Drabblecast 080 - Standing in Line

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Mr. Tweedy
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Drabblecast 080 - Standing in Line

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:18 pm

Image

Feature: Standing in Line by Michael Simon

I stop short as my eyes come to rest on the ruins of our hotel. 20 stories tall when I last looked, it's now a crater of brick and dirt, bleeding plumes of black smoke. Only the foundation is visible through the haze and flame. But it isn't just my hotel. I realize as my gaze takes in the entire scene that every building along the strand has been reduced to rubble and thousands of fires are spewing ash skyward...


Drabble - The End by Kristian Korner

Music by Victor Stellar and Sara Ayers.

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Post by andyd273 » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:53 pm

I found this one surprisingly refreshing.
Yes everyone dies, and that's not horribly happy, but at the same time it was a good ending in that the families are still together, and in a way that makes what happened all right.

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podcasts

Post by StalinSays » Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:26 pm

This Drabblecast really came together, and is probably my favorite since the mid 50's (in terms of episode numbers). I always like it when an episode has a theme, and the story and at least one drabble trend is a really positive one. A very touching story by Mr. Simon, and done without being 'cheap' about delivering sentiment.

:::spoilers:::

My one nitpick, and it is just a nitpick as I found the overall story quite effective, is I would have dropped the 'disappearing' people at the very end of the full story. I think the ambiguity was intriguing, and closing off that aspect of the speculation took away power. Many propers for leaving out any and all religiously themed aspects of the after life. Knowing that this distinct reality was say a 'christian' or 'muslim' reality would tarnish the story's efficacy (for someone like me).

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Re: podcasts

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:02 pm

StalinSays wrote:Many propers for leaving out any and all religiously themed aspects of the after life. Knowing that this distinct reality was say a 'christian' or 'muslim' reality would tarnish the story's efficacy (for someone like me).
Well, really, it was left totally ambiguous. These people obviously think they're waiting to enter the proverbial "better place," but there isn't any evidence in the story lending support to that idea. All we know is that A.) the people are dead and B.) their souls/spirits/essences are waiting for something to happen to them. The interpretation that that they're all queued up for heaven gives us the warm fuzzies, but is there any indication that the queue isn't waiting to be whacked with Allah's damning stick? Perhaps some bizarre side-effect of the nuclear blast has caused their consciousnesses to be momentarily preserved in the ionized air of the beach and the people who disappeared really did just disappear into nothing?

I, personally, think they're all going to the "better place" and that idea gives the story a deliciously bittersweet quality. But, really, it's a lot more ambiguous than just which deity and which heaven: It's completely ambiguous.

Anyway, I agree that this was a great episode. Both the story and the drabble succeeded in taking a scene of appalling death and destruction and shaping it into something sentimental or optimistic. Truly, there is beauty in everything, if one has the eyes to see it.
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Re: podcasts

Post by normsherman » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:10 pm

Mr. Tweedy wrote:
Perhaps some bizarre side-effect of the nuclear blast has caused their consciousnesses to be momentarily preserved in the ionized air of the beach and the people who disappeared really did just disappear into nothing?

.
Man, I hadn't considered that. What a neat idea. Almost like Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen.
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Re: podcasts

Post by G. E. Lee » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:25 pm

normsherman wrote:
Mr. Tweedy wrote:
Perhaps some bizarre side-effect of the nuclear blast has caused their consciousnesses to be momentarily preserved in the ionized air of the beach and the people who disappeared really did just disappear into nothing?

.
Man, I hadn't considered that. What a neat idea. Almost like Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen.
I saw something like that in a Dr. Who episode, where someone's consciousness was sort of echoing around in their nueral com link for a couple of minutes after they died. It was very creepy, in that:
A) She didn't know she was dead, and everyone was sort of humoring her and waiting for the "echo" to fade out. She kept asking why it was so dark.
B) Her voice was coming out a pressure suit inhabited only by her skeleton.

I enjoyed the episode, both drabble and feature, but I think that the production really carried the stories and made them a lot better than they would have been in print. The drabble was fine, but the feature felt a bit incomplete, and the dialogue seemed a bit raw. Music and sound effects, however, were outstanding. Good job, Norm et al.
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yeh

Post by StalinSays » Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:35 am

Well, yeah, this is the kind of ambiguity I was reveling in. I too had the idea that these people might just be 'on hold' as sentient energy, and nothing more than that. The family was a stop away from nothingness, not waiting in line at the Pearly Gates listening to Christian Rock muzak. It was all a powerful idea, and I wanted the potential for it to be the real story's 'meaning' to stay pristine, even before Norm had finished reading.

Somehow, the idea of others 'disappearing' made me think of them being transported away to another place, and hence still existing. Upon reflection, and checking Tweedy's input, it could just as easily mean that perceived others had lost their cling and dissipated. Perhaps it was familial bonds alone leaving the narrator in the world's memory.

See, ambiguity, good stuff.

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Post by Goldenrat » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:39 pm

I liked both the drabble and the feature presentation. I liked how both portrayed the end as a more laid back affair (after the bomb dropped anyway) waiting untill the end with friends / family, and not some bloody zombie luncheon. I also like the ambiguis ending of the main story - we didn't know if the people went to some religious heaven or their conscious just faded to black. Very cool.
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Post by tastycakes » Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:30 am

No one's thrown out reincarnation or transmigration of the soul yet. I've always been intrigued by the idea of mass trauma creating a situation in which consciousness lingers in a sort of delayed acceptance of reality. Of course, we can't know what is actually happening to them, but it does seem pretty clear to me that the family and old couple believe they are waiting in line to enter through the Pearly Gates. I mostly draw that conclusion from a certain line from the Old Man, though I can't remember it now.

However, if God does truly know all (which has to be the case otherwise God wouldn't be God), then why would there ever need to be a line to get into Heaven? Couldn't God just tell Peter 32,475,850 are coming in today. OOooh, just got a great story idea where someone dies in a massive death event, is allowed into Heaven so that people don't have to wait in line, but is there by mistake. The angels find out, and from there the story basically turns into "The Running Man" in Heaven. Sounds pretty solid, no?
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 Mr. Tweedy » Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:39 am

I find it rather hilarious that my mention of "Allah's damning stick" has caused ads for a Muslim dating service to appear. That could be taken so many ways... Most of which are probably best left unmentioned, but it's okay to laugh quietly.
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Post by strawman » Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:31 pm

Yes, the cookies go crazy on double entendres, which is why pop-up blockers are necessary for tykes reading See Dick and Jane online.

I liked the story this week, but am a little bothered by the amount of time it takes for the narrator to understand what has happened. Some people seem to be already aware. Awkward that he seems to have walked on after the event and is asking others to fill him in. Like maybe he was scuba diving, rather than playing in the waves.

The ambiguity others have mentioned is not just concerning what's next. It seems to permeate the rest of the story as well. The sense I got was a bit like he had got his ears clogged in the swim, a kind of disorientation.

Others of you have discussed different things this might mean, and it's fun to speculate about what's just around the corner. What if you take every sense, all your memories of relationships, places, everything that makes up your sense of self, and turn them off one light switch at a time, gradually. Apocalypse by Alzheimers. I think this story might fit that.

What if the story had incorporated the idea in Fine Point, and the reiterations began to disappear?

What if everything that dissolved in smoke and flames resolved in the burning of logs in a camp fire surrounded by cavemen?

Which is why I enjoy speculative fiction.
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Post by thebrog » Sat Sep 13, 2008 4:17 am

I really liked this one. Even as a strictly scientific person with no belief in the afterlife. I think it is interesting to imagine the infinite ways it might be.

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Post by tbaker2500 » Sat Sep 13, 2008 5:07 am

My thoughts on this episode:

Good? Very.
Fun? No.
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Post by cammoblammo » Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:11 pm

I'll start with the nitpicks.

First, I thought the old man spent a little too much time explaining what was going on. The middle of the story seemed to drag out just a little too much. Second, I couldn't figure out how the old man knew as much as he did. Wouldn't he have had just as much time to figure it out as the young family did?

Those minor things aside, I really liked this one. It was strange enough to fit in around these here parts, but without sacrificing the quality of the story or resorting to poop jokes. This story could have really gone to town with some of the carnage around, but the author remained faithfully on topic. Well done.

I was quite taken by the way the eight year old girl accepted her apparent demise. I have had a lot to do with grieving families, and it never ceases to amaze me how much better kids are at coping with death than adults are. Many view death as an inappropriate subject for kids to know about---they won't let them attend funerals, or they simply lie about it---'he's just sleeping' or (my personal anti-favourite) 'God wanted her to be a flower in his garden.'

The fact is, kids die. The friends and families of kids die. It's not pleasant, but kids can understand it, and have an easier time accepting it than we.

Whoops, I don't know where all that came from. Poop joke, anyone?

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Post by strawman » Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:29 pm

Well, not exactly poop jokes, but criminy! Do you realize that the editors seem to have totally abandoned their collective wazoo fixation?

BTW, not a complaint; not a suggestion. I'm just saying maybe you been delivered from that prison unpleasantness.
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Post by cammoblammo » Sat Sep 13, 2008 1:45 pm

strawman wrote:Do you realize that the editors seem to have totally abandoned their collective wazoo fixation?
I have noticed it. In fact, we seem to have had a string of stories that are quite, well, not so puerile. We've had our fair share of dead people and odd diets, but very little scatology.

I'm not complaining. The Mega-beast podcast more than makes up for it, and I'm a little scared what the b-sides might contain :oops:

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Post by normsherman » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:53 am

strawman wrote:Well, not exactly poop jokes, but criminy! Do you realize that the editors seem to have totally abandoned their collective wazoo fixation?

BTW, not a complaint; not a suggestion. I'm just saying maybe you been delivered from that prison unpleasantness.
Now now, let's not jump to conclusions. Stories with poop in them are still very near and dear to our hearts. It's just hard to find ones that are...tasteful.

Give it time, dung will rear it's filthy fecal head yet again.


As for the story, the fact that everyone vanished didn't seem like an overt Left Behind Christian rapture to me. The points brought up about how it could have been anything- aliens/delayed particles/whatever made me realize that if I had written this story I wouldn't have been able to resist that sort of ending. I have no self control when it comes to possibile alien abduction plot lines.

I thought the pacing was as good as it could be, it's hard to cram all that into 2K words effectively- stepping out of the ocean and realizing you were just nuked or something and that everyone is dead but you're still there in some residual sense.

Could be a really cool prologue chapter to a novella about ...ehm...alien abductions and conquest.
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Post by adam » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:13 am

i really liked this one, but didnt exactly at first. after the drabble and intro, i was pondering norms tone, and general solemnity. then the story started and i was thinking "what happened to his sense of humor? why so serious?" then the story wasn't by anymeans upbeat either, and it's rare to go through a drabblecast without so much as cracking a smile.

then it kinda dawned on me, and i feel weird for mentioning it now since it hasn't come up yet, but this weeks was an awfully appropriate drabblecast for the september 11th anniversary on which it was roughly aired. not that i took the "terrorist" theory of the old mans literally, but all in all the gist of the story, the lack of humor, and solemn yet hopeful feel of it all fit, in particular because of its timing. i gotta ask if that was intentional, or purely coincidental?

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Post by normsherman » Wed Sep 17, 2008 7:17 am

adam wrote:i but this weeks was an awfully appropriate drabblecast for the september 11th anniversary on which it was roughly aired. not that i took the "terrorist" theory of the old mans literally, but all in all the gist of the story, the lack of humor, and solemn yet hopeful feel of it all fit, in particular because of its timing. i gotta ask if that was intentional, or purely coincidental?
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Post by tbaker2500 » Wed Sep 17, 2008 7:21 am

Hmm....
You know, if I had known these were 9/11 stories, I would probably not have liked them. Too much tie-ins.
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