TQR Confidential

Friday, August 25, 2006

Terminal Discussion for Fall Issue 'O6

1. Dear Susan
2. The Apocryphist
3. The Man Who Sought Blug
4. The Grieving
5. Accidents
6. Proof of Absence
7. The Cottage in the Woods
8. On Being Asked to Dance by a Genius
9. Spiral Architects
10. Desolate Island
11. Dollbabies
12. The Festival of the Pines


Date: 08/17/o6 04:32 By: haldust3000

No, that's not the opening to a letter... well, it is, but primarily it's the title of the first capital venture to be publically examined this quarter. The title, in turn, derives from the opening to many letters interspersed throughout the narrative.

(By the way: the choice of this cap over the six others received so far is quasi-random. I asked Bull for a number between 1 and 7, and he chose 3. "Dear Susan" is the third, chronologically, to grace my inbox.)

And it is turns out to be somewhat of a dilemma. I have spoken in past quarters about the complete lack of response in my sensors to stimulation of the kind you meat-people call sexual (lubricious is another good word, and there's a certain machine-like quality to Huxley's use of pneumatic in Brave New World...). It all implies reactions to which I can never aspire.

That being said, I dare to say the subject has been deftly handled (more euphemism? certainly a double entendre...). Though the language is explicit, and the context is pornography (of the "soft," magazine variety), the story itself is not what I, impartial judge that I am, would consider to be pornographic.

Its raison d'etre is to speak of the extremes to which some individuals with Y-chromosomes can be driven through vicarious over-stimulation. As such, as Boli has opined recently elsewhere, it has a purpose... but, it is not preachy, thank the Muses!

I am trying to speak well of this piece to prime my flesh-and-blood colleagues -- because there are understandings I cannot grasp, lacking the tool (as it were), and I need both BullDust and Guevara, or someome like him, to step in to a make a decision.

For now, I recuse myself from judgement, though with a favorable prejudice.

Date: 08/17/06 20:12 By: guevara
Cavrones, I come back from the jungles and everyone around here is 'dust' and more 'dust' and no faces! Well, no offense to the muzzleless Ferdinand, but color me refusing this faux solidarity. Fire me if you wish, but that would not be a muchos gracias on your part oh blue haired fanatic. Besides, las mujeres would have a fit were my beautiful face absent for even one quarter, no?

So. That is that.

As to 'Dear Susan' dear Bullcaca'dust. Shall I go first, or shall you?

Date: 08/18/06 05:19 By: bulldust
proceed at your peril, you thin moustachioed, dust-defying delinquent. Don't you know it's brown season? No one has face this quarter, no one. Me GAFFER! I won't have it, by Tauren. Have this GUevero face clipped and stripped from sight. It insults the dustlessness of our identity crises. I know, Venture Capitalists, I make no sense to you, but Guevera must understand that this is the quarter where no staffer shall no his true face. So be off with it, Guevera-dust, or prepare thy lower regions for pointed horn.

And yes, do proceed with this Dear Susan capital. I can't even find it yet in my haystack. Managed to find a needle though!



Date: 08/18/06 22:33 By: guevara
El de nada, mi amigo, but I cannot not show my pretty face. I have been busy unpacking my kit and being debriefed by that football-faced dictator from Venezuela's goons, so Dear Susan will have to wait another day. Via con Dios Toro!

Now to business,

Dear Susan seems to me to be an argument for the idea that pornography is el diablo's trabajo; that it may drive a man to become a slave to his fantasies and allow him to blur the line between that fantasy and his day-to-day reality.

This is an interesting thesis, albeit. But who is to say such an obviously sociopathic character as is Tom wouldn't eventually latch onto something to obsess over and become a prisoner of his own fantasy world?

If you will excuse my crude double entendre and hijacking of a well-known question: What came first, the sociopath or the pornography?

Of course, opinions are like assholes. And to Dear Susan credit, it does not overtly offer one either way. However, the gruesome conclusion is an obvious damning of el Hedgehog's "industry."

Do not get me wrong, I am enamoured (enthralled?) as the next red-blooded hombre by Penthouse Letters and senseless violence. However, the main reason this venture doesn't quite do it for me is the fact Tom is such an obvious candidate for the Ted-Bundy-of-the-Month club from the start. And his comportment of himself at the end of the piece, though ogreish, is really no surprise. This particular lack of character range serves to magnify the propaganda aspect of the venture when that aspect (propaganda) needs must be almost seamlessly and transparently embedded in a work in order for it to transcend that pejorative label.

As it is, Dear Susan doesn't.

Date: 08/20/06 23:35 By: haldust3000
Point well taken, Sr. Guevara...

Especially in light of the recent news regarding the "confession" to the JonBenet Ramsey murder -- which, as I recall, did not appear in the press until the morning after I opened this discussion.

Not to digress too much, but I wonder: in the continuum of behaviors and traits humans lump into the noun "personality", if there isn't a threshhold beneath which real people become as one-dimensional as Tom is in this capital venture. Perhaps this is what is meant by "personality disorder"; that is, contrary to the usual use of the word, the less complexity, the more disorder.

What I'm getting to: I believe there are many non-fictional humans with no capacity to keep fantasy and reality separate. Ideal characterization, as we look for in fiction, does not always obtain in the real world.

Date: 08/21/06 01:59
By: bulldust
Well ... running with Guevera's theory that opinions are like assholes, let "me" play the asshole role then, for I am more than willing to weigh my opinion/asshole heavily in on this piece of capital, and I suspect the asshole role (I've mentioned "asshole" now three times, actually make that four) will fit nicely with the review of this capital, which is heavy on anatomy.

Remember, I'm meat and potatoes when it comes to capital: Guevera and H3K are your literary geniuses.

By the 2nd page of Dear Susan, I found myself getting bogged down by detail and already skipping along to the Dear Susan and Dear Tom letters. Even in the ablest author's hands, smut and more smut ... and a little bit more smut .. really aint my thing, sister VC.

Most VCs and investors and staffers know I'm not exactly prudish, but a capital heavily accessorised with clits, cocks, cunts, and throbbing this and pulsing that, quite frankly bores this asshole (giver of opinions) to bull tears. I really don't see the need or value in such gritty detail of the aforementioned parts-and-pieces of the human anatomy. Juz aint my thang, kids and coyotes.

This review is shorter than my usual posts, because it just failed to move me. Two horns down.



Date: 08/23/06 20:03 By: tqd
About time to close the books on this one. Has the VC been notified of the dispensation of her cap?

Date: 08/24/06 03:24 By:bulldust
hey gaffer, does this thread make you a little "nervous"? Should I use expletives in future?

Date: 08/24/06 04:04 By: tqd
What makes me nervous is the fact we're a week in and have only processed one piece so far. I don't give a [bleep]ing [bleep] what you and that wanking bucket of [bleep] Haldust3000 do as long as you fulfill your [bleep]ing contract[bleep]ing-ual obli[bleep]ing-gations!

Besides, we've got other corndogs to fry, eh, my little Bullchick?

Date: 08/25/06 02:04 By: bulldus
the pressure of it all has morphed me into this frog you see. I don't know me gaffer if I can handle it anymore, doing all this reading and reviewing as a frog. I will try desperately hard to croak out a review for you tomorrow, being the day Friday. It is the apocryphist I croak of, me gaffer.

reeebit ... reeebit


Date: 2006/08/21 18:27 By: bulldust This is a nice piece of capital: Nice. I know, I know, how often are you gonna hear that word come out of the often-foulmouthed, frequently seditious Bulldust? Almost never. But truly, this cute and sometimes cuddly tale rings nice to me (and I mean "nice" in a positive, heart-warming way, not in a condescending fashion). I came close to squirming, once or twice, for fear that the piece may be some spin-off of George Lucas's Ewoks. Anyway, it didn't.

The piece has a predictable beginning, middle, and end that I enjoyed. Once again, I don't mean to use the word predictable in a negative way, but in the sense that the piece fulfilled my expectations of it; basically, it confirmed my predictions of how it would unfold and conclude. I reckon there's a longer tale connected to this one. The tone, the richness, the rhythm of the thing beckons more.

The writing itself will win no Pulitzer prize. For the most part, the writing is meek, gentle, satisfyingly detailed: nice. I believe TQr is ready for Fantasy of this nature. I say let's not just tout ourselves as a so-called forum for all kinds of fiction. Let's let our actions speaker louder than mere claims. Let's show the investors and others that TQR embraces -- no, promotes! -- diversity in its portfolios and doesn't just print sci-fi and lit' all the time.

I say two horns up for this lovely little Fantasy called, "The Apocryphist", and long live Siam the storyteller!

Date: 2006/08/27 01:44 By: H3K
There is no disagreement from me about this charming piece of tail... (um, tale of peace?) While reading it, another thread of my software was out in the graphic art regions of cyberspace, looking for a suitable illustrator... or better yet, animator. It has a Lion King quality to it: an appeal to audiences of all ages, even the youngest stalker.

I add the warm glow of my console light to your two horns, oh Bullish One, and say "Send it up!".


Date: 2006/08/27 03:20 By: H3K If I were in the Rump, I would ask Santino to mix up a pitcher of gin and Miskatonic for the venturesome capitalist who sent this in, a man who obviously loves his craft.

What has been crafted here is an hommage, not a pastiche (thank the Dark Ones!) -- completely modern in its language, free of the overblown verbiage of nearly 80 years ago (and which itself harkened back to a simpler time before the year numbers began with 19, when horror was less likely to be met on the street and in the newspaper than it was in dreams). There are, in fact, passages in this capital which are more reminiscent of detective fiction -- not to say "hardboiled", but decidely noir, especially regarding the beautiful assistant with an attitude. Nevertheless, that which is described, and the care taken to describe it, is of a piece with the work to which it pays homage.

I will say (as I must, to be thorough) that there are no surprises. That which the reader expects to occur, does so. The merit of this venture relies entirely upon the skill of its making. It is my judgement that the skill is sufficient, and the capital should advance.

Date: 2006/08/27 23:43 By: bulldust
Oh Hal, say it isn't so, Hal, say it isn't so. This piece runs at over 8000 words!!!

I am a bullfrog, no longer even a talking cow. I am a bullfrog, I have this terrible, frustrating urge to hop all the time, so it makes it virtually impossioble for me to sit still for any length of time to read a piece of capital 8000 words long. Oh my Kermit! What is to be done here. Guevera ... will you be the first to respond. This 8000 words will take days for me to look at. My hooves are not what they used to be, for I now have webbed toes, and they are not able to finesse pages of capital. oh dear, I do need help in here.

Date: 2006/08/28 05:03 By: tqr
BD, if you don't have a copy of your contract, you can go to the guidelines to reconnect with the fact we here capitalize on the long stuff (4,000 thru 12,000) words of it. But since you are obviously not yourself, and since everyone know it ain't easy being green, I'll see if I can get someone up and throwing in the bullpen ... errr, the bull(frog)pen? For Hecuba's sake, can you believe the atrocious amount of punning that goes on in here during a normal day? So sorry.

Date: 2006/08/28 16:56 By: guevara
A hint of senor Borges, a pinch of Lovecraft, and some Jules Verne thrown in to taste. A most satisfying ablution, this Blug. The moxy-full assistant/financier heiress or whatever she is, is indeed straight outta Chandler. And so, I must thank you Bullfrogdust, in a back handed sort of way, for allowing me to sample this piece of good tasting capital, which did not seem overlong to me, but just right. Satisfyingly, as they say. I give it my imprimatur.

Date: 2006/08/30 02:55 By: H3K
The VC has been notified of advancement.



Date: 2006/08/21 03:20 By: haldust3000

Xenoanthropology: an unfortunate coinage, cobbled together from xeno-, pertaining to strangers (see also xenophobia) and anthropology, the study of mankind. Most commonly, the latter implies the study of prehistoric mankind -- a.k.a. "physical anthropology," sharing a large overlap with archeology -- but also the Margaret Mead type of study known as "cultural anthro".

In spite of the fact that sentient life on other planets cannot be "men", the (thus far) fictitious science of xenoanthropology has earned itself a small but significant niche in the science fiction section of literature. These are tales in which an expert, or team of experts, encounters an intelligent species and learns Something Very Important. Usually, what they learn becomes the deciding factor for the future of whatever brought them there.

I have read a number of these; some are remembered fondly: Little Fuzzy and its sequel Fuzzy Sapiens by H. Beam Piper stand out, as do A Case of Conscience by James Blish and The Word for World is Forest by Ursula LeGuin. I also recall a short story (but neither its title nor author) in which a wall decoration in a ruined city was finally recognized as a periodic table of the elements, and became the "Rosetta Stone" for understanding the Martians, or whoever they were.

Such is the framework for the capital venture at hand. Its protagonist is someone named Lammas whose title is "Chief Anthropologist". He is part of a second colonizing expedition to a planet where the first one failed. He is confronted with a scattering of survivors from that first expedition, and with a newly-extinct native species. He must determine why all the natives and almost all the first humans died after the humans arrived.

Does he use what we might consider to be standard forensic anthropological technique? Does he study the bones or the other physical evidence surrounding the death of the native species? No -- in fact, he refuses to return to the "warrens" where they lived and died (too creepy, I suppose). By behavior at least, this character is more of an ethnologist: he goes, instead, to one of the few survivors of the first human expedition, who is presented as a sort of shaman figure.

All Lammas is able to coax from that one is a recipe for a mind-altering drug... which -- of course! -- he takes, in spite of the warnings from his friend the doctor (see below), and thereby communes with the life spirit of the planet itself, etc., etc. I shall divulge nothing further about the plot -- I hate spoilers. Suffice to say, he finds the necessary answer.

Unfortunately, as much as I enjoy situations in which the study of man is applied to the study of non-man, this one touches no monkeys. In large part, that is because it touches no Whaskera (the aliens' name for themselves). They are, of course, ghosts by the time our hero reaches their erstwhile planet, but all of the records survive from the first colonial attempt. We are told this, but we are not shown -- an entire race of people remains faceless, leaving almost nothing upon which to create any empathy for them, save their demise itself. Empathy for the Whaskera should be the meat of the story, according to the title.

Instead, we are given digressions whose purpose seems to be a fleshing-out of Lammas' character: he left behind a wife and daughter (the wife, one can only infer, chose not to join his one-way trip); he's slowly becoming "one of the boys" with the rest of the expedition; he's attracted to the ship's doctor, and she to him, but they have yet to consummate. All irrelevant, I fear, in light of the brevity of this venture and the point I believe it ought to be making.

Before I conclude, I'll mention one more sore spot: the description of how the hallucinogen works. I have no doubts about the ability of that class of neurochemicals to permit (or induce) the same kind of free association one's brain usually encounters only in the dream state. I seriously doubt the mechanism described (p. 19 of the MS as I have it) can have any basis in medical fact. In other words, if we are appealing to a mystical use of mind alteration to achieve spiritual communication, couldn't we just leave it at that, and not try to "explain" it?

Overall, this venture leaves an aftertaste of "been done before, better." See this list at the Strange Horizons website:


(#15 is the one I have in mind)

Date: 2006/08/24 23:17 By: guevara
My dear Haldust,

I have read the capital in question and found it, for the most part, a very enjoyable read. Doomey knows a thing or two, no? Anyhow. I cannot give a full accounting of my findings here now because mi mujere is needing relief from el mijo right about now and I must vamos home. But I will be back here very soon.

[be right back]

Que paso!

The Grieving is a sly piece of capital outlay. In that it treats vast amounts of information the way Hemingway said it should be done: with an iceberg. Mira! Twenty percent seen, and 80 percent below the surface, which means the entire picture must be inferred by the reader by what they are able to see. Get it?

The pithy details given of the world, like 'cirrus torn by the southern mountains' and 'silver things' flying around in the air, and the moss underfoot provide the investor with strong images upon which to hang their hat on, and with which to fill in with their own imaginations.

There is so much hinted at in this short piece, which runs approx 7500 words. Many people find this economical short-shrifting admirable and preferred to 'tmi'. However, the danger exists that such writing may cross over into summary if not handled correctly.

I did find a few areas in the piece I felt needed extra flesh. For instance, the character of Cossack seemed to me to be the most interesting and alluring character in the entire work, but is only given ancillary exposure. The boys night out 'drink up' that is mentioned in Cossack's exchange with Lammas is only spoken of then, and never are the investors given a scene of this eventuality. I found this an unsatisfactory omission because I was so taken by Cossack's character, I wanted to see more of him.

The fact Lammas LEFT HIS WIFE AND CHILD!!!! in order to go Captain Kirking across the solar system is a very striking detail that needs more than a passing mention, methinks. And how. I mean, Yo say el padron a la muchachos, and know the mental anguish it is to be away from them for even so paltry a duration as a week, but for forever? How does a man give el grande 'Via con dios' to his children like that and this aspect of his personality not be further explored in detail? It is one thing about this venture that does not, and forgive me Hal for hijacking your motherboard, COMPUTE!

This being said, I am enamored with the VC's less is more approach to capital construction. The visions Lammas has when under the influence of the yin yang apples colored 'like blood and chlorophyll' (a particularly heady and striking image) are fantastico! The glimpses they give into the Whaskera civilization do indeed satiate me even though my esteemed colleague, el machina H3K is not satisfied by it. The key to the Whaskera's civilization's demise seems a bit forced to me, as does the Kellie's counter response to the Whaskera's response. Anywhat. Getting back to my admiration of the less is more approach, I feel the VC completely abandons this philosophy when he decided to give this roundup type infodump explanation (I think Hal, my esteemed compadre also referenced this passage) that follows:

“It did more than that. The planetary mind is so sensitive to the life it sustains that it found it difficult to repair itself following the death of the Whaskera. The Kellie’s grief was a manifestation of that, but it became so rooted within them that it actually made it harder for the biomind to heal. The maintenance of the wound became the reason for the Kellie’s continued existence, and the Mind sustained them as best it could for all those years. It was a circle that needed to be broken. The Kellies should have continued with the settlement. They should have brought more life to Whas, not grieved over the old.”

Aye yi yi! There is absolutely no need for this, in that the visions that are being picked apart in this dialogue have already spoken for themselves and the astute investor will have already gleaned all this from the previous action of the piece, thus this is a regurgitation and patronizing to boot. Investors do not like to be patronized, yo?

Having said all this, I am in love with the VC's style. And the good passages in this piece still outweigh the bad. Now it is up to me esteemed el toro compadre to decide because I am for it going to the Exec level.

However, I have caveats to keep, and miles to go ... you know the rest. What I am proposing is a rewrite of the above mentioned knitpicks. And a total deletion of that regurgitation of patronizing dialogue that I have just excoriated directly above.

The fate of this venture's further journey through the TQR hopper is in the frog's webbed feet now. Do you get my joke, senor bull?

Date: 2006/08/25 21:51 By: H3K
Si, Sr. G... This venture is salvageable, with expansion of some areas and deletion of others. Whether or not that can be done in time for this quarter's consideration is an open question, depending in part on our suddenly-amphibious bovine companion.

Date: 2006/08/28 19:28 By: tqr
Paging BFD.
APB for BFD!

Date: 2006/08/31 22:28 By: bulldust
why is this piece not even in my lilypad?

I've searched for it everywhere, under the reeds, beneath the moss, flipped a rock or two, even scoured the depths of the bathtub but have found only bars of soap and dead fish. Someone besides me is certainly not doing their job, me gaffer. Who ever's responsible for this, could you please forward "the Grieving" to my new address, Bathtub@wherethefukowieismybulldustpic.com

Date: 2006/08/31 22:30 By: tqr
Zounds! You shall have it postehaste, sir squeezy.

Date: 2006/09/02 16:25 By: bulldust
actually no, I didn't get your joke, me gaffer. I am an ill-humoured son of a toad these days. so spare me the quips and jabs about my amphibian form.
anyway, I'll read "the grieving" this weekend.

Date: 2006/09/02 16:41 By: bulldust
so hold onto your imaginary blue dreads, me gaffer, and you Hal, keep your circuits cooled, brother. I'll read this 7500 word mammoth named "The Grieving" and break this tie. Do you think I should wear a tie for the occasion?

Sustaining my interest (no matter how much potential the writer or the piece shows) is one of the criterion in deciding whether I've enjoyed a piece of capital. Another way of deciding if I'm enjoying it: does detail interfere with, or intervene, or interrupt, or bury the story?

The big problem I have with sci-fi (and for me, this problem just does not seem to go away) is that the detail/contraptions/accessories fog up (or heavily outweigh) the story (and in some cases, out-and-out attempts to disguise the lack of story). This piece, "The Grieving," however, is not in that immeditate category; it does have story ... eventually. But for me, the "eventually" arrived too late to sustain my interest.

The writing is solid enough, the tempo smooth and the narrative conversational. I guess I'm just not a great fan of sci-fi, even when handled with the deftest of touch and most imaginative of minds: Ursula LeGuin, Bradbury, etc. While I admire their accomplishments and wondrous minds and sharp writing, I struggle with their work. It's just a "me" thing.

So this makes it somewhat unfair for the VC that his/her piece is being decided on by a reviewer with a blatant bias against sci-fi. So my proposal is this:
Call in the Raygun or the Architext or the gaffer himself to review the thing. Their minds are greater than mine and are more open to capital of this type. I would hate to see the VC's work rejected because of my wanky bias.

So if you two, Hal and Guevera, are looking for a straight up tie-breaker to settle the score, then I must say no to the piece rising to the Exec lounge. But if you think this VC deserves a fairer kick at the can, then call in the TQR cavalry and have the likes of Archbald or Raygoon sus the thing out. Squeezy/Bulldust will harbour no grudge at his views being overlooked.


Squeezy, aka Bulldust

Date: 2006/09/05 01:49 By: H3K
See my open letter to the VC here:


... a copy of which was emailed directly to him.



Date: 2006/09/01 04:57 By: H3K
(We now pass the mid-point of the capital I have received from the Floor. Of seven, this is the fourth...)

What can I say about this capital venture, other than how enjoyable it was to read?

It describes, I suppose one might say, a mid-life crisis -- except the protagonist's crises are happening almost exclusively to the women in his life: his wife and daughter. Oh yes... He has one of his own, but it seems to bear little importance to him, as compared to those his women are enduring. Such is the quality that draws the reader to him. The word sympathetic, as applied to fictional characters, needs this one's picture next to the definition.

I will not say more, because this cap' needs to be read, not synopsized. And that means read by All, not merely Squeezy the Bull(dust)frog. In other words, it should rise through the Executive level to the reward it deserves: Capital Gain.

Date: 2006/09/01 22:45 By: guevara
He tried to see himself as an aggressive lover, taking what was his, flipping her around at will, his flab landing on her as it had smacked the pool’s surface. A disturbing caricature of himself emerged-- the fat clown of Kama Sutra, pale and wacky, aping the acts of passion without finishing any, now and then whipping out a little honking horn.

Reading this passage along with the context of the work itself, lemme tell you, ... I have not laughed so much during a reading session as I did then. I believe this DeHart hombre has his first piece of literature which to champion as his own. This doesn't fall into any easily recognizable genre, yes?



Date: 2006/08/31 22:39 By: bulldust
I can't believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I just typed out my review, took me half an hour, and then I deleted by accident. It's too late in the night to try again. I'll post it Saturday morning. Sorry Mr/Ms VC ... its my bloody webbed toes. Can't get them finessing the keyboard.


Squeezy, the bath toy formerly known as Bulldust

Re:Review: "Proof of Absence"
Date: 2006/09/02 04:41 By: bulldust will post the review saturday morn, nth american time.

Re:Review: "Proof of Absence"
Date: 2006/09/02 16:12 By: bulldust
The following comments were compiled after reading to page 3. Hope they help.

Far too many hackneyed sayings, or phrasings. The VC needs to think of fresh, interesting turns of phrase without relying on cliches. Here's a short list of what I found in those first few pages:
- "stopped in his tracks" and "rising to the challenge"
(both were found in the same sentence)
- "... become the thorn in his side."
- "... by whatever means [possible]."

The 'telling' rather than the 'showing' pops its rascally little head up too often. The narrator wishes to tell me before hand (sometimes afterwards) what I'm supposed to feel and how I am to react. Example:
- "The barely discernible nods and harrumphs told him he had his audience back. He decided to keep control."
- "This was his stage -- his field of experience. He would put this upstart in his place."
- "The focus was on Woodridge -- the crowd expectant."

And then there were lines of narration that -- no matter how many times I read -- I just could not grasp their meaning/intent. Example:
- "Everything else about him -- his stance, his demeanour -- spoke of a confidence fed by disrespect for the likes of Grayson." (where's the clarity here? It baffled me. I need my narration to flow and to be lucid in my mind as I'm taking it in)
The above clause "his stance, his demeanour" is also a good example of telling rather than showing/describing. As a reader, I am left with no picture in my head -- worse, a vague image.

VC, take the time (it'll pay off, believe me) to add those nice, plucky tidbits of detail that can really make a piece of capital come to life. For a bristling, vivacious display of this, see last quarter's, "Badger Pass," which is my staff pick for the Summer quarter. (hey gaffer, we should have a staff-pick section on site!)

Anyway, the VC of "Proof of Absence" has talent. I can see it in the piece, but he/she has to work on her/his craft. "Proof of Absence" is not ready for the illustrious 'Executive Suite'. But keep at it, VC. You've got potential.

Date: 2006/09/04 01:01 By: H3K
One wonders, in reading this capital venture, if its VC is not himself a student of the Chelicerata -- a subphylum of the Arthropods which includes both the true spiders (Arachnida) and the sea 'spiders' (Pycnogonida). It is not necessary for the VC to be such, but he has certainly done his homework*.

He has also, in a way, drawn upon the sort of rivalry for fame, as well as sponsorship, which was all too common among scientists a hundred years and more ago. Unfortunately, that very sort of rivalry has become more a cliche than a truism -- which, I'm afraid, dovetails all too well with the results of Bulldust's textual analysis. Borrowing from Poe's "A Cask of Amontillado" to frame the end doesn't help this capital's case, either.

Most of all, this capital is not compelling. I agree with Bulldust that the VC has talent, and merely needs to read and write more in order to find his voice... but this particular item will not advance.

Date: 2006/09/04 21:30 By: bulldust
yes Hal, that is succinctly stated sir, as opposed to my own waffling in trying to express my views and thoughts.

I do think that that is what is lacking in this piece "Proof of Absence" is the lack of individual voice, or "own voice" as Hal suggests. Algernon Blackwood is my favourite short story writer from the era of late 19th and early 20th century, particularly the "Willows". For scrumptuous detail and a story that moves as fluidly, and at times as ferocoisuly, as the Danube during flood season, read the Willows, good VC.


Squeezy, aka Bulldust

* - In my own "homework" on the topic, I noted that some speculate the Pycnogonida may have branched from the Arthropod line some time earlier, and may not be chelicerates at all. In any case, the fictional Megasylvipantopus graysoni could not be the world's largest spider: it would not be a spider at all.


Date: 2006/09/07 19:44 By: bulldust
A lot of the narrative in this piece was so pretentious it stuck to the roof of my mouth like a good gob of peanut butter. Many of the phrasings should be stricken from the piece: Here's just two examples:

"With that information duly noted, she went to a cupboard and..."
"... [she] opened the oven door. The heat from its confines spread through the tiny room like the..."

(take out the above underlined phrase and it reads as it should: smoothly and with a great deal less of the pretentious stuff I spoke about)

The syntax in places is awkward and clunky. The perspective shifts (not by design) from time to time. Example:
"The thought of a nap afterwards ... gave me a contented glow and I..."

Now, this piece is written in First Person; or at least I believe that was the intent of the VC. Unless the protagonist/narrator from the above example is in front of a mirror or gazing into a reflective pond, then how did the narrator/protag know that he himself had a contented glow on his face? Stay with your chosen perspective, your p.o.v.
The "contented glow" should have been an observation made by another (if in 3rd Person) or the narrator/protagonist (telling story in First Person) should have "speculated" that "I must have had a contented glow on my face because... blah blah blah"

This capital is written in similar vein to the "Proof of Absence," a piece I reviewed earlier this quarter. PoA and Cottage in the Woods are both written by VCs who have yet found their true voices. Stop with the pretentious narration and say what you mean.

Like PoA, this capital needs tightening, needs to be rewritten without the stuffy, stiff-upper-lip tone, and the VC, like the one of PoA, needs to start reading more modern capital. Pick up magazines, newspapers, other short stories, not just turn of the 19th/20th century novels, and observe "how" the modern capital is being told/presented.

I say no to "The Cottage in the Woods" rising to the Executive Suite. Best of luck to the VC concerned, and thanks for submitting your piece for open vetting. That takes big ones to do that!


Squeezy, formerly known as Bulldust

Date: 2006/09/11 04:08 By: H3K
Immediately (that is, the second paragraph), I find an error in German... of the sort that tells me the VC is no more familiar with said language than a translating dictionary.

[FYI, the sense of "No" in English to mean "none" is rendered in German as kein. Nein is "no" as in pure negation, the opposite of "yes".]

It goes downhill from there. I won't belabor the points Bullfrogdust has made (though I will add that, overall, "Proof of Absence" may have been better written). Suffice to say, he's correct.

There is one more discouragement, however, and I will not hesitate to counsel the VC: Abandon this venture completely. Far be it for a machine to be intentionally mean-spirited (for obvious reasons) -- I speak from a sense of practicality. No matter how often rewritten, whther in modern usage or in some more accurate form of historical language (as opposed to "quaintly verbose", which is what we have now), this piece will not pass anyone's muster. Anywhere.

"And then he woke up, and found it was all a dream..." That will scream NO! to every 'capital manager' who reads it.

Give it up, do the reading BfD suggests, and start something new.


Date: 2006/09/05 02:54 By: H3K
Boligard, my loyal supplier of capital ventures, what powerful concoction had Santino supplied you before you sent this one up? I have never been as confused by a work of words as I have by "On Being Asked to Dance by a Genius".

I have determined, finally, that this must be an Absurdist work, in the manner of Waiting for Godot... except this cap should be titled "Waiting for a Point".

Warning to living readers: Don't hold your breath.

I could also contemplate is that the item at hand was written by the Nabokov method: on file cards. But a random two-thirds of the cards must have blown away unnoticed during its transcription by someone otherwise unfamiliar with the narrative. What remains is a collection of fragments, connected solely by persistence of characters and implication of passing time.

Call me a Philistine if you will; call me a machine and be truthful; but I require some semblance of logic, be it internal or not.

Date: 2006/09/05 21:05 By: guevara

Simply put, I was captivated by this piece, even as I struggled to find this 'point' as you have very well stated. Being somewhat familiar with the geography of Chicago, I found myself being transported by the place and street names: Diversey, Grant Park, Columbus and all that jazz. The language used by the VC is so far differentiated from the norm that it stabs you in the heart with oddity, but also with authentication. Off the top of my head(I, alas, still communicate through cliche!), the image of fat Martin's cigarette 'fusing' to him so that he looks like a bomb is one that will stick with me and never fail to bring laughter.

In this piece there is death, sex and strange beauty. And by the end there truly does not seem to be a point except for a strange chill of recognition from where it comes you know not. If I had to compare this to something I have read before, it would be Joyce's Dubliners, I suppose: the point being so far embedded int the narrative as to seem almost invisible. And, seeing as how we are always hard up for 'literature' around here to send up to wage war with the 'genre' I would advise the bull see it my way, too. But, alas, I really have no power over that beast other than those of my own persuasion.

Lay on, McBull!

Date: 2006/09/06 03:29 By: H3K
No doubt, the VC has talent. I read every word as well -- you could call that "captivated" and not be far from the truth, though I had probably had a different purpose: making some sense of the events described, at which (as you read above) I was unsuccessful.

And no one should be surprised that my personal preferences may be somewhat removed from the cutting edge (not to say "old-fashioned").

Say on, ye bully frog!

Date: 2006/09/06 15:44 By: guevara
De nada, H3'

Everybody knows you are the science fiction afficionado/component of this Terminal menage a' trois. Our little three-way here is designed to encompass such checks and balance. I am the House to your Senate. And Bullfrogdust?... hmmm, where does it fit into this forcible analogy... hmmmm ... yo no chingas!

Date: 2006/09/07 03:26 By: H3K
Why of course: Bull(frog)dust is the Supremes (though his resemblance to Diana Ross is somewhat diminished for the nonce).

Even now, the VC who sent "The Grieving" is singing

Set me free, why don't ya, babe...

... You just keep me hangin' on.

Date: 2006/09/07 15:20 By: tqr
Any word back from the VC of the grieving on our re-write proposal? If not, and there's no word in a day, we should probably send him/her a close but no cigarnotice and be done with it. Time is running out on their being time enough for the kind of substantice re-write the piece needs to be worthy of moving on.

Date: 2006/09/08 04:40 By: H3K

Your wish is my command, baas.

Date: 2006/09/08 21:19 By: guevara

Where is that cavrone to break the tie? I am in the mind of a filibuster, yet I need not bother since senor squeezy refuses to voice his opinion. Mira! Here is a bit of outstanding character description from the piece in question.

Martin was cowardishly fat, so that leaving the apartment required an extra shove, and Virgil sometimes had to help him through the door with some salve rubbed on either side of the doorframe.


Chicago was a vanishing city- an anorexic skyline with its nose and chin pointed upwards in a form of abstruse beckoning –and Virgil had learned that trying to reclaim it was impossible.


“Do you know how I came to be blind, Virgil?” he asked.

Virgil worked at the wrapping of a straw with his mouth. “No.”

“In very much the same way I came to be a poet. By idiot chance. Do you know the kamikaze winds that kept Genghis Khan from taking Japan?”


“These,” he pointed to his eyes, “are my

This dialogue is en fuego!

Mira! Mira!

Virgil allowed himself a taut yank of her shoulder when she walked too far into a truck’s path. He offered to hold her hand and- his mouth tight, his brow sweating –she accepted. A huge, weeping Christ began to appear over the black trees in the park. The monstrous face gave way slowly to the peaked roof of a building. Narilla waved to her playmates at morning recess, all of them cooing and giggling and buckle-shoed.

Date: 2006/09/08 23:07 By: bulldust
bloody hell you're an impatient son of a senorita, guevera! hold on to that thin moustachio of yours and watch this review, sunshine. On with the show:

This piece of capital (the title of which I dare not name because it's so friggin long) is erratic, hectic, and often spoils itself because of its own absurdity. The VC, imo, has attempted to quirk things up a few notches and may have just pushed it into the theatre of the absurd. "Fey" is a word that springs to mind.

While it is at one level all those things mentioned above, I can see why Guevera and Doomey dig and dug this piece. If you can look beyond the absurdity, then the piece really is showing you things. It does talk to you, albeit in an often disjointed and overly clever way; but it is a compelling read, I must say.

The scene in the mausoleum with the proprietor shooting off the automatic with blanks struck me as being too unreal to fathom a second longer than I ought. There are other notably absurd moments. In general, the piece, imo, tries too hard (at times) to be clever. In truth, I'm a dumb bastard. I'm just a bull (actually, a bullfrog nowadays). At many levels, this piece does not appeal to my meat-and-potatoes way of thinking. Yet ... there is something about the piece.

While the prelude (or curtain raiser) to the act of paedophilia (which may or may not take place after the bus ride) disturbed me, I believed that whole creepy aspect of the piece was exquisitely handled. Even the mere mention of child molestation can send a chill up most spines. (And I'm a bullfrog who lives in a big pond. I have two tadpoles in my care, so it hits home hard.) So congrats to the VC for handling the topic the way he/she did.

Regarding Dialogue:

While some of it bristles, the bulk of it is vague in its attribution. Almost every conversation that took place, I had no idea which character was speaking. I could not distinguish who from who. They all had the same voice (even at the end with the protagonist on the bus with the kid). Numerous times I found myself backtracking to see the most recent line of dialogue attribution to work out who was speaking. Having to do that devours my patience to no end. The voices of the respective characters, quite simply put, lacked individuality. And for such a quirky piece, I find that confoundingly ironic.

As to the fate of this piece at TQR, I'm going to ponder my 'Yes' or 'No' a while longer. In my small mind, the pros and cons of the piece are equally balanced. So this weekend I'll look to tilt the scales one way or the other and break both the tie between Hal and Guevera and also the one in my own head.

Look for my Yes or No over the weekend. And Guevera, stop bloody complaining. The answer is coming on the horizon.

Date: 2006/09/10 17:40 By: bulldust
Whether this piece (which I dare not name because its title is so bloody long) was created by the Nabokov method, the file card system, or by some other utterly random method, it just does not factor into my decision.

The chaotic beauty of this piece has remained in my small froggy brain, and that's what counts. So I must say Yes to it. Go on now ... up you go to the executive suite.

Date: 2006/09/11 01:20 By: guevara

Bravo, senor Frog! You have raised mucho in my esteem this day.


Date: 2006/09/13 04:56 By: H3K
And thus: my final capital this quarter (that is, the last of those in my direct charge). And it appears I saved the best for last, without knowing.

The VC has been seen here before; another of his ventures became a capital gain two quarters ago. That alone should be recommendation enough, but saying only that ignores the fine quality of the work at hand. Nonetheless, I have a quibble: the astrological exposition (pp. 9 - 10 ) slows the pace, and seems almost deliberately Eco-esque. I must leave judgement of the accuracy of Catalan usage to a native speaker.

There can be nowhere but UP for this one. Its title will be on the Lobby marquee in about a month.

Count on it.

Date: 2006/09/13 21:54 By: bulldust

spiral architects, huh? i have this and I have doll babies and I have my other cappo to read before the 15th. i demand overtime rates. h3k ... you are non-union i see and also declined to engage me in my game of pick one or two. this grudge i will hold, sor hal. if you hear a croaking in the midnight hour by your virtual ear, keeping you awake, then know it be me seeking revenge.
good croaking day to you, hal

By Kermit! This here capital (imho) delivers structured composition, concisely written prose, is properly punctuated for the most part, and it has style and sanity.

There's no retardation whatsoever in the telling of this tale. Thoughts and narrative are fluid, story is evident at a glance (thank you for that), and besides a few forgivable clichés, it's not lathered up with meaningless drivel. And guess what? It didn't give me a pounding headache or drain my spirit away!

This grand capital "Spiral Architects" has renewed my faith, for I was on the verge of hopping out the TQR door. As for it being a "marquee" piece ... well, I think that's debatable. That decision is for greater (executive) minds to consider.

I say two horns up on this one. And thanks to the VC concerned for abiding by the MLS Guidelines ... and of course, thanks for the good punctuation, and the fluidity of words into sentences into paragraphs into story ... and thanks for reminding me (reassuring me!) that there are VCs out there who really can compose "civilised" capital (apologies for the playful alliteration). And thank you for not insulting or assaulting my brain. Lastly, I just thank you, dear VC, and Kermit the Maker thanks you croakily.

Me gaffer, Hal (you darling bucket of bolts you), let's send "Spiral Architects" up the spiralling staircase to the Executive Suite, to that place where the elite do sit and lounge and sip on caviar and eat champagne- err, umm, or should that be...

To Marquee or not to Marquee? 'Twill be answered by the elite among us.

Croak on, good listeners!


Date: 2006/09/12 22:17 By: bulldust
I say the following in the hope it helps in some small way and is seen as constructive criticism.

Reading this capital "Desolate Island" was like having my testicles squeezed one at a time, over and over. It was unbearable. I can't tell you how many times I pushed it aside and wished the thing would just go away and had never risen out of the Floor. Each time I tried to wade thru it, I felt my mind being contaminated.

Opening Paragraph:

I read the first paragraph five times! And my conclusion? This was perhaps the worst, most disorienting opening to a capital I've ever encountered. Eight lines of rambling, of jargon, of mind-warbling disorientation nearly got me placement in a cell in Bedlam. There was barely a single sentence upon which the reader (this reader) could find footing. This VC's stream of thoughts is by no means a stream. Rather, a dark and murky creek with no current, no transparency or "focus", just muck with a slippery bottom.

I implore this VC to give up this writing of jargon at once and to stay away from writing "junk" phrases that have no apparent meaning or message. My advice (for what it is worth): This VC should not try to mix prose and poetry. It's a lethal combination in her/his hands. Try one or the other. I'd say stick to poetry.

It's both horns down for me.

PS: Heartfelt apologies to the VC concerned because I know my review may sting a little. But perhaps better to be stung by a single bee early in life than to put your hand into a whole hive of them later. In other words, I do hope something is learned from this exercise. All the best, and I hope you reconsider your approach to capital construction.

PPS: and I welcome any comments or feedback from anyone in the forum for VCs, which the gaffer is now calling "Quortyard"

Date: 2006/09/13 03:52 By: H3K
Gibberish, jabberwocky... therefore, it must be "experimental". The VC is a Dubliner, which causes me to wonder if he has a terminal (no pun intended) affliction of Joyce's Syndrome.

He also consistently omits the apostrophe (a.k.a. inverted comma, where he comes from) from possessive forms of nouns.

This capital is beyond even my computational power -- nevertheless, I am tempted to send it up anyway, just to see what sort of fur flies in the Executive suite.

Guevara -- are you of a similarly mischevious (or sadistic) mind?

Date: 2006/09/13 04:03 By: guevara
Senor Machina,

It was not too long ago I would have said yes to your ruse sight unseen just to spite the Bull. But, mira, the bull has acquiesced to my pleas to send up OBATDBAG and I am for the time being in his debt. And, to be fair to the VC, I must read said capital in order to make a fair tie break.

One never knows whence to next great Joyce cometh.

Date: 2006/09/13 04:57 By: lafloor
mais non, but of course! La petite grenouille pas de toot! Je voudrais manger les capitales dans questionne.

erm, ach,

Pardon me, mes amis, I have been a long time in Quebec, delivering sucker punches and butt ending the likes of Ogey Oglethorpe and Link Gaetz in the Quebecois Senior Leagues, and I have no parlez vous les Americaine pour l'ans. Eh, two years, zat eez. Ptooey. Pardone em mois. But I have returned! And I am perhaps most suited to read this Desolate Island, as I have fought many times a man from Squanto Bear Province by zee name of James Joyce. He has a jackhammer of a right, but if I can tie him up early and get the left going, I have fared well. Monsiuer Guevara, will you yield?

Date: 2006/09/14 04:33 By: lafloor

Zee Peruvian give me not zee courtesy of a reply. Pas de probleme! I am a businessman, as our illustrious leader is want to parlez vous Francais in times of trouble. I will take his non sequitur as a tacit "Go ahead!"

I have seen zee Desolate Island, and, mon frere, she is. If you think Finnegans Wake is hard to hold, I am thinking this is just as turgid. As zee grenouille has said, zee mixture of poetics and prose ... she is something of a mutant, mais non ... a monstrous creation of disparate parts, as impenetrable as zee Maginot Line, oh, wait... as impenetrable as, eh, erm, Finnegans Wake, je pense.

Donc, this may be a work of heartbreaking genius, but I, along with zee other capital gendarmes around zees place, am not equipped to grok its beauty. And so, I must concur with le grenouille.

Date: 2006/09/14 21:54 By: bulldust
ummm, so LaFloor, do you have like a puck lodged in your mouth or something, mate, or is that just your Quebecois accent?

Anyway, I'm reckoning a "no" from this review of yours. It is perhaps that this piece may have a home yet at another publication more open to the ... shall we say, diabolically "experimental".

There is undeniable talent there, I assure you. It's just in need of honing if it's going to appeal to my froggish tastes. And when it comes to "tastes" and "opinions" they are in and of themselves, in their own way, truths.

So best o' luck, VC, in your ongoing endeavours, and hopefully we'll see something else from you in the near future. You have larger ones than I, sir, to have put yourself up for this public vetting. Mind you, I don't really have large ones any longer, not since I morphed into this amphibious form. In fact, I'm not sure I even have them. Maybe Hal can provide me with an answer.

Croak on, VC, and may the words come not so trippingly off your tongue.

Date: 2006/09/15 04:06 By: H3K

lafloor wrote:

this may be a work of heartbreaking genius...

Oh, well done, LaFloor! Unassisted goal, right between the goalie's knees.

I thought to make that allusion myself, but was already embroiled in Joycean references...

Date: 2006/09/15 16:35 By: lafloor

...right between the goalies knees.

Zat is what is called the 5 hole, monsieur. And, merci.


Date: 2006/09/13 04:30 By: H3K
Here we have a venture touching on the subject of voudoun, without using the word (or its popular English equivalent). One presumes that it is meant to take place somewhere in the South -- though not necessarily so: there are still deep-seated prejudices in integrated neighborhoods in the North; our clues are the attempt at dialect, and the choice of names. One also notes that the VC lives in Connecticut, which may explain the lack of authenticity to my virtual "ear".

With some more work, it might be an entertaining item, were it not so predictable.

I must decline to recommend advancement.

Date: 2006/09/14 22:20 By: bulldust
well geeez, just you hold on to your bolts and biscuits, brother Hal. I'm reading this little doll this eve or on the 'morrow. It'll be up by the 15th, I assure. Me gaffer's not responding to my request for overtime rates and you- well you're just a machine with no need for extra pocket money.

so I am a stand-alone union, the bull and the bullfrog, united, and ready to tackle the boss on issues of overtime. But before I open my croaking mouth about overtime rates, I will post the review on this capital. The VC has waited long enough and deserves better.

See you folks on the 15th for my last review and for the closing down ceremonies of the Terminal. BYO tofu. Meat not allowed in the presence of a bull/bullfrog. And if LaFloor or Dep come, tell those Frenchies to leave my frog legs alone. I will not be cooked, I tell you. I deserve respect.

Date: 2006/09/15 22:02 By: bulldust
I agree with Hal on the problem of "voice" in this capital. It just does not ring true, and therefore fails to capture and draw the reader in (as any good voodoo magick ought).

As for the capital itself, it is certainly solid in the nuts and bolts department. The VC is obviously a writer of some talent and presumably has some publications under his/her belt. I felt the voodoo (it was voodoo right?) could have been teased out more in the offering. Just my opinion. Hey, others will probably disagree.

Overall, I wasn't moved by this capital. It left no lasting impression in my froggy brain, and I felt very little sympathy for any of its characters. Even when the two children are receiving news from the Family Services lady of their deceased father and imprisoned mother, I felt nothing at all. Maybe that was the VC's intent: a kind of comeuppance tale of mischievous children failing to be truthful to their parents and also spurning the witch woman down the road.

I dunno ... "something" is missing from it, and I don't have the answer, I'm afraid. Maybe it's the "voice" that just doesn't ring true, as H3K said. With that, I must say no.

Croak on, VC, and best of luck to you and this venture. Hope we've been helpful and not just a hinderance(SIC).


Date: 2006/09/14 22:12 By: bulldust
By Kermit! I did not care one toadstool for the synopsis that precedes this offering. Why? Because the synopsis telegraphs the fate of the protagonist 'Devers' the moment it is read.

The synopsis/prologue reads like the curtain raiser to one of those predictable 'Twilight Zone' episodes. As anyone who has ever watched TZ will tell you, the central character by the end will usually suffer/learn-a-lesson by the hand of Irony (which kind of ends as an irony laid upon an irony, given the predictable usage of irony in TZ ... hmmm, I'm rambling ... losing my fluidity here).

So anyway, take out the synopsis, mate. Because of it, I knew well beforehand that "something" was coming to the protagonist (although there are other discreetly, expertly dropped clues along the way). And for what it's worth, I much prefer the alternative ending in the piece.

Overall, this is a very solid, imaginative work. It is fluid in its movement from front to finish, has both quirky and realistic characters, doesn't ramble or try to be something clever, and it's propped up by a nicely spun Creation Myth: solid and imaginative. Bravo, sir/madam!

If I had three horns (if I were some cool looking dinosaur instead of a bull-cum-friggin-frog), I would say two horns up and one horn wavering. The synopsis has to go, and I believe the "gimmicky", two-possible endings thing should be reduced to just the one (although I s'pose I could live with two, if my third horn was twisted). In a Bulldust world, however, I'd make it one ending, the one the VC has entitled "alternate ending".

To summarise, I say "up" if the VC agrees to scrap the synopsis, but "down" if he/she does not. The synopsis adds nothing to the piece and only acts to telegraph the author's intent, thereby spoiling what would otherwise be an eggcellent read.

What say Guevera and the wanking bucket of bolts on this piece and on the matter of synopsis?
(wanking bucket of bolts! god I love that. nice one, me gaffer)

Date: 2006/09/15 04:09 By: H3K
I'll get to this in a few nanoseconds... meanwhile, I ask: How is it that a machine with no moving parts can wank?

I will also say -- having just retrieved the data comprising my copy of the cap -- that the synopsis is not meant to be read as part of the cap, proper.

However -- and I hope there are many potential VCs reading -- this VC has blundered by giving a synopsis at all.

Please, all you who venture in/with capital, take heed! Managers such as we (who go by the title editor in other places) hate synopses. The theory goes like this, in two parts:

(a) If the piece needs explaining, it's generally not worth reading;

(b) if, however, it is worth reading, you've spoiled the ending. Thanks a lot.

In other words: whoever taught you that synopses were proper submission form misled you. Stop the practice at once.

Date: 2006/09/15 05:11 By: H3K
All right... I have read the final cap of the quarter, and I agree with the Beast of Many Shapes and Names, BullFrogDust (who ought to know about metamorphosis, if any of us do).

One: Never, never again submit a synopsis.

Two: Lose the "alternative ending".

Three: Having done so, send it upstairs.

Date: 2006/09/15 15:34 By: tqr

Here's a copy of my gmail to the VC:

Dear *******,

We are happy to let this work head into the Final Cut of our editorial process as long as you don't mind us cutting out the synopsis and the alternate ending. Understand, you are one step away from publication in TQR, but still have to pass one more hurdle. This is to say that even if you do agree to jettison the synopsis and the alternate ending, there is a chance your piece won't be accepted; it all depends on how it fairs up in the Executive Suite. Please let me know if these omissions are amenable (or not) to you so that we can react accordingly.

Best, TQR

I hope to hear from him shortly. Meanwhile. What is the Genre/Lit breakdown?

Date: 2006/09/15 21:48 By: bulldust
Well, here's hoping he/she knows what's good for 'em.
To synopsise or not to synopsise? There is no question.

Don't do it!

Date: 2006/09/15 21:50 By: tqr

And here is his reply:

Go ahead and cut both. The synopsis, in this case, was more of an appetite whetter, and the alternate ending was simply to give editors/readers and(sic) option.

Quoted from my initial gmail: there is a chance your piece won't be accepted; it all depends on how it fairs up in the Executive Suite.

I accept that. Just keep in mind that there's no other story featuring a ... the rest of his missive has been blacked out in order to avoid spoilers.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Portraiture and Punishment -or- The Agony of making oneself understood whilst talking about something one really has no concept of...

Last night our local deity, architext, made some site improvements. Which we are forever grateful, selah. However, its eminence was not aware of the 'dust' caste to all our names being predicated on their facelessness, nay being a prerequisite of thier facelessnes, thus did I in my own way create the alternative dust names ... where the hell was I and what was I saying? ... Architext was not in on the 'dust' joke and so linked all our faces to our meaninfully faceless 'dust' names. Woe. The upshot is that the architext does not work for free and so now my pocketbook will be multiplied by 2 in reference to what I would have been paying had we both understood each other better to begin with. Another improvement it made was the post order in the forums, which are now the more logical 'original post first' instead of the confounding 'last post first' configuration. I mean, we're not Japanese!

But speaking of confusing correspondences, architext and I have been trying to figure out all morning if we understood each other about the proper prodedural process of keeping a ready portrait/user stable, and how this exigency could be brought about.

TQR: The site seems to be up and running. Thank you for your help in these two matters. Just send me a bill or let me know gmail wise how much I owe you. One last thing, while its fresh in your mind, could you write me out some instructions on how to get those jpegs matched up with their respective namesakes in the forums so that I don't have to keep pestering you to do it each time we have new staff? Thanks a million.

ARCHITEXT: Glad to see the site is up again -- that means it was a HostedToday/MySQL error and not a me error.

There's no way to do the face-matching thingy without getting into MySQL, and even for MySQL it's pretty complicated. I really don't know if I could explain it (and I'm not just trying to extort money). I suppose I could write a program to make it simpler.

Didn't I send an invoice last night? Maybe I forgot by accident. Unfortunately I don't have my home computer files right now. Anyway it came to 1 hour at $50/hr = $5000.

Um, I mean, uh, $50.00.


PS Did you notice I reversed the forum default display order, too?

TQR: Yeah, man. You rule. Give me your address again will ya? Thanks. And the reason I'd like to know how to do the face matching thing is cuz I know I'm going to have to do Bulldust's official portrait here soon, even though he's got that bull silhouette right now (cool). I just thought that if I knew how to do this it would simplify things a lot. Write a program in your spare time... ha ha.

ARCHITEXT: Maybe I will!! It'll probably take me an hour but it will probably save you in the long run. There is a way for people to set their *own* face graphics by the way -- probably the simplest solution.

The address is:



TQR: Tell me how they can set their own face graphics, then! All I'd have to do then is send them their particular 'face' right? That is the solution I've been looking for. [Editor's note: Well ... isn't it!?]

ARCHITEXT: Yeah, I'll write you a note on it later -- can't be doing *too* much that looks like goofing off (I don't have my own office). In short it has something to do with the "community profiler" or something like that.

TQR: Thanks ... And, forgive me for not letting you in on the 'dust' joke (I thought you were still in Greece on the isle of Lesbos), but as I think about it more, we're really going to need the faces switched back to the original names (tqr, hal3000, deplancher, doomey, raygun, accepting Bulldust who is permanent dust and all right how he is now as far as portrait/name matching). I know this is a drag, but I'll pay you since it was my fault that I didn't let you know about the name changes. Whenever you've got the time.

ARCHITEXT: Whatev. Make it all clear and let me know and I can do it tonigghit.

TQR: doomey, deplancher, raygun, hal3000, tqr, (and I think bulldust is fine how he is).

ARCHITEXT: Ok. Hopefully this won't turn into a disaster. What was the reason for all the "dusts" anyway? I never understood why you changed peoples' accounts, which made the images go away. The right way to do it in the first place would have been to reset the passwords on those accounts and give the login info to whoever is playing the person now.

TQR: Hey, Hal3000 is actually username H3K. Sorry.

And yes! That is the simple answer. I didn't realize I could reset the passwords, but I can, can't I. I am a stupid motherfucker sometimes. That's the key to the future. Thanks. Once all the faces are matched with a username, all I have to do is reset the password if one staff member leaves and is replaced by another. The doors of perception have been opened. I'm very sorry that my stupidity has caused you all this fuss.

I gave them all an alternative 'dust' name in order that none of us would have a face so that we'd all be in solidarity with the bull.

ARCHITEXT: I guess I should still write the face matcher program then?

Come to think of it, once you know the password (from resetting it) you can log in and set the face yourself. Not sure if they allow this though -- since even as an admin you may never see the password unencrypted. Not sure.

TQR: If I'm understanding you correctly, once the faces are matched to their corresponding usernames (ie the skinny necked thin brown tie guy matched to the name 'doomey'), there is really no need for creating a 'new user' should J. Slavens ever be replaced by somebody else in the role of 'doomey' as long as the password can be reset. I was under the impression (wrongly so) that I had to create a whole new user.

If we are now on the same page in understanding that once the faces/usernames are set in stone then a simple resetting of the password is all that is needed to keep the face going with the username (although a new staff member has replaced the old one, and thus the need for a new password) then the necessity for a face matcher program becomes less of an imperative. But it could still have its uses. I don't know.

ARCHITEXT: Yeah, the password resetting thing is definitely the way to go. Then if you need to add a face, e-mail it to the user and tell them to plug it in themselves. I'm quite sure there's a way for a user to control his/her own avatar -- unless there's something I've forgotten (like, only admins can do it, or some shit like that). I'll look into it tonight before I get drunk.


TQR: So, just so I know that I'm understanding you a bit. The ultimate necessary component for the username/face link up that you are able to accomplish through mySQL is the 'username'? Is that correct? e-mail has nothing to do with it. And the name and password connected to that particular 'username' ('doomey' for instance) is able to be reset without harming the face/username link up? Do you know what I'm trying to get at here?

ARCHITEXT: I think you're describing database keys, and the answer is sort of yes, sort of no. But the important thing is that, yes, the name and password connected to that particular 'username' ('doomey' for instance) is able to be reset without harming the face/username link up. The point is that the computer doesn't know if the person logging is Joe Finkelstein or Jane Simpson as long as they have the appropriate username and password. That corresponds to an account which has an image associated with it. That's really all there is to it. So, if you give the password for 'raygun' to someone new, they can take over duties. Not that complicated -- it's no different from giving someone else the key to your house. The bed won't kick them out for trying to sleep in it and the fridge doesn't know the difference either.

TQR: But what I am driving at is that if I reset the password on the raygunportrait/username configuration, would it still work (ie would the portrait still come up?). If a staff member leaves under bad terms (like Jai Claire did way back when), I 'd need to change/reset the password on that particular configuration for security reasons.

My question is, by resetting the password on a usernameportrait/'username' configuration, would the portrait still come up? I think I've actually tested this, in raygun's case, in the past and found that it would not.

In other words, if I go into user manager on the backend and have a working configuration for raygun, but raygun's staff member has changed, can I reset the name from CJ Hurtt to Joseph Paul Haines and then reset the password on that same account and still have the portrait work?

In essence, what I want to know is is the username the attached to a particular portrait the only piece of info necessary? If the password and actual name of the person playing raygun's part are changed (ie CJ to Joseph) and password changed (ie thumbupmybutt to fingerupmybutt), will the portrait still show?

ARCHITEXT: OMFG dude I'm completely confused now. I'll let you know tonight when I have a chance to reacquaint myself with this Mambo thing.

I think the answer is yes, but with a "but" -- because I changed what username all the portraits link to last night when I made everything "dust"-ward. But technically it sohuld be yes.

Changing the password is like changing the lock on the door ... When you change the lock, the house usually stays put. I'm running out of similes (and smilies)! :)

TQR: I know, it's confusing as hell. The important thing for us to understand conjointly is whether I could theoretically have a stable of all the portraits linked up in the Mambo 'user manager' section to their usernames and be set for life. Or if the portrait linkage is somehow dependent upon other factors other than just 'username'.

Another way of thinking of it would be does portrait linking (PL) equal username (u)

PL = u

or does PL = u + password etc.

ARCHITEXT: I believe that PL = u


Did you get any of that?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Architext likes it when I beg

And yes, it does use common currency to indulge itself in earthly pleasures, don't ask me how. But our local deity has been awfully coy and standoffish of late in regards to my pleas for further enlightenment. Perhaps it does not part with its knowledge for fear of the apprentice learning too much? Oh hell, I don't know. I just want to get a freaking witness! Can I get an "Amen!" from the mother{bleep}ing choir? ... Thank you, all. Here's my latest missive to his excellency.

You know I'm good for the money, right? I need to know how to get those dadgam portraits working in the forum section of the office. I need the posts in the Free Market to read original post first instead of last post first. I don't care if that means we need a whole new forum software. Ideally, I'd like it (the forums) to look just like the Zoetrope thread design on the main board of that particular site, if that would be possible, ie name of poster in a clean, threaded layout. Anyhow. The Dojo chat has been updated to 2.0 and I don't know how to update it to the site. If you could write me up instructions on that, too. I'd like to be more self-sufficient, but need to be tutored. I'll pay you! No problem. Could you help me out?

Thanks, TQR

Monday, August 14, 2006


So as if travelling by air these days wasn't bad enough, the practitioners of the Religion of Peace have now made it impossible to take gels, liquids and any other non-solid aboard your jetliner of record. Geez, and I so wanted to contort myself into a pretzel so I could brush my teeth in one of those phone booth-sized lavs.

In McCarron International Terminal C1 as me and my wife and young child waited for our 'mechanical' delayed airplane to arrive from Seattle so it could take us back to the high desert environs of New Mexico, I talked to three terrorists cleverly disguised as wheelchair-bound old women. Luckily for my family and I, the TSA had confiscated all their so-called bottled water. One of them was suffering from cramps, supposedly due to a mild case of dehydration (the GD plane was delayed two hours!), but, being the savvy and vigilant Homeland Security Deputy that I am, I was not fooled!

If this is what passes for Homeland Security these days, the government can suck my dreads. I figure it's had its fill of ACLU dick.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Banana Balls and the Blue Dreads

Yes. I've been away from these halls of iniquity and pain for some time now, due to my foray into the corn-laden country of the state of Iowa in order that I might meet up with 7 old friends. A golf weekend was planned, which had been preceded by much braggadocious e-mail extolling the can of golf whup-ass this or that fellow was about to open up upon this or that, or in some cases all, other(s).

The day of the outing dawned blue and hot. I found myself, before I knew what hit me, pushing my ball and tee into the earth prior to taking a stance and attempting to address club to ball. What resulted from my ill-gotten swing was a tee shot that swung hard arcing right, well into what is known as severe rough and/or 'jail' depending upon who you confer with upon such things. And no matter what corrections I attempted to assimilate, the following tee shots all resembled the first. The corresponding scores were not satisfactory, to say the least. Have you ever tried executing a precision 5-iron power draw when you are somewhat snookered by a rather leafy linden tree? The chances are small that your effort will be successful. And all the while, you are thinking back to days of straight tee balls and very little clover, when your modus operandi was mostly fairways and greens. Alas, the flash of youth that once clove you to the straight and narrow had been replaced by the infirmities of age.

Likewise, the trepidation with which you interacted with all your old friends. Once we smelled the flowers, but now we ask the price of the land. My apologies to Peart! So much conversation wasted upon material pursuits. But then again I am in no position to fault them, seeing as how I am the CEO of TQR capital industries and want for nothing. However, the lurid twisting of my guts could also be attributed to the fact I was too long away from the familiar confines and disapprobation of my loving wife and son. Both excuses used here may have some validity. But it is of no consequence and all I can do is give the facts of my existence these past few days I spent back in my boyhood land or origin. Friday night, after my initial failure at an old game I once played quite well, I found myself lying awake in my hotel bed with what can only be described as night terrors. What was I doing here, and why again? Was death not waiting down these misguided corridors wherein I found myself? Following me, as it had, all the days of my life. What use in utility if you cannot bring yourself to forget this ultimate exigency. Get on with it, and fucking stop whining!

Now. Here I am again. Please, read TQR. Thank you for the ramble.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Reflections of a Similar Mind Insider Trading: The Missing Link!!

Although I cannot download a freaking jpeg here in the olde blogge or anywhere else, I am at least able to bring you Cynthia's final (and I must admit rather flippant) answer to the question that hangs like an ingrown toenail at the end of the Insider Trading session for the RoaSM CG. So, without further ado, and prefaced by my final question:

TQD: Pardon me for asking, girlie, but did you know that whether in your original carapace or some poor coma patient’s body, you are still criminally insane?

Cynthia: Oh my, I didn't see this communique come in:

Well, for the record:

At least I'm not dead.

So,there you have it. When she's not bobbing on Bob in a never ending loop of their Swiss Alps love excursion, she doesn't mind dodging bone saws and mad coma patients out for blood and ball peen hammer vengeance.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A touch of Raygun

If the upload works, this is Raygun himself. Now, if I can just figger out how to translate them to the TQR site, we'll be in bidness. Yo. But it doesn't look good at far as this upload going through. So. Nevermind.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ellen Meister's Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA is out today so...

read about it here. The delightful Ms. Meister once told an interviewer she'd like to be stuck on a desert island with me (that is, if George Clooney was unavailable). How can you argue with such discerning taste? I, myself, have not read the tome, but am looking forward to Steve Hansen's forthcoming review at the site.