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Author Topic: PC260: Fine Flying Things  (Read 3221 times)
Talia
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« on: May 15, 2013, 09:46:36 AM »

PodCastle 260: Fine Flying Things

by Adele Gardner.

Originally appeared in the anthology Twisted Cat Tales, edited by Esther Schrader.

Read by Elie Hirschman.

Frankie watched, open-mouthed, as the cats soared up into the sky.

All he could think of was Dali’s photograph, that crazy one where the
cat flew across a stream of water while Dali perched on a chair. He
ran outside.

In that little space of time, yet more cats had lifted off from earth.
They floated like furry balloons, orange and gray and tiger-striped.
Some looked scared, their claws extended to full panic, like a kitten
caught in a tree; but there was nothing to grasp in the sky. The
clouds didn’t seem to slow them down.

Others looked mildly interested, their whiskers drooping in curious
contentment. Still others seemed entranced with possibilities,
stretching their claws to snag unwary birds as they soared by.

Frankie gaped at the spectacle of cats dotting the sky like a flock of
migrating birds. As the felines swarmed through the air, he glimpsed a
familiar gray leg. By instinct, he reached up to grab the striped
appendage, just as he might have done to spare the china. The skinny
leg jerked taut, and he found himself looking up into the startled
blue eyes of his Maurice.


Rated G.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: June 05, 2013, 08:19:52 AM by Talia » Logged
InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2013, 11:50:47 PM »

I have to admit I found this a bit heavy-handed. The clear metaphor (IMHO) was pet death, of letting go of the creature you love. It reminded me of a passage in Gaiman's Sandman series tilted "Brief Lives", where Ishtar (as a stripper) compares her life to human, like falling in love with a kitten knowing you'll have to put an old cat to sleep.
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Listener
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2013, 07:41:13 AM »

I thought the imagery of cats flying off wasn't enough to support a story this long. It was cool, but maybe could've been done in flash form?

I also was a bit thrown by Frankie. At first I thought he was a kid (since the intro said the story was rated G), and then I thought he was an adult, and it wasn't until later that it was revealed he was an older man. This is something that, if this was an episode of "The Twilight Zone" (for example), would've been obvious from the get-go and would've changed the way I experienced the story.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2013, 08:08:24 AM »

This is what first came to mind.  I've watched it far too many times on YT.

This Movie is About Cats Flying


Quote
The clear metaphor (IMHO) was pet death, of letting go of the creature you love.

I really don't think that was the intended message.  I saw it as letting go of your fears.  This story paved an odd path to get there, but I can appreciate weirdness.  Or maybe, you're right and the cat does die and all of this is playing out like some kind of Chris Van Allsburgian illustrated fantasy in his addled mind.

I'm not sure how to take it, but I did enjoy the ride.
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Rosaphilia
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2013, 06:29:01 AM »

As a "cat person" (who also likes dogs) I enjoyed MK's intro and then prepared myself for a simpatico piece involving felines. Nah!  Agreed that this is all (probably)very symbolic and asking big life/death questions -- but it would have been good to have one plausible cat cipher in the story. The cats might as well have been flying furniture -- Maurice the principal feline element in the story was a very non-catty character. Well, completely unlike any cat I have ever lived with! Apparently terrified of butterflies and only existing to soothe his master .. Really??!! Maybe this is an unreliable narrator  trope (given his fondness for kitty kibble) and maybe he is showing signs of Lewy Body dementia or Charles Bonnet syndrome (senior medical conditions characterised by hallucinations) -- but if so, as audience I'd have liked a nudge in that direction rather than the late implication that the chap is getting on in years. Thanks for the story and making me think but it's only a three stars from old meanie cat lady.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2013, 06:32:02 AM by Rosaphilia » Logged
bounceswoosh
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2013, 01:59:47 PM »

I thought the imagery of cats flying off wasn't enough to support a story this long. It was cool, but maybe could've been done in flash form?

I also was a bit thrown by Frankie. At first I thought he was a kid (since the intro said the story was rated G), and then I thought he was an adult, and it wasn't until later that it was revealed he was an older man. This is something that, if this was an episode of "The Twilight Zone" (for example), would've been obvious from the get-go and would've changed the way I experienced the story.

+1, totally agree on all points.  I wondered if Frankie was maybe a bit developmentally challenged.
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bounceswoosh
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2013, 02:06:39 PM »

In the interest of full disclosure, I am bi-petual?  I have had both dogs and cats - okay, one cat, who I got to keep an aging dog company - although I'll admit I like dogs better.  You can take them places.  I've heard about the studies of dog vs. cat people, although they seem to contradict my experience, ie, adventure/adrenaline seekers who do lots of risky outdoor things tend to have dogs, although granted that's just one subsection of society.

I do miss having a cat (my little cancer kitty, who was a total pain in the butt even before she got cancer), and would like to have one again at some point.  I agree that the cat in this story didn't seem very cat-like to me, with the caveat that in my experience the only thing you can say for sure about cats is that they're all different. 
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LadiesAndGentleman
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2013, 12:07:34 PM »

If this is indeed all a metaphor for pet death, I think I'd prefer a world where cats were given powers of flight instead of death.  That sounds like an excellent eternal reward. 

Impressively somber story for an initially silly set-up.  It moved a bit too slowly for me at some parts, though, and didn't push the idea of this world quite as far as I would like.
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Purplebroccoli
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2013, 12:46:11 AM »

MK Hobson asked for comments on this story.  Here we go. 

I love cats.  I cried, just like you said I would.  In fact, when
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
I wailed like a grief-stricken banshee for about five seconds and then sniffled as I got a grip on myself.

I eat cat kibble too.  I like the chance to share a meal with my feline babies.  It's delicious with sour cream and washes down well with my favorite ale.  Sadly I don't float at all. 

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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2013, 08:18:20 AM »

Quote
The clear metaphor (IMHO) was pet death, of letting go of the creature you love.

I really don't think that was the intended message. 

I'm with InfiniteMonkey on this one.  I couldn't see it as anything but grief-induced hallucinations/dreams.  Maybe I'm more of a Pseudopod resident but I can't help extrapolating from here, and I don't think this guy is long for this world and they will find his body with a stomach stuffed full of Meow Mix.

And the thing is, I can relate to grieving for a pet.  We lost our dog Aria in December to a very sudden affliction of what they called Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia, but only because that's what they call it when they have anemic symptoms with no clear cause.  It was 5 days from the first symptoms that we noticed to her passing away, and she was only 5.  So I totally get it.  If the story had been written with pet grieving as an explicit part of the plot, I'd probably have had to pull over due to blinding tears.  But the metaphor, not so much, especially at this length too long for its content.

I thought the imagery of cats flying off wasn't enough to support a story this long. It was cool, but maybe could've been done in flash form?

I agree.  When the cats started floating I was interested, but then there was little else but descriptions of cats floating, and more descriptions of cats floating. 

Pennywise was right, they all float.

I also was a bit thrown by Frankie. At first I thought he was a kid (since the intro said the story was rated G), and then I thought he was an adult, and it wasn't until later that it was revealed he was an older man. This is something that, if this was an episode of "The Twilight Zone" (for example), would've been obvious from the get-go and would've changed the way I experienced the story.

I was wondering if I was the only one who was thrown at the mention of something that he did 50 years ago, since I do have a tendency to miss the occasional line while I'm listening in traffic.  That could've been easily cleared up with a line or two near the beginning.

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Moritz
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2013, 08:24:40 AM »

I don't have much to add apart from saying that this didn't touch me as much as MK Hobson promised, apart from the fact that the cat kind of had my name...
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Devoted135
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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2013, 02:26:48 PM »

So I'm a total cat person (and anyone who thinks they don't like cats should reserve judgement until they meet mine Cheesy) and as such I was really hoping to love this story. But, I'm afraid that it seems to have floated right by me.

The cats just floated away, except for Frankie's cat, who inexplicably managed to stick around just a bit before getting permission to float off. Also, I spent the first third of the story thinking that Frankie was about 10, the second third thinking he was 40 and it wasn't until the last third that I finally placed him correctly as an old man. I agree with others, this probably would have worked much better as flash, where there's a lot more room for stories consisting solely of "look, a weird thing just happened."
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2013, 04:20:08 PM »

The cats just floated away, except for Frankie's cat, who inexplicably managed to stick around just a bit before getting permission to float off. Also, I spent the first third of the story thinking that Frankie was about 10, the second third thinking he was 40 and it wasn't until the last third that I finally placed him correctly as an old man. I agree with others, this probably would have worked much better as flash, where there's a lot more room for stories consisting solely of "look, a weird thing just happened."

Nothing new to add to this. Sums it up perfectly.

On the pet-of-choice topic, I'm most certainly a dog person. The loyalty and playfulness of a dog is unmatched in any pet. I do love animals in any form, but until recently I'd always walked a fine line between indifference and contempt for cats. My brother acquired a cat that is actually likeable, thoguh; playful, friendly, very un-cat-like as I've known them. So now I think there are cool cats out there--besides Nathaniel Lee, of course--they're just few and far between. 
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Fenrix
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2013, 02:57:15 PM »

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« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2013, 02:52:47 PM »

That is a wonderful picture!

As for the story.... I love cats, I've lost cats, but was not moved.  I guess it was a little too bizarre and metaphorical to grip me anywhere.
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Lisa3737
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« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2013, 07:13:46 PM »

Maybe because I am a dog-person that I didn't even have a sniffle over the story; however, it was entertaining.
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Kaa
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« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2013, 01:03:29 PM »

Bad timing. This episode was released two days after I found out that my 20-year-old, cat (Lucy) had fast-growing, virulent cancer, and would likely only live another week or two. (It was right at 1.5 when I had to take her back to the vet.)

So yeah. I cried like a baby the entire time I was listening. Like, on the way to work. Yay.

Had it not been that particular week, I might have been able to pay more attention to the structure of the story, etc., but as it was, the only theme I could focus on was "letting go."

So, kind of a wistful, "I liked it," mixed with "I wish I'd heard it earlier or much later."
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2013, 11:06:04 PM »

Oh, Kaa, I'm very sorry for your bad news. I hope you're doing as well as can be expected in the circumstances.

As for the story, I think M.K.'s intro primed me to think about the story in terms of openness to new ideas in general, so I didn't get the mortality vibe that others did. That said, I do agree with most of the comments here that the interesting image might not be enough to carry an entire short story.

But that is coming from someone who prefers dogs. As someone who believes that humans are more pack-oriented, I find dogs easier to relate to. Also, as a narcissist, I cordially dislike the narcissism in many cats. In other words, when I meet someone with a cat, I tend to think "why are you petting your cat when you could be petting me?"
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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2013, 09:42:01 AM »

Bad timing. This episode was released two days after I found out that my 20-year-old, cat (Lucy) had fast-growing, virulent cancer, and would likely only live another week or two. (It was right at 1.5 when I had to take her back to the vet.)

I'm so sorry to hear that Kaa!  It's never easy, but at least she has lived a long life.
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DKT
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« Reply #19 on: June 03, 2013, 10:07:59 AM »

Kaa, very sorry to hear this, man. All my sympathies.
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