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Author Topic: PseudoPod 714: Blackout  (Read 237 times)

Bdoomed

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on: July 25, 2020, 05:25:07 AM
PseudoPod 714: Blackout

Author: Hal Ellson
Narrator: Dave Robison
Host: Alasdair Stuart
Audio Producer: Chelsea Davis

“Blackout” was originally published in Mantrap, October 1956

Show Notes
Dave Robison’s new domain: https://butterymanvoice.com/
Frankee White: https://twitter.com/frankee_white
20 Fists: https://gumroad.com/fdwhite#FVqmz



It’s a hot night. I got that uneasy feeling again and I swing out of the poolroom, walk to the corner.
Jim is there. He’s my buddy. We greet each other and he asks me what I’m doing.
“Nothing, man. But the scene stinks. You want to drift?”
“Where to?”
“Coney Island’s okay. We’ll see the sights.”
“Okay, cool.”
That’s it. We hit for the bus, climb on and ride. I got that funny feeling inside me.
“Why’d we have to take the bus, Jim?” I say. “The window’s open and it’s still dripping hot.”
“You complaining, Ace?”
“Too many people riding with us. More than I figured to see.”
“They paid their fares same as us.”
“Yeah, it’s like they all wearing masks. The bus is too slow. Seems like we ain’t ever going to get where we going. It’s too hot.”




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« Last Edit: July 25, 2020, 05:25:01 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?


Languorous Lass

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Reply #1 on: July 25, 2020, 02:26:52 PM
Great story.  I was interested in the link to the graphic novel Alasdair mentioned, but I don’t see it— am I missing something? 



DaveRobison

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Reply #2 on: July 25, 2020, 02:54:53 PM
From the Narrator's Perspective...

This was a challenge on many levels and I'm grateful to the Pseudopod editorial/production crew for giving me the chance to narrate it.

I feel that every story has a "voice" and that it's the narrator's job to find it, understand it, and embody it. Finding the voice for THIS story was tricky, but after a few reads, it started to become clear.

As much as I enjoy dialects, I'm leery of using them without clear textual justification. If you do it wrong, it becomes a distraction rather than an enhancement (read: narrator fail).

The cadence and vocabulary of the POV character made more sense to me with the "Bronx" inflection (the fact that the story takes place in NYC provides some justification, too), but there were other considerations. Differentiation between characters is always a concern so offsetting Ace from Jim, Flo, and Milly was essential. But more than that, I wanted to reinforce Ace's mania and dissociative episodes that permeate the story.

I normally leverage the deep warmth of my voice by "seating" in my chest, but Ace is skittish, fearful, and twitchy and that didn't work. By pulling it forward and introducing a faint nasal quality, it felt more consistent with the mental image of the character. I was genuinely concerned that it would become annoying for the listener (and please tell me if it was), but it felt like the right choice for the piece.

In terms of presentation, I found two thematic elements that required more attention... the water (linking Ace to the undisclosed trauma he experienced during the war), and the wax museum (where Ace identifies his "avatar" in the face of a murderer). In examining the juxtaposition of those to core elements, I discovered that from the first sentence, Ace is terrified. He has been scarred horribly by a near-death experience (either witnessing it or experiencing it himself) and is haunted by the death he eluded. That formed the foundation for every vocal choice I made... his defensive posturing, the awe and wonder he experiences in the waxy eyes of the murder, his constant distraction of faces that make no sense to him.

It was a very strange vocal skin to inhabit. I hope it worked in service to story.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 11:33:41 AM by DaveRobison »

Dave Robison - Voice Actor: http://www.butterymanvoice.com
The Roundtable Podcast: Literary Alchemy, one podcast at a time... http://www.roundtablepodcast.com to learn how.


Languorous Lass

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Reply #3 on: July 25, 2020, 08:04:46 PM
Great story.  I was interested in the link to the graphic novel Alasdair mentioned, but I don’t see it— am I missing something?

I see it now— thanks! 

And thanks to Dave for your comments on the narration.  I know enough about writing to be able to evaluate the text of a story, but know almost nothing about what goes into a voice performance, so I learned a good deal from what you had to say.

For me as an uninformed listener, your embodiment of the main character worked very well.  From the very beginning, I felt the tension ratcheting up.  At the same time, you made Ace a rounded character and not just a menace or a lunatic. 



DaveRobison

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Reply #4 on: July 25, 2020, 08:55:00 PM
I appreciate that, Languorous... thank you! That kind of feedback is most helpful (especially when you go out on a limb creatively ;) )

Dave Robison - Voice Actor: http://www.butterymanvoice.com
The Roundtable Podcast: Literary Alchemy, one podcast at a time... http://www.roundtablepodcast.com to learn how.


Marlboro

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Reply #5 on: July 26, 2020, 05:51:51 PM
Great narration!



DaveRobison

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Reply #6 on: July 27, 2020, 11:20:41 AM
Thank, Marlboro!  :)

Dave Robison - Voice Actor: http://www.butterymanvoice.com
The Roundtable Podcast: Literary Alchemy, one podcast at a time... http://www.roundtablepodcast.com to learn how.


DaveRobison

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Reply #7 on: July 27, 2020, 11:32:23 AM
Y'know... it's not a huge thing, I assumed the main character's name was "Harry" based on his exchange with Flo. But Languorous Lass's reference to him as Ace (based on Jim's address) got me thinking...

When Flo asks the character his name he says:
“Harry,” I tell her cause it don’t make no difference.

When I first read that, my instinctive interpretation was "I told her the truth cause it don't make no difference." But an argument could be made for him giving a fake name for the same reason. Is there anything in the text to support either choice? No specifically, but I think his general disconnection from the people around him and his fearful agitation implies he would instinctively hide his identity.

The more I think about it "Ace" is a better choice. It may just be a nickname, but the character's connection to Jim makes it a more reliable appellation.  I'll edit my original post accordingly... :)

Dave Robison - Voice Actor: http://www.butterymanvoice.com
The Roundtable Podcast: Literary Alchemy, one podcast at a time... http://www.roundtablepodcast.com to learn how.


Languorous Lass

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Reply #8 on: July 28, 2020, 03:05:59 AM
Yes, when I heard the story, my interpretation was that the MC told Millie (and Flo) his name was Harry because before that, he overheard a woman telling her boyfriend, “Harry, buy me a dragon with the fiery eyes.”    :) 

BTW, the more I think about this story, the more well-done I think it is.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 03:09:23 AM by Languorous Lass »



DaveRobison

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Reply #9 on: July 28, 2020, 08:09:50 PM
Yes, when I heard the story, my interpretation was that the MC told Millie (and Flo) his name was Harry because before that, he overheard a woman telling her boyfriend, “Harry, buy me a dragon with the fiery eyes.”

Oh wow... I TOTALLY missed that! You're RIGHT... that makes perfect sense! I'm not sure it would have changed my delivery, but I'm kicking myself for not having that in my awareness before I hit the "record" button.

And yeah... this is a subtle and beautifully crafted tale.


Dave Robison - Voice Actor: http://www.butterymanvoice.com
The Roundtable Podcast: Literary Alchemy, one podcast at a time... http://www.roundtablepodcast.com to learn how.


Scuba Man

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Reply #10 on: August 04, 2020, 09:19:10 PM
I was trying to go to the butterymanvoice link (I’m out in the sticks, with ~1Mbps download speeds, ick) without success. Ah well.

I enjoyed this episode. I was expecting an unreliable narrator (2 entities within one person). I was expecting Jim to be a figment of Ace’s traumatized mind?

AS gave us another great post-story commentary. Punchy and bang on. Nice!


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