Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Tue Dec 31, 2013 11:30 pm

Feature: Happy Old Year by Tim Pratt
Drabble: On My Birthday by Chelsea Voulgares
Genres: Drama Fantasy

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Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
The night I met Elsie I was up on the roof of my apartment building with a bottle of Kentucky Gentleman, because it’s sort of like bourbon, but cheaper, and better at blotting out reality. Technically it wasn’t “my” building anymore since I’d been evicted and had to be gone by morning if I didn’t want sheriff’s deputies to dump all my possessions out on the sidewalk. Joke was on them — what possessions? Everything I could sell, I already had, in a vain attempt to keep up with rent. What remained was so crappy I couldn’t even give it away on Craigslist.

Support: the Pocket Pulp Project
Episode Art: An anonymous art donor
Read by: Matt Hayes

Twabble: “ Eternity was tedious. He would dream of oblivion. Friends was on TV again. It was the one where Ross & Rachel take a break. ” by ROU Killing Time

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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by ROU Killing Time » Wed Jan 01, 2014 1:09 am

Woot. I get my twabble on a Tim Pratt episode.

That caps off the year nicely.

Happy New Year all my strange friends.
"Never fuck with The Culture"
Sublime In Peace Iain M. Banks.

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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by ROU Killing Time » Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:08 am

Well-rendered treatment of Nietzche's "eternal recurrence." It struck me as Morris & the Machine meets Groundhog Day. Just how tedious would a constant replay of your life be?

I inadvertently answered that in advance I suppose*. The "escape" he found at the end was chilling.

Great New Years episode, all around.

Happy New Year, Drabblecast.

*those who have gotten to know me are aware that these things seem to happen around me with regularity.
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by strawman » Thu Jan 02, 2014 1:10 am

ROU Killing Time wrote: *those who have gotten to know me are aware that these things seem to happen around me with regularity.
Us too. They're called seasons, ROU.
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by ROU Killing Time » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:44 am

Spoiler:
the protagonist changing from the time weary man to the New Years baby was quite cleverly done.
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by ROU Killing Time » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:23 pm

strawman wrote:
ROU Killing Time wrote: *those who have gotten to know me are aware that these things seem to happen around me with regularity.
Us too. They're called seasons, ROU.
Now is the winter of our discontent...
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Varda » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:55 am

Good call on the ending, ROU. I completely missed that!

Excellent, excellent Prattastic episode. I've never heard a story that did so much with the traditional furniture of New Year's, but I always know we're in good hands when Tim Pratt is involved.

Great drabble/twabble picks, too. Loved 'em when I first read 'em on the forums, and delighted to hear 'em on the episode. :)
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:34 am

Interesting twabble... Oh, the "thankless child". Billy Shakespeare meets Castle Heterodyne.

I liked the beginning and middle of the story, both written and narrated. The "Bad Fairy's" voice was just the right amount of obnoxious. :)
The ending was disappointing as the protagonist didn't manage to break the cycle, he just
Spoiler:
will spend a year as an infant, with his adult memories intact, and then have to do it all over again ad nauseum.
Not really an ending at all.

I suppose it could have worked as a cautionary tale, like a ghost story where the victims/monsters are still out there. But it wasn't sold that way.

I guess the moral of the story is: if someone surprises you at the edge of a precipice and offers you a strange deal, throw that #$%&*! over!

I'm disappointed in the character. He could have realized his true situation and done better.

We all die, and some very short time after we do, our existence ceases to have ever mattered. It could be hours after death, or maybe in the case of say an Einstein, up to a few thousand years. The point is that no matter what we do (and for the foreseeable future what our species does), ultimately we will have no impact on the universe at large.

The difference between us and the character is that he knows when he will die and he has a guaranteed afterlife of sorts. If he was able to make peace with his insignificance, he could have millions of groundhog lives, honing his happiness, maximizing (and/or evolving) whatever gave him purpose while exploring infinite possibilities.
If he did it right, there might be tens of thousands of subjective years before it became tedious.

Yes, it would suck that social connections would not persevere, but this is again, analogous to both what happens in death (assuming that Heaven and Hell do not exist), and to owning a puppy. You love it dearly for as long as you can and, all too soon, it's gone. After a while you get a new one and repeat the process.

Except, in this case, the protog can use his looping knowledge to accelerate relationships and perhaps he could pretend that he left the old one behind in an alternate universe that was slightly better (in insignificant human terms) for his having spent a year in it.

Eventually, it would have to end, and here I was hoping Tim would pull out something neat or clever (a year as an adult trapped in an infant's body ain't it). I doubt even a bad fairy could or would devote massive resources for one measly human and half his lifespan. Unless... he was The Chosen One®? :shock:

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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Varda » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:52 am

Y'know, ASID, you've got some really good points there. I don't know why I didn't think about "Groundhog Day" (d'oh), but now that you mention it, it is a little strange that the protagonist could only think to a) work on relationships with people he already knew and b) engage in nonstop hedonism. I mean, that stuff is all well and good, but given a whole year of time, and the ability to jump around in your own timeline, there's all kinds of awesome stuff you could do. Learn every musical instrument, become fluent in every language, read every book (which would be an even greater amount if you're learning every language, too), travel travel travel.

Jump back to his college years and change majors until he's taken everything offered and become a master surgeon, hairdresser, and engineer. Then jump forward to an older more respectable age and exploit those things to move into whatever position you want for the year.

Human connections are huge, but there's a whole world of people out there he could befriend and connect with if he had a little more imagination. Who knows? Maybe right now, I have a best friend in Cambodia, if I could only learn the language and be bothered to go there. Moving is kind of annoying, but I've done it lots, and there's always more to surprise you wherever you go, if you're open to it.
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by ROU Killing Time » Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:54 am

Algernon Sydney is Dead wrote: I doubt even a bad fairy could or would devote massive resources for one measly human and half his lifespan. Unless... he was The Chosen One®? :shock:
Unless it was a tradition to do so.

The protagonist was clearly behind one of the darker regions of a thing we like to call, The Scary Door!
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:04 am

Varda wrote:Moving is kind of annoying, but I've done it lots, and there's always more to surprise you wherever you go, if you're open to it.
Yeah, lot's of us have moved lots. "Ya ain't no proper 'Merican, if'n ya ain't pulled up roots a passel a times!"
Alas, it seems only 20% of those surprises are good ones. :( :)

ROU Killing Time wrote:
Algernon Sydney is Dead wrote: I doubt even a bad fairy could or would devote massive resources for one measly human and half his lifespan. Unless... he was The Chosen One®? :shock:
Unless it was a tradition to do so.
Nope. Traditions die all the time when they become too costly, or just plain inconvenient. When was the last time you threw salt over your shoulder? You need to do so, frequently, ASAP, to preserve tradition!

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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by strawman » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:41 pm

The story was interesting per se.

But if I were able to have the assistance of a bad fairy, I'd make ASID Mr. Pratt's editor, and then see how the story came out. Because the best stories produce the kind of musings after meaning that ASID points out.

The most intersting musing here, to me, is if there is no afterlife, then is life meaningless? Or would our need for meaning oblige us to some kind of epiphany, like a realization that our Ego is not the earth around which the universe revolves...leading to our significance being invested in other people.

Seems to me that this genre, like It's a Wonderful Life, is always a set-up for the author's values proposition. So Tim, in effect, fails to show what he believes.
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by tbaker2500 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:50 am

Great episode!
I like Pratt, but I'm not a fanboy of his. So I was very pleasantly surprised by this story. It fit the DC very well, and was executed flawlessly.

Those before me point out very salient points. Ultimately, I think this story shows the protagonist as shallow. It didn't hit me as Pratt being shallow with the story, just that the protagonist is not an advanced enough person to see beyond fixing what he had done wrong. There was no thought given to how to be a bigger man, not just better. It feels very true to some people I know; it just doesn't enter their mind to take things to a higher level.

Happy new year, DC family!
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:19 am

tbaker2500 wrote:There was no thought given to how to be a bigger man, not just better. It feels very true to some people I know; it just doesn't enter their mind to take things to a higher level.
One of the main purposes of art is not to show how Joe Schlub botches his extraordinary opportunity, but to show how men can be extraordinary. It gives us goals to aspire to, or cautionary tales of legend, or new vistas of worthy thought.

I do think this fic did some of the last, at least, although it's a well-trod trope.

If you want to see how ordinary people botch statistically uncommon situations, that's not for fiction; that's for the news. ... :? (Okay, bad example in hindsight, since that's mostly fiction.)

...Maybe... solicit the stories of people you meet... ... Damn, fiction again. :(

:? :? :? Forget it; I'm off to reread some Jules Verne, Ian Fleming, and Louis L'Amour...

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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by tbaker2500 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:53 am

:-)
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Kibitzer » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:22 pm

What was the song at the end of the ep? I tried Googling the lyrics but... nothing.

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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Varda » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:17 pm

It's "Happiness" by 19 Action News, from their album "Our Time Has Come". You can get it from their Bandcamp page.
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by Kibitzer » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:29 pm

Varda wrote:It's "Happiness" by 19 Action News, from their album "Our Time Has Come". You can get it from their Bandcamp page.
Freakin' awesome. Thanks! And thanks for such a quick reply.
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by strawman » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:21 am

Tim Pratt seems like my kinda guy.
DC may not pay the best rates in the industry, but authors like Tim seem to realize that Norm's productions add value to their work. You need to find your audience and connect with it.

Tom Clancy and Ian Fleming did that so well that they got other people to write their books, and put their names on it. The latest Jack Ryan and James Bond movies would have been a complete surprise to their creators.

It's like J Vernon McGee, dead 20 years, but still "Walking Through the Bible".

Anyway, I gotta say Norm outdid himself on the voice for the New Year's Fairy. That bitch's voice is so annoying it would make a sober man puke. Tim could look far and wide, and have to pay a lot of money to get that level of audio play. And here Norm is paying HIM !!!

Good hearted, is what it is.
And for a good PC cause too, as the moral of the story is, "Be kind to fairies".

Norm got to get some Cthulu Karma for that, amiright?
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Re: Drabblecast 308 – Happy Old Year

Post by El Barto » Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:34 pm

I greatly enjoyed the story and like Pratt's work. Was thrown for a pleasant loop to not be crying at the end of the story as usual.

I have to admit at being quite disappointed at the decisions made by the protagonist. Normally, I view such after-the-fact critiquing as somewhat unfair because most characters make difficult decisions in the spur of the moment. However, our hero in this story had huge amounts of time to think about what to do with his life, and he seemed to overlook the following possibilities that forum readers (Drabblecast, not Penthouse) will not miss if their turn ever comes:

1. He could have gone to any newspaper or major university and proved that time travel was real. He had knowledge of future events.

2. His first clumsy effort to win back his girlfriend may have resulted in a restraining order but he could have proved to her that time travel is real by predicting the outcome of future events in her life.

3. He could have searched for evidence that anyone else was in his same situation - reliving the same year over and over again. Where would such people go to meet fellow travelers? How could he contact them and sync up to travel together over the years? Perhaps they would try to alter the outcome of the Super Bowl or a popular stock somehow to send signals to each other?

4. He could have spent time trying to figure out where the fairy godmother comes from? Where does she get her powers? Is she part of a continuum of other beings who can manipulate spacetime and could free him?

I think the hell of being in a box for a year would be not much worse than being a zero year old baby who is constantly hungry, sleepy, poopy, and is guaranteed to not get a single shot of whisky for a year.

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