Author Topic: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need  (Read 9485 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« on: October 09, 2009, 05:59:30 AM »
Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need


By Mort Castle
Read by Sarah Tolbert and Ben Phillips

Marilyn Monroe lies naked and dying.

You can see it there, at that spot on her forehead where electrolysis permanently removed her widow’s peak. Just beneath the skin’s surface, a blue black flower grows.

It is Death.

There is the promise of finality in her every tentative breath, the sporadic sighings, the intimation of ending.

Marilyn Monroe is dying.

I am her death.



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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2009, 11:14:42 AM »
The story itself didn't really work for me, but I still thought the actual reading was great.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2009, 04:38:10 PM »
Outstanding.  Great pacing, and a wonderful portrait of a celebrity personality.  MM is often depicted so two dimensionally - either as a sex symbol ("Happy Birthday, Mr. President") or as a babe in the woods, shamelessly taken advantage of by the Hollywood movie machine (Candle In The Wind).  The depiction of this person as a damaged personallity in search of affirmation, unintentionally seeking out the users who took up so much of her life, is far more nuanced, and probably closer to the truth than either of the pictures of Monroe we usually get.
The personification of Need was also very interesting.  Quasi-omniscient, yet weirdly limited in that omnisicent, and utterly fulfilled by it's odd little half-existence.  The Need in this story underwent as much change and development as Monroe did.
Also, excellent work by Ben Philips, and especially Sarah Tolbert.  The cynicism and weariness positivley oozed from my ipod.  This one gets 8 tentacles up.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2009, 07:10:25 PM »
Very, very nice. Good story, great reading. I'm still listening to it, and I'm just blown away by it.
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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2009, 07:41:41 PM »
I've tried to come up with something to say about this one, because I think it's good enough it ought to have a fair amount said, but I don't really have any nits to pick.  It was interesting and entertaining, an unusual POV in several ways, and ended more or less when it ought to have done so.  I don't think I'd want to hear a lot of stories in this particular voice and style (the First Person Overwrought), but it was well done and interesting as a change of pace.
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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2009, 02:35:49 PM »
Great narration, but I didn't enjoy the story. I felt that a lot of it had already been said, for a start- I think in the forty or so years since Marilyn's death, we've got the message that no, she wasn't just a "dumb blonde", and I found that fairly dull.

I also find it rather ironic that the story is (partly) about other people's desires shaping MM, about how she struggles to keep her own identity when everyone else wants to say what and who she is, yet here's the story doing the same thing, creating yet another 'version' of her that is also not the truth, however much closer to the truth it might seem to us. I particularly disliked the explicit sex part for that reason, not because I found it offensive in its sexuality, but because it just added to the hypocrisy of the piece. One minute we're told about how she's the subject of everyone's mastubatory fantasies, and the next we're listening to the author's own! And if one of the story's aims was to give some respect to a dead, real person, I just don't think writing about how much she loved having JFK's balls slam into her really meets that aim.

Sorry, am I being a boring feminist?

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2009, 06:25:39 PM »
I don't see the ironic hypocrisy here.

It's like when a crowd of people are complaining and someone stands up and says, "Quit your bellyaching." And they all counter with, "Ah! You're a hypocrite because you're complaining about our complaining!'

To me, the story didn't fabricate another false version of MM.  It created another mask. A mask is not a lie; a mask is a deliberately constructed facet to be considered.  I tried on this version of MM and when the story ended, I took it off, aware that the reality of MM might be different - and if anything, I'm more aware of those other masks of MM - and now less likely to take them for granted. To me, the story examined certain base themes (need, identity, etc.) through the lens of a recognizable icon.  Fiction is a mask you temporarily put on to examine truths - its proximity to fact is almost irrelevant.

I didn't find the sex to be a masturbatory delight, but disturbing (as I think it should have been). I wouldn't pretend to know if the author found it masturbatory...and I'm not sure it matters.

I know I cared more for this caricature of Marilyn more than any others I've wandered across, certainly the most interesting.

Very well voice acted as well, by both readers.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 06:36:38 PM by nevermore_66 »
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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2009, 07:34:53 PM »
It's like when a crowd of people are complaining and someone stands up and says, "Quit your bellyaching." And they all counter with, "Ah! You're a hypocrite because you're complaining about our complaining!'

Not really. It's more like protesting against graphic violence in entertainment, and demonstrating your belief by making a film where lots of directors know for making violent films get slaughtered in full gory detail.

I agree with you that fiction is a mask that can be put on to better understand the real world. But this was not fully fictitious - a lot of it was factual. I guess I would have liked this story more, and also found it more original, had the the author used Monroe as a starting point, drawing on a cultural trope we all understand, to create a fictional character to explore, rather than appropriating her life and narrating from inside her head. To me it seemed that on the one hand the story was pointing out all the ways that MM was not just a two-dimensional fantasy, was a real person, not a fictional creation, but then on the other hand was using her as a ready-made fictional creation, just like the others in society who are criticised in this piece for utilising MM to their own ends.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2009, 10:43:21 PM »
my thoughts were pretty much exactly the same, this would have been stronger if the name Marilyn Monroe wasn't used.

there were definite reasons to do it, it may have even been the right decision, but my preference would have been to imply the name with using it (for all the reasons previously mentioned and there's always a coattail-riding impression when using a name from popular culture).

this was an interesting departure from past pseudopod episodes and i enjoy the constant exploration & expansion of the horizons of the genre.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2009, 11:33:36 PM »
Agreed on the reading -- excellent. This story had a lot of musing, philoso-mo-phising and such, and a stack of $50 words. Such stuff is really hard to read convincingly without making it sound trite or silly. Sarah and Ben absolutely nailed it. By god, PP gets good readers.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2009, 03:31:25 AM »
An interesting alternative celebrity portrait, and I recently discovered Some Like it Hot and was surprised at how much I loved it, so the mentions of that movie were particularly interesting.  The voice acting was superb on both parts.  This story would've been much harder to listen to if either one had read it alone.  Especially with two first person narrators, having each read by a different person works to great effect.

But, in the end, I didn't really get what the point was.  Who did the Need go to at the end?  Another Monroe, thus continuing the Monroe madness?  Or what?

And I wouldn't really call this horror.


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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2009, 07:22:53 AM »
But, in the end, I didn't really get what the point was.  Who did the Need go to at the end?  Another Monroe, thus continuing the Monroe madness?  Or what?

Now, I have to say I'm with you there. Anyone care to present an interpretation? Is the story just an idea about "what if Need were personified?" or was it a Marilyn Monroe musing or something else? Great idea, just not sure where it went.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2009, 09:35:55 AM »
I didn't get this one. Not as in I disliked it, but it left me genuinley unsure of what the point was. That said, I never finished the story - I didn't decide to stop listening to it, but I was interrupted when I was about 5 minutes from the end and I later didn't feel any desire to resume, so I just erased it from my iPod. I did miss Alasdair's outro, too, and I do feel that that's a shame, so maybe I'll download it again to listen to the end.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2009, 11:24:40 AM »
Strange discomfort making story. EXELLENT readin.
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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2009, 02:36:24 PM »
The presentation of this story was good.  I enjoyed the use of the two voices.  The actual story was okay.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2009, 08:36:28 PM »
This one just didn't do it for me.
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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2009, 09:40:33 PM »
Liked this very much, as I always have time for Mort Castle since reading "The Old Man And The Dead" years ago (which is about Hemingway, so he has a decided thematic interest in reinterpreting the lives of icons).

For those who didn't like that it was specifically MM, eh, well, I bet if it had been someone who was "Marilyn in everything but name", there'd be others who would be posting on "why couldn't he have just made it Marilyn Monroe and be done with it?", so six of one...

I have no problem with the presenting of an idea about the specific actress - the story needs it for the resonances, and yes, it's only fiction.  I know its a story written by someone because it stops when it's over.  More specifically, its fiction about an icon, someone who's life, image and persona have transcended mere general awareness into a much broader popular realms - Marilyn, like Elvis, keeps on going long after her death.  Its only natural she should become the fodder for stories.

I thought it would have been a cheat *not* to have acknowledged the sexual element. YMMV, but that was a quintessential part of MM as icon. Needed to be done, and I didn't think it was masturbatory, but instead humanizing.  I think some author who wanted to hack out a jerk-off fantasy about Marilyn Monroe would have spent less time and effort getting there.   I like that Pseudopod can present stories like this that are horror, just not the type of thing people think of when they think of horror.  Psychological, no external threat, the horrors of popular culture and history and the people ground up in the gears.

As to the point - maybe I'm misreading (hearing), and I actually am hesitant at putting my thoughts down as a solid statement because I believe that its deliberately NOT spelled out for a number of reasons, but I believe the author's implication was that Marilyn was the victim of some form of molestation as a child, physical or mental - that's not the ultimate point, however, and I would leave the "Need"'s narration at the end to be re-examined by the listener with that thought in mind.  Marilyn as pop icon, a screen that millions projected onto, but her "Need" and its origin was also part of that.  The personal specific magnified out into a popular culture and finding resonances with her audience in ways not intended by her or her packagers, and what the arc of her "life story" then says to those who felt those resonances.  Every person carries their secret damage, if they have some, but when one person becomes this large of a figure, their secret damage gets magnified as well, and when the root, the personal specific's life, ends in such a way, well....

The Need, at the end, has become an icon, just like Marilyn.  It lives on after her, to our detriment.

Reading, delivery, 2 narrators - all great!

And Billy Wilder may have been a prick, but he made ACE IN THE HOLE (among others) and thus, gets an eternal pass...

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« Last Edit: October 16, 2009, 04:41:32 PM by Sgarre1 »

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2009, 06:25:07 AM »
Holy Crap that was terrible!
Could not finish it.
One of the worst of the worst.
This IS October... right?
Big month for Horror, right?
Halloween is in this month right?
Anyone remember Halloween?
Pumpkins, witches, candy.
Is it too much to expect some horror fiction that is based on something gothic or, gasp, maybe All Hallow's Eve it self?
No, What do we get? Some sappy psyco-dramtic-crap about "I am your Need"...yeah.. my need for some good Horror stories!!!!!!
Sorry, U need to try better then this during October.
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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2009, 01:58:53 AM »
Didn't like it BECAUSE it was not horror to me HOWEVER I did like it because of the mental imagery formed by thinking of having sexual relations with MM in the way the story most awesomely, graphically, described: though if i was doing it with her it would be a stipulation that it was consensual and I would hope most deeply that she would enjoy it AND I don't know how to classify this story but my brain said "This here is smut BUB! and we likes it!" my brain has a strong, high-pitched Brooklyn accent even though I'm from Colorado.  At any rate my taste for this is consistent with my taste for everything else in this world, finicky. I wish I wasn't such a whinny little bitch but I can't help it! I guess that's what getting a college education did for me  :-\

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2009, 02:39:01 AM »
Holy Crap that was terrible!
Could not finish it.
One of the worst of the worst.
This IS October... right?
Big month for Horror, right?
Halloween is in this month right?
Anyone remember Halloween?
Pumpkins, witches, candy.
Is it too much to expect some horror fiction that is based on something gothic or, gasp, maybe All Hallow's Eve it self?
No, What do we get? Some sappy psyco-dramtic-crap about "I am your Need"...yeah.. my need for some good Horror stories!!!!!!
Sorry, U need to try better then this during October.

calm down there buddy.
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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2009, 09:45:35 AM »
Excellently performed but far too long, this could have been trimmed down to about half it's length or so and been just as good, or possibly even better due to it's brevity.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2009, 02:52:29 AM »
Holy Crap that was terrible!
Could not finish it.

I agree, but not for the same reason.

It just came across as uninteresting. I was actually surprised it took as long as it did to get the the overdose of the F-bomb.

Now, I ain't no prude, but, c'mon! 5 or 6 times in one breath? Can you say overkill? That's what ruined it for me, and that's where I stopped.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2009, 06:57:49 PM »
Now, I ain't no prude, but, c'mon! 5 or 6 times in one breath? Can you say overkill? That's what ruined it for me, and that's where I stopped.

Language is to convey meaning. Unnecessary language just takes away from it.

And, indeed, it does convey meaning.  It tells us quite a lot about the sort of character who is speaking to us.  That character is the sort of person who thinks five or six "fucks" in a sentence or two is both necessary and appropriate. 
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Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2009, 08:16:17 PM »
Yes, the need was...not nice

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2009, 03:11:48 PM »
The bit about Marilyn Monroe was interesting, but the story as a whole didnt go anywhere for me.  For me, the "Need" seemed rather nebulous and inconsistent.  Was he a spirit?  A hallucination?  A demon?  "I am her Need" is repeated over and over again like it was somse sort of symbolism that I just didn't get.  I didn't really see the need for all that jumping around and interweaving MM's past with her dying, and I didn't really get the whole thing at the end where she sat up and then the Need telling us later that she died anyway.  We are told that the Need will die along with MM, but then inexplicably we are left guessing when the Need just keeps right on going.  Finally, when the Need was talking directly to the reader, it seemed like a hokey campfire ghost story, rather than anything that inspires real fear or anxiety. 

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2009, 05:06:37 PM »
Coming in late, but I just finished this one. Holy crap! Ben and Sara gave this an amazing reading. Usually, I love Ben's readings but I totally lost Ben at points in the story here and heard something else. That was awesome. And Sara gave Marilyn Monroe's voice everything it needed.

Liked this very much, as I always have time for Mort Castle since reading "The Old Man And The Dead" years ago (which is about Hemingway, so he has a decided thematic interest in reinterpreting the lives of icons).

For those who didn't like that it was specifically MM, eh, well, I bet if it had been someone who was "Marilyn in everything but name", there'd be others who would be posting on "why couldn't he have just made it Marilyn Monroe and be done with it?", so six of one...

(I totally need to read that other Mort Castle story now...)

I am one of those people who would have probably complained (at least in my own head) if this had not been Marilyn Monroe. By using her name Mort Castle's invoking quite a lot about culture, character, and our own perceptions. For me personally, it makes for a hell of a more complex and interesting story. If it had been some other unnamed actress, even if they had alluded to it being MM (but why just wink and allude with your skirt flapping up?) I would have probably shrugged a lot of this one off. Playing with an actual icon did so much for me. (I understand YMMV.)

I thought it would have been a cheat *not* to have acknowledged the sexual element. YMMV, but that was a quintessential part of MM as icon. Needed to be done, and I didn't think it was masturbatory, but instead humanizing.  I think some author who wanted to hack out a jerk-off fantasy about Marilyn Monroe would have spent less time and effort getting there.   I like that Pseudopod can present stories like this that are horror, just not the type of thing people think of when they think of horror.  Psychological, no external threat, the horrors of popular culture and history and the people ground up in the gears.

I agree. We're talking about a sex symbol here and it would've been a cop-out not to talk about sex. I especially liked the contrast between MM showing housewifes "You're supposed to like it" to the sex we were shown that was so disturbing.

As to the point - maybe I'm misreading (hearing), and I actually am hesitant at putting my thoughts down as a solid statement because I believe that its deliberately NOT spelled out for a number of reasons, but I believe the author's implication was that Marilyn was the victim of some form of molestation as a child, physical or mental - that's not the ultimate point, however, and I would leave the "Need"'s narration at the end to be re-examined by the listener with that thought in mind.  Marilyn as pop icon, a screen that millions projected onto, but her "Need" and its origin was also part of that.  The personal specific magnified out into a popular culture and finding resonances with her audience in ways not intended by her or her packagers, and what the arc of her "life story" then says to those who felt those resonances.  Every person carries their secret damage, if they have some, but when one person becomes this large of a figure, their secret damage gets magnified as well, and when the root, the personal specific's life, ends in such a way, well....

The Need, at the end, has become an icon, just like Marilyn.  It lives on after her, to our detriment.

Interesting. I'd take it one step further and say that The Need became the popular culture's need after Monroe died. All the daddy issues. All the feelings of abandonment and disillusion. The poor dog that got cut in half. America embraced it all. We got the assasinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, went to Vietnam, elected Nixon and got Watergate and we channeled our fury through rock n roll and Easy Rider.

And I think you could make the argument in this story that they embraced it after Monroe's death. So, I don't know, but that's my reading of the story. (I wish Anarkey was still posting so she could tell me different, or eytanz had listened to the end so he could do the same.)

In the end, I'd say this is kind of a dirty little love letter to America of the 50s and 60s (and to some degree, maybe even the 70s), and I haven't read anything that struck me as pealing away the glistening facade of Camelot so much since James Ellroy's American Tabloid. Very well done, PP! Thanks for making me think about all this a bit.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2009, 06:34:48 PM »
Quote
In the end, I'd say this is kind of a dirty little love letter to America of the 50s and 60s

Exactly!  Well said!

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #27 on: November 24, 2009, 03:17:28 AM »
Wow. That was the first pseudopod story that I almost didn't listen to the whole way through. It didn't push ang of my horror buttons, didn't make me think, didn't really do much of anything other than make me say, "I'll listen to just a little bit more and see if it gets better." It didn't, and the ending left me flat. The only thing it did do, was get me to finally register on the EscapeArtists Forum, after listening to EP and friends since episode 1.

I guess that's something.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2010, 03:37:14 AM »
For thouse who found this story intriguing, I'd seriously suggest taking a look at Angela Carter's book THE SADEIAN WOMAN - it's her examination the Marquis De Sade and there's a section called "The Blonde as Clown" in the chapter "The Desecration of the Temple" that goes into some depth about Marilyn Monroe and the origins of the standard Hollywood doomed, child woman sex-symbol as arising from Sade's JUSTINE.  It's fascinating stuff and very pertinent to this story!

A sample:

"In herself, this lovely ghost, this zombie, or woman who has never been culturally born as a woman, only as a debased cultural idea of a woman, is appreciated only for her decorative value.  Final condition of the imaginary prostitute: men would rather have slept with her than sleep with her.  She is most arousing as a memory or as a masturbatory fantasy.  If she perceives herself as something else, the contradictions of her situation will destroy her.  This is the Monroe syndrome."

and a little bit later:

"She is always ready for more suffering.  She is always ready for more suffering because she is always ready to please."

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #29 on: March 03, 2010, 12:51:17 AM »
Listening to the outro of the story I was thinking about the comments that I would find here. I expected:

1. complaints about the language
2. complaints about the sex
3. complaints about the genre

Y'all did not disappoint.

The production value was fantastic. The two narrators really held me for a story that wasn't really my style. A good reading can really elevate material that doesn't engage you.

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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #30 on: June 03, 2010, 09:29:48 PM »
Well-researched.  Great use of language.  GREAT narration.  Great pacing.  Great tone.

BORING.  BORING.  BORING.

The whole thing can be summarized as: Marilyn Monroe blabs on and on about her life and contemplates suicide.  What little tension exists is wrapped up entirely in "Will she or won't she kill herself?"  Of course, this is destroyed by the fact that we all already know the ending.

I guess I'm just "old fashioned" or whatever, but I like brisk pacing, tension, drama and actual storytelling.  This sort of plotless, experimental piece does not do anything for me.

But MAN, the narration was top notch.  Probably the best I've heard here (except maybe Ian, I always like Ian's pieces).  PP can hold my interest even to a lousy story due to strong narration.
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Re: Pseudopod 163: I Am Your Need
« Reply #31 on: December 03, 2019, 06:03:57 PM »
I noticed several negative comments here, but instead of trying to dissuade anyone from their opinion, I think I'll just recommend another Mort Castle that I think will appeal to the listeners of Pseudopod. It's called "If You Take My Hand My Son" and can be found in the collection New Moon on the Water.

It's excellent.