Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: EP233: Union Dues - The Threnody of Johnny Toruko  (Read 29915 times)

Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2229
    • Journey Into... podcast
on: January 08, 2010, 05:04:57 PM
EP233: Union Dues - The Threnody of Johnny Toruko

By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by Stephen Eley.

I duck through the door behind her. The place is jammed with customers. “You have any money? I didn’t think to ask Miss Jennifer for any.”

TK answers, “don’t worry, just tell me what you want.”

“Large with extra sugar and cream.”

TK grins and focuses her attention on the line of people stretching from the entrance down to the counter. They all sidestep and she walks unimpeded front of the pack. “One large black, and one large with extra sugar and cream.”

The barrista, a girl of about 18, repeats the order in a flat monotone.

“And these are on the house. Everyone gets free coffee for the next two hours.”

“Free for everyone,” the clerk answers then puts our order together.

TK snickers and hands the coffee over.


Rated PG. Contains mature themes, violence, and some profanity. You know. Teenage stuff.

Referenced Sites:
Official Union Dues Web Site
Union Dues on Twitter
Clonepod - Previous Team Shikaragaki stories


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 05:14:04 PM by Swamp »

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


Zorag

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 160
  • Well, kiss my...
    • Beef Beer And Poker
Reply #1 on: January 08, 2010, 06:23:56 PM
Haven't listened yet, but....


YAY!

Come say hi over at the Beef Beer And Poker forum.


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #2 on: January 08, 2010, 07:48:32 PM
Is this the last "Team Shikaragaki" story?  Glad to have this one read by an adult*; looking forward to it.

* Steve is an adult, right? :-\

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Zorag

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 160
  • Well, kiss my...
    • Beef Beer And Poker
Reply #3 on: January 08, 2010, 11:18:44 PM
29:50, you missed an edit.

I forgot just how much I enjoy Steve as a reader.  He does a fantastic job of differentiating between characters.

The story itself was good, but would have been better had I reviewed the storyline first.  I'll admit, it wasn't my slice of (pizza) pie.  The final scene did a great job of pulling it together.

YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   TELEVISION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Come say hi over at the Beef Beer And Poker forum.


Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2229
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #4 on: January 08, 2010, 11:54:11 PM
I have created a thread about the Union Dues television news here, and have also transcribed Steve's outro comments.  Feel free to go over there and comment on the news.

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


Kylinn

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #5 on: January 09, 2010, 01:08:44 AM
I just joined this forum to say WHHHHHOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOO to a new Union Dues story. Depressing superhero stories -- two great tastes that taste great together! YAY!!!   ;D  ;D  ;D ;D  ;D



Subgenre

  • Guest
Reply #6 on: January 09, 2010, 05:54:16 AM
Registered just now, in order to contribute my two cents as to the question posed about how a potential Union Dues series might avoid the problems of poorly received costumed hero shows and critically unspectacular "people with superpower" dramas like Heroes.

Two of the big problems are the powers (FX budget limitations) and the costumes.

Making the show more...action-y, throwing a little "24" in there, would help on both fronts. It's cheaper to show strong guys punching people around and super-agile people doing the kung fu they do so well than it is to show them throwing cars and climbing tall buildings, presumably. Plus, with punches to throw and practical utilitarian gear to fiddle with they'll seem more like the powered operatives they are, even though their armored uniforms are personalized in a garish style designed by PR out to make people think that these are comicbook characters when they are really highly trained paramilitary operatives.

Other than that, for types of storylines and stuff, I'd maybe describe the Union Dues as being to superheroes what "The Shield" is to cop shows, with the occasional moment of sentimentality in-between grit and paranoia.

Also little bits showing the world as being different than ours: the given city's Pyramid in the background, Innercity private cops on patrol, combat robots, and so on might help.


Hope some of that is useful.





Kaa

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 618
  • Trusst in me, jusst in me.
    • WriteWright
Reply #7 on: January 09, 2010, 07:10:05 PM
When I saw "Union Dues" in the description, I emitted a very undignified "squee" for a man of my size.

And I am not let down. I loved it, as I have loved every other Union Dues story that has been presented.

And as for the other news: SQUEEEEEEE! (but dignified)

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else


Doug

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #8 on: January 09, 2010, 09:55:50 PM
Registered just now, in order to contribute my two cents as to the question posed about how a potential Union Dues series might avoid the problems of poorly received costumed hero shows and critically unspectacular "people with superpower" dramas like Heroes.

Two of the big problems are the powers (FX budget limitations) and the costumes.

Making the show more...action-y, throwing a little "24" in there, would help on both fronts. It's cheaper to show strong guys punching people around and super-agile people doing the kung fu they do so well than it is to show them throwing cars and climbing tall buildings, presumably. Plus, with punches to throw and practical utilitarian gear to fiddle with they'll seem more like the powered operatives they are, even though their armored uniforms are personalized in a garish style designed by PR out to make people think that these are comicbook characters when they are really highly trained paramilitary operatives.

Other than that, for types of storylines and stuff, I'd maybe describe the Union Dues as being to superheroes what "The Shield" is to cop shows, with the occasional moment of sentimentality in-between grit and paranoia.

Also little bits showing the world as being different than ours: the given city's Pyramid in the background, Innercity private cops on patrol, combat robots, and so on might help.


Hope some of that is useful.


Comments like these are exactly what we are seeking, especially the "The Shield" comment.  Striking the perfect balance between action and character drama is a sizable challenge.   We're discussing some exciting variations on Mayhem, Inc (OFF WHITE LIES) which I think will satisfy.

It was an excellent podcast.



shiatis

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #9 on: January 09, 2010, 11:22:54 PM
First off, SO FRAKKIN COOL! I will do everything in my power to evangelize Union Dues and you all should too.

The thing I loved from the first Union Dues story I heard was that it was a story about people, many of whom find themselves stuck in a not-so-great situation. It's about their daily doings/conflicts/etc., and "oh yeah, they're also superheroes." I think that's what resonated so much with Watchmen was it was mostly a story about people, albeit people who occasionally put on costumes and kicked some ass.

For me, this is what would make a TV show interesting. I could easily see an episode that opens with the end of a climactic battle, so we see that they do actually do that kind of work. The rest of the episode has nothing to do with them fighting villains or saving the world. It has to do with the machinations of the leaders of the Union, the internal politics of the Pyramids, the ridiculous marketing meetings, the PR of smoothing things over with the "normal" authorities, and the relationships, good and bad, between the Union members. That's what made shows like The Shield, Hill Street Blues, The Sopranos, and ER such successes. They were all ultimately shows about people who did things, not the things that people did.

  joe



Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2229
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #10 on: January 09, 2010, 11:42:40 PM
As I feared may happen, this thread is filling up with talk about the television show and not the story of Johnny Toruko.  Trust me, I completely understand the excitement, and some have regisitered just to comment, which is cool, but I want to once again waive my hands to direct traffic, and keep this road clear for this specific Union Dues story.  The Union Dues television discussion thread is over here.  Thanks.

(It feels good to be moderating in a story thread for a positive reason  :) )

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2229
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #11 on: January 09, 2010, 11:54:34 PM
Now to take my own advice.

I really enjoyed this story.  It really made me want to go back and relisten to the rest of Team Shikaragaki stories on Clonepod.  I remember them in general, but not all of the details.  As for Johnny, I thought it was a very strong plot for him.  I felt the power of his emotions with his fight with TK as he uncontrollably charged up, and then his panic at the devastating consequences.  The ending interaction with Tam was also filled with the perfect application of tension.  Very good writing, especially from a young adult perspective.

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


SFEley

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1408
    • Escape Artists, Inc.
Reply #12 on: January 10, 2010, 02:29:42 AM
29:50, you missed an edit.

Good catch!  Thank you, Zorag.  I've uploaded a fixed version.  Hopefully it won't trigger redownloads for everyone who already has it (it's not worth that) but anyone getting it fresh will have the clean copy.  Again, thanks to you.

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


Subgenre

  • Guest
Reply #13 on: January 10, 2010, 03:15:08 AM
Well, I guess I owe a comment as to the specific story.

I liked how there was a good balance between teenage melodrama and believable behavior in the characters. It seemed more like the kind of melodrama that could actually happen rather than a forced convention in the story.




Yargling

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
Reply #14 on: January 10, 2010, 06:56:49 PM
Great story, and I have to say, I'm glad we've had a union dues story with an ending that wasn't so pitch black it makes a black hole look sunny. Also, excellent news about the Union Dues series - hopefully the hollywood folks won't be so over cautious they'll ignore it. Jeff deserves to have this be made a success!



KenK

  • Guest
Reply #15 on: January 10, 2010, 11:10:37 PM
I've never been a big fan of the UD series. Until now.  This story was very well written and produced and I will now have to revisit that opinion. Great reading too Steve.  ;)



Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4880
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Reply #16 on: January 11, 2010, 12:39:29 AM
I've never been a big fan of the UD series. Until now.  This story was very well written and produced and I will now have to revisit that opinion. Great reading too Steve.  ;)

Heh.  I've always quite liked the Union Dues stories, except for this one.  I felt like it was kind of bland, and a little heavy on the monologues about love.  The interaction between Johnny and TK was enjoyable, but once the self-created crisis was over, it started to drag for me.

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #17 on: January 11, 2010, 03:10:02 PM
29:50, you missed an edit.

Good catch!  Thank you, Zorag.  I've uploaded a fixed version.  Hopefully it won't trigger redownloads for everyone who already has it (it's not worth that) but anyone getting it fresh will have the clean copy.  Again, thanks to you.

So how come I've deleted and re-downloaded it twice now, and it still has the error?  ???

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


KenK

  • Guest
Reply #18 on: January 11, 2010, 04:35:04 PM
@ scattercat
Stories about super heroes have left me kinda cold since late adolescence. I liked the writing and the drama more than the subject matter itself in this particular story. I can grok the notion of "super-heroes", mutants, extraordinary people or whatever form the uber-menschs take okay, but the costumes and all that stuff, not so much. It reminds of more of kitschy pro-wrestlers with their deliberate self-parody than it does sci-fi which IMHO usually aspires to more. This all started with the Superman, Batman, and Shazaam characters from the 1930s DC comics and now everyone kinda feels that they have to have a costume, a secret identity, underground lair and etcetera. It would be refreshing to find some characters that don't. But just like the police or the armed forces you have to have some kind of unique identifier to set you apart from the hoi polloi as you go about your heroic exploits.

I wish this author well with his UD enterprise though.  :)
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 05:06:35 PM by KenK »



Mainframe

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #19 on: January 11, 2010, 05:32:49 PM
A Union Dues TV show would be awesome!  I have been reading comics (primarily superhero) for over 40 years.  The Union Dues series contain some of my favorite stories.

Heroes lost it's way when they thought realism means complexity and gray.  Often times it does, but in jerking each character between heroic, villain, and just wanting to be left alone no character seems to have their own core.

With Union Dues, the story shifts to the right character that has the core to fit that story.  No one has to flip-flop at least once a season.  There doesn't have to be any long arcs, just potent vignettes into what is common to us all - painted on the canvas of extra-ordinary abilities.

If the show is made, I'm sure there will be changes - but if they keep even a sliver of what Jeffery puts into the universe, then it has the potential to be the very best new series on TV in quite a long time *period*.



Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
Reply #20 on: January 11, 2010, 06:20:28 PM
Great story. One of my favorite 'Union Dues' tales so far. This is the first Team Shikaragaki story I've heard, but I enjoyed it. (although I do feel that I've missed out on some of the background events...).



jrderego

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 687
  • Writer of Union Dues stories (among others)
    • J. R. DeRego - Writer
Reply #21 on: January 11, 2010, 06:24:03 PM
Should I write a little synopsis of the previous stories for the forum or let you folks check out the clonepod releases? 

"Happiness consists of getting enough sleep." Robert A. Heinlein
Also, please buy my book - Escape Clause: A Union Dues Novel
http://www.encpress.com/EC.html


Zorag

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 160
  • Well, kiss my...
    • Beef Beer And Poker
Reply #22 on: January 11, 2010, 06:26:31 PM
Should I write a little synopsis of the previous stories for the forum or let you folks check out the clonepod releases? 

I'd do both.  I'm not trying to bring up a dead subject here, but some of the reading over at Clonepod was, um, inexperienced.  Maybe you could post the text somewhere?

Come say hi over at the Beef Beer And Poker forum.


Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2229
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #23 on: January 11, 2010, 06:42:10 PM
Should I write a little synopsis of the previous stories for the forum or let you folks check out the clonepod releases? 

I'd do both.  I'm not trying to bring up a dead subject here, but some of the reading over at Clonepod was, um, inexperienced.  Maybe you could post the text somewhere?

I think a breif synopsis of the previous UD:TS stories would be nice.  However, I also recommend people who haven't heard the stories (no, not you StePH :) ) going over and listening to the readings on Clonepod.  Inexperience aside, there was something kind of cool about hearing actual teenagers read these stories from a teenage POV.  But I did enjoy Steve's reading of this one.

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


jrderego

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 687
  • Writer of Union Dues stories (among others)
    • J. R. DeRego - Writer
Reply #24 on: January 11, 2010, 07:02:00 PM
Should I write a little synopsis of the previous stories for the forum or let you folks check out the clonepod releases? 

I'd do both.  I'm not trying to bring up a dead subject here, but some of the reading over at Clonepod was, um, inexperienced.  Maybe you could post the text somewhere?

I think a breif synopsis of the previous UD:TS stories would be nice.  However, I also recommend people who haven't heard the stories (no, not you StePH :) ) going over and listening to the readings on Clonepod.  Inexperience aside, there was something kind of cool about hearing actual teenagers read these stories from a teenage POV.  But I did enjoy Steve's reading of this one.

I'll drop a very brief synopsis for each one as I too would rather have the stories heard. Irrespective of the comments here, I was pleased with the way Clonepod handled the material and they had the voices I heard when I was writing them.

Synopsis follows -

The Ballad of Kitty Momoiro:
POV Kitty - the 14 YO Super Agile.
Guest stars - None.
Plot - Discovered by her runaway younger sister at a mall appearance, Kitty is forced to deal with a family issue from the pre-Union days.
What we learn - we learn about the team structure, who each character is, and that Team Shikaragaki is allowed to interact with the normals out of costume. We also learn how Team Shikaragaki differs from the regular Union in comic and TV presentation. Team Shikaragaki travels the US in a modified bus and has no home Pyramid.

The Saga of Tam Suji:
POV Tam - The 15 YO Super Strong.
Guest stars - El Supremo
Plot - following the events in the Kitty story, Team Shikaragaki is scheduled to perform at the Missouri State Fair. Tam, who due to his size isn't allowed to leave the bus, is coaxed out by Kitty. Some of the kids have prepaid cell phones and use them to text one another behind Miss Jennifer's back. They hatch a plan to distract Miss Jennifer so Tam can walk around the fair. However, a wrestling challenge with El Supremo, a gorilla suit and the promise of a kiss from Kitty draws Tam out of his natural shyness. A wayward firework draws out his natural heroism.
What we learn - Tam is the son of two prominent lawyers who sued The Union to prevent his recruitment, but lost every case all the way up to the US Supreme Court. In the process they grew distant from Tam.

The Opus of Taizen Kiiro:
POV TK - The 16 YO Mind Reader
Guest stars - El Supremo/Megaton (both non speaking)
Plot - Tam's parents win another court appearance in front of the US Supreme Court drawing both Tam and Miss Jennifer away and putting TK in charge of driving Johnny and Kitty from Texas to Los Angeles. TK begins receiving violent and tortured messages from someone and it's beginning to drive her crazy. They cross paths with The Solomon Brothers Circus on the way, and always seem to be behind them by a town or two. The trio breaks Miss Jennifer's instructions after news breaks that TK's mother, aging scream queen Daphne Sanders dies of a drug overdose. They stay in one town long enough to visit the traveling circus. In the midst of the performance the star male elephant, Trunko, goes on a rampage.
What we learn - TK's mom sold her out to the Union. TK used to be Spoonbender until she blew a second mission in Chicago. She was the first person that Miss Jennifer recruited to Team Shikaragaki. Mind readers can store other people's emotions and memories but not for all that long before they start to cause problems. We also learn a little about how mind readers are trained.

Hope this whets your appetites for the Clonepod tales. You really should listen to them.

Also, Team Shikaragaki made their first real appearance in "Freedom with a Small f" when TK and Miss Jennifer rescued Crimson Nightshade from the hospital...
« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 07:07:29 PM by jrderego »

"Happiness consists of getting enough sleep." Robert A. Heinlein
Also, please buy my book - Escape Clause: A Union Dues Novel
http://www.encpress.com/EC.html