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Author Topic: PC252: The Colors of the World  (Read 3190 times)
Talia
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« on: March 20, 2013, 08:58:50 AM »

PodCastle 252: The Colors of the World

By Paul Willems

Translated by Edward Gauvin

Read by Marguerite Croft

Originally Published in Tales and Legends of Belgium Illustrated by Naive Painters. This translation originally appeared in Scheherezade’s Bequest #15.

Many years ago there was a small fisherman’s house on the dunes of La Panne. Rik-the-Fisherman’s wife Marie sat at the window all day long, spinning thread as she watched the sea. She was tall and thin with a tanned face and blond hair, and her eyes, from watching the sea, took on the color of the waters: blue when it was fair, green when it was cloudy, and black when there was a storm. Now, one day when Marie’s eyes were black, one stormy day, the fishing boat sank and Rik was never seen again. Marie was so sad that her eyes stayed black. As the sea reminded her of her husband, she changed places and sat at the other window, which looked out on the Abbey of the Dunes.

Two months after Rik’s death, a little girl was born in the little house. Marie called her Rika, in memory of her father. Rika grew. She always played alone in the dune and on the beach, for her mother spun from dawn till dusk to provide for them. One evening (Rika had just turned six), Mari began to weep. She wasn’t earning enough money spinning and there wasn’t anything left in the house to ea. She told Rika to go out the next day and keep watch over the sheep for the monks of the Abbey of the Dunes. The monks would surely give her a big jug of milk each day for her trouble.

But Rika replied that she would rather go to the beach. Sometimes the sea tossed up precious objects she would gather and sell.

And so it was decided.


Rated PG. No, Really.

Special thanks to our friend Mr. Wilson Fowlie for guest-hosting this episode!

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 07:25:47 AM by Talia » Logged
loyaleagle
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2013, 11:58:19 AM »

I found the audio quality of the narration to be less than the usual quality on Podcastle.  I noticed when I tried to listen through my built-in iPhone speakers (which works great for almost every podcast I listen to).  Listening on the web didn't improve things much.

Lo-fi recordings make this listener sad Sad
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2013, 01:07:48 PM »

This was a lovely fairy tale.  I was even a little unsure whether it was a new composition entirely or a retelling of an old story I wasn't familiar with.

I consider that to be praise, btw.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2013, 06:53:22 PM »

I like the unhurried fairy-tale nature of this piece. Upon reflection, I wonder about the exact nature of the connection of father, daughter, and mermaid. Was the mermaid plotting to capture the child even before she was born? Was she luring Rika? Was it simply chance and Rika's too-great curiosity and love of the sea?

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Devoted135
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2013, 08:15:24 AM »

What a wonderful, melancholy tale. This had the feel of an ancient story where characters are fated to live out destinies that they aren't even aware are guiding them. One image that really stuck with me was the daughter's blue hair, and her mother's understanding that it meant her daughter was forgetting how to be a child of the earth.
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LostVegan
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 12:00:04 PM »

Aaarrgggghhh....

Is it just me, or is the narration of this episode inaudible? I hear the intro, and outro just fine (thanks to our generous guest-host). However, the story itself is a jumbled inaudible series of blips, beeps and digital static. I downloaded this episode from iTunes directly onto my iPhone, and haven't tried downloading or listening to it elsewhere.

Is anyone else getting this, or is it just me?
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Lionman
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 12:50:20 PM »

It was nice to hear Wilson with the intro and outtro, he did a fine job.  I have to say, the story didn't hold my attention well.  I wouldn't even classify it as 'meh.'  However, on the other hand, it didn't repulse me or make me want to turn it off.
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2013, 11:34:14 PM »

Aaarrgggghhh....

Is it just me, or is the narration of this episode inaudible? I hear the intro, and outro just fine (thanks to our generous guest-host). However, the story itself is a jumbled inaudible series of blips, beeps and digital static. I downloaded this episode from iTunes directly onto my iPhone, and haven't tried downloading or listening to it elsewhere.

Is anyone else getting this, or is it just me?

Huh. Actually, you're the second person I've heard this complaint from, but the other was using different equipment and software.

FWIW, I downloaded it the same way you did, and didn't have the problem, but I'm worried about what's going on, and have contacted our tech support. Sorry about the mix up, and hopefully it'll be addressed soon.
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 07:36:08 AM »

I wouldn't even classify it as 'meh.'  However, on the other hand, it didn't repulse me or make me want to turn it off.

A resounding endorsement.

I, too, was not  very enthused by the story.  Like Scattercat says above, I wasn't certain whether this was an old tale or a new one.  I like a good  re-interpretation of a fairy tale, but tend to get bored with the originals.

 I've held back on  commenting simply because of a feeling of meh for the past few stories, so I pose the question.  Is it better to leave feedback that voices disinterest or  remain silent  and stick around for next week?
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Ocicat
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 01:57:17 PM »

Is it better to leave feedback that voices disinterest or  remain silent  and stick around for next week?

Any feedback that includes the "why" behind your feelings is welcomed.  A message simply stating that you were unenthused or "meh" - not so much appreciated.
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Gorbash
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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2013, 02:24:23 AM »


Huh. Actually, you're the second person I've heard this complaint from, but the other was using different equipment and software.

FWIW, I downloaded it the same way you did, and didn't have the problem, but I'm worried about what's going on, and have contacted our tech support. Sorry about the mix up, and hopefully it'll be addressed soon.

For what it's worth - I'm a third.  I downloaded it through iTunes onto my Nano, and both the intro and outro were clear through both my car audio and headphones.  However, the story itself was essentially silent through both, and resetting my ipod didn't help.  I'll try redownloading from the website and see if that fixes things.
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Kaa
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2013, 11:00:12 AM »

This may be a first. I know I listened to this story. I remember something about a mermaid. But other than that, not one shred of this story stuck with me. I know I was listening while driving, and I remember other stories just fine. I guess this one just didn't have anything I could latch onto.
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LadiesAndGentleman
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« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2013, 07:39:58 PM »

A pretty story, and very well translated, but I agree with Kaa.  Most of it didn't stick with me.  The story had tragedy in it, but it all felt too clean and sterile.  If you're going to write a story having to do with water or the sea, adventure is optional, but passion is a must.

Still, it felt like I had been punched in the gut when I listened to the part about the cloak and how the main character eventually has to make it with white hair.  The passage of time is beautifully sudden.  The idea of time slipping away in fairy tales terrifies me.  That part, where we realize just how long Marie's been underwater, is excellent.
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« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2013, 08:00:55 PM »

LostVegan and Gorbash, me too. I think I will delete it and download again from iTunes, although I tried streaming and had the same problem.
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2013, 11:06:21 PM »

It was good to hear Wilson Fowlie on the endcaps.

I downloaded via iTunes and had no issues with the audio.

I loved the traditional presentation of the dangers of going into Faery. Both the passage of time and impacts of Faery were elegantly delivered.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2013, 06:14:19 PM »

I've figured out what's going on with the audio.

Summary: One channel of the story portion of the audio is inverted. Listeners having problems hearing it are listening to it on players that don't support stereo and are combining the left and right channels into almost nothing.

The whole story (Only of interest to the technically-minded):

I was curious about the problems, so I played the episode on my usual player*. It played both the story and the other parts fine. Then I played the track on my computer (with the VLC sound player). No problem yet.

Then, while still playing the file on VLC, I pulled up the mixer software for my sound card**. I played with the panning controls and found that, during the story portion of the cast, if I panned either channel to the other side, (i.e. if I panned the left channel to the right, or vice versa), I got the effect that others have commented on. The effect didn't occur during the intro/outro (not just my voice, either - also the background music, Peter's voice at the very beginning and Ann's bit at the end).***

I opened up the file in Audacity, to see if it looked weird at all, but could see nothing obvious. Since Audacity has to convert the file from MP3 format to raw audio samples, I suspected that the problem lay somewhere in the MP3 encoding, but when I tried converting the file into a WAV and then back to MP3, the problem didn't go away.

So, in an attempt to see what would happen if I only listened to one side, I decided to try splitting the stereo track into two mono tracks. However, I made a mistake and instead, combined the two tracks into a single mono track.

It was a fortuitous mistake. Jackpot! The result was a track with exactly the problem characteristics.

I undid my error, and took a closer look at the audio from the story reading and realized that the contours of the two channels were almost an exact mirror of each other, rather than (as is usual) being similar in shape. So when they were combined, they (nearly) cancelled each other out.

I think what's happening is that the people who are experiencing problems have players that don't support stereo. When the player gets a stereo track, it simply combines the two sides into mono, and if, as in this case, the contours of the two channels mirror each other, they cancel out (or nearly so, since the mirroring isn't exact).

If Peter is willing/has time, the solution is to
a) split Ms. Croft's original stereo recording into two separate tracks,
b) invert the audio of one of the tracks (Audacity can do it, so Peter's software probably can),
c) combine the tracks back into a stereo track.
(And then, of course, re-edit the episode back together again and re'cast it. Unfortunately, if he did this procedure on the whole episode, the non-story parts would suffer from the same problem...)

I have to say that I'm curious as to how the track got this way. I'd be interested to know what software Ms. Croft used when she recorded the story (especially whether it's a new program, or an upgraded version of an old program, that she's started using since she recorded "No Better Than a Beast", as I don't think anyone reported any problems with that).


* My MP3 player is a cheap, generic one, with no support for the DRM in the likes of iTunes, Audible, etc.
** My sound card is an M-Audio 2496.
*** I have no idea why the sound card's software allows me to do this. But it does.
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« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2013, 11:11:06 AM »

Very pretty tale, and very sad. I love the description of the colors and the slow, unhurried pace...which made the passage of time all the more dramatic.
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« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2013, 07:44:34 AM »

I liked some things about this story, particularly the dreamlike way the different details like hair and eye color were significant.  I like some fairy tales, but this one didn't a lot for me overall.  I think that I might just like fairy tales only if I heard them first as a kid so that I see them through the glow of nostalgia, not sure.  Would be interesting to experiment and try out some others.  (I mean traditional type fairy tales, not reimaginings or modern styles)
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