CERAMIC DM March 2012 - Page 22




What's on your mind?

  1. #211
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodrigo Istalindir View Post
    Needed to jump to the future for the 'circuit under the microscope' pic.

    And stout cake:

    Spoiler:

    Cake
    1 cup stout
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (sliced)
    1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa (plus a little extra for frosting)
    2 cups sugar
    3/4 cup sour cream
    2 large eggs
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

    Frosting:
    12 ounces cream cheese
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1 cup heavy cream

    Melt the butter in the stout In a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Let cool slightly.

    In a mixing bowl, beat sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the stout mixture. When that has been fully combined, add the flour and baking soda.

    Line the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. Pour batter into pan and bake at 350 for around 50 minutes, checking for doneness at 45 minutes.

    Let cool on a wire rack.

    In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar. Gradually add heavy cream. Beat until smooth and spreadable.

    Move ⅓ of the frosting to another mixing bowl and mix in a little cocoa powder until the color of the frosting is a light brown.

    Frost top of cake with chocolate frosting. Put cake in refrigerator to let top layer of frosting set. Add second layer of white frosting. When done, cake should resemble a poured glass of stout.
    Thanks, Rodrigo! Can't wait to try this!
    It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, that which is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint Exupery

 

  • #212
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    Gregor's Judgement
    Round 1: Match 4
    Wild Gazebo’s ‘Summer Spark O Magic’ vs. SteelDraco’s unnamed tale

    ”my disclaimer”
    I am humbled by the talent arrayed before me and I appreciate the opportunity to provide any kind of critique on your work. Having competed in Ceramic DM a couple of times myself, I know that it takes courage to put your thoughts down on paper and then hand that over for public scrutiny. Please keep in mind that my review and judgement of your work comes completely from my personal perspective and opinions. I am in no way a professional random-picture-driven-short-story reviewer. I also realize that in criticizing your stories I set myself up for your own counter judgement and critique (e.g. how can I judge your use of grammar when I make mistakes myself?). Please take my judgement with a grain of salt and know that I respect the creativity, hard work and imagination of everyone in this competition. And now, onto the judgements.



    Writing Style & Skill

    Wow, two very different styles of writing that play very nicely off of one another.

    Wild Gazebo comes out swinging with a fresh take on the stories: a tall tale or fairy tale. The imagery is solid in this story, but there are some occasional misuses of words (e.g. then vs. than) and a couple of typos. However, the errors were minimal and there was definitely nothing too glaring. The stylistic commitment to the accent is the commendable and the consistency in its use is impressive. Overall it is very well written.

    SteelDraco hits us with a completely different style with much darker prose. There is some frequent word re-use (e.g. use the word lab in the opening, minutia in the second scene). The story definitely could have benefited from a more expansive vocabulary in those circumstances. There is also some quality imagery here and good foreshadowing. Yet, there were a few curious changing of tenses and perspectives in the same sentences or paragraphs and a few minor typos. Ultimately though, it’s a tightly written story with good flow and progression.

    Use of the Photo Elements

    Wild Gazebo, I think you did a pretty good job with the pictures. However, I think you did a brilliant job with one in particular: the chess piece. It was introduced slowly and logically and then you put it in a place where it made sense in the story. You also worked it in so that you could have it suspended in darkness as it is shown on the picture itself. However, the home run on this picture is that you also worked it in as a second setting (where the narrator finds himself laying on) which was really well done. The ant is nicely done and worked in as a main character. The stone heads feel a bit placed, but earlier in the story you give the protagonist the perspective of being at the bottom of an ocean (blueish-green light) so it ends up working fairly well as you keep playing on that theme.

    SteelDraco, I really think this may be one of the better use of pictures that I’ve seen thus far. The ant, or more precisely what is within its abdomen, is solidly utilized and it becomes the basis for your entire tale – the lifeforce/drug that keeps the protagonist immortal. Very, very well done. The house is used fairly as a set piece, and you do a really clever job with the chess piece being the link back to the ants and the queen of the colony. You even slowly introduce us to the chess game so that the image in her mind is natural and not forced. Bravo. The heads in the water were also used really, really well as the dump site of the previous calcified specimens of Dr. Heinrich. Everything felt like it fit and was central to your story. Colour me impressed.

    Personal Enjoyment

    Wild Gazebo, you delivered an enjoyable tall tale. After a few paragraphs, I was sold on the concept that I had been transported to Kentucky, was sitting on a porch with a grandfather while sipping mint juleps and listening to one heck of a yarn from the old man (note: As a Canuck, I have no idea if this is a Kentucky accent. But bourbon comes from there and you need bourbon for a mint julep and …. well I digress obviously ) I’m a big fan of good verbal story telling. It’s a dying/dead art and I’d give you a high five for writing something that was very firmly entrenched in that tradition and style. What helped to cement this was your attention to detail. Primarily it was your dedication and consistency of voice for your narrator. The chosen accent was believable and the turns of phrase were absolutely fantastic (‘squirming like a periwinkle’; ‘carried it like it was nothin’ but a half basket oh dander’; ’lit up like an orange bonfire outside a drunken barn-dance’). I also liked the contrast you worked in by having one of the whimsies speak in formal bureaucratese. Very nicely done. From an actual plot perspective, I don’t think enough happened in order to fully hold my attention. That being said, it was pretty tightly written and you excellently brought it full circle at the end (noting the fingerprint in the maple, the mess he made looking for the chess piece, etc). The story also ends a bit abruptly and I think it would have been well served by a short bit of banter between the narrator and the silent audience (as in the start of the tale).

    SteelDraco, much like FickleDM in match 1, you deliver a very strong pulpy story with a good use of ‘the unknown’. I have to say that I wasn’t too riveted when I first started reading, but your tale quickly roped me in, hog tied me, dragged me to a dark basement, locked the door and would not let me go. You have very impressive scene setting and construction abilities that deliver believable atmospheric tastes, sounds and smells. For instance, your introduction of the run down house and Patricia’s first entrance has great small details like old grass dying in the sun, the sound of heels clicking on dusty floors, etc. Also, your description of the house and its contents (oil paintings, foreign objects, etc.), or the ambient aspects of Dr. Heinrich’s laboratory (him taking notes while the humming of a centerfuge winds down) strongly hammer home your scenes. This story also had some great foreshadowing and the twist was executed very well. For example, we hear of a ‘specimen’ but maybe we think it is the ants. Nay, it is something else entirely. Like a good writer of mystery and the unknown, you even give us an early hint by throwing in a mention of an IV bag in your first description of the lab. We don’t know what its connected to and you almost gloss over it as a reader. However, once Patricia ventures into the basement, we begin to see the wider picture and the stony calcified ‘specimen’ just before her demise. There is some brilliant writing here.

    Final Verdict:

    This was a very tight decision between two stories that could not have been more different. In one corner is a quality tall tale worthy of any late night campfire gathering and in the other is a dark tale of a modern day lich weaving a mystery and on a quest for continued immortality. Both were tightly written, albeit with a few mistakes in both corners. Picture use began to create some distance for the leader and the win was cemented based on what held my attention the strongest.

    My vote is for SteelDraco.

  • #213
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    Thanks for the critique Gregor!
    <insert clever remark>

  • #214
    Writing TimeWatch!
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    I am vanishing offline, ninja-like, for about a week. I've let the judges know and they'll adjust timing accordingly. You guys need to trash-talk more to cover for me while I'm AFK!
    - Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now writing TimeWatch, an investigative time travel game.

  • #215
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat View Post
    I am vanishing offline, ninja-like, for about a week. I've let the judges know and they'll adjust timing accordingly. You guys need to trash-talk more to cover for me while I'm AFK!
    If I thought I was going to pass this round I would be all over that. As is, I'll just say...dibs on his spot if he doesn't make it back!
    <insert clever remark>

  • #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat View Post
    I am vanishing offline, ninja-like, for about a week. I've let the judges know and they'll adjust timing accordingly. You guys need to trash-talk more to cover for me while I'm AFK!
    So... you're a pirate ninja cat?
    My Involvement:
    Spoiler:

    Player of Doral Kinsman the Beguiler in Who Wants to Be a Wayfinder
    IC

    DM for my v3.5 homebrew campaign, Last Stand of the Dorinthians
    OOC//Chapter 1- Homeless (Closed)//Chapter 2- Illusions (Closed)//Chapter 3 - The Imperials (Closed)//Chapter 4- The Second Invasion (closed)//The Final Chapter(closed)//Dead Secrets(closed)//Rogue's Gallery//Story Hour

    DM for his Sword and Sorcery Campaign; City-State of the Invincible Overlord w/BECMI rules
    Out of Character thread
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    My works:
    Dog Soul Publishing's The Books of Faith: Jainism
    Dog Soul Publishing's Sahasra - Items of Magic and War
    Various articles and editing projects for Silven Trumpeter
    LPJ Design's The True Psionic Story: Amulet of Catapsi

  • #217
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deuce Traveler View Post
    So... you're a pirate ninja cat?
    He's a ninjaing Piratecat. I always assumed ninja could be a verb.
    <insert clever remark>

  • #218
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat View Post
    I am vanishing offline, ninja-like, for about a week. I've let the judges know and they'll adjust timing accordingly. You guys need to trash-talk more to cover for me while I'm AFK!
    I think it may be bad form to trash talk in the middle of a round... I think it's safer to wait and see if you're actually advancing. Promise though, if I do advance, I will trash talk so much that I'll get a littering violation.
    It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, that which is essential is invisible to the eye. Antoine de Saint Exupery

  • #219
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    I've certainly used ninja-ing in a verb just like that. I like it.

    Gregor, thanks for the input. I really want to comment but don't know if it's appropriate before the other judges weigh in.

    WildGazebo, I wouldn't have known you had any troubles if you hadn't said so - your story ended up being fun and conveyed the narrator's tone very well, I thought. I hope whatever was wrong has been solved with a minimum of fuss.
    http://steeldraco.wordpress.com: Pathfinder and Savage Worlds blog

  • #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelDraco View Post
    WildGazebo, I wouldn't have known you had any troubles if you hadn't said so - your story ended up being fun and conveyed the narrator's tone very well, I thought. I hope whatever was wrong has been solved with a minimum of fuss.
    Thanks!

    Spoiler:
    I really wanted to put a bit of conflict in my story and at the end have it turn round as to better include the viewer by alluding to other stories. The extra conflict would have added to the (non)tension when speaking to the talking heads.

    There are a lot of problems that editing would have caught like typos and punctuation. As well, when the words got bigger, or more elaborate, I didn't add any dialect to keep it clear...something I might have changed in an edit. Though, I must say the 'than' and 'then' was on purpose.

    While I can't say everything worked out well in terms of my current 'problems' I don't see any serious issues in my immediate future.

    Thank-you again for the kind words.


    Your story had way more emotion and action than mine making it a lot more interesting to read.
    <insert clever remark>

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