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Author Topic: EP189: The Botox School of Acting  (Read 6337 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: March 04, 2009, 03:16:39 AM »

EP189: The Botox School of Acting

By Liz Shannon Miller..
Read by Dani Cutler (of Truth Seekers).

Guest Host: Jeffrey R. DeRego

Audible.com Promotion!
Get your free audiobook at: http://audible.com/escapepodsff

Only the best gain acceptance. Harry cannot be bought. Twice a year, he attends the fashion shows, looking for an unknown to transform, but most of the time they come to him — the beautiful, the elegant, the desperate. They plead with him, their eyes containing all the emotion their faces cannot show. The beauties who want to be brilliant, who want to move beyond the limitations of their appearance. Who want to act.

“Boxtresses”, people call his students, and Harry doesn’t bother to correct the gender assumption, because his class for actors is still ostensibly secret. No one wants to believe that action heroes need to avoid aging. It’s their love interests who need to stay fresh.


Rated PG. Contains profanity and shallow motivations.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!


Mod Note:
At the time I posted this I did not have an author's website link.  As soon as I have one I will edit the posting.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2009, 03:18:26 AM by Russell Nash » Logged
Listener
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2009, 09:11:24 AM »

The best SF is stuff that really could happen. This really could happen, if it isn't already happening, which makes the story even stronger.

The clever nod to VHS tapes was... well... clever. I still have a ton of them myself. Should I save them?

I don't think the story really went anywhere; no characters grew or changed. It was just "look at our future and change things now so we don't get this far."

I wasn't shocked by Harry's attitudes toward his wife or his granddaughter, nor by his granddaughter scrimping and saving for her first treatment, and I wasn't horrified by the mother-daughter spa day and Alice not having the treatment done, and I wasn't filled with righteous indignation that Candace had had a treatment when she was younger. I didn't really feel anything other than amusement, and that was more near the beginning when Harry was holding his class.

I guess this was more like an episode of Twilight Zone than anything else.

The reading was fine, though Dani Cutler almost always sounds like she's got a slight head cold. Maybe she does that on purpose, to avoid sounding nasal? I've never met her, so I don't know what she sounds like in real life.

A good EP. Enjoyable without being "holy shit that's amazing".
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Zathras
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2009, 10:55:06 AM »

Listener pretty much summed up my feelings.  I lean a little more on the negative side, though.

Jeffrey sounds a little more comfortable than last week, but the inexperience still shows.  Not a knock, just pointing it out. 
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Heradel
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2009, 12:21:29 PM »

Until we get an official author website, we have what I am fairly certain is her <a href="http://lizlet.tumblr.com/>tumblr here[/url], which has links out to her twitter, youtube channel, etc.
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2009, 07:00:01 AM »

I was mostly unruffled by this story. It almost felt more like a portrait than a story. Perhaps appropriate considering this was partially about opposing change.
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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2009, 11:00:07 AM »

  I really enjoyed the story, as well as the read, but I kind of found the end to be unsatisfying. Maybe I am missing something significant, but I didn't find the ending to be much of a twist. It was stated early on that not a lot of men take the treaments yet (or at least I took the secret men's class to be an indication of that), so I was not at all surprised to find that Harry had not taken it.

  I personally don't have any real issues with the idea behind botox, although I would never do it myself, and I really enjoyed the world built in the story where paralyzing your face is so normal that there is a school to teach you how to emote without the use of facial expressions. I just wish there had been more to the story than there was. It was like having a bacon cheeseburger without fries; really good, but somehow incomplete.

  So does anyone know what time "F*** Your Mother" is on?
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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2009, 12:30:42 PM »

I enjoyed the story, and though pretty much though that the people above did.  I wasn't shocked by anyones opinions; maybe because it all seemed too likely.  In a world where we have super sweet 16th, or whatever this or even last years version of it is; and where some models are so sytlised I don't find them attractive, though the scene seems to love all of them: this doesn't seem too far.  Far too realistic.

I have no idea if that is a complaint of not. 


As for when the show is on.  I'd say its at 4pm, to get the crowd coming home from school.  Or maybe its dinnertime viewing. 
Or maybe thats just when we would put it on here in the UK.  (Though everyone loves Raymond was on at 7AM, as was King of Queens... while 2 and a half men is on at 8pm... so theres no real pattern)

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« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2009, 04:24:14 PM »

I have nothing but "negative" to say.
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« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2009, 08:09:06 PM »

I was mostly unruffled by this story. It almost felt more like a portrait than a story. Perhaps appropriate considering this was partially about opposing change.

I second this thought.  Not a bad story persay- just nothing drastic.  I didn't hate it, heck I even enjoyed it at moments.
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 05:56:36 PM »

I found this story to be quite annoying,

    Mostly because it struck a nerve, no pun intended, whenever "botox" is mentioned.  In this case it also showed a lack of research on the part of the author.  Which was especially highlighted when he has the main protagonist add, in his acknowledgments, he thanks the men who discovered botox/botulism toxin treatments by saying "beauty forever", & forgive me if my quote was not exact I've had a rough couple of days.

    The reason this quote peeved me, is that botox was not research as a beauty treatment.  Actually its use for treatment for wrinkles & etc is relatively new in the life span & use of botox.  Botox it the brand name of botulism toxin a, botulism toxin b is also used in cosmetic & more importantly non-cosmetic treatments.  Both toxins where researched for treatment of multiple neuro-muscular diseases all of which are coupled as Dystonia, which is a syndrome - meaning a group of disease and/or conditions sharing similar symptoms and characteristics. Cancer, as a general term, and AIDS are also syndromes.  As for Dystonia, I live with the specific disease of Early-Onset Generalized Dystonia.

    All types of Dystonia, the two major differences being focal and generalized, cause dystonic spasms & postures.  For example the most common Dystonia is a focal Dystonia called Cervical Dystonia, spasmodic torticollis, causes one's neck to twist to one's side, generally toward one's right shoulder.  Botox was researched & used to treat such spasms since the early 1980s.  Again cosmetic use is a newer use for Botox/Botulism toxin.  The severity of the symptoms caused by the various forms of Dystonia vary extremely but all are disruptive to lives of any whom live with any type of Dystonia.  As I mentioned there are focal forms which only effect one part of one's body & than there are the Generalized Dystonias which cause the same symptoms I mentioned before but cause these spasms & postures over one's entire body & in all muscular tissue.  The Dystonia I have, Early-Onset Generalized Dystonia, has left me with use of my left arm & hand only and as such has also left me bed ridden & often in extreme pain, as I have been for my last several days including today.

    Botox, botulism toxin A, and Myobloc, botulism toxin B, are the only current treatments that directly attempt to provide relief of the symptoms caused be Dystonia.  So this constant devaluing of Botox, the lack of research on part of the author, & trivialization of those who discovered the therapeutic uses of botulism toxin ignore its very roots.  While the media may focus on how Botox & similar treatments remove wrinkles from the faces of the rich or upper-middle class for those living with Dystonia whom can be helped by Botox & etc in many cases it can literally give people there lives back.  While Botox does not provide any relief for me personally.  For countless hundreds who living w/various Dystonias Botox means being able to function & just live normal lives.  Botox & all forms are far from ways to "stay young" despite the media's fascination with this particular application of Botox.

    I'm sorry if this seemed like a soap box or rant.  Like I said I've had a rough several days & I may have rambled on more than needed to simple make my point that Botox is a vital treatment for many living with a very rare movement disorder & those who found that Botulism toxin could relieve these symptoms where searching to improve lives & not looks.

    For any one interested in more & clearer information it can be found at http://www.dystonia-foundation.org/ & again sorry for any rambling.  This story simply served to further trivialize a vital medical treatment which 5 minutes of research, even just browsing WikiPedia, could have cleared up.  But not only did this story further the lack of information about the clinical benefits of Botox but it complete trivilized the actual contributions made by those who did discover the benefits of botulism toxin.  As someone who lives with Generalized Dystonia I know many people who's lives have been changed and even returned to them thanks to Botox.

    If the author could not mention this in the protagonist's pondering over "what else to say about those who 'discovered' Botox" than at least I would.
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izzardfan
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2009, 03:03:23 AM »

Until we get an official author website, we have what I am fairly certain is her <a href="http://lizlet.tumblr.com/>tumblr here[/url], which has links out to her twitter, youtube channel, etc.

Ms. Miller mentions this podcast on her website, and makes note of something I had planned to mention myself:  the narrator doesn't know how to pronounce "botulism."  The author also noted a mispronunciation of "couture," but I missed that.  I enjoyed some of the humor, but, as others have noted, I've heard better stories here.  Considering an earlier post of mine, that says something.  I sympathize with uberChick's situation, and agree that a little more research could have been done, but would point out that Harry is not exactly the smartest cookie in the box, and therefore maybe HE as a character couldn't come up with anything more to say about botox.

The narration, beyond the two apparent mispronunciations, was indeed a bit nasaly.  I've seen more complaints posted here lately about narrators other than Steve, which leads me to believe that most people don't have a dedicated recording space.  Listening to Wesley Clifford on the Stargate Cafe bloopers podcasts taught me a lot about how much audio quality is affected by the recording environment.  Sometimes there's nothing to be done about it, even with the best post-production equipment.  Plus, we've been spoiled by Steve's excellence in the past.   Grin
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2009, 11:07:11 AM »

For me, this was a giant serving of an "I don't care" sandwich.

Didn't bother to finish it.
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2009, 04:11:36 PM »


The narration, beyond the two apparent mispronunciations, was indeed a bit nasaly.  I've seen more complaints posted here lately about narrators other than Steve, which leads me to believe that most people don't have a dedicated recording space. 

Well, it's not just about the space, it's about its location. If you have a basement you record in, but it's a big open one with tile or cement floors, that'll sound a lot different than a small basement with wood paneling on the walls, carpeted floors, and drop ceilings. (Is that the right term for those ceilings with the tiles you see in a lot of schools?) And just recording in your living room, even if it's a normal-sized 20x30 room, can be echo-y if there's a flat surface right behind your omnidirectional microphone. I got really lucky -- where I have my studio, in my basement, is only eight feet wide, with drop ceilings only 7.5 feet high, wood paneling on the walls, and the same kind of carpeting you usually find in the living room, not that weird weave stuff they sometimes put in basements. I didn't have to put up any egg crates on the walls.

And yes, microphone quality has a lot to do with it, as does sound card quality. You can get a decent microphone for $40-60 (mine cost $40; it's omnidirectional but I use a microphone condom -- puffy foam thing -- to kill echo), but if your sound card has a crappy audio in, there's little you can do, even with processing. I bought a media center PC when I was setting up my studio, so I knew it had a good sound card, even if it's just the on-board one built into Dell computers. (My Dell laptop had a great onboard sound card too, but my first Toshiba had a really crappy one.) I also have a mixer board with 12 inputs (8 pots), and I tend to ride the levels pretty hard when I'm recording -- I come from the school of live radio, so I'd rather have things sound right going in then have to mess around with them once they're recorded. Then there's the quality of the MP3 you save -- the higher the better, obviously, but large files can be a royal pain to send.

Well, that was a hell of a tangent.

I find Dani Cutler not to sound nasal, but to sound blocked up, as if she's trying NOT to be nasal or has smaller sinuses than a normal person of her size. I've never met her, so I don't know.
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izzardfan
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2009, 07:25:04 PM »


The narration, beyond the two apparent mispronunciations, was indeed a bit nasaly.  I've seen more complaints posted here lately about narrators other than Steve, which leads me to believe that most people don't have a dedicated recording space. 

Well, it's not just about the space, it's about its location.  <snip>

Um, that's what I meant by "dedicated":  set up specifically to record higher quality audio.  I didn't state it specifically, but your explanation did, so I thank you.   Grin
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stePH
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« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2009, 06:57:23 PM »

WTF was with the 3:50 of dead space at the end after Daikaiju faded out?  Huh
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Heradel
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« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2009, 07:40:34 PM »

WTF was with the 3:50 of dead space at the end after Daikaiju faded out?  Huh

It's a Johnny Cash John Cage recording composition.

Edit: Memory fail.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 07:54:13 PM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2009, 11:36:50 PM »

That's bullshit.  I don't need files with minutes of silence taking up space on my ipod or hard drive.  I'm unsubscribing this lameass podcast.


( Wink)
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« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2009, 07:38:43 AM »

I agree with uberChick. It was extremely irritating when the beauty treatment was called as "Botox", when it had hardly anything to do with the real Botox.
Also, I can accept that VHS-tapes might be collector's items anyday, but I can't suspend my disbelief that anyone would ever want to watch Star Wars (wasn't it Star Wars?) from VHS-tape (probably 4:3 picture with panscanning, with horrible resolution) on future's (or even todays') largish widescreen TV.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2009, 01:03:55 AM by tpi » Logged

stePH
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« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2009, 10:02:07 AM »

I agree with uberChick. It was extremely irritating when the beaty treatment was called as "Botox", when it had hardly anything to do with real Botox.
Also, I can accept that VHS-tapes might be collector's items anyday, but I can't suspend my disbelief that anyone would ever want to watch Star Wars (wasn't it Star Wars?) from VHS-tape (probably 4:3 picture with panscanning, with horrible resolution) on future's (or even todays') largish widescreen TV.

To say nothing of the fact that VHS tapes degrade.  The Star Trek TNG tapes that I recorded in 1994-95 were all-but unwatchable by 2002.  Maybe they'd have been better if I used the SP mode rather than EP, but that would have only delayed the inevitable.
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« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2009, 10:58:14 AM »

As a father of a young girl, I really appreciate what this story is trying to do. But I just couldn't buy into a lot of it. The scene between Harry and Alice discussing the African Queen was a great idea but the delivery of it felt too pat (and I don't mean the narration, I mean the dialogue). And close to the end, the bit when Harry stares at himself in the mirror and sees his own wrinkles and receeding hairline, etc. suprised me. Just then, he figured out he was an old man? What do his hands look like? His fingers, his arms? He never thought of injecting himself? I know some guys who have been incredibly vain. And that the guy actually runs an acting school with all these beauties made the above even harder to believe (because I think his age would've been the butt of a lot of jokes there).

And mostly I have a hard time buying that any father would want to stick syringes in his daughter's face to make her more beautiful. (This might just be a personal thing, though, and I think I could've bought somoene like Harry might do it if the rest of the story had worked for me.)

I did like parts of this story. The vampire thing was a nice little touch. The bitchy actresses. And the point of the story is a good one, I think. But overall, I just couldn't believe in it.
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