Friday, 20 January 2012

Full house

Since I’m new to Julia’s Place and the 100 Word Challenges, I figured what better way to introduce myself than by doing this week’s challenge (of critiquing someone’s story from last week) than by writing about everyone’s story. It helps that I love the sound of my own voice - or should that be the gentle patter of my fingers on the keys - and I’m full of boundless optimism. It’s a slow week at work too, so plenty of typing time. 
Rather than critiques that can be taken to heart and cause anguish, these are more uplifting nice comments, either about the piece itself, or what it lead my train of thoughts to. If I’ve only tangentially touched on an entry it isn’t a case of “If you can’t say anything nice say nothing at all,” more that that piece got my mind going on a different topic. 
Too saccharine, overly gushy and a one-eyed one-man cheer-squad? Quite likely guilty as charged but I figure we all need more happiness and support in our life. Due to the naming, I’m still not sure if it’s meant to be 100 words or less, or exactly 100 words, so I went with the latter to be on the safe side and each one is 100 words on the dot. Don’t feel obliged to wade through the whole shebang though. If you haven't read that story yet, click on the title and it should take you to it.

This was a fun exercise and gave me something to shoot for before heading off to the in-laws for Tết, where I’ll try to distract myself from the lack of internet connectivity by pitting hypothermia against insobriety. 
 
*****

Acceptance Speech

It rings true for me, I can remember being in a nativity play as one of the three other kings (we had a big class, I wasn’t one of the wise kings, I was more along the lines of Curly from the Three Stooges). I tripped on my robe, and a button fell off, and I remember wagging my finger at it and telling it off rather loudly while an angel was supposed to be centre stage declaiming. The stage doesn’t call to me though, I have a good face for radio, but the voice of a silent movie actor.

*****
Blockbuster

A damn fine piece of writing! Like pretty much all the commenters on his page said, it definitely reads like a movie blurb... but we mean that in the best way possible. Nailed the format, good choice of wording, and the potted summary suits the 100 words we are allowed changing it from a limitation to something  that just feels right. The choice of actors makes it interesting too, maybe an older movie of his that went straight to video, or maybe they’ve kissed and made up and are cashing in on the punters counting on sparks flying once more.

*****

It Falls


Generally, poetry doesn’t do it for me, but I was really impressed by the extra effort (or maybe creativity is a better word to use for It Falls. I do like alliteration though, but I agree that when the seeding idea is so similar (all those A’s!), its going over the top doing too much, and it’ll cause it to grate on the ear. The swap from bird to plane was a nice touch and make you think differently about it right at the end. The five words are slotted in to the poem well, without feeling shoehorned or forced.

*****
Aquamarine

Planes in the first paragraph, yet whisked away by magic in the end - but done deliciously without a whiff of deus ex machina. Instead, it draws the reader in along with all that such a combination implies. The poise of the heroine makes her a very strong lead (and in such few words too) especially when the blokey bloke (maybe a servant, as he is the only one devoid of a title) thought he was taking her under her wing for protection. This is one where I definitely want to read more, it is a very enticing short story.

*****

Survivor


This is one of those pieces where less is more. The first few days penned by our chronicler were probably hectic. The next fortnight or so are likely unpleasant for those of us that don’t like horror. Skimming the comments everyone is complimenting the writing, saying how the implied actions he has carried out are creepy and unsettling but I can’t help thinking... in the the previous story, we had a strong female lead, and there’s the only pronoun the scribe uses is I... what if it’s a lady that’s doing the deeds, does that make it even more disturbing?

*****
Agatha

Wow, I wasn’t expecting the ending there. I must admit I’m a sucker for a happily ever after (and why the hell not? I’m living one right now and intend to for the rest of my life!) and so I’m glad there’s relief mixed in with her tears. I like the extra sartorial detail, it adds to the story. The first line is really powerful, sucking you into the action right away. The seed words are used early on in the piece, allowing more freedom with word choices towards the powerful ending. Green highlighting should be aquamarine though, I reckon.

*****
An Unplanned Descent

We are jolted out of a nice peaceful start by a serious (but only small) problem. At first I was thinking of doing something similar, but with the plane splattering over the landscape - I’m glad I didn’t as this is much more powerful as it’s grounded in reality. It’s also refreshing to hear that the pilot got lauded for saving everyone - rather than lambasted and dragged over the coals in a  multi-party law suit for technical difficulty as may well be the case today. Harking back to Blockbuster, I wonder if Tom Cruise would take this role too?

*****

Cocktails


Modesty prevents me from flapping my gums about this entry. It's OK, I already know how awesome I am.

*****
Weight a Minute

I’m metric so 175 pounds sounded like a lot until I converted it... merely 80kg. But even then I’ve only got a hazy grasp of weight as I’m a bloke so naturally oblivious. But I can hear my wife’s plaintive cries, especially as she’s entering her third trimester and is skyrocketing. It isn’t the batteries fault, nor the scales fault, but my fault. I love the way the internal voice keeps on ratcheting up the equivalent size to get something more appropriate. But you know what, I don’t really think aquamarine was your colour, I think turquoise is more you.

*****
Dangerous Creature

I love the additional “photoshopping” done to the picture, it really adds to it. I especially like the two-tone tail - it makes it looks like it’s snapped off and grown back a few times  making me think that it’s been in a few scraps before and is an experienced brawler. I agree with the commenters, acting inappropriately is a fantastic word choice. I also like lizard-like and can only hope that It Came From Outer Space... dun Dun DUN! There’s probably a more mundane explanation of where it is from. But I can still hope. Keep watching the stars!

*****
Translation Issues

Nicely done poking fun at language! It is interesting seeing teaching jobs advertised over here in Vietnam when they’re looking for Native English Speakers. There’s no anti-discrimination laws of any sort over here, so they can specify all sorts of things they’d get sued into oblivion back home. Because I look the part, they’d rather my slang-stained Aussie accent over obviously more qualified and competent teachers simply due to their nationality, irregardless of their linguistic ability. It drives us wild especially when our own company does it and should know better, we’re trying to change their thinking from the inside.

*****
Departure Gate

The descriptive clothing is a great start, and sounds like something I’d wear too (though my wife has hidden a lot of my more striking pieces - taking a leaf from my mother’s play-book as she burned a heap of my fathers clothes when they married). I agree with what some other people said, it flows on nicely from my entry too. I’m also pleased that her imperious attitude wasn’t enough to bring back the plane. It’s good when even minor villains get their comeuppance. Cleaning the planes with a toothbrush was a nice, pouty touch to the temper tantrum.

*****
The Celebrity

After the last diva spat in Departure Gate it is good to see someone more interested on mending fences at the end of the flight. Though depending on the size and breed of the dog, making amends might not be too effective - yes for something cute but maybe not as popular with a Great Dane. Traveling with animals can often be tricky, we did a five hour bike trip once with a couple of live chickens lashed to the back in a wicker cage due to their breed being especially tender and juicy but I couldn’t taste the difference.

*****
Life in Hollywood: Advertising

I like Aeroplane Jelly, Aeroplane Jelly for me! Being overseas for an extended period, the main thing I miss is food. My parents visit once a year, I’ve been back a couple of times, and friends are still an email or IM away, just like when I was out bush. But food, ahh... food. That is a completely different kettle of fish! Especially when some essential ingredients or tools are scarce here. Every time I go home it is with a long list of food I either want my mother to cook for me or dishes to order and enjoy.

*****

Mile High Meltdown


A prime example of write what you know. I’m thinking if it’d been me then physical violence, not words, would have been my response to snooty cow. Yes, it sucks for other passengers when there is a cantankerous kid on the flight, but it has to be much worse for the parents when everything they try fails to have any effect and they have to deal with snide comments and accusatory glares while still trying to pacify their kid and put out the fires. I’m glad that in the end she fell asleep, and gave you some much needed respite.

*****
The Aftermath...

Nicely done, it expressed sadness and humour tinged with love. It must be difficult for people whose loved ones go through such changes on so many levels. I especially liked the sausages, but in person hearing the description of the milk would have me guffawing with laughter, making it tricky to explain away any chagrin. I occasionally get flashes of similar situations since my kids are largely ESL... “Can you spell redacted?” “uhh... care to put that in a sentence? … Oh, you mean peanuts. An elephant likes eating peanuts! You weren’t saying the male appendage for procreation after all.”

*****

Swim or Die
 
I loved this entry, as it has the feel to me of some hard science-fiction a la Robert Heinlein even though there’s nary a spaceship in sight. I like the way she’s taken the word marine in aquamarine and run with it, it gives her story a different direction. With planning like this though, I’m wondering just how seasoned the grizzled veterans are. I have to thank Buddhafulkat for showing me Julia’s Place and introducing me to these fun challenges. She’s a fan of the hundred word format, and is going to be cranking out lots more of her own.

*****
The Perpetrator

Excellent cold descriptive imagery in this one that give me chills of fear down my spine. I definitely love the way the eyes have been singled out for attention. This is not someone with whom I’d like to cross paths - at least at the moment. Maybe normally she’s sweet and kind and was driven to to something completely out of character, but still I’d prefer to keep my distance. I’ve noticed a recurring theme in the about me blurb - there’s an awful lot us teachers participating in these hundred word challenges! I wish my class had the ability.

*****
 
All The A’s

This is a good example of alliteration focusing on one letter done well.  A task that is easier said than done. I hope that her sense of excitement and happiness remains - that she uses her new found magical powers for good, not evil. I first misread it as Andy acting unphased about it, but I’m sure that given a demonstration he’d be a wide-eyed convert. The choice of anklet instead of the more usual magic ring was a good touch. I wonder how she worked out that the anklet was magic, since the place of purchase was so mundane.

*****
Its Not Lupus!

A unique take on the prompts that is most effective. The reader ends up full of sympathy and can feel the annoyance caused by the quacks poking and prodding. Hopefully it all gets sorted soon without medical textbooks devoting a chapter to her in the future as they discuss her rare case. After the banter with the comments, I took a liberty to title the piece rather than name it after the blog - but due to the vagaries of TV programming over here, I’m unfamiliar with it - but it sounds like a running gag (something that everyone enjoys).
*****
How I Met My Husband

I love it! Another one based on fact, with a fairy-tale happily ever after ending. Such serendipitous   stories are fantastic stories for the retelling to loved ones. The author’s unsureness at the beginning is completely understandable, as the wonderous  buoyancy property of the waters of the Dead Sea fly in the face of what you’re used to. The seed words are fitted into the story seamlessly. It is nice that such a kind, simple gesture lead to something amazing, and sets a good example for all of us to improve our interactions with others... who knows where it may lead?

*****

The Glider


Vibrant and lyrical in the description, you can feel the pilot’s exultation and enjoyment in their hobby. It seemed tempting until things began going wrong - but luckily there’s the option of restarting or reloading... if only Real Life had that, too. We have  definitely come along way graphics-wise since games like Pong and Asteroids. But even with all raw power in video cards and processing power maybe the graphics in text based adventures like Zork are still better - how could mere polygons and pixels render something more impressive than the grue you conjure up yourself? Imagination trumps CGI.

*****
The A Challenge
 
These sort of stories are always fun to read to my students, particularly when introduced as “we’ll just have a quick story then go on excursion/to PE/our computer class/early play time” and watch the ripple of understanding spread out amongst them. The starting scene captures the weather in the doldrums very well sticky and unpleasant - that’s part of what makes the water so much more appealing. I hope after they go round and round a few times they manage to get to the bottom of what actually did happen, which I hope is nothing too serious.

*****
The Monster from the Deep

First thing I saw that blew me away was the professional banner. Wow, it looks great, and makes me want to have a rummage in your back catalogue of posts to find some gems. I know people say don’t judge a book by a cover, but we almost always do. Horror isn’t really my cup of tea though, so I might have to click away quickly, but it does draw me in. The mist from the lake is a great touch - one I thought was poetic license until this year when my new route to work wended past one.

*****

Autumn’s Auction Shocker


Having a troublesome kid can be difficult at any age, and bankrolling their exploits with cherished family heirlooms adds an extra level most people don’t have to deal with. Surely desecrating a burger bar by turning it into a vegetarian joint would be enough mischief? If someone I loved did that, I’d be furious (but then again I’m a raging carnivore and have jammed a wide range of animals into my slavering maw than just about anyone I know - missing out on cat recently since this is still the Year of the Cat so chowing down would be unlucky).

*****
Be Careful What You Wish For

It’s a commonly enough expressed wish, not to croak in a nursing home. I’m sure Jane is a competent pilot but nature and events conspired against them making what would normally be a a harmless flight of fancy (both verbally and physically). Of the options of strange places to die, I’ve heard “someone else’s bed” the most often. I like where this story is going if there is a chance for them to be dragged into some sort of urban-fantasy slash magical crossover as that waterspout was rather sudden in its appearance. Not so interested If they die horribly, though.

*****
The Letter

This one flew over my head at first, being new to Julia’s Place. But I figured it was something of an in-joke, so after a bit of sleuthing I put together enough clues to at least grok some of the edges. I like the tongue-in-cheek attitude of this piece, and would suggest that the appropriate response would be to get yourself elected in his stead, ousting him from his seat. I’m certain you could do a better job, though you may not enjoy it much. But think of all the good you could do, all the wrongs you could right!

*****
 
Blue Engagement

I like that the swain knew his best beloved well enough to forego the more popular diamond for an aquamarine. Engagement rings aren’t really done here, as you need family permission first, so we did the wedding ring shopping first, and then later I went to a jewellery shop I like and had one made: They melted down my One Ring (the Lord of the Rings Ring) and took my opal out of my custom Quake necklace and bunged on a few small diamonds. My wife doesn’t like wearing it much, but she loves the thought I put into it.

*****
Drowning

A fateful end full to an adventure that started out with altruistic good-will. Without the calming influence of his twin, I hope Karl doesn’t further self-destruct. Maybe this tragedy will bring them closer together whereas the accident seems to be forcing them apart. It is touching to see such a caring sister drop everything instantly to hurtle to their aid. I feel sorry for all of them, and wish that things could turn out for the better. Personalised sadness like this is effective writing - there would be other people on the plane, but their untold stories move us less.
*****
And that's a wrap! Much obliged if you read all the way to the bottom. A Happy Tết to you, Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! 

10 comments:

  1. Wow this is a lot - a great exercise that I don't think I'm up for (one has hard enough), but I really admire that you did it.

    All of your critiques are composed well and it's interesting to read your commentary.

    Chuc Mung Nam Moi (not savvy enough to put the accents in ;)

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    1. Thanks mate, I figured this was a good way to get my arse in chair and words down.

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  2. Oh wow! I feel really silly now for worrying about doing one when you have done one each! Really nicely done.

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    1. No worries mate, like you I baulked at this one at the start too. But for the next fortnight I won't get any writing done so it seemed a good idea to go all out.

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  3. Another wow here. You've done so much work on these that I just want to add my voice to the "bravos" and "thank yous". I wish I had so much energy.

    If you really would like to read more of "Aquamarine" (which is now "Aquamarine - Part One") I did write "Part Two" early this week. It's on Words One Hundred. I'm pondering more.

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  4. Love your writing! It's a pleasure to read. Think you've nailed them all here!

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  5. I'm impressed ! Really interesting to read your reviews of each of the posts from the week before, it was a great approach!

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  6. Thank you for your kind words on Mile High Meltdown and nice to meet you. Look forward to reading more from you over the weeks.

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  7. Welcome to the silliness (& fabulous talents) that are 100Word Challenge for Grown Ups! This is brilliant writing and I do hope this will give the others more confidence next time I set one like this. Hope you will become a regular contributor. This week's is here!http://t.co/7OmXtliL

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  8. Thank you for the lovely comment you made on mine, I am pleased you liked my header. I hope you stay and rummage for some gems. xx

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