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Author Topic: Pseudopod 166: Something There Is  (Read 8751 times)

Bdoomed

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on: October 30, 2009, 06:11:34 AM
Pseudopod 166: Something There Is


By Joe Nazare
Read by BJ Harrison of The Classic Tales

As if reading Montresor’s thoughts, Luchesi reached down toward his feet; his hand came back proffering a long-necked bottle. “Here,” he spoke in a conspiratorial whisper, after shooting a look towards the palazzo’s attendant-less hallway. “Medoc — what I just happen to have handy with me, you understand. But it should serve as a worthy substitute.”

“Substitute?”

“In your sleep, just now: you were calling out for Amontillado.”

Vestiges of his nightmare shrouded Montresor’s thoughts. Dry-mouthed, he attempted to swallow nonetheless. “You must have misheard me, I’m sure.”



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?


Unblinking

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Reply #1 on: November 01, 2009, 04:47:23 AM
I wasn't sure what to think about this one.  I love The Cask of Amontillado, and I love most of Poe's work.  But I never really felt it needed a sequel.  For an unneeded sequel it was okay. 

It was an interesting idea to have the motive not be retribution, but an everlasting thirst.



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Reply #2 on: November 01, 2009, 03:52:16 PM
I enjoyed this very much as well.  The writing was solid and pitched to the right Poe level (nice call out to "The Bells") and the voicing was excellent as well (especially Luchresi's!).

I would agree with Unblinking in that I think that "Cask" is probably the Poe story that least needs a sequel, in that Montressor gets away with it in the original, but actually doesn't in a sense.  Years and years ago I had a great discussion with a professor about "Cask" and it was his contention that the Poe story runs along the lines of "what if the narrator of something like "The Black Cat" or "The Tell-Tale Heart" got away with it instead of immediately exposing himself?", and then, when you read "Cask" with an eye towards the hints of a framing narrative (noted, obviously, by Mr. Nazare and voiced by Alasdair) you realize that Montressor's conscience has been acting on him for 50 years.  He tells this story, most probably, over and over and over.  It's as if, revenge not having been satisfied with immuring Fortunato, he has to figuratively bury him in the narrative over and over.  So Montressor can not "Rest In Peace" with his actions.  His greatest triumph is his mental undoing.

I can remember when CREEPY magazine did a beautiful version of this (Berni Wrightson art?) and, because the Comics Code at that time would not allow a story in which a murderer succeeds (much like Hollywood's Hayes Code of an earlier period), they had to tack on an ending in which an aging Montressor revisits the catacombs, which suddenly flood, and he is dragged down into drowning by the jester costumed skeleton of Fortunato!

So, nice story Pseudopod!  Very fitting for the season.  And I think I would have liked Alasdair's Halloween phantasmagoria narrative at the end, except I couldn't hear it very well.

Thanks for listening

“The modern story begun, one might say, with Edgar Allan Poe, which proceeds inexorably, like a machine destined to accomplish its mission with the maximum economy of means.”
Jose Cortazar, “On the Short Story and Its Environs”, AROUND THE DAY IN EIGHTY WORLDS



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Reply #3 on: November 02, 2009, 03:33:28 AM
It's rare I enjoy "sequels" or "re-imaginings" of existing texts; this was no exception. Whilst it was a competent and well-told story, ultimately it was (for me) unsatisfying and added little to the original. Seriously -- you think Montresor would happily brick himself up? I don't buy it.

Also, Al -- your outro didn't quite work for me, I thought it a little long and overdone. Believe me, that's far from the norm for me as I can't now recall another one of your musings I didn't enjoy.


Bdoomed

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Reply #4 on: November 02, 2009, 03:40:18 AM
Yeah... I kinda agree with everyone here.  I thought the story was very well written, well-executed, etc, and well read; however I don't like the idea of a guilty Montressor.  I liked him cold, calculating, exacting, vengeful, intentional, remorseless.

Ignoring my distaste for the idea, however, very well done story.

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


DKT

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Reply #5 on: November 02, 2009, 07:24:20 PM
Personally, I thought the outro kicked all kinds of ass. It was the ultimate parade of Halloween heroes and villains.


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Reply #6 on: November 02, 2009, 09:48:27 PM
Sgarre1 made many of the observations I was going to make:

I enjoyed this very much as well.  The writing was solid and pitched to the right Poe level (nice call out to "The Bells") and the voicing was excellent as well (especially Luchresi's!).

Yes, I absolutely loved this.  "Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells"  I almost continued on with the poem in my mind.  A nice tribute within a tribute to Poe.

Years and years ago I had a great discussion with a professor about "Cask" and it was his contention that the Poe story runs along the lines of "what if the narrator of something like "The Black Cat" or "The Tell-Tale Heart" got away with it instead of immediately exposing himself?", and then, when you read "Cask" with an eye towards the hints of a framing narrative (noted, obviously, by Mr. Nazare and voiced by Alasdair) you realize that Montressor's conscience has been acting on him for 50 years.  He tells this story, most probably, over and over and over.  It's as if, revenge not having been satisfied with immuring Fortunato, he has to figuratively bury him in the narrative over and over.  So Montressor can not "Rest In Peace" with his actions.  His greatest triumph is his mental undoing.

As I was listening to this story, I felt it was fitting for Montresor to have been haunted by this for many years and to have been driven to an unfortunate fate on account of his murderous act.  It is a common theme in Poe's work.  I thought this story was very well done and will seek out more work from this author.  Did "Cask" necessarily need a sequel?  No, but if you're going to make one, this is the way to do it.

Personally, I thought the outro kicked all kinds of ass. It was the ultimate parade of Halloween heroes and villains.

I agree.  I do need to go back and listen again, though.  Hey, Al, any chance of having you post the text of your outro?
« Last Edit: November 02, 2009, 09:52:04 PM by Swamp »

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Reply #7 on: November 02, 2009, 10:08:14 PM
Sure:)  Here you go:)

Pseudopod Episode 166

October 30th

Something There Is by Joe Nuh Zairep166 - Oct 30 - Something There Is by Joe Nazare [nuh-zair] Minimonkjoe@aol.com NO_URL

Welcome my friends to the show that never ends until it does, because it’s All Hallow’s Eve and somewhere, Michael Wincott is planning devil’s night even as across the world, the killers sharpen their bizarre and iconic weapons and young couples prepare to hook up at places with names like Devil’s Point and You’ll Definitely Be Murdered In A Curious Fashion If You Snog Here Cove.

 

Happy almost Halloween everyone, I’m Alasdair your host and this is quite definitely Pseudopod.  Our story this week comes from Joe Nuh Zair whose work has appeared in anthologies and magazine like Harvest Hill, Dead in Common and Butcher Knives & Body Counts.  Joe is a college professor specialising in the study of SF and gothic horror nad has had literary criticism essays in venues ranging from The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Studies in the Novel, Extrapolation, toThe Cultural Influences of William Gibson, the "Father" of Cyberpunk Science Fiction (Mellen Press; Ed. Carl Yoke and Carol Robinson). He is, as you’re about to find out, fond of Edgar Allen Poe and would like readers to remember one very important fact: in Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," Montresor narrates the tale of his vengeance against Fortunato a half century after the fact.  Our story picks up immediately from that point, and picks up on the hints of fear and remorse in Montresor's overtly brazen narrative.

Your narrator this week is the mighty BJ Harrison of classic tales who, through October will be reading Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw in four unabridged chapters.  He also has an Edgar Allan Poe Collection on Audible.com and the
iTunes Music Store that contains The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, and others."

 

So, pull up a chair, ignore the raven at the window and don’t drink the Amontillado just yet, because I have as tory for you and I promise you it’s true.

 

 

Halloween, that night where everything seems possible, where the past and the present collide and all the old ghosts come out to play.  The night where we close the curtains early, the night where we make sure the pumpkins are lit and the night where every year, the long war between children and their teeth steps up to defcon one.

 

But it’s the ghosts I keep coming back to, the parade of ideas and people who are gone but not forgotten.  I can’t shake the idea of a macabre carnival at this time of year, a long procession, an evolution of man for horror that begins with Pliny the Younger, talking excitedly about the story he’s just written about a haunted house.

   After him come the 9th Hispana Legion, never quite home and never quite anywhere else followed by the headless horsemen, the reapers and the spring heeled jacks the figures who stalked the landscape and left nothing but death in their wake even though the story always survived.  Then the doomed lovers, cycling endlessly through reunion, redemption, bloody murder, bloody suicide and vengeance and back again.  The women in white and the women in black dancing with each other at least as much with the men with no heads or the soldiers, lost and forgotten in the fog of war.  The people from Arkham County with the strange eyes and the gruff voices come next, followed by the scientist spiritualists, their banner one of Carnacki’s old electric pentagrams, shining neon blue.  After them come the endless ranks of serial killers, arguing as they always do about why there are so many Screams and Saws whilst behind them, the little girls with hair over their faces dance and play in staccato, fast forward movements never quite human and never quite still.

 

The Mothmen come next.  No one makes eye contact with them.  No one can.

 

Then the ghosts, the true ghosts, flickering in and out like images half caught on film.  Normal people, as beautiful and awful as that phrase suggests, each one unique, each one dead, each one aware of that.  Some of them disappear into light or darkness, as they always do, but more take their place, as they always do.  They’re shepherded along by two women, one with long dark hair, one with blonde.  Both have their families with them, although there’s something odd about the dark haired one’s husband…

 

Then the hunters arrive and the parade comes to life.  At their head are a group of people with the easy familiarity you only get when you grow up together.  The blonde woman with the stake looks a little uncomfortable but her red headed friend can’t stop smiling and waving, whilst the young man with the eye patch next to her is grinning so broadly it looks like his head will split.

 

On the other side of her, the three men in trenchcoats are a study in contrasts.  The dark haired one in the centre looks grim, the blonde one next to him keeps vamping out and striking poses and the blonde one on the other side of him, shorter, slighter, more mortal than the other two lights a cigarette and laughs.

 

Behind them, the older man with glasses he can’t stop playing with mutters something under his breath.  The woman in the leather jacket next to him laughs the dirtiest laugh in the world, echoed by the tall, bald black man to his right.  The laugh doesn’t quite reach his eyes.  They’re still watching the blonde vampire, and always will be.

 

Then Highway to Hell by AC/DC reaches full volume and the ’67 Chevy Impala arrives.  It’s a beautiful car and it knows it, sleek and black and low slung, coiled like a spring.  The young man driving it is pounding away on the steering wheel, air drumming like a maniac and singing along whilst his brother, the one with long dark hair looks out of the window and broods.  He’s good at that.  In the back seat, an angel in a crumpled suit looks a little confused and doesn’t notice his finger tapping along with the beat.

 

After them, is silence but not absence.  Something moves out in the dark, something unformed and shapeless but ready, slouching towards Jerusalem waiting to be born, to become next year’s horror, next year’s threat.

 

But that doesn’t matter because tomorrow night is Halloween, tomorrow night the parade goes by and we light our lanterns and we watch because it’s Halloween, and that’s what we do.

 

Happy Halloween everyone.

 

Pseudopod is a production of Escape Artists Incorporated, is released under a creative commons attribution non commercial no derivatives licence and Pseudopod is powered entirely by your donations.  If you liked this story, please go to Pseudopod,org and click on feed the pod.

 

Our closing music is by Hopeful Machines, find more about them at www.hopefulmachines.net

 

 

And Pseudopod wants you to remember, it can’t rain all the time.



DKT

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Reply #8 on: November 02, 2009, 10:12:01 PM
Oh, forgot to mention it above, but MASSIVE PROPS for the Michael Wincott shout-out. I would love to see that guy on a more regular basis.

Now to trawl over that text as carefully as possible :)


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Reply #9 on: November 02, 2009, 10:36:11 PM
And here are the crib notes in case anyone's interested:

-Pliny the Younger's ghost story, the oldest on record, can be found here:
http://thenostalgialeague.com/olmag/ghost_story.htm


-The 9th Hispana legion ghost story can be found here:  
http://www.northern-ghost-investigations.com/ghost-articles/ghost-stories/the-harry-martindale-story.html  
The wikipedia page on the legion also makes for interesting reading.


-Here's Spring Heeled Jack:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_Heeled_Jack


-I've got no specific links for gothic revenge tragedies but Frankenstein has elements of it, as does Wuthering Heights.


-Details of Ladies in White:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Lady_(ghost)


-Details of The Woman in Black, a novel which I've never read but a theatrical version and a TV version (The play performed by one woman and two men) still scare the living hell out of me:  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Woman_in_Black


-What's Halloween without the Legend of Sleepy Hollow?  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headless_horseman


-The soldiers lost in time thing is a reference both to Chris Eccleston's chilling cameo in The Others and the spurious story of the disappearance of the Norfolk regiment in 1915 at Galipoli, which I read when I was a kid and terrified me.  Details of it can be found here and the rest of the page is pretty interesting reading too:  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unexplained_disappearances#The_Norfolk_Regiment


-Regardless of whether you're new to HP Lovecraft or not, this Drabblecast verion of The Horror At Martin's Beach by Sonia Greene and HP Lovecraft is essential listening:  
http://web.me.com/normsherman/Site/Drabblecast_B-Sides/Entries/2009/8/19_Bsides_6-__The_Horror_at_Martin’s_Beach_by_Sonia_Greene_and_H.P._Lovecraft.html


-I like to think the members of The White Street Society are marching with the Scientist Spiritualists, probably trying to bum cash off them:)  Their banner by the way was designed by Carnacki the Ghost Finder and if you're even a little interested in roleplaying, horror or classic old fiction then you HAVE to spend a lot of time (And ideally throw some money at) Marcus L. Rowland's magnificent Forgotten Futures.  Here's the Carnacki page:  http://www.forgottenfutures.com/game/ff4/carnacki.htm


-The serial killers speak for themselves I think:)  Likewise Sadako, Samara and co.  That being said, the Gore Verbinski-helmed Ring re-make is excellent and details can found here:  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ring_(2002_film)


-The history of the Mothman case:  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothman


-The two women shepherding the ghosts are Allison Dubois (Blonde) and Melinda Gordon (Brunette) from Medium and Ghost Whisperer.  The mention of something seeming odd about Melinda's husband is a reference to the very, very odd, nearly show-breaking plotline they gave Jim in season four.  


-I'm a big enough man to admit I got a little choked up referencing Buffy, specifically Willow and Xander enjoying themselves.  I see a lot of me in Xander at times.  Mostly the times when I'm feeling self indulgent:)

-Two of the men following behind them are, of course, Angel and Spike.  The third is John Constantine, the main character of Hellblazer, one of the longest running and best horror comics ever.  I put him here because I know he and Spike would get on:)  Full details can be found here:  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Constantine

Although I'd recommend starting with Ian Rankin's excellent graphic novel, Dark Entries, which can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Entries_(comics)

-I identify a lot with Giles too, and I love the pairing of him and Faith in the Season 8 comics so it made sense to put them next.  Principal Wood's another favourite, even though he's never going to make his peace with Spike.


-The three men in the Impala are, of course, Sam and Dean Winchester and Castiel from Supernatural.  If you've not seen the show, do yourself a favour and do so, it's phenomenal, wickedly smart, funny, nasty TV.  Plus any TV show that can work the phrase 'KNEEL BEFORE TOD!' into dialogue and has Ben Edlund, the man responsible for The Tick on staff is golden with me.

So there you go:)  Hope that helped



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Reply #10 on: November 02, 2009, 10:38:05 PM
It's rare I enjoy "sequels" or "re-imaginings" of existing texts; this was no exception. Whilst it was a competent and well-told story, ultimately it was (for me) unsatisfying and added little to the original. Seriously -- you think Montresor would happily brick himself up? I don't buy it.

Also, Al -- your outro didn't quite work for me, I thought it a little long and overdone. Believe me, that's far from the norm for me as I can't now recall another one of your musings I didn't enjoy.

Don't worry about it:)  If everything worked the same for everybody we'd either be in a bad Star Trek episode or be in Equilibrium and NOT BE CHRISTIAN BALE.  Neither of those options sound good to me:)



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Reply #11 on: November 03, 2009, 03:55:05 AM
Don't worry about it:)  If everything worked the same for everybody we'd either be in a bad Star Trek episode or be in Equilibrium and NOT BE CHRISTIAN BALE.  Neither of those options sound good to me:)

There's a BAD Star Trek episode?? Come on! Oh wait... you mean THAT one. Fair point.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2009, 03:59:26 AM by kibitzer »



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Reply #12 on: November 03, 2009, 04:27:52 PM
Spring-heeled Jack!  I didn't know he was from folklore.  I only know him from Elder Scrolls IV:  Oblivion, where the boots of Springheeled Jack are an equippable item.  They gave a +50% to jumping capable and cushioned long falls (which is good otherwise the fall from your own jumps would be apt to hurt to you).  They were very handy at times.  :)



Swamp

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Reply #13 on: November 03, 2009, 11:28:49 PM
I almost forgot to say that I loved hearing B.J. Harrison read this story.

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deflective

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Reply #14 on: November 04, 2009, 04:17:52 AM
the outro kicked all kinds of ass. It was the ultimate parade of Halloween heroes and villains.

aye, pseudopod definitely has permission to indulge itself on halloween.  it's expected really.

this was like getting a year's worth of closing quotes in one episode, one big game of name-the-movie.


Sam and Dean Winchester and Castiel from Supernatural.  If you've not seen the show, do yourself a favour and do so

oh, alright.  i'll give the show another chance.

my friends go on about it so i've always assumed it's a bit like Buffy in that you need to get past the first season to find the good stuff.  my motivation to stick through the first six episodes has never been strong enough though.  time to try again.


I almost forgot to say that I loved hearing B.J. Harrison read this story.

i am so conditioned to hear classic tales music after his stories that i actually heard negative sound that music makes when it's not played.



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Reply #15 on: November 06, 2009, 09:15:34 PM
I'm not a horror expert, but I'm happy that I recognized Constantine in the outro, one of my favorite characters ever.  (I even love him despite Garth Ennis getting his nasty fingerprints all over him.  I loathe Garth Ennis.)

I didn't get many of the others, though.  heh.  Thanks for the annotation.



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Reply #16 on: November 06, 2009, 09:20:31 PM
I didn't get many of the others, though.  heh.  Thanks for the annotation.

I admit I mistook Spike for Lestat and Angel for Louis somehow, and not being caught up with Supernatural, thought Castiel might be Angel. Heh.


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Reply #17 on: November 07, 2009, 12:29:55 AM
I'm not a horror expert, but I'm happy that I recognized Constantine in the outro, one of my favorite characters ever.  (I even love him despite Garth Ennis getting his nasty fingerprints all over him.  I loathe Garth Ennis.)

Done right, he's awesome (C I mean). My favourite has to be Hard Time. Too bad about the film.


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Reply #18 on: November 08, 2009, 02:42:35 AM
Finally went back and listened to this again, and decided I was right the first time, when I dropped off.  I mean, it was nicely written, but this - all of it, the whole story - was already IN the original.  The subtext of Montressor's haunted guilt is what makes the original story work.  It'd be like someone writing a short story based on LOTR in which the voice of the One Ring goes on at length about how seductive power is and how wearing it is like wrapping your fist around the world.

I also kept thinking it was over and then it'd start up again, explaining in even more detail what was already pretty clear from the second he started hearing bells following him.  When he walled himself in, when he fell asleep, when he woke with the thirst, and when he heard the bells again; all of them seemed like perfectly decent ending points.  The way it kept going started to feel a little tiresome.  Like, YES, we GET it already.  Combined with the fact that this retelling doesn't really add anything or highlight anything that wasn't already mostly the point of the original, well, it gave considerable "meh."

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Reply #19 on: November 08, 2009, 01:04:52 PM
The cask is not one of my fav. Poe stories. Even so, I really felt no need for a sequil. That said this felt true to form. It had all the elements and feeling of a classic piece. The reading certainly helped. Not my cup of tea story wise, but entertaining enough.

The outro was more exellent then usual.

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.


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Reply #20 on: November 15, 2009, 03:37:56 AM
The outro was fantastic.

A love letter to Halloween--almost enough to make me go teary-eyed remembering the sticky-saliva seal of a rubber mask and growing up watching that parade.

Alasdair is my favorite podcast host these days.  And I love my entertainment hosted.  From Elvira to Svengoolie, I always loved the concept of a host, the familiar face, the bookended story or movie.

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Reply #21 on: October 13, 2011, 06:59:25 PM
Cask is on PodCastle for convenient reference.

I also kept thinking it was over and then it'd start up again, explaining in even more detail what was already pretty clear from the second he started hearing bells following him.  When he walled himself in, when he fell asleep, when he woke with the thirst, and when he heard the bells again; all of them seemed like perfectly decent ending points.  The way it kept going started to feel a little tiresome.  Like, YES, we GET it already.

This part didn't bother me, as I accepted it as part of the style. To be frank, the slow pace of Poe is what makes him challenging to introduce to modern readers. Lovecraft suffers from much the same problem (yet I really enjoy Lovecraft but often find Poe tedious). I have found that I enjoy listening to Poe and Lovecraft significantly more than I do reading them. The language is so lush and evocative that it's poetry is something I can get behind.

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Reply #22 on: December 21, 2019, 02:14:04 PM
I wasn't sure what to think about this one.  I love The Cask of Amontillado, and I love most of Poe's work.  But I never really felt it needed a sequel.  For an unneeded sequel it was okay. 




These are pretty much my thoughts as well.


A couple of people mentioned that they think "Cask" contains a subtext about the narrator's guilty conscience, but I'm not sure that I agree. The narrator seems incredibly prideful to me and his tale seems to be less of a confession and more of a boast, imo.

P.S. Vincent Price did dramatic readings of 4 Poe tales on a tv special back in the 70s. It's great. You can watch him doing The Cask of Amontillado on youtube in two parts:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-XTmWag6wfw

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yi4GRpOS7NU