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Author Topic: EP540: The Right Answer  (Read 975 times)
eytanz
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« on: September 08, 2016, 04:44:05 AM »

EP540: The Right Answer

By James Miller

read by Adam Pracht
---

While I certainly didn’t plan on an alien encounter, my life had been in such a downward spiral that I had gotten used to expecting the unexpected.

Cheryl, my wife, and Ryan, my friend and boss, had been spending some extra time together without me – nights mostly. I handled this by 1) punching Ryan in the mouth, twice, then 2) spending the rest of the day drinking lunch, and 3) picking up dinner at the liquor store. On the way home, my car expired on the freeway, by spewing steam and smoke then finally bursting into flames. I did, however, manage to rescue my bottle of dinner vodka before its fiery demise, but somehow forgot my personal laptop was in the back seat. I eventually reached home only to find Cheryl had gone. Judging by the amount of stuff she had taken with her, it was for good.

I surveyed what little remained in the house. In the living room there was carpeting with clean spots where the furniture had been, and a TV stand with no TV. In the kitchen I was left with one red plastic cup, an unopened box of flexible drinking straws, and a bag of pretzels. In the bedroom I saw a bed frame with no mattress or sheets, wire hangers, and a torn Sports Illustrated. I grabbed the pretzels from the kitchen and made my way out onto the patio to get away from the heavy absence of my material items. I was considering which lawn chair I might sleep in, when I noticed a little green creature standing in my back yard. It took a while for my senses to come into agreement; I was looking at Fonzie. Yes, Fonzie, the character played by Henry Winkler on Happy Days.

He didn’t look at all like Fonzie in the face, or even his body type. In that regard he was as stereotypically expected: green, about four feet tall, three long fingers on each hand, comically big eyes, with no nose to speak of, and a very tiny mouth. It was the leather jacket, pinch rolled jeans and perfectly greased jet black hair that gave the general appearance of the Fonz.

The creature leaned coolly against my fence, holding one finger of each hand in the air. I assumed those were the closest thing he had to thumbs.

“Aaaaaaaayyyy.”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Maxilu
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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2016, 05:04:38 PM »

Cute. The snarky "Oh, good. The aliens are here" type of story can be hard to pull off, but the author managed it brilliantly. I, too, love the idea of humor being what we need to save the planet. And the punchline was absolute perfection.

The thing is, I don't know if humor really is the "right" answer. At least not for the reasons SpaceFonzi said.

While I know nothing about alien civilizations, I do know that humans are not the only species on earth that have a sense of humor. My dogs, for instance, tease each other and tease me. Coco the gorilla will make jokes and wordplay. I've heard anecdotal evidence of talking pet parrots making jokes (not just repeating them), though I'm too lazy to look up research with Alex the African gray and his successors to find out if humor is something they've studied. I know that wild corvids will pull the tails of predators for no apparent reason. Humor seems to be a pretty universal thing among communal animals on earth, which, I guess, makes the idea of that being what we need to save the planet all the more poignant.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2016, 03:03:50 PM »

This story fell flat for me.  It felt too much like the stories it was itself referencing, but without feeling like it really ever became something new.  I could tell where I was supposed to find it funny but I never really found it funny.  Eh, that's humor for you, so subjective.

The thing is, I don't know if humor really is the "right" answer. At least not for the reasons SpaceFonzi said.

Well... obviously you're not worthy, then if you don't know that.  Tongue

While I know nothing about alien civilizations, I do know that humans are not the only species on earth that have a sense of humor. My dogs, for instance, tease each other and tease me. Coco the gorilla will make jokes and wordplay. I've heard anecdotal evidence of talking pet parrots making jokes (not just repeating them), though I'm too lazy to look up research with Alex the African gray and his successors to find out if humor is something they've studied. I know that wild corvids will pull the tails of predators for no apparent reason. Humor seems to be a pretty universal thing among communal animals on earth, which, I guess, makes the idea of that being what we need to save the planet all the more poignant.

Yeah, that crossed my mind too.  Humans might be the only thing that laugh in a way that humans recognize as laughing, but dogs and primates both immediately came to mind too as having senses of humor.
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brunette666
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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2016, 04:40:23 PM »

I thought this story was great. I've been feeling a little down lately, and something silly and fun was just what I needed. An alien dressed up like the Fonz? Brilliant. :-)
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Myst
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2016, 05:19:49 PM »

Not a bad story but not a great one. It felt cramped is the best way I can describe it. Like this is the first chapter in a longer novel that the author has planned and he had to cut things to give it a ending.
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davidthygod
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2016, 10:37:00 AM »

I actually listened to this one with the kids (9 and 11).  They loved it.  Good humor, a little silly, and kept our attention well. 

I think this was really good actually.  Its the perfect <30 min distraction, and it actually stuck with me for awhile, instead of being something that I forget as soon as its over like so many other stories.
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The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.
bounceswoosh
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2016, 11:35:49 AM »

I liked the "voice" and the narration. I, too, was bothered by the "but that's not even true!" aspect of humor. I did think something that I've often come back to, which is that we keep trying to find ways to distinguish humans from other animal life, but ultimately the distinctions we make are unsupported by science - tool making, intelligence, humor, emotions, empathy, the ability to count, language, recognition of human words, empathy, pain ...
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That Hirschman Guy
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2016, 04:25:31 AM »

I like silliness when it's well done.  I also like horror movies when they are well done.  I enjoyed the film Jeepers Creepers because of its build-up which first introduced its characters and made us like them.  The same goes here where we hear about the narrator and how his life got him to the point he is in the story.  After that, the silliness is welcome and fun, and the voicework was spot-on all around.
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TheArchivist
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2016, 07:37:55 AM »

<sigh> I'm on the "didn't do it for me" side again.

It had some nice concepts. The alien Fonz as a comedy idea should work great; the world's-worst-bad-hair-day opening should set a mood; the drunken-loser-as-Earth's-ambassador... well, a bit of a cliche but still worth a go. The trouble was it tried too hard to be funny and never quite relaxed enough to actually achieve it. And then the twist about humour... I wasn't sure whether that was just another joke or the deeply significant philosophical point that our friendly host took it for. Either way failed for me, because it's not that funny and it's absolutely not true.
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Lisa3737
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2016, 08:54:55 PM »

Delightful story; excellent narration!
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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2017, 03:07:12 PM »

This was amusing enough for me, and didn't overstay its welcome. For the record, rats have been shown to laugh as they play, and also enjoy being tickled. They just laugh at a frequency that our ears can't pick up. Smiley
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