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Author Topic: Pseudopod 338: Beware The Jabberwock, My Son  (Read 3247 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: June 15, 2013, 02:45:17 PM »

Pseudopod 338: Beware The Jabberwock, My Son

by Dixon Chance

“Beware The Jabberwock, My Son” was first published way back in 1991 in a tiny little photocopied horror zine out of Seattle called FEAR BOOK. The print run was 150. It was the author’s first attempt at trying to write horror for a living, and the results paid so little ($15) that he stayed away from genre fiction for the next twenty years. But now we have podcasts and the world looks much brighter! If anyone remembers actually reading this story in print from back then, the author would like you to contact him. This is what Facebook is for.

Dixon Chance is the pen name of David Ellis Dickerson, a humorist and regular contributor to This American Life, who also hosts the webseries “Greeting Card Emergency” on YouTube. He currently lives in Tucson, but is technically a vagabond.

Your reader this week - Kevin Hayes - has a demo reel you can view at his website (linked under his name), including the short “South of the City”, is directly involved with the Confluence conventions (see here and here for important news about Confluence 2014) and, while you’re at it, check out Raw Dog Screaming Press as well.



“Richard stayed frozen. This is nonsense, he thought. Am I afraid of a funny noise? Of nonsense? He formed a determined smile and decided to recite Humpty-Dumpty’s poem to himself. Maybe that would help him relax, fighting nonsense with nonsense. “I sent a message to the fish/ I told them, ‘This is what I wish—’” he said softly.

He had nerved himself up enough to go two steps when he heard the next sound. It was like a lady’s fan—one made of cellophane—being opened. Or a breeze being…folded?

The sound (whiffle) came again, and this time it definitely came from the mirror. Definitely. He could imagine its long, snaky neck pouring out of the mirror frame, those two pale unblinking eyes peering around his bedroom as it flew

(whiffle)”




PLEASE HELP PSEUDOPOD AND ANSWER A VERY SHORT DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY AT THIS LINK. IT WILL HELP US IMMEASURABLY! and thank you!

SURVEY



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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flintknapper
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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2013, 04:31:20 PM »

The abrupt ending of this story worked for me. I think it takes a confident author to leave a story hanging and allow the reader to develop their own thoughts as to what the ultimate result is. The most powerful tool the writer has is the reader's own imagination...

ugh...

I am sounding too liberal arts major for my own liking. Decent story. Decent narration. I particularly enjoyed the imagery of the creature which I felt almost took on a lovecraftian vibe.

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Fenrix
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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2013, 06:02:06 PM »



`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2013, 08:26:48 AM »

I enjoyed it.  I love Carroll, and the Jabberwocky in particular.  Fun to see a tie-in.

I felt sorry for the kid, having no chance to be a kid.
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Cynandre
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2013, 10:09:28 PM »

Old childhood fears brought back to light.
Also Alasdair Stuart's outro reminded me of the movie, The Broken, with Lena Headey.
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BlueGildedCage
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2013, 11:05:17 PM »

Maybe the creepiest part was that this parenting approach reminded me of my own childhood!!

Also loved the shock-drop ending.  It's pretty impressive that this story was the writer's first attempt at horror. 
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lisavilisa
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2013, 03:15:01 AM »

Anyone notice the irony in parents obsessed with proper english and no-nonsense words reading "Through the Looking Glass"?
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2013, 09:42:45 AM »

Anyone notice the irony in parents obsessed with proper english and no-nonsense words reading "Through the Looking Glass"?

Yes.  Smiley  Which I thought might be a commentary on how modern lit classes are often taught.  I could be wrong about this, but I thought The Jabberwocky in particular was meant by Carroll to poke some fun at poetry critics, and now it has become "classic" enough that its virtues are being extolled by same.
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evrgrn_monster
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2013, 10:48:24 PM »

I wasn't really a fan of this one. I enjoyed the set-up immensely, what with the parenting methods, allusions to the parent's past and the mixing of the poem (kudos to the narrator, who did a super great job switching between poetry reading and prose narration), but I felt a little cheated. I would've liked the two worlds to match up a bit more, to feel like there was a reason why the author was telling me about the very precise way the child was being raised and the background of the parents. The horror portions were nice and horrific, but I felt like the story should've either expanded more to include what I previously mentioned, or shorten down and cut all that out.

Though, I did not catch the irony of the proper speaking parents vs the language in Carroll's work. That is definitely something to mull over...
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Scattercat
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2013, 02:48:50 PM »

Initially I wondered if we had some sort of sequel to "Come to My Arms, My Beamish Boy," which was just effing brilliant. 

This story didn't do much for me, unfortunately.  I was quite hopeful after that intro/bio, but it ended up just kind of being "Hey, a monster comes out of a mirror and terrorizes a weak parody of an overprotective liberal yuppie parent."  I don't normally demand to know "why" or "how," but in this case I felt like there should have been *some* kind of explanation or justification for the incident.  I'm not a huge fan of the standard horror trope in which the protagonists are violently punished for infractions they would have no way to realize were "against the rules."  (Like, you deliberately summon a revenge demon, then you know what you're getting into and I can groove to you learning a lesson about it.  But if you randomly pick up a cursed idol that isn't labeled as such, I feel a little mystified about why we're watching horrible things happen to you.)

I picked up on the "proper words" vs. Lewis Carroll thing, but since it just seemed like a mean-spirited jab at a parenting style of which we are apparently supposed to disapprove, the irony didn't do much for me. 
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 03:34:03 PM »

Initially I wondered if we had some sort of sequel to "Come to My Arms, My Beamish Boy," which was just effing brilliant.  

This story didn't do much for me, unfortunately.  I was quite hopeful after that intro/bio, but it ended up just kind of being "Hey, a monster comes out of a mirror and terrorizes a weak parody of an overprotective liberal yuppie parent."  I don't normally demand to know "why" or "how," but in this case I felt like there should have been *some* kind of explanation or justification for the incident.  I'm not a huge fan of the standard horror trope in which the protagonists are violently punished for infractions they would have no way to realize were "against the rules."  (Like, you deliberately summon a revenge demon, then you know what you're getting into and I can groove to you learning a lesson about it.  But if you randomly pick up a cursed idol that isn't labeled as such, I feel a little mystified about why we're watching horrible things happen to you.)

I picked up on the "proper words" vs. Lewis Carroll thing, but since it just seemed like a mean-spirited jab at a parenting style of which we are apparently supposed to disapprove, the irony didn't do much for me.  

I've been thinking about this story from time to time since I last commented on it, and the less I like it in retrospect for reasons scattercat mentions here (which came to mind on my own during my absence from the forum).  Particularly that the monster comes out of nowhere, and it seems to depend on us hating the parenting style.  While I find the parenting style bizarre, unlikely to work, and generally stifling and unpleasant, it was clear that they are putting in great effort to do what they feel is right for their child's future.  Even if that does seem to be based on a very old-fashioned ideal of treating children as if they were just miniature adults and are expected to behave as such at all times.  At least they care, and are trying to improve their child's future, even if I don't agree that their plan has merit.

And the parenting style is hardly a reason that he ought to be monster-attacked.  Not that everyone who has bad things happen to them has to deserve it but the tone of this story seemed to imply he did deserve it.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2013, 03:43:04 PM »

Thinking on my own changing reaction, I think it might be in part due to becoming a parent this year.  I feel like there's a strong tendency for new parents to compare parenting styles, generally to criticize another parent's methods (whether to that person, to their spouse, or just to themselves.  From anything from whether you should try everything else to calm your child rather than going straight to feeding, to what the first food is, to kinds of daycare, to breastfeeding vs formula, to co-sleeping vs crib, to blah blah blah blah.  Every parent has to make decisions on a daily basis, and there are so many possible variations that it'll probably be pretty rare for you to find someone else who syncs with you on every possible one.  When I feel tempted to comment on someone else's choices I try to remind myself that as long as the parent isn't putting their child in harm's way then I should just let it go.  It's not something I have control over anyway, and speaking up is just going to piss people off to no good effect, and the kid will be fine.

So, maybe it's that mindset that has had some effect on changing my mind about this story.  It seems to focus too much on criticizing a parenting style that may be irritating but not actually harmful.
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