Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Beginning 340

"Julio in trouble, huh? Sometimes, you humans don't have the sense to be quiet when quiet is propitious," YakMat P'koil teased. The bartender set up beer and chasers.

"Oh you can't lay that on me. Not a chance in Hoydoycloo I take the blame." Linus Dieterwald gulped the shot of whisky chasing it with beer. "Without warning, the High GagBlak goes into full bloom, spouting English like a native. None of us speak native English. It's archaic, old fashioned . . . "

"A rare sight, the High Gagblak dissembling in foreign tongues. Run for your linguistic life, call the emergency squad," YakMat said, laughing, his three eyes watery with delight.

"Ja, Ja, not rare enough! I couldn't jump fast enough to stop Julio after the GagBlak asked if his first wife ate wienerschnitzel with whipped nuts." Linus laughed, shaking his head and thumping the table with his fist. Glasses jumped and tinkled. "And the GagBlak screaming wienerschnitzel, wienerschnitzel as Julio beat him."

“You know,” said Klef Klagven, chiming in with his customary know-it-all tone once the laughter died down, “it’s a little known fact, but the English word wienerschnitzel actually derives from two separate words of the ancient Germanic heritage.” He paused when the patrons around him groaned. “It’s true. Wienerschnitzel comes from schnitzel, meaning to cut. And wiener, meaning, you know, uh . . . ”

“The thing you don’t have?” snapped Crawla, as she walked by carrying a tray of drinks. She high-fived YakMat on the way to table three.

“Ha, ha. Very funny, Crawla,” said Klef, calling after her while the others giggled. “But it’s a well known fact that all Galactic Postal Transportation Technicians are required, by law, to have at least--”

But the front door opened, and in slithered a bulbous slug-like creature. “Afternoon, everybody.”

“GNOREM!” the bar’s patrons shouted in unison.

“What’s up, Gnoremy?” said YakMat, polishing a crystal goblet.

“Not my blood alcohol. Got a cure?”

Opening: Dave Fragments.....Continuation: blogless_troll


writtenwyrdd said...

Sadly, this beginning is impenetrable. Author, the names are unpronouncable, and the point of your conversation I'm still guessing at, even after reading it a few times. Something about English being a dead language and an insulting reference involving weinerschnitzel and whipped nuts. Vaguely sexual, but why is this insulting to an alien? Guessing doesn't count when I'm pulling answers out of the air; you need to give me some help with your prose.

And it is parody. The problem is, it is badly done parody. And I cannot tell whether it is a serious submission or not.

The continuation, however, makes a silk purse out of a sow's ear. THAT I'd have continued to read.

Anonymous said...

I KNEW IT! Seriously, I'm batting like .700 on identifying Dave's stuff these days.

Great continuation!

Bernita said...

It's - interesting, more as a "show" of good-natured alien contempt.
Bar scenes are usually bridge scenes used to introduce shady characters, provide protags with vital information from informants, or as a prelude to a brawl.
You might consider beginning with the brawl and working in the linguistics later - presuming language insults provide sufficient motivation for one. Here, they sound quite convivial.

One language nit: "The bartender set up beer and chasers...Dieterwald gulped the shot of whiskey chasing it with beer." might read more smoothly to avoid the repetition if you have Linus gulping the whiskey and reaching for a beer.

writtenwyrdd said...

I just reread what I wrote. I want to apologize for sounding harsher than I intended. I try not to come across like that, but I failed to pay enough attention this time. But my reaction to this piece is still Huh?

Dave Fragments said...

After the host of names I've read in people's writings, y'all should be ashamed of criticizing weird alien names. Someday, I'll make a list of oddities in names that I read on several blogs.
BUT to tell the truth, I'm not wedded to those names. Except, for Linus (a good German name). A person named Linus inspired this story. (It's about 9000 words so far).

I don't like the opening line and I can't seem to get away from it. I think that this line is circling the vaporous clouds around Uranus. But again and again, everytime I rewrite it, it comes out the same. You see, Linus is the only human who stands up for his teammate and the alien Judge who put Julio in prison, demands that Linus earn his release - an honor debt.
Linus and YakMat - both cage fighters, one human and one alien - are boozing it over Julio being thrown in jail. I don't want to tell all that backstory. I want them to reveal it as conversation. There's deception and intrigue to the story, but that gets revealed later.

Blogless, that's a marvelous continuation.

Bernita, your comment is going to be my chore for the next day or two. You got the point.

WW - what can I say. I understand what you said but I'm puzzled about what to do about it.

writtenwyrdd said...

hmmm...make the insult about the honor debt? that would lead in to backstory via fight and talk, maybe.

jjdebenedictis said...

I thought this was pretty funny, but it does read like a satire of science fiction (unpronounceable alien names) and Spider Robinson (science fiction goes to the bar). Like WrittenWyrdd, I sorta thought this was a joke submission.

Tone down the names and I think it would be fine, although it is definitely a fragment since there doesn't seem to be a point to the scene.

PS - I think there should be a commma between "gulped the shot of whiskey" and "chasing it with beer".

Bonnie said...

I'm with writtenwyrdd -- Huh?

Blogless Troll said...

I have to side with Dave about the names. There's not one in his opening that's unpronounceable. There may be too many of them too quickly without any explanation as to what they mean, but as far as cool-sounding-roll-off-your-tongue style goes, they were great. It's not like he wrote about Xrfntz'df from the planet Pltvzx.

Chris Eldin said...

I loved the continuation!

And agree with Bernita's suggestion about opening this a bit earlier with the brawl. I'd love to read about an alien fighting a human. Arms vs. Tentacles. Three eyes are better than two sort of thing. What color is the alien blood? Anything really cool happens if alien blood mixes with human blood?

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Also, the names did make this sound like a spoof. Especially Gagblak.

Good luck with revisions! Sounds like it will be a fun story!

Anonymous said...

As a long time lurker I want to say that not everyone writes dark fantasy, romance or murder mysteries, or has the desire to write YA. EE seldom gets Sci Fi and parody.

Smiles on Sunday

Dave Fragments said...

I wrote the names so they could be pronounced. Some friends and I were complaining about awful, foolish or unpronounceable names at dinner one night.

Gagblak or Gatblak however it is written is a funny name. It's far funnier than High Poobah or High Commissioner or High Judge. Not many people know what a "Prothonotary" is or does. We have one in Allegheny County and the local political cartoonist calls him a "profanitary"... that means I can't use that to signify an officious boob with pretentions of granduer.

For crying out loud, the Gagblak is an alien and he starts lecturing on the English Language. That's about as pretentious as you can get. Linus' first language is German and Julio's first language is Spanish. And yes, it is vaguely sexual to refer to wienerschnitzel and nuts, but Cleavon Little already used Schnitzelgruber.

A name like Gua'Ge'M'Giga-Gru,Or-VLy-gybi,gyb is unforgiveable in a novel or a story. Giving an aliens names like "Wesley" or "Butch" or "Onan" or "Petunia" are also a story killers.

One last thing - I don't submit joke beginnings to EE. Each and every opening I've submitted is either the opening of a short story or part of the novels on my hard drive. Only ONE opening will never be finished, but that decision wasn't made until well after I submitted it to EE. I don't write these as jokes for my amusement. That comment hurt.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how to take your comment, Smiles. We may not submit it, but a lot of us read SF and parody, and many of us read SF parody.

After I realized this wasn't a gag beginning, I re-read it.

Those names? Please rethink. Even for parody. Sophisticated parody sells best.

I thought YakMat was the bartender from the way the first paragraph is written.

Still trying to understand how obscure sexual jokes in an archaic language that nobody speaks set someone off. It's like if I were to say, "I bite my thumb at you, sirrah." Most people would just look at me and go, "Huh?"

As for the continuation, I just have to say "Cheers" to the author.

Stacy said...

It's difficult (for me, at least) to judge a story by its first 150 words. I would need to read more in order to know whether I would want to read more, if you see what I mean. That said, I think the "grab appeal" of this one is good, but I agree opening with the fight would be better. But the opening has a raucus feel that could be a lot of fun. And the continuation was outstanding! Cheers!

*raises martini glass*

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

"Cut and rap! Thanks everyone; you've been great." George Lucas stepped down from his director's chair, happy that his Star Wars surre-prequel was finally over.

--Bill Highsmith

Julio's sister sat quietly in a darkened corner. She had made out her brother's name but nothing else. Boognurdi yakneenee Enugaliss ba, she thought to herself. 'Are they speaking English or not?'

Kraniip'wa gogo dan blop 'Confuses the hell out of me.'


Unknown said...

writtenwyrdd -- don't appologize. i agree with everything you said. i'm still saying, "huh?"

Dave Fragments said...

I like those unchosen continuations.
Bill - I heap scorn on George Lucas for Star Wars. I'm not a fan and that's why it is so good.
Pacatrue - That's funny, very funny. If you ever traveled in a country that doesn't speak English, you know just HOW funny.

Kanani said...

Snagbatk sigarlyh hakic sray.
Ric Gargatula nevrapu donu fergetzulat seenu.

Zerappa hey!

Dave Fragments said...

I once had Thanksgiving dinner with my family (the old ones speak Italian), a niece's in-laws who spoke Hindi, and her visting relations who spoke German. We all tried to speak English. It was a happy thanksgiving. the baby ate kartoffel.

That's why I can laugh at these language jokes.

Another case I know about was a coworker who adopted a Korean boy (about 7 or 8) and the kid used to throw temper tantrums when his new father (acting like a true American male with the ears turned off) wouldn't understand his new son's accented English and would say "speak English" ...

Anonymous said...

Snagbatk sigarlyh hakic sray.
Ric Gargatula nevrapu donu fergetzulat seenu.

I agree with this. Mostly. However, instead of donu, I would, of course, use had.

AmyB said...

I liked the first paragraph, but after that I was lost. Just too many strange names, and dialogue I didn't understand. Another thing that bothered me was that the paragraphs all had basically the same structure. Each one opens with a bit of dialogue, and is followed by a dialogue tag with a bit of action. (Two paragraphs of the four follow that with an additional line of dialogue.) The sameness of structure makes it feel monotonous; I'd like to see the rhythm broken up more.

The names didn't bother me as much as the dialogue itself, which I found inscrutable without close analysis. It's like being at a restaurant where the next table is occupied by a bunch of co-workers speaking loudly in jargon and making in-jokes. It's no fun listening in on someone's conversation when I can't make any sense of it.

Now that I've given this a close read, I think the dialogue sounds intriguing. But normally I'm too lazy to do a close read.

Dave Fragments said...

Very Rough! Very Raw! Very much draft. I'll change the names another night. I might even shorten this by 1/3 or more, tomorrow. That one speech is long even for a blowhard and buffoon.

"A world that speaks a hundreds of languages? Impossible I say, Absolutely impossible!" The High Gatblak stood up. The roundness of his potbelly exaggerated by the thinness of his stick-like legs, an emasculated torso, no shoulders and arms so long, that Julio and Linus ducked as he gestured.

"We have a myth that at one time, every human spoke the same language and they grew so bold as to build a tower to reach the creator. This displeased the Creator and not only did he strike the tower, he confused the languages. We name that tower Babel, just like our word babble." Linus answered.

"The Creator? Where did this creator come from? Did he create HoyDoyCloo in our image and Earth in your image? Your Creator of the universe wants you to worship him. How singularly egotistical and narcissistic of him and you. Is he part of that humanistic Dao concept that you should be like water and seek the lowest level or puddle? Or possibly, sit around and catch locusts on the ends of pointy poles. What's a locust, by the way? Our insects would eat the pole. I guess that Earth insects are benign little buggers that sit around discussing important matters like whether one fighter can beat the other fighter."

"Yo, I'm, like, dumb for right now, baby. I'm in, like, at dinner." Julio stood up and mocked the High Gatblak's gesticulations with his own, ending in a finger. The High GatBlak rose to his feet and pulled his vest over his non-existent shoulders. He stood eighteen inches taller than Julio but 100 pounds lighter.

"Now that was uncalled by, you supercilious human cage fighter. This is a fine, intellectual discussion of the eccentricities of a foreign language. Remember, I am a duly designated plenipotentiary of HoyDoyCloo. And inferior alien brains will not mock me. I need a profanity, young Earthling, something to restore my distinctiveness." The high GatBlak stopped to consider his words. "You said you had a girl friend back on Earth. A sexual acquaintance? If I may ask. Well, you must tell me if she appreciates that, what do you call it. Like I said before, you have too many words, too much language, so many expressions, but I think is pinga or tube of meat byproduct, or wait, I got it; more appropriately wienerschnitzel. Yes. Does your girlfriend like wienerschnitzel with whipped nuts or do you eat all of them and spit out the seeds?" The HoyDoyCloo had no visible genitalia and considered human anatomy inferior.

"You overblown scumbag. You leave my girlfriend out of this."

"Oh, did I hit a nerve, ballboy? Does she take that wienerschnitzel that you all so proudly display and whip your nuts? And do you both pant like dogs when she does, wienerschnitzel-boy."

What, you expected fisticuffs? This isn't two drunks fighting, it's a drunk human cage fighter being cleverly baited by an unbelievably delicate alien. They are drunk, but just to have them sit down and yell "fuck you asshole" at each other is too trite.

I still need a location, a table thump that shakes silverware, and something else. Tomorrow is another day and another 500 words.

pacatrue said...

Hey, Dave, I will admit that I did have genuine confusion about what language the characters were speaking. Were they speaking another (alien) language and were making fun of the bigwig speaking this silly archaic English thing that they don't know (but their real language is translated to English for us readers)? Or were they speaking English and making fun of him because they knew it well and he kept screwing it up. This is only important, because I could never figure out the perspective these people were taking.

McKoala said...

Got to say, I found it hard to follow. Not that the names or vocab were hard individually, they just came a bit too hard and fast for my simple mind to keep up. Not my genre, though. Neither.

Bonnie said...

It's not that the names are unpronounceable, it's that they're hard to read and too many of them come too fast at the same time the reader is trying to absorb the situation, the context, the implication, and some apparently relevant backstory.

Gagblak and YakMat are a bit hard to keep straight. They're both two-syllable names with harsh consonants, two short a sounds, and a hard consonant combined with a more liquid one in the middle. Just changing a vowel -- Giblak, maybe? would go a long way to reducing the confusion.

Adding to the name problem is that the other character's name is relatively long and unwieldy, as is weinerschnitzel, and they all get repeated several times.

Are there two or three characters in this scene? Linus, YakMat, and a bartender who doesn't say anything? Or is YakMat the bartender? I assumed two but it's not clear. At first I thought Julio was there, too.

It took two or three passes to work all that out. But once I got the names straight, and figured out that they were telling a story about a fight between two people who were not present, I didn't have any trouble picking up the general idea that Julio and somebody had come to testosterone-fueled blows over a sexual slam, but I wasn't sure beyond that.

I think my real problem was that I couldn't figure out what the story is. I feel almost like I'm watching from the head of a third person who hasn't been introduced yet, or from a camera suspended midair above the bar, looking all around, watching what happens. Which is a perfectly legitimate technique for storytelling, but it doesn't give the reader an anchor in the scene. Since this is already a somewhat difficult beginning, maybe getting into someone's head right away would help?

Dave Fragments said...

Paca - interesting comment. I'll fix it.
McK - I did throw you into the middle of it. I always hope that the reader can figure it out. Maybe this is too complex and too alien for that technique.
Bonnie - I like the names but I will change them to something simpler than what they are now. I'm leaving that "chore" until the end. It's a simple "find and replace."
As you can see from my long post above, I'm writing out the fight scene. That was Bernita's suggestion and I thought about it all yesterday afternoon and evening. You can see the result. My big choice was to write the FIGHT scene or the Courtroom scene where the judge sentences Julio and saddles Linus with the task to break Julio out of prison.

Unknown said...

yeah, what Bonnie said.

Bonnie said...

Dave -- yeah, your new effort appeared while I was posting my comments, so I hadn't seen it yet. It certainly grounds the reader in the world much more quickly and clearly.

I do rather like the original, though, despite the problems.

Dave Fragments said...

Another benefit of the new opening is that I can rewrite that sucky first sentence I moaned about in my first post.
""Julio in trouble, huh? Sometimes, you humans don't have the sense to be quiet when quiet is propitious," YakMat P'koil teased"

Which, as I said is visiting the vapor clouds around Uranus.

This is the new line:
"Julio's troubles made the news. Do all humans share his temper?" YakMat P'koil teased ...

jjdebenedictis said...

I don't write these as jokes for my amusement. That comment hurt.

I am sorry if the comment caused pain, Dave; that was not my intention. The comment was, unfortunately, my honest reaction to the piece. It seemed a bit too lightweight and odd to be serious.

Dave Fragments said...

Thank you. I appreciate the comment.

Dave Fragments said...

That was August 2007. I never finished the story until August 2008. The new beginning is like what I've posted as the new beginning. The ending, some 16000 words later is not what I expected.

This really did help the story. That's all I wanted to say. Even if it is a year later and nobody remembers or sees this post.