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Author Topic: Pseudopod 341: Immortal L.A.  (Read 9155 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: July 06, 2013, 02:35:40 AM »

Pseudopod 341: Immortal L.A.

by Eric Czuleger

“Immortal L.A.” was written for Pseudopod. “Because I’m a big fan. A really big fan. I was recently in a taxi driving through the Romanian country side. I asked the cab driver if he believed in vampires and he said in thickly accented broken English ‘of course, dictators, criminals, liars… these are the vampires. We see the news and we see the vampires. Vampires are not legends, vampires and legends don’t make vampires, if you look around you’ll see them. If you watch the news you’ll see them.’”

Eric Czuleger is originally from Los Angeles, where he is a founding member of the Courage Theatre Company. He was a playwright for years before he joined the Peace Corps. He currently lives in the town of Bajram Curri, Albania, where he is a High School English teacher. “Immortal L.A.” is the first story in his forthcoming series of the same name, the book IMMORTAL L.A., a series of short weird fiction about a big weird city. You can also find some of Eric’s prievious work at Live Theatre Blog and on Facebook at “Live Theatre Blog”. Also if you’re in the L.A. Area, go and see a show at the Coeurage Theatre company, a great theatre that is always pay-what-you-want. Check us out at Coeurage Theatre Company.

Your reader this week - Joe Calarco - is an actor and sound designer living in Los Angeles. He’s also one of the founding members of Coeurage Theatre Company in Hollywood.



“I ran a hand along my softening stomach. Tomorrow I start my diet. I thought. I removed my mouth from my hand. Two neat holes. No blood.

I went to the bathroom. Before I opened the door I tried to convince myself to chew a piece of gum instead. Saliva roused in my mouth and convinced me otherwise. I placed my head on the door with a gentle thunk, and thought, Am I hungry? Then, no I’m just depressed. I opened the door to the bathroom. The girl was lying in the bathtub where I left her.

A stream of blood ran down her neck and out of her thin wrists, it formed a shallow pool at the bottom of the tub. Her legs were like pale sticks. Her platform shoes with nine inch spikes were thrown in the corner, I have to throw out that pile, it’s just getting bigger. Her eyes lazily rotated in their orbits toward me. Even below her thick red lipstick, her lips seemed blue. Her hair was cut into a short blonde bob and while I had my mouth around her neck I could pretend for a bit. Pretend she was someone else that I wanted to drain the life of.

I stood in the doorway feeling self-conscious. I didn’t think she would be awake still, and I was already coming back for a fourth helping. It was like that moment when I still ate food, where you wanted to take the last slice of pizza but no one does through mutual shame. In spite of the fact that, if left to your own devices, you would have devoured the pizza entirely. It was like that. This time the pizza was watching me. And judging me.

‘Are you going to kill me?’ She croaked, as if she were asking the time. She’d lost so much blood she was punch drunk.

‘Yes,’ I said guiltily. Conscious of my gut.”




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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Kaa
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2013, 05:29:13 PM »

I really liked this one. I really thought, though, that when Alasdair said he asked what inspired the story, the answer was going to be Jonathan Coulton's song "Blue Sunny Day." Because that really should have been the theme song to this. Smiley

My only complaint was that I had to CRANK the volume (over double the usual level) to hear this one in the car, and then when the two of them were shouting in the alley, it nearly deafened me. Ow.
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2013, 03:56:15 AM »

This story was so good that after listening I spewed a slurry of curse words that would likely singe plants had I any, then pumped my fist in the air a few times. This was an absolutely spot on perfect story for Pseudopod. I liked everything about it. There just aren't enough words in my vocabulary for how much I enjoyed this. Thank you.
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2013, 11:25:57 PM »

Hey Guys!
This is Eric- just wanted to thank you guys for listening to the story. It means a lot to me to be on Pseudopod as I've been a huge fan for a long time.
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Zoo
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2013, 11:43:45 PM »

Kaa-

Dude! Never heard Blue Sunny Day before, but wow- such a cool song. It works perfectly with the piece. Thanks for the music rec man.
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Kaa
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2013, 06:59:12 AM »

Kaa-

Dude! Never heard Blue Sunny Day before, but wow- such a cool song. It works perfectly with the piece. Thanks for the music rec man.

No problem. I am always ready to spread the Gospel of Coulton far and wide. Smiley
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adrianh
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2013, 08:53:48 AM »

I have to admit this one didn't work for me. Although I suspect it may be down to the reading.

Not because it was bad in any way - but because Joe Calarco's interpretation sounded just like a rather self-absorbed pseudo-hipster I knew a few years ago.

So while the text of the story was telling the angst ridden tale of the depressed co-dependent vampire the voice was making me want to give him a good shake and tell him to get a grip and a proper job ;-)

I probably need to take a gap and read it again without having Joe's voice in my head.
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Zoo
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« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2013, 12:17:14 PM »


Totally understandable. Hopefully, the next one will catch your ear a bit better, character and voice wise. Though I do agree Joe did perfectly with this. He and I have known each other for years and this was written specifically for his voice and Pseudopod.

Cheers man, thanks for listening.
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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2013, 07:23:12 AM »

This had some good moments.  My particular favorite was the vampire asking his food if he looked fat.  That's an awkward question under absolutely any context, but that's got to be the most awkward of all--the one answer that would help you encourage the vampire not to eat might also piss him off enough to kill.

I thought the insomniac informercial watching, rarely feeding vampire was an interesting take.

Overall, I thought it went on too long describing their ongoing hunting, it felt repetitive at that point. Overall good though.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2013, 01:46:07 PM »

On the one hand... a noirish story about vampires, vampires as tortured pathetic souls, and a beautifully paced and crafted story. Great.

On the other hand... the main character is a pathetic sad sack of cr@p. He was hard to connect to, because being hung up on someone in that way is ultimately a pretty pitiful and immature way to be, but the story didn't explain that (with his backstory) or take him to task for it. Not so great.

So... I'm on the fence about this story.

I did my time among vampires. I read my Anne Rice. I fought on both sides of the Second Massasa War (bonus points if you know what I'm talking about). I loved it... and I got over it. Whether or not we as a society are over vampires is a different question altogether.

Ultimately, I think I would have loved this story... ten years ago. In 2013, though it's just another vampire story, and all the beautiful pacing and writing in the world can't get past the fact that the narrator is a pitiful sad sack who needs to get the heck over his girlfriend and move on... and is also a gross tick feasting on blood. For me, at least, vampires are like elves - they need a twist to make them fresh again. Barring that, they should stay in their coffins for a few years until I'm less bored of them.
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2013, 03:06:00 PM »

Well, we did run "Repler" a while back....
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kibitzer
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« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2013, 09:42:36 PM »

I fought on both sides of the Second Massasa War (bonus points if you know what I'm talking about).

I Googled it... do I get the points?
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BlueGildedCage
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« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2013, 10:16:54 PM »

GREAT story!!

I started listening to it before going to work and was devastated to have to leave halfway through (the clock was ticking and trains don't wait!!).  Finished it up first thing when I got back.

I especially liked the ending, though I too had problems with the recording volume being a bit low.  Had to go back once or twice to be sure I'd caught every chocolate-blood covered sentence.  The last line in particular, which sadly broke the impact a little.

The way I understood that last line was that we choose to be monsters, whether it is a fully conscious choice or not.  A theme that I think matches with the earlier conflicts between him and his gal (he who likes to eat, she who likes to kill -- he feeling trapped in it, she finding heaven in it).  It's a theme I've been exploring quite a bit lately, especially in some of the more controversial shock-horror films that have been dividing the horror fan community for a while now.

Last thing.  I love that the writers post comments on the forums here after their stories have been broadcast.  Thanks so much for this story, Eric!  Sterling job on a stimulating story that could have been old, but wasn't at all.
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« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2013, 04:34:05 AM »

Hey all (Eric here)

I really appreciate the comments, this is a part of a larger anthology that I'm working on about the L.A. area, and it's lovely to have some feedback from some well read horror fans.

I can completely understand not wanting to fight for our main character who doesn't seem to want to fight for himself much. I think ultimately it's about that "in between area" where the tracks switch on us so massively that we're left reeling. Inactive until something moves us. Pushed into a next step rather than taking one deliberately.

and I do agree that vampires need another visit
I was hoping for a sort of non-vampire vampire story... about vampires. With two vampires.

Appreciate you guys so much! Looking forward to the next Episode.

 
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evrgrn_monster
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2013, 12:06:42 AM »

This story was not a new story. It wasn't something that I hadn't ever heard, and it wasn't told in a particularly unique fashion.

That being said, man, did I enjoy myself. Sometimes, a familiar story can be made engaging and a new experience if written well, and this is a perfect example of that concept. Part of this is solidly on the narrator, who was a goddamn star. His little off-the-side comments, the switch between Andy and Andi, everything that came together for me. So many little lines just resonated with me. I wish I had been a position to write them down to let the author know what exactly stuck, because there were too many for me to remember and post. It was just a solid piece of writing. I do agree, the hunting went on a little long, but the descriptions were great, so I didn't mind too terribly. The ending was quite good as well.

I hate to make another movie reference, since it shows I watch way too many, but this reminded me a lot of "Thirst," a South Korean film directed by Park Chan Woo. (Just as a warning for people who want to watch it, it is slooooooooooow.) However, it has a similar desperate sadness to it, and it's also about a sad vampire man.
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2013, 01:17:29 AM »

Quote
Sometimes, a familiar story can be made engaging and a new experience if written well, and this is a perfect example of that concept.

I agree completely - sometimes, readers become so caught up in the trap of "cliche trope" that they rarely consider the inverse trap of "novelty as its own end".  We try for many things at Pseudopod... including, occasionally, the familiar!

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« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2013, 12:07:32 PM »

I fought on both sides of the Second Massasa War (bonus points if you know what I'm talking about).

I Googled it... do I get the points?

You can get partial credit. But you weren't there, man. You can't know what it was like.
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« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2013, 06:32:16 AM »

Hey folks, did anyone else have huge problems with audio quality on this one? I can't seem to hear it even with noise-cancelling earbuds in. I'm going to have to retry listening to it in a quiet room on speakers, instead.
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« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2013, 09:54:37 AM »

I enjoyed the story. The quiet timid reading worked for me. The character was unsure of himself and the narrator imparted that very effectively. However, I will agree it was difficult to follow at times.

The vampire was believable and the author's take on vampires in general was refreshing. Like many, when I have recently heard the word Vampire in fiction, I have tended to stay clear of the story. However, this story, for me, really captured the social commentary dynamic which has been popular in zombie stories recently.

I also find that the first person format works really well in a audio setting.
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nathonicus
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2013, 02:20:16 PM »

A nice story with a good reader, but man, this story suffers from "I said/she said" syndrome; sometimes five or six in a row.  A minor quibble - but it's easy to fix!
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