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Author Topic: Pseudopod 145: Infestation  (Read 13433 times)

Bdoomed

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on: June 05, 2009, 06:31:41 PM
Pseudopod 145: Infestation

By Matthew Piskin
Read by Cayenne Chris Conroy

Rachel comes in the through the garage door in the kitchen. She’s carrying a large green ceramic flower pot. Inside the pot is the weirdest flower I have ever seen. Its stem is thick and curvy like a jungle vine. It’s about seven inches tall and has little white bumps, like tiny blisters, all along the stem. The head of the flower is furry and yellow with large red and black petals, wavy and erect, just the way a kid would draw them. There are several layers of petals and their pattern is mesmerizing: black-red-black-red on one layer, then the next would interchange to red-black-red-black, et cetera. As she carries the flower into the house the petals give the illusion of spinning, like little wheels turning inside larger ones.

I say, “What the hell is that thing?”

“I have no idea, but isn’t it cool?”

“I guess…”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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


Zathras

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Reply #1 on: June 05, 2009, 08:40:28 PM
Yukkkk.  Great episode that made me uncomfortable.



600south

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Reply #2 on: June 06, 2009, 09:47:15 AM
it was an OK little grossout piece, but my favorite writing was at the start when he talked about his need to beat off and why.



Cerebrilith

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Reply #3 on: June 06, 2009, 10:49:19 AM
I feel like this story should have been disturbing, but it just wasn't. Like the previous poster said the most entertaining bit was the guy's self-abuse.



Bdoomed

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Reply #4 on: June 06, 2009, 07:08:51 PM
i loved the reading of this story, it did a great job of conveying the urgency of the situation :)

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


petronivs

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Reply #5 on: June 08, 2009, 06:23:54 PM
I liked the story, but I have definitely mixed feelings about the reading style. 

He has a good speaking style in general.  What nearly killed the story for me was the dialogue at the beginning.  Especially in the back and forth, I could barely make out when the husband was speaking versus when his wife was speaking.  It all kind of blurred into one, maybe because there wasn't enough style and tone shift between the two.  Perhaps it would've been easier had the story had more speaking words, like "he said" and "she responded".

Another gripe I had was that the story started out too fast.  Fast speaking isn't too bad, especially once the action/suspense starts to heat up, but this story definitely needed a slower pace at the beginning.  The writing was casual, but the oration was frantic.



Sgarre1

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Reply #6 on: June 08, 2009, 07:25:26 PM
I'd guess it wasn't the oration in the beginning so much as the audio editing.  This story was edited to within an inch of its life.  As someone who has to do close discernment on crappy audio (court recordings) for the better part of my day job, I'm particularly sensitive to little audio cues and I could swear that in a number of instances the next line of dialogue was already fading in as the previous was fading out - this overlap subliminally created a frantic quality to the delivery, a headlong rushing that might have been useful in the wrap up but, yes, made the start seem far more pell-mell than needed.  Human breathing space was needed, and may have been there in the original reading, but the audio editing concisely eliminated it.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2009, 11:26:22 PM by Sgarre1 »



MacArthurBug

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Reply #7 on: June 08, 2009, 11:06:08 PM
Very well read. but Ickkkey! Eeew! yuck! gross!  I totally have to go wash out my ears now. Thanks.

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


Zathras

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Reply #8 on: June 08, 2009, 11:21:11 PM
Listened again.  Shudder.

Ok, I have a few issues with this.  While the story telling involved with the masturbation storyline was well done, it seemed it's only purpose in the story was to move Ben upstairs.  Couldn't this have been as easily done by having Rachel yell down for a glass of milk or something?

How many plants were the Girl Scouts selling?

Ben fits the mold of flawed character that deserves something bad to happen to him.  Rachel doesn't seem to be much more than an object with a few lines.



MacArthurBug

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Reply #9 on: June 09, 2009, 01:08:12 PM
How many plants were the Girl Scouts selling?

Ben fits the mold of flawed character that deserves something bad to happen to him.  Rachel doesn't seem to be much more than an object with a few lines.

I was wondering that myself. How did the plants not infest the scouts- or were they some form of alien delivery system disguised as cuties with cookies?

I agree on the second point as well. Rachel dosn't even exist as more then a very thin idea to hang some problems around. I had a hard time caring about her- and that's saying something 'cause usually My "button" is kids in trouble- preggo ladies count in there somewhere.

The gross out factor seemed more important in the story then fact fiding. And though I'm cool with that this one exceeds my level of comfort with the "ick."

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


Russell Nash

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Reply #10 on: June 09, 2009, 01:32:36 PM
Good for a grossout story.  There was one laugh line for me.  When he pulls out the magazine to smack the bug, his wife says, "so now you keep that up here!"  Funny because first she knew all about them in the first place.  Second their lives are in serious danger and she's upset about the magazine.



Listener

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Reply #11 on: June 10, 2009, 03:27:28 PM
I too had issues with the editing -- specifically the lack of voice-changes in the quick conversation, and the overlaid breaths under the narrator's speech.

Dude, seriously? Paint rags? When my wife was nesting for our kid, she didn't find ANYTHING I keep under the bed. And you don't have a secret folder on the computer, either? Magazines? Who reads THOSE anymore?

Too much info? Oh well.

Anyway.

I did love that he crushed the first big bug with porn. And the little "we have to childproof this place" bit was cute.

The story was really vivid and good to listen to -- even as I mowed the lawn, kicking up dozens of bugs every minute -- but the whole "giving yourself over to purification by fire" thing was a little over-the-top. You have an unborn child and you're going to give up? I mean, sure, lots of bugs, but... *shrug*

One other thing: this author must HATE the Girl Scouts. I think this story is a gigantic metaphor for the annoying way they sell those overpriced cookies.

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Zathras

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Reply #12 on: June 10, 2009, 03:54:12 PM

One other thing: this author must HATE the Girl Scouts. I think this story is a gigantic metaphor for the annoying way they sell those overpriced cookies.

Wow!  Now I get it!  (And I have two daughters who are Scouts)



Russell Nash

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Reply #13 on: June 10, 2009, 06:14:22 PM

One other thing: this author must HATE the Girl Scouts. I think this story is a gigantic metaphor for the annoying way they sell those overpriced cookies.

Wow!  Now I get it!  (And I have two daughters who are Scouts)
You're part of the problem.



Zathras

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Reply #14 on: June 10, 2009, 06:31:49 PM

One other thing: this author must HATE the Girl Scouts. I think this story is a gigantic metaphor for the annoying way they sell those overpriced cookies.

Wow!  Now I get it!  (And I have two daughters who are Scouts)
You're part of the problem.

But I can't be squished with the anniversary edition of Shaved.




Russell Nash

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Reply #15 on: June 10, 2009, 06:50:10 PM

One other thing: this author must HATE the Girl Scouts. I think this story is a gigantic metaphor for the annoying way they sell those overpriced cookies.

Wow!  Now I get it!  (And I have two daughters who are Scouts)
You're part of the problem.

But I can't be squished with the anniversary edition of Shaved.

You can be bonked with their special hardcover retrospective.



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Reply #16 on: June 11, 2009, 11:41:03 AM

One other thing: this author must HATE the Girl Scouts. I think this story is a gigantic metaphor for the annoying way they sell those overpriced cookies.

Wow!  Now I get it!  (And I have two daughters who are Scouts)

FWIW, I have no problems with anything the GS do EXCEPT for anything surrounding those cookies -- the overpricedness, the rising cost, the shrinking boxes, the way your (vosotros, not tu) coworkers and family guilt you into buying more (especially if your -- vosotros again -- boss has GS in the family), running the gauntlet of cookie-sellers to go to the grocery store, and my favorite part, how little money the scouts actually get. I personally would rather write a check for $20 to GS than buy five boxes of cookies, especially when, for $20, I can get six packs of Oreos.

End of rant.

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Zathras

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Reply #17 on: June 11, 2009, 12:44:21 PM

One other thing: this author must HATE the Girl Scouts. I think this story is a gigantic metaphor for the annoying way they sell those overpriced cookies.

Wow!  Now I get it!  (And I have two daughters who are Scouts)

FWIW, I have no problems with anything the GS do EXCEPT for anything surrounding those cookies -- the overpricedness, the rising cost, the shrinking boxes, the way your (vosotros, not tu) coworkers and family guilt you into buying more (especially if your -- vosotros again -- boss has GS in the family), running the gauntlet of cookie-sellers to go to the grocery store, and my favorite part, how little money the scouts actually get. I personally would rather write a check for $20 to GS than buy five boxes of cookies, especially when, for $20, I can get six packs of Oreos.

End of rant.

Agreed.  Also, they make GS pledge to buy more cookies every year for the rest of their lives!



DKT

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Reply #18 on: June 11, 2009, 03:55:45 PM
Man, you guys are making me hungry for Girl Scout cookies!

There was one laugh line for me.  When he pulls out the magazine to smack the bug, his wife says, "so now you keep that up here!"  Funny because first she knew all about them in the first place.  Second their lives are in serious danger and she's upset about the magazine.

Third because he compared himself to Charlton Heston holding a stone tablet over his head. That bit cracked me up, too.

I did kind of wonder about the whole "Girl Scouts selling these plants at the grocery store" thing, especially when the incubation period was so fast.

Still a good little grossout story that made for an amusing commute.


Zathras

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Reply #19 on: June 11, 2009, 04:38:14 PM
Oh, I liked the story well enough.  It just had a bunch of gaping holes that I couldn't ignore.  They bugged me so much I had to speak my mind before the thoughts spewed forth from me like a lethal cloud.

 :D



DKT

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Reply #20 on: June 11, 2009, 05:08:33 PM
You have no idea how I hard I worked not to make a pun involving rags.

Sigh. 

:D


Zathras

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Reply #21 on: June 11, 2009, 05:53:08 PM
You have no idea how I hard I worked not to make a pun involving rags.

Sigh. 

:D

I don't know why you feel the need to keep ragging on me. 



Russell Nash

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Reply #22 on: June 11, 2009, 06:14:19 PM
before the thoughts spewed forth from me like a lethal cloud.

Lots of stuff seems to do that.



H. Bergeron

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Reply #23 on: June 12, 2009, 06:36:42 AM

Formerly Ignoranus - now too big for my britches, literally and figuratively.


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Reply #24 on: June 12, 2009, 02:08:17 PM
Meh. It's been done before, and done better. One thing I did like was the way that the narrator lapsed into religious metaphor at the end - it was a nice character touch that, when he's pushed to the point of breaking, that was emerging.



wakela

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Reply #25 on: June 17, 2009, 01:17:11 AM
I actually liked the editing in the beginning.  It made it seem like a real dialogue. The "he saids", "she saids" that Mike Resnick likes I don't think work well in audio.   I also too thought the opening was more interesting than the actual bug attack, which is meant to be a compliment about the opening rather than an insult to the bug attack.

The humor worked pretty well.

It was fun, but there wasn't a lot to chew on afterwards. 

Since "he peeled the chopped his arms because he thought bugs were crawling under his skin" is something I heard more than once in relation to bad drug trips, I was expecting the double issue of "Shaved" to have been somehow soaked with a hallucinogen, though I could think of no way for the author to have pulled that off.  It would have made it more horrifying if he had chopped up and burned himself and his pregnant wife for no good reason, but that would have clashed with the humor.

At the time I thought the religious imagery at the end was unnatural, but eytanz take on it put it in better perspective for me.  I just wish eytanz would stop inflicting his religious beliefs on others.  I mean I have my beliefs about what God is, you have yours.  Can't we just leave it at that? ;) ;) ;)



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Reply #26 on: June 19, 2009, 10:32:36 PM
What???  People still have real porn magazines?  What about free internet porn?    Although I think I will add the Double anniversary edition of Shaved to my apocalypse survival kit, you never know when you will need to swat something. 

Overall not a bad story, a little gross and over-the-top but well done.

As another point it does demonstrate just how evil the GSA are.




bolddeceiver

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Reply #27 on: July 02, 2009, 04:08:33 AM
I haven't really been making it back to the comments threads for a few months -- I barely have time to be keeping up with the stories (note the fact that I just now listened to this ep almost a month after).  This one actually drew me back to the forum.

I can't think of the last time, outside of network television, I've come across something so unoriginal and derivative.  I'm rather surprised to look and see that it was 20 minutes, because it felt like much more of a chore to get through.  The narrator was boring and unlikable, the wife was the kind of flat, hysterical, folding-under-pressure cannon-fodder female character that gives this genre such a bad name, the monsters, while nightmarish, had very little to set them apart from any other creature-feature, and that's before we got to the enormous cliche of the hairspray flame thrower.

I guess this one just seriously was not for me.



Russell Nash

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Reply #28 on: July 03, 2009, 08:09:13 AM
Bold Deceiver, seriously, don't hold back.  Tell us what you really thought. 

This is why I think the forums can tend to have a negative tone.  If something's really good, you want to comment, but maybe you don't.  If something's bugged the crap out of you, you make sure you get your comment in. 

There's this old saying in the restaurant industry.  If the customer is happy, they'll maybe tell one or two people about it.  If they hated it, they'll tell around ten people about it. 



Bdoomed

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Reply #29 on: July 03, 2009, 06:12:28 PM
hey woah there Russell, he has the right to speak his mind.  granted, bolddeceiver, twas a little harsh (okay maybe really harsh), but you are still entitled to your opinion.

there are plenty positive comments in this thread, you just focus on the most negative.

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


Russell Nash

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Reply #30 on: July 03, 2009, 09:16:40 PM
I forgot to use my [sarcasm][/sarcasm] tags.  I was joking about how he ripped into it with such venom.  Steve's original rules were it's OK as long as it's respectful of the author.  "This sucks" is fine.  "The author is a talentless hack" isn't fine.  I try to hold to those rules. 

the rest of my post was dealing with the natural tendency of people to slather on the criticism heavier than the praise.



DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #31 on: July 18, 2009, 01:38:27 AM
Ben fits the mold of flawed character that deserves something bad to happen to him.  Rachel doesn't seem to be much more than an object with a few lines.

Why did he deserve something bad to happen to him? Because he jerked it to an issue of Shaved?

And yeah, Rachel didn't really have much to offer in the story, sadly, besides bringing the flower into the house.



Zathras

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Reply #32 on: July 18, 2009, 04:04:52 AM
Ben fits the mold of flawed character that deserves something bad to happen to him.  Rachel doesn't seem to be much more than an object with a few lines.

Why did he deserve something bad to happen to him? Because he jerked it to an issue of Shaved?

And yeah, Rachel didn't really have much to offer in the story, sadly, besides bringing the flower into the house.

No, he was self centered.  I didn't say he deserved it, I said he fit the mold.  His actions up until the end were selfish.



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Reply #33 on: August 20, 2009, 01:43:34 PM
The story was really vivid and good to listen to -- even as I mowed the lawn, kicking up dozens of bugs every minute -- but the whole "giving yourself over to purification by fire" thing was a little over-the-top. You have an unborn child and you're going to give up? I mean, sure, lots of bugs, but... *shrug*

Dude ... what in the story gave you an indication that there was any hope of coming out alive?  I saw a hopeless situation wherein burning the house, the bugs, and all people within was the only way to save the world.

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DKT

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Reply #34 on: August 20, 2009, 03:19:52 PM
The story was really vivid and good to listen to -- even as I mowed the lawn, kicking up dozens of bugs every minute -- but the whole "giving yourself over to purification by fire" thing was a little over-the-top. You have an unborn child and you're going to give up? I mean, sure, lots of bugs, but... *shrug*

Dude ... what in the story gave you an indication that there was any hope of coming out alive?  I saw a hopeless situation wherein burning the house, the bugs, and all people within was the only way to save the world.

Oh, I don't know. If the Girl Scouts are selling those things at the grocery story, I think the world is pretty much screwed.


umamei

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Reply #35 on: August 25, 2009, 05:23:18 AM
I haven't really been making it back to the comments threads for a few months -- I barely have time to be keeping up with the stories (note the fact that I just now listened to this ep almost a month after).  This one actually drew me back to the forum.

I can't think of the last time, outside of network television, I've come across something so unoriginal and derivative.  I'm rather surprised to look and see that it was 20 minutes, because it felt like much more of a chore to get through.  The narrator was boring and unlikable, the wife was the kind of flat, hysterical, folding-under-pressure cannon-fodder female character that gives this genre such a bad name, the monsters, while nightmarish, had very little to set them apart from any other creature-feature, and that's before we got to the enormous cliche of the hairspray flame thrower.

I guess this one just seriously was not for me.

I hate to chime in on the bad review, because I know how hard it can be to write something truly scary (which is why you will see nothing by me anytime soon) but I felt very similarly about this story.

I think for me it just boils down to flat characters.  Guys who choose to whack off to old porn they think their wives know nothing about are not that interesting.  They're sadly commonplace.  My preferred method of torture is simple and requires no evil GS or bugs--just start rifling through boxes or computer files *adjacent* to where they're hiding their stash, in their presence, and see how many excuses they'll come up with to get you away from the offending materials, lest you "find out".  Not as horrific, except maybe for the guy, but at least more entertaining than bugs.  And just for the record--we know about the porn--all of it.  But seriously, what more is there to this guy?  If this were a recipe I'd say it was missing any kind of spice.

And what's up with the boring pregnant lady?  I've been around quite a few pregnant women, and they're not boring--prone to mood swings, crazy cravings, forgetfulness, and impulsive behavior.  Mix that with the supernatural and you have a recipe that is potentially quite horrific.  Bugs are icky, and so are selfish (but mostly harmlessly so, in this case) husbands, but this just didn't do it for me.

On the upside, I loved the reading.  (Guess I'm going for opposites today since so many of you said you had trouble with the editing.) 



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Reply #36 on: August 28, 2009, 08:35:55 PM
I'm glad some people are liking my story.  I'd like to make a few comments based on the feedback I've been reading.
 
1. Yes, Rachel wasn't much of a character.  She was intended to be a vehicle to add some fear, desperation, and humor to the story.  In the future I will try to round out my characters, especially as I become better as a writer.

2.  The religious overtones at the end were, in my mind, created by a man's desperation that comes as he realizes he is about to die.  Also, his mind was polluted with bug venom so I made it a tad over the top on purpose.

3.  I thought Cayenne Chrs Conroy did an awesome job.  I did feel some of the dialouge was edited to seem a little to quick but it is a minor issue for me as I thought he nailed the humor and deperation in the piece.

4.  I have nothing against Girl Scouts ;)

Thanks-Matt



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Reply #37 on: August 28, 2009, 08:50:08 PM
I mostly enjoyed this one.

What I didn't like was that this seemed like pretty heavily trodden ground in a million bug-under-my-skin stories.  And the wife was pretty flat as a character.

What I did like is pretty much everything else.  If I hadn't read the other bug-under-skin stories, this would've been a good one to start with.  The wife's reaction when he pulled out the magazine cracked me up.  The reader did a wonderful job of adding urgency to the tale, I could really feel the desperation.  And it was nice and fast-paced with some spice of dark humor.  Well done!



Russell Nash

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Reply #38 on: August 30, 2009, 05:44:29 PM
Hey Matt,

Thanks for coming around.  We always like it when the author has the guts to get up in front of the jackals and say, "this is mine." 

My comment on your comment is: Why don't you have anything against girl scouts?  They are evil.



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Reply #39 on: August 30, 2009, 06:26:25 PM
My pleasure.  I guess any organization that can cause mass addiction to Thin Mints must be innately evil.  I can see them now dealing cookies from the high risers yelling "5-O" as cops drive by.  Its only a matter of time.



Sandikal

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Reply #40 on: November 24, 2009, 04:02:52 AM
Man, you guys are making me hungry for Girl Scout cookies!

There was one laugh line for me.  When he pulls out the magazine to smack the bug, his wife says, "so now you keep that up here!"  Funny because first she knew all about them in the first place.  Second their lives are in serious danger and she's upset about the magazine.

Third because he compared himself to Charlton Heston holding a stone tablet over his head. That bit cracked me up, too.

I did kind of wonder about the whole "Girl Scouts selling these plants at the grocery store" thing, especially when the incubation period was so fast.

Still a good little grossout story that made for an amusing commute.

I'm finally catching up on my podcast listening and this story was beyond horrific to me.  It had a nice balance of humor to the horror though. 

I got the impression that the incubation started in response to the plant's exposure to the protagonist's blood.  I figured it was just a weird looking plant until then.



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Reply #41 on: December 01, 2009, 01:20:59 AM
I guess I must stand alone in my appreciation of the editing on this one.

Yes, the story has been told before. So what?
Yes, it was predictable. Short stories are by their very nature ('short' just doesn't lend itself to much mystery).

BUT...this story was intended to (if you'll pardon the pun) get under your skin. There are so many stories out there where the characters are under immediate threat but the pacing of the text or reading is slow enough to allow the reader to go get lunch.

Not this one. I hate cliches, but sometimes they are true: It really did reach out and grab me, and didn't let go until the end.

The reading and editing really brought out the urgency of the situation. That is rare. The conversations were quite real. How many times in emergency situations do you pause before speaking to someone? Not often. You are talking as soon as they stop, if not before.

I read, therefore I am...happy.


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Reply #42 on: June 10, 2010, 09:03:26 PM
What a wonderfully icky little story.  The description was well done and the pacing was excellent.  I really didn't have an issue with any of the writing.  I certainly did not mind the frantic narration in the beginning - made it sound like the narrator just wanted to be done talking to his wife.  Only later did he realize just how valuable she was.

The description of the bugs was solid and suitably disgusting.  That being said, they were not terribly original little monsters.  Anyone who has seen the recent "Mummy" series is familiar with the scarabs that do the same thing.  If the horror had been a little more original, this story really would have stood out from the rest.  As it is, this story - while good - just blends into the crowd.

Excellent narration.

Excellent outro by Alasdair.  These are the ones I like.  The ones that put perspective on things.  Remember that Nature is a frightening thing and that even something as innocent as a bunch of bannanas can be hiding something just waiting to consume your flesh.

Visit my blog atop the black ziggurat of Ankor Sabat, including my list of Top 10 Pseudopod episodes.


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Reply #43 on: December 29, 2010, 07:51:10 PM
Pretty good, for body horror. Did a better balance of humor wth the horror, as opposed to the bizarre roommate story with the itching powder and horrifically growing crotch lice. That one sacrificed horror for humor. This presented a better balance, and felt like a campy horror film.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Marlboro

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Reply #44 on: December 14, 2019, 06:03:22 PM
Man vs Infernal Fly-Infested Flora!  If the saturated fats in the Do-si-dos doesn't kill you, the flesh eating flies in the Beel-ze-buds will. Just who (or what?) are these girls scouting for?

I really don't care for body-horror but the humor combined with the excellent reading and editing made this one an exception. The frenetic pace of the narration really added to the story's intensity, imo.



These characters would work great in a horror themed sitcom where each episode features the guy trying to find the time to crank one out while simultaneously doing battle with the cursed object his wife casually picked up while doing the weekly shopping. One week it's a statue of Pazuzu she wins at the church raffle, the next week it's a Sumatran rat-monkey she "rescues" from a local shelter and so forth.