Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: Pseudopod 73: Blood, Gridlock and PEZ  (Read 18110 times)

Bdoomed

  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5319
  • Mmm. Tiger.
on: January 18, 2008, 06:11:27 PM
Pseudopod 73: Blood, Gridlock and PEZ

By Kevin Anderson

Read by KJ Johnson

Blood gathered in pools around the body as the afternoon sun gave it a sickly glimmer. I remember thinking how much the dark liquid really seemed to belong on the pavement. Like oil, transmission fluid or lizard-green coolant, the blood was at home on the asphalt.

It’s amazing the things you notice when events force you to grown up in the span of a moment. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This story really starts two hours earlier, with Gina.



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2008, 11:19:52 PM by Bdoomed »

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


bolddeceiver

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 226
  • Plunging like stones from a slingshot on mars...
Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 07:31:06 PM
I don't usually get too much out of this kind of suspense story, but this one really got me going.  Well written, good attention to detail and description, great attention to the human aspect, and wonderfully dark humor --quite possibly my favorite Pseudo yet.



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 07:55:37 PM
I thought this was pretty fun.  The only thing I wasn't so into was the last couple of lines, but otherwise a pretty entertaining story that kept me going.  I felt bad for the poor shmuck (the PEZ narrator, not the axe-wielding maniac). 


coyote247

  • Guest
Reply #3 on: January 19, 2008, 01:29:38 PM
I really liked this one. I think it'd make a great short film. It gets you from Point A to Point B in the story in what's really just one long scene.

I don't interpret the end as "the horror continues!" shock ending, I think it fits in with the whole of the story as sort of a zen take on horror. Especially when you remember that the statement in question really is good advice (or at least that's what every movie/tv mention of stocks would have me believe).

In retrospect, it's almost like a horror movie coming of age story.




eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #4 on: January 19, 2008, 07:20:03 PM
I liked the ending. I agree with coyote247 that it didn't mean that the narrator shared the lunatic's madness. Rather, I took it do add a bit of depth; the narrator was affected by this encounter in many ways, one of them being that he actually listened to what the madman was saying; the financial advice had a meaning for him that man who spoke it had lost.



DarkKnightJRK

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
Reply #5 on: January 20, 2008, 05:58:44 AM
I liked it. The only thing that felt kinda borderline was the slasher's lines. While funny as hell, some of them got too silly to the point of parody.

As for the ending, while it is sound advice, I think the final "cha-ching" was what got people to think it was one of those "lunacy continues" endings. Not to mention him calling my hobbies crap pissed me off.

Still, it was a pretty good story. I'm pretty sure this is the first PP that had a human figure of horror in this, and it's perhaps somewhat scarier--that bump you hear in the middle of the night could just be a figment of your imagination, but the prospect of someone right behind you just snapping and killing people has been known to happen, and is a lot more plausible then the boogyman.



Yossarian's grandson

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 47
  • Wisdom is knowing when to jump
Reply #6 on: January 20, 2008, 01:16:34 PM
Excellent story! Because the horror didn't have a supernatural origin, it felt very real; this could happen to you. Normally I don't go for that kind of suspense, ' cause it tends to be a bit slow in getting to the point. But this story had great pacing.

I also liked that the girl didn't end up with the protaganist, ' just'  because he saved her. Very un-Hollywood. The madman's lines were a bit over the top sometimes, but the part where stops in his tracks and wishes the hero a happy birthday was very funny. Especially because you find out at the end that it was his birthday as well...kinda tragic, too.

Also, what a good reading! In my opinion, one of the best so far.



deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #7 on: January 21, 2008, 12:51:43 AM
i liked the natural horror aspect unfortunately it lost that real feeling during the axe fight.
putting an axe through a windshield with enough force to kill, striking sparks off a bumper, bursting a tire. this is tv reality.

minor quibbles sure, but when the strength is realism they become important.



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #8 on: January 21, 2008, 05:12:04 PM
I liked the ending. I agree with coyote247 that it didn't mean that the narrator shared the lunatic's madness. Rather, I took it do add a bit of depth; the narrator was affected by this encounter in many ways, one of them being that he actually listened to what the madman was saying; the financial advice had a meaning for him that man who spoke it had lost.

That's cool.  I didn't take it that the narrator became a madman lunatic either who'd soon go on a killing spree.  I just didn't get the sense of depth it added for you.  It just didn't add anything for me.  But still, overall I enjoyed the story.


Graham

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • Me
Reply #9 on: January 21, 2008, 07:59:10 PM
I enjoyed this one. For me, the action-filmy violence made the story seem light-hearted, though still pretty intense. It reminded me a little of the Stephen King story ‘Lunch at the Gotham Café.’ I also enjoyed the way the character didn’t get the girl, it made the story more real. And I thought the ending was nicely ambiguous. The readers voice fitted well with the story too I thought. Well done misters Anderson and Johnson!



gelee

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 521
  • It's a missile, boy.
Reply #10 on: January 21, 2008, 08:13:46 PM
I enjoyed this one. For me, the action-filmy violence made the story seem light-hearted, though still pretty intense. It reminded me a little of the Stephen King story ‘Lunch at the Gotham Café.’ I also enjoyed the way the character didn’t get the girl, it made the story more real. And I thought the ending was nicely ambiguous. The readers voice fitted well with the story too I thought. Well done misters Anderson and Johnson!
I noticed the similarity too, but I don't think they are *too* similiar.  I enjoyed this story quite a lot.  Good narrative and characterization. 



bolddeceiver

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 226
  • Plunging like stones from a slingshot on mars...
Reply #11 on: January 22, 2008, 07:05:41 PM
i liked the natural horror aspect unfortunately it lost that real feeling during the axe fight.
putting an axe through a windshield with enough force to kill, striking sparks off a bumper, bursting a tire. this is tv reality.

One thing to consider -- the story is told in the retrospective; it's entirely possible to consider the narrator's memory to be not entirely reliable.  I know from experience that the memory is a fickle thing, espescially when it comes to trauma, and a story you tell yourself enough times can start to grow.



Anarkey

  • Meen Pie
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 703
  • ...depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Reply #12 on: January 25, 2008, 12:48:10 AM
i liked the natural horror aspect unfortunately it lost that real feeling during the axe fight.
putting an axe through a windshield with enough force to kill, striking sparks off a bumper, bursting a tire. this is tv reality.
One thing to consider -- the story is told in the retrospective; it's entirely possible to consider the narrator's memory to be not entirely reliable.  I know from experience that the memory is a fickle thing, espescially when it comes to trauma, and a story you tell yourself enough times can start to grow.

This is dealt with in text.  The narrator tells us when he's paraphrasing and when he's being exact.  We are given numerous cues that indicate we are meant to take his retelling as accurate and the narrator himself as reliable.  We are also given cues re:Hollywoodization of axe-wielding from the moment El Camino busts the windshield with his head and somehow remains ambulatory.  Once the flavor was established, and I believe it was done early on and successfully, the rest of the scene plays out right in tone.  I didn't have a problem with it myself, though I'll easily grant it was fantastical.

I'm happy to say this brings an end to the Pseudopods that make me want to cry (and not in a good way).  I suppose there's hope for this podcast still, and I'll set down and back away from the rant I was considering posting about the Golden Age of PP. 

I liked the ending lines, because it put a neat bow on the thematic treatment of growing up and closed the circle of the first line (I love stories that close the circle!).  I'll also ditto the praise on the attention to physical detail, the characterization and the execution.  Nice.

Winner Nash's 1000th member betting pool + Thaurismunths' Free Rice Contest!


Loz

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 370
    • Blah Flowers
Reply #13 on: January 29, 2008, 07:13:41 PM
If the narrator doesn't go crazy then when is he sitting next to the big pool of blood mentioned at the start? Is that supposed to be the crazy axe guy?

The best thing about that story was that I listened to it in the past and don't have to listen to it again. The most positive adjective I can think of is 'workmanlike' or perhaps 'sturdy'. Anyone who was in to Britpop in the 90s will remember 'Dadrock', uncomplicated 'does what it says on the tin' rock that had no attempts at tricky things like flair. This story was much the same, a solid story of axe maniacs that at no point tried to introduce anything remotely new or interesting in to the mix.



goatkeeper

  • Guest
Reply #14 on: January 30, 2008, 07:17:46 AM
Great story!  Whether they swing mallets or axes, Anderson's characters always hit you hard with something.
I wouldn't ever "rant" against a free podcast, I would just become less interested.  I think PP does a fine job though.
However, I DO think Alasdair should get a new mic setup.  (I'm a nitpicky sound guy)



wakela

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #15 on: January 31, 2008, 11:46:28 PM
The best horror story set on a crowded highway in the middle of the day I have ever heard. ;D
Actually, that was a very interesting setting, wasn't it.

Another story made better by the forums.  For some reason I didn't pick up on the toys to diversified portfolios, coming of age aspect of the story.  But after reading your comments I think it's very clear the author had that in mind.

I thought the story could have handled a little trimming
"I recognized those shoes.  It was Gina.  She had somehow gotten the seatbelt off and come to rescue me." 
The third sentence is unnecessary.  Also, I personally thought the jokes, while clever and funny, got in the way of the action.

Overall, very fun story.

Here's something I realized.  In fiction we have been trained to give extra weight to the words of maniacs, even though in reality maniacal rants rarely have any meaning.    Didn't we expect that El Camino went nuts over financial problems?  Maybe we were going to get some social commentary on the evils of capitalism or the "sub-prime" crisis.  The author knew this and had to acknowledge it at the end, even though he didn't resolve it.   But if I saw this guy in reality I would assume he was just riffing on something he heard on CNN.  The irony of wisdom coming from the mouth of a lunatic has been done so many times it's no longer ironic; it's standard.

Although, I did enjoy the irony of El Camino, not imparting any sort of deep, mystical philosophy gleaned from his unique perspective, but giving basic, simple, financial advice.  This story's simplicity, that it doesn't try to bite off more than it can chew, is what makes it charming. 



robertmarkbram

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • The Blog for Rob
Reply #16 on: February 04, 2008, 10:45:22 PM
Absolutely one of the best horror stories I have ever heard. Absolutely brilliant! El Camino's madness set against the realistic setting and characterisations heightened the drama. The protagonist has a most unusual back story - really bad birthdays - but this isn't a precursor to himself or his friends turning out to be larger than life. Their courage fails and just enough dumb luck saves him in the end - not extraordinary luck, just every day luck.

Like wakela, I didn't get the coming of age part until I read the forums. This adds another dimension to the ending.

Perhaps it is fitting with the rest of the story, but the only part I didn't feel satisfied with was his personal resolution with Pitt and Gina. I was thinking how annoyed and pissed off he should be with them both and that he should have said something scathing to them.. but nothing of the sort happened.

I liked that Pitt went off in search of courage.. I wonder what Gina was doing?

One final thought. I think this could be a very interesting series - what happens on his other birthdays?? :)


eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #17 on: February 04, 2008, 11:34:01 PM
I liked that Pitt went off in search of courage.. I wonder what Gina was doing?

Went off in search of either a heart or a brain, obviously.



Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #18 on: February 05, 2008, 12:59:35 PM
i liked the natural horror aspect unfortunately it lost that real feeling during the axe fight.
putting an axe through a windshield with enough force to kill, striking sparks off a bumper, bursting a tire. this is tv reality.

My comments on the story have been handled, so I'll weigh in on this comment about the axe.

The determination of whether these images are realistic or not depends on the axe.  If the guy is using some tiny little thing barely bigger than a hatchet, then you're right.  With the exception of the sparks, it's BS. 

However if El Camino has a five pounder or bigger, it's all very realistic.  An axe of that size would go right through a windshield.  Whether or not it could hit the passenger is more a question of distance versus length of axe and arm. 

Sparks off a steel bumper, especially a non-chrome steel bumper, is very realistic and I've done it just by dropping a hammer on one.

The tire is a different story.  a blade going straight into the tire would probably bounce back.  But if the axe came in an angle so the only the corner of the blade hit, I think it would go in, especially from a heavy axe.



wakela

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #19 on: February 06, 2008, 02:21:51 AM
i liked the natural horror aspect unfortunately it lost that real feeling during the axe fight.
putting an axe through a windshield with enough force to kill, striking sparks off a bumper, bursting a tire. this is tv reality.

My comments on the story have been handled, so I'll weigh in on this comment about the axe.

The determination of whether these images are realistic or not depends on the axe.  If the guy is using some tiny little thing barely bigger than a hatchet, then you're right.  With the exception of the sparks, it's BS. 

However if El Camino has a five pounder or bigger, it's all very realistic.  An axe of that size would go right through a windshield.  Whether or not it could hit the passenger is more a question of distance versus length of axe and arm. 

Sparks off a steel bumper, especially a non-chrome steel bumper, is very realistic and I've done it just by dropping a hammer on one.

The tire is a different story.  a blade going straight into the tire would probably bounce back.  But if the axe came in an angle so the only the corner of the blade hit, I think it would go in, especially from a heavy axe.
You know a suspicious amount about heavy axes.  I hope your 401K is going well...



deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #20 on: February 06, 2008, 07:18:49 AM
there is simply no way to effectively put an axe through a modern windshield to kill with a single blow (yes, that was a sledge hitting with the flat of the head. hitting full on at that angle, with that weight, thin blade, best case scenario, he might have hurt someone). the glass's plastic coating stays together after a hole is punched, stopping the handle.

i have some experience with axes, particularly big ones. nothing like a maul to get through knotted fir when cutting firewood. the only danger when hitting a car tire with an axe is the possibility of it bouncing into your face. there might be a chance of puncturing the tube if you hit the rim with enough force to cut the metal and bend it inward. maybe. it would result in something that could be patched.

if you've seen sparks then they're possible. i've never seen them so i discounted them out of hand.

this thread's beginning to look like an episode of mythbusters. =)




Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #21 on: February 06, 2008, 09:53:21 AM
i liked the natural horror aspect unfortunately it lost that real feeling during the axe fight.
putting an axe through a windshield with enough force to kill, striking sparks off a bumper, bursting a tire. this is tv reality.

My comments on the story have been handled, so I'll weigh in on this comment about the axe.

The determination of whether these images are realistic or not depends on the axe.  If the guy is using some tiny little thing barely bigger than a hatchet, then you're right.  With the exception of the sparks, it's BS. 

However if El Camino has a five pounder or bigger, it's all very realistic.  An axe of that size would go right through a windshield.  Whether or not it could hit the passenger is more a question of distance versus length of axe and arm. 

Sparks off a steel bumper, especially a non-chrome steel bumper, is very realistic and I've done it just by dropping a hammer on one.

The tire is a different story.  a blade going straight into the tire would probably bounce back.  But if the axe came in an angle so the only the corner of the blade hit, I think it would go in, especially from a heavy axe.
You know a suspicious amount about heavy axes.  I hope your 401K is going well...

I like sharp things.  This was handled in the Fetish thread that was lost during the great server move of '07.



DDog

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 187
    • Twitter
Reply #22 on: February 12, 2008, 04:14:39 PM
I enjoyed this one. I don't really have more to add than others at the moment. Maybe I used to but I've forgotten the post I was writing in my head as I was listening.

Ask a Tranny Podcast
"Watching someone bootstrap themselves into sentience is the most science fiction thing you can do." -wintermute


trebilcox

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #23 on: March 23, 2009, 03:53:08 PM
My only complaint is when a reader doesn't properly pronounce the name of an actual city, or the author doesn't get the timing correct.  Picky stuff, I realize, but "del-A-no", not "DEL-ah-no" is 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, not four (even if the traffic is bad on the Grapevine).  I do find it funny that the ax maniac was employed at FYI (Fresno Yosemite International Airport)...and he must've used CitiBank's night drop boxes.  That would explain the rash of robberies that occurred during that time period.  He was upset with their lack of security, and was afraid for his funds.   :P



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #24 on: October 12, 2009, 06:38:34 PM
I liked a lot of things about this story.  The thing I thought was done best was the setting.  Now I will be paying rapt attention to everything around me the next time I get stuck in traffic!  And the interaction between the characters was great.  I was so pissed off at Gina when she cut and ran after he saved her life.  I like that the protag didn't get the girl.  I like the fact that he and Gina met at a PEZ convention, no formulaic backstory on this one!

The things that I didn't like:  The killer's ramblings just got annoying. 
And I didn't like the final lines.  To me it seemed like it was a "continued lunacy" thing.  After reading everyone else's comments, it's probably a coming of age thing, but if that's the case, that falls flat as well.