Escape Artists

Escape Pod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Swamp on May 20, 2010, 03:02:26 PM

Title: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Swamp on May 20, 2010, 03:02:26 PM
EP241: Thargus and Brian (http://escapepod.org/2010/05/20/ep241-thargus-and-brian/)

By Stephen Gaskell (http://www.stephengaskell.com/).
Read by Chris Miller of Unquiet Desperation (http://www.unquietdesperation.com/).

Thargus thought the time right. He set the lights to full strength and flailed and gnashed and roared as he’d been practising. He felt rather silly, but the performance seemed to be working. The human, one hand steadying its spin, looked on intensely. It moved the white stick up to its mouth, breathed in, and then stabbed the stick out against the sac wall.

“Don’t be afraid,”  Thargus said, meaning the opposite. He’d seen the trick on old films stored in the moss-brain when humans always said one thing and meant another like “We’re safer if we split up.”

The human exhaled a long stream of smoke. “I’m not,” it said.

That didn’t sound right. Thargus considered his response while staring at the human. It sure was ugly. A patchwork of dirty synthetics over the majority of its body, and on top of its pudgy, pink head, strand upon strand of greasy hair. Ugh!  Thargus felt sick.

“Be afraid, then,” he said.

“Why, are you going to eat me?”

Thargus didn’t feel comfortable telling an outright lie, but that didn’t mean he needed to be too honest. “I might.”


Rated F. for two f-bombs and some serious munchies.

(http://escapepod.org/wp-images/podcast-mini4.gif)
Listen to this week’s Escape Pod! (http://c3.libsyn.com/media/18601/EP241_Thargus_and_Brian.mp3?nvb=20100520145039&nva=20100521150039&sid=e926cd6c954756c59b288bdb6b28962f&t=00934c6de3e467f3343e3)
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: DKT on May 20, 2010, 03:45:51 PM
Great story, great outro, great to hear Mur again, great to hear Bill in the outro, and a great way to start off my morning. All around good times. Thanks ;D

(Did anyone else imagine a younger Jeff Bridges as Brian?)
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: vdemarino on May 20, 2010, 07:53:36 PM
I agree..great story...light and uplifting. Past stories seemed to be getting a bit 'maudlin'.

Rgds,

Victor



Great story, great outro, great to hear Mur again, great to hear Bill in the outro, and a great way to start off my morning. All around good times. Thanks ;D

(Did anyone else imagine a younger Jeff Bridges as Brian?)
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: KenK on May 21, 2010, 12:42:40 AM
Meh.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Talia on May 21, 2010, 12:43:37 PM
Meh.

Lol. Welcome to EP Mur, here's your first helping of Meh. :p


Lighthearted, fun story, with cute touches like 'Mind Tentacle' (hehe) and various alien expressions.

Also - Maharraby = VULCANS! :p
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Boggled Coriander on May 21, 2010, 01:22:47 PM
This was a fun story!  And a great way to kick off the Mur Era.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: eytanz on May 21, 2010, 04:32:34 PM
I really enjoyed this one. It felt like a callback to the early days of EP, before it became dominated by more serious themes. Certainly not a story that will leave a deep impact on me, but a fun listen.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: stePH on May 21, 2010, 04:53:23 PM
I'm confused.  Brian was rolling a "doobie" but dropping "tobacco"?
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: stePH on May 21, 2010, 05:28:47 PM
Oh, and I quite enjoyed the story.

(Did anyone else imagine a younger Jeff Bridges as Brian?)

I think I'm disliking The Big Lebowsky more and more, every time somebody quotes from or alludes to it.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: DKT on May 21, 2010, 05:33:58 PM
Aw, man. Well, I guess nobody's perfect, dude.   :D
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Talia on May 21, 2010, 06:08:22 PM
Lebowsky

That's because you watched the wrong one; 'The Big Lebowsky' was the cheap Russian knockoff... :p
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: KenK on May 21, 2010, 10:44:00 PM
@Talia
Like saying "meh" is a bad thing?  What can I say? I just didn't feel it. ::)
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Talia on May 21, 2010, 11:13:12 PM
@Talia
Like saying "meh" is a bad thing?  What can I say? I just didn't feel it. ::)

I'm just teasing. :)
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Bdoomed on May 22, 2010, 04:52:01 AM
@Talia
Like saying "meh" is a bad thing?  What can I say? I just didn't feel it. ::)

"meh" without some actual statement of reasons for said "meh" is generally frowned upon around here by us moderators, yes.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: KenK on May 22, 2010, 09:16:34 PM
@bDoomed
The dialectical critical realism found in this podcast may be seen under the aspect of Foucauldian strategic reversal---of the unholy trinity of Parmenidean/Platonic/Aristotelean provenance; of the Cartesian-Lockean-foundationalisms (in practice, fideistic foundationalisms) and irrationalisms (in practice, capricious exercises of will-to-power or some other ideologically and/or psychosomatically buried source) new and old alike; of the primordial failing of western philosophy, ontological monovalence, and its close ally, the epistemic fallacy  within context of sci-fi; in addition the story had no fart jokes, ray gun battles, or talking missiles.

Much better?  :D
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: stePH on May 23, 2010, 02:46:13 AM
@bDoomed
The dialectical critical realism found in this podcast may be seen under the aspect of Foucauldian strategic reversal---of the unholy trinity of Parmenidean/Platonic/Aristotelean provenance; of the Cartesian-Lockean-foundationalisms (in practice, fideistic foundationalisms) and irrationalisms (in practice, capricious exercises of will-to-power or some other ideologically and/or psychosomatically buried source) new and old alike; of the primordial failing of western philosophy, ontological monovalence, and its close ally, the epistemic fallacy  within context of sci-fi; in addition the story had no fart jokes, ray gun battles, or talking missiles.

Much better?  :D

You could have just said "Perivale to Islington".   :P
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Unblinking on May 23, 2010, 03:46:42 AM
Oh, and I quite enjoyed the story.

(Did anyone else imagine a younger Jeff Bridges as Brian?)

I think I'm disliking The Big Lebowsky more and more, every time somebody quotes from or alludes to it.

Me too!  By the time I saw it, I'd heard it overquoted for years and it was just so overhyped that seeing the real thing was just really disappointing.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: stePH on May 23, 2010, 04:11:53 AM
I think I'm disliking The Big Lebowsky more and more, every time somebody quotes from or alludes to it.

Me too!  By the time I saw it, I'd heard it overquoted for years and it was just so overhyped that seeing the real thing was just really disappointing.

I saw it before I'd even paid much attention to the commercials on TV, and I still think it's one of the Coens' lesser works.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: KenK on May 23, 2010, 01:29:45 PM
@bDoomed
The dialectical critical realism found in this podcast may be seen under the aspect of Foucauldian strategic reversal---of the unholy trinity of Parmenidean/Platonic/Aristotelean provenance; of the Cartesian-Lockean-foundationalisms (in practice, fideistic foundationalisms) and irrationalisms (in practice, capricious exercises of will-to-power or some other ideologically and/or psychosomatically buried source) new and old alike; of the primordial failing of western philosophy, ontological monovalence, and its close ally, the epistemic fallacy  within context of sci-fi; in addition the story had no fart jokes, ray gun battles, or talking missiles.

Much better?  :D

You could have just said "Perivale to Islington".   :P
No way! That would be the same as saying "meh" without a detailed critique included.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Wit Amidst Folly on May 24, 2010, 06:19:52 AM
I have always found Roy Bhaskar to be completely incomprehensible.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: deflective on May 24, 2010, 11:34:36 PM
i enjoyed the feeling of this new escape pod episode.  the return to a whimsical story was fun, the feedback section created nostalgia for both past episodes and a time when we regularly had feedback.

there were a lot of awkward cultural references throughout the episode and i'm not sure why.  the strangely unnecessary co-opting of cthulhu mythos (yith (http://www.epberglund.com/RGttCM/nightscapes/NS07/yith.jpg), for anyone unfamiliar with it), the not quite relevant Douglas Adams quote, the misuse of bogart (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bogart).  it was like being at a geeky cocktail party where everyone is nervously name dropping.

it's good to have ep showing up again, i look forward to following along as it explores new directions.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: KenK on May 25, 2010, 01:32:38 PM
I have always found Roy Bhaskar to be completely incomprehensible.

It's not just you. Post-modernists are nearly impossible to read and are impossible to understand.  :P
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Void Munashii on May 27, 2010, 02:59:30 PM
  I enjoyed this one. I liked the fun twist on the typical alien abduction story. In short, I lol'd.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Scattercat on May 29, 2010, 09:25:15 PM
I dunno.  I feel like this was just a bit too self-indulgent, what with the ersatz political commentary and how both of the would-be countercultural losers turns out to actually be speshul snowflakes.  I actually predicted the entire story just from the title, and that made me sad.  I kept hoping that something new or interesting would happen, but it followed the formula like it was the only path to salvation, right down to the pointless and unnecessary horror/violence visited upon the terrible 'normal' person at the end. 

(Oh, ha ha!  He's going to get his brains eaten!  But that's okay, because he reacted with mild skepticism to his pot-smoking coworker's insistence that aliens are real.  Be nice to the twitchy little weirdos in your office, everyone, or else their alien friends might send mindworms to eat you!)

It feels like vengeance/vindication porn for the slightly odd loser.  As a slightly odd loser myself, I feel very awkward reading someone else's version of those daydreams we all had while sitting alone in the lunchroom.  That sort of thing should stay private, I feel.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: CryptoMe on May 29, 2010, 11:24:14 PM
Yeah!!!
     Feedback!!!!
               Yeah!!!!!
(doing cheesy dance and pumping fists in the air  :D )


With regards to the story...
... it followed the formula like it was the only path to salvation, right down to the pointless and unnecessary horror/violence visited upon the terrible 'normal' person at the end. 

I didn't think the horrible thing that happened to the bystander at the end was pointless; I thought is was ominous. I'm not sure exactly what it's implying, but it gave me the distinct impression that Brian, probably Thargus, and definitely the entire human race were soon to be toast. The back of my mind is very much convinced that Thargus is being used by his elders for something really infamous and sooo "next level".
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Scattercat on May 29, 2010, 11:47:22 PM
I wish I had your faith.  Unless I see some sort of clear indication that that's the intended message, I'm hesitant to judge a story based on what I wish would happen next.  I mean, Twilight would have been awesome if after the end of the first novel it turned out that it was all just a scam to see if they could attract a willing harem of food-slaves, but I have no reason to believe that that was SMeyers' intended meaning or implication.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: kibitzer on May 30, 2010, 12:40:45 PM
For myself, aliens with tentacles is a terribly over-used image. I can't imagine them now without thinking of those aliens that appear in The Simpsons Halloween eps. Little bit naff.

But, welcome Mur, I am very, very happy to see (hear?) you back.  I thought you were great on Pseudopod and I'm certain you'll be great with EscapePod. You gonna be narrating any stories? Whether or no, welcome.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: CryptoMe on May 31, 2010, 06:12:46 PM
I wish I had your faith.  Unless I see some sort of clear indication that that's the intended message, I'm hesitant to judge a story based on what I wish would happen next. 

To me, the gruesome off-handed torture/killing of the bystander at the end *was* a clear indication that the alien race's intentions were not peaceful and benign. After all, if your intention was to make friends with the human race, would you start off the relationship by purposefully killing a random member of said race? I don't think so. That's why I think that act was a foreshadowing of things to come. And the offhanded way in which it was done was an indicator of how horrible things were likely to get. This is no wish-fulfillment of what I would like to see happen next (if I wrote the story, it would not end that way - I don't particularly like horror :D), but my honest reaction to the big boulder of a clue left for us by the author.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: eytanz on May 31, 2010, 06:47:09 PM
Whoa, maybe I really missed something here, but what are you guys talking about? Wasn't the worm thing said to be a memory-wipe that removes memories of the alien? I thought it supposed to be a mildly unpleasant thing, not horror or violence.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Scattercat on May 31, 2010, 07:40:40 PM
Memory-eating worms are pretty awful, if you ask me.  Especially left unsupervised. 
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: eytanz on May 31, 2010, 08:21:00 PM
Memory-eating worms are pretty awful, if you ask me.  Especially left unsupervised. 

True, but given the overall lighthearted tone of the story, I was inclined to just read it as a tailored memory worm; i.e. one that would do no harm beyond removing memory of the alien itself.

Of course, I'm not saying there cannot be more serious interpretations of the event, but I think that everything the story set up previously is arguing against them. This is the kind of universe where a young alien can bumble his way into friendship with a human and be rewarded for it. Everything in this story practically screams harmlessness, and lack of bad consequences.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Scattercat on May 31, 2010, 08:49:52 PM
Which is why I read it not as horror-violence, but just as a "penalty" for the dullness of being mundane.  As I said, if I thought it were leading to a horror story premise, I'd be a lot happier with the story in general.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: kibitzer on May 31, 2010, 10:48:33 PM
Memory-eating worms are pretty awful, if you ask me.  Especially left unsupervised. 

True, but given the overall lighthearted tone of the story, I was inclined to just read it as a tailored memory worm; i.e. one that would do no harm beyond removing memory of the alien itself.

It was just a stand-in for the standard memory-wipe gun/machine/pill/whatever.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: ldobehardcore on June 01, 2010, 05:36:50 AM
Memory-eating worms are pretty awful, if you ask me.  Especially left unsupervised. 

True, but given the overall lighthearted tone of the story, I was inclined to just read it as a tailored memory worm; i.e. one that would do no harm beyond removing memory of the alien itself.

It was just a stand-in for the standard memory-wipe gun/machine/pill/whatever.

I don't understand why this worm is assumed to be destructive!
What instantly blazed in my mind is that the worm has got to be an information worm.  Instead of eating brain, it'll augment it with the promised FTL travel data.  The guy would be picked up by the seekrit gummint scientists in shades, and probed until he builds an FTL drive or something.

Maybe I'm just naive, but it seems like the other commenters are maybe a little xenophobic.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Gamercow on June 01, 2010, 02:01:56 PM
I'm not sure scattercat and I listened to the same story.  I heard a light, fun, funny story that wasn't supposed to be ominous or preachy.  Brian was a counter-cultural loser, and remained so.  He wasn't a special snowflake at all, he just happened to like space related stuff, including aliens and sci-fi stories, so he wasn't bothered by being abducted.  He had confidence in his world-view, and in having that confidence, gave Thargus confidence to be different, and both were rewarded for that in the end.  I really enjoyed it.

I also really enjoyed Mur hosting, I was very relieved to hear she had a good, noise-free setup for her audio, and didn't sound like she was talking in a tin can, or an echo chamber.  I'm pretty hard on audio problems, but Mur's is as good as Steve's, it seems.  Glad to see EP is in such great hands. 
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: CryptoMe on June 01, 2010, 07:17:05 PM
Whoa, maybe I really missed something here, but what are you guys talking about? Wasn't the worm thing said to be a memory-wipe that removes memories of the alien? I thought it supposed to be a mildly unpleasant thing, not horror or violence.

Okay, I went back and listened very carefully to the last scene again....

We are never actually told what the worm is, at all. No hints, nothing.
   - harmful worm was *my* assumption
   - memory wipe was eytanz's
   - who knows what other people came up with.

My assumption that the worm was harmful came from this:
  - when the worm was tossed at the coworker, it "landed on his lapel and *shot* upwards"
  - then, "the coworker *shook* as the worm" continued
  - the "turn-around" of the alien society's attitude seems very sudden and unexplained to me
  - Thargus is a relatively simple being, e.g. not that bright and easily manipulated, as we saw Brian do several times in the spaceship.
Use of words like "shot" and "shook" made me think things weren't as hunky-dory as they seemed on the surface. I don't think societal change can really happen that quickly. So, putting all of this together, I get the very distinct feeling that Thargus is being used by his elders for something not very nice at all....

BTW, I'd love to hear how others got to their conclusions.

 
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: eytanz on June 01, 2010, 07:29:22 PM
Whoa, maybe I really missed something here, but what are you guys talking about? Wasn't the worm thing said to be a memory-wipe that removes memories of the alien? I thought it supposed to be a mildly unpleasant thing, not horror or violence.

BTW, I'd love to hear how others got to their conclusions.

 

Well, the only previous mention of a worm in this story was the memory wipe worm that Thargus decides not to use on Brian. It seemed like the most sensible assumption to me that this is the same type of worm.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Scattercat on June 01, 2010, 07:35:58 PM
I'm not sure scattercat and I listened to the same story.  I heard a light, fun, funny story that wasn't supposed to be ominous or preachy.  Brian was a counter-cultural loser, and remained so.  He wasn't a special snowflake at all, he just happened to like space related stuff, including aliens and sci-fi stories, so he wasn't bothered by being abducted.  He had confidence in his world-view, and in having that confidence, gave Thargus confidence to be different, and both were rewarded for that in the end.  I really enjoyed it.

I don't know if I wrote and you read the same comment.  I don't think the story WAS ominous OR preachy.  In fact, what I objected to was exactly what you said: Brian is a counter-cultural loser, but it's his very loser-ness that makes him special enough to convert the alien hordes.  His detached hipster irony saves the day.  That annoys me because Lord knows I used to have just that same daydream, wherein my natural brilliance of personality succeeded in places where all those dull normal people would just shriek and gibber.  I don't like seeing that sort of thing in a story because it feels self-indulgent to me rather than ringing true.  It's similar to the reaction to a Mary Sue, though not quite the same.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: ldobehardcore on June 01, 2010, 08:45:29 PM
BTW, I'd love to hear how others got to their conclusions.

I got the idea that the blue worm was a data worm from the story's mention of mind tentacles, and that they have data encoded onto a brain for Thargus to use.

I do understand that the alien society would--more likely than not--probably take advantage of Thargus's feeble and pliable mind, to carry out dominance over homo sapiens.

The main reason I'm not suspicious of the elder aliens is because the whole story was so light-hearted.

Also, remembering that the aliens are not human, they may actually keep up their end of an agreement.  Thargus did mention not being comfortable telling an outright lie.  This may just be his personality, or, it could be that his species in general doesn't like lying.

I'm not really an optimist who always thinks people have the best intentions at heart.  But I do believe it's fair to give most the benefit of doubt.

Which razor is it that says: "do not attribute to malice, that which could more easily be explained through ignorance"?
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Unblinking on June 02, 2010, 01:39:39 PM
Hooray for EP's return and the arrival of The Mur!

I thought this story was fun, especially the fact that Brian did not succumb to fear in the first moments of Thargus's presence simply because he was so stoned.  I got some laughs out of the story, though I see where scattercat is coming from with the comments about his counterculturalism making him speshul, that didn't really bother me.

And now I've got two more EP episodes queued up now that I'm back from vacation.  Yay!
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: yicheng on June 02, 2010, 04:11:28 PM
I agree with Scattercat, although I did enjoy listening to the story, but looking back at it, it was pretty vacuous.  The fundamental flaw for me seems to be the assumption that social-losers are just in the wrong situations, as it were, and that given slightly different situations (i.e. alien kidnapping) they'd brighten up and turn into pretty cool dudes.  In my reality that doesn't seem to be likely, and sounds a lot like wishful thinking.  If you can't even get along with your own species, what makes you think you'll get along with an alien?  Either Brian or Thargus weren't losers (non-conformists maybe), or the story is BS. 

Also, I find ironic hipsters in general to be annoying and in bad need of a punch to the face.  (My apologies to any ironic hipsters)
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: mbrennan on June 23, 2010, 08:21:34 PM
Cute story, but the resolution was way too pat for my taste.  Oh, look, it just so happens that the aliens were waiting for somebody to rebel and show them another way!  Yay, Thargus is saved!  Had the elders somehow spun his interaction with Brian as an instance of exactly what he was sent to do -- "see, Thargus, you really wanted him to tell you to be a rebel and not to conform, and that's what he did, so you've accomplished your mission after all" -- I think I would have been more interested.  As it stood, I felt like he got the easy way out, and said easy way wasn't funny enough in its own right to make up for the simplicity.
Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: Balu on June 24, 2010, 01:04:13 AM
Great story, great outro, great to hear Mur again, great to hear Bill in the outro, and a great way to start off my morning. All around good times. Thanks ;D

(Did anyone else imagine a younger Jeff Bridges as Brian?)

Yes, totally!

And why not?

Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

Title: Re: EP241: Thargus and Brian
Post by: LaShawn on July 08, 2010, 07:30:42 PM
Oh, I simply thought it was cute story. I had a fun time with it, especially since I kept picturing Thargus as the alien from My Fairy Godparents (I almost wished Thargus even picked up the California stoner accent after accepting Brad's "gift").

And should I also mention how absolutely thrilled I am to hear Mur's voice. Happiness!  ;D