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Author Topic: PC120: Some Zombie Contingency Plans  (Read 8878 times)
Heradel
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« on: August 31, 2010, 09:14:44 AM »

PodCastle 120: Some Zombie Contingency Plans

by Kelly Link

Read by Norm Sherman (of The Drabblecast)

Originally published in Magic for Beginners. Read the text here. (Reprinted from The Living Dead)

This is a story about being lost in the woods.

This guy Soap is at a party out in the suburbs. The thing you need to know about Soap is that he keeps a small framed oil painting in the trunk of his car. The painting is about the size of a paperback novel. Wherever Soap goes, this oil painting goes with him. But he leaves the painting in the trunk of his car, because you don’t walk around a party carrying a painting. People will think you’re weird.

Rated R: Contains Language, Thematic Elements

Special Closing Music: "Just Misunderstood" by Norm Sherman

Note: Not these Zombie Contingency Plans.

ETA - EDITORS' NOTE: For some reason yet to be determined, you may need to download the story directly from our site. We're experiencing some kind of issue with iTunes and other programs, resulting in an incomplete download (only Norm's song). The entire download should be 62 minutes in length. We apologize and are trying to remedy it. Thanks for your patience!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2010, 08:08:36 PM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 10:30:06 AM »

Added this to Heradel's post, but just to say thanks to Norm Sherman for allowing us to run his song "Just Misunderstood!" Hope you all enjoy it!
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Swamp
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 03:35:36 PM »

Let me be the first to say that this was a really cool story.  The descriptions of the party and partiers seemed authentic.  I've been to parties like that, minus the ex-cons (I think).  You could tell Soap was an unreliable narrator, but even more so than usual.  The author did a great job of letting us get into his thoughts (zombies, his sister, prison, icebergs), but then also giving the feeling that there was more going on with Soap that met the eye.  Details about the kitchen; why did he look under the bed; so he noticed a picture of the girl with her parents; etc.

Perfect choice in Norm for reading this story!  Great job!
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2010, 04:40:12 PM »

Oh yeah, and it's a good thing Marvel Comics doesn't own the rights to the word Zombie anymore, or you would owe them a lot of money.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 04:44:44 PM by Swamp » Logged

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Clutron
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2010, 04:43:05 PM »

All I can download is Norm's song...Although Just Mizunderstood totally rules, I was hoping to hear the story as well....Wonder what's up?  Problem with my ITunes?  Or maybe a problem with the feed?
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Swamp
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2010, 04:46:41 PM »

All I can download is Norm's song...Although Just Mizunderstood totally rules, I was hoping to hear the story as well....Wonder what's up?  Problem with my ITunes?  Or maybe a problem with the feed?

Hmm... I received the whole episode in my feed (not iTunes).
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2010, 04:53:50 PM »

All I can download is Norm's song...Although Just Mizunderstood totally rules, I was hoping to hear the story as well....Wonder what's up?  Problem with my ITunes?  Or maybe a problem with the feed?

That's odd...thanks for saying something! Anyone else having issues with this?

I downloaded it from iTunes late last night, but I'll see if we can't get someone else to take a look at it.
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Clutron
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2010, 04:57:00 PM »

I just tried to download directly from the site, and only got 7 seconds...Maybe something wrong with ITunes.exe on my PC...I'll keep trying.


UPDATE::  I got it...I had to download directly from the Podcastle page...Not sure what my problem was, but it could just be me...
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 05:00:25 PM by Clutron » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2010, 06:38:43 PM »

Okay - thanks for the update, and glad you got it.

We're still looking into to see if there's something on our end.
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2010, 08:33:58 PM »

I don't know if I actually believe that supposed "unknown fact", especially after the blogger's later assertion that: "The Comics Code Authority forbade the use of werewolves in comics", which would have made WEREWOLF BY NIGHT a pretty tough character to publish in the 70s (nevermind Man-Wolf or DC's Warren Griffith of THE CREATURE COMMANDOS).  In fact, it sounds like the blogger may be getting his facts confused - IIRC, the CCA had no problem with Werewolves, per se, but the word "zombie" was strictly verboten (a leftover from all those rotting revenants in EC comics being brought before Congress), which led to the substitution of the tongue twisting "zuvembie" for "zombie".  The character pictured, Simon Garth, The Zombie, was part of Marvel's Horror MAGAZINE line, which was excepted from the CCA.  Maybe they tried to (or even did) copywright "The Zombie" as a name for that time period (in fact, I'd be surprised if they didn't, considering how they have to perennially bring back characters like "Razorback" or "Goody Two-Shoes" or endanger losing the copywright), but i'd be very surprised if they owned the rights to the word "zombie".

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« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 08:37:46 PM by Sgarre1 » Logged
Swamp
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« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2010, 10:21:36 PM »

I don't know if I actually believe that supposed "unknown fact", especially after the blogger's later assertion that: "The Comics Code Authority forbade the use of werewolves in comics", which would have made WEREWOLF BY NIGHT a pretty tough character to publish in the 70s (nevermind Man-Wolf or DC's Warren Griffith of THE CREATURE COMMANDOS).  In fact, it sounds like the blogger may be getting his facts confused - IIRC, the CCA had no problem with Werewolves, per se, but the word "zombie" was strictly verboten (a leftover from all those rotting revenants in EC comics being brought before Congress), which led to the substitution of the tongue twisting "zuvembie" for "zombie".  The character pictured, Simon Garth, The Zombie, was part of Marvel's Horror MAGAZINE line, which was excepted from the CCA.  Maybe they tried to (or even did) copywright "The Zombie" as a name for that time period (in fact, I'd be surprised if they didn't, considering how they have to perennially bring back characters like "Razorback" or "Goody Two-Shoes" or endanger losing the copywright), but i'd be very surprised if they owned the rights to the word "zombie".

But it was on a blog; it HAS to be true.  Wink

Re: this story.  I've been trying to figure out what the zombies represented for Soap, and the only thing I could come up with is justification for his actions.  I'm also very worried about poor Leo.  What will become of him now?
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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2010, 01:45:56 AM »

All I can download is Norm's song...Although Just Mizunderstood totally rules, I was hoping to hear the story as well....Wonder what's up?  Problem with my ITunes?  Or maybe a problem with the feed?

Same here, just got the song when I synced last night.

Update:

Just tried downloading from
ITunes on the iPhone , the file size is 4.2 megabytes .
« Last Edit: September 01, 2010, 04:52:36 AM by Vanamonde » Logged
ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2010, 10:08:44 AM »

Ma...

Uh...

Ze...

Ur...

Ok, I give up. I didn't understand this story at all. I thought I did, but then I didn't. It's this whole thing. In the end, I didn't really understand anything about Soap's actions or motivations. The story was going very well - Soap is disaffected, lonely, eccentric, the story is about alienation, confusion, and loneliness - and then suddenly takes a hard left when we learn that Soap was in prison for two years, not six months, and likes to kidnap small children and rob houses while talking about zombies. I feel like the fact that the only explanation I can fall back on is "maybe he's just a crazy person?" kind of weakens the story. I find sheer, random craziness, as a motivator, kind of lame.

That said, there were things about this story that I really dug. I like stories about loneliness, isolation, and alienation. I enjoyed the sense of modern, near magical absurdity, especially in the story about the painting. And, although I like to complain about their shortcomings, I really do like stories in the postmodern time-leapy style that this story used so well. In Some Zombie Contingency Plans, I particularly liked how Soap's sense of self was so empty that he seamlessly adopted the identity of anyone who named him, up to and including in the context of the narrator's voice. He's Soap, he's Will, he's Arthur, he's Wolverine. He's whatever you want him to be - just don't ask him to be himself.

Or to not steal your stuff and kidnap your little brother.

Which brings me back to the part of the story I didn't like.

So, I suppose I found this story kind of like an entire cake. I enjoyed each bite, but at the end I was left looking at the place where the story used to be, rubbing my aching belly and wondering "what the hell did I just eat?"

As you can see, I'm still thinking in the choppy, time-jumpy, clever-asides-including style of the story. Try not to imagine my post in Norm Sherman's voice.

* * *

Finally, I do have a zombie contingency plan: first raid the science lab store room and cafeteria for supplies, then take the kids (I teach) and the shovels and picks I have for the gardening elective (for weapons and tools), and head for the Bay Bridge. Treasure Island is likely to be a much more defensible position than anywhere else in the Bay Area, as it's an island with only two, easily-watched approaches (the Bay Bridge). If we can catch a rescue boat from there to Alcatraz, more's the better. We'd have to work fast, though, since my school is across the street from a graveyard.
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« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2010, 10:30:29 AM »

My downloaded file is only 4:34 in duration. This isn't a Podcastle Miniature, right?

PS: I'm iTunes-free; I use MediaMonkey and download directly from Podcastle's RSS feed.
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2010, 11:08:37 AM »

EDITORS' NOTE: For some reason yet to be determined, you may need to download the story directly from our site. We're experiencing some kind of issue with iTunes and other programs, resulting in an incomplete download (only Norm's song). The entire download should be 62 minutes in length. We apologize and are trying to remedy it. Thanks for your patience!

In short, I don't know what the issue is. The story's there, but it's not downloading properly using other programs/feeds. I'll keep you all updated when I learn more...
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Ocicat
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« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2010, 11:31:09 AM »

Worked fine on iTunes for me. 

And add me to those who enjoyed the story, but don't really understand it after the events and revelations of the last five minutes.  I think it really deserves another listen through with the ending in mind, looking for clues and themes.

I always find it interesting seems set in the real world, but is presented in a spec-fic market.  Here, the fantasy elements of zombies are mentioned often, and because of where the story is being published you can't write off that they're actually going to show up.  But then again you can't be sure they are.  It's kind of delicious.  Of course the picture does qualify as a fantasy element in any case.
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2010, 11:54:24 AM »

Worked fine on iTunes for me.

Worked perfectly for me.
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« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2010, 12:49:25 PM »

Soap reminds me of that woman in Britain who was caught on camera putting a cat in the garbage bin.  She couldn't explain why she did it afterward.  She petted the cat for a few seconds, glanced around, then picked it up and put it in the garbage and walked away.  I think Electric Paladin's analysis  of Soap as a quintessential chimera is pretty spot-on; he doesn't have goals, he just has fears, and those inchoate fears drive him forward and on and on and even he is never certain why he does what he does.  He just keeps moving ahead, doing one thing after another, taking action without thinking, life in mu-shin but without the hope of enlightenment.  The zombies are mortality, inevitability, pressures, his own bad decisions; it doesn't really matter as long as he keeps avoiding them.  When you spend your life running away, you can't really complain if you end up in a place you didn't really want to go.

I actually bought "Magic for Beginners" based on a quick flip-through and enjoyed it a fair deal, though I found that an entire book of this style of story is a bit much.  Some of the stories go on a weeeeeensy teensy bit too long.  Still, she's definitely got the knack for imbuing ordinary events and items with unspoken significance.  My favorite out of that book was "The Faery Handbag," but this was my second-favorite.
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« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2010, 01:42:05 PM »

The zombies are mortality, inevitability, pressures, his own bad decisions; it doesn't really matter as long as he keeps avoiding them.  When you spend your life running away, you can't really complain if you end up in a place you didn't really want to go.

Alternately, Soap is the zombie. Empty, hollow, hopeless - the living dead. It doesn't matter what you do with him, how you talk to him or try to connect to him, because he is the bad things that happens to everyone, even the good, even the innocent.
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« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2010, 02:19:57 PM »

The zombies are mortality, inevitability, pressures, his own bad decisions; it doesn't really matter as long as he keeps avoiding them.  When you spend your life running away, you can't really complain if you end up in a place you didn't really want to go.

Alternately, Soap is the zombie. Empty, hollow, hopeless - the living dead. It doesn't matter what you do with him, how you talk to him or try to connect to him, because he is the bad things that happens to everyone, even the good, even the innocent.

One way or another, the zombies definitely follow after Soap.
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