Escape Artists
March 29, 2017, 01:59:41 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: 1 2 [All]
  Print  
Author Topic: EP518: Brain Worms and White Whales  (Read 2394 times)
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 5604



« on: February 02, 2016, 05:31:36 PM »

EP518: Brain Worms and White Whales

By Jen Finelli

read by J.S. Arquin

---

My name isn’t Spaceman Spiff, and if you call me Ishmael I’ll knock the chewing gum right out of your mouth.

Actually, can I get a piece of that? We don’t get gum up here.

Thanks. I know you’re new here—service droid, right?—so take a look around before I explain why I called you into my office. Heads up, it’s because you did something bad. See this pose? My boots on my desk, arms crossed, limitless backdrop of space out the window behind me as ignored in all its glory as a homemaker whose husband works overtime for secretary kisses? Yeah, this pose, this clean wooden desk, this suitcase full of old Colt firearms behind me, they all mean something.

They mean I’m a man with a past and I like to shoot things.

Let’s back it up from spaceman-with-gun to college-kid-seeking-job. This starts on June 4, 2014. I’m strolling into the parking lot. Sun shining on pavement that can fry eggs, kids screaming that Johnny got the bigger half of the Kit-Kat and it’s just not fair, teens driving Mustangs too fast over speed bumps, soccer moms packing detergent into minivans—you know the scene. I’m parked at the far end of the lot because walking builds character. Not because I’m paranoid the greasy-haired supermarket greeter wants to follow me and collect my fingernails, or because the cute cashier-girl might misinterpret my salmon-colored moped for something less manly than lightish-red.

That greeter’s creepy, though.

I’ve just dropped off my application to work as a cart-pusher, and I’m cursing my sweaty palms, when one of those Mustang-driving teenagers vrooms by, too close. I leap onto the hood of the nearest parked car. It screeches. I screech. I tumble off the car and brush myself off, shushing the honking car alarm in my fright—er, in my fast reflexes. “Sheesh, calm down!” I glance around, hoping to God no one else saw that, and scramble for my moped, hands shaking a bit as I try to force the key into the ignition. “Calm down,” I repeat.

I do feel calmer as I rev up the engine and drive away—it’s okay. It looks like cashier-girl didn’t see me freak out, and greasy-creepster didn’t follow me, and anyway the wind in my thick hair soothes me. That’s the best thing about being Viet-American, this cool hair. The hair, and the Pho. And the patriotic grandparents with tragic war stories that stir your soul and make you wish you weren’t such a wimp. I mean, when Ong noi was my age he was wading wetlands with snakes so poisonous you die two steps after they bite you. And fighting communists. I’m not a Red Scare kinda person, but I have my feelings about what happened to South Vietnam after the Americans pulled out. I don’t actually know what those feelings are. Mostly they’re a wiggling, like I have to go to the bathroom, every time my white friends talk about the sixties.

My white friends talk about the sixties a lot.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged
BoojumsRCool
Palmer
**
Posts: 27



WWW
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2016, 05:51:47 PM »

I must have brain worms because after listening to this story for a bit I began to understand, which I don't think is all that normal. When I got to the end and was thinking "I really get it!" I knew something was wrong, and yes, brain worms. As confusing and strange as the journey we were taken on was, it made me happy. Happy is good. Did I mention strange? In this case strange is good, I think. I'm just going to go with the fact that Mr. Arquin did a good job presenting a story that made me smile. Or did I actually smile..
Logged

Boojums ARE cool!
MacArthurBug
Giddy
Hipparch
******
Posts: 648


I can resist anything except temptation


WWW
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2016, 10:51:14 PM »

I have no idea what went on. I kept thinking I had picked up the thread (was it a thread or was that TOO a brain worm?!) and away it spun. However, what fun! What a fantastic spin of a ride! I had a gloomy rainy commute that was dominated completely by this figment of a story. Truly enjoyable!
Logged

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.
Not-a-Robot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 811


Now 100% biological and 3 x more optimism!


« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2016, 04:41:34 AM »

This was, honestly, the best nine-fingered, peyote-tripping, 6000mph-blueberry-surfing, salmon-moped-crashing, card-carrying-Native-American-Church-sacramenting, advanced-relativity-understanding, greasy-Walmart-greeter-greeting, Viet-American story I have ever heard.
Logged
Yttermayn
Extern
*
Posts: 2


« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2016, 09:13:19 AM »

Meh. To disjointed and silly for my taste.
Logged
Zelda
Palmer
**
Posts: 67


« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2016, 11:00:29 PM »

I think this is the first time an Escape Pod story has made me laugh out loud. A terrific story and absolutely wonderful narration. I love it.
Logged
Dwango
Peltast
***
Posts: 152



« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2016, 05:10:57 PM »

Wonderful.  I just have to listen to it again.  It just is a head jerking trip with a lot of humor and attitude.  I love where the protagonist just gets cozy with the insane and runs with it, where the blueberry is now the paranoid one and the protagonist is just running circles around it.  It's a bit like the bugs bunny cartoons where in the last crazy seconds, the tables are turned and the bunny is the butt of the joke.  "What the what?"

Also, wondering if the writer is a "Psyche!" fan?
Logged
SpareInch
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1101


Will there be sugar after the rebellion?


« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2016, 09:57:17 AM »

What? Eh? Come again? Huh? Did I hear any of that right?

I mean, I couldn't quite piece it all together until the end, but it was still great fun.

Also...

I think this is the first time an Escape Pod story has made me laugh out loud.

Is that really true? Or are you just saying that to screw with my mind? Tongue
Logged

Smiley
Beach Trash
Extern
*
Posts: 2



« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2016, 05:36:14 PM »

Listened with my (11yo) daughter. We were sucked in and couldn't stop listening. When we got to the end, it wrapped up with an unsatisfying "nobody knows who the crazy one might be" sort of non-conclusion.  I appreciated the absurdity of the story, but she abruptly turned on it. She liked the story right up until the end, where it suddenly had no point.
Logged
Not-a-Robot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 811


Now 100% biological and 3 x more optimism!


« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2016, 05:46:07 PM »


I think this is the first time an Escape Pod story has made me laugh out loud.

Is that really true? Or are you just saying that to screw with my mind? Tongue

No, this was the first one that really hit my funny bone to.  I appreciated the absurdity, but the jokes were also very well thought out, once it got rolling.  There was some strange social commentary too.  It might be that I have brain worms, but I understood it perfectly on the first go.
Logged
Fenrix
Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 3496


Have you found the Yellow Sign?


« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2016, 07:33:13 PM »

So are brain worms why the service droid was chewing gum?
Logged

I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Poisonwaters
Palmer
**
Posts: 69


« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2016, 08:36:38 PM »

I really enjoyed this. I feel as though escape pod takes itself a little too seriously these days and so its nice to see something a little lighter in the works. I intend to read all of jen's stuff and maybe find where I can buy a copy.

-PW
« Last Edit: February 08, 2016, 08:38:14 PM by Poisonwaters » Logged
Chairman Goodchild
Peltast
***
Posts: 159



« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2016, 03:13:23 AM »

Call me a curmudgeon, but I didn't care much for the type of humor in this story.  I felt it was too self-congratulatory.  

I did like the narration of the story.  The narrator this week really put much effort and talent into the story, and I thought did a fantastic job.  And very nice sound quality, too.  
« Last Edit: February 09, 2016, 06:25:02 AM by Chairman Goodchild » Logged
Not-a-Robot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 811


Now 100% biological and 3 x more optimism!


« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2016, 05:36:51 AM »

So are brain worms why the service droid was chewing gum?

The droid is chewing gum because...

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8617



WWW
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2016, 10:40:30 AM »

I... I'm still really not sure what happened.

But, counter to most of my feedback most of the time, this was a happy sort of confusion, as I was frequently laughing out loud, particularly at the sentencing for the speeding ticket--using the current laws and extrapolating to a life sentence based on the incremental punishment scheme so that the speeding ticket was a life sentence. 

And the fact that no one appeared to blink an eye at 6000 mph speed.  The fact that anyone could even SENSE a vehicle going that speed.  That's about 1.7 MILES PER SECOND.  No radar gun would be able to get multiple pings on that to sense a speed, no police car could catch up to it, and I'm pretty sure that even if the earth's surface were completely smooth and featurelessjust trying to follow the curve of the earth at that speed would kill a human passenger from the the acceleration required to stay on the planet, and would be even worse if you wanted to dodge surface features that would leave you vaporized.  But that's the point, the whole story comes across as hallucinatory and I thought that was fun, so the complete mundanity with which the court accepted this absurd speed, or the fact that he was even apprehended in the first place made no sense and I loved it.

A lot of fun little details, the jealous car AI, the brain worm hypochondria obsession, the peyote church defense.  I thought it was super super fun, and given the nature of the story, my complete confusion was a feature not a bug.
Logged
Zelda
Palmer
**
Posts: 67


« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2016, 12:54:06 AM »


Also...

I think this is the first time an Escape Pod story has made me laugh out loud.

Is that really true? Or are you just saying that to screw with my mind? Tongue

Really true. Smiley
Logged
Moritz
Lochage
*****
Posts: 434



« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2016, 03:35:21 AM »

Not a fan of "drug induced silliness" stories, though the not silly parts were OK.
Logged
jundar
Extern
*
Posts: 4



« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2016, 04:24:51 PM »

I really liked this one - a nod to Bill Waterson and Nathan Lowell in the first sentence and then a massive dose of absurdities applied with a high-pressure valve. Loved it, and got some irritated looks from the wife for laughing whilst doing the laundry.
Logged

If you think technology can solve your problems you don't understand technology and you don't understand your problems. (Bruce Schneier)
SmiiiLee
Extern
*
Posts: 4


« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2016, 10:34:32 AM »

lol! I actually live right by a restaurant called Pho King. This episode was hilarious.
Logged
Petr3Pan
Extern
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2016, 04:30:04 PM »

Also, wondering if the writer is a "Psyche!" fan?

YES!

I was totally going to keep my mouth shut and not make noise on this forum, but this question's needling at my brain like I'm undergoing neurosurgery because I am a huge fan of a number of Psych-related things and always glad to connect over them. Psych as in the psychic detective agency show? Or Psyche as in the human soul? Or "Psyche!" as in, "haha I fooled you"? I like all those things (mostly the TV show).

Also, thanks everyone for liking the story! And to those of you who didn't like it so much, thanks so much for disliking it so politely! I'm serious about that latter part. I'm a big fan of honesty and self-improvement, and also hugely appreciative when I can get both without flames licking up my sensitive parts (translation, my feelings). You all rock so much.

Jen Finelli
(@petr3pan)
Logged
Fenrix
Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 3496


Have you found the Yellow Sign?


« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2016, 10:47:40 AM »

On the recommendations of the collective I went back and gave this one another listen. This was a good fun and worthwhile. The narrator did a phenomenal job.

The thing that made me hit the "next" button the first time I listened, was the overwrought noir pulp prose. I like it, but the run-on multi-layer tortured metaphors/similes made me rewind twice and try to visualize what the hell anything meant. While they look good on the page they're a challenge to deliver comprehensively in audio due to sentence length and distance between supporting clauses. This came right after a second person intrusion, which is extra jarring in audio.

I was annoyed and frustrated and didn't feel like working to get into the story. So I gave up.

Honestly the opening was so divergent from the bulk of the story, makes a hard bend to the modern day portion two paragraphs in, and didn't really pay off at the end.

Logged

I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 5604



« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2016, 11:58:18 AM »

I agree with Fenrix - the opening put me off this one, and it took me a while to get back into it. Once I had found my way back into it, I came to really enjoy it.
Logged
Devoted135
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1241



« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2016, 11:25:38 AM »

Yep, I had a super hard time connecting the opening/closing scene with the rest of the story. (How'd he get to be a space captain after being given a life sentence?) Also, extended scenes of drug-induced hallucinations tend to lose my interest due to the absurdity. I did very much appreciate how all the hallucinating did actually get semi-explained afterward, so that was a plus.
Logged
shanehalbach
Peltast
***
Posts: 116


Clockwork Lasercorn


WWW
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2016, 02:52:28 PM »

WHAT THE WHAT DID I JUST LISTEN TO

I loved this, though it would feel more at home on Drabblecast maybe? I just love how it slowly came off the rails into absolute absurdity.
Logged

MarcusC
Extern
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2017, 09:54:16 AM »

I thought the narration of this story took the great writing to great heights.

I loved the insecure, nerdy, sarcastic tone of the point of view. Reminds me of high school.
Logged
JessyHere
Extern
*
Posts: 2



« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2017, 11:54:20 AM »

So, yeah, I'm about a year behind in my listenership, but I just heard this episode and I found it really funny, so I'm going to comment on it anyway. 

I really like the super-anxious, hypochondriacal main character.  What an imagination!  He reminded me of a character in a novel I read called Further Complications by Bryn Schurman, who had a similar anxiety-induced, overactive imagination.  Come to think of it the character in that book had a druggie friend who encouraged him into uncomfortable situations too.  Is this a trope?  It seems like a relationship that is ripe for hilarity. 

I also like that in the end, his hypochondria becomes a super-power.  You think you can scare me?  I've already imagined this scenario and a hundred worse scenarios!  This one really tickled my funnybone, and had me laughing out loud.  Good show!  I can't wait to find out what else I've missed in the past year. 
Logged
Pages: 1 2 [All]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!