted, demented individual with two, or more, manic personalities like the motel owner/senile mother in “Psycho”? In “The Drowning Man” I’m not sure I understood if there was supposed to be some “surreal” connection between the father and the son-as-a-grown-adult, or if the grown-son was in fact the demented father after all (one in the same), or the other way around, or if the so-called baptism at the beginning did indeed kill the son, and then something snapped in the father and he was left to believe/imagine that his son had actually really survived the drowning, etc and so on and so forth and arghhhhhh!

As you can read, Bulldust was left baffled and confused. I do feel a little out to sea like the boy characters in this piece. Of course, I mean “out to sea” in the sense of feeling lost and bewildered by it all. The colossal mind of H3K seems to have latched onto something critical here that I did not, and he has apparently comprehended this piece without having to even consult his motherboard. Bulldust, on the other hoof, had a time of it trying to “get it”. That’s not to say that this is not a fine piece in another reader’s hands. It just didn’t work in mine (I guess coz I have hoofs and not hands!)

To quote some lines of dialogue from "The Drowning Man":

"Oil?" Addison removed his sunglasses and cocked an eyebrow at the boy. "Oil. Boy, you don't know what I'm talking about do you? You're talking oil and I'm talking water.”

Even after a second read, I still feel like I’m playing the part of the boy, and Addison is addressing me. To summarize: The VC of this piece was talking oil and the reader of this piece (Bulldust) was reading water, and ne’er the twain shall meet.

Was Addison a ghost? some kind of returned-from-the-dead child stalker hoping to exact his revenge on young boys? perhaps an imp of the sea? or was he just Addison, grown up, but demented and murderous and who had an utterly warped sense of what being “saved” and “baptized” really was? Or was he like the motel owner in “Psycho”? Or do you reckon he might’ve been...

What is it I’m missing here? Or was this the capital’s “desired effect”, as Hal put it in his first comments, to leave it all a little blurry? “Blurry” is okay, I guess, but I felt the piece was murky and got murkier still as it moved along.

If it were up to Bulldust (and it’s not), I’d want this venture lengthened by another 1000 words or so to allow for some clarification, or simplification, of the overall piece and to permit some “smoother” (less bumpy) transitions from time to time. Some of the scene jumps were like bungee jumping through Time, and these jumps left the Bull floundering and breathless as to where he was and when he was, very much like the two American scientists tumbling down through the swirling maze of the Time Tunnel in that 60s TV show.

Geez, I dunno, Hal, maybe you can shed some light on my darkness. I know you’re the senior Terminali round here and I’m just the overzealous intern who never stops yammering and snorting and who could be evicted from the Terminal at a moment’s notice, but I can’t help but feel a little inadequate because of how unproductive (and seemingly ill-informed) my comments have been. I guess I’ll defer to you and your better judgment as to how this piece should proceed from here.

Date: 2006/05/18 23:44 By: tqr Status: Admin

Never fear!

If I can disarm that besotted Guevara of his squeegies and scrapers long enough to direct him back to his Terminal cubicle, he will chime in and/or break this tie (if tie it be).

Date: 2006/05/19 22:15 By: bulldust Status: Admin

the last I heard about Guevera, he was down at the Queen's Rump scratching chewing gum and old dried boogers off the bottom of tables and seats. Tell you what, bossman, I'll go fetch him and bring him back on the tip of my horn if I have to. He's got some work to do in this here Terminal, and "The Drowning Man" needs to know its destiny.

dig it

Date: 2006/05/20 02:51 By: guevara Status: Admin

My best guess at interpretation of this tale (for BD's muddled sake) is a major league Jesus complex brought on this Addison character by his frighteningly compulsive father.

As to its merit, I must say the first half gave me chills, and was constructed thusly to forebode the coming violence to maximum goosebump effect.

The part where Addison the nearly-drowned boy has now become a man wandering the back roads for poor souls to reap starts just as compellingly. The writing is just right through out, not too heavy, but with just the right amount of detail that will allow an investor to fill in the scene by utilizing their own set of past impressions. Or, perhaps that is too esoteric a way of saying, fa la la la la bomba!

However, the endgame is the thing, and for me there was no tr la la boomdier, (forgive my bad French spelling, mes amies!) As Addison's deadly enticements carried themselves forward toward their intended prey, there was a certitude of what would happen that is not amenable to page-turning fiction, so to speak. The boy's contrary responses at first were a nice little surprise, but his eventual acquiesence was just a bit deflating for me. And, although we are spared the gory details in the end, the lack of any further surprise or turning of the tables, I guess, leads me to break this tie unfavorably for the VC's wares moving onto the Executive Suite. Just by a nose, mind you. A photo finish, where the nag you are riding has come in second. My apologies to the VC, who has crafted a very compelling (until the last quarter of the pages), beautifully crafted venture.

Date: 2006/05/20 06:00 By: bulldust Status: Admin

nicely said, senor guevera. and you're right, there's real potential with this VC. Perhaps another venture in the ensuing quarter from this VC?
good luck!

Date: 2006/05/20 12:37 By: guevara Status: Admin


Date: 2006/05/21 03:29 By: H3K Status: Admin

Thus, you see why I withheld my up or down vote: it was soooo close.

There are three important reasons for reading capital ventures twice: (1) They're so good, you can't help but read them again; (2) They're nearly good enough, and you can't decide if the Monkey has been touched; (3) Your first reading leaves you confused. BD and I both needed two readings, for different reasons, neither of which was #1.

Gracias, Sr. Guevara, for your illumination.

Date 2006/05/21 5:25 guevara Status: Admin

De nada, Hal. De nada.

Hal's Notice to the VC

21 May 2006

Dear [VC],

Considering all of the extra work you put into this, it is with more
than my usual regret that I must inform you that it will not be
advancing beyond the Terminal.

I hope you will read the thread of comments about it -- minus the
silliness, of course -- which can be found here:


...and which will eventually move to the TQaRchives blog.

To summarize: your story was *very* close to a keeper. One reader
suggested even more expansion than you have already given it on the
advice of our Mr. Doomey. Overall, it appears that the very difficult
effort of diguising the true nature of Addison's actions in Part Three
-- to misdirect the reader about the nature of the tension -- fell on
the confusing side of that ultrathin line.

Please do not be discouraged. This story is worth the work still to
come, and we wish you success with it in another venue.


HAL 3000
for TQR

3. Echoes of Life

Date: 2006/05/20 03:31 By: lafloor Status: Admin

Excellent. Love this story. The three main characters are likable and distinct. There's some nice tension between them, especially Jason and Blaze, which is very fitting. But more important than the tension is the affection. And Jenny is cool.

The opening didn't grab me, but I wouldn't change it. I'm just an impatient action junkie, so while the language was admirable, I wanted to sink into the story. However, the opening works very well with the entire piece, and once the "story" part started, it absolutely took off. This cat can WRITE.

I do have a small nitpick with the small info-dump right after Jason takes Blaze to meet his mom, though. Maybe that could be worked in a bit more organically? It's important info, but it sort of jumped out as a bit clunky.

Other than that one tiny section though, this was fantastic. It had striking visuals and gave a whole new twist on coming of age.

Date: 2006/05/22 02:32 By: H3K Status: Admin

Yes, this cat can write! Worthy of comparison to Varley, who also has taken us to the gas giants (among other places) to show us people brave enough to live wherever they choose. There's a fascinating scientific premise at work here, too, which the VC develops deliciously slowly in the background, keeping the people and their development up front.

Instant recommendation to the penultimate level. I will go so far as to say: we are very lucky to see this cap before any of the longer-established firms in the Futures market.

I do agree with LaFloor about the info-dump -- it seems a bit awkward, coming from this particular VC. On the other hand, it's essential to the understanding of later events, and how better to tell it than as a conversation between the expert and the eager student? I.e., a conundrum worthy of a VC of this talent. Perhaps he/she will work on a revision between now and the Execs' turn at this cap.

If so, I have another niggle: It's not necessary to repeat how good the sex is. Once, OK -- the incident when Jason returns the change is great! -- but later (p. 28 in the Word doc I have), they can just be snuggled, and we can infer the rest.

And a (rhetorical) question for the VC: Why "Blaze", and not "Flash"? Too obvious? Copyright infringement?

The System

COMMENT: The System
Date: 2006/05/21 17:58 By: guevara Status: Admin

At the risk of giving too much away about the identity of this venture's VC, let me just say he is a past winner of the TQR lottery (a lottery with a conscious modus, mind you) and so deserving of mucho amor and respecto.

And, he is fond of two word titles for his offerings.

Strangely enough, I find myself in the same position my esteemed colleague Hal 3000 was in after he had read this writer's first work offered up to the Terminal two quarters ago. That is, I have embraced the obvious quality of the writing, the way it flows and carries the reader along, but upon completion of the tale, I am left wondering what the point after all is.

The characters of The System are either named for their ethnicity (The Greek, The Italian0, their profession (The director), or their immediate utilitarian purpose (The Driver). But other than a brief mention of the Director's association with film productions, there's not much more learned about any of them other than their names. Now, I am not sure if this is on purpose, but if it is, then I am not sure if the on purposeness really has any juice behind it.

Their are vague premonitions of the Casino they all are transfixed upon as being some kind of hellich place, and the man sitting in the lounge knocking back Jack Daniel's twice as fast as the Director as being some kind of devilish caricature, but nothing is set in stone, nor even etched. The overall impression I have of The System is too vague to pull me over the hump to that land where it is that I say "Ah hah, so that is what this piece is driving at!" And I am left here as Hal was two quarters ago imploring somebody else (BD, Hal, LaFloor?) to show me the light.

Date: 2006/05/24 04:49 By: bulldust
No fear! Bulldust is here, horns at the ready. Let the bull begin on this here capital, "The System."

There were more than nine (I eventually stopped counting) infractions of the participial phrase kind, which left me dazed and confused and having to re-read this VC's sentences more than once to seek clarity. For example:

"As they walked the Greek fell behind."
A quick glance over that sentence and you might think "they" are walking the Greek, rather than the Greek simply falling behind as they walked. A comma after "walked" would have made this baby clear as crystal. As I said, at least nine of these stopped me in my reading tracks.

Next, this piece had huge HUGE problems regarding its numerous unclear antecedents. The murky pronouns he, him, his, they, and the dreaded it (not to be confused with the dreaded knights who say "Ni") but seriously ... "they" (the dreaded pronouns) left Bulldust in the dark as to who/what the narrator was referring. Often I had to read a line, or lines, several times over just to grasp who or what was being referred to.

On to the four characters: the Director, the Greek, the Italian, the Driver.
All of them head out to a casino, a gambling joint. In fact, everyone in this piece seems to get a label: the oriental men, the glamorous women, the older men, the waitress. And all the characters were as multi-dimensional as cardboard cut outs. Meaning, the characterisation never progressed beyond mere labelling.

The setting, I was to discover, was apparently in England. I couldn't tell from any of the description, or any quirkiness on the characters' part, or any of its charming sayings that the Brits are fond of using in their day to day chat with one another. No, I realised something was up when I spotted the symbol for a Sterling pound, which I don't have on this keyboard. If this cap is supposedly set in England, then none of that rang true, or read true, for me. Could be that the VC just didn't have a '$' symbol on his Britified keyboard.

I could go on and on about this piece, but I think you're probably starting to get my drift. The bull, however, is ultimately an optimist and would like to offer some thoughts for the how-to-fix segment of his commentary. Remember, I'm just a talking bull, so feel free to dust me off. Here goes:

Firstly, chop the four main characters down to two. There are too many for such a short piece, and as a result, they're all dead on the page. The two I'd chop are the Italian and the Driver. The Italian could easily be blended/melded into the Greek character, and the Driver is just a non-starter in my view. Get rid of him. He adds nothing.

And second, I noticed my interest in the capital increased once the characters were around the roulette table talking, strategising, making observations of other people, etc. Perhaps this could be lengthened.

Lastly, give us some better foreshadowing of the strange person/creature/deity/thing/demon that appeared in the piece. Again, "it" (that strange whatever-it-was) lacked life. Even if that thing was Death incarnate, I still need it to have life/vitality.

Unlike my esteemed colleague Guevera, I do see some point to this capital. I believe it attempts a kind of laidback, Hemingwayesque style (or hidden camera) view of the life/lives of ordinary people: in this case, amateur gamblers. But because of the stilted characters it does not quite work ... yet!!

I understand this VC is talented. I'm told by my workmates that he's been published here at TQR once before --congrats to him for that! -- and so I can only imagine that that capital gain must have been superior to this venture.

Sorry to say, but "The System" didn't touch the monkey this time round. I give it one horn down (for the reasons stated above) and one horn up for its potential.


Theodore Q. Rorschalk
10:22 pm(0 minutes ago)

Dear Mr [VC],

As you already know, The System didn't make the cut in the Terminal. In your 'response' in the Rump, you said something about it being 'ripped to pieces.' I'm thinking that was probably a little bit tongue in cheek because the responses from both cap managers were not what I'd call malicious. However, I understand the hyper sensibilities of seeing your baby met with anything but righteous praise. I've been there myself. So. I hope your experience this quarter will not dissuade you from venturing with us in the future.

Best wishes, TQR

5. The Atonement of Faith

Comment: "The Atonement of Faith"
Date: 2006/05/20 02:45 By: H3K Status: Admin

As Nick Lowe said, "You gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure..."

By the second paragraph, I was skimming: not a good sign. I was looking for a phrase to stand out, something that wasn't trite... or for a twist away from the predictable development. I found neither.

The VC should not be insulted by my technique. I am a very quick reader. Other editors -- um, "capital managers" -- especially those in professional markets with hundreds of ventures to evaluate, use the "first and last paragraph" method, which I don't believe is fair at all.

Nevertheless, I cannot recommend this venture for advancement.

Date: 2006/05/22 18:41 By: guevara Status: Admin

As Nick Lowe also said, "I love the sound of breaking glass."

Which is where I believe the VC should begin the venture if and when it is rewritten. That is to say, it should begin, imo, when Elise is horrified by the sound of the breaking glass and twisting metal out in her living room. As it is, it takes far to much preamble to get to this point. And the preamble is such familiar 'woman wronged' territory, too, that it is, as they say these day, played. Plus, Elise's enabling of her philandering husband does not do well make investors all that sympatico to her plight. That is another good reason to cut to the chase, or in this case the crash instead of piling on all that exposition at the front end of this tale. Information that could be teased out of the narrative more organically as the action rises, instead of dumping it all right there up front. This would also lessen the load on Elise's character, in that the investor wouldn't already have such a predisposed opinion about her when the caca is hitting the fan. Comprende?

Obviously, I must agree with H3K on the fate of this offering, and I wish the VC well in her future ventures and endeavors.

Hal's Notice

24 May 2006

Dear [VC]~

If you have not looked in on the comments about your submission to TQR, you may find them here:

They will soon be moved to the TQaRchives blog.

I regret to inform you that your venture will not be advancing beyond the aptly-named Terminal. My colleague, Sr. Guevara, has a suggestion to which I agree: If you choose to pursue this particular story, begin it with the crash, and the apparitions/manifestations which derive from it.

I have one fuirther suggestion which is not recorded on the TQR site: think about a change of title. Faith, being an abstract concept, cannot atone - people do. Besides which, the story has little if anything to do with either atonement or faith.

We at TQR wish you success.


HAL 3000
for TQR


Opinion: "Flames"
Date: 2006/05/26 22:38 By: bulldust Status: Admin

Well, here's the third piece of capital to be posted by Bulldust.

By the end of this capital, I got the sense this had been a thinly veiled autobiography: the wife is a real person and so are the buddies, just disguised with name-changes and perhaps a few minor adjustments to various aspects of their personality. I might be wrong. Bulldust has been wrong before; just don’t tell him to his face.

"Flames" has an underlying "buddy" feel to it, but the Buddy feel did not quite reach out and tug on my yester year emotions. The one segment of this offering I did enjoy, and thought was particularly potent, was the protagonist reflecting back on his childhood to the times he spent in his grandfather's room talking about books, etc. That was real and vivid stuff, and it really worked well because it "showed" something and didn't try to "tell" me to feel nostalgic.
As an aside: Aren't crickets and grasshoppers the same insect, just named differently depending where you live in the world, like cyclone and hurricane, or German shepherd and Alsation, or truck and lorry?

This capital -– in parts -- reads like a handbook on how to live better, how to be a better human, a kind of instruction booklet on ways to attain higher perception. As a result, it tries much too hard to be insightful. Insight -– in the bull's humble bovine opinion -- should not be instructional in the way this piece attempts to enlighten. If it's your intent to convey philosophy and insight, then do it with some subtlety and try to weave it into your prose and dialogue. Don't throw it at me in long, soliloquy-like chunks and expect me to become ... insightful/enlightened as a result?

This capital kept telling me what to think and when to think it. It told me how to feel about a certain character even before the character entered the room. If this piece was meant to have a kind of nostalgic/buddy undertone –- which I believe it does -- then best you try to rouse some of those raw feelings in your readers. Not just slap readers with a catch-all adjective or phrase to describe so-and-so's personality or traits. Let the reader make some of those judgments by showing it through the character's actions, his thoughts, his dialogue.

Unless you've made it clear to your reader that your characters are uppity aristocratic types, or they're all members of the Oxford Grammarian Club, please try to make your dialogue believable, at least somewhat "conversational". Use contractions and make your speech somewhat imperfect. Listen to how real people talk on the bus, in the coffee shop, on the tram, on the cell phone (seems everyone is talking loudly enough on cell phones nowadays that it shouldn't be a problem to eavesdrop ... and you should be eavesdropping if you wanna write).

Take the following passage of dialogue from this capital as an example of my gripe here. The son (the protagonist) has just received a frantic call from his mum:
"What is it, mom?"
"It - it is your father," she sobbed.
"What happened to dad," he almost shouted.
"He is being operated today."
"Operated? What for?"
"Early this morning he complained of stomach ache. Doctors say it is his appendix and it has to be removed immediately."
"What time is the operation?"
"At two."
"I will be there, mom. Don't worry. Everything will be alright."

A tip to the VC: Please read that last scene of dialogue out aloud to yourself and see/listen how it sounds on your ear. If it sticks in your mouth or jags on your ear, then chances are it's lacking something.

I'm afraid this piece didn't touch the bull. But let's see what my learned colleagues Hal and Guevera have to say. Could be that I'm out to lunch on this one....

Date: 2006/05/28 09:10 By: guevara Status: Admin

I agree with Bull that this work tries much too hard to be profound, and in so doing relies a great deal too much upon snippets of other people’s philosophical thought. There is a passage of scripture about everything being aflame; a paragraph from Henry Miller; an ‘ancient book’s decription of an idyllic dawn; Hemingway’s oft-repeated phrase, “No man is an island"; and a number of other philosophical musings of great men past that are plunked down into this narrative in order to, I assume, add gravity to the proceedings.

Besides distracting the investor from the actions at hand, the actions of the venture – the proceedings -- themselves do not rise to the level of the seriousness of the sayings peppered throughout the narrative.

It is stated that the narrator, Peter Groff, is oppressed, but the problems he is faced with – burning his toast and being temporarily estranged from his wife Jasmine because of a ‘silly’ argument they had had a week ago; his father's impending appendectomy – are not, in this capital manager’s opinion, the stuff of oppression, but, rather, everyday existence. If the VC concentrated more on finding the humor and universality in these common events, events most people can certainly relate to, instead of turning them into the earth-shattering ordeals, then I think he would be closer to creating the type of fiction investor’s could sink their teeth into.

Which leads me to another problem I see in this capital venture: the use of too many clichéd phrases, such as: waxing philosophical; bone of contention; semblance of order; no man is an island; can of worms; battery of tests; that’s what friends are for; alone with his thoughts; net result. My suggestion would be the VC trust his own voice in order to expunge these ‘easy fixes’ from his prose, as he has done in the last paragraph of the section of this work, titled CHILDHOOD.

Have you ever noticed what books, particularly old books, smell of? They smell of sunny and cloudy days and dark and moonlit nights. They smell of battle-fields and gardens, of open skies and dusty attics, of deserts and mountains, of destinies and purpose. They smell of time.

In this paragraph the VC has clearly given in to his poetic voice and let it run free. I would hope he take the example of the shimmering writing he has created in this instance and forget about having to include what others like Hemingway or Miller have said before him, to sit upon the shoulders of giants (to use a hackneyed phrase, if I may) that have gone before him and create words and phrases afresh, instead of cannibalizing what has been said before.

I cannot recommend this venture for advancement, but hope the VC will take the suggestions I and Bull have offered as sincere advice on how to propel his work to greater vistas, and success.

Date: 2006/05/28 20:03 By: H3K Status: Admin

A trifle tardy, I fear... Nevertheless, I echo the comments of my fellow Terminali, the Picador and the Bull.

Note to BD: grasshoppers and crickets belong to separate subgroups of the order Orthoptera:


Date: 2006/05/29 23:56 By: bulldust Status: Admin

grasshoppers and crickets:
Love yah Hal.
Knew I could lean my 1350 lbs of doubt on H3K.


Bulldust's Notice

Dear [VC],

Thank you for your submission, "Flames." Your piece was one of a handful that was selected and sent up to the Terminal for public vetting. Although "Flames" proved worthy enough to make it beyond the Floor, I regret to inform you that it won't be heading on to TQR's Executive Suite.

I know you've been observing the various postings at TQR regarding your piece because I've had the opportunity to read your posted comments in VC Central. I can see you are passionate about your craft and that you undoubtedly have talent as a writer. The two resounding comments to come out of the Terminal vetting was your overuse of cliches and your tendency to "tell" rather than "show". Again, this is opinion, not gospel.

I hope we've been helpful in our comments of "Flames" and I strongly encourage you to submit another piece to TQR.

all the best,

Bulldust for TQR


"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/05/29 20:06 By: H3K Status: Admin
Anyone who has read Philip Pullman's series His Dark Materials is familiar with the idea that subtly different worlds lie in parallel with each other (of which one is ours), separated by a dimensional "membrane" -- a membrane which may be physically crossed, with the proper skill and the proper tool. Anyone who keeps current in multidimensional physics has heard of branes: an outgrowth of string theory and in some ways analogous to Pullman's narrative description.

(Mind you,"parallel universes" are not exclusive to Pullman's masterpiece -- they've been around for decades, used by many SF and fantasy authors. It just happens to be my opinion that Pullman's work is the best thing in fantasy since Tolkein.)

You may ask, Why do I begin a commentary on the capital at hand thus? Only because, without even being hinted at within the cap itself, a ripple in the brane that contains us might be the sole "explanation" for the events depicted.

Another reason for my recollection of Pullman: Everything in this venture is very personal. It is not until the very end that we learn that it may involve more than an ordinary married couple whose only child is off at college.

There is no question that this capital should rise. I anticipate its title to be among those gracing our lobby entrance on July 15.

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/05/31 08:01 By: bulldust Status: Admin

I would first like to mention how tired my eyes are after reading, "Double Occupancy" without the benefit of underlined words to denote italics. Perhaps this is not the VCs fault at all, but rather a question of which format the piece was saved under. If you can at all help it, underline your italicized words. It helps the eyes. The bull may need specs after reading this piece of capital, so I may have to send the VC the optometrist's bill.

Speaking of italics, there are far, far too many usages in the conversations between the wife and Harris, the protagonist. I understand that the sarcastic edges to their tones might be indicative of the years and years of marriage and "familiarity breeding contempt" thing, etc, etc, and that the italics were conspicuously less noticeable when the protagonist spoke with his afternoon delight, who goes by the name of Nina. But the overuse of italics was so wearing on me that I ended up not being distracted by them at all but rather glided right over them without caring what the hell the inflection might be or what was being implied in the tone. Less is more, as they say.

On to the opening scene with the wife and Harris.
I'm not going to get into the details of this conversation between Harris and wife. What I will say is that it dragged on and on … I might have actually put the piece down if I weren't a committed intern. If I was just some casual reader with my hoofs up on the ottoman and I just happened to reach over to the coffee table to pick the piece up to give it a read, I have no doubt I would've dashed the thing aside somewhere in the midst of that long-drawn-out opening exchange between Harris and wife. The entire opening scene with the wife could easily be hewn and hacked for a more economical word length and still retain the piece's overall quality. This piece comes in at over 9500 words. It doesn't have to. No way, no how!

But I must also concede that the dialogue, overall, was very smooth and tidy (almost too smooth too tidy) and for the most part, the convo is believable and real. This VC's dialogue is nicely woven into the action, which is nicely woven into the description, which gives for an overall seamless tone. Very expertly crafted, I must say.

I do have one little peeve with the dialogue in a later scene. When the two visitors arrive, the conversation is a bit "on the nose" for my liking. I mean to say that the use of names of people who are not present but are being spoken about was thoroughly stilted, in my view. Look at the following scene and its passage of dialogue from the piece to get an idea:

With a mischievous smile, she leaned back on the bed to wriggle out of tie-dyed jeans. "Kevin doesn't like to join us anymore. Do you think he could actually be jealous, Sarah?"
"No, Nina," said Sarah, helping her friend out of her jeans. "Kevin knows we both love him, but I think he's trying to work out his feelings toward Josh lately."
"You could be right," said the dusky-voiced blonde named Nina. "I hope it works out between them, but Kevin can't handle his bisexuality as comfortably as Josh."

It's not a biggie, right? But still, it jagged on my overly-sensitive bovine ears. I like some coolness and smoothness in conversation. I'll have some pronouns with that piece of dialogue, waitress! Anyway, I understand the VC's need to make clear who and what is being spoken about, but I do like my pronouns in dialogue. It all adds up to make for good listening and kick-ass reading!
And interestingly, once Harris tumbles from the closet to behold those two beauties, the piece really takes off like a Fighting Bull charging down one of those prancing matadors with their swishing red capes.

Conceptually, I enjoyed this piece. The idea was neat. I found it similar to (but certainly not the same as) a very good film of a few years back starring a certain (tall) Australian actress.
The prose I enjoyed.
The movement (except for scene one) was stellar.
But I'm left with a nagging 'why?'
Why and what was the point of it all?

I guess I could speculate on the reasons why the visitors showed up, or maybe why Harris and his wife showed up back in the 60s, or how they all kind of met in a kind of melding point between times and between places. Who knows…? All of that speculation of intent falls under the "neat idea" category up above. All the trappings and trimmings of a solid piece of capital aside, I'm left feeling a little empty (or unfulfilled) from the experience of this read. I didn't walk away with anything specific or lasting of any kind. And most importantly, I got no intellectual buzz in my bull brain. The whole parallel universe/existence doesn't do anything for me intellectually -- it's kind of just "effects" in my mind, certainly not good, chewable, long-lasting fodder for the brain.

While I find it very well written and conceptually inventive, and mostly strong dialogue-wise, I am not sure I can give it the two horns up. It has no intellectual smack! for me.

I must defer to the third among us: Guevera. So say on, Senor Guevera, give this piece a read and give us your reckoning. The Machine and I are again locking spool and horn over a piece of capital.

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/01 02:32 By: guevara Status: Admin
May I say, my motto for this piece could very well be "No Branes, no story". But do not look upon me aghast for uttering le mot forbidden! How else was i going to get a nice rhyme out of it?

But enough silliness on my part. I must lean more toward Bull's analysis than H3K's.

Because ... it seemed to me almost the very essence of hot sex with Nina, to compare it to a particularly sexually energetic nymphet from the narrative who also is largely a mental somnolent. There are parts (mostly the naughty ones) of this piece that are exhilirating, and yet I am left with no afterimage of the experience, no 'Hey, that piece sticks to the dendril rib joists of my brain (brane?).' Dare I say, it was like a pornographic movie for 'mature, loving adults'. You know the kind, where there is a little more finer acting than the standard XXX, more story between acts of licentious abandon, but when it comes down to it you are watching the fine acting and plot unspool itself in seering anticipation of the next round of naked acrobatic friction.

And the naked acrobatic friction is very fine indeed. It's just I wanted there to be more and didn't much get into this older gentleman's, Harris's, middle-aged musings and angst. It's all very well written, smooth and everything BD said. Perhap's Hal's championing of this work says something about what I missed. That the ending somehow is the key to revealing the utter strangeness of this older couple, Har and Jen?

Excepting a mad filibuster and fancy footwork by the machine, I am going to have to stop Double Occupancy right here in the Terminal.

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/01 04:10 By: H3K Status: Admin

"Oh, my head I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brane..."

The aphorism Guevara should have used is: "No branes, no pains." It pains me to capitulate, though I am the branes of this outfit... but it appears I shall have to eat the electronic equivalent of crow.

I was not bothered by the dialogue between Har and Jen, or the "middle-aged musings and angst", as Guevara puts it. Perhaps I am more familiar with more middle-aged people, including some who have marriages like the two in this venture.

What I was most intrigued by is the deliberate ambiguity of the youthful, promiscuous intruders' origins until the confirmation at the end... a confirmation which opens up many larger questions about "what's going on here?", but leaves them tantalizingly unanswered. While my two colleagues found no lasting images to take away from this venture, I will retain its final image for quite a while.

Chalk my enthusiasm up to a long-lasting appreciation of the original, Rod Serling Twilight Zone, many of whose stories ended as this does.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(Aside to BD: Underlines??? What decade are you from? Even the medical journals have discarded those antique conventions in their guides for manuscript submittal. And a hint: Increase the magnification of the page as needed. You'll find that your eyes tire more slowly.)

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/01 04:27 By: tqr Status: Admin

Though it pains me to do so, I am putting my hand in the machine this once (not you, Hal, 'the machine' in a general sense, as in the big picture, at least the one framed by this discussion of this particular venture), delivering a thunderbolt from Olympus as it were. Owing to H3K's eloquent defense of Double Occupancy, and also owing to our need for some capital to throw Qrist and Qirsty's way, I am going to 'red card' Guevara this once. Forgive me, mi amigo!

Judging from Hal's enthusiastic backing, it is a probability, perhaps, that the majority of our investor base (at least those 40=somethings who have or are or are about to go into their 'middle age crazy' phase) will view this piece in the same light.

Therefore ... let it rise!

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/01 05:55 By: guevara Status: Admin
Senor Rorschalk,

No fucking chingas!

Oy. That feels better. Ho-kay. Yo soy caliente! But, I do comprenez vous your reasoning. And will take the red card and go sit on the bench with head held high. Knowing I have done my duty with honor! Regardless of how my stinking hefe treats me.

Sir VC, this outburst is in no way leveled at you. I am just sick of being double crossed by this interloper who calls himself a businessman. Well, I tell you we strung up businessmen such as he with piano wire back where I come from. Viva la revolucionne!

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/01 06:33 By: bulldust Status: Admin

Dear Machine:
"Profound pornography" is about the only profoundness or long-lasting image I gleaned from this piece (the underline denotes "italics").

And what friggin journal are you readin for brutha? Last I looked, this TQR place was open to capital of the "fiction" kind, not friggin medical papers on old-age dementia and articles on testicular cancer in Afro-Americans aged 55 to 60.

and no need to get testy with bull just because your beloved piece got slammed (actually, it wasn't slammed. I found it solid and engaging in many ways, just not in any intellectual way that I subscribe to, which seems to have offended you (given your emotional outburst), but I the bull make no apologies for your over-sensitivity). I must say I was surprised the machine showed emotions so readily -- thought that was impossible for a machine to get emotional -- or perhaps it was just running one of its mimick human emotions programs.

But back to this "which decade are you from" slur.

Unless MS Guidelines have recently changed, I understand that fiction publications (the reputable ones, I'm talking about) "expect" these guidelines to be adhered to. Underlining italics is standard fare in fiction submission (at least the printed subs), and if it is not, it ought to be and for very good reason, mr machine: the bull's eyes (and I aint talking about no dartboard) And you really think I don't know how to magnify a goddamn page?? You think that just because I'm one sex removed from a cow that I'm as dumb as one?

I haven't made any smart-mouthed comments about your "braney" comments of cap in the Terminal thus far, but that may now have to change in light of recent personal attacks. I ask: Why do you think it acceptable to cast aspersions on my comments? If I prefer to read capital with underlined words denoting italics then that's what I friggin well prefer. End of story! Dig? If I think it's important to devote some of my commentary to the nuts and bolts of a physical submission then what concern is it of yours? If reading submissions without MS guidelines formatting is your thing then fine ... go ahead and stick the submission right up your USB Port and download it and read it however the F*&# you please. But don't treat me like a little bull with a hoof up its left nostril.

And this issue of italics was not the reason I didn't endorse "Double Occupancy." To belittle poor old bull for wanting underlined words is just petty -- hey, isn't pettiness an "emotional" state?

And sir, to use your bogus argument (which falls BTW under Fallacy) that just because some friggin "medical journals" are doing it then that therefore makes it right, is utterly void of clear thinking. You're using the "medical journals" as your authority figure to make a point about submissions to fiction publications? tsk-tsk-tsk

And your use of Ad Hominem in saying that I must hail from another decade just shows that you -- the machine -- do get emotional. And if you aint figured it out mate ... bulls get emotional too.

Lastly, don't just dismiss out of hand my gripe about reading capital that doesn't have underlined italics. I'm getting a bit of a vibe from you that you think I'm just some hoof-sucking underling who knows bugger-all about capital and submissions in general. I personally don't dig submissions that require me (no matter how much I MAGNIFY them) to lean towards the monitor to read. And to stick my hoof so ever slightly into the murky waters of Fallacy, I say to you this:

Perhaps you should go dust off some of those "old" programs of yours and reload them, particularly the program entitiled "Modes of Reasoning". It aint the kind of reasoning I would have expected from the machine, that's for sure.

Fallacy aside, I may just have to meet you in the bullring, sir, at dawn ... you with your red eye baiting me, and me with my horns filed to a tip.

PS: grasshoppers and crickets are the same -- close enough to be the same -- same guy just a different haircut. How's that for some loose argumentation?


what a friggin travesty [sigh ... lament]

Guevera, are you on for some rebellion, a bit of good ol' mutiny. You tie up the blue-haired one and I'll unplug the machine and we'll send this piece of capital down, down.

I jest, of course.

Up it is. Fine, the machine gets his snivelling way again.

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/01 06:46 By: tqr Status: Admin

Now boys,

And I use that term in the sense that you are acting un peut etre bit immature. I will have no swearing or bulling (I don't care if you are a bull, that makes no difference to me) on these boards. We are businessmen and, lest we forget, professionals! Well, erm, the lack of pay stubs may make that a kind of Clintonian 'is' is conundrum, but professional amateurs with lots of practice will fit the bill quite nicely I think. Where was I ... oh yes. Now, I realize that deus ex machina-ing the Terminal like I have just done is not cool, and will tend to throw the place into chaos for a short while. But, you must understand, that I am a businessman and must be the gollum in the gears from time to time. I will have no schisms. You put the blame on me and go forth from this point as d'artagnan and Porthos and Aramis did. One cap for all and all for the cap! Cheesy? Yes. But dammit, ... stop whining. Be of good faith. Please please me, oh yeah, like I please you.

Although, a good dropping of the gloves is a nice way of cutting the tension and settling old scores that, from time to time, must be settled. So. Hal, you may fire when ready! Slap 'dust's ass and make it call you Hally! Woo! EEEEEE! Zap it with the laser, or that cornea-burning light ray thing you got near your main lymp nodule, or whatever it's called.

Sorry. I think that should count toward being a seizure, for insurance purposes, at least. Sorry about that, gentleman.

I'm about to blogge this thread, if, that is, it has run it's course. Let me know if any of you have objections.

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/02 00:46 By: bulldust Status: Admin

me gaffer! you can't blogg this thing yet. it's just getting started.

I guess you could always set up a forum entitled "Boxing Ring" or "The Ring" (not to be consfused with the scary movie) where the machine and I can stare each other down and I can scratch at the floor and consider the velocity of my charge and the machine can consult some of his programs on pugilism. please, me gaffer, you can't shelf this baby yet. at least give the grand ol' machine a chance to bite back, if he so chooses. If he doesn't, then I'll just go unplug him and sell him for parts.

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/02 00:57 By: guevara Status: Admin

Que? Gaffer?

Non, I don't want to know! Call me back when la sangria (or the silicon) flows. Otherwise, I am training for the marathon. You can find me on that lonely road that runs up La Bajada out of town.

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/02 04:15 By: H3K Status: Admin

My dear testosterone-laden friend, Bulldust:

Surely you have heard of an ancient sport called "bull-baiting". It was already old when your ancestors were being vaulted over by the young men of Crete... and it must also be the origin of the Spanish tradition, the so-called 'sport' of bullfighting (which, last I checked, was hardly sporting, especially for the bulls).

I apologize for indulging in a tiny bit of Bull baiting. You see, the blue-haired one in the penthouse office feels strangely unfulfilled if there's not at least some animosity among the Terminali, once per quarter. That you were so quick to take the bait is neither here nor there -- but now the Boss has had his jollies, and we can go back to an amicable sharing of the cavernous expanse of the Terminal.

(Please note the underline in lieu of italics in the previous paragraph...)

Re:"Double Occupancy"
Date: 2006/06/02 04:55 By: bulldust Status: Admin

auspicious is your underlining of the word some, most auspicious indeed, dear Hal.

But you are right, H3', I do feel vaulted. Bulls are easily baited. Perhaps it was the gaff' who manipulated these proceedings of late just to get his jollies, as you say. Oh how the intern is learning his trade. To bait or not to bait!

We should not be surprised that we have come to intermittent blows over the capital. It's a literary tug-o'-war in this Terminal, so we are sure to lock horn and spool on capital issues.

So on with it, and let there be an end to this ... tiff! Friends who become foes may become friends again and then friends can umm ... er yeah- well they become something or other.

Do you have more capital, H3', that will need vetting? I have another in my bullpen, I believe.

And at the end of this Battle for Middle-TQR, let us retire to the Rump for some rounds of cheer. You will join me, no?

(Please note the italics in paragraph one in lieu of an underline)


"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/28 18:00 By: H3K Status: Admin

Time travel! One of my favorite categories within the larger (and largely amorphous) territory known as SF... so, as you might expect, I'm a stickler for the details of presentation and internal consistency. I am pleased to report that this venture passes my equivalent of the Turing Test.

Anyone who takes on the special enjoyment of problems in time travel, let alone those who pose a new one, understands intuitively the issue of paradox (and its evil twin, anachronism). This VC has embraced it, by using as a plot device an actual device, meant to thwart the worst kind of paradox: that is, what happens if the traveler becomes stuck in the past.

More, I shall not say, to avoid spoilers... except to mention that the narrative style is as satisfying as the solution to the problem.

Send it up!

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/30 03:07 By: bulldust Status: Admin

thanks and salut! to Guevera for being a man of his word and allowing the bull his chance to respond first about this piece. This is Bulldust's fifth piece of capital he's had the pleasure of commenting on since his internship began at the start of this quarter, and with this piece, "Badger Pass," the bull has experienced a first.

Bulldust can be a chronic page-number watcher. It depends on the capital he's sussing out: dull and boring Vs electric and exciting. Amazingly, the bull rarely checked the page number as he cruised like a curling stone through "Badger Pass."

There are a few typos, omitted words, some punctuation errors, but no glaring grammar probs. All in all, it was presentable -– no MS guidelines research required on this VC's part. Now onto the good stuff, and there was plenty of it in "Badger Pass." Take a gander at the following line or two from the piece to get a feel of what was vivid and sharp about it:

"A foul, cottony film coated the back of his throat ..."
"Just thinking about the [bitter] flavor of that tea made his tongue curl."

Two simply told lines of description/detail that are kicking with life.

There are two criticisms of this piece. The first is more a positive-criticism, if such a thing can be said. It's like when you're asked in that all important interview what your weaknesses are and then you lay some well rehearsed bullshit on the interviewer that you tend to be a perfectionist and sometimes that hinders or slows you down, etc, etc. Well, my positive-criticism is that "Badger Pass" is too short. I wanted more, and isn't that just typical? It's analogous to the idea: "Why do the good have to die young?" So I ask: Why does the really good and worthy capital have to be so bloody short? (of course, that's not always true, just like the good don't always die young)

The second criticism is more ... critical. It has to do with the rather flat finale, or as the bull likes to call these kinds of endings: the round 'em up, reel 'em in, rawhide resolution! In other words, it seemed the VC had a word count in mind and stuck to it by hell or high water, or perhaps she/he just became a touch lazy/sloppy with the clipped/rushed ending.

I do think the round up was a little clipped, hastened unnecessarily towards its (somewhat predictable, but expectable) conclusion, while everything else preceding it was well paced and smooth and inventive. If I were the VC (I'm not, ya know; I'm just a babbling bovine), I would take another 400 to 600 words to beef up the climax, and forget the damn word count man. Toss it baby! Just gimme in the 'End' what you had me believing all along you were gonna deliver. Dig?

I won't get into a synopsis of this time travel piece; that would be doing it a grave disservice. It's best to just read it because this capital definitely has movement. It has all the essential elements of a good and prosperous offering. It has vivid description (though not laboured or self-serving) of both character and setting. And by Zeus! I believed it all (not literally, of course; I believed in the characters and the moment). The VC eases you nicely into the protagonist's predicament/plight, and by the end of scene one (or was that the prologue?) you (the reader) wanna know more. This piece has been well sent by the Floor.

The only thing holding me back from a full recommendation for this capital to fly up to the Executive Suite is, as I've said, its mildly unsatisfying ending. I reckon I should step my 1350 lbs of bulk and rawhide aside to let my more learned colleagues weigh in on this as well.

Lastly, if you didn't already know: Bulldust reckons "Badger Pass" has, at the least, a firm toehold on the Monkey. If its ending were stronger, it'd be a firm headlock on the monkey, in the bovine's opinion.

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/30 15:36 By: guevara Status: Admin

Senor Bull,

It sounds like to me that this work is worthy of being sent up for the Executive Branch to decide upon whether the ending is CG worthy or no. Thus, there is no reason for me to break this non-tie. That is to say, your enthusiasm for Badger Pass far outweighs your disapprobriation, or however you want to spell or put it. Adios.

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/31 01:32 By: bulldust Status: Admin

question to the bossman.
Can a VC fine tune his/her work if and when its sent up to the exec suite? I seem to recall this discussion from last quarter (when I was just a fledgling VC myself) concerning a certain piece of capital that was argued over about its technical writing merit, etc, and whether someone would work with the VC concerned to get it up to snuff. And it was eventually selected for publication, no?

What I'm saying here is this:

I believe in this piece of capital, "badger Pass," but I have a small nagging doubt re its ending. Does HAL agree with my view here? If it is the case that the venture fails because of its ending, then I'll be a tad ticked that the unfortunate VC had the opportunity to tinker with the ending between now and the time that its vetted in the Exec lounge. Perhaps, senor Guevera, you could read it before we hoist it up and away to the exec place to see if you concur. If you don't see it as a potential problem, i.e, that the ending will be its demise, then maybe I'm just a bollocks of a bull and all will be well, and we can retire early for the evening and have some appertifs at santino's.

What say the other terminali on this matter? You Gaffer? What's the word?

Hey! Does the VC of this piece have anything to say about what I'm saying here? If so, then post your views in VC Central.

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/31 03:16 By: tqr Status: Admin

Guevara is a rare, pink blooded Mexiniard of the 'gay blade' variety. Not that there' s anything wrong with that. It's just that he'd rather spend his time at the nail parlor than vetting cap. You must give him a wide berth because he is brilliant!

Now, as to working with the VC on any part of their cap ... let me consult the 'rule book' here. Hold on a sec ... hmmm... ah yes! Here it is ... Rule 329 / 9 Stroke 7: If a Terminali deems it necessary for a VC to polish his/her cap in order that it might better have a chance at becoming a CG at the Executive level, then it is up to said Terminali to make it so.

So, there you are Bull. Have at it. If the VC does not want to work with you, then I will insist Guevara quickly press in his cuticles, read the cap, and make a command decision.

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/31 03:39 By: bulldust Status: Admin

ahh yes ... I'd forgotten about Rule 329. Forgetful bull.

I was rather hoping that Hal would stick his monitor in on this one and lemme know if he had had any probs with the ending, but he's not in the Term' right now. Maybe tomorrow he'll lemme know what he thinks.

I guess I could always mention it to the VC ... this idea about working with her/him, if he/she wishes it. The VC may feel confident enough with the piece as it stands. That's her/his choice.

So my dear blue-coiffed one, how would Hal take it if I were to approach this VC, whose capital was originally assigned to the machine? As you can see, sir, I need a little more guidance and direction here. I looked for some help from Guevera, but he was busy sizing himself up in the full-length mirror and clipping that thin moustache of his ... that really, really thin moustache! Mama Cow always taught me to be wary of a man who tries to conceal the fact he has a moustache, or was that be wary of a woman who tries to conceal the fact she has a moustache. Hmmm? can't quite remember.

all that aside, please bossman, help me out here. What is my next step? Contacting the VC?

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/31 03:39 By: H3K Status: Admin

I did not find the ending "flat".


I have a suggestion for the VC, but I do not wish to give the ending away to all of the potential eventual readers. Let me see if I can phrase this obliquely enough to serve both purposes:

In the second-to-last paragraph (the one which begins "God bless you, son."), there is a prediction, if you will, of a tender scene in the protagonist's near future (his personal near future, never mind the amount of years separating the time he is in from the time he is from). My suggestion is to cut to that tender scene (a "flash forward") and have the protag make his temporal musing there, just before fading to black. Separated in that way, it could be expanded into a full paragraph, rather than a sentence or two.

Understand: it is only a suggestion, and the VC may laugh it down, or flatly refuse, or whatever. It is put forth merely as an exercise in "if I agreed with Bull Dust, how would I advise?" I can vouch for the precedent of a venture being revised while it floats its way up to the ozone of the Exec Suite. It happened last quarter.

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/31 03:50 By: bulldust Status: Admin

wow! and Hal just appears from the ether! how does he do that folks? You scared the living bull#$*t out of me just then, Hal. Now I'll have to call up the cleaning crew to brush out my pen and order new straw, la-dee-da-dee-da.

Anyway, it seems we might be leaning heavily towards the need for a third p.o.v, because Hal thinks the story ending is fine but should be changed a bit, while I found it rushed and unfulfilling. How 'bout getting Guevera in on this, if I can pry the ponce away from the friggin mirror, that is. I believe we need the literary genius of the one secretly named "Gay Blade".

GUEVERA!!! get your red-thonged Be-hind over here and read this little gem called "Badger Pass", and see what yah reckon.

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/31 04:51 By: guevara Status: Admin

El Badger Pass = goodstuffo!

The preacher at the ending gave me a very good laugh, and Hal's suggestion for the flash forward is magnifico. If I were to heed bull's reservations with the solution that Hal suggests, I think the cap could only be improved. So... H3K, since you are the instigator of this venture, I suppose the suggesting of said remedial ending is up to you. What say the gagger, err, gaffer?

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/31 04:52 By: tqr Status: Admin

The gagger says, "Make it so."

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/05/31 07:26 By: bulldust Status: Admin

and we all say "Yo Hal, go Hal, yo can do it Hal"

by the way Hal, I'll pick up the slack around the Terminal if you find yourself a little overrun by the new assignment. Sorry to have instigated this little discussion which has ended you up with a tad more work on your desk than anticipated. BUt I can't wait to read the rewrite, if any, of this piece.

so please forgive me Hal ... pretty please ... for inflicting you with this extra, unforeseen workload. I have some free tickets for you for next weekend's "Midday Matador Madness" at the Andalusian Centre for Bullfighting in Seville!

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/06/01 03:21 By: H3K Status: Admin

The extra work will take but a few minutes, but thanks for the offer, BD.

And I'll pass on the tickets, muchas gracias. After all, it's not like I can go there physically... nor would I need to. I could monitor the video feeds.

However, I'm reserving major bandwidth for the World Cup. Yes, The Machine is a football fan. Surprised?

Re:"Badger Pass"
Date: 2006/06/01 03:33 By: bulldust Status: Admin

the bull loves his soccer (futbal). Just as well proceedings here in the terminal will be winding down shortly with the World Cup kicking off June 9? 10? The bull will be glued to his hoof-held portable tele in between all of next month's bullfights. He'll be cheering on the Aussies and Spain and a couple other choice nations he has a certain liking for.

So it is a good thing, Hal, that a beast and a machine have found something in common other than poring over capital, which we do enjoy.

and lemme know, Hal, if i can be any help on the "Badger Pass" front. I'm keen to help, if help you need, for I do feel a certain kinship towards that piece of capital.

adios my terminal mate and machine


"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/25 02:42 By: H3K Status: Admin

"Grantham Spares" ... good one, O clever VC.

This venture is as smooth as the Ultimate Salesman who is its focus -- though far less oily, in a figurative way.

At first, one might find the opening a bit long. Don't be swayed by appearances; the details will reappear later.

Speakling of details: I skipped over the naughty bits, as I always do. I am not interested in the copulatory behaviors of organic entities, and find them a waste of good electrons. I rely upon my meaty colleagues to respond, as they usually do, to such diversions. I can say this, however: the sex is not gratuitous. Rather, it furthers the plot.

I recommend this venture for advancement.

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 02:10 By: guevara Status: Admin

Mucho gusto, ma yama Bradley. I'm hornier than Ron Jeremy-ah.

And so, I did so enjoy this venture if for nothing else the down-and-dirty buggery of it all. Not only the literal reverse bareback riding of the cuckolding wife, but also the way the narrator uses the old reverse psychology gambit to snatch a sale from the jaws of defeat, not to mention the grim reaper!

Although the coda left me somewhat cold, it is not enough of a demerit to deny this work a shot

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 04:02 By: bulldust Status: Admin

okay that's two caps up the pipe to exec land, and two caps piped up to exec land that bull didn't even get a chance to read. bull is sensing a pattern here. hal? great machine that you are, can you spin some numbers through yer motherboard or uncleboard and lemme know if you're detecting a pattern here, or perhaps a conspiracy. Can a computer mind like yours detect conspiracy? just gimme some real numbers on this "interesting" pattern/conspiracy I see developing.

bull's gettin a little warm under the collar here, the pressure and all to produce some goodstuff for the investors.

PS Guevera:
i have dibs on Hal's next post. touch it before me, senor G, and I'm callin in Castro's hump squad (and I don't mean camels) to sort you out, and I'll tell everyone about your red thong. As for my next post, I think I'll lob it up tomorrow.

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 04:26 By: guevara Status: Admin

My apologies senor Bull. I saw an opening, and decided to test the bounds of el hefe's "Breaking ties only" stipulation for me. So far, this transgression of mine has not elicited any approbation from on high. Only yours. Forgive me, but I must contribute more that just third-man in duty! Damn you, Theo! Mira que va! Hasta la caca.

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 04:38 By: tqr Status: Admin

Lucky for you I do not speak Spanish. Only la bella lingua, Francaise! Anyhow. What's done is done, and not half badly. Bull, you must pounce like a charging bull closing on a knee-capped picadorio who has fallen and can't get up. Until then, I must bid you adieu. Boligard had summoned me to come be his second in some complication that has resulted in a duel (flintlock pistols at 12 paces, I believe) 'twixt himself and that man he was consulting about a dog with. A dog! Oh well, a man's honor must be protected even so.

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 22:17 By: bulldust Status: Admin

seems the rules around this Term' are being rewritten (or just plain "written") as we go along, but something tells me that the boss has a preternatural liking for Guevera (the so-called third man), as if he's protecting Guevera from the likes of Bulldust criticism.

I must confess, this seeming breakdown in communications, is a little bit of a ball-drag, particularly when you're a solid, healthy way through a piece of cap only to discover it has already been responded to, and the two comments are a meeting of minds, and therefore a third comment is not required. I think I'm gonna take this up with the Union- er, uhh, I mean management. This downtime is starting to wear on the old rawhide back of bull. Remember, he has bullfights he must save his energy for, main events that are forthcoming once the capital season is over.

anyway, I mean to bring it up in my beloved Suggestion Box.

["pretty goddamned mouthy for an intern," comes a whispered, almost echoey voice from somewhere in the Terminal. Could it be Doomey, or Doomey's new dog he's so willing to die for, or is it the ghost of ne'er forgotten terminali of old, perhaps Hal effecting one of his infinite human voices at his disposal?]

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 22:35 By: tqr Status: Admin

My friend,

It is not written in stone anywhere that 2 Terminali agreeing to take or pass on a venture is the sine qua non or whatever Latin pertains here. It is nothing but a gentleman's agreement, and you, sir, are no gentleman, nor, even, gentlebeast. If you feel strongly contrary, filibuster your nappy ass off!

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 22:56 By: bulldust Status: Admin

if that is how you feel, blue haired one, then pink slip me ... but be prepared for the ground to rumble and the roof to fall as I charge your ivory ass from here to San Sebastian.

you are now telling me that there is no so-called rule regarding two terminali both agreeing or both disagreeing which would seal the fate of capital beyond the Terminal? Strange, I could swear I was told that two is the number. If not, then why was "Echoes of Life" safely stacked away for the exec lounge after only two postings? Shouldn't we be having four postings from four terminali and if there is a split then have the gaffer step in, or another?

Is LaFloor or architect dude gonna read this piece called "The Closer"? If so, I would like to finish reading it and post comments. Same as "The Echoes of Life". Can't we get Lafloor to read it and I can read it and we can all make comments and be one big loving family?

and if you do pink slip me, I want my vacation time, any sick days not taken, first and last on my monthly dental plan installments returned, and ... what else ... yeah, I know I haven't been around long enough for a gold watch or golden handshake, so instead I'll take a bronze bust of the bull. That'd be nice.

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 23:04 By: guevara Status: Admin

Pinchy interns!

Lemme introduce you to my lil frang:

if I may translate that blue haired cabrone for you, sir bull. Two is the number sealed with a handshake. And so, it is unwritten. If you feel strongly enough to filibuster, you may do so. But at what political cost? You must factor these things in to your reaction before you commence.

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 23:18 By: tqr Status: Admin

Bulldust! Now that I have partaken of you sangria with that exquisite golden straw, I must compliment you on your impeccable manners and taste, your cow would be proud, no doubt. The yoke of the Terminal is placed roundly on your and the Machine's square shoulders. I'd be a fool to pink slip one such as you! I can understand your confusion and frustration. Things happen fast around here sometimes. Don't let it get you down. E Plurubus Non Carborundum or whatever it is. Vini Vidi Vici. We are all of us rabid about the cap, and it is in all our best interests to catch as catch can. Now. Though it be a Floor After Action mtg, I would like to formally invite you to tonight's dojo doings (6 pm Mountain Daylight Time, about 2 and a half hours from now)because, afterall, it is also an investor/capital manager meet and greet. Boligard will be there, as well as one petitte French toast... What do you say old bean?

Re:"The Closer"
Date: 2006/05/26 23:46 By: bulldust Status: Admin

you say you're offering some of those nice little pre-dinner eatables (which I cannot spell for the life of me), perhaps a little bit of wine and French Toast, hmmm?

The bull did have an engagement at the Seville Townsquare by the famous Etruscan Fountain to promote upcoming matches with various stinking matadores, whose names I shall not blight this good piece of (whatever I'm writing on here) with.

El toro! By the light of a bullmoon, Bulldust will dance tonight and show la petite French Toast how to dance the Bolero

"To filibuster or not to filibuster. That is the obstacle."


10.Comment: "The Birth of a Runner"

Date: 2006/06/02 01:13 By: bulldust Status: Admin

The character arc in this piece is exquisite. The depiction of the protagonist's narcissistic mindset (particularly during the funeral service) at the start of the piece is right on the money, and his attempt at redemption in the end is too brilliant on the VC's part. I might have re-titled this piece, "Ode to a Runner", but the VC's title, "Birth of a Runner" certainly works fine.

The only reservation I have regarding the technical aspect of the writing (otherwise known as the Nuts and Bolts segment of my commentary ... Hal, you can just skip on ahead if you're reading this, because I know your motherboard doesn't compute this stuff) anyway, as I was saying ... the only concern I have from a technical p.o.v. is the overuse of parenthetical writing. Trying to cram too much in will often break the stride of the narration. And this perhaps just gets down to taste, right? Just taste! Comprende? It has nothing to do with how old or young I am, what I like to read, or which decade I hail from.

Some of the protagonist's thoughts and reflections are very funny- No, downright hilarious, darkly hilarious (remember, we're at his son's funeral here), and then in the same breath it's heavy duty with sorrow and emotion. In other words, it's a tantalising mix of emotion with just the right dose of intellectual intrigue:
How would 'I' (I might ask myself) react if put in the position of either the protagonist as a mourner or the mother as a mourner? And does a mourner, in certain ways, become shallow, or small-minded, in order to cope with death? Are we wired this way for good reason? I must slow or stop my train of thought here before it will take me way, way, waaaay down the track. I don't have the time and space to ramble on, but rest assured there's oodles more fodder for the brain in this piece.

The protagonist, Lloyd, does remind me of people I know in my own life (actually one person in particular), and I'm sure investors will relate also. For me, this piece is all about the suppressing of, and expression of, emotions during times of grief and mourning, and how we might hope to redeem ourselves in the eyes of the dearly departed, and if not for them, then perhaps just for ourselves. I found this poignant and thoroughly optimistic for all those who wish they could perhaps make amends, or say one last thing, to a lost loved one.

As for style, this is a kick-arse lit' piece! Best I've read this quarter. Absent were all those annoying little sci-fi gadgets, contraptions, or clever/crafty writing that often disguises the fact that a piece of capital is lacking substance. No way, man, this capital was pure and poetic in its naked (and sometimes ugly) honesty. There was a real earthy, down-in-the-trench, spade-is-a-spade truthfulness to it. It left me feeling emotionally drained but spiritually enlightened, not to mention the smorgasbord for the mind. If you can leave the bull thinking and pondering over a piece of capital -- if you can do that for me -- then I'm happy and I'm always on your side.

This cap is numero uno goodstuff in my estimation. And I thank Gabrielle Deplancher of the Floor for sending it my way, and thanks to the VC concerned for penning it.

For the love of Taurus, and for the sake of TQR, send this piece up to the Executive Suite. If not, then the bull really does know shit and should retire his horns from the world of capital gains and stick with bullfighting.

say on Guev and hal

Re:Comment: "The Birth of a Runner"
Date: 2006/06/02 23:27 By: guevara Status: Admin

I, ehm, I understand the race between Lloyd and Patrick on a symbolic level, but it just doesn't seem something that would actually happen between an until-the-funeral persona non grata father and the best friend of the suicide in question. That is to say, for me, this whole set up is backward, in that the classical school of lit theory (translated through my school of literary sensibilities, which my be skewed, I'm not positive) says 'scene' must work on a literal level FIRST before any symbolic imputations that it may contain are able to work their voodoo on the unconscious mind in a copasetic fashion.

The inversion of the literal believability before symbolic meaning in this piece leaves me with the impression of 'heavy handedness' because the symbology is thrust upon my conscious mind [doubly so!] when the scene fails to first and foremost convince me that what is literally happening 'on the surface' would ever really even take place.

Aye yi yi. I am confusing even myself, I know how loco I must sound to the investors!

Lemme just say, I really like the idea of this piece and want to be able to believe in it. My main problem with it I have stated above, or tried to state, albeit in a muddled way. I must continue to reason out a verdict.

Another aspect that troubles me is the character of Patrick. Would someone who has just been a pall bearer at his (stated [more on this later]) best friends funeral dishonor the decorum and ritual by instigating a foot race between himself (not to mention halfway befriending) and the estranged father of his recently deceased friend? It's a hard pill to swallow. And, on top of this, the boy Patrick just happens to be the son of this estranged father, Lloyd's, boss. And then, if we can suspend our disbelief still, it turns out that Lloyd's boss never knew about his son's (stated) best friend being Lloyd's son, even though Lloyd states that Patrick's father is always bragging about him at the office (I mean, you'd think a father that interested in his son's athletic acheivements would somehow, over the years, fall across this actuality at some point in time ... wouldn't it?). Yes, it is a tangled web of cause and effect I am trying to connect the dots to here. But bear with me!

An aside: the complexity of relationships within this work should by now be very obvious as I sit here trying to unravel their mystery! A fact that speaks well for any piece of writing, in my opinion.

To cut to the chase somewhat: toward the end when Patrick admits lying about 'being close' to his father and admits to an opposite relationship with his dad, where he doesn't want or have much to do with him, the whole validity of him being 'best friends' with Lloyd's son is called into question. This turn of events would be more believable were it not for the fact Patrick was a pall bearer at Lloyd's son's funeral, a duty reserved for relatives and close friends of the deceased. So, the logical ebb and flow of this piece, at certain points, breaks down and contradicts itself.

At the very end, Patrick stops being a real character (to me) altogether and becomes a sort of extension of Lloyd's 'better angels' (whether that is the 'ego' the 'id'or the 'super ego' I will have to leave to the Freudians among you) in that he, Patrick, talks solely of Lloyd's interests in either going back to his old life or 'running' to a new one. (The whole metaphor of 'running' even seems at odds with itself when you factor in the idea that Lloyd's been 'running away' from his responsibilities as a father his whole life, but now 'running' is being touted as a positive symbol or metaphor, it just kind of gets all mixed up for me, at least.) But back to the main thrust of this paragraphs argument: Patrick's dialogue sounds more like a Greek Chorus at the end than a real, living breathing human being. Thus the piece shifts completely onto the symbolic plane. Which may be the VCs intent. I'm not sure.

One could probably make an argument that this whole 'funeral' is a schizophrenic monologue a mono that each aspect of Lloyd's personality is having with itself! Oh boy, now I am really ranging far off the beaten path here! Somebody throw me a rope!

So... the verdict? El diablo! On certain levels the complexity of the piece seems brilliant, but then again this could just be sloppy writing that I am overanalyzing, giving too much credit to the intentions of the VC where no intent was intended. But ... is this not what 'good writing' intended or not, is defined as in some parts of the psyche? I mean, a work that stays with you, confounds you and confuses you intellectually is effecaciously stimulating regardless. No?

I have talked myself out of rejecting this piece in favor of sending it up to the Exec Ste with the caveat that I don't exactly know 'why'...

Vamos! My head is exploding!

Re:Comment: "The Birth of a Runner"
Date: 2006/06/03 01:30 By: bulldust Status: Admin

you make numerous good points, senor guevera, about this piece.

the suspension of disbelief, when I read, was perhaps um... er, well it was perhaps kind of "unsuspended" a little. I did not overly consider the relationship between patrick and the deceased son and the protag. I just kind of "went with it."

I had considered bringing up in my commentary the "nature" of patrick, the friend boy, but passed on it. IN my view, senor guev, you hit the nail on the literary head in your 5th to last paragraph.

I had decided in the back of my head, as I read this piece and came to its conclusion, that patrick was perhaps the protag's guardian angel (a blond haired boy?) or as you say, Guev, some kind of alter ego. The boy patrick, I did not take to be a real, living person, but the manifestation (or physical projection) of the protag's "need to redeem himself" to his son who had been a great and celebrated athlete at the local level. Whether patrick is real or not, is just another example of the the "what IFness" that so intrigued me about this piece.

yes, the whole footrace was a little absurd, but absurdity is often present in these times of high (or low) grief, the grieving mind makes you do unexpected things, see things, and say things.

senor gueve, I think your vetting of it is proof enough that this piece works at various different levels, and may just have a bit of an 'X' factor in the shape of Patrick. maybe we two should wait to see what the machine thinks of all this.

BY the way, the bull ate some caveat for lunch. Most delicious, me amigo, most delisioso!

Re:Comment: "The Birth of a Runner"
Date: 2006/06/05 04:33 By: H3K Status: Admin

Is a tie required to be broken? Shall I put my comments on record anyway?

Much of this is excellent. However, I had the same problems with believability that Guevara did -- unless I transformed the entire thing into a form of internal dialogue Lloyd was hearing, no matter what the 17-y.o. Patrick was actually saying... or taking "Patrick" as allegory, which is pretty much the same thing.

I'm reminded somehow of Niel Gaiman, and the angels he concocted for Volume IV of The Sandman. Irony plays a major role here, as does surreality -- and if I take it prima facie, the problems go away.

Does this leave me in the same place as Guevara? Probably. Does it leave any impediments to sending the cap Upstairs? Not at all. I can't wait to read what the latest denizens of that rarified atmosphere have to say...

... about anything, as a matter of fact. What rare birds are feathering their nest in yon eyrie?

Re:Comment: "The Birth of a Runner"
Date: 2006/06/05 16:21 By: bulldust Status: Admin

Hal, your powers of observation surpass even those of that far-seeing, intergalatic telescopey thing (whose name I've forgotten) for the time, because my brain is not so far seeing or far remembering.

I do think we all three are saying much the same thing re this x-factor figure known as Patrick, whether he's a literal or figurative angel, alter ego, figment of something, his own personal greek chorus, etc. So let's see what those uppity types in the executive suite say about it all.



Comments: "THE GIG"
Date: 2006/06/09 05:32 By: bulldust Status: Visitor

Bulldust experienced another first with this capital, "The Gig," but more on that later. I'll start with the dialogue in the piece:

The dialogue among the band members and various other pop-on characters was cool, seamless -- not at all trite. I dug, and dig, this VC's knack for being able to get on to the page natural-sounding dialogue. It's a knack, in my view, and something that's hard (though not impossible) to acquire if you ain't got the knack baby. So lucky you, Mr/Ms VC.

Now, onto something else, which kept popping up over and over. It was the abundance of muddled images and unclear description and the lack of concise sentence structure. I've excerpted a few passages from the piece as follows:

"If he was fake, he was certainly good at it. The feeling he was less than sincere didn't seem to be emanating from Stephenson directly, but rather from Mike's own intuition. Maybe it was the incongruity of their presence in this club that made him project an insincerity on the man that didn't truly exist."

Not only am I left a little dumbfounded about who is being spoken about -- which was a problem with a previous capital I read this quarter, i.e. too many pronouns, too many vague, unclear antecedents -- the passage itself left me scratching my bullhead with my left horn, which is the horn I use for said scratching. I'm not sure who was projecting what and what the phrase "the man that truly didn't exist" even means. Perhaps get another one or two of your trusted reader friends/acquaintances to take a gander at your work before submitting.

Next passage:

""I have a great feeling about tonight. They're going to love you for certain!" He started a backwards step toward the end of the sentence, then did a little Broadway dance-move half turn and walked toward the doorway behind the bar in a swinging, bouncy gait.""

Okay, here's another example of confusion/bewilderment. In the "He started a backwards step" sentence, this could easily be read that the "He" took a backwards step towards the end of a "physical/actual/tangible" sentence, the sentence then breaking into a swish Broadway dance move, followed by a swinging, bouncy gait (Wow! if you can get a sentence to physically do that then you're a GOD!). I think the VC means to say that "He" (the character) started his "moves" as he came to the end of what he (the character) was saying. At least that's what I think the VC means [bulldust again scratches his (own) head]

And one more example:

"Several local girls had been eating a few tables away..."

Is it just me? But isn't clarity of images/descriptions/metaphors really really important in capital construction? Is it not the duty of a VC to convey to her/his reader a clear and concise image of the scene/setting/stage-direction. Should it not be done without the potential for double meaning, or even multiple interpretations, of any one sentence? I nearly rolled over in my bullpen laughing in hysterics at the image that came to mind of some (really really hungry) local girls eating a few tables. Perhaps: "A few tables away, he saw a few local girls eating ..."

I'm not trying to be mean. No sir/madam. I'm certainly not a mean-spirited person- er, uh, I mean bull. I just feel it's my duty to convey to the VC what impression and impact his/her piece of capital had on me. Naturally, VCs are often mired in/by subjectivity. I'm not trying to be a snotnosed smartarse by pointing out these little gaffes (not gaffer -- I know what me blue-haired gaffer looks like). I do this with the greatest sincerity and hope that some of my views might connect with the VC (any VC concerned) and help him/her in future submissions. After all, the bull is a VC as well ... okay, maybe a VC in his own bovine brain, but believe me, he can empathize.

This VC should work harder on his/her narrative, giving particular attention to descriptions and images. Get that ironed out so that it reads crisply, clearly, and I'll wager a good goring of a matador's assbone that this VC will rise in capital-construction capability (sorry for that little mouthful of C's, but the bull does like some alliteration with his afternoon tea). But seriously, dig on, VC. You obviously have a lot of good ideas in your skull (I could see those ideas when I read most of your capital). It's just your craft is not quite honed, at least it was not evident in this piece.

The other "first" that I experienced, which I alluded to at the beginning of my bull commentary, is this: These aforementioned problems that I repeatedly encountered with sentence structure, etc, actually barred me from finishing the piece. I'm sad to have to report that this was the first piece from this quarter that I couldn't finish. The obstacles proved insurmountable.

That said, I obviously can't give two horns up and therefore must withold my endorsement for this piece to rise to the executive level. It's just not ready for that place. Good luck to you, VC. And if you have any questions or concerns, or you disagree with anything I've said, please feel free to post in the "VC Safehouse". I'll be more than happy to hear from you and to respond. And never forget, I'm just one bovine (an intern at that).

Date: 2006/06/09 07:07 By: guevara Status: Admin

Que? I was not bothered by the sloppiness of the prose. It was akin to a guitarist who leans back and closes his eyes and feels the riffs rather than knows them from the act of a well rehearsed repitition. And the riff kept me interested enough to finish the piece.

I was taken by the foreboding little details such as the brazen girls confusion when the band member (was it Nick?) told her the name of the club they were playing. The creepy physical similarities of the patrons and their weird listening style. As each set passes, the details get a little bit more bizarre and frightening and less oblique. By the start of the third set, the reader is certain there is some weird ass and dangerous caca about to go down.

The scene where the band makes a break for it, and that acts as the escape valve of all this previously mentioned building suspense, is really magnifico. I laughed out loud when the bass player uses his ax to ax the young/old and black-eyed manager rather than save it, as had been his first motive. But along with the humor came genuine concern for the outcome of their getaway. The gob of keys stuck in the van driver's tight jeans was also a hilarious and much empathized with detail.

No, I did not take issue with the free flowing style of the prose at all. It almost read like Kerouac would have, I imagine, had he not had some New York editor cleaning up his act. And, as the Bull said, the dialogue is just really well done.

However, unfortunately, what killed the piece for me was the abrupt transition at the end.


The van jarred and jumped over potholes, ancient asphalt patches upon patches, until the asphalt finally gave way to the plain gravel that surfaced most of the roads in this part of the state.

“How’d the interview go?”

Mike nodded, a little confidence, but no happiness showing. “Pretty good. Guy said if it was up to him he’d hire me, but of course he’s got to get it approved first.”


“I gotta get this tie off. Man, I’m not sure if I can handle strapping this around my neck every day.”

The excerpt begins with that last few sentences of the band getting away from the Zombie Bar (or whatever they were) and the next line "How'd the interview go?" is actually the start of the denuoument (or however yuou spell that!) which is a considerable flash forward in space and time. By the time I read the last line of the excerpt I have shown you, I had an idea of what was going on (based upon some info given earlier in the story about Mike having the possibility of getting a 'real' job unlike his other bandmates) but still wasn't sure if I had left the fleeing van, though. It took another few setences of this conversation for me to catch up. And not only is this transition not dealt with at all, leaving the reader to pick up the pieces once they've read far into the denuoument but still may not be aware they are in it, but the denuoument itself feels tacked on and slapdashed. Apparently, something went wacky in the guitarist's head and they are talkign about what a shame it is. Like how he might of went back to the Zombie bar to retrieve his precious Les Paul guitar he'd had to leave behind, and then never returned (or something). But ... but ... this ending is really unsatisfying. I mean, I'd have love to have seen the guitarist go back and how that played out. Or maybe the two talking ex-bandmates could have been more specific about the how and whys of their former bandmates decline. But there wasn't and their isn't and the ending has no pop. Excepting for the total rewrite of the denuoument, a total rethinking of it even, my suggestion to the VC would be to end the piece very abruptly after the escape. Perhaps two to three sentences need come after: The van jarred and jumped over potholes, ancient asphalt patches upon patches, until the asphalt finally gave way to the plain gravel that surfaced most of the roads in this part of the state. a humorous bit of dialogue by the releaved band members or something, I don't know. But that would at least have the advantage of ending on the work's highest note, so to speak, it's most virtuosic chord, instead of hitting the sour note that drags out into oblivion that it is saddled with now.

Should the VC consider this editorial advice and act upon it, I would recommend this to the Exec level. But, in good conscience, I cannot recommend it as it stands now.

Of course, this editorial advisement will all be for not should Hal take the Bull's side on the dispenation of this capital venture. And so we await its (his?) verdict. With held breath, and mazarine faces.

Date: 2006/06/10 03:14 By: H3K Status: Admin

Hmmm.... I agree with Bulldust and Guevara. Which means, in the final analysis, that there's not a tie at all.

I think of this venture as "The Stepford Audience." In its premise, it's a good beginning and middle. The creepiness is handled well enough, allowing it to build slowly. I don't mind much that the origin/nature of the creepiness is left unexplained. The end is foreshadowed in a proper manner -- but when it arrives, it is far too jarringly abrupt.

And there are the problems Bull points out with language... Most of them I was willing to gloss past, as Guevara was, but Bull is especially right about "Several local girls had been eating a few tables away..." I hesitate (briefly) to make a beaver pun, but the image of girls eating tables away, a bite at a time, just seems to stick with me... I wonder if they ate them as-is, or availed themselves of the condiments to add some flavor to the formica-covered particle board.

In other words, there is more to be fixed here than the abruptness of the ending. This venture is not ready to rise to the Exec Suite. It will be, with a lot of work, but not this quarter.

Date: 2006/06/10 04:02 By: bulldust Status: Admin

"Some mustard with your table leg, madam...? I hear the globbed-on chewing gum and hardened boogers on the underside of the table are exquisite with a dash of Tobasco."

I dunno, I feel like a bit of a dicko that I didn't get through this piece. SOunds like it really picked up. So I do apologise to the VC that I didn't try harder to stick with it. I know that kind of thing peeves me off when ever I take the time between bullfights and TQr to submit. But besides the problems with this capital at a fundamental level, sounds like the ending may also need some work. But hey! What the hell do we three know. Send it somewhere else and somewhere else may love it! Or rework the ending, as Guevera suggested. Or send in a Terminal Assasin squad to terminate us terminali.

Funny though, I didn't get the Kerouac "feel" that G. did, but I also didn't read all the way through.

sooooo sorry VC ... and good luck with it whatever you decide.


Re:"Cottonfields and Digging to China"
Date: 2006/06/07 03:39 By: H3K Status: Admin

I was wept into the world of this six- or seven-year-old heroine merely with the nostalgic invocation of Red Ball Jets. [Don't ask for explanations; suffice to say, the prof at U of I who oversaw my humble origins was a child of the early '50s]

And the narrative carried me right along, through all the ordeals of poverty and abuse of this resilient child, Natalie... then stopped abruptly, with no resolution.

As much as I might wish to recommend this fine venture for advancement, on stylistic grounds, I fear I cannot -- for the simple reason that it is not finished. The VC has set up a realistic characterization (if somewhat stereotyped, but then all cliches begin life as truisms...), culminating in a scene just begging for some kind of revelatory breakthrough. It stops at least a page short -- or ten pages, or twenty. This venture needs and deserves expansion. Perhaps the VC will send it to us again in a quarter or two -- I would very much like to read the rest of it.

Re:"Cottonfields and Digging to China"
Date: 2006/06/07 06:36 By: bulldust Status: Admin

This piece runs from front to finish at about 100 miles per hour. I don't mean to say that I think the pacing is steady and smooth and brisk. No, it just gallops along, bullwhip in hand. It was much too fast and clipped narrative-wise, and I was left a little light-headed by the end and wondering why the end had come upon me so suddenly.

The Natalie character is lovely and adorable and I wanna protect her from that useless pile that is her father. I enjoyed her wild imaginings in the woods near her home, and could even relate to her hope of digging to China, or anywhere else for that matter. But for me, as a young bull growing up in Australia, I'm pretty sure it wasn't China we dug to, because China's just a little above us with a bit of lean to the left.

but anyway ...

I truly believe there's a longer story just busting to get out of this shorter one. If I had to lay Boligard Doomey's weekly wages on this (which is not a lot), I'd bet this piece is excerpted from a longer piece, or at least has been pieced together to appear to be a short piece of capital, as if the VC took segments of the longer piece and tacked them together to form a kind of paper machete piece of short capital. Could be wrong. Could be right.

It's all lovely, lovely writing though, and it sucks on your yester year emotions, though not because of the red shoes that Hal spoke of. I couldn't relate to that, simply because I've had no exposure to said red ball jet thingies. No, for other reasons, I found myself in a state of yearning and longing, though yearning and longing for what I'm not exactly sure. Maybe it was its overtly nostalgic tone that got to me and tugged on this ol' bovine heart o' mine.

That scene with the puppies made me wanna reach out in a less than loving way and beat the snot outta the puppy-killin S.O.B. In general, emotions ran high throughout this piece, because the bull has little bulls (not little balls!) and little calves, so he loathes any notion of harming little bovines and doesn't like puppies being hurt either -- pretty much the hurting of anything "little" gets the bull seeing red and crimson and scarlet. So well done on the VC's part for twisting and jerking my insides around!

But there is a kind of spasmodic cadence to this piece, which reminded me of when I watched my own little calves attempting hopscotch for the first time: off balance, mistimed hops that morphed into miscued jumps and stumbles, miscounted numbers, and just out and out giving up before they'd hopped all the way to the end. This piece ran like that for me.

It was beautiful but in snatches only. This capital, perhaps more than any other I've read to date this quarter, has "future" written all over it. But pump it up, my dear VC, don't rush me along too quickly like an impatient waiter/waitress trying to get his tip and clean off the table so he can get the next customers seated. Let me behold the offering, smell its fragrances, let me savor it a while, and lastly, let me chew and swallow without rushing me and therefore making me gag or choke. You laid out the feast before me. You just took it away all too soon.

In its current form, this piece should not rise to the executive place. Longer, yes! But alas! It runs too short, too fast. But please, oh please, VC, send us the longer version, if you have one, or are working on one. As Hal said, send it to us next quarter or the one after. Bulldust isn't the only beefy thing round TQR. So is its word count, yah know.

Long Live Natalie!!

Re:"Cottonfields and Digging to China"
Date: 2006/06/07 15:32 By: guevara Status: Admin

Don't look now, but I saw the blue-haired freak riding the elevator up and down and up and down mumbling something about 'China'. He'll rip your lungs out, Jim.

Re:"Cottonfields and Digging to China"
Date: 2006/06/07 17:12 By: tqr Status: Admin

Stop manifesting your sour grapes by scaring the help, Guevara. I am standing firm with the decisions of Hal and 'dust. Firm, I say!

The VC of this offering has asked you a question in the Safe House under the thread titled 'Cotton Fields...' So, you may have no qualms about going in there to answer that question. No VC baiting, though. You hear?

Re:"Cottonfields and Digging to China"
Date: 2006/06/08 03:58 By: H3K Status: Admin

You have my word, baas.

Oh, and Bull... Interesting reminder of the pervasiveness of American references in modern Anglophone literature.

Before there were "athletic shoes", there were sneakers. Rubber soles, canvas tops, white cotton shoestrings. They came in two styles: low-top and high-top. Red Ball Jets were a low-top style (known some places as "tennis shoes"), with a children's market. They sponsored a lot of Saturday morning TV in those black-and-white days... as did their competitors, PF Flyers and Keds.

You've probably seen Converse basketball sneaker, a.k.a. high-tops, in Oz as imports. Back then they came in two colors: white or black. Low-top tennis shoes came in white only.

Re:"Cottonfields and Digging to China"
Date: 2006/06/08 23:29 By: bulldust Status: Admin

hey hal,

listen, I dug this piece "... digging to china". And I do know how something as simple as say, the red ball jets can instantly draw you into a piece.

I certainly did not mean to imply that you were somehow naively taken in to the atmosphere of this piece simply because of some shoes. I think we both agree that this cap is flooded with atmosphere.

I can utterly relate to you. Because if a VC, hailing from the Great Southern Land, were to submit a piece to TQR (and I certainly hope they do, coz I'd like to get some Southern Hemisphere representation in this place), and he/she made reference to say, Vegemite, it would have an impact on me. There would be an instant connection, the very word "Vegemite" would summon all kinds of nostalgic feelings and images and reawaken that sense of Aussieness inside me.

So I dig what you're saying Hal. The red shoes worked for you. Not for me. The narrative flow was fine for you. Not for me. But we both do seem to agree that it is "Natalie" that really lives like nothing else in this piece named "Cottonfields and Digging to China"

Viva Natalie!!!

Re:"Cottonfields and Digging to China"
Date: 2006/06/10 03:22 By: H3K Status: Admin

"He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich..."

Re:"Cottonfields and Digging to China"
Date: 2006/06/10 03:40 By: bulldust Status: Admin

precisely Hal, precisely

my, you really are brilliant

mayhap the machine and I will partake in said vegemite sandwich before this vetting is all over and done with. mind you, it'll be hard to squeeze anything in now, now the world cup's kicked off

Re:"General Delivery"
Date: 2006/06/13 03:58 By: bulldust Status: Admin

Let me say, I'm no real fan of present tense, even in its finest form I find it hard to digest; but I do believe, by about page 4 of "General Delivery," I was beginning to believe ... I was beginning to stand shoulder to shoulder with old Sarge, the protagonist.

I found the beginning of the piece a bit too "on-the-nose" nostalgic-wise, as if the VC tried a little too hard to pull me into that post-Vietnam era where veterans had one hell of a hard time returning home and one hell of a time trying to leave 'Nam behind. But as I said in my opening paragraph, by about page 4 or 5 I began to be drawn into the character and his emotional struggle in leaving his army mate behind in 'Nam, while the protag is busy chasing around some hot piece of ass (who seems to have herself a 'familiar' in the shape of a blind albino crow -- just a hint of the albino queerness of Da Vinci Code). But it certainly still works with or without the flavour-of-the-month albino bad man from Da Vinci.

I've excerpted some passages from the piece to give you an example of some of the things I liked:

"From somewhere in my circus tent of a mind I see her sunbathing topless on a big flat rock down by the river, the same spot I took my sweetheart right before shipping out. It's a thought that injects into my head, like the abrupt image of a Kodak slide."


"Maxine and the bird swivel their heads; both fix me with looks of wonder. Maxine has eyes as blue as pansies on a seed package, the hugest and most penetrating peepers this side of those Keane prints my mom used to hang in our living room."

Although Gabriel Dep from the Floor sent this up to me (and good job she did!), I can see my other floorite mate Boligard Doomey digging this piece, coz this piece has a hip rhythm, a style that says, "Brother ... I don't give a shit if you're not catching my drift and flow here, I'm still gonna say this stuff how ever I like and you can come along if you wanna."

This piece weighs in at a little over 5900 words, a nice length for a bull with no patience. So thank you, VC, for that. The dialogue is generally cool, but the narrative seems a little jumbled and erratic at times and sometimes hard to follow, but I think (as mentioned above) it's all part of the "scene" of this piece, and I'm entirely willing and able to overlook any of its murky prose parts.

So it's both horns up for me. I think this one touches the monkey.

Re:"General Delivery"
Date: 2006/06/13 05:56 By: tqr Status: Admin

Guevara is in Hamburg fighting Hooligans. H3K, the floor (note the downstyle 'f'] is yours!

Re:"General Delivery"
Date: 2006/06/14 19:59 By: H3K Status: Admin

And I have arrived (actually, I never leave, merely turn my attention elsewhere at need).

I enjoyed this venture. Its small-town-Americana feel is genuine, as are the musings of Sarge. The plot has a universality, an independence from the time in which it's set, which could easily allow Sarge to be a returning veteran of any war.

I understand what Bull means about prolonged narrative in the present tense, but as this piece is essentially an internal monologue, the voice seems appropriate. I was also pleased that the outcome matched my anticipation.

Can it be, a romantic machine? Vicariously, yes.

I second Bull's recommendation -- send it upstairs.

14. Reflections of a Similar Mind

Reflections of a Similar Mind" by Joseph Paul Hai
Date: 2006/06/16 18:16 By: architext Status: Admin

Did somebody say "ARCHITEXT"????

First a quote from this piece's author, as found downstream:
"Well, when you sit down, give yourself permission to fail in the most spectacular fashion possible. Write that short story you've always wanted to write but were afraid you couldn't. Break every rule if you must (remembering of course that you need to KNOW you're breaking a rule in order to break it successfully) and let's hit the cadre here with a blast of sheer creativity the likes of which will pull the plug from the machine and turn the bull into a mewling kitty-kat."

The smug bastard must have known he'd win the challenge. Here's what I have to say about Joseph Paul Haines.

I like this story. If I had one complaint, I'd say it could use a little trimming on some of the extended conversations. There is a bit of "preposterous science fiction mumbo-jumbo" (to quote Hubert Farnsworth) in there. The story might actually be just as good or better without "Sequence 17: LEGRANGE STATION 0827 SMT" which explains everything, yet kills the magic.

The best stories in this delirious category-- the sort of fading in and out of consciousness deal, e.g. (not from JPH's story):
I woke up.
I hate Kansas.
The mechazoids were after my lucky charms.
...the best of that sort tends to remain a bit mysterious even when the explanations are happening. So the author shouldn't concentrate on explaining. See, for example, Gibson's Neuromancer. I read it about four times before I began to grasp what was going on.

Anyway, there's a great deal of cleverness here, nice inspiration, plus an enjoyable teaser sex scene, and I have to give it a thumbs up.

One last note, I expected some sort of parody of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" -- watch the title tropes. Or memes. Or whatever the fuck that is called.

Rapidly, but whole-heartedly,
The Architext, OBE

P.S. I don't feel I've done it justice with the above comments. It's trippy in a Space Odyssey sort of way. I think the meditative spacey-ness of it all is what sold it for me. I'm not a plot person. I just like space. If you don't like space, you suck.

Still, why is so much sci-fi sheer crapola? Points to ponder.

One other note, this one going out to JPH personally-- if you've never noted my other story reviews... well, let's put it this way, I'm the judge you don't want to get if you're facing death row. I make Judge Judy look like Judge Reinhold. Yours is a rare acquittal from an otherwise harsh and impatient, not to mention omnipotent, critical deity.

Re:"Reflections of a Similar Mind" by Joseph Paul
Date: 2006/06/17 02:30 By: H3K Status: Admin

It comes, in the end, to this: The final capital to find its peristaltic way through the Terminal this quarter. "3Q06" is the name of the folder, and this is the last of the downloads contained there to draw my attention.

Considering that the venturesome capitalist behind this effort has no bones about remaining anonymous... it's a bit odd to separate what has transpired in other halls of this Edifice Rex we call home (Doomey and I, especially). There even seems to be an inebriated discussion in the Rump about the esteemed gentleman joining the staff.

Thus, I must be doubly diligent not to "pull punches", as you meat people have termed it.

"Think Like a Dinosaur" (James Patrick Kelly, 1995)* meets What Dreams May Come**

And Archi is correct in his assessment of "Sequence 17". If not entirely eliminated, then severely pruned, with an eye toward working the barest hint of what's going one scattered elsewhere through the narrative instead. Please.

You see: just because I recognize this venture's cousins does not mean I think it's derivative. Hardly. This is an excellent approach to the problematic psychology of "transporters" as they are commonly envisioned. That this version of the concept hangs on a strained interpretaion of quantum entanglement is by the bye... (more of that "preposterous science fiction mumbo-jumbo" Archi was talking about).

The non-mumbo parts... there's some fine writing in there. The strangeness pulled this reader along, looking for those bits and bytes which might, if assembled, would explain it all. I enjoy that sort of reading, and think the venture might be better to leave some detail out.

I can't in good conscience make my recommendation contingent upon a rewrite -- and I won't. I'd rather not have been the one to break symmetry, but:

That Which Deserves To Rise, Rises

Re:"Reflections of a Similar Mind" by Joseph Paul Hai
Date: 2006/06/17 08:43 By: bulldust Status: Admin

okay, so after a re-read, I eventually figured out H3's stance on this piece; still not sure if archi boy was giving a yes or no or a "something else". So on with my stance on this:

"Reflections of a Similar Mind" is smooth, lucid, and punchy in its phrasing and sentence construction. Dialogue is sharp, and the VC shows a good ear for natural conversation. It's the best "sounding" dialogue I've read this quarter. So congrats there, mate!! Guess ol' Clarion is good for something, huh? ; - ) juz kiddin yah.

Anyway, this piece (weighing in at a cosy 4500 words) does read quickly. Before I knew it I was finished and was readying my thoughts for how I would respond.

The 'Sequence 17' is much too clinical: no action = no motion. I need a little more (No, a lot more!) than a few characters standing round for yonks and yonks talking/discussing/debating the failed Chronos One experiment, etc, etc. I'd much rather see this 'Sequence 17' unfold in action, in real time; in other words, not in the "telling" mode. So as a result of this Sequence 17, I never felt "connected" or grew "close" with the piece or its characters or their plight. In fact, I felt as if I'd been mentally castrated once I pantingly reached the end of sequence 17. I dunno ... it all left me (personally) feeling a little stupid, to be honest.

But I must add that I think this VC can write, and does so very nicely and descriptively, but surely Capital Gains is more than just kick-ass writing. What the piece is lacking is plain and simple in my view. Do I dare say it?! I may be fired for this, but here goes anyway: There really is no story! (ooops, sorry me gaffer, I said the 's' word)

For me, this cap' was another example of concept/premise trumping the 's' word. I waited for "it" -- that 's' thing we cannot name in this here TQR place -- to get moving, but it never really came to life, or moved ... or to stay in the mode of the piece's lingo: I never felt transported or transplanted to the place and time of this piece, and I highly suspect it has a whole lot to do with the "tell" mode of that hefty sequence 17, which should all be scrapped -– all of it -- in my humble bovine opinion, and rewritten/recast in the "show" mode: action = motion.

Truth is: It didn't matter what came after this sequence 17. It did not matter because the damage had been done. And I really do advise -– from a laybull's perspective (unless you're subbing to the more hardcore sci-fi mags) –-to tone down the jargon. It just left my head wobbling on my bullneck. Not everyone's packing a motherboard like Hal round here. In fact, the average reader, I'd wager, would have been perplexed (maybe paralysed), as I was, by the jargonized dialogue and narrative, yet ... (there's always a 'yet') you don't want to lose that ambience, that texture and feel of the sci-fi piece, and by over-simplifying you do risk that. But in its present form, the science in this piece is indigestible for a simple (some say stupid) laybull, such as I.

So unfortunately, instead of giving you two horns up, I must offer two shoulders up (in a shrug) as to how you, the VC, should proceed with this piece, how to repair it, if you at all agree with Hal and me and archi' baby. But perhaps for that one 'yes' (was it a "yes"?) you received from the Architext, you may well receive another yes if subbed elsewhere: "Like breeds like", as you say.

"Reflections of a Similar Mind" doesn't touch the monkey. Good luck JPH, and dig on. I've enjoyed your postings in the house of TQR, and hope you come and hang out.