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A Solution Searching for a Problem · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
Show rules for this event
#1 · 1
I have a hectic weekend ahead, but I’ll do my best to take part.
#2 · 1
Here we go again...
#3 · 1
I am in.
#4 · 3
· on Trouble Brewing · >>Monokeras >>GroaningGreyAgony
Hm. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's also really inconsequential. I could tease a theme out of it, maybe that old things are still useful if you invest the time in them. This really couldn't exist as a longer story, since it'd get boring, but when it's only a page or two, it's not a waste of a couple minutes. I liked the atmosphere and the narrator's voicing. I didn't get an impression of what Jalan is like, and it would have helped to have some context of why coffee is so important to them.
#5 ·
· on Trouble Brewing · >>Pascoite
Pasco you’re my personal hero.
#6 · 3
· on Our Charter · >>Heavy_Mole
As much as I like the characters and the interaction, I'm afraid this went somewhat over my head.

Why does the first paragraph mention her looking at the people twice? I was looking for evidence it was an intentional repetition, but I don't see any. I do like the way it ties to another instance of her doing the same later on, but I wish there had been a scene break, because the narration of skipping ahead in time wasn't very smooth and initially confused me whether it was reminiscing.

Wouldn't this student have chosen this class? The description makes it seem to be an elective (having to point out that specific girl is an 8th grader, implying the class is a mix of ages; the small number of students; the oddity of having the kids vote on a charter), but then I don't get why she's caught off guard for what it comprises. I also have no clue why she would think they were dating. The narrator's just describing the room, not any sort of attention he's paying to the woman, so it's left feeling like the student is asking randomly instead of having figured something out. I don't get the final line, either. I mean, I understand it, but it's presented as if it's a joke. If it is, I don't get the joke.

The "trying to be clever" bit is what makes it seem to be a joke, but since I don't get it, I also don't see what's clever about it. That'll mean it's very YMMV: without that, I wouldn't be looking for a joke, and maybe that does prod some readers into seeing and getting it. OTOH, if you have to point out that something's a joke, then it's usually not told well.

So that leads me to think it's not a joke and he's just being "clever" about his insight? Really, if he hadn't said he was being clever, it would have completely changed the tone of the story to me. The story feels to me like he wishes they were dating, and that statement taken without the qualifier would cap it with a wistful realization they're never going to.

I equally missed what the diversion about the parents meant. In a longer story, you can afford to have little diversions like that, but in flash fiction, everything's so focused and will stick in the reader's mind well enough that it'll all be seen as important, yet it doesn't lead anywhere.

And watch your spelling of Frederick Douglass.
#7 · 3
· on Kick the Bullet · >>Monokeras
The language here is very nice. I'm guessing the philosophy it refers to is true, but I don't know. In our universe, antimatter and matter don't repel; quite the opposite. But maybe the barrier is supposed to reverse the effect?

I'm someone who especially appreciates atmosphere in a story, how that comes through the narrative tone, how it develops by the description of the setting and the characters' actions. That's something this story does well.

I also feel like the story has no meaning absent the prompt, and that could be problematic if you decide to publish it elsewhere. And in both cases, I still wish it had a little more context. I don't know whether Mike wants to kill Stan just because he feels an urge to kill someone in general, or if he has something against Stan specifically. If the former, that isn't expressed to where I could figure it out, and if the latter, then I guess I'm supposed to find Stan sympathetic, but without knowing what the grudge is, I don't have a reason to favor one character or the other, meaning I'm not invested in the outcome. That would be easy to remedy. It wouldn't even have to be specific: just generically saying there was an issue at all would solve it, whereas right now it sounds equally plausible that Stan's a random guy Mike pulled off the street.
#8 ·
· on Trouble Brewing · >>Monokeras
Then I must die or see myself become your personal villain.
#9 ·
· on Trouble Brewing
Please neither of those! :)
Isn’t there a third, more pleasant, option?

In any case, I’m going to join you in reviewing the stories today. Thanks for your staunch commitment all over these years.
#10 · 1
· on Trouble Brewing · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I like this one because I’m quite fond of home repair. That’s typically the kind of thing I could do at a weekend.

To be really nitpicky, I don’t see the point of disassembling the machine to descale it. Filling the reservoir with acidic water and starting a ‘dry’ run would do the trick. After all, that’s how most coffee machines are descaled. Your protagonist has a fondness for overkill. Also using vinegar to descale coffee machines is a very bad idea. It leaves a horrible taste even after a few rinses. Better use a tasteless acid, like citric or sulphamic acid.

I also had the idea to treat ‘solution’ in the prompt as a chemistry term. But I couldn't really derive anything useful from it except maybe some criminal trying to get rid of a corpse by dissolving it in lye, and flushing everything. But that wasn't really able to fit into 750 mL… oops words, sorry.
#11 ·
I have arted.
#12 · 1
· on Our Charter
Sorry I’m a bit late but will comment on the story before the end of the weekend
#13 ·
· on Trouble Brewing · >>GroaningGreyAgony
I know nothing about coffee or how it's produced (though I understand it can be an interesting and rewarding habit), and I loved all of the attention to detail we got here about the mechanics of the pot and the cleaning process. You even give us a mini history lesson on the subject with the line

This lovely design had consigned the old percolator systems to their dusty place in history.

which gives us a snapshot of the speaker's expertise, and, by transference, a certain narrative tension with regard to whether he or she will get their coffee the next morning or not!

Archetypally, this kind of fact-driven story wants to have a "shock" that makes the reader reevaluate those same facts in an unexpected way. The punchline here is okay--at least okay for the prompt--but it gives me the feeling of, "this whole thing was written so the character could say the line." Which is not necessarily a wrong place to begin, if you wanted to revise further. The solution may lead you to more interesting problems.
#14 ·
· on Kick the Bullet · >>Monokeras
Off the bat, I have a nitpick. You need to think of different names for these characters, or a different way of talking about them. 'Stan' and 'Mike' are too generic for a piece which is so conceptually interesting, and which depends on that kind of interest. They make me think of Double Dragon.

'Repel' isn't the right word for what you're trying to describe, I don't think. Maybe 'cognate action'? I'd look it up. I mention it because I think how your reader winds up guessing about this idea will affect their interpretation of your story. My impression when "Mike" held the gun up was that he was ready to prove a point about complimentary action--"I kill you, and thereby bring life into this world," like a kind of Raskalnikov.
#15 ·
· on Our Charter
My bad.

The idea of this story was "falling out of love". I wanted to work backward from the resolution of a drama to its underlying tensions and hence, in practice, to be in a situation of having a solution and looking for problems.

The blueprint for this was:
1) We meet the woman, as a character;
2) We see the "parts" of the woman, in motion;
3) We meet the woman, as a personality;
4) We meet "Rene Thompkins".

The "clever" line was to show the man's arrogance, or his distance from the world of feeling he had shared with the woman at the beginning. But perhaps this isn't clear without the scheme of the story firmly established.
#16 · 1
· on Her Father's Legs
"What a beautiful night!"
#17 · 2
· on Kick the Bullet

Thanks a bunch for your comments and appreciation ! ♡

I had several ideas for this prompt, amongst which the chemical solution I already mentioned somewhere, but none of those would gel except the ‘reverse causality’ aspect. Besides, I had much to do at the weekend so I had to cobble those few words together quite quickly.

I thought the idea of a potential murderer talking theoretical physics with their victim before killing them would potentially elicit a sort of comical effect, but, unless you overlooked it in your respective reviews, that turned out to be a dud.

In any case, the Janus model exposed here is derived from the works of the French astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Petit, which has over the years become a Pariah first because of his unorthodox theory, and second for his (wild) belief in the Ummo conspiracy, info about which you can find here

Turning back to Janus model, the idea is that the Big-Bang created two universes instead of one, both of which are — as exposed in the text – sort of glued one to the other like two sides of a sheet are. Our universe is composed of matter only, while all the antimatter created in the original blast has been collected on the other side.

Both sides are submitted to the same gravitational law, i.e. the Einstein equation, resulting in the exact metaphor I used: if you suppose that matter (or antimatter) creates wells in the space-time fabric, then these wells will appear as knolls on the other side, and will ‘repel’ matter rather than attract it. So to be more precise, gravitation is always attractive between particles located on the same side (be they matter or antimatter) and negative between particles located on the opposite sides. This model claims to explain the shape of spiral galaxies, the distribution of matter at cosmic scale, and the acceleration of the expansion as recently observed. Whereas the current accepted ‘dogma’ has to recourse to highly speculative notions such as ‘dark energy’ or ‘dark matter’ to explain these phenomena, none of which has been observed or confirmed so far.

I don’t pretend Jean-Pierre Petit speaks the truth, just that the idea is interesting enough to warrant further study (much like the Alcubierre metric for faster-than-light™ travel), a position which the current scientific community is apparently not willing to share. That same community, however, has devoted the recent decades to the exploration of a crazy theory (Strings) which, in the end, is current abandoned because of its inability to produce any meaningful answer (as well as being unscientific according to Popper's accepted criteria).

For the rest of the story, I was sort of inspired by my childhood watching of the now iconic series ‘The Wild Wild West’, that you may have heard about.

I’ll be back to comment on Heavy's story. Thanks again so much for your love and dedication! ♡
#18 ·
· on Trouble Brewing · >>Monokeras
>>Pascoite, >>Monokeras, >>Heavy_Mole
Double Stewing

Gratz to Mono for the gold, tip of the hat to Mole, and thanks for the silver and the great comments!

I had nothing significant to contribute on the day of the contest, but I noticed that a recent event in my life could be made to fit the prompt and would even provide a closing pun, so I made it happen. I have compacted the sequence here and done some artistic rearranging, but the repairs to our aged but familiar coffee maker were done essentially as described. For the record, "Jalan" found the story amusing.

>>To be really nitpicky, I don’t see the point of disassembling the machine to descale it.

I had tried to descale it a few times using the methods you mentioned, with indifferent results. I was also interested to take a peek under the hood, and since it did lead to discovery of the weakened plastic supports, I do not regret the course I took.

>>I loved all of the attention to detail we got here about the mechanics of the pot and the cleaning process.

Glad you liked it! If you haven't already seen it, you may like to watch Technology Connections discussing this topic.
#19 ·
· on Trouble Brewing · >>GroaningGreyAgony
Please next time use something else than vinegar. It leaves a horrible taste behind!
Do not try concentrated sulphuric acid, unless you want to dispose of it :p
#20 ·
· on Trouble Brewing · >>Monokeras
I did rinse and scrub it while I had it exposed, I had a small flexible brush for the interior of the pipe. The extra vinegar taste went away very quickly.
I will stick to acids suitable for use in a home kitchen, thank you.
#21 ·
· on Trouble Brewing
Try citric or sulphamic acids.
They’re both used in the standard descaling packs you find at your regular hardware store.