Author Topic: EP167: Love and Death in the Time of Monsters  (Read 31168 times)

Chivalrybean

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Reply #25 on: July 20, 2008, 07:28:49 PM
Uhm... it was ok. I wondered why they didn't try microwaves to see if frying the water it held in it's skin did any damage, or just frying it with microwaves in general...

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Reply #26 on: July 20, 2008, 07:55:10 PM
First post here... just started listening the other day and I think I'll be droppin by more often!

I find myself agreeing with those who couldn't get into it because of the heavy-handedness of the central metaphor.  I was very intrigued by the initial juxtaposition of the monster attack and the sickness, but was disappointed each time the author strained to link the two together.  I thought the twist at the end, the emphysema from a lifetime of second-hand smoke, was great, and probably a point where the author showed the most restraint in tying the sickness to the monster attack.  That said, nothing about this story could be construed as subtle.  But, if you consider that the story's greater point is that we as a society are poisoning ourselves, destroying ourselves - well, I imagine it's kind of hard to evoke that idea very subtly. 

Anyway I agree with silc, the most promising moments were the characterization of relationship between the narrator and his mother, but the author didn't deliver enough depth - relegating all the characters to a sort of cipher status that we've all read about before. In that way it perfectly fits into the monster movie genre, but I got the impression that this story was supposed to transcend it.

And, incidentally, what's with this endlessly patient wife?  For a moment while listening I became confused, thinking that it must be his wife berating him over the flowers, for never spending time with her anymore.  Because I can't imagine anyone being so patient with, let's face it, a sad and selfish grown-up child who resents the people in his life he perceives as keeping him down.  I wish we could have seen a lot more development in her character, because she could have a very interesting perspective.  But, only so much space.

So no, I didn't hate the story.  But I was disappointed by it.  Nice reading though!



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Reply #27 on: July 20, 2008, 11:19:33 PM

It was my perception he'd been dealing with his mother saying super nasty things to him for a while. I dont really see his reaction, therefore, as selfish, considering how poorly he was being treated. Imagine month after month of taking endless hatred and abuse while doing your best to tend to an ailing parent. It must be wearying.

No one is a saint to stand up to such viciousness without some resentment.



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Reply #28 on: July 21, 2008, 05:07:26 AM
For me, a lot of the fun and enjoyment in reading/listening to stories comes from finding my own meaning. I like when the author has something to say and, rather than just tell me what that is, leaves clues for me to find. Listening to this felt like reading The Scarlet Letter again, what with the being slapped in the face with the metaphors. While I didn't hate this story, I think I would have gotten the same amount of enjoyment out of reading a pamphlet on the dangers of smoking.



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Reply #29 on: July 21, 2008, 01:14:58 PM
I didn't "hate it" but I certainly didn't enjoy it as much as Steve Eley did.  A solid "meh".

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Rain

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Reply #30 on: July 21, 2008, 02:14:11 PM
Here are the reasons why i thought this was a bad story :

1. It was much much too preachy, when you have a giant monster walking around destroying cities is that really the time to debate whether or not nuclear weapons are ok?

2. I refuse to believe that a giant monster walking around on the east coast of your country can become so mundane that people stop caring, the concept is absurd

3. Strange Ending : Why was our main character coughing up blood at the end?

4. I doubt many, if any people at all who knows a cancer patient would agree with the clumbsy metaphor about how cemotherapy is bad



wintermute

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Reply #31 on: July 21, 2008, 02:20:42 PM
1. It was much much too preachy, when you have a giant monster walking around destroying cities is that really the time to debate whether or not nuclear weapons are ok?
Actually, I would say "yes". It's easy to agree that nuclear weapons are bad (or, for that matter, good) when it doesn't look like you'll ever need to use them. But when using them to kill maybe millions of people s the only way to stop a monster from killing millions of people, then you really need to be sure you're doing the right thing.

3. Strange Ending : Why was our main character coughing up blood at the end?
Cancer, brought on by second hand smoke, from being around his mother so much.

See, by letting his mother have a little simple pleasure, he was dooming himself to a painful death. That's what passes for SUBTLE IRONY in this story.

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Talia

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Reply #32 on: July 21, 2008, 02:30:34 PM
Here are the reasons why i thought this was a bad story :

1. It was much much too preachy, when you have a giant monster walking around destroying cities is that really the time to debate whether or not nuclear weapons are ok?

2. I refuse to believe that a giant monster walking around on the east coast of your country can become so mundane that people stop caring, the concept is absurd

3. Strange Ending : Why was our main character coughing up blood at the end?

4. I doubt many, if any people at all who knows a cancer patient would agree with the clumbsy metaphor about how cemotherapy is bad

As far as people not caring, consider humanity's inclination to stick their head in the sand and not deal with problems if they can possibly help it. Its a defense mechanism. Certainly not everyone reacts this way but plenty do. If something seems completely out of your control and is far away, isn't it so much easier to just pretend everything's fine and go about your business, some people might reason.

I certainly don't think the story was trying to say "chemotherapy is bad." Chemotherapy is, in fact, extraordinarly unpleasant, though.



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Reply #33 on: July 21, 2008, 04:26:02 PM
The discussion about the plural form of octopus was getting silly and looked like it was going to keep going, so I moved it here



slic

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Reply #34 on: July 21, 2008, 10:14:08 PM
I'm with Talia on this.  Consider the daily death tolls from the many conflicts around the world right now.



jonathanhowell

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Reply #35 on: July 22, 2008, 04:43:59 AM
I very much enjoyed the story. It's not easy putting a tale together that employs parallel symbolisms. It's a little more difficult when it happens in a short story. This one did it fairly well, a little heavy-handed at times, but nicely done.

I would guess that this is from a personal life experience of Mr. Wu's.

To those that didn't like it; just think of this story, having 2 monsters, as making up for the lack in EP117: Reggie vs. Kaiju Storm Chimera Wolf

:)
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Darwinist

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Reply #36 on: July 22, 2008, 02:10:43 PM
I'm with Talia on this.  Consider the daily death tolls from the many conflicts around the world right now.

True. But I would think a person would have a different reaction to something horrible happening in our own country.  I'm not saying that this is a good thing.   I can't see life going on (ie.  NCAA tournament) if the entire Eastern seaboard was getting trashed.   After the September 11th attacks I think some MLB and NFL games were postponed. 

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan


incandenza

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Reply #37 on: July 22, 2008, 02:58:02 PM
True. But I would think a person would have a different reaction to something horrible happening in our own country.  I'm not saying that this is a good thing.   I can't see life going on (ie.  NCAA tournament) if the entire Eastern seaboard was getting trashed.   After the September 11th attacks I think some MLB and NFL games were postponed. 

Honestly, that was the best part of the story to me.  And I think it's spot-on, too, both literally and metaphorically in the context of the story.  9/11 did shut a lot of things down nationally here in the states, but it wasn't long before they were up and running again - because our society actually requires those things to keep running.  In the case of a much longer 'monster attack' where the devastation goes on for weeks (if I'm remembering the timeline of the story correctly), I think people would have no choice but to continue living life the way they know it.  It's that or societal collapse for the surviving states.

Sure, it's exaggerated, but the details are less important than the symbolism in the story.  ^ Metaphorically, I would think (though I have no real idea) that the idea of continuing like everything is as normal as possible is also accurate for the treatment of cancer patients.  I mean, they're dying - and the cure is killing them too - but they sure don't want to think about dying all the time if they can help it.  You need to be able to focus on other, better things in life to have a better chance of surviving.  Or, at least that's my impression.

But, on second thought, you might be right - the NCAA tournament would be a lot more boring with half the teams missing ;o



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Reply #38 on: July 22, 2008, 03:56:26 PM

I would guess that this is from a personal life experience of Mr. Wu's.


I agree.  He's definitely had some personal daikaiju climbing up out of the ocean and attacking large cities, but I thought the way he created the whole cancer thing was a bit ridiculous.  I mean, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief about monsters, but cancer?  That's ridiculous!

Seriously, though, I did enjoy the story.  The characters hit the right notes for me.  One of the images that's going to be sticking with me for a while is the son drawing pictures inside the top of his mom's cigarette boxes. 


Listener

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Reply #39 on: July 23, 2008, 01:12:07 PM
I was also intrigued but the subtext of people getting accustomed to tragedy.  People in many places of the world today, and in the past, have to live with daily destruction and the tragedy it brings.  In this story, even when it has an impact close to home, eventually, sooner than one thinks possible, we move past it.  Who would consider continuing with something as honestly insignificant as the NCAA Basketball playoffs when the entire eastern seaboard is being destroyed?  I haven’t decided if this is a result of “Bread and Circuses” – keep the majority of the population distracted – or if it’s that the human psyche just can’t deal with this kind of high tension for months on end.

Welcome to the news business, slic.

This was probably the best part of the story -- that little observation.

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Listener

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Reply #40 on: July 23, 2008, 01:13:58 PM
I didn't like it.  I'm not much for giant monster stories (Cthulhu-esque included) unless they're golems.  Everyone's already talked about the symbolism, and slic brought up the one thing that really touched me about the story already.  The reading was fine.

If you believe everything you see on "House", it is possible to get lung cancer without being a smoker -- the episode with the hugely fat guy who loved to cook and eat... he turned out to have lung cancer, not anything weight-related.

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Roney

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Reply #41 on: July 23, 2008, 08:53:51 PM
I have never understood the attraction of monster movies.  I view heavy-handed symbolism with a wary disdain.  But I seem to have empathized with this story more than average.

To me, there's a point at which metaphors become so blatant that they stop pretending to be anything other than what they symbolize.  If it's that up-front, it flips from being bludgeoning and patronizing to being a stylistic attraction of the story.

I can't say that I enjoyed the story but that's almost entirely because of my own family experiences of cancer.  At times, I hated it -- I felt upset, guilty, worn out, helpless.  Its small scenes and big metaphors skewered the feeling of being a cancer bystander far too well.



cuddlebug

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Reply #42 on: July 23, 2008, 10:10:30 PM
I have to say, I was really struggling with this story, and it took me a while to put my finger on why. I actually liked the metaphors, I am always a great fan of monster stories, just like ‘end-of-the-world-stories’ they show human nature in a different light under unusual strain and pushing people to the edge, especially emotionally, socially, etc., brings out qualities and weaknesses we don’t usually get to see. But that is what this story seemed to lack, it did not bring out the ‘human nature’ I would expect to see under these circumstances.

But what really made me dismiss the story was the description of the relationships, which I realize, some posters actually liked. I could not see the main character’s behavior as believable at all when he leaves his mother in the end. Maybe that is what everyone would want to do with an abusive relative, a tyrant who knows exactly which buttons to press to bring him down. Fair enough, that leads to a lot of resentment, hatred even, all natural reactions. But she is still his mother, …. and ok, we did not get much of a back story, we don’t know what their relationship was like 10 years earlier. We don’t know anything really about the mother apart from her smoking habit and the effect the nicotin has on her mood. But I think, in the REAL world (not that that is necessarily what we need to measure this story against), he would not leave her behind like that, ‘burn down all his bridges behind him’, so to speak. Not when it is his mother we are talking about. Emotional abuse is a constant in many family relationships, if everyone who experiences it would just up and leave the family behind, we would live in a society full of ‘fake’ orphans. Especially in a situation like this one, when the mother really needs him, no matter what her behavior is like, a certain sense of obligation would make him stay and care for her, even if his only motive would be to fulfil what he perceives as his duty.

Anyway, I guess a bit more info on the characters’ motives, back stories etc. would have made the behavior more ‘palpable’ to me.

But that seems to be only MY quibble. Many other posters didn’t see it that way.



stePH

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Reply #43 on: July 23, 2008, 10:24:04 PM
But what really made me dismiss the story was the description of the relationships, which I realize, some posters actually liked. I could not see the main character’s behavior as believable at all when he leaves his mother in the end. Maybe that is what everyone would want to do with an abusive relative, a tyrant who knows exactly which buttons to press to bring him down. Fair enough, that leads to a lot of resentment, hatred even, all natural reactions. But she is still his mother, ….

Not any more.  He stuck with her all through the "abusive" period.  When he finally leaves her, she's a cabbage.  Brain-dead.  No point in going to see her any more. 

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slic

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Reply #44 on: July 23, 2008, 10:57:16 PM
One of the best and most interesting things about these forums is the diverse opinions.
I couldn't disagree more with cuddlebug.  Sadly, I don't feel any obligation to my mother - I got three squares a day and was never beaten, but verbally I never did anything right or good enough - including getting a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering.  Her being my Mom doesn't forgive that.

Darwinist - my reply to your general comment is "poverty".  Ever see some story that tugs at our heart strings for a few days and then doesn't get mentioned again? As Listener pointed out - the news business does this now, and it's not because they don't want to report on a particular story (in fact it would make their life easier), it's because they have found that people just tune out after awhile.



stePH

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Reply #45 on: July 23, 2008, 11:27:37 PM
One of the best and most interesting things about these forums is the diverse opinions.
I couldn't disagree more with cuddlebug.  Sadly, I don't feel any obligation to my mother - I got three squares a day and was never beaten, but verbally I never did anything right or good enough - including getting a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering.  Her being my Mom doesn't forgive that.

I'm not in the same position, but I've heard from others who've disowned their parents (or siblings) and when given their reasons I couldn't find fault with them.  Just being family doesn't allow for behavior that you wouldn't tolerate from your friends.  Family is really just an accident of birth.

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JoeFitz

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Reply #46 on: July 25, 2008, 01:39:08 AM
A cancer/monster, a thankless guilt-ridden son, a tyrannical mother, a society which ignores disaster, politicians who are opportunistic, a news media that is complicit, an office culture that is alienating. I felt like the narrator actually - detached from everything going on and questioning why I was there. A solid meh. Next, please.



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Reply #47 on: July 25, 2008, 04:40:46 AM
2. I refuse to believe that a giant monster walking around on the east coast of your country can become so mundane that people stop caring, the concept is absurd
I can accept it. During times of great personal crises, it's real easy to ignore the outside world, especially if the monster/tornado/constitutional crisis is not in your immediate neighbourhood. You tend to get tunnel vision.

"My kid is in intensive care and may not survive the night. Gee, can we get CNN here? I want to see that earthquake footage from Chile." Yeah, right.

There were some bright moments, shining like the edge of a scalpel.  The rest of it was a plastic handle, there to provide support for its use and nothing else.

Sharp, sterile, and ultimately, disposable.
*polite golf clap*
Oooh, I like that, and pretty much agree with it. I probably liked it a wee bit more, overall, than you did.


As far as Godzilla (1998) goes, I still think it was the greatest for creature design. She (?) moved well, and the head looked like a cross between a pit bull, a melanistic jaguar, and a T-rex. Maybe a touch of iguana in there too. When she looked at you, she made eye contact, which few daikaijus do.
I just think of it as a different character than the "real" Godzilla, (as Cloverfield was a different character) and am okay with the movie.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2008, 05:10:39 AM by Planish »

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Sandikal

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Reply #48 on: July 25, 2008, 09:38:59 PM
Finished listening to the story over lunch. Not a very subtle use of the "big monster" metaphor, was it? 

Agreed.  It was a big "meh" for me.  Why didn't they reveal that the monster terrorizing the country was the little Godzilla toy the narrator's mother had thrown away?  It was so obvious.  The first thing I thought when the monster appeared was "alligators in the sewers."  Then, he tells about the toy.  That should have been pursued a bit more.



JoeFitz

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Reply #49 on: July 25, 2008, 11:55:43 PM
2. I refuse to believe that a giant monster walking around on the east coast of your country can become so mundane that people stop caring, the concept is absurd
I can accept it. During times of great personal crises, it's real easy to ignore the outside world, especially if the monster/tornado/constitutional crisis is not in your immediate neighbourhood. You tend to get tunnel vision.

"My kid is in intensive care and may not survive the night. Gee, can we get CNN here? I want to see that earthquake footage from Chile." Yeah, right.

This is still the biggest stumbling block with the monster aspect of this story. Okay maybe hyperbole was part of the author's point - there still is a great deal of tunnel vision. But the example just does not fit. Sure, maybe New York in flames would wear itself out as the lead item on the news. But New York followed by every single settlement along the East coast until Raleigh over four months would cease to be any concern to people living in California?

The problem with hyperbole is that it never works :) when it is overused.