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Author Topic: PC239: Catching the Spirit  (Read 4626 times)
Talia
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« on: December 18, 2012, 04:21:18 PM »

PodCastle 239: Catching the Spirit

by Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt

Read by Big Anklevich, of the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine

A PodCastle Original!

Pretty much nobody knows how, exactly, the Christmas Spirit started to spread. One theory goes that a child in Meridian Mississippi was bitten by an infected reindeer, and then spread the plague at her school Christmas pageant, where it jumped to a couple of long-haul truckers who hit the interstate on Boxing Day and took the condition nationwide. One epidemiologist is convinced it’s a prion disease, like Mad Cow, spread through tainted Christmas hams. I saw a neurologist on TV who believes it’s a brain disorder brought on by heavy metal poisoning, spread through tainted high-fructose corn syrup in the candy cane supply, and I met a man in a bar who drunkenly explained that it’s caused by an insidious parasite that lives in evergreen trees. And of course we’ve all heard the right-wing pundits screaming their conviction that the Christmas Spirit is a biological weapon invented by radical Kenyan socialists to force redistribution of wealth.

They’re all wrong. I know the truth about the Christmas Spirit, and how it started to spread. In a way, I’m the reason for the season.


Rated R. Contains some adult themes, and drug use.


Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 12:21:27 AM by Talia » Logged
Listener
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2012, 09:32:11 AM »

I really enjoyed this story up until the end. I felt that (SPOILER ALERT) Santa was turned back to his old ways too easily. The best mini-story was that of the kid's birthday party -- that's almost a flash story in itself. I wonder if that's how kids who are friends with private school kids really feel.
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RestlessWonderer
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2012, 02:19:18 PM »

I love a good Christmas story!  The idea of infecting those around us with a passion to give is a wonderful thing.

I am a little saddened by the idea that "true" giving only goes one direction (you have to find someone worse off then you before you can give).  A bit pretentious methinks.   
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danooli
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2012, 05:28:03 PM »

I really enjoyed this story up until the end. I felt that (SPOILER ALERT) Santa was turned back to his old ways too easily. The best mini-story was that of the kid's birthday party -- that's almost a flash story in itself. I wonder if that's how kids who are friends with private school kids really feel.

I agree about the kids party, that was a whole lot of fun! However, I'm going to prefer to believe that the Santa I know and love wouldn't need much prompting to revert back to his jolly ole' Ho Ho Ho-ing ways if he ever were to let go of his Christmas spirit.  I'm perfectly content that all it would take is a few kids being charitable, and even polite.  To see evidence of good parenting.  (But, the Santa I know and love is a really serious kick ass dude.)

So, I liked this one.  A whole bunch.  And, now I'm off to wrap some gifts I'm really excited to be giving this year...

(Side note: I wonder if the marketing gods at Escape Artists would create a CD of the Shaw/Pratt Christmas stories and sell them?  They would make a super gift/stocking stuffer and I would buy a bunch. I bet others would too.)
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Lianne
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2012, 07:49:19 PM »

I listened to this on the way home from my department Christmas lunch out, and I loved it. And unlike Listener, I did like that Santa found his Christmas Spirit again at the end. I liked the heartwarming ending.

And I loved the bit at the party where the boss showed up. It was (no doubt deliberately) like something out of a zombie story. The truth of what was happening made me laugh. A fantastic story, with a slightly twisted point of view.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2012, 07:08:40 AM »

Just a bit schmaltzy, but so is Christmas anyhow.  I enjoyed it.

This year as we've finally moved into a house we're not all cramped into and I really couldn't think of another thing I wanted so much as having family close.  I've also racked my brain but couldn't come up with a gift for my wife.  So, instead of a thing, I'll be donating back to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in her name.  Last year at this time, we'd all been at the Give Kids the World Village in Florida for my daughter, courtesy of MAW.  They are a fantastic organization, giving our family memories that will last forever. 

Nothing pleases my wife more than seeing others open her gifts, and she's managed to infect our 6 year old son with the spirit as well.

Happy holidays all!  Hug 'em if you got 'em!



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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2012, 09:02:21 AM »

Personally, I think the problem has more to do with giving rather than taking...but I think this story best outlines what it is I mean.  People wanted so much to give everything to anyone to the point they're driving themselves insane, kind of like how the stores and roads turn insane between black Friday and Xmas eve.  But that's the end of that rant.

All in all, I found this story to be an interesting commentary on the times.  I very much enjoyed it, but only slightly.  The " big reveal" at the end was not all that big when you think about it.  Not one of my favorites buy enjoyable still.
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2012, 09:45:24 AM »

Yay!  A continued Christmas tradition!  I enjoyed this one.  In the end it had a fairly typical Christmas kind of message but the way that it got there was very entertaining, right down to the core concept of a contagious giving disease.  My first thought upon hearing about that was that it could fit very well into most other Christmas stories, like It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, so on.


I very much enjoyed it, but only slightly. 

Haha, I like this sentence even though I have no idea of your degree of liking after reading it.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2012, 10:37:02 AM »

The " big reveal" at the end was not all that big when you think about it. 

Or even when you don't think about it
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2012, 03:30:05 PM »

The " big reveal" at the end was not all that big when you think about it. 

Or even when you don't think about it

What was the reveal that you're referring to?  I didn't really see it as a "reveal" kind of story--I didn't think it was withholding anything for a reveal.
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Lionman
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2012, 11:31:28 PM »

I generally liked this story, I thought it was an interesting twist on things, though quite thinly veiled at hiding who the speaker is.

However, I do have to say I liked this line most: Always be so generous that people can't tell whether you've caught the Christmas spirit or not.

We could all use more generosity in our lives.
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2012, 02:21:26 PM »

I love PrattCastle Christmas stories. Smiley (PrattShawCastle?)

Like Lionman, the line about being so generous that people can't tell if you're infected was my favorite of the whole story. Christmas is not about seeing who can give the most showy presents or spending lots of money, and I thought this was a really creative way of reminding us yet again. Smiley


I wonder if that's how kids who are friends with private school kids really feel.

As the wife of a former poor kid in a private school.... yes. At least, he did, so there's an n of 1. Tongue
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2012, 02:09:42 PM »

At first I was like:

Quote from: Max's brain
Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt? Hells yeah!

But then the story came on and.... well, too preachy and heavy-handed.
This did not sound to me like a nice holiday spirit story with maybe a little moral to the story. This sounded like somebody with an agenda.
"Oh! people are awful! People have commercialized Christmas! Even when I force them to give they treat it as a disease, something to fear. Woe is me! But wait! The little boy and his sister! They have rekindled my faith in humanity!"
And they say that Humanity's heart grew two sizes that day.

Blech.
The mini stories were nice. I liked those. But the whole thing was too... preachy.

I do not celebrate Christmas, and I don't even like the Christmas season very much.
Not because of Black Friday and the crass commercialization of a capitalistic society's take on pagan rituals.
Because of the atmosphere. The holiday spirit.
Why can you smile at me and wish me a happy holidays today, but last week you cut me off at the corner? How come now when that little kid got on the bus and didn't have enough for the fare people helped out, but next week they'd be all upset that he's delaying them?
If you can be nice and generous for two weeks, why the hell can't you be a civil human being the rest of the year?
I hate hypocrisy and double-standards, and the holiday season reeks of it.
I try to be nice and civil and helpful all the time. I don't need to step it up for the holidays. I don't need to make an extra special effort to "get into the spirit." The one line that I remember for from Home Alone is when Kevin's mom gets picked up by the Polka Pack and driven all the way home. She asks him why he'd do that and he says "Sure, you know, it's Christmas time."
You schmuck. Next week you won't go out of your way to help someone like that?
[/anti-social rant]

Sorry about that. This happens to me every year around now.
I suppose that it's very nice that at least for a few weeks every year people do go out of their way to be nice, and I try to enjoy it. But I just can't help wishing that people would be like that all the time. And hating them just a little bit for being hypocritical, self-denying jerks.

Now I'm gonna stop snowing on everybody's love for the story (which was not bad, just too preachy and about the wrong thing IMO) and gonna mosey over to the Drabblecast. Because I still do like Heather and Tim.
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« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2012, 10:32:00 PM »

Hurrah! It is Christmas indeed at my home because I have finally caught up on PodCastle episodes! (Shhh don't tell Escapepod... Grin)

I usually lurv the Christmas story to the max. Christmas Ninja Elves will live in my heart FOREVER. This story...I really struggled with the preachy part in the middle. Actually, I found it terribly political and offputting. I like my material things just fine, i earned them. and that's all I'm going to say about that. The Christmas Spirit (and the spirit of humanity I respect) has little to do with material exchange and more with kindness and goodwill. Argh...I will not be the Grinch...rant over.

I too loved the idea of carrying the "Spirit" so that you couldn't tell if you'd been affected. That spirit of kindness and charity resonated and helped lift me out of Grinchville.
So, although nothing compares with ninja elves, I will continue to look forward to another PodCastle Prattmas next year as I sit here wallowing in all my material excess.  Wink
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« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2012, 12:51:40 PM »

NOTHING I fear will be able to top Christmas Mummies with a side of Christmas Ninja elves.

But I did like Pratt & Shaw's ideas in this story, and I especially liked that people were terrified of a viral Christmas spirit. Yeah, it was about as subtle as a sledgehammer applied directly to forehead, but it got the job done.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2012, 01:57:17 PM »

Lizard preserve us, another Santa Clause story? I am so, incredibly, damned bored of Santa Clause Stories.

I guess this one was probably good and stuff. Pratt knows his shit. But this story bored me to tears.
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« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2012, 02:08:47 PM »

Lizard preserve us, another Santa Clause story? I am so, incredibly, damned bored of Santa Clause Stories.

I guess this one was probably good and stuff. Pratt knows his shit. But this story bored me to tears.

Have we run more than one?
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Talia
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« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2012, 02:29:49 PM »

Lizard preserve us, another Santa Clause story? I am so, incredibly, damned bored of Santa Clause Stories.

I guess this one was probably good and stuff. Pratt knows his shit. But this story bored me to tears.

Hehe, perhaps there should be warnings in the ratings system for when an episode might have a holiday theme, so those who are sick of Xmas can avoid becoming further jaded? Smiley Although in this case, I'd argue the title of the story would give that away. Tongue
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danooli
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« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2012, 07:45:24 AM »

Lizard preserve us, another Santa Clause story? I am so, incredibly, damned bored of Santa Clause Stories.

I guess this one was probably good and stuff. Pratt knows his shit. But this story bored me to tears.

I love Santa  Cool
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Fenrix
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« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2012, 03:13:34 PM »

Don't be too hard on ElectricPaladin, his heart is made of cogs that are three sizes too small.

I loved the zombie bit. I loved the mashup of heartwarming Christmas tale and the post-apocalyptic world-falling-apart story. It's like World War C.

I went on a road trip to visit family, so I felt this was a great chance to finally listen to Mur's 12 Stories of Christmas that was last year's bonus along with all the other EA Christmas stories. (Maybe that's a list worth compiling - must add that to the "to do" pile.) While the best of the bunch so far is "The Christmas Mummy", if this and "The Ghost of Christmas Possible" don't shine quite as brightly they're in fine company indeed. (As an aside, the author index does not have Tim Pratt cross referenced on The Christmas Mummy.) The holiday themes across all the stories were very nice and helped make the miles pass quite pleasantly. I can't think of another PC story including Santa, but one of the PP stories included him and at least one of the EP stories included him. I didn't find that he achieved saturation from my significant sample of EA stories.

 
« Last Edit: December 31, 2012, 03:16:01 PM by Fenrix » Logged

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