Author Topic: PC376: Ink  (Read 4969 times)

Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
on: August 11, 2015, 03:26:04 PM
PodCastle 376: Ink

by Sandra M. Odell

read by Sean D. Sorrentino

A PodCastle Original!

A woman stood at the tattoo parlor’s door. Small, damp from the storm, hair disheveled and slightly askew. Comfortable in her clothes, not her skin. The sight of her made Tiger’s chest itch, and his tattoos tingle. He turned down the stereo. “Can I help you with something?”

The woman looked at the shelves stuffed with pattern books, the posters of half­-naked men and women displaying their tattoos and piercings. “Is this Stars And Stripes Ink?”

Her voice had a touch of falsetto.

“That’s what the sign says in the window.”

She brushed aside her bangs, tugging her hair back into place in a way Tiger supposed he wasn’t meant to notice. “I would like a tattoo.”


Rated R.

Sandra M. Odell lives with her husband, sons, and cats in Washington state.  Her work has appeared in such venues as Jim Baen’s UNIVERSE, Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Galaxy’s Edge.  A Clarion West 2010 graduate, she is currently hard at work on plotting her second novel.  Or world domination.  Whichever comes first.

THE TWELVE WAYS OF CHRISTMAS, her collection of speculative fiction holiday stories, is available from Hydra House Books.

Sean Sorrentino lives in the Raleigh North Carolina area with his wife and his dog.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: September 02, 2015, 04:30:53 PM by Talia »



bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
Reply #1 on: August 11, 2015, 05:56:08 PM
Love love love



raetsel

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
    • MCL & Me
Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 06:58:52 PM
I really liked this one. As MK covered in the intro, tattoos, rightly or wrongly are inextricably linked with identity and this story riffed on that beautifully.

The way Tiger takes on the tattoos he creates and takes them away from his clients put me in mind of of a Roger Zelazny book I really enjoyed as a teenager. To Die in Italbar. ( Though apparently Zelazny hated it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Die_in_Italbar )

As I listened to the story I began the wonder why it was an R then I was literally stopped in my tracks ( as I walked to work ) when Tiger slices his client up I thought oh ok that will be why it is an R then. Great dramatic moment I didn't see coming.

Great narration ( they always are but it always bears saying). Brought the sleez, the concern and the ambivalence of Tiger out.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #3 on: August 14, 2015, 05:43:59 PM
Well, I certainly hope that the process of getting an ordinary tattoo isn't quite so full of tension, aggression, and drama, because I'm saving up for my own tattoo.

I absolutely agree that it's a matter of identity. It took a shift in my own identity for me to decide to go ahead and actually do it, after being fascinated by the idea for years. I got diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes about two weeks ago. Luckily, they caught it really early, so I don't have any vascular damage yet (which means I might well never, if I continue to manage it), but it's a huge change to my daily habits, my eating, and how I see myself.

It would be awesome if the tattooist could just rip the tattoo off and take my diabetes with it, but I somehow think that's not going to happen. :(

Anyway, I really liked this story. Everything was exactly on point. I particularly loved how Tiger himself had to act as the intermediary between those who desired what his tattoo magic could give them and the transformation they longed for, but couldn't partake himself. He was still stuck with his scars when the others got to be "perfect." That said, I really felt for Tiger. Most of the trans people I know seem pretty happy with their bodies, however they ultimately turned out.

I suppose that ultimately leads into my one critique of the story: if I were trans, I'd be a little bit annoyed at the assumption that just because he had a medical, rather than a magical, transition, Tiger has to view himself as scarred and imperfect and gets consumed with jealousy at the people who are - presumably - going to have it better than he does. For all that I liked Tiger as a wounded healer, I would have liked to get at least a little slice of where his damage comes from, other than just his transgender identity.

It wouldn't have taken much - maybe just a reference to some particular abuse or trauma, something that could have evoked the difficulties in his life thus far. Perhaps the author could have made it clear that he was still saving up for the "bottom" surgery and was particularly annoyed that he could give people this transformation for cheaper and felt compelled do so (damn you, human compassion) even though it delayed his own procedure. Something.

I know that's the kind of information that you would never ask an actual trans person for, but when it comes to this character, I felt like it left a bit of a gap. In the absence of that information, it seemed like he was just damaged because he was trans... and I don't think that's how it works. Transitioning isn't harmful - it's the jerks who give you a hard time or the oppressive upbringing that makes it a struggle. Or at least, that's how I understand it from talking to my trans friends.

But the story was so beautifully written, so lovely in every other way, that I can't really say that it seriously hurt my enjoyment of it. It's just something that occurred to me later.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


bounceswoosh

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 305
Reply #4 on: August 15, 2015, 02:12:49 PM
Getting a real life tattoo should not be this fraught. Find a tattoo artist you are comfortable with. Mine asked me repeatedly throughout the process if I needed a break.

There's a  bigger concern when giving tattoos to people with diabetes. I don't recall exactly, but it was part of the waiver I signed. You'll want to ask about it.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #5 on: August 15, 2015, 03:15:31 PM
Getting a real life tattoo should not be this fraught. Find a tattoo artist you are comfortable with. Mine asked me repeatedly throughout the process if I needed a break.

There's a  bigger concern when giving tattoos to people with diabetes. I don't recall exactly, but it was part of the waiver I signed. You'll want to ask about it.

My wife did some research; my Hemoglobin Ac1 is low enough that it shouldn't be a problem.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


mkhobson

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 24
  • "Only the irrational is unendurable." -Epictetus
    • M.K. Hobson's Webpage
Reply #6 on: August 15, 2015, 03:31:38 PM
Electric Paladin, I lived with T2 diabetes for many years. I am currently in "clinical remission" (and have been for quite a while) thanks to WLS and extensive lifestyle changes. It was tough at times (and sometimes still is) but at the grand old age of 46 I've never felt better. Good luck on your journey!

Check it out, I've even got a signature now!
www.demimonde.com


ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #7 on: August 16, 2015, 09:19:28 PM
You know, the more I think about it, the more I think that my critique isn't really all that fair. I think the story does strongly imply that Tiger is able to remove... I don't know. Pain? Trauma? Something comes away with the tattoo, not just the unwanted sex traits. I think the intention is meant to be that that is what he's jealous of.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Sandra M. Odell

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
Reply #8 on: August 17, 2015, 02:16:44 AM
Shhhh...it's a secret.   :-X

And thank you all for the comments.


You know, the more I think about it, the more I think that my critique isn't really all that fair. I think the story does strongly imply that Tiger is able to remove... I don't know. Pain? Trauma? Something comes away with the tattoo, not just the unwanted sex traits. I think the intention is meant to be that that is what he's jealous of.



Maxilu

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 50
Reply #9 on: August 17, 2015, 08:14:21 PM
I've listened to this story twice, now, and have it downloaded into the "permanent" file on my phone so I can take it with me and listen again.

I love it. I absolutely love it. I love that the POV character is a trans man, and the only other character is a trans woman. I love the idea of tattoos being able to literally change your life.

While listening to this, the ideas of symbols came to mind. There's nothing inherently masculine about tigers or dragons, and there's nothing inherently feminine about flowers and butterflies.
I think the story does strongly imply that Tiger is able to remove... I don't know. Pain? Trauma? Something comes away with the tattoo, not just the unwanted sex traits. I think the intention is meant to be that that is what he's jealous of.

I agree with Electric Paladin, what is removed has more to do with the meaning the person attaches to the symbol that they choose, rather than anything inherent in the image of dragon, or cup, or whatever. I also think that the reason Tiger is able to do these special tattoos is because he's in a liminal state himself--once his transition is completed, he won't be able to. The tattoos he has keeps him from getting a special tattoo himself, the tiger, specifically, seems intent on keeping the status quot, and so he's stuck with the slow, expensive way.

I want to learn more about this world. I want to know how wide-spread the use of special tattoos are, and if there's other transforming magic. Great job, to both the author and narrator. This is an absolutely lovely tale.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #10 on: August 18, 2015, 03:02:29 PM
This was cool, through and through.

One point of confusion I had is that I thought for some reason I thought his client was a woman who wanted to become a man but hadn't made any visible changes to do so, rather than a man who was trying to become a woman.  I'm not entirely sure how I got that turned around--wondering if anyone else did.



Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3945
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #11 on: August 18, 2015, 05:11:49 PM
This is a really effective piece. Sandra did a great job here by never letting the message overwhelm the storytelling. The pathos provided to Tiger was some really nice craftsmanship.


I want to learn more about this world. I want to know how wide-spread the use of special tattoos are, and if there's other transforming magic. Great job, to both the author and narrator. This is an absolutely lovely tale.


I got the impression that this is our world, and that the work is something of an underground word-of-mouth thing. I would expect there's a limit to how many times it can be done, as there's only so much canvas that Tiger can transfer the ink to.


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


sdsorrentino

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #12 on: August 20, 2015, 09:07:20 PM
As the narrator, thanks for the kind words. Sandra M. Odell gave me a lot to work with. It went really quick. Rachael K Jones can confirm that she sent me the story on May 30 and I returned it completed June 2. I thought it was pretty easy to read, not technically hard, but what I really mean is that I don't think it was all that difficult for me to see where she was going with the story and read it in some way to do it justice. Since Rachael said that she liked my reading of The Colors on Episode 347, I went with something like it.

I suppose that ultimately leads into my one critique of the story: if I were trans, I'd be a little bit annoyed at the assumption that just because he had a medical, rather than a magical, transition, Tiger has to view himself as scarred and imperfect and gets consumed with jealousy at the people who are - presumably - going to have it better than he does. For all that I liked Tiger as a wounded healer, I would have liked to get at least a little slice of where his damage comes from, other than just his transgender identity.

The impression I got was that Tiger was angry about not being able to get what he was giving away. And let's face it, for a complete, permanent, total transition, $2,500 is chicken feed. Especially if you consider that Tiger might have limited space to put new tattoos. He could get $10K-20K easy. EASY. Surgical can run (FTM) $7K-25K And I don't think you'd want to skimp on that if you had any options. And instead of several surgeries that are really incomplete by comparison to the Tiger Method, this is quick, nearly painless, and amazingly awesomely complete.

As far as we know, Liza left the tattoo parlor ready to get a better paying job, find a regular, ordinary, plain old relationship (presuming she is into men) and have children. She looks exactly as if she was born female, so she never has to explain anything to anyone, if she so chooses. She can totally disappear into "normal" life. Five years from now she could have 2.5 kids, a house with a picket fence, and a station wagon with wood on the side.

What's Tiger going to do? No kids for him. No relationships without the "oh, by the way..." In fact, every single relationship more intimate than acquaintance comes with an origin story. With every tattoo, he's further covered with marks of his difference from the rest of the world.

And he has to stand there and watch people (not 22, but he remembers every face and tattoo) come in with problems and leave with possibilities. He's like the guy in the Miles Vorkosigan book, Memory

Quote
"I've sometimes wondered if you're like that Barrayaran fellow you told me about, who went around giving everybody liver patés for Winterfair 'cause he loved them himself. And was always frustrated that no one ever gave him any."

Tiger's handing out liver paté because he wants someone to give them to him. And no one CAN give him any. He's the sole source.

Kind of sucks, really.



SpareInch

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1388
  • Will there be sugar after the rebellion?
Reply #13 on: August 21, 2015, 01:21:38 PM
I just loved this story! It hit a real chord and by the end I was literally cheering on the woman Tiger was helping. Personally, I'd DEFINITELY be up for that treatment!

I posted a link to the episode on a Trans forum. I don't know how many of the girls have listened to it, but a good few have hit my post. ;)

I think my tattoo would be a giant, since I really wish I was a bit shorter.

I suppose that ultimately leads into my one critique of the story: if I were trans, I'd be a little bit annoyed at the assumption that just because he had a medical, rather than a magical, transition, Tiger has to view himself as scarred and imperfect and gets consumed with jealousy at the people who are - presumably - going to have it better than he does. For all that I liked Tiger as a wounded healer, I would have liked to get at least a little slice of where his damage comes from, other than just his transgender identity.

The impression I got was that Tiger was angry about not being able to get what he was giving away. And let's face it, for a complete, permanent, total transition, $2,500 is chicken feed. Especially if you consider that Tiger might have limited space to put new tattoos. He could get $10K-20K easy. EASY. Surgical can run (FTM) $7K-25K And I don't think you'd want to skimp on that if you had any options. And instead of several surgeries that are really incomplete by comparison to the Tiger Method, this is quick, nearly painless, and amazingly awesomely complete.

That's exactly how I saw it. I'm currently waiting for an appointment with my local Gender Identity clinic, but whatever happens, the transition will be incomplete and I'll never be able to have a baby. Any option that would mean I could be a woman right to the core, with EVERYTHING present and in full working order would be better. But what medicine and surgery can offer now, while being the best we can manage, still falls short of what any Trans really wants. But I see Tiger's position as being similar to when you buy a new phone, then the next week the manufacturer brings out an even better model and drops the price on the one you bought.
One point of confusion I had is that I thought for some reason I thought his client was a woman who wanted to become a man but hadn't made any visible changes to do so, rather than a man who was trying to become a woman.  I'm not entirely sure how I got that turned around--wondering if anyone else did.


I suspect you maybe missed the business with straightening the wig at the beginning. I did, but I was making my breakfast at the time, so I have an excuse. I caught it next time through though. And perhaps the comment about her not being a Ladyboy sent you on the wrong track. Of course, as a TS, she wasn't a Ladyboy. That's the thing about Transsexuality.

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


FireTurtle

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 898
Reply #14 on: August 25, 2015, 07:56:37 PM
This is one of my favorite podcastle episodes of all time. I can't precisely put my finger on why. Perhaps because enclosed within the rather mundane location of a tattooist's shop there was transformation, sacrifice, pain, rebirth and longing. Perhaps because there was so much pain. Tiger's pain, the pain of the tattoo, the pain of its removal, the pain of a mismatched exterior and interior existence.

No aspect of the magic weilded was without a real physical and emotional cost which was incredibly refreshing and real. I like positive outcomes as much as the next gal, but easy solutions and easy power are frustrating and unfulfilling.

Thanks, Podcastle for bringing me this story.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #15 on: September 03, 2015, 02:59:44 PM
I suspect you maybe missed the business with straightening the wig at the beginning. I did, but I was making my breakfast at the time, so I have an excuse. I caught it next time through though. And perhaps the comment about her not being a Ladyboy sent you on the wrong track. Of course, as a TS, she wasn't a Ladyboy. That's the thing about Transsexuality.

I think i did miss that detail, or maybe in the moment I didn't think it that important enough to really register it.  I guess wigs don't immediately register for me as hinting at trans*, they bring to mind more immediate thoughts of cancer treatments.  But combined with other information, I probably should've put it together.  I am usually doing other things while I listen, so if there's a moment of distraction I can easily miss an important detail here and there that leaves me with the wrong impression--that's not the author's fault, those clues were put in place painstakingly and if I missed them that's on me.




Devoted135

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1252
Reply #16 on: September 05, 2015, 02:26:24 AM
I also had a hard time figuring out the woman's motivation (man wanting to be a woman? woman wanting to be a man? woman wanting to be a man but trying to get rid of that impulse and remain a woman?). I missed the wig detail, so I'm sure that led significantly to my confusion. Luckily, I wasn't too distracted to really appreciate the poignancy and heartbreak of the magic here. I always feel for the characters who are giving to others the exact thing that they wish they could have but can't for whatever reason. Also, I will never, ever get a tattoo. :P



cwthree

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 51
Reply #17 on: September 05, 2015, 08:46:02 PM
Loved, loved this story for reasons that have already been stated in other comments.

I love that this story has trans characters who aren't freaks*, pathetic, or underdogs who triumph in the end.

I love that the story doesn't concentrate on the transformation of genitalia. It's mentioned, but it's not dwelt upon.

*OK, maybe being able to give magic tattoos makes one a freak.



cwthree

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 51
Reply #18 on: September 05, 2015, 08:49:10 PM
There's a brief reference in the story to a customer whose "special" tattoo didn't go well (Tiger recalls a man who asked for a tattoo of a teacup and saucer, who left weeping). I'd love to hear or read that story. Please consider writing it.