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Author Topic: Pseudopod 276: Our Drunken Tjeng  (Read 7485 times)
Bdoomed
Pseudopod Tiger
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« on: April 08, 2012, 03:53:11 PM »

Pseudopod 276: Our Drunken Tjeng

By Nicky Drayden.
This story originally saw publication on the Daily Science Fiction website in 2011 and can still read there at this link.

Nicky Drayden is a Systems Analyst who dabbles in prose when she’s not buried in code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. To see more of her work, click the link under her name, above.



Your reader this week is Laurice White. Click her name to visit her website or check her out at Voice123.

” With a fine bone knife I make my incision, cutting back the sticky membrane of Our Tjeng’s hull. I slip my hand inside and carefully widen the tear until it’s big enough for me to step through. Our Tjeng has blessed Kae and me with gills to breathe within his walls. The viscous liquid is clear and burns my eyes, tart and slick on my tongue.

He’s drunk as always, Our Tjeng, our fathership. And yet he leads our flock across the stars. Him and his bulging, sick liver — big as a hundred men, and it shouldn’t even be half that size. I swim towards Kae as she shaves tumor from flesh a slice at a time. Her firm muscles tense and flex beneath her hairless, pink skin. She cusses Our Tjeng, her words crisp her words warped slightly by the liquid.

I touch her shoulder. She startles.

“Your time is up,” I tell her.

We’re civil. There’s too much at stake not to be. The flock cannot afford to lose another fathership, and Our Tjeng needs us caretakers to keep him functioning.’”


“Our Drunken Tjeng” used the following sounds from Freesound to make the Fathership soundscape.

“earthscan1″ by irad

“deep pulse_02.L-Joined” by martian

“Ambient Darkness” by DJ Chronos

“Single Heartbeat HQ_BeatSmith” by Lunardrive

=http://www.freesound.org/people/zimm/sounds/32857/“heartbeat regular” by zimm



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 05:14:11 PM »

I am the King Under the Mountain (of diseased flesh), and this is the first post on this thread...

And it's a downer.

I'm sorry to say that I wasn't even able to finish this one. It was way over produced for me. The combination of heartbeat sounds and the weird high-pitched echo on the voices rendered the story unlistenable. It's a shame, because the story seemed really interesting... but I just couldn't handle it.

Ah, well.
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Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2012, 10:38:52 PM »

As with "Tippler's Bane", alternate mix should be available within 24 hours
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eytanz
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« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 10:58:49 PM »

Quote
Stories about a downward spiral into madness are mostly interesting to me if there's some emotional hook that makes me relate to them. But this one was - quite literally - so alien that it didn't affect me much at all.

This is interesting because this is essentially why I am not a big fan of sci-fi horror in general and why we don't run much of it (or, I don't buy much of it) - I find the further the setting from the human experience, the more of a disconnect between actual human emotion and thus the ability to generate fear.

In this case, though, that feeling kind of came all the way back around to the other side for me - I felt that the scenario was sooo alien, soooo extremely removed from human experience as to be interesting as a "weird tale" in that sense, and that the fact that one could apply various human-symbolic interpretations to it was thus made eerie and fascinating, one step removed as it were.  Like:

Quote
I dug the story. It was creepy and alien. The subordinate part of a symbiotic relationship is not something we usually get to see. One could almost take this as an allegory for cancer told from the perspective of the cancerous cells. I think that's reductive, but a viable interpretation.
from Fenrix

Quote
I agree, except I read it as an autoimmune disease. The narrator's job was to destroy harmful cells, and in the end she was destroying useful cells instead.
from Yaekmon

which was one thing I thought of.  Another was an environmental take - destroying the very thing that sustains you at a greater rate once it begins to malfunction, and you blame it for malfunctioning and become parasites upon its husk.  Another was a religious interpretation - our cultural destruction of God the Fathership after he stops operating per guidelines and "disappoints" us.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 07:24:06 PM by Sgarre1 » Logged
MemeMonger
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 10:12:47 AM »

I, too, gave up on listening to this one. The background heartbeat didn't bother me, but I couldn't handle the echo.

Exactly.
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lisavilisa
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 10:37:30 AM »

As with "Tippler's Bane", alternate mix should be available within 24 hours

Will it show up in the itunes feed?  The story might have worked if I was at home listening to a nice stereo, but when driving down an interstate with headphones it was too distracting and hard to follow.
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Fenrix
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I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.


« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2012, 11:43:15 AM »

I listened to this one with headphones while working in the yard this weekend. I enjoyed the production and thought it added to the presentation. However, like Tippler's bane, if I had been listening to this in my car I would have had problems with the vocal portion. I'm going to grab the alternate version as well, just in case.

I dug the story. It was creepy and alien. The subordinate part of a symbiotic relationship is not something we usually get to see. One could almost take this as an allegory for cancer told from the perspective of the cancerous cells. I think that's reductive, but a viable interpretation.
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2012, 06:34:21 PM »

Quote
Will it show up in the itunes feed? 

No idea.  As always, it is free to download on the story page.

http://pseudopod.org/2012/04/06/pseudopod-276-our-drunken-tjeng/
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Yaekmon
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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2012, 08:32:10 PM »

I dug the story. It was creepy and alien. The subordinate part of a symbiotic relationship is not something we usually get to see. One could almost take this as an allegory for cancer told from the perspective of the cancerous cells. I think that's reductive, but a viable interpretation.

I agree, except I read it as an autoimmune disease. The narrator's job was to destroy harmful cells, and in the end she was destroying useful cells instead.
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VeganScott
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2012, 06:58:02 AM »

I could not understand a word the reader was saying.  I wish this one would be reproduced.  The echo turned the entire podcast in to a 20 minute mumble.
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Fenrix
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I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.


« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2012, 07:46:28 AM »

I wish this one would be reproduced. 

Your wish has been granted: http://media.libsyn.com/media/pseudopod/Pseudo276a_OurDrunkenTjengAlternate.mp3

Be careful what you wish for.
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All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
Pirvonen
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« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2012, 08:41:41 AM »

I started listening on my normal system. Decided something was wrong, switched to another. On the third system I was, with considerable effort, able to make out individual words. Some processing power was left over to put words together into (partial) sentences. Paragrahps, story arcs? No way.

A very unpleasant listening experience. I did manage to listen through five, six minutes, but the concentration required to decrypt the words left me too tired to enjoy any nuance there might have been.

I am unable, therefore, to comment on any merits of the story.
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eytanz
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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 09:08:16 AM »

I wonder if in the future the fact that the story has a lot of effects and an alternate version is available could to be advertised in the intro, rather than have a large percentage of the listeners have a bad audio experience, then come to the forums to complain, and discover that there's an alternate after they've already had the negative experience. For that matter, what of all the listeners who don't read the forums or the blog? How will they know of the other option?

I don't begrudge Pseudopod's production team their decision to make a heavily produced episode - even though I do not enjoy listening to such episodes - but I think if they do so, they should assume that this will be a difficulty to a sizeable chunk of the listenership, and plan ahead as far as the communication goes.

Btw, I should point out that for those of us (like myself) who use itunes, if it's not in the feed, it's quite difficult to associate it with the podcast manually. So, having an alternate download that's not in the feed is rather annoying if I'm trying to keep my episodes organized.
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lisavilisa
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2012, 09:31:36 AM »

Btw, I should point out that for those of us (like myself) who use itunes, if it's not in the feed, it's quite difficult to associate it with the podcast manually. So, having an alternate download that's not in the feed is rather annoying if I'm trying to keep my episodes organized.

I would like to cast my vote for this as well.
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dragonsbreath
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« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2012, 12:57:34 PM »

A potentially good story, but over-produced. Had to stop listening after 5 minutes - my ears were hurting.

Try again without the sound effects.
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Pirvonen
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« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2012, 02:01:24 PM »

Try again without the sound effects.

I would not go quite that far. It is possible to use sound effects and voice processing rather a lot and still have a listenable end product. My heart aches in compassion to the producer who obviously put a lot of creative energy into this episode, only to have us complain about it. I like the idea that the producer had, it was just too strong for me to stand.

While I agree with the people who would like to have the alternate version in the feed, too, I would much prefer a producer who has thought of those of us who do not listen in a totally flat and silent studio environment.

Incidentally, I had no major problems with Tippler's Bane, unlike here.
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2012, 06:59:07 PM »

Quote
I wonder if in the future the fact that the story has a lot of effects and an alternate version is available could to be advertised in the intro, rather than have a large percentage of the listeners have a bad audio experience, then come to the forums to complain, and discover that there's an alternate after they've already had the negative experience. For that matter, what of all the listeners who don't read the forums or the blog? How will they know of the other option?

I don't begrudge Pseudopod's production team their decision to make a heavily produced episode - even though I do not enjoy listening to such episodes - but I think if they do so, they should assume that this will be a difficulty to a sizeable chunk of the listenership, and plan ahead as far as the communication goes.
from eytanz


Probably not - and here's why in ascending order:

THE GAME OF PSEUDOPOD!

1. despite the smooth and efficient image we project, Pseudopod is usually not (sometimes, though) pieced together in chronological order, due to the never-ending weekly schedule - Alasdair often records his intros in chunks and if he's far ahead of the curve, or we're behind the curve, his intros and outros are his reactions to "reading", not listening to the story (in this case, there was a very good chance the basic story audio wasn't even in when he recorded his intros).   But what of patches?  (Proceed to #2)

2. last minute patch recordings by Alasdair are difficult (not impossible) for the same reasons given above and the fact that Alasdair is way over in England.  Graeme could do such things at the last minute but the poor guy has enough on his plate without me asking him to do more (But why last minute? - see #3 and avoid the Molasses Swamp, proceeding directly to Gumdrop Forest).

3. not all sound productions are created equal. Some are conceived at purchase, some at reader assignment and occasionally, as is this case, some very close to the end - so I often don't know If the story will have sound production or not - plans could fall through or not come out as envisioned (don't know what the audio version of that word would be - clairaudienced?).  "Tjeng" went through 3 iterations - a deliberate alien reading request from Laurice, a fairly late in the game soundbed from me, and a last-minute vocal tweak from Graeme (requested by me and cleared by me - so blame me).  So honestly, we usually don't know with enough head time to pull this off in the intros.  (Community Chest!)

4. Complicating matters, the alternate mixes are NOT produced beforehand and are requested by me from Graeme if the listener demand seems to warrant it, the reasons being twofold - 1.  see answer 2 above, re: "plate" (really, Graeme works very hard), 2. surprising as this may seem, it is difficult to predict what people will not like.  For example:

"What Makes You Tick" - expected everyone to like it, everyone liked, one personal, negative email.
"The Line" - expected complaints, did not really manifest on forums, 2 negative personal emails about "unlistenability".
"Tippler's Bane" - stupidly, expected no problems, many complaints, rushed second version out.
"This Is Now" - figured the wind effects were safe but the clacking pool balls would annoy some, no negative reactions.
"Revelation of Cormorants" - worried that wave sounds would manifest as white noise to the average ear or car speaker, no major complaints although IIRC the forum had one minor comment and I received one personally
"The Drowner" - as this was the first full soundbed from beginning to end, and it moves through many tones, fully expected many complaints (but doing an alternate mix of a FOTB story would be even more work) - none came in that I specifically remember.

I believe this addresses your request above re: "assume" and "communication"

And finally... (Remove "Funnybone")

5. and this is kind of the crux of the matter - such an intro would ruin the surprise of the production (good or bad, your call) and is essentially redundant.  Honestly, how much difference would a 5 second warning from Alasdair or Graeme at the end of the intro - as opposed to just starting the episode and finding out it has production that doesn't work for you - make?  Would you actually turn it off right then and not listen to the first few minutes to see if it was that bone-grindingly awful?  There wouldn't be any mention of an alternate version yet because we haven't gotten a reaction to justify making one yet.  I don't imagine many people listen to the intros before starting out on a long-journey, only to be vexed in the middle of said journey by finding out the story has production - is it likely they would start checking intros for that reason if we put them in?

As for the questions posed about other listeners who don't read the forums or the blog and thus don't know about a potential alternate - well, a few thoughts come to mind.  Perhaps they will be curious and attempt to discover what "went wrong" and check the story page (technically, we have no way of contacting those people if there just happened to be some kind of accidental flaw in the download anyway, so in that sense it's a "problem" that's existed since day one, just not about audio production in particular, and which I don't believe any of the pods have worried too much about). Perhaps they will chalk it up to dumb luck and move on.  I guess we *could* put a note at the end of the next week's story outro, mentioning an alternate version of the previous week's story, but that runs into #1 and #2 again (although it wouldn't ruin any surprises by that point).  ("D5!" "you sank my battleship!")

Negative experiences are sometimes unavoidable - you and a number of people did not like this episode's production and for that I apologize (as I say below "sorry, this time we just got a little too adventurous"), but there'll be a new one next week, and another after that, and another.  And some of them will have audio production, but not very many because it's only applicable in some cases.  But they will occur occasionally, just like stories without production that don't happen to be to your taste.  Such is the game of LIFE ("Payday! A lawyer's salary, please!")

To address the secondary question from lisavilisa
Quote
Will it show up in the itunes feed?
and eytanz
Quote
Btw, I should point out that for those of us (like myself) who use itunes, if it's not in the feed, it's quite difficult to associate it with the podcast manually. So, having an alternate download that's not in the feed is rather annoying if I'm trying to keep my episodes organized.

Honestly, I don't know - I have no idea how the itunes feed accesses the Wordpress page, except that I toggle a few things for the itunes tagging.  I guess the best way to answer that is with a question - did you get the alternate version of "Tippler's Bane" automatically in your feed?  If not, then probably the answer is "no".  I have no idea if itunes (and other pod-catching devices) "check" the page once a week or once an hour, if it would "see" a second audio file on the same story page or pass it over as already downloaded (it does have a different file name, but that might not make any difference to it).

I have no idea how to ask this question without it sounding indelicate and making myself sound stupid so I'll just ask it out of sheer ignorance - is it substantially more complicated for itunes users than just going to the story page and right clicking the download link, saving to your desktop and then dragging the file into your itunes folder?  Because I could have done that 10 times in the time it's taken me to type this post.  
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 07:12:59 PM by Sgarre1 » Logged
Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2012, 07:00:26 PM »

Quote
Try again without the sound effects.
from dragonsbreath

ask and ye shall...

http://media.libsyn.com/media/pseudopod/Pseudo276a_OurDrunkenTjengAlternate.mp3
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2012, 07:06:26 PM »

Quote
While I agree with the people who would like to have the alternate version in the feed, too, I would much prefer a producer who has thought of those of us who do not listen in a totally flat and silent studio environment.
from Pirvonen

Actually, a correction to an (understandable) mistake and an observation on presumption.

Graeme is the sound producer but all blame for this can be put at my feet - I made the soundbed and he did the vocal effects but I cleared them, so the buck stops with me.

The presumption?  Believe it or not, our watchword at Pseudopod is always that the majority of listeners are listening in cars - it makes the most sense as a likely setting for podcast listening and I even mention it in our acquisition letter to big name authors.  It also limits the word count/time span on stories I buy.

Sorry, this time we just got a little too adventurous.  Think of it as an episode to test out the home stereo system!
« Last Edit: April 16, 2012, 04:20:34 PM by Sgarre1 » Logged
Sgarre1
Editor
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2012, 07:24:57 PM »

Quote
Stories about a downward spiral into madness are mostly interesting to me if there's some emotional hook that makes me relate to them. But this one was - quite literally - so alien that it didn't affect me much at all.

This is interesting because this is essentially why I am not a big fan of sci-fi horror in general and why we don't run much of it (or, I don't buy much of it) - I find the further the setting from the human experience, the more of a disconnect between actual human emotion and thus the ability to generate fear.

In this case, though, that feeling kind of came all the way back around to the other side for me - I felt that the scenario was sooo alien, soooo extremely removed from human experience as to be interesting as a "weird tale" in that sense, and that the fact that one could apply various human-symbolic interpretations to it was thus made eerie and fascinating, one step removed as it were.  Like:

Quote
I dug the story. It was creepy and alien. The subordinate part of a symbiotic relationship is not something we usually get to see. One could almost take this as an allegory for cancer told from the perspective of the cancerous cells. I think that's reductive, but a viable interpretation.
from Fenrix

Quote
I agree, except I read it as an autoimmune disease. The narrator's job was to destroy harmful cells, and in the end she was destroying useful cells instead.
from Yaekmon

which was one thing I thought of.  Another was an environmental take - destroying the very thing that sustains you at a greater rate once it begins to malfunction, and you blame it for malfunctioning and become parasites upon its husk.  Another was a religious interpretation - our cultural destruction of God the Fathership after he stops operating per guidelines and "disappoints" us.
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