Drabblecast 071 - Perfect Down Further

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Mr. Tweedy
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Drabblecast 071 - Perfect Down Further

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Wed Jul 02, 2008 5:03 pm

"Just try to breathe underwater? That's nonsense. It leads to something we up here above water call 'drowning.'"

Drabble - Boys will be Boys by Alex Moisi

Music - "Muertos" by Gringo Motel & "Ocean" by Aaron Derington

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Post by cammoblammo » Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:04 am

Really good story. It's a great example of how a story can be strange without a twist. And for a first time author, too. Gives us all hope that one day we mere denizens of the boards (I'm not looking at you, Kevin Anderson) might actually get the Norm treatment on one our darling little pieces.

The drabble was good too. I picked the punchline, but it never came. I was sure this was a 'teenagers showing off their asses' thing. Still, it made me giggle.

Well, time to head off and subscribe to the deathmatch feed. Just on that, moderators --- could you throw up a link to the necessary feeds and pages?

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Post by tastycakes » Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:23 am

This story mixed a lot of elements that stand out to me. First off, I've got to say that I appreciated the "Aquaman" references. Orin and Arthur, Arthur's dad being a lighthouse keeper, all explicitly referenced. As a huge DC comics fan, I always love it when I run into them in unexpected places. javascript:emoticon(':o')
Surprised

I also liked the comparison of belief in a beluga whale and a sea kingdom to organized religion. I thought that made some good points without weighing to heavily one one side. For me, the idea of "Poseidon's Gift" really explores feelings of universal salvation. It would be cool to read how some Drabblecasties feel about these topics.

As far as production and narration, I really loved Norm's take on this story. The music at the beginning really set the mood, and I also loved the sound effects of the narwhal emergence. Excellent job, Norm.

The drabble punchline "It looks like a donkey." Made me laugh out loud, great concept

Can't wait for SADM II!!!! (Wow, that acronym is a little close to sadism)
One day he will look into what a ‘stigmata’ really is; for now, it is his trump card for getting out of work. He simply says ‘stigmata’ and they say ‘shit, hope you feel better soon.’ End of story.

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Post by bolddeceiver » Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:52 am

A big meh, though not the downbeat connotation meh has so often taken on, but the true precisely neutral meh. This story didn't blow me away, and it didn't upset or disappoint me. It was so truly neutral that I found myself compelled to post about my absolute lack of feeling one way or another.
...the pagoda-like enclosure, where Japanese sand-badgers disported themselves...

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:35 am

cammoblammo wrote: Well, time to head off and subscribe to the deathmatch feed. Just on that, moderators --- could you throw up a link to the necessary feeds and pages?
Ah, yes.

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Post by strawman » Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:36 pm

Maybe it has to do with driving 700 miles yesterday, but I need help with the drabble. I just don't get it.

Perfect Down Further reminded me of The Story of Pi, one of my favorite books.

To have a narrator who the reader discovers is at least partially delusional is a device which is rich in possibilities, especially here, where the subject is a missionary, and the themes concern beliefs.

There is so much here that I think Kraft should consider expanding it. This is a great concept for a novel. (Max could consider mentioning Norm in his foreword, and Norm should enter the narwhal in SADM II). Seriously :)
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu Jul 03, 2008 4:25 pm

I was going to second BD's "meh," but tastycake's info on comic lore helped me out. Basically, I didn't understand the story: Is the dude hallucinating or is a whale really talking to him? Does he drown or does he really become the sea king? Is it significant that he's a missionary? Although the prose was entertaining and production was (expectedly) full of personality and charm, without those answers, there really wasn't any story to the story.

But, since I now know that the story is linked to Aquaman, I can assume that the whale really was talking to him and that he really does get to be King... which makes the story really cool. I just wish I would have been able to tell those things from the story and not have to get hints from a third party.

As for him being a missionary... Well, as one who defines his life by calling himself "Christian," I think that's pretty cool too. I don't know what the author was intending with that or how others might take it, but my understanding is that as long as one is sincerely trying to love and serve God, good and useful things will result, but not necessarily the things you were expecting. (God's sneaky like that.) Our character is following what he believes to be God's calling for his life, and because of his obedience he ends up getting to be Sea King. Not what he was expecting to happen, but pretty darn cool.
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Post by Richmazzer » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:17 pm

The story did feel alot like Life of Pi. I thought the story was mostly good, but have to disagree with Mr Tweedy. I wish it had been even more vague.

I liked that the beluga was essentially a missionary to the man, just like he was supposed to be, both going out to convince someone that needed "saving" of something equally absurd.
Having said that, I'm not sure why the beluga had to knock religion to get his point across- it marred the comparison a bit. I also wish the end had been left more open.
Overall fun story though, very well produced.

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Post by internalogic » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:13 pm

If you think about it, the Aquaman reference doesn't make this story any clearer at all really. To me, it actually makes things more vague. It's quite conceivable that someone injured and hallucinating, moments from death, might piece together just this sort-of makeshift delusion from well-known mythological images and comic books subconsciously recalled from childhood.

Nothing really occurred that was mundane or prosaic enough to definitively mark the situation as occurring in regular waking consciousness.

I have no idea what the ending signified. Listened to the last minute several times and I'm still not sure. Is it a man externalizing his religious doubts in the form of a convenient magical object and hallucinating a reason to put himself out of his misery? Or is it really a beluga whale heralding a need for king of the sea that coincidentally occurred at the exact time of this fellow's shipwreck? ...When I put it that way, I guess I'd have to incline towards the former.

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Post by dracken » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:43 pm

Personally I enjoyed the story quite a lot and I think it was very well written although somewhat confusing. There were many points where I was annoyed and uttered a "What the hell?" but I think that was part of the stories charm. Looking back I think it's sort of a warning to not take everything seriously and a comment that life is full of unknown and mystery.

Oh and I think my drabble complemented the story very well seeing as it is a bit confusing as well.

Anyhow thank you for the nice comments everybody.

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Post by Richmazzer » Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:08 am

internalogic wrote: I have no idea what the ending signified. Listened to the last minute several times and I'm still not sure. Is it a man externalizing his religious doubts in the form of a convenient magical object and hallucinating a reason to put himself out of his misery? Or is it really a beluga whale heralding a need for king of the sea that coincidentally occurred at the exact time of this fellow's shipwreck? ...When I put it that way, I guess I'd have to incline towards the former.
I was hoping to feel that same ambiguity, as it was my favorite aspect of the story. The end seemed explicit, at least to me, that the man was entering the sea kingdom. Maybe the sea kingdom was heaven? Maybe he was crazy the whole time? We all want definitive answers about in stories, just like in life, but sometimes (especially when you are starving in Africa or stranded in a raft) you just gotta have faith and ride the whale.

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Post by strawman » Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:53 am

No one has explained the drabble to me, and I still don't get it. Dracken, please enlighten me.
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Non sum qualis eram = "I am not who I will be"

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Post by cammoblammo » Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:44 pm

Richmazzer wrote:We all want definitive answers about in stories, just like in life, but sometimes (especially when you are starving in Africa or stranded in a raft) you just gotta have faith and ride the whale.
I am so going to use that line in my sermon this Sunday.

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Post by tastycakes » Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:04 pm

internalogic wrote:If you think about it, the Aquaman reference doesn't make this story any clearer at all really. To me, it actually makes things more vague. It's quite conceivable that someone injured and hallucinating, moments from death, might piece together just this sort-of makeshift delusion from well-known mythological images and comic books subconsciously recalled from childhood.

Nothing really occurred that was mundane or prosaic enough to definitively mark the situation as occurring in regular waking consciousness.

I have no idea what the ending signified. Listened to the last minute several times and I'm still not sure. Is it a man externalizing his religious doubts in the form of a convenient magical object and hallucinating a reason to put himself out of his misery? Or is it really a beluga whale heralding a need for king of the sea that coincidentally occurred at the exact time of this fellow's shipwreck? ...When I put it that way, I guess I'd have to incline towards the former.
I've got to agree with internalogic's logic here. I like all the choices the author gave the listener/reader in this story. Our own decisions make this story a fantasy, religious exposition, or a melancholy look at a moment-of-death scenario.

I can't see the Aquaman reference being essential to the plot though, Mr. Tweedy. I think that was more of an "easter egg" than a pivotal plot development. Surely he couldn't have expected more than a few listeners to pick up on that.
One day he will look into what a ‘stigmata’ really is; for now, it is his trump card for getting out of work. He simply says ‘stigmata’ and they say ‘shit, hope you feel better soon.’ End of story.

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Post by tbaker2500 » Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:41 pm

Well, I admit that I'm torn. The main story is good enough if you just listen, and don't try to read too much into it. But as shown in the postings, it borders heavily on "This story has no preset meaning. Insert your own personal meaning here."

If that's the case, I am utterly befuddled on why the main character is so hostile. That really breaks my suspension of disbelief.

I think I will have to file this one under the category of "Artwork I appreciate but really didn't get."

Again, thanks for doin' what you're doin'.
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Post by Goldenrat » Fri Jul 04, 2008 4:31 pm

Mr. Tweedy wrote:I was going to second BD's "meh," but tastycake's i

As for him being a missionary... Well, as one who defines his life by calling himself "Christian," I think that's pretty cool too. I don't know what the author was intending with that or how others might take it, but my understanding is that as long as one is sincerely trying to love and serve God, good and useful things will result, but not necessarily the things you were expecting. (God's sneaky like that.) Our character is following what he believes to be God's calling for his life, and because of his obedience he ends up getting to be Sea King. Not what he was expecting to happen, but pretty darn cool.
I saw it the opposite way. I thought the whole point was that his god didn't save him despite his faith. If it wasn't for the whale he would have died on that raft, forsaken by his god. I thought the theme of the story was more anti-Christian. I liked how the whale made light of the land-dweller's religion and when the missionary main character was going on about how god was going to save him the whale said "Oh, come off it" (or something to that effect). I loved that! I wish I had enough balls to say that to some of my relatives.

Anyway, after reading Tweedy's post I liked the story even more. Cool how a Christian and Agnostic can both like the story for different reasons and interpret it in different ways. :)

Loved the alien hi-jinks drabble, too.

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Post by internalogic » Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:23 pm

Goldenrat wrote: I thought the whole point was that his god didn't save him despite his faith. If it wasn't for the whale he would have died on that raft, forsaken by his god.
Of course, the age-old rebuttal is that it was his god who sent the whale. :P

(Once more demonstrating that trying to see the world from the perspective of omniscient, omnipotent beings is probably not worth the time.)

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Post by strawman » Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:08 pm

internalogic wrote:
Goldenrat wrote: I thought the whole point was that his god didn't save him despite his faith. If it wasn't for the whale he would have died on that raft, forsaken by his god.
Of course, the age-old rebuttal is that it was his god who sent the whale. :P

(Once more demonstrating that trying to see the world from the perspective of omniscient, omnipotent beings is probably not worth the time.)
It was Max Kraft who sent the whale, G'rat! And what could the purpose of the forum be, if not to try to see the drabbleworld through the eyes of the omniscient, omnipotent author? Does he not get to say, "Let there be light!", and is there not light? Is he not the author and finisher of the subscribers' faith?

On the other hand, intending no disrespect, doesn't religion also require a willing suspension of disbelief?
In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum.
Take my word for it.

In a way, that would make Norm "a voice crying in the wilderness".
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

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Spoiler:
Non sum qualis eram = "I am not who I will be"

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Jul 04, 2008 10:24 pm

strawman wrote:On the other hand, intending no disrespect, doesn't religion also require a willing suspension of disbelief?
No more than does believing anything. I think believing in God takes about as much credulity as believing in brains. Brains! These ugly lumps of fat–unseen and working by unknown means–are responsible for art and music and nuclear bombs? What could me more fantastic or unlikely?

I can't speak for others, as "religion" is an exceptionally broad umbrella, but I myself would answer the question with a "no."
strawman wrote:In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum.
Oo cool! Further proof that high scholarship and the love of bad-ass sea creatures go hand in tentacle!

"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God," right? John 1:1?
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Post by MKraft » Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:09 pm

First off, let me say you’re all wrong. No, I really appreciate all the positive, neutral, and negative remarks about the story. Writing is just a fun hobby, so any suggestions to make it more fun are always welcome. Many of you have hit on exactly what I was trying to do in the story – leave it vague. I blame it on those damn “Choose Your Own Adventure” Books when I was a kid (speaking of, that’s a great Podcast in the making). But I will take you through some of my thoughts while writing for those of you interested.

“Aquaman” reference – glad you caught that, tastycakes. Mr. Tweedy, I find it interesting that it guided your interpretation of the story. Cool. There are a lot of little hints like this that can take you either way on the ending, but I can’t say this was one I planned on.

Strawman – thanks for the encouragement. I’ve thought about making this into a longer piece, but I’m afraid it would lose something. Possibly a kid’s book, instead? (Illustrators PM me!)

The Ending – It is awesome that some of you find it “explicitly” one way, and that others wish it had been explicit, and still others like the vagueness. I can honestly say that I didn’t choose either side when writing the story.

internalogic – s/he probably summed it up best: I have no idea what the ending signified. Listened to the last minute several times and I'm still not sure. Is it a man externalizing his religious doubts in the form of a convenient magical object and hallucinating a reason to put himself out of his misery? Or is it really a beluga whale heralding a need for king of the sea that coincidentally occurred at the exact time of this fellow's shipwreck? Yes, and yes, exactly.

tbaker – I’d like to hear why you think the main character was hostile, as I pictured him just incredulous or impatient.

Religion – some types of missions have always struck a wrong chord in me. Going to places to convince other cultures that they’ve been wrong about this huge issue, and that this one (that I believe, rather conveniently for you) is the only true one; that really pisses me off. So, to some degree (as many of you have pointed out) the Beluga is giving the missionary a little taste of his own medicine.

Whew, that’s really long and I apologize. I hope the conversation keeps going on the boards, or feel free to PM me. There are plenty of other subtle cliff notes I can give you. For instance, using “further” instead of “farther” in the title…

And Norm, thanks for doing such an amazing job on this. It was an incredible feeling to hear my work on such an outstanding Podcast. Thanks.

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