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Author Topic: Pseudopod 370: Mary  (Read 10247 times)

Bdoomed

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on: January 25, 2014, 02:13:27 AM
Pseudopod 370: Mary

by Krista Soli Foster.

“Mary” makes its debut on PSEUDOPOD. Says Krista “I wrote this story during my first visit to the Salem/Danvers area, trying to sneak one last peek at the great Danver’s Asylum before it was torn down and made into condos. After hearing that the original location of the old witch hanging spot of Gallow’s Hill was lost to history and known only as ‘the highest hill in the town’ I decided for myself that the highest hill I could see was the one upon which the asylum stood, and wouldn’t that make it an extra nasty place to build anything.”

KRISTA SOLI FOSTER is a very well rounded geek who lives in Chicago with her slightly less geeky husband, pre-geeky baby girl, and a perfectly geriatric cat who’s been with her longer than the other two combined. She is a horror, Lovecraft, movie, comics, gamer buff. She is also a licensed massage therapist. She frequently wonders how people keep up with things like writing, or bathing, once they have kids. She can be found on Facebook as Krista Soli Foster, and there’s a link to her blog there as well. She will have a short radio play published by Wildclaw Theatre’s Blood Radio podcast sometime next year. Wildclaw can be found at here and the podcast can be found at here.

Your reader this week – Joe Calarco is an actor, sound designer, and Associate Artistic Director for the Coeurage Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Check them out here.



“He could scarcely remember a time before there was Mary. His adoration for her grew with every visit, like a well-tended fruit tree. She was his one and only; there had never been anyone before Mary. Time itself was endless while he was gazing into her eyes. At night he would caress her face and she would gasp and moan, and he would thrill with delight at the warmth of her breath and the tears in her eyes. It was her sweet voice alone that controlled the beat of his heart, and it always had been. One day he snuck into her room and she cried out so gleefully that he was driven to dance across the very floor, spinning and spinning late into the night as the angry old man in the next room pounded on the wall, shouting curses to no one that cared.

Mary made him happy.

One day, he found Mary to be swollen and red, her skin stretched over her body like a thin sheet of wax. She cried only a little when he came to see her, because her mouth was held shut by the weight of bloated, cracking ruby lips. She was lovelier then than ever before. He delighted in pressing his cheek against her leg and watching the imprint slowly fade away. When the doctor came, he heard the man tell Mary that they were going to change her medication soon, but wouldn’t be able to for another week until they knew if the swelling would go away on its own. Mary cried a little more. The sound of her voice was like bells.

Mary was the essence of joy.”





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


EdibleKnife

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Reply #1 on: January 26, 2014, 12:46:55 PM
Wonderfully frightening. This episode was a real treat. The reader was fantastic especially the sound mixing work.



Unblinking

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Reply #2 on: January 27, 2014, 03:22:09 PM
UUUuuuggghh, creepy.  I like a good skewed POV, that makes you like a monster on some level.  From his POV, he just wanted to see his old friend again and play with her.  It's only from the real world perspective where you realize the terrible things this implies, that this is so scary.  I think it's interesting that he latches on so voraciously to people of the same name, but actually considers them to be the same person with ever-shifting visage. 

Clever, creepy, wrong, well done.



Conejo Gordo

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Reply #3 on: January 30, 2014, 06:48:49 PM
Did I just hear Alasdair make a Kids in the Hall reference. As if he wasn't already my hero!!!



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Reply #4 on: January 30, 2014, 07:06:52 PM
"The old leader's bones still beat on our homes. They built our life before us, we had no choice. The evil that has been done is still carrying on. And when they're are gone we'll be the voice." Cat Stevens (100 I Dream): There are ancient enemies of civilization: inter-tribal warfare, entra-tribal warfare, contemplation of a circle of love that swirls round and round a self-absorbed drain. The inertia of evil (big "E" or little "e") invites us every moment to sit back and revel in the pain and suffering of what our aberration of human consciousness presents. Some inflict suffering on the helpless. And a very few embrace the suffering as "Mary" does in the end. There are deals that the casual observer will say - "Well that was the day two fools met." And a deal a deal to someone. Resist the impulse to hurt and be hurt. Better to drown than except a helping extended straight razor.



Facemouth

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Reply #5 on: January 31, 2014, 07:33:39 AM
Hey guys!

It's Joe Calarco (the reader.) I wanted to get opinions from regular listeners about something... 

I do a lot of sound design. Next time I contribute to Pseudopod, if they'll allow it, I was thinking about going all out with effects, ambiance, etc.  I know that sort of thing is not usually done here.  As listeners, if it's done well, does that sort of thing add to the experience? Or is a simple narration more enjoyable?

All best,
Joe



midas68

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Reply #6 on: January 31, 2014, 07:52:46 AM
Hi Fellow Dark Cave Dwellers of the Soul.

I just want to mention something that is playing out in my mind(not that I shouldn't be locked up but I have to roll with what I got Right)
Ever since I heard about you guys being in trouble awhile back and the possible ending of this marvelous program(this isn't a rag piece) I was very concerned about your future.Check, you guys came back from the dead.  The 2nd thing I was worried about was if/when you guys came back from the graveyard IF you guys were going to get cheap on us(now I'm using that word loosely) And I have to say I see a lot of "First Time Published" or it's basic equal stuff coming out every week now.

This was coming off of getting legends like Lansdale,Schow, Brian Hodge onto the airwaves.
I know you need to inject new blood into the veins but I'm just hopping it's not a sign of where you are headed.  A mix of old and new would be fabulous.

Course I'm coming across as a Dick, but it's something I felt worthy of mentioning.
I know I wait all week to see whats new on Friday and rather it's a great story or not, it is kinda hard to get excited about someone you never heard before when it looks like that's a possible trend.

Nothing against this weeks story, I haven't read it and I like most people have a tremendous backlog with the time I do have to devote to listening. So it's just hard for to shiver me timbers on people I've never heard of.

Regardless you guys have always surprised me of how cool you are.
Thanks and I look forward to following you for a long time.

Count Floyd
OOOOhOOOhOoooooooooooOOOOOOooooo



Bdoomed

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Reply #7 on: January 31, 2014, 02:06:24 PM
Midas,

Pseudopod prints what comes through the submissions pipeline.  The stories seek us, we don't seek all of our stories.  The price per story does not change.  No one here is "getting cheap".  Shawn regularly finds classic horror to bring to Pseudopod, but the majority of our stories is, and will always be, submissions based. 

If you want to hear stories from your favorite authors, drop them a line and ask them to submit a story!  We welcome authors of all degrees of success, so long as the story is solid.  It's not about first print or reprint or breakout story or tried and true, it's about how well the story reads, and how well it translates to audio (with some wiggle room for experiments/fun).

That said, I know for a fact that Shawn is currently in the process of finding a suitably epic story for PP400.  Otherwise, there's not a whole lot of story seeking going on.

(also, perhaps this comment might have been better delegated to a separate thread in the About Pseudopod board, if you would like to continue this conversation, which you are more than welcome to do, please PM me or start a new thread.  I'd like to keep this thread about the story at hand)


and speaking of the story...

This sufficiently creeped me out.  I really would have loved to see the final Mary's degeneration a bit more, and perhaps from an outside perspective as well, but that's just a curiosity, not a critique. 

But yeah, good show.

As to you, Joe, effects/ambiance/etc is often hard to pull off.  Often, when effects are attempted, it's met with more complaints than praise (or at least that's what I remember -- could be a fault of memory).  That said, if you want to attempt it next time you do a reading, by all means talk to Shawn or Graeme about it, get their input, bounce some ideas around.  I'm sure you could always even just send two audio files, one vanilla, one with effects.  That's something to bring up with the editorial staff, and surely dependent on the story.  Appropriate effects and ambiance are totally awesome when they work out, but can also easily detract from the story itself.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Unblinking

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Reply #8 on: January 31, 2014, 03:08:42 PM
Another viewpoint about new vs. old: 
All that I want is for Pseudopod to pick good stories.  With the caveat, of course, that there is no possible way I will like all the stories.  Huge classics on big round episode numbers are fun and I know they take extra effort to acquire, but other than those I just want good stories.  In my opinion Pseudopod is much more welcoming to newcoming authors than most publications, and I think it's all the stronger for it (fair disclosure--my very first story sale was to Pseudopod in 2009) .  So I just want good stories put into my ears.  Which is what you have been doing, Pseudopod.  So, keep it up.  :)

Joe:
What Bdoomed said.  Some listeners would probably like it, others wouldn't.  Audio stories can come in several semi-distinct styles that feel fairly distinct based on size of cast, production extras, etc.  Some people like some, some people like others.  I'm pretty happy to listen to any of them as long as it's a good story.  Historically, the EA casts have used such effects not very much.  If you're interested in trying out something along those lines, and if Shawn or Graeme or others would rather not have too many effects (which would be totally fair enough), you might also want to take a peek at the Dunesteef podcast.  They take volunteer guest audio producers, and their recordings tend much more towards full cast and sound effects.



Fenrix

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Reply #9 on: January 31, 2014, 05:23:33 PM
Midas,

There's a bunch of Plans in the works with Big Names, but there's a whole lot of rights wrangling and estate negotiations. Help us out by writing a letter to your favorite Big Names and ask them to run a story here. There are some whose rights are tied up as soon as they are published, so we would need something new. There are others who need to be convinced that creative commons rights are not evil and yet others that need to be comfortable with the story in this form (no-derivatives) be out in the world forever (because you can't stop the signal). If their fans want them to try out a different distribution mechanism, it may help convince them.

Also, I think you'll be happy to see some returns to some PseudoPod serials coming up, along with things identified by old H.P. in his timeless essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature". I think it's also worth reminding you about the awesome Dorman family cannibalism story that Shawn ran the day after Thanksgiving.  Actually, the end of the year was packed full of classics including Robert Arthur, Robert Chambers, and Jack London. So let not your heart be troubled, and may nightmares of PseudoPod quality not kiss your sweaty brow.

I passed this story up to Shawn, as I found it effectively creepy along with its great monster. I also loved how it was inspired by the asylum/sanitorium that Arkham was modeled after.

"The one test of the really weird is simply this—whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers; a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim."

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Sgarre1

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Reply #10 on: January 31, 2014, 05:44:31 PM
Hello all (edit - oops, I see that I've duplicated Fenrix's work)

Midas

Don't worry, it's not dickishness (how could I be miffed at anyone who quotes Count Floyd?  "Tonight's movie is... "Georgie Girl".... hmmm... well, I haven't seen it kids but I bet it's SCAAAAARY") But let's look closely at this for a second

First, keep in mind that I work *very* far ahead, so the stories you were listening to post-rescue and up to now were almost all bought before we needed rescuing.  Seriously.  I have only 20 episodes left to fill for 2014 right now, and I just acquired some stories for Winter of 2015... yes, a year from now.

Two, that span of time had Darrell Schweitzer (winner of a World Fantasy Award and former editor of WEIRD TALES), Jack London, Robert W. Chambers and Robert Arthur Jr. (granted, the latter is probably best known to crime fiction fans but his output in the field of horror/supernatural stories is pronounced).  Heck, the stretch just preceding the rescue situation (which had been bought at least 6 months before) had a larger amount of new writers!

Three, if it isn't apparent, I schedule stories by season where possible, so most of these recent stories just happened to have winter settings and that's just the way they fell.  The only specifically programmatic things you can expect from a PSEUDOPOD schedule are big/famous names on the anniversaries (300, 325, 350, 400, etc.) and 4 FLASH ON THE BORDERLANDS, one in each season.

Bdoomed - well, actually, there is a good amount of story seeking going on.  My basic formula is that we run half new/submitted stories and half classic/PD/modern big names.  Technically, everyone gets the same pay rate but I imagine it wouldn't surprise anyone that sometimes (but only sometimes) the Modern authors request a little more (it's an agent thing, usually - and sometimes, they give us the story for nothing.  We like those sometimes!).  I just acquired 4 stories from some recent MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR STORIES, in fact.  That half and half never works out exactly because, as Alex could concur, it takes a hell of a lot of time trying to contact older Modern authors and making a pitch.

And, you and Unblinking are right in your response to Joe.  Joe - effects are fine as an experiment but before you put a lot of time into them, check with us first. Alternatively, just make sure we also get a version without effects.

To quell Midas' fears (and yet not blow any surprises for 400 - which is impossible anyway because nothing is firm yet) - the upcoming months will feature (barring problems) Modern/Current names like: Mark Samuels, Kim Newman, Reggie Oliver, Terry Dowling, Paul Finch, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Steve Vernon, Dale Bailey and Daniel Mills.  That should whet your appetite!

(Count Floyd "I'm telling you, the movie was so good... it wasn't even funny...")
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEjdt_n1l-4
« Last Edit: January 31, 2014, 05:48:09 PM by Sgarre1 »



Facemouth

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Reply #11 on: January 31, 2014, 08:18:46 PM
 :)

Thanks for the responses all!  That really helps.  I'm on the fence about it, but doing two versions to see what works is a great call.  Even if it's not used, it's still good practice.  I think maybe the style of the story, the perspective, the amount of dialogue, etc. may have an impact on how effective it would be. 



midas68

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Reply #12 on: January 31, 2014, 08:57:39 PM
Thanks for the replies and reassuring my mind numbing fear, I do tend to get a bit paranoid after having to bite my way thru the straight jacket and hunk a fountain thru the window.(speaking of sound effects) remember how eerie but emotional the ending music was to "One Who Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest"

Definitely showing the impact of having beginning and end music, and I think it's most effective when it starts or ends while the narrator is speaking(Low volume to high)

The impact of which can be seen/heard when it's been takin away when it's expected at the end of movies, Which I'm sure is one of the great Hates of anyone that has ever watched a movie on Network TV,  The second the music starts, and you are taking in the final scene either with your mouth agaped or a tear in your eye and that music(if picked right) gives you the goose bumps and what do these Network Numb-nuts do, they cut directly to commercials of whats coming later crap with the ending credits moving in a unreadable background.  Just horrible disrespect to any film Director and crew, Especially any film that actually does end on a emotional note.

Anyway Sound Effects inside the story can work and add to the mood, but they never succeed when they are either too loud or even worse 'Constant(Listen to Borderlands Press production of Joe Lansdales Night They Missed the Horror Show for a prime ex)

Well Thanks for setting my minds to rights and Sgarre1 Thanks for the info, you had me leaning forward and back reading the clues of the future like Bruno checking out Dr. Tongues 3-D House of Horror.

Thanks for Everything Gentlemen of the Damned.

Ill go check out this weeks story now(and try to enjoy the daylight)

Sloppy Susie



The Far Stairs

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Reply #13 on: February 01, 2014, 05:23:35 AM
I thought the vocal effects in this story were just perfect. Any more and it might have been too much. On the other hand, if they were all done as skillfully as those, maybe it would be even better.

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lowky

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Reply #14 on: February 03, 2014, 02:57:50 PM
i have heard effects that work and others that are distracting.  It's hard to say if more would be better or not, without having something good to compare it to.  I would say the vocal effects on this episode were just about spot on.  Much more and I think it would get distracting but it is hard to say. 


Metalsludge

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Reply #15 on: February 09, 2014, 12:07:10 PM
For the record, I love that Pseudopod publishes new or relatively little heard of authors often. And having a big name is no guarantee of a good story anyway, as much as I enjoy the work of certain authors.

The occasional classic story is good too, with many folks here evidently not being already familiar with all of them as it is.

My only story selection concern is the same set that one could bring up against most genre anthologies of the past twenty years - that maybe one post-apocalyptic and/or zombie story too many is something to guard against. But that has already been addressed by several people in the forum comments of the past.




Trelbee

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Reply #16 on: February 09, 2014, 07:06:36 PM
Hello hello, this is Krista, the author.

I've been stalking these comments for a little while and thought I should finally at least say hi. Hi!

First, on the subject of sound effects and ambiance:

I think what was done for the story was quite literally fantastic and exactly right. Just a couple well place voice effects and an echo here or there. For this kind of narrative it's perfect.

Now I say this as someone who is also used to writing radio dramas that specifically feature sound cues, as well as being a foley artist for Wildclaw theater. I know for a fact that there are a whole host of sound effects that add nothing to a story - things like rustling through papers or rifling through a drawer, clinking bottles. Boring, noisy, and added without care can even cause confusion in the story. But footsteps are usually ok, just make sure you're adding them where they need to be (for instance, people don't tend to be walking when they're delivering a powerful narrative.) It's easier to add complementary sounds to loud stories, stories with lots of shouting or screaming; particularly menacing sounds like drills or breaking glass usually add great emotion. Quiet, thoughtful or creepy stories need significantly more care. And then the top of the line is when you can add ambient sounds like wind, or a echo effect on a voice. The most powerful auditory weapon is being able to add just the right musical cues. But with power comes responsibility, as they say.  That can go wrong so quickly, and then you've turned your story into a movie of the week.

That's my two cents on sound. Done well it's great. If it gets in the way of the story or doesn't drive the narrative in any way, then it's awful.

Second, Fenrix, thanks for the tiny note on why you sent my story to the next step. I'm always interested to hear what grabs people. :)

And finally, on the old versus new topic:

Not even because it meant that they did my little ditty, but I truly love that Pseudopod works with new authors. I could care less if someone is already published, i just want to hear a really good story. And ironically, the stories that I sometimes find the most boring are the ones from the thoroughly established authors. I'm not sure if that says anything complementary about me as a consumer, but it is the truth. There are plenty of literary podcasts out there so when I discovered Pseudopod a couple years ago, and they seemed to be actively hunting down the stories that I wanted to hear, no matter where they came from, I became an instant fan. Just tell a good story and you have won my heart.

Please forgive my typos and grammatical errors. I'm probably using swype on my phone, or god help me, holding my iPad aloft over my head while the baby sleeps in my arms. Believe me, the errors bother me waaaay more than they bother you...


Alasdair5000

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Reply #17 on: February 09, 2014, 08:16:02 PM
Hi Krista:)

Thanks so much for joining the board, very appreciated:) (And thanks for the good wishes regarding my engagement:))

Regarding sound cues, I have a visual equivalent. There's an old British TV movie called Ghostwatch, written by Steven Volk. It was presented absolutely straight faced as a piece of reality TV and got a flood of complaints when things went very very wrong in the back half and most of the UK thought one of their favorite chat show hosts was possessed by an evil spirit.

It terrified me as a kid and remains one of my all time favorite things:)

I mention it because there's a visual equivalent to subtle sound design in there. Cameras are set up throughout a house that's apparently been haunted, including one in the children's bedroom. The show cycles through these in the 'studio' as phone calls are taken and the issue is discussed.

Then people call in saying they saw someone standing behind the curtains in the kids' bedroom...

The footage is rolled back and no one's there.

Except, when you watch it again from the start, someone was. The DVD menu is actually that shot with the ghost appearing and disappearing. It's very cool and as you say about good sound design, it serves the story:)


Regarding old and new, I'll agree with and build upon what you, and Shawn, said. We go with what we like, just like every other show in the fleet. Sometimes it's older stories, and a lot of the time they're older stories that are personal to us. Sometimes it's stories from new authors. Every single time it's a story that's made not one but often 3-4 people go 'THAT! THAT ONE!'. Our baseline here is really easy; does a story excite and entertain us? If the answer's yes then it's a good piece. If it's a good piece, we'll buy it and run it.



Trelbee

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Reply #18 on: February 10, 2014, 04:18:21 AM
Alasdair, yay! Glad to be here. I will have to look up Ghostwatch. It reminds me of a particular episode of Tales from the Crypt (yes, the mid 90s HBO show) called Television Terror. I loved that damned show as a kid, not only because clearly i shouldn't have ben watching it, but also because every now and then there was an episode that, instead of making me feel giddy and dirty, it actually scared me. This was one of them.

Probably also why I'm suck a huge sucker for any format of short story, circling me back to why i love Pseudopod.

They say intermittent positive reinforcement is a much stronger motivator of behavior than constant positive reinforcement. If I keep listening/reading/watching then I'm sure I'll get to another really freaky installment, I just know it!! Cue 30 year addiction...

One last thought on sound design. I went through a huge minimalist phase in my horror movie tastes for a long while, inspired by a string of greats from around the 60s and 70s, once I cued into the fact that they struck me as much more terrifying for the fact that there was almost no soundtrack at all. A single plucked note on a string can do more for me than fifty lurid, shrieking violins, or all the deathmetal in the world, at least when it comes to soundtracks. One of the only recent films in my memory to get this right has been House of the Devil. Such a perfect and perfectly subtle homage to period horror is extremely rare. And what was the icing on the cake? Only use the soundtrack when shit hits the fan. Otherwise, be so subtle that someone might not even catch why a moment is scary unless they're really paying attention. It heightens your senses and forces you to be that much more into the moment. Sound design in general should use that as a guideline.

Please forgive my typos and grammatical errors. I'm probably using swype on my phone, or god help me, holding my iPad aloft over my head while the baby sleeps in my arms. Believe me, the errors bother me waaaay more than they bother you...


Unblinking

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Reply #19 on: February 10, 2014, 02:47:10 PM
I've kind of come to prefer movie soundtracks that don't telegraph the emotion.  If I need the soundtrack to tell me how a scene is supposed to make me feel, then the director didn't do a very good job with the rest of it.  It's often used as a kind of a general purpose laugh-line which I've also come to dislike.  Even worse is when the emotional telegraph tells me to feel something that I absolutely do not feel--like a laughline that's placed after something I didn't even realize was supposed to be a joke.



davidthygod

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Reply #20 on: February 10, 2014, 04:54:20 PM
Creepy as hell.  This is one of my favorites.  Great work by all involved, and major kudos to Krista Soli Foster and Joe Calarco.  I very much hope that you are both involved in many more of these.

The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.


davidthygod

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Reply #21 on: February 10, 2014, 04:57:41 PM
I do a lot of sound design. Next time I contribute to Pseudopod, if they'll allow it, I was thinking about going all out with effects, ambiance, etc.  I know that sort of thing is not usually done here.  As listeners, if it's done well, does that sort of thing add to the experience? Or is a simple narration more enjoyable?

Please do, that was some of the best narration I have heard in Escape Artists and I trust you implicitly.  In addition, I almost always feel like effects add to the depth and feel of the stories.  Sometimes weaker narration can be saved by effects, which is not an issue for you, but I always appreciate the extra effort that has to go into adding appropriate effects, and it always adds to my story enjoyment.   

The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.


Trelbee

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Reply #22 on: February 10, 2014, 06:05:42 PM
Exactly what david and unblinking just said. Yes.

Please forgive my typos and grammatical errors. I'm probably using swype on my phone, or god help me, holding my iPad aloft over my head while the baby sleeps in my arms. Believe me, the errors bother me waaaay more than they bother you...


Facemouth

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Reply #23 on: February 14, 2014, 03:05:32 AM
Awwwwwww shucks.   :)  What a great story to read.



Kaa

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Reply #24 on: February 14, 2014, 08:12:33 PM
Lemme reiterate from two other story threads: Pseudopod, you're on fire.

I loved this story. Loved. It. Listened to it twice. When the whispering echoed it made the hairs on the back of my neck and my arms stand up. And I was driving at the time. Deliciously spooky, atmospheric, and creepy.

I listened again with headphones once I got home, and loved it even more. I could almost feel the breath tickling my ears...

Wonderful. I agree with some up-thread comments about too much of that ruining a good story (there have been a couple in the past on Escape Artists episodes that I thought went too far), but this was just the perfect amount to add just that little bit extra.

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

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Reply #25 on: February 15, 2014, 01:19:10 PM
This one I liked a lot.  Sure, it's not exactly a new or particularly shocking idea, but like Unblinking said, it portrayed a non-human perspective with unsettling accuracy.  (Well, I say "accuracy" like I know what one would sound like, but you know what I mean.)  I enjoyed the effort to spice up the reading, but like many such efforts, all it did was render me unable to hear what the bleep was being said while the SFX were going.  (I have rubbish hearing and I tend to listen while doing chores like washing the dishes, so any added background hiss or white noise is basically turning on Scattercat Mute.)  I did figure it out by the end, at least enough to appreciate the cyclical structure.

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.

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Fenrix

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Reply #26 on: February 17, 2014, 03:57:42 PM

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.


I got the impression that the final Mary (who is actually a Mary) may be the closure of a loop. Maybe she is a manifestation or reincarnation of the first True Mary.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #27 on: February 17, 2014, 05:06:09 PM

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.


I got the impression that the final Mary (who is actually a Mary) may be the closure of a loop. Maybe she is a manifestation or reincarnation of the first True Mary.

I really didn't get that sense. For me, what stood out about the final Mary was that she was the *restart* of the loop - the hospital was closed, the creature was starving, and the whole thing might be ending. But now there's a new Mary, and the cycle will continue. I do agree that it was a bit confusing that the last Mary was actually named Mary, but I ended up deciding that that's a coincidence more than anything else.



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Reply #28 on: February 17, 2014, 05:51:40 PM
I really didn't get that sense. For me, what stood out about the final Mary was that she was the *restart* of the loop - the hospital was closed, the creature was starving, and the whole thing might be ending. But now there's a new Mary, and the cycle will continue.

That was my take on it as well.

I do agree that it was a bit confusing that the last Mary was actually named Mary, but I ended up deciding that that's a coincidence more than anything else.

Although it's a little hard to tell what was actually intended to be fact, but my interpretation given that the last woman self-refers as Mary, that all of the previous Marys were also actually named Mary.  And that detail is the exact reason why this monster tortures them--he sees the repitition of the name as an indication of continuity of the person who is his beloved Mary.  Other people who move into that building with different names may have uneasy feelings or may hear rumors of dark happening.

This only works out because Mary is such a common name and will probably continue to be a common name wherever Christians are a significant portion of the population because of the importance of the name in the Bible.  If the original object of its affections were named Morticia or Ligeia than he'd probably just be a sad sack forever instead of being happily torturous.  I can just imagine it singing:
Quote
Oh it's a jolly holiday with Mary.
Mary makes your heart so light.
When the day is gray and ordinary,
Mary makes the sun shine bright.
...
No wonder that it's Mary that we love.

I think the monster is the ghost of Bert.  Never mind that the timelines and locations don't match up.



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Reply #29 on: February 17, 2014, 05:56:29 PM
Quote
my interpretation given that the last woman self-refers as Mary, that all of the previous Marys were also actually named Mary

Erm... weren't several of Marys male?

(cue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1BJfDvSITY)




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Reply #30 on: February 17, 2014, 06:57:20 PM
Quote
my interpretation given that the last woman self-refers as Mary, that all of the previous Marys were also actually named Mary

Erm... weren't several of Marys male?

(cue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1BJfDvSITY)



Hmmm... Maybe I'm misremembering, but I thought they were all female.  I thought that he tortured men sometimes too, but they were a poor substitute for his true love Mary and were little more than a way to pass the time until Mary returned.



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Reply #31 on: February 17, 2014, 07:05:04 PM
I'm pretty confident that two of the "Mary's" were male (one old one young) and we got a distinctly male name for one via discussion from other people. "Mary" was just what he called the person in the room where he was fettered.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #32 on: February 17, 2014, 07:08:09 PM
Here we go.

Quote

Mary was young again, now, even younger than time before and time before that. Short brown hair, pulled out in small patches, covered Mary’s head, and her eyes were red rimmed and small. Now he learned that Mary liked to climb into the hospital air vents at the top of chipped, stained walls, and he loved chasing her through these cramped metal corridors. The muffled screams echoed and filled the hospital to the point of maddening the other patients. Those were good days. The doctors would call into the vents, shouting, "Robert, come out of there right now, young man, you’ll get hurt!" But Mary didn’t like visiting anyone else in the hospital, not even the doctors. And no one else in the hospital was good at visiting Mary, except for him. This made Mary cry and cry every night that the vents were closed, while he stood over her and touched her hair. Sometimes Mary would kick out, and he would laugh, and Mary would cry some more, her muscles shaking under her skin.


All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #33 on: February 17, 2014, 09:18:10 PM

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.


I got the impression that the final Mary (who is actually a Mary) may be the closure of a loop. Maybe she is a manifestation or reincarnation of the first True Mary.

Possible, but like Eytanz, I didn't hear anything that pointed me that direction other than her being named Mary.  Was there something in the text?  Not having read it, but only heard it, I might have missed a subtle detail.

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Reply #34 on: February 18, 2014, 03:37:33 AM
Interesting...I could be wrong, but I took it as "Mary" could potentially be anybody.  It was almost as if the presence was choosing who "she" was. And powerless, the victim must obey.



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Reply #35 on: February 18, 2014, 03:32:56 PM
Here we go.

Quote

Mary was young again, now, even younger than time before and time before that. Short brown hair, pulled out in small patches, covered Mary’s head, and her eyes were red rimmed and small. Now he learned that Mary liked to climb into the hospital air vents at the top of chipped, stained walls, and he loved chasing her through these cramped metal corridors. The muffled screams echoed and filled the hospital to the point of maddening the other patients. Those were good days. The doctors would call into the vents, shouting, "Robert, come out of there right now, young man, you’ll get hurt!" But Mary didn’t like visiting anyone else in the hospital, not even the doctors. And no one else in the hospital was good at visiting Mary, except for him. This made Mary cry and cry every night that the vents were closed, while he stood over her and touched her hair. Sometimes Mary would kick out, and he would laugh, and Mary would cry some more, her muscles shaking under her skin.


I stand corrected!



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Reply #36 on: February 18, 2014, 04:52:03 PM

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.


I got the impression that the final Mary (who is actually a Mary) may be the closure of a loop. Maybe she is a manifestation or reincarnation of the first True Mary.

Possible, but like Eytanz, I didn't hear anything that pointed me that direction other than her being named Mary.  Was there something in the text?  Not having read it, but only heard it, I might have missed a subtle detail.

I'd have to dig farther to see why I have that impression, but one of the big signposts is that she's named Mary. We have reference to the First True Mary, then the substitute "Mary's" in the middle (with very deliberate reveals that they are non-Mary Marys), and the final seemed more important. If the final Mary being Mary wasn't important, then the author wouldn't have named her Mary.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #37 on: February 18, 2014, 06:22:02 PM
Maybe the fact that she was named Mary is what allowed the creature to find her in its weakened state. But honestly, I don't really believe that. If I were to guess the author's reasoning in naming her Mary, I'd say it's a meta-narrative decision trying to keep a continuity over the perspective shift.



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Reply #38 on: February 18, 2014, 11:40:03 PM
I'm pretty sure "non-Mary Marys" is now my favorite phrase from this discussion. :)

Please forgive my typos and grammatical errors. I'm probably using swype on my phone, or god help me, holding my iPad aloft over my head while the baby sleeps in my arms. Believe me, the errors bother me waaaay more than they bother you...


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Reply #39 on: May 01, 2014, 12:15:05 AM
Beautifully read.



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Reply #40 on: December 21, 2019, 04:10:04 PM
After all jacks are in their boxes
And the clowns have all gone to bed
You can hear happiness staggering on down the street
Footprints dressed in red

And the wind whispers... "Mary"



A very nice blend of story and narration.  Any theories on who or what the narrator was?

About the sound FX discussion:

Adding sound effects to a narrated story is kinda tricky. What works brilliantly in old time radio plays can sound gimmicky or intrusive in narrated stories.

I think background effects that add atmosphere or indicate a change in setting are often effective. Ocean noises in nautical tales are an example of the former, birds chirping or street noises for the latter. If done properly adding effects to vocals can be very effective in horror stories, but you have to make certain that the words are still intelligible.

The hardest thing, imo, is inserting individual sound effects into a story. They really have to be used judiciously. It almost feels like it's an all or nothing proposition. You need several effects throughout the story or you run the risk of a single effect jarring the reader out of the story. It's a tough call.