Author Topic: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600  (Read 14208 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« on: June 16, 2007, 12:47:26 AM »
Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600

By Christopher Michael Cummings

Read by Rick Stringer

Suddenly someone shoves a baby at him for a photo op; reflexively, the President hauls the chubby little kid into the air, making a funny face at him. The baby’s eyes flash amber in the morning light as he coos, then clamps down on the President’s nose with a mouthful of gums and two tiny front teeth. The President curses inside as he chuckles for the cameras.

Today: The President huddles in the Cabinet Room with his inner circle and a strange sensation crawls down his nose into his throat; his nostrils flare as he tries to fight it off and focus on the conversation in the room.



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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raygunray

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2007, 01:02:13 AM »
Nosferatu for President.

At least your know he sucks.
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eytanz

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2007, 01:04:52 AM »
Disclaimer: I have lived in America for five years now - though I'm leaving in a few weeks - but I'm not American. I do not understand American economic policy. I don't even know what a flat tax is, so I don't know what side of the political spectrum I even would be on this issue if I was American.

So, my question is - what makes this story horror? I guess if you're really pro-flat tax then the thought of a president going back on his campaign promise might be disturbing. And I guess for a lot of people - including myself - politics in general are sort of scary, regardless of the specific issues.

But this story was just a political "what if" satirical fantasy, about the same type as the movie Dave - something happens to the president and he's replaced by a more honest version of himself that cuts the partisan crap and gets to the issues. It wasn't bad - I actually enjoyed the writing and the narration was excellent - it was just utterly inappropriate for this podcast, in my opinion. And the story clearly wasn't even meant to be horrific - it was pretty clear that the desired reaction was "I wish this actually happened", not any sort of chill at all.

Or is anything horror that includes a werewolf, regardless of the use it was put to?

Again, not a bad story. But it should probably have been read on the upcoming fantasy podcast, not pseudopod.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2007, 01:06:24 AM by eytanz »

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2007, 06:33:46 PM »
I have to agree with what eytanz said above: It's less horror and more fantasy and should probably have been saved as the premier story for the new podcast.  Just because the president's a werewolf doesn't make it horror. In fact, in this case, it made for a very wistful read. For some of us, at least. :)

That said, I enjoyed the hell out of it; it just wasn't horror.
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sirana

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2007, 06:34:56 PM »
oh... and regarding the story

meh... too much politics, not enough horror

Kaa

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2007, 06:39:40 PM »
oh... and regarding the story

meh... too much politics, not enough horror

There are those who could claim that politics is horror. :)
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BSWeichsel

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2007, 04:12:39 AM »
Good story not fit for pusdeopod.

Is it just me that this seems to be a trend?
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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2007, 05:03:15 PM »
Possibly the worst Pseudopod story ever. It was too silly for me to seriously listen to whatever message was supposed to be there, but not funny enough to make me laugh. or snicker. or even smile. I'm fine with the occasional comedy on pseudopod, but this just wasn't funny.

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2007, 05:40:19 PM »
I think I'd like to take a stab at some of the questions here, if no one minds.

1.  What is a Flat tax?  Right now, taxes in the US (and I'm assuming like other countries) are scaled depending on how much you make - a person making up to $30,000 annually  would only get (for example) taxed on 10% of their income, while someone making $250,000 annually would be taxed 30% of their income.  This then leads to various complications, such as "if I donate X% of my money to charitable organizations, I can write that off, if I drive for my job I can write that off" - the number of rules regarding taxes can lead to all sorts of complicated tax returns.  "Flat tax" proponents (note:  I'm not taking sides, and if I make a mistake please correct me) basically say "basic tax rules, no write offs of any kind, everybody pays a fair share".  There's lots of debate about whether that's actually "fair" or not, but that's the basic idea.

2.  Was this story a horror story?  I'd like to go back to another story - I can't recall the title, but it's about the guy who gets sued by a succubus for child support, and no matter how much he makes, he always owes Hell some more, and when he dies he's stuck tending a demonic day care.  Or, "Flat Dianne", about the father unable to protect his daughter when her paper cut out is sexually abused.

"Full Moon over 1600" isn't a horror story in the traditional sense - no jump outs, no torture or scenes of sexual/mental torment to make you crawl.  But it *does* contain a horror of a different sort:  the horror of political impotence, and that's what drew me to the story.  Look at how they craft this president (and let's be honest - the story is "George Bush becomes a werewolf"):  he doesn't read the papers, everything he is told and asked is carefully scripted regardless of "truth".  When he does become a man-eating werewolf (and literally murders someone on camera), the response is "Oh, well, it's OK, the guy he killed read child porn!"  Who needs due process under the law when the president can "smell" evil around you?  Political hacks praise him though his actions are a) bad (sorry, but eating people is not good), and b) still self serving (in this case, trying to tie a flat tax to the "war".  How can any tax be tied to any war, in all reality?).

And when he *does* start to wise up and read the papers, the very people who supported him turn against him and try to kill him.  Sure, in the end he's OK and he's "feeling peckish", but how long until his "gut" makes a mistake about what's really right or wrong?  Is he actually going to listen to debate and think, or just "go with his gut" in the future and create a new kind of echo chamber?

It's about the impotence and rage that we, as citizens, might feel when someone does stand up and say "Hey, this is wrong", and are called "Bushie" or "Libtard" or "Fundie" or "Moonbat", instead of debating the actual issue, and we feel helpless to do anything.  When habeas corpus is removed, or another $4 billion in pork added to a bill, and instead of real discussion, the only questions are whether the werewolf and chief is eating the right people.

Could it have been placed elsewhere?  Possibly.  Was it scary?  In my opinion, no - but it did make me very creeped out about our current political environment, and disturbed at how easily the public are swayed by pointless arguments about whether someone "insulted the troops" because they said some idea was stupid, rather than debating whether the idea had merit of not.

And if pseudopod seeks not just "horror" but also disgust and being creeped out at how batshit crazy true reality is at times compared to a story, then I'd say this story succeeds.  My favorite pseudopod story?  No - but I liked that it was trying to actually say something about people and politics rather than just "boo!  Werewolf!".

Kaa

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2007, 05:57:36 PM »
johnhummel, those are valid points, and thanks for pointing them out.  Speaking for myself (because I can't speak for anyone else), the two stories you mention about the succubus and "Flat Dianne" had their own sense of horror that maybe more of us can relate to; specifically unexpected parenthood and financial responsibility for same and finding out just how far you'd go to protect your child.  Horror in politics has, perhaps, become just another 24-hour topic on CNN, and therefore boring and beneath our notice. "Oh, look, the vice president shot someone in the face."  "Oh, look, the president's a werewolf.  Who's on American Idol?" *click*

And maybe that is the true horror, as you pointed out. That we don't find the reactions in the story all that out of character.

This story does raise an interesting question, though, and one that shouldn't be answered in this forum: What scares you? What is "horror," anyway?
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Loz

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2007, 05:08:19 AM »
It was an amusing story but didn't really sustain itself over the full time. Perhaps it would have worked better as a long flash piece up to the point where the President eats the Fox News anchor. Otherwise it comes off as rather like a left-wing reflection Fox's 'Half Hour News Hour', not really funny or satire but something that looks vaguely similar and uses buzzwords ('Hilary'! 'Obama'! Liberals!) in place of actual comedy.

I did enjoy Rick Stringer's reading though.

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2007, 04:24:41 AM »
I thoroughly enjoyed this story! I didn't think I would at the start, when I realised it was focused on politics. However, I was hooked from the sentence "when a strange sensation crawls down his nose, into his throat"; this first hint that the President's lycanthropy had pushed him into a world of heightened senses. In other werewolf stories, those senses are used for hunting, fighting and generally eating people. In this story, it is what turns the President into a type of hero; and his eating people makes him a rather horrifying hero!

This is why I like "Full Moon Over 1600": in most stories I hear (fiction and non-fiction), presidents and were-wolves aren't usually good guys. In this story, becoming a were-wolf makes the president into a good guy! I enjoyed how Christopher Michael Cummings turned smell and intuition into a moral sense and it was amusing to find the "media spin" angle working for a good guy.

Perhaps most noticeable about this story is that it isn't just President as Were-wolf. Thanks to the voice of Rick Stringer, it was also Clint Eastwood as President and Werewolf!

Is this a horror story?

I think it is. The were-wolf did some typical scary were-wolf things: i.e. eating people - but did so publicly, on camera, and it only increased his popularity! The contrasting figures of werewolf and president in this story were twisted together so that two common images appeared in one character in a disturbing way. This is what a good horror story should do: disturb the audience!

In a broader sense, the question isn't very important to me. Horror is visceral - therefore it is open to interpretation and different people will classify different things as being horrific. Someone thought it fit the genre, and I enjoyed the story with that in mind. Most of the time, that's all it takes for me. Even if I do find a "horror" story that I don't personally think is a horror story, I find value in the story just by wondering why we might be at odds; why that other person found it horrifying, even if I didn't.

A small side story. A friend once made a tape for me of Nick Cave's The Murder Ballads. Now that is one scary album! Each song creeped me out in a different way, with "O' Malley's Bar" being the song that burnt itself most strongly into my mind with a detailed portrayal of a twisted mind. This song was effective because the "detail" I mention came not just from the lyrics. It was Nick Cave's voice and the jarring melody that really gave me a sense of how insane the man was. I digress: the point being that this album was the most horrific music I had ever listened to (and I loved it!).. but at the end of the tape, my friend had included another song, "Into My Arms" from The Boatman's Call - an album of (ostensibly) love songs from Nick Cave that I had not heard about. The first verse:

I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms

After listening to a whole album of songs about twisted, murderous minds, this song fit perfectly! Even though I have the Boatman's Call on CD now and have enjoyed listening to it many times, I still think of "Into My Arms" as one of the most subtle and chilling works of horror ever!

Horror is visceral; if it feels like horror, it is horror; maybe not to other people. "Full Moon Over 1600" felt like a good horror to me.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2007, 04:54:29 AM by robertmarkbram »

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2007, 06:35:58 PM »
In general I found it to be fun.  I liked that he went out hunting for information.

I have a stupid gripe with this story.  Obviously the president is GWB.  All of the policy complaints and comments on the members of the cabinet are old accusations.  However Bush has never suggested having a flat tax.  Getting rid of the inheritance tax, yes.  Getting rid of capital gains tax, yes.  Reducing the tax on the upper brackets, yes.  But the flat tax was Steve Forbes. 

Now this political junkie will stop bothering all of you, for now…

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2007, 10:53:44 PM »
This was my least favorite Pseudopod story.

The president becoming a werewolf is an interesting idea, but it was spoiled with the vacuous anti-Bushisms.   If you are going to criticize Bush then criticize Bush.  The not-reading-the-newspaper and "I'm the decider" jabs are tired and pointless.   And with so many things to criticize Bush about why invent support of a flat tax?  "I know what will put listeners on the edge of their seat and a chill down their spines, tax policy!  Mwahahaha!"

The story sets up several problems with the president that are not satisfactorily resolved.  How were they going to "tie" the flat tax to the war effort?  What was the big tax idea that the president was about to reveal?  Ultimately, we start with a president who goes with his gut, listens to a few select advisers, and speaks in empty political rhetoric.  We end with a president who goes with his gut, listens to a few select advisers, speaks in empty political rhetoric, reneges on campaign promises, and kills people who smell funny.

I know from the Escape Pod forums that there are many non-liberal and non-American listeners.  Was this story enjoyable for them?

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2007, 11:15:58 PM »
This story was kind of strange, I like the reader, great voice.  Not really horror though, wasn't really scared.

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2007, 05:32:01 AM »
How were they going to "tie" the flat tax to the war effort?

The thing is, when the war in Afghanistan started, Bush did tie the tax cuts to winning the War On Terrorism.  It didn't get much criticism, because that was when, "It's un-American to criticize the president."
« Last Edit: June 25, 2007, 05:16:22 PM by Russell Nash »

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2007, 11:10:34 AM »
Quote
Ultimately, we start with a president who goes with his gut, listens to a few select advisers, and speaks in empty political rhetoric.  We end with a president who goes with his gut, listens to a few select advisers, speaks in empty political rhetoric, reneges on campaign promises, and kills people who smell funny.


Well said!

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2007, 09:06:33 PM »
This was my least favorite Pseudopod story.

This was my least favorite also.


I know from the Escape Pod forums that there are many non-liberal and non-American listeners.  Was this story enjoyable for them?

As a non-liberal with a low saturation point, I did not like this story. It wasn't horror and seemed more a foray into the use of cliches to paint a fantasy image than an attempt at humor. I try to look at things like this with an eye on the reciprocal mirror image. I transpose opposites and guage whether it would be met with the same reaction. In this forum, I think it would have. And I am glad for that. If the same story had been written with a cast of characters from a liberal administration, my cynicism tells me the story would not have even made it to the slush pile.

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Re: Pseudopod 042: Full Moon Over 1600
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2007, 03:21:10 AM »
I agree with others that said this was not a horror story and not high on my list.

The flat tax as it is currently being discussed in the media is a consumption tax with the elimination of the current income tax system.  The idea is that it would capture all transactions whereas with the current system cash transactions (assumed not reported) are not taxed.  The estimated flat tax would be apx 17%.  In a way it incentavises savings.  The story seems to imply that the flat tax would hurt the economy because so much of the economy is driven by consumers.