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Author Topic: PC025: Anywhere There’s a Game  (Read 16907 times)

Heradel

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on: September 17, 2008, 08:45:11 PM
PC025: Anywhere There’s a Game

By Greg Van Eekhout.
Read by Benjamin Manoochehri.
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky.
First appeared in Realms of Fantasy.

I got a call from Sports Illustrated yesterday. They’re doing one of those sidebar pieces where they ask guys to name their starting five, the best basketball players they ever shared a court with. “You don’t want that,” I told the kid on the phone. “I was in the NBA for seventeen years. I could tell you about guys like Lon McGee, who wore one pair of sneakers his entire career, held together with tape and glue and sheer will-power. Or Pig-Iron Von Ziegler, who smelled like machine oil and whose joints screeched like a stepped-on cat by the end of his career. The best? Who cares about the best? Why settle for the best when I can give you the most remarkable?”

The kid thanked me politely, but he told me that wasn’t what he needed for his piece. He’d talk to his editor, though, and mention my idea to him. He’d get back to me.

Well, I’m not going to live forever, and I can’t wait for his editor. I’ve got tales to tell, and I’ve got to tell them while I’m still kicking. So here it is, my starting five. Not the most talented guys I’ve ever played with, but instead, the dirt workers and edge cases and oddballs and sideshow escapees. These are the guys that I’ll never forget. These are the characters.


Rated PG. Contains locker room talk (and bouncing balls).
« Last Edit: September 17, 2008, 09:22:12 PM by Bdoomed »

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Bdoomed

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Reply #1 on: September 17, 2008, 09:07:45 PM
Checked podcastle site, the link for the actual audio says "Anywhere there's a game", the title for the entry says "Anwhere", Eekhout's site says "Anywhere"
sooo im gonna edit :)
« Last Edit: September 17, 2008, 10:01:38 PM by Bdoomed »

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Heradel

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Reply #2 on: September 17, 2008, 09:48:11 PM
Checked podcastle site, the link for the actual audio says "Anywhere there's a game", the title for the entry says "Anwhere", Eekhout's site says "Anywhere"
sooo im gonna edit :)

Good catch, fixed on the blog now too, though if you already got the podcast it won't matter.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2008, 10:01:32 PM by Bdoomed »

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ajames

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Reply #3 on: September 18, 2008, 12:36:56 PM
Eekhout's got game.



Sylvan

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Reply #4 on: September 18, 2008, 12:51:51 PM
I just finished driving over the new 35W Bridge in Minneapolis, listening to "Anywhere There's A Game" and, for both experiences, I can say I was pleasantly surprised.

I'm not a sports fan (save in the way that Rachel described during her fantastic, Bravo-esque intro) and my experiences with sports fans have been relatively poor.  But this story really brought an interest to the sports genre for me ... and not just by the inclusion of fantastic elements.  There was a humanity to the story that really pulled me in.  This was slice-of-life tale told through the eyes of a man living on the outskirts of fantasy.  Maybe he's actually living in a fantasy, given how few folk actually make it to "the big leagues".

Perhaps I'm not going to go out and become a sports fan in the way that most people think of it (if something competes with "Iron Chef", "Top Chef", "Project Runway" or "Top Design" it'll lose ... hand's down) but I am going to look at competitive sports with a bit more of an open eye, imagining the personal stories of the people involved.

I like this story; I think I'm going to keep it.  :)

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)



Listener

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Reply #5 on: September 18, 2008, 01:15:29 PM
The reader narrated well, but I was not impressed by his characters.

The story did not impress me. I don't like basketball. Also, I didn't really feel there was that much of a narrative arc; stuff happened to this guy -- he didn't really DO anything.

I think there was too much going on in this story. Too many fantasy subgenres -- Eastern meditation, 360-degree vision, zombies... and when whatshername came back from the dead? Did anyone find that kind of cliche?

So, overall... do not want.

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Reply #6 on: September 18, 2008, 03:01:18 PM
Best. Podcastle. In weeks.

  Other than the obvious sound issues, I really have no criticisms to this story. It made a great traveling companion on the way to work this morning.

  I was worried at first that this was going to be another robot basketball player story like "The Big Guy", which would not have necessarily been an awful thing as I enjoyed that story. I was very happily surprised to discover it was something more than that. Definitely scores more than a 'meh' from me (this is of course boosted even more by the inclusion of a zombie).

 It's odd; I do not like sports, I find them boring and nowhere near violent enough to really hold my interest, but when sports are merged into sci-fi or fantasy stories, I enjoy them. Maybe it's because they incoporate things that do interest me, where real world sports are somewhat limited by, well, reality. I think if the NBA employed more fakirs, empaths, and zombies I would become a sports fan.

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DKT

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Reply #7 on: September 18, 2008, 03:21:04 PM
Good stuff.  I liked the characters and weirdisms in this story a lot -- it resonated with me waaaaay more than "The Big Guy" did.  The characters felt more human, more flawed, and they acted and talked the way I'd expect pro-basketball players, too.  And I liked the way they came together (or at least some of them did) in the end.  I'd love to hear more of these vignettes. 

The reading was okay.  Obviously, Mr. Manoochehri flubbed the lines toward the end which kind of hurt.  The characters all sounded kind of the same, but I'm more forgiving there as this story did have A LOT of characters in it.  I never felt like he was really into reading the story, though.


Sylvan

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Reply #8 on: September 18, 2008, 05:54:35 PM
The reading was okay.  Obviously, Mr. Manoochehri flubbed the lines toward the end which kind of hurt.  The characters all sounded kind of the same, but I'm more forgiving there as this story did have A LOT of characters in it.  I never felt like he was really into reading the story, though.
I've been noticing reading flubs a lot of late; is it something that just slips past the editing process?

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)



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Reply #9 on: September 18, 2008, 06:07:33 PM
The reading was okay.  Obviously, Mr. Manoochehri flubbed the lines toward the end which kind of hurt.  The characters all sounded kind of the same, but I'm more forgiving there as this story did have A LOT of characters in it.  I never felt like he was really into reading the story, though.
I've been noticing reading flubs a lot of late; is it something that just slips past the editing process?

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

Yeah. It's pretty easy to do, to be honest, especially if you're not paying close enough attention on a listen-through (or not doing a complete listen after the recording).


Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #10 on: September 18, 2008, 07:00:44 PM
We just switched audio editors, I think we're still ironing out some of the problems from that.



Swamp

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Reply #11 on: September 18, 2008, 08:56:40 PM
OK.  I am officially a Greg Van Eekhout fan.  I have always liked his stories as played here on Escape Artists and elsewhere, but now it's official.

I'm not saying this story was so unbelievably awesome that it blew me off my feet.  However, this story was very good, and Greg's stories have always been very good.  He's pretty consistant in my experience.  This story had many fantastical elements in it, but those aspects, while cool, didn't distract or get out of hand as they could have.  The premise and core behind the story remained intact, and the background story of the narrator was woven in very nicely.  It's good, fun writing and I like it.

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stePH

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Reply #12 on: September 19, 2008, 12:34:37 AM
I liked the story, even though I'm no sports fan.

The reading, however, was flat and dull.  Uninspired.

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Sylvan

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Reply #13 on: September 19, 2008, 06:01:13 PM
I liked the story, even though I'm no sports fan.

The reading, however, was flat and dull.  Uninspired.

Y'know stePH, I wonder if that wasn't the point:  the point of view of the narrative was supposed to be that of a world-weary, end-of-his-career basketballer.  For me, the tone of the reading really helped me appreciate and get into the story.

Yours,
Sylvan



stePH

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Reply #14 on: September 19, 2008, 07:02:47 PM
I liked the story, even though I'm no sports fan.

The reading, however, was flat and dull.  Uninspired.

Y'know stePH, I wonder if that wasn't the point:  the point of view of the narrative was supposed to be that of a world-weary, end-of-his-career basketballer.  For me, the tone of the reading really helped me appreciate and get into the story.

A valid interpretation.  But to me it seemed more like the reader was phoning it in.

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RKG

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Reply #15 on: September 19, 2008, 07:58:43 PM
I liked it.  The secondary characters were interesting enough to make the story fun, and I liked the way the main character's story is told through the arc of the other stories.

...and I laughed out loud at the line "we were as good as dead" when the zombie was playing.

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Reply #16 on: September 19, 2008, 08:18:05 PM
I liked the idea - liked the characters, and loved the intro.  I went home and watched Top Design and rooted for my favorite skills athlete.

Sounds was a bit off, glad it wasn't just me noticing as I was on the train.  It felt more like 5 miniatures rather than one episode.



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Reply #17 on: September 19, 2008, 08:46:00 PM
I liked the story, even though I'm no sports fan.

The reading, however, was flat and dull.  Uninspired.

Y'know stePH, I wonder if that wasn't the point:  the point of view of the narrative was supposed to be that of a world-weary, end-of-his-career basketballer.  For me, the tone of the reading really helped me appreciate and get into the story.

  That's pretty much the way I heard it too. I was quite surprised to see people criticiszing the read, I thought it fit the story really well.

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Reply #18 on: September 19, 2008, 09:23:19 PM
I am not a basketball fan, but I love reading about sports when it is less about statistics and more about human struggle.  (NPR's broadcast, Only a Game, is just about the only sports media broadcast that sucks me in.  Really, I know nothing about any of the sports that the broadcasters are talking about, but the stories about people trying to figure out how to be the best against great odds and/or political maneuvering make it interesting enough that I don't try to go find a music channel to listen to when that show comes on.)

I liked this story a lot.  I agree, Greg has game.  This story had awesome characters and lots of fun weirdness.  I liked the reader too!

Hmm

PS For those of you that like other really weird basketball stories, you might want to try the teen novels, The Moves Make the Man by Bruce Brooks or On the Devil's Court by Carl Deuker. 





slic

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Reply #19 on: September 20, 2008, 03:19:46 PM
I liked the story - quite fun and interesting.  An eclectic bunch to be sure, and far more compelling than the standard stories of sports heroism.

Definitely a bunch of little stories rather than one big one.  Especially because of how it ended.  The protagonist took quite a lot of time setting up the arc, and then never tied the stories at the end.  If it was supposed to be like a conversation then the guy just got up and left.

Whether it was intentional or not, I liked the world weary voice of the narrator.

And I also have a recommendation - DC comics put out a complication of Weird Sports stories a long time ago - this story would fit right in!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2008, 01:01:02 AM by slic »



JoeFitz

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Reply #20 on: September 21, 2008, 12:15:58 AM
A liked the story format and thought the individual stories were a little uneven - with the weakest being the last one. The reading was perfect for the story - though that flub at the end was very painful.



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Reply #21 on: September 21, 2008, 08:19:54 AM
Huh. Mixed feelings about this one.

Like Rachel, I am not a sports fan. I do, however, have a soft spot for basketball. It's the only one I'm any good at, the only one I know much about.

I liked the odd characters the protagonist(s) encountered. They were interesting, and brought a strange dimension to the game.

I didn't like the way the story jumped around like a drunken power forward. I'm not even sure if the story was always told by the same protagonist. The whole affair felt disjointed and random; it lacked cohesion. There was no central yarn to hold on to, leaving the story feeling more like a collection of shorts that seem somewhat interrelated than a single complete work.

So, yeah. I liked some things about it, but that's about all I can say for it.



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Reply #22 on: September 21, 2008, 08:51:12 PM
Haven't had much time to listen, let alone comment lately, but I got to walk the dog today in rare solitude, and wanted to run home and comment before I forgot:

Great Intro:  Last time I poked my head in the room, there was still some controversy over PC's intros, but this one nailed it.

I did like the story, and I'm finding that I do enjoy sports-related stories a lot more than I enjoy the sports themselves.  For me, the only actual sport I ever seem to find myself drawn into is baseball (don't ask me why... I turned 30, and all kinds of f---ed up things happened to my brain), but I really liked these little basketball vignettes. 

I thought the arc (which someone else said was missing) was really clear, and liked that I wasn't hit over the head with either the struggle with drinking and overcoming one's own banal demons bit, or with the "hey, I've had a bunch of supernatural experiences" bit.  I've always felt that we all have our share of almost-supernatural anecdotes, so it felt right to me.

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Reply #23 on: September 23, 2008, 01:34:59 AM
The style was cool, the narrator was interesting both as a protagonist and as a foil.  If I'm disappointed by anything it's that none of the peripheral characters really got their due.  Any one of them could have been the basis for a story on their own.  I almost feel that it would have been better as a Union Dues-style series.



Rain

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Reply #24 on: September 23, 2008, 05:40:12 PM
I am not a sports fan either :P and i wasnt a fan of that recent Basketball story over at Escape Pod, but i really liked this one, it was an interesting tale. One question, the girl in the last story was she supposed to be dead or just badly injured?