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Author Topic: Pseudopod 433: 20 Simple Steps To Ventriloquism  (Read 9345 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: April 11, 2015, 02:32:51 PM »

Pseudopod 433: 20 Simple Steps To Ventriloquism

by Jon Padgett

“20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism” first appeared in the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award winning anthology, THE GRIMSCRIBE PUPPETS. “When I was a child, my first ventriloquist dummy came with a pamphlet entitled “7 SIMPLE STEPS TO VENTRILOQUISM.” Though the following ventriloquist story went through a tremendous number of transmutations from its inception two decades ago (when it was first conceived), that pamphlet from my past proved to be the key to what “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism” would finally become. Practice the first seven steps enough, and you may one day be able to throw your voice with the best of the showbiz ventriloquists out there. Practice the rest of the steps at your own risk.”

JON PADGETT – your author AND reader – is the creator and long time administrator of the Thomas Ligotti Online website, and — as such — has been the first publisher for a number of Ligotti’s prose works over the years, including MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE and CRAMPTON. He has work forthcoming in “Lovecraft eZine” and “XNOYBIS“. Padgett’s chapbook, THE INFUSORIUM & his first short story collection, THE SECRET OF VENTRILOQUISM are forthcoming from Dunhams Manor Press. Padgett is a professional — though lapsed — ventriloquist who lives in New Orleans with his spouse, daughter, two cats, and dog. Padgett is also a professional voice-over artist with over thirty-seven years of theater and twenty years of audio narration experience who recently produced Occult .45: Four Tales of Gunrunning in the Weird West by Nick Carcano and is in the midst of producing an audiobook version of A.R. Morlan‘s novel, Dark Journey: A Novel of Horror. Padgett also has produced some notable amateur audio performance efforts, such as “The Bungalow House” by Thomas Ligotti and “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” by Conrad Aiken.

All needle drops and run-out grooves in this audio production are derived from the carefully curated sample collection of ye olde editor Shawn M. Garrett… who always knew they would come in handy someday

This is the link for the Faculty of Horror podcast.

Steven Saus’ Pseudopod Story The Burning Servant is at the link under the name (natch) and his twitter account is as well.

JR Blackwell’s Author Portrait Kickstarter can be found here and his twitter feed is here.



“Being a ventriloquist is a lot of fun. Anyone from eight to eighty can learn the basic techniques of this craft with a little practice. If you really want to know about ventriloquism and what it can do for you, just follow these 20 easy steps, and one day you’ll find out just how much fun a ventriloquist can have.

STEP 1

“How to hold your mouth”

Always practice in front of a mirror. Close your mouth in a natural, relaxed way and part your lips slightly. Stare at your mouth closely in this position until you can see nothing else, as if your mouth were hovering in the midst of nothingness.”




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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Shawn Mann
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2015, 04:07:02 PM »

My insomnia has been flaring-up recently and this recording hasn't aided in my quest for slumber. I forgot just how unsettling this story is. This recording is like one of those guided meditation CDs--one leading into a deeper sense of inner understanding, towards a truth greater than I can bear to know. This story has lodged itself into my psyche since I first read it, like an irritative granule of sand forming itself into a sickly pearl of self-knowledge: that we are all, despite our contrived appearances and self-imposed assurances to the contrary, both subjects and practitioners of ventriloquism in some form or another, with the dark hand of some unknowable force slipped into our backs. I've been awaiting this recording for some time and I want to thank you sincerely for it, insomnia be damned. Personally, I think this deserves a Parsec Award.

Jon also has a new book, The Infusorium, being released by Dunhams Manor Press. There are only 7 copies left right now, so I would suggest that any interested parties secure a copy as quickly as possible.
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Tim Tylor
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2015, 05:50:26 PM »

Between this and the coming apotheosis of the Deep Balloon-Benders, humanity is facing some serious wet weekends.  Wink A neatly nasty little guided trip from home to hell, and the staticky-recording narration was a beautiful touch.

I'm seeing this as the reverse of the standard "bad dummy" ventriloquist horror trope (Dead Of Night / Magic et and c). Standard trope's about an inanimate object being raised to some sort of life and personhood; a profoundly creative act, even if it ends in tears and other spilled fluids. Whereas Greater+ Ventriloquism is grimly, gleefully destructive and all about the denial of personhood, life, identity, volition...
« Last Edit: April 11, 2015, 06:02:59 PM by Tim Tylor » Logged
Arthur Staaz
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2015, 10:16:22 PM »

I thought this story was great in The Grimscribe's Puppets. But Jon's reading of it was absolutely amazing. It was hypnotic. And I'm not sure that's a compliment, as I contemplated the trifles around me and the trifle in the mirror. There is some real necromancy in this story and a lesson in the pacing of weird fiction. I agree with Shawn Mann's comment - I was reminded of a guided meditation. The story also subtly leads the listener to questions about the nature of consciousness and the question of free will. A lot of food for thought is provided in a short time and in a most entertaining manner.
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Aktraylor
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2015, 10:26:55 PM »

My favorite so far!  Keep up the great work!
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FullMetalAttorney
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2015, 01:09:54 AM »

When I started this episode, I got the sense that it was going to be only mildly interesting and not really horrifying in any way. By the end, I'd completely changed my mind. Very nice, and the reading really elevated it. Top-notch work there.
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Sgarre1
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"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2015, 08:46:42 AM »

Glad we could underwhelm your expectations, FullMetalAttorney!
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PilotFish
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2015, 02:38:31 PM »

I've been a dedicated Pseudopod fan since 2008, and exemplary stories like this are one reason I listen every week. It's time for me to stop lurking and contribute to this forum. 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism is a crescendo of horror. At first subtly unnerving, each step pushes the story further into the realm of delicious terror. It's a unique experience and, I might add, an educational step-by-step guide to greater ventriloquism.

Oh, and the narration work here is fantastic. Jon's reading complements the story and demonstrates how powerful spoken horror can be.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2015, 06:44:23 PM »

I love it when lurkers de-lurk and I count no less than four for this extraordinary episode Smiley Welcome folks! Great to have you aboard.
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Aaronvlek
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2015, 10:06:12 PM »

Amazing! I have only been on board Pseudopod for the last couple of months. You really have a great pack of stories. But whoever is pairing killer pro voices with the exact accents and the precise and perfect intonation appropriate to each individual story is GENIUS! I think my household needs to subscribe.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2015, 02:50:34 AM »

But whoever is pairing killer pro voices with the exact accents and the precise and perfect intonation appropriate to each individual story is GENIUS!

That would be our genius editor, Shawn Garrett. Smiley
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adrianh
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2015, 07:22:27 AM »

Excellent reading + excellent story = excellence ;-)
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Aaronvlek
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2015, 01:25:36 PM »

Kudos to Shawn Garrett! It really makes it a whole new medium.
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2015, 01:58:31 PM »

I think someone must have mixed grumpy pills into my morning vitamins because it seems like I'm disliking more stories than usual lately, even though everyone else seems to be loving them.  I'm generally having a crappy month overall, so it might just be that.

I loved the reader on this one, but I thought it took way too long to get past the regular ventriloquism, and it ended up going pretty much where I expected from the beginning--which can be fine if it's otherwise engaging, but to me it wasn't all that much.  :/
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Scratch
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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2015, 07:49:26 PM »

I must confess that this episode is my first visit to Pseudopod, but what an impression it has made upon me!

Padgett's reading of his story "20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism" was absolutely unnerving,  and as I had the coincidental misfortune of standing near a mirror by the end of the tale, I was left haunted long after the story ended. Learning that the author is a lapsed ventriloquist himself and that the story is modeled as a real instruction manual blurs the boundary of fiction and stirs it into a performance that I'd pay to hear read live by the author and his dummy.

If this high quality story/reading/recording can be expected from your podcasts, I look forward to visiting your site again. Thanks for making this available and great work to all involved!
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pboyton
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« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2015, 10:16:23 PM »

This was my favorite story from the Grimscribe's Puppets collection and it's great hearing it read aloud by Padgett. The second-person narrative is really enhanced here. Looking forward to reading - and hearing - more from this author. Excellent stuff!
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2015, 11:45:40 AM »

Oh!  The mirror thing!  I forgot to mention that.

When I was in college, I got in a conversation with someone who claimed that if you maintain eye contact long enough with someone you could basically read their mind as long as they weren't actively walling you out.
 
After the conversation I tried it in a mirror.  It took about five minutes, but suddenly my perception of the situation took a sharp and scary turn.  Instead of me being someone mildly bored and making eye contact with his reflection, suddenly my perception shifted and I felt the distinct impressiont that this person knew something he wasn't telling me, and it was not a good thing, it was a dark thing, and there was mischief in his eyes.  I'm guessing there's something up in the brain that, if you can force out of alignment by doing this exercise.  If I remember correctly there's a part of the brain responsible for locating your sense of self and if this area is stimulated in a certain way you can perceive yourself outside of your own body, making a doppelganger perception.  I wonder if doing this tweaks that part of the brain.  I don't actually think there's an evil version of myself living in a mirror and biding its time until I open the gateway and it can swap with me and then do horrible things while wearing my face.

But it's been 15 years and I have not repeated this experiment again either because it was scary as hell.
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bmroz
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« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2015, 11:52:34 AM »

This story has haunted me since I first read it -- the prose rolls out like a tongue, first flirting and caressing and then insisting and lapping all the air out of your lungs and by the time you distinguish your absence of breath as the inability to scream you're already half eaten. Hearing it read makes it worse (better). Jon has such a warm, welcoming tone to his voice that he never wholly loses even when the Master Ventriloquist starts speaking more plainly from within. It's a very unsettling, very neat trick. And that last line is one of my favourites in fiction.

Sorry for the lurk-and-blurt. Very cool podcast.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2015, 06:44:38 PM »

We have no problem with lurk-and-blurt Smiley Even better if you stay around. Thanks for your comments folks.
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Asymptotic Binary
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« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2015, 10:58:38 AM »

I've listen to this twice now, and it only gets more effective on the second listen. The steady escalation of ever more disturbing imagery, the careful re-use of certain words and phrases - I'll probably be suppressing a shudder on seeing the word "trifle" for a bit yet.
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