Drabblecast 074 - Witchcraft in the Harem

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Mr. Tweedy
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Drabblecast 074 - Witchcraft in the Harem

Postby Mr. Tweedy » Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:51 pm

Witchcraft in the Harem by Aliya Whiteley

"Some lifted their long skirts and from under them they produced twisted papers that contained pinches of bright powder or spindly roots. Others slid delicate orange and yellow flowers from between their breasts, cupping the petals as if they had drawn forth their hearts for inspection. One woman with enormous hips opened her mouth and extended her tongue to allow the enormous iridescent purple beetle upon it to be captured..."

Drabble: In Bad Taste by Ayn Sauer
Music by Gringo Motel.

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Postby Mr. Tweedy » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:00 pm

...dreams that wake you up feeling disturbed and dirty, with a dread that is terrifying precisely because it is so vague. But the dream is so vivid and potent that you never forget it, and it effects your perceptions ever after. You're certain it means something, but never figure out what it could be. Even years later, you're never able to decide whether you're glad you had that dream or if you'd rather have been woken by the cat and missed it.

That was really, really good, but I don't know what it was good at and I'm not at all sure that I liked it.
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Postby strawman » Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:07 pm

I'm just happy the world is right side up again. I like my topsy-turvy experiences to be confined to strange stories. When they jostle over into my lap, I'm sick at heart.
This week is Aliya Whitely's entry in her Dare to Be Strange competition with Carlos Casteneda. It was pretty far out on the edge, which is appropriate for 'no place on earth', and we're left guessing what 'the stuff' is, although you could't be far off if you thought it's the substance that produces the weirdness.
I really like Ayn Sauer's Drabble, prequel to shark attack, and Norm's tying it together with the man without a tongue.
It reminded me for some reason of the beginning of Genesis:
'darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.'
But maybe that thought was the result of the Hallelujah Chorus I was hearing when the sun came up and "We're Sorry" disappeared from drabblecast.org's website.
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Postby tastycakes » Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:12 pm

I'm just hoping we also get the first Death-match podcast up soon, too.

As far as the podcast, I felt the feature was extremely weird. Had the model OD'd at the end, and was either dead, or in the process of killing herself? The story was interesting, but sometimes unclear to me.

I'm convinced that Ayn Sauer needs serious help, or rather, any animal in the vicinity of Ayn. Yikes.
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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Postby zZzacha » Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:38 pm

WoW, the Return of the Drabblecast Website is really celebrated well!
I loved the way the story "Magic in the Harem" was tumbling from one weird thing to the next. I almost started to think I was the one who had taken the stuff, that made me giggle.

My expectations for this Aliya Whiteley story were high, because Jelly Park was sooooo great. In my opinion, she did it again! Aliya knows what to do with words, I loved this story.

Drabble was fun too! It reminded me of a boy I knew when I was young. He had the weird habit of smelling _everything_. It started indirectly by constantly smelling his own hands (because those hands touched things). Later, he would just smell anything. He even started opening peanut butter jars in the store, so his mother had to buy all the jars he had opened during their visit to the store.
I think he grew out of it, but we didn't stay in touch (or in smell...)
I'll be there in 5 minutes. If not, read this again.

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Postby hellostephanie » Tue Jul 29, 2008 6:32 pm

Loved "Witchcraft in the Harem." Wonderfully written, and totally my kind of weird. I enjoyed "Jelly Park," so my expectations were high for this one, and I wasn't disappointed. The production on this episode was superb. I really liked the music at the beginning of the story.

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Postby Mr. Tweedy » Tue Jul 29, 2008 8:01 pm

Comment regarding production:

The whole was very well done, but I thought that the voice of The Designer was perfect. Bizarre for no reason, completely out of place, inhuman, seemingly significant, but how? That voice cemented the icky/creepy feeling of unrightness that defined the whole story for me.
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Postby tastycakes » Tue Jul 29, 2008 8:42 pm

Mr. Tweedy wrote:Comment regarding production:

The whole was very well done, but I thought that the voice of The Designer was perfect. Bizarre for no reason, completely out of place, inhuman, seemingly significant, but how? That voice cemented the icky/creepy feeling of unrightness that defined the whole story for me.


I agree, the voice of The Designer made it seem like she was hallucinating or tripping.
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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Postby hellostephanie » Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:18 pm

The Designer's voice was pretty awesome. Totally caught me off-guard.

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Postby JimB » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:27 pm

It was an interesting story. Definitely "out there". Had to listen to it twice to really get a feel for it.

Kind of put off that the main character went so willingly to her death and would have liked more dialogue vice narrative, but still a decent listen.

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Postby Igwiz » Wed Jul 30, 2008 4:50 pm

Great story. I love surrealism, especially when it takes a stroll down psychadellic lane. Excellent job on the production, Norm. You struck a much better sound balance with the background this time out.

Somewhere between the vivid description in the writing, the vocal presentation and the eerie little effects you snuck in there, it took me a minute to remember (upon arriving at work) that I wasn't actually watching TV. Since I don't remember the drive in this morning, I might need to put off listening to future episodes until I actually finish my commute!! :shock:
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Postby strawman » Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:42 pm

If you look at Harry Potter, it seems to me you come away thinking of magic as something having to do with special powers or incantations. This story leaves me with a different impression of the nature of magic. Less supernatural. More connected to the mystery that each of the women bring forth from their 'hidden places', a little root or twisted paper, or irridescent beetle. There's a sense of conspiracy which is communicated very explicitly, without regard to language barrier or even tongelessness, that arises from womanhood surrounding the male characters. Finally, the idea that no place on earth turns out to be everywhere.

I'm left with the impression that Aliya has brewed me a cup of coffee. Now that I've drunk it, I'm outside the story (harem), the images around me are difficult to explain, I'm a bit disoriented, as if I'm experiencing what the narrator has just described.

Come to think, the effect is kind of magical. Which proves that special powers and incantations are very real, if by incantation and special powers you mean a good writer telling a well-written story.

I don't think I've killed myself by drinking the coffee, and don't think the narrator has, either.
Never judge anyone until you have biopsied their brain.

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Known Some Call Is Air Am
Spoiler:
Non sum qualis eram = "I am not who I will be"

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Postby AynSavoy » Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:21 pm

I felt like there were thematic similarities between this story and 'Jelly Park' (which is unsurprising; authors have their own interests, as some of you are figuring out about me*). The story started with the protagonist meeting a stranger on a mass transit vehicle, and ended with a strange journey to a strange place where the protagonist suddenly felt completely at home. Aside from these similarities, which were cool, this story was definitely different from anything else I've heard/read.


*I promise that I don't actually like animal abuse/mutilation; it disturbs me immensely, which is why it ends up in the stories I write. I do think creepy children make excellent villains, though.
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its back

Postby StalinSays » Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:06 am

Drabblecast is refreshing in my itunes, and that I find as refreshing as a warm, tropical rain. Could have listened to the quicktime version through the site, but there's something to be said for the Christmas morning appeal of watching it progress from gray to black in the downloads bar.

Enjoyed the story, and I found this to be another episode where Norm's burgeoning use of sound design enhanced the experience considerably.

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Postby tbaker2500 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:43 am

I'm intrigued by the concept of linked Drabbles. While this prequel doesn't stand on it's own quite as well as Shark Attack, when you listen to the two together it creates a beautiful "moments in life" style. Good work.

The main story was good. Like the others here, I was blown away with the production. It took a difficult to approach story, and turned it into an immersive experience.

Psychedelic stories are very, very difficult to write. The meaning of such experiences doesn't translate easily to paper. Mrs. Whiteley did it better than many.

The difficulty in translation leads to the opening of a multitude of interpretations.

While I'm not interested in that journey myself, I cannot fault to protagonist for her actions. I wish to think that the story represents actual enlightenment, not drug induced self-delusions. But I'm afraid that instead the story represents a soul who cannot understand where she is and find peace in her life, and must seek outside influences. I worry, of course, that those influences don't have her best interests at heart.
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Postby Goldenrat » Fri Aug 01, 2008 2:18 pm

Loved the drabble, great stuff! I would've prefered the Psycho music at the dog-innards ending, though.

Hated the main story. Just didn't seem like much of a story to me. Glad to hear the sister and the alien designer dude show up and end it. It bored me.

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Postby AynSavoy » Fri Aug 01, 2008 7:53 pm

tbaker2500 wrote:...this prequel doesn't stand on it's own quite as well as Shark Attack...


This comment amuses me, because I actually wrote the story completely independently, from a prompt; the relation only struck me after I'd finished it. Thanks for the compliments!
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Postby Kevin Anderson » Sat Aug 02, 2008 3:53 am

Awesome Drabble. I found the music a little distracting, but not much. Ayn, I hope you consider fleshing this boy out a bit and giving us a full length "Boy bites world'" story.
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Postby cammoblammo » Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:23 pm

Wow, that story was weird. Over on the Escape Artists forums people will always be arguing over whether or not a story fits the genre. Here, it just has to be strange.

And it was a good story too. A real masterpiece. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but I don't think it matters. Some stories transcend understanding.

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Postby delfedd » Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:09 pm

I feel bad because everyone's calling it beautiful, and a masterpiece. I gotta say, when I heard that it was by the same person who wrote jelly park, I was intrigued, and a bit excited. The biggest problem with the story was that it didn't want to stay in one place. For a while, it seemed like jelly park, set in the present. Then, I thought the main character and her sister where fallen angels and that the designer was god. Then I thought it was the far future.

It didn't make much sense to me. Normally, a drabblecast has a twist at the end that makes the rest of the story make sense while at the same time putting a new weird angle on it. Jelly Park did this rather well, I thought, with the revelation of what Jelly Park was. This one just kept getting weirder and making less sense.


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