Drabblecast 057 - The Tiger Fortune

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Mr. Tweedy
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Drabblecast 057 - The Tiger Fortune

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:55 pm

The Tiger Fortune Princess by Eugie Foster

The soothsayer narrowed her eyes and added an unlucky four more strokes to the tea-splattered paper, transforming the fortune into a curse.

"Your daughter will die unborn unless she rides the dragon's tail. If she survives the dragon, she will be devoured before she meets her husband, and without a son-in-law, her father will die of unhappiness."

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Post by damiengwalter » Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:30 pm

This was really beautiful. I like writing that lets the readers imagination do the heavy lifting, thats how you really create a sense of wonder and this story did that for me.

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu Mar 27, 2008 12:12 am

I think I like fairy tales. I liked this one even more than The Silver Fish. Again, I really enjoy the variety we get on the Drabblecast. "Strange" is so broad.

All fairy tales seem to have this in common, regardless of what culture they come from: In fairy tales good and evil are clearly segregated from one another and the protagonists can interact with them in very direct ways. People in fairy tales often endure horrible things, but those horrible things are clearly evil, to be fought against and escaped, not to be tolerated, and there is always something that can be done about them. Whether by eating a curse or wearing a silver ring, there is always a way that evil can be decisively defeated and good allowed to flourish.

I think that simplicity is what makes fairy tales so endearing and so universal. In real life the black and white flow together so closely that it looks like gray. We long for the straightforwardness of an act like slaying a wicked ogre to save a pure princes. We wish that things really were that simple, and, I think, we feel that they should be, that all the grayness around us is somehow unnatural. I feel that way, at least.

Along those lines, I love the purity of the characters in this story. The empress will (and does) do whatever is takes to save her child. The emperor and empress love each other with an eternal love that does not die or fade even when they are apart for almost two decades. The princess has infinite courage and faces her trials with determination, despite her fear. The prince loves the princess with all his heart and we know that their marriage will be happy, even though the two of them just met. The villain in the story is similarly pure in her evil, hating and hurting without rationale or justification.

That makes me happy in this odd sort of way that has a good chunk of sadness in it. I love to be shown a world where all princes are worthy suitors, all parents would sacrifice anything for their daughters and all evil can be stopped, and part of me is given hope because I really don't think there's any good reason why that world shouldn't be real. And at the same I feel grieved to know that princes can be jerks, parents can be selfish and villains usually get away with it.

I think if only because they encourage that introspection, stories like this are good. They encourage us to examine what we value and why. They show us black and white in isolation, and that can shed light on the real world where they mingle. I think it's that glimpse of profundity contained within these simple stories that makes them so emotionally rich and powerful.

So yeah, good story. More like this are welcome.
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Post by normsherman » Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:49 am

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a hell of a story comment. Tweedy's right up there with the best of the Steve Eley intro's. I have to joke about Giant Water Bugs to fill time because I'll never come up with insights like that.

About the story- I really really liked Eugie Foster's "The Snow Woman's Daughter" that Escapepod ran a while back so I actually solicited her for a story and was really taken by this one.

I also like the fact that she's the only other person I've ever met who also had a pet skunk.
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Post by bolddeceiver » Thu Mar 27, 2008 4:43 am

I guess I just don't see why this is a drabblecast. I know I'm going to get some resistance for this, but Foster's use of warmed-over folkloric style seems the exact opposite of "strange stories from strange writers for strange listeners;" in fact, the use of such cookie-cutter conventions strikes me as rather rigidly conventional and unadventurous. I felt the same way about The Snow Woman's Daughter.

I'm glad some people enjoyed this one, but I could barely get through it. If I want a folktale, I'll read a real one, thank you.
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Post by normsherman » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:20 am

bolddeceiver wrote: I know I'm going to get some resistance for this,
No resistance. One of my personalities feels the exact same way.
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Post by cammoblammo » Thu Mar 27, 2008 9:32 am

I've got to agree with pretty well everything said so far.

Having a pet skunk sounds neat. Mr Tweedy hits nails on heads.

Bolddeceiver also has a point --- I was a little worried when I heard the story was going to be a retold fairy tale. I was also worried about the bile I'd find when I got to the forum. Yet although the story mightn't belong here (and I hear the point you made in the outro, Norm) I really, really liked it, to the point where I made a detour in my drive today so I could hear the whole thing unbroken.

Fairy tales have the advantage that they've stood the test of time. If a story can be told and retold until it qualifies as a folk tale, it must have something going for it. Mr Tweedy managed to identify some of the characteristics which seem to associate with timeless stories.

One of the things I like doing in my writing is to rewrite classic stories. I might change the setting and explore the characters in a little more depth; but I do what I can to stay within the story as it's popularly known (ie no twists, changed endings or adding love stories. I'm looking at you, Peter Jackson.)

I think this is a great way to practice the art of writing without having to worry about the major plot points. I do the same with music --- if I want to experiment with a new technique I might just rearrange a piece from one of the masters rather than start a whole new fresh piece. That way I can concentrate on what I'm trying to do, rather than worry about everything else as well.

I'm not sure if I want to hear a lot more of this, but I'm glad this one was picked. Norm's reading was fantastic (although I wasn't so sure about the Chinese accent! :) The sound effects and background music also bordered on cheesy, but only just.

When do we get poop and pigs again, Norm?

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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:28 pm

Norm, you have a pet skunk? I had actually assumed the pet skunk part was a joke...

I totally see where you're coming from, BD. This story is totally formulaic: What's it doing on show devoted to strange?

In my opinion, it belongs simply because we so rarely see this sort of story in contemporary culture. What are very common are deconstructions of the fairy-tale, either overtly as comedy or more subtlety in stories in which everyone is corrupt and/or evil wins out. We see many stories which in one way or another poke fun at the artless innocence of the fairy-tale, but we almost see never see the classic archetype taken seriously. Some of the earlier Disney features did respect the fairy-tale, but those renditions have all been commercialized to the point of irony. (A Disney Princess Caribbean Cruise?)

I can only think of two recent original stories that met the fairy-tale criteria: Gaiman's "Coraline" and Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water," both of which I liked very well. We all understand in the abstract what these stories are like, but actually encountering one in non-parody form is quite rare, rare enough that I'd say it qualifies as "strange."
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Post by cammoblammo » Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:26 pm

Mr. Tweedy wrote:
cammoblammo wrote:Mr Tweedy hits nails on heads.
Only if they're naughty.
Oh, of course... [/me hits head on nail].

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Post by jodymonster » Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:16 am

First things first. Norm! You have a pet skunk? You are awesome. What's it's name? where do you even get a skunk? If it ever has skunk pups or whatever they have, I want one.
Tangent about animals normally considered pests being kept as pets: My ex's boss had a pet raccoon. It would eat a hamburger and fries like a person. Hilarious and adorable.
I loved the story too. Though I think Mr. Tweedy has already cornered the market on comments about why this story was so great, so I'll just add a "what he said."
I also wanted to say- difficulty of defining 'normal' aside-I think it's a good thing that once in a while we hear a drabblecast story that might be considered normal by many- after all, it may be strange to us, or it might just be an unexpected treat. I like my drabblecast a little unpredictable. They can't all be about pigs and intestinal parasites, and they can't all be twist endings, as much as I enjoy those. I like not knowing.
Great story and reading. Keep it up Norm!



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Post by normsherman » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:22 am

jodymonster wrote:drabblecast story that might be considered normal by many- strange to us
Bingo.


Yah, I HAD a pet skunk a few years ago when I was in college. His name was Mocha. I also had a pet iguana who was about 5 feet long. They ended up getting in a death match one day when I wasn't home (would normally be awesome but when it's your own pets it's less so.) The skunk won. So I let my roommate move with Mocha after that because I was kind of pissed at him.

We saved him from a skunk farm (has was descented.) I have no idea why people farm skunks. If you get one, be sure to get one grown from an organic farm (healthier for you and they taste better.)
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:26 am

Is a pet skunk pretty much like a ferret? I had two ferrets at one point and they were pretty cool pets.
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Post by jalan1 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:37 am

Wonderful.

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Post by Goldenrat » Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:12 am

Cool story. Nice change of pace - my guts didn't turn this week while listening to it.

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Post by bolddeceiver » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:43 am

Mr. Tweedy wrote: In my opinion, it belongs simply because we so rarely see this sort of story in contemporary culture.
Maybe I live in a somewhat different cultural world, being in education in the Pacific Northwest, because adaptations and retellings of Asian folklore are ubiquitous to the point of "sigh not another"....
...the pagoda-like enclosure, where Japanese sand-badgers disported themselves...

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Post by normsherman » Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:09 am

cammoblammo wrote:
Bolddeceiver also has a point --- I was a little worried when I heard the story was going to be a retold fairy tale.
I actually never said it was a retelling or an adaptation of a fairytale- just that it was a fairytale set in ancient China. For all I know, it was original in everything but style, which was purposely set to be like a Chinese folktale.
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Post by Mr. Tweedy » Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:28 am

bolddeceiver wrote:
Mr. Tweedy wrote: In my opinion, it belongs simply because we so rarely see this sort of story in contemporary culture.
Maybe I live in a somewhat different cultural world, being in education in the Pacific Northwest, because adaptations and retellings of Asian folklore are ubiquitous to the point of "sigh not another"....
Education, eh? I've succeeded in blanking out just about all my memories of public school (or it could be that they just weren't that memorable). 'Tis possible I was force-fed a huge number of warmed-over folk tales and have since forgotten all about them. I seem to recall a few, now that I think about it, mostly on those annoying reading comprehension tests... Gads, if that was what I associated folklore with, I would probably cringe at the possibility of hearing any.

I haven't encountered much in my adult life, though.
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Post by G. E. Lee » Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:30 pm

OK, so Cammo beat me to all my punches. I liked this one, but I don't think I'd like to hear folk stories every week on the DC. I would miss the poo stories (not Pooh). Now, if Mr. Sherman started another 'cast....
Also, Mr. T's comment was very insightful.
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Post by AynSavoy » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:19 am

I'll side with BoldDeceiver on this one. I was ambivalent toward the story on Escape Pod and had pretty much the same reaction toward this one. It's not bad writing by any means, but the style is just not my cup of tea.
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Post by vburn » Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:48 pm

This is why I love this podcast, I never would have guessed Drabble would be running a floktale. It was a bit cookie cutter, which I guess is a requirement for a folktale, but it was a good story.

As much as Drabblecast keeps you guessing, I will still bet 5 bucks that the next story has some kind of anal/poo reference. I mean you got to play the odds.

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