Drabblecast 059 - The Interview

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Mr. Tweedy
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Drabblecast 059 - The Interview

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:07 pm

The Interview by Kevin Anderson

The bleeping sounds of the Game Boy were just a bit louder than the sounds of tearing flesh, snapping bone and chewing resonating from the waiting room...

Interview with Doctor Steve O'Shea.

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Post by strawman » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:13 pm

I'm pretty sure Stephen King has done this plot.
Norm's intro with the squid sex thing, I'm pretty sure Larry Flint has done that.
And Norm's ice-cream episode for desert, I'm pretty sure some mentally ill person has done that.
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:53 pm

With a small but not insignificant degree of embarrassment, I confess that the interview with "Doctor O'Shea" made me laugh so hard that tears came out of both eyes and I ceased breathing for several seconds. My cowokers don't ask what's wrong with me anymore when that happens. They just assume I'm listening to the Drabblecast and resume their glassy-eyed stares at their computer screens. Someday I really will be having a seizure and no one will notice... Death by Drabble.

It's not that the joke was particularly original or clever. In fact, it was a pretty bad joke, one from which I would normally turn with a sneer. But a bad joke and a bad joke told by Norm Sherman are two very different things. The best part (to me) was that Norm was obviously talking to himself, but sounded genuinely disturbed by his own answers to his own questions. If he combines that same brilliant delivery with a really good joke, I will likely asphyxiate here in my seat.

The story was meh. It had too many logical flaws to be really scary (why doesn't a kid with god powers just make himself some ice cream?) and didn't establish enough atmosphere to be eerie. The characters were generic. Ironically, the aunt and uncle being cannibals made them seem less scary to me because it turned them into the horror cliché of clichés, the flesh-eating-zombie, evoking the associated decades of B-movie cheese and hammy CGI acting of the Resident Evil games. The idea of conscious spirits being slaved to dead bodies was fairly original and quite creepy, but once they started eating the receptionist, they became just zombies and lost all their novelty.
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Post by RG » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:05 pm

All right, I know we're all supposed to find the squid sex science guy creepy, but I find it a lot more creepy that Norm called the guy up and asked him about the science of squid sex.

As for the main story, it reminded me a bit of that Twilight Zone episode with the all-powerful kid, which is good, but I'm not a huge zombie fan. The thing about zombies I don't understand is how they can rip people open, snap bones, etc., but their teeth and muscles are still the same, so how do they turn into such powerful creatures? Why can't I just punch the woman in the face and drop kick the man, like I do in non-zombie situations?

I have a feeling there was no ice cream.

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Post by adam » Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:08 am

man, what's wrong with you people??
this story was awesome. i loved it. no, stephen king has never combined superpowers and zombies. and i dont know about the logical flaws. first, it's a zombie piece so willful suspension of disbelief takes over to an extent. even still, it doesn't get too in depth to his powers- he can do crazy stuff but he's not all powerful so maybe he can't make himself icecream. or even if he can he's still operating with the mind of a child so any irrationalities can be due to that. i think we mentioned in discussion of Marbles how almost innocent oblivion to right/wrong is creepier than the evil genius scenario. the characters and atmosphere may not have been all that deep, but you can only fit so much into flash fiction, and i think kevin had crammed in too much sweet idea/scenario kickassery to fit in meaningful backstories to the aunt or anything.
i can see how you'd be disappointed in the zombies (or general idea thereof) not being scary if you were expecting them to be, but that was never the point to me. the kid was the scary part- the fact that his relatives became flesh-eating zombies was more just unfortunate. a fate worse than death that made the kid scarier.

RG, there are lots of things about zombies that don't make sense- like the fact that they're zombies. i've wondered that about their strength too, and also, why if they're killing out of hunger do they always stop eating to kill stuff? there's over 100 lbs of dead receptionist in the hall which could feed 2 hungry zombies for at least an hour. i generally chock off zombie strength and drop-kick immunity as traits that are just inexplicably linked to their nature. like asians being good at math.

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Post by normsherman » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:02 am

I got the impression the kid wasn't a deity but more of a Professor X (without any restraint.) He had badass powers of the mind but was not able to make stuff generate from thin air. Maybe a mutant- far from a god.

As far as zombies- I think alot of times the fear comes from the sheer numbers. In those old Romero movies it's like you verse 1,000- you can drop kick all you like- all it takes is one chomp per zombie and your gone in like 10 minutes. In this scenario the fear comes from the fact that they are already dead. Without a fire arm or flamethrower, literally nothing you can do will hurt or stop them. You can maybe run if they don't grab you first, but otherwise, you can rip off an arm, kick in the balls, they're just gonna be happy as a lark holding onto you and devouring you as you struggle against them. Pain is pretty much the only reason any of us can't get away with anything in life.
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:38 pm

normsherman wrote:I got the impression the kid wasn't a deity but more of a Professor X (without any restraint.) He had badass powers of the mind but was not able to make stuff generate from thin air. Maybe a mutant- far from a god.
Psychokinesis probably doesn't qualify one as god-like, but I think that the power to deny or grant access for human souls to the afterlife probably does. It isn't explicit in the story, but I figure if the kid can do that, he can do anything.
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Post by normsherman » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:05 pm

Good point, unless a soul is tangible he had to have had some sort of supernatural manipulation powers I guess.
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Post by cammoblammo » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:08 pm

I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't heard or seen a good zombie story in a while, and I listen to this and Pseudopod's Sons of Carbon County on the same car trip. Freaky.

Most of the stuff I wanted to say about the story has already been said, but I did like the way that the zombies were only incidental to the true horror. I mean, the doctor's got one zombie sniffing his crotch and another one gorging on the receptionist, yet his main concern was ice cream.

All up, a solid story. It might have a few holes, but who cares? Zombies, man! Besides, my wife enjoyed it, and isn't that the real benchmark for anything we listen to?

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Post by bolddeceiver » Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:41 am

OK, I have to admit: I am totally sick and tired of zombies, espescially as writers seem less and less able to contain them to zombie stories. First Pseudopod with the zombies-in-coal-mines story, now they're spoiling a perfectly good psi story? Seriously, what's next, Zombies of Sweet Valley High? This zombie thing has been almost as completely run into the ground as pirates.
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Post by AynSavoy » Sat Apr 12, 2008 2:53 am

Well, I'm definitely NOT tired of zombie stories, and Kevin's done a good job with them in the past (Outrunning the Bear, anyone?).

I agree with those who say that part of what they enjoyed about this story was that the zombies were incidental to the real plot. To quote Adam:

i can see how you'd be disappointed in the zombies (or general idea thereof) not being scary if you were expecting them to be, but that was never the point to me. the kid was the scary part- the fact that his relatives became flesh-eating zombies was more just unfortunate. a fate worse than death that made the kid scarier.

The only problem I have with this is that the zombies really took up what seemed like a large part of the action. I would have liked to hear more about the boy's problems. But, I enjoyed the story's pacing so I'm not sure where I would have fit more in.

Now, that said, I'm going to agree with Norm (and disagree with Tweedy) that the boy's powers don't make him godlike. When he's messing with people's insides, he has no idea what he's doing. So, he probably doesn't have enough control to make himself ice cream, even if that's within his powers. And I like the whole child-with-uncontrolled-psychic-powers thing. BUT...I'm not sure why the aunt and uncle needed to be brain-eating zombies. In this post-Romero culture, I suppose it seems inevitable, but zombies weren't always flesh eaters, and the kind of voodoo zombies that were around in horror fiction before Romero better fits my idea of what might be produced by a psychic keeping bodies animate after death.

Of course, that kind of zombie certainly wouldn't have been able to dialog with a doctor.
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Post by tbaker2500 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 5:30 am

I guess I'm kinda surprised by all this talk about the zombies. Isn't the tension of this story based upon not being able to ignore a kid's desires? I mean, that's the only way adults survive children, being able to say "no" and/or have some ability to control the undeveloped mind.

While the child-like god premise has been used before, I thought that this story disguised it well, and threw in zombies just as a method of force for the child to use. Other methods could be used, but I get the sense that Mr. Anderson enjoys zombies. :D
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Post by bolddeceiver » Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:35 am

tbaker2500 wrote:Isn't the tension of this story based upon not being able to ignore a kid's desires? I mean, that's the only way adults survive children, being able to say "no" and/or have some ability to control the undeveloped mind.
I think that's why the zombies have been such a point of discussion, at least for me. The zombies felt rather incongruously tossed into a story that could have rested on the things you point to.
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Post by weldonburge » Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:09 pm

I always like Kevin's work, and this is no exception. The story reminded me a lot of the classic, creepy Twilight Zone episode, "It's a Good Life," starring Billy Mumy as the brat/monster child. "That was a good thing you did. A real good thing!" Still gives me the shivers. The kid in Kevin's story is more innocent than Mumy's character. In that sense, Kevin's story is even creepier. Nicely done!

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Post by Goldenrat » Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:46 pm

weldonburge wrote:I always like Kevin's work, and this is no exception. The story reminded me a lot of the classic, creepy Twilight Zone episode, "It's a Good Life," starring Billy Mumy as the brat/monster child. "That was a good thing you did. A real good thing!" Still gives me the shivers. The kid in Kevin's story is more innocent than Mumy's character. In that sense, Kevin's story is even creepier. Nicely done!
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Loved the story this week.

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Post by Chivalrybean » Thu May 15, 2008 1:05 pm

When zombies showed up, many argued fears came true. If a zombie grabbed bare flesh, they could tear the flesh apart. The zombies carried a disease that would weaken flesh they touched, but when it infected someone, it would take over the body, strengthening it. Fire did nothing, bullet wounds healed fast. But then, reality hit. When the martial artists retaliated with full coverage body suits, the zombies didn't stand a chance against their fury. Fighters snuck up on the fast zombies, quietly killing them. Then, using great martial speed, the slow zombie mobs got drop kicked, one by one.

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Post by adam » Thu May 15, 2008 8:31 pm

awesome drabble. shoulda been submitted rather than posted!

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Post by Chivalrybean » Sat May 17, 2008 3:48 pm

It was submitted. {:0o

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Post by Dr. Sax » Mon May 19, 2008 8:26 pm

I think that the only problem with this story is that it ended too late. Up until the receptionist was eaten, I loved it. If it had ended with the aunt pleading with the doctor and the doctor convincing the kid to come with him, I think that it would have been a lot better.

As for squid sex, I would have thought it funny if I wasn't taking human anatomy right now and studying the reproductive systems. My new knowledge kept my from laughing by reminding my of my class. Although one general comment about such things is that there is no warning of them. Had I been in mixed company, I wouldn't have enjoyed it merely because of the length of it. Perhaps ending this segment a bit earlier too would have made it work better? Just a thought.

I enjoyed this podcast.

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Post by DKT » Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:52 pm

Dr. Sax wrote:I think that the only problem with this story is that it ended too late. Up until the receptionist was eaten, I loved it. If it had ended with the aunt pleading with the doctor and the doctor convincing the kid to come with him, I think that it would have been a lot better.

As for squid sex, I would have thought it funny if I wasn't taking human anatomy right now and studying the reproductive systems. My new knowledge kept my from laughing by reminding my of my class. Although one general comment about such things is that there is no warning of them. Had I been in mixed company, I wouldn't have enjoyed it merely because of the length of it. Perhaps ending this segment a bit earlier too would have made it work better? Just a thought.

I enjoyed this podcast.
I admit, I really did love the receptionist being eaten part. It was worked so organically into the story, too.

I suppose there are some logic problems as others have pointed out, but they didn't bother me when I was listening to this.

The squid sex thing. Ew, that cracked me up.

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