Escape Artists
April 18, 2014, 05:38:11 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
Author Topic: EP389: Keeping Tabs  (Read 2010 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4448



« on: March 29, 2013, 03:23:10 AM »

EP389: Keeping Tabs

By Kenneth Schneyer

Read by Dani Cutler

---
I was so excited when I could finally buy a Tab. They cost so much, you know, but I saved up for maybe six months. I waitressed at Antonio’s in the North End, and let me tell you, it’s murder on the feet.  Those trays are heavy, too, and Nico screams at everybody the whole shift, not to mention the way you smell after six hours.  But the customers tip really well, and I was able to save up enough money, even after paying rent and stuff.

I could never have gotten a Tab when I was still married to Marc, that shit.  He never liked anything I liked.  When I married him, all I saw was the big brown eyes and the cleft in his chin and the way he could make his voice go down low, so that I felt it all the way down to my knees.  I had to learn the hard way.

Not that I could’ve afforded a Tab back then, anyway.  The price started coming down just a few years ago, about when Marc broke my front tooth. By that time I couldn’t go to my mom’s, because she said I always went back to that shit anyway, and she wasn’t going to help me do it again, and my friend Lila wouldn’t let me stay with her either, same reason. So I went to a shelter, and the police came, and we got a restraining order on Marc.  But yeah, the same damn thing happened, he gave me that look with those eyes and told me how things were really, really going to change this time, because he’d seen the light and couldn’t believe he’d done something like that to me, and like an asshole, I dropped the charges and lifted the restraining order and went back to him.

Two years ago, right after I divorced Marc, Pearl Moulton started playing Mandi Trenton on _Dark Little Corners_, which was her first really big break, and they announced that there’d be a Tab on her.  I wanted it as soon as I saw her on the show, because Mandi is so awesome; she’s this really tough girl who works in a bar, and she gives as good as she gets, and she never gives up on love when all these guys leave her all the time. And Pearl Moulton is so beautiful and talented; I used to watch her on _Deception_, when nobody paid her any attention. Now she was in all the magazines, and she’s exactly my age, and she was Tabbed.


---

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged
Listener
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3124


I place things in locations which later elude me.


WWW
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2013, 07:28:14 AM »

This story was definitely a logical extension of celebrity culture. I mean, who among us hasn't wanted to see what it's like to live as a celebrity -- and not necessarily a soap star, either. I mean, some of us (not me) are scientists, and would probably kill to spend an hour keeping tabs on one of the guys at the LHC.

I enjoyed the drudgery of the MC's daily life. Not enjoyed in a schadenfreude way, but in the telling. She was using the tab (and her favorite show, and celebrity culture) as an escape from her difficult life, which is what many of us do with fiction. I was even okay with the author's choice to make her a formerly-abused woman who got away.

But I felt somewhat cheated by the third act. The MC finds out that her favorite star is being abused, so she tries to save her, but fails. And then it ends.

Um.

I guess I just wanted more. I wanted the story to be about the MC taking action in her own life, even if she decided to save up money for a plane ticket so she could go to California and save Pearl herself. I appreciate that she used her power, and sometimes talking to someone really is all it takes to save him/her, but clearly with Pearl that's not the case.

Plus, I think I'm a little weary of stories that have violence against women in this fashion. I'm currently rewatching Buffy (because of Reasons) and there's an awful lot of that, with more to come as I start up with Angel in a week or two.

So, in sum: good first 80%, and then it fell down for me.
Logged

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
Cutter McKay
Hipparch
******
Posts: 810


"I was the turkey the whoooole time!"


WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2013, 09:49:03 AM »

Well I enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. I hate and I mean H-A-T-E the cultural obsession over celebrities. I get myself all worked up over the fact that there are magazines, website, TVs shows, etc. all devoted to stalking someone who was on TV for more than 5 minutes. I hate that people think it's their business to know who's wearing what, doing what, sleeping with who, cheating with her, knocked-up by him... It makes me want to scream.

And then my wife points out that even though I don't read/watch/follow this stuff, I can just about recite the personal history of Metallica. So none of us are immune.  Undecided

I agree with Listener that the ending felt a little flat, but I liked it. I appreciate the way Dorothy realized that Pearl is her own person and that no one has the right to invade her privacy. I like that Pearl has learned the price of fame. I'm sure that when she was offered the Tab (presumably for a LOT of money) that she was all excited that people wanted to know all about her, only to find out how frustrating fame can be. As we've seen from many celebrities today, no one wants to have a camera in their face 24/7.

But I felt somewhat cheated by the third act. The MC finds out that her favorite star is being abused, so she tries to save her, but fails. And then it ends.


I, too, expected Dorothy to strike out on some quest to Save Pearl. But I'm glad she didn't. I think it would have made the story feel preachy and predictable. Now, I abhor abuse. I think anyone who would harm someone they claim to "love" is less-than-human. And I know, some people in these relationships need to be removed from the situation for their own safety. But Dorothy doesn't know the whole story here. During the attack, I'm pretty sure it never says that Tim was for sure the abuser. Nor do we know the circumstances. For all we know, that producer, Donny, tried to assault Pearl, beat her up when she resisted, and was subsequently killed, chopped up, and buried beneath the shed in the back yard when Tim found out. And they're keeping it all quiet to cover up Donny's murder.  Cool

My point is, it was none of Dorothy's business and I'm glad the story didn't send her off of some ill-conceived plan to save someone who may or may not need saving. It was an unpredictable ending to good story.

Also, I loved the way Dorothy reacted to Donny calling everyone who Tabs In, including Dorothy, a loser.
Logged

-Josh Morrey-
http://joshmorreywriting.blogspot.com/
"Remember: You have not yet written your best work." -Tracy Hickman
LadiesAndGentleman
Palmer
**
Posts: 26



« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2013, 07:48:13 PM »

I, too, would like to register some disappointment with the ending.  It's fine that Dorothy fails to save Pearl, because there's a lot of truth in the idea you just can't live the lives of other people no matter how hard you try.  It doesn't bother me that I have no idea what's next for her.  Does Dorothy decide to look for a better job?  Does she try to help the woman her ex-husband marries?  A line or two about what the character wants next would have been great.

Love the technology.  This sounds exactly like what would happen if it was ever developed.
Logged
LMGrey
Extern
*
Posts: 18



« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2013, 08:18:32 PM »

SO well written. I agree that the ending was sort of a let down, but I almost liked that about it. She respects the demand of Pearl, and leaves her alone, like she leaves the new wife of her old partner alone. Which is realistic and just sad enough.

Love the technology. Think that it was unrealistic that Pearl wouldn't have stopped/broke the Tab contract at some point.

Wish there was an explanation for her Tab malfunction as well.
Logged

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman
Brynn
Extern
*
Posts: 17



« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2013, 08:33:48 PM »

I enjoyed this story, and the reading, and the whole concept of a TAB didn't seemed too far fetched, really!

I actually loved the irony that Dorothy was so enthralled by the mostly mundane life of her favorite celebrity, and completely failed to be more present in her own life during really important events. Her brother is dying from cancer and she barely registers this, but being in the head of Pearl when she cooks is intriguing?

Logged
LMGrey
Extern
*
Posts: 18



« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 08:48:29 PM »

Brynn-- that reminds me. I thought it was clever how Pearl read political magazines and spent excessive time doing glamorous household tasks (elaborate gourmet meals) for the benefit of the Tabber. It spoke to how people tailor their behavior when they know they are being watched, and who we are and who we'd like to be seen as.
Logged

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman
Brynn
Extern
*
Posts: 17



« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2013, 09:00:39 PM »

Brynn-- that reminds me. I thought it was clever how Pearl read political magazines and spent excessive time doing glamorous household tasks (elaborate gourmet meals) for the benefit of the Tabber. It spoke to how people tailor their behavior when they know they are being watched, and who we are and who we'd like to be seen as.

And clearly we can't be seen as having any type of sex drive!  Roll Eyes
Logged
lisavilisa
Peltast
***
Posts: 99


« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 01:00:21 AM »

I personally enjoyed the juxtaposition of an abusive romantic relationship with the relationship a celebrity has with their fans. Think about it, the two have many similarities:

Dependence- you depend on your lover for emotional support, you depend on your fans for career support
They love you- both will claim they love you, more than anyone eles, "I'm your biggest fan"
Entitlement - both felt entitled to Pearls time, in fact Perl seemed more distressed by having to explain to one her obligation to the other than the fact she had no privacy.

And both had a way of loving her that ultimately was destroying her slowly. At least in this case Dorothy realized what was happening and did what she could to minimize the damage that her relationship was inflicting on Pearl.
Logged
InfiniteMonkey
Lochage
*****
Posts: 402


Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 01:15:15 AM »

Wow. This one was tough for me, on one level, for personal reasons (lost someone very close to me a year ago to cancer, so, that part? not welcome)

On another level I did appreciate the poke in the eye it delivers to celebrity-obscessed social media (I don't tweet, or Twitter, or "follow" anyone; what's the point?).

I did like that Dorothy was not only complaining about her own rotten life (which seems an all-too uncomfortable, all-too believable extrapolation of current treads), but linking it with *why* she's Tab-obsessed. She's trying to escape that life, by living a celebrity fantasy. The problem is that the celebrity is all too aware of it (that, and the technology goes haywire). She's just doing it to further her career (and I'm sure money comes into her hands at some point).

In fact, the central irony of this story is how bad new and improved communications technology actually fails to help us communicate. If Dorothy heard Pearl being beaten through the walls of her apartment, she might have had more success convincing her to leave an abusive relationship. But here, when she actually shares her headspace, where she's really and truly "You Are There" has experienced it, and knows what it signifies, she's unable to help her. Partly because this new communications technology is so invasive. You'd think the tech would create a stronger bond with people, but it has the opposite effect.


But I felt somewhat cheated by the third act. The MC finds out that her favorite star is being abused, so she tries to save her, but fails. And then it ends.


I think it's a little more subtle than that. Especially when she says she'd rather die at home in private. Dorothy has undergone a change on what really matters.
Logged
Lambear
Extern
*
Posts: 10


causing shear panic & bruin up trouble


« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 02:55:42 PM »

Good story, well written. It explored the idea pretty well and was very believable. It's really freaky when I think too much about it, especially when the tech starts going buggy.

I also completely loath the celebrity worship of our culture, but I can understand in part where it comes from. We all have our obsessions, some just involve other people. I kept wondering to myself why Pearl didn't just disengage the Tab. I suppose it's not too hard to come up with a reason, she's under contract or something. But still, it's clearly ruining her life, you'd think there would be some way out if the situation became that drastic. It would have been nice if that was covered a little more, but not totally necessary.

Like most of you, I also felt a bit disappointed by the ending. But looking back, I'm not sure why. Usually I enjoy stories that lean more towards realism. Maybe I just wanted something dramatic and for everything to turn out alright in the end this time. Really it wasn't a bad ending though, just not as personally satisfying. But hey, that's how life is sometimes.
Logged
TheArchivist
Palmer
**
Posts: 58


« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2013, 07:32:59 PM »

This one just didn't work for me at all. Partly that's down to my dislike of "the celebrity worship of our culture", driven by the innate feeling that the producer character was absolutely right about "those people having no lives". Which was a good line, but failed to redeem the fact that the whole story was told from the perspective of one of those people, and frankly, when the opinions of such people in real life (or, indeed, on "reality TV") hold so little interest for me, I can't see much attraction in the opinions of a (really rather accurately portrayed) fictional such person.

I suppose if I'd felt the "poke in the eye" being delivered, as InfiniteMonkey did, I might have enjoyed it more. Unfortunately, having tried to avoid being distracted by something more interesting than Dorothy's fangirlism - and it didn't need to be very interesting to beat that - the story that emerged in the third act also disappointed.

Oh well, can't win them all, I guess.
Logged
Dem
Lochage
*****
Posts: 539


aka conboyhillfiction.wordpress.com


WWW
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2013, 08:11:28 AM »


Wish there was an explanation for her Tab malfunction as well.

That annoyed me too. Ok, stuff goes wrong in real life and nobody comes up with a satisfactory explanation, but in a fictional piece it smells more of a convenient get-out device than a reflection of mundane realism. I liked the voice though, and the premise. Barely consensual voyeurism seems a natural progression from the paparazzi shots up people's skirts when they're getting out of taxis.
Logged

Science is what you do when the funding panel thinks you know what you're doing. Fiction is the same only without the funding.
chemistryguy
Matross
****
Posts: 261


Serving the Detroit Metro area since 1970


WWW
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2013, 08:33:52 AM »

Lots of interesting comments above.  There are lots on answered questions and problems left unresolved, but goshdarnit, isn't that what life is all about?  It makes the story sound even more plausible IMHO.

When life turns shitty, it's very easy to get wrapped up in some type of escape.  I'm sure if this technology existed today we'd be gobbling it up.  It's just human nature.
Logged

slic
Hipparch
******
Posts: 698


Stephen Lumini


« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2013, 04:08:53 PM »

I usually listen to the podcasts while doing chores, and frankly, the last few have been "meh".  So when this one started with its sci-fi extrapolation of National-Enquirer-Reality-TV culture I sighed quietly and got back to sorting boxes of comics in the storage room.  But the author added some nice touches of how what the tabber (?right name?) sees is really just another form of fiction, and how Dorthy certainly didn't think she was a loser, and, my favourite, how Dorthy wasn't going to embarrass herself by fawning over her idol when she got to "talk" with her.

And as said before, the subtle allegory (correct term?) of how more intimate communication methods actually leave people with less closeness (a puddle a mile-wide, but an inch deep) is what I like best of science fiction. 

The malfunctioning Tab felt contrived, but the crappy helpdesk/tech response and solution felt all to familiar and real - "Oh, you lost your sight and hearing?  Well, it looks good from this end.  Have you tried turning it off and on again?"
Since Tim had already indicated that the Tab times were irregular, Dorthy could have just as easily "walked in on" a serious argument or tail end of the abuse.  Heard it through the wall, so to speak, as someone mentioned.

I kept wondering to myself why Pearl didn't just disengage the Tab. I suppose it's not too hard to come up with a reason, she's under contract or something. But still, it's clearly ruining her life, you'd think there would be some way out if the situation became that drastic.
As you said, perhaps contractual reasons, but more likely it was career driven - people will put up with/sacrifice quite a lot as part of their drive to be the top of their profession.
My point is, it was none of Dorothy's business and I'm glad the story didn't send her off of some ill-conceived plan to save someone who may or may not need saving. It was an unpredictable ending to good story.
I agree wholeheartedly, I preferred the "not every thing can be solved in 30 mins" ending.

I liked this story very much, I hope there are more like it coming Smiley
Logged
Cutter McKay
Hipparch
******
Posts: 810


"I was the turkey the whoooole time!"


WWW
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2013, 05:57:31 PM »

There are lots on answered questions and problems left unresolved, but goshdarnit, isn't that what life is all about?  It makes the story sound even more plausible IMHO.

I think this is what I liked the most from this story. Perhaps because I hate celebrity fawning so much, but when Dorothy finally just disconnects and gets on with her life without Pearl, though it may be a minor thing to some, I see it as a major victory for one whose entire life revolved around being a fangirl. This mundane action was huge in this context.
Logged

-Josh Morrey-
http://joshmorreywriting.blogspot.com/
"Remember: You have not yet written your best work." -Tracy Hickman
JDoug
Palmer
**
Posts: 45


« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2013, 08:53:06 AM »

I really, really liked this one. Incredibly depressing, only slightly lessened by the ending. But it seemed right, if that makes sense? Any other, happier ending would have trivialised the story - the whole point seemed to be that there are no quick fixes, people often only learn from their own mistakes and that it can be a long, long slog until things get better. Or don't. The tab was a beautiful way of showing that those themes can be universal, regardless of circumstance.
Logged
Lambear
Extern
*
Posts: 10


causing shear panic & bruin up trouble


« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2013, 05:47:04 PM »

I think this is what I liked the most from this story. Perhaps because I hate celebrity fawning so much, but when Dorothy finally just disconnects and gets on with her life without Pearl, though it may be a minor thing to some, I see it as a major victory for one whose entire life revolved around being a fangirl. This mundane action was huge in this context.

Well said, and now that you put it that way, I do appreciate the ending more. Conquering one's own temptations usually seems mundane in real life, especially to those on the outside. But when you're able to finally give up something that had control over you, it's a pretty awesome experience.
Logged
fractaloon
Extern
*
Posts: 8


« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2013, 05:49:19 PM »

I really enjoyed the story and found the ending satisfying. Instead of the celebrity obsession, it reminded me of when friends and later myself disappeared into the world of MMORPGs. You start to live vicariously through your character and your virtual friends. You invest a lot of time and energy in this world that is real to you but never tangible. Like powerful weapons or armor, or in the case of the protagonist, the ability to talk with a stranger. Real Life, in the meantime happens and goes on without you. The virtual reality becomes more important than the real world. If and when you come back to RL, you slowly start building your personal relationships and connections with family and friends, just like the protagonist. And life just goes on.

The ending seemed to show that perfectly.

I suspect the same is true with any other obsession/addiction.
Logged
Peevester
Extern
*
Posts: 14


« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2013, 08:21:51 PM »

Interesting premise, and good execution all the way to the end, until someone forgot to record the ending.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!