Our Pod-Master General brings you another helping of some of the best FREE horror pod casts around. This week he reviews the strange stories of 'The Drabblecast'
An extremely varied grab-bag this lot. I’m not even sure how to classify it. It’s not exactly horror, not exactly humour, not exactly science fiction, yet it is all of these things. As our host Norm Sherman puts it: “Drabblecast is the weekly pod cast showcasing strange stories, from strange authors to strange listeners like yourself.” The whole thing is less of an anthology of stories and more of an audio magazine. Just like any other magazine it sticks to a main core of subject matter but it is not afraid to throw other little bits and pieces its audience’s way if it deems them worthy. From a story about a kidney turned stalker (I kid you not), to a Jewish mother's concern over whom her Golem ‘Son’ is dating. From articles on writing by a writer to random ‘Drabbles’ (a drabble being a story of EXACTLY 100 characters). It is, as I say, a very mixed yet highly enjoyable lot.
#244 Doubleheader XI (21 mins) Both of these stories are by a writer called Will Ludwiggson. They are what he calls postcard stories. These are stories that have their genesis from bizarre old public domain images or illustrations. The first of these stories is Nora’s thing. It’s a little bit creepy - I’ll give it that. It’s also well written. Another box ticked. It is, however, incredibly pointless and I was left feeling exactly how the story feels….not really anything. Will’s second piece - Endless Encore - is a beast of a different nature. It’s dark. It’s brooding. It’s shiver-up-spine worthy. Especially if being trapped and helpless gets to you. Add to this Giant Marionette puppets dancing and clacking around you and you have the makings of a mini-classic. At the end of this Pod the writer himself gives a few minutes of what I think is invaluable advice to all aspiring writers.
It is this, and Endless Encore, that make this pod well worth a listen and worthy of its score. Rating:- 4/5
#245 A Nice Jewish Golem (20 mins) This is a fascinating concept and a very funny story. I would even go so far as to say it is an extremely wry piece of penmanship. You’re a Jewish mother. You have a clay, practically immortal son. One day you will no longer be there but they, pretty much, always will be. Then, to your joy, you discover that he has met someone, someone like him. Bad news? She’s not Jewish. She’s not even a Golem. She is a Native American Indian revenge creation and, as it turns out, a very nice girl. I liked this one a lot and it would have gotten higher scores if it were not for the actress narrating the story. Frankly she spoils it a considerable amount. She stumbles and mumbles like she just ran into the studio, picked up the script for the first time, read it off and then ran out again.
It is this utterly careless presentation that leaves a Nice Jewish Golem with a lower score and is quite a shame for a good story. Rating:- 3/5
#246 The Kidney (20 mins) Out of the section of five pod casts that I took a listen to, this has got to be my favourite by far. It has it all. That touch of horror that comes from being stalked. The guilt of a relationship ended and a love unrequited. The twisted black humour at the idea that an unhappy body part may just hunt you down and demand to know WHY? While trying not to give anything away, this story, as all such stories must, ends in sadness. For whom? I will not say!
The writing and the narration in this story are fantastic. The pace and the music are both beautifully measured. Then, if you take all of these qualities and put them in a studio with somebody who clearly knows what they are doing, you end up with this absolute gem.
If you add to this the drabbles, and Norm Sherman's own personal little witticisms that come before and after this story, you get a perfect snapshot of what pod casts SHOULD be. Rating:- 5/5
#247 How I Crippled a World for 0.001 Cents (16 mins) I just listened to this story, twice, not fifteen minutes ago. Can I remember what it was about? Well, yes. Kind of. But only kind of. I can’t remember liking or hating anything about it. I can’t remember any of the characters names, or much of the lead up and just a little of the ending - which was the eventual outcome. The reason I listened to it twice was because I felt exactly the same way the first time I listened to it. It’s a non-entity. The basic premise, I seem to recall, is that in a different universe people such as Einstein and his fellow contemporaries have all copy-written their equations etc as intellectual property. Each time you use or state an equation you have to pay royalties. The whole story is set in a courtroom where the scientist defendant is from our, or a very similar, universe where such knowledge is free. He is currently being sued for the use of said equations. It is a very sound story backdrop. What follows, however, is logically progressive tedium.
The writing is stale, the characters are stale and frankly the whole thing is so generally stale that you could probably grow penicillin on it. This is not good. At all. Rating:- 1/5
#248 The Cockroach Hat. (20 mins) If you don’t know what a Kafka-esque situation is then this story will give you something of a crash course. Trust me, by the end of it you will be able to nod sagely if anybody should ever mention the subject.
Boy meets girl, boy turns into cockroach, old cabalistic Jew helps return boy to human, girl creates cockroach hat, gives to father who wants to kill her, boy and girl slice giant roach father to bits. Ah! How many times have we heard that old story? Well, none actually.
The whole thing is jolly, strange and so fast moving and it didn’t give me time to start questioning what was going on. It was highly enjoyable even if at times the gear shift of the story left me a little bemused.
This one is worth a listen. Even if it is just to find out about Kafka. Rating:- 3/5
I would say that Drabblecast is well worth a listen on the whole. When you stop and consider that they are on their, at least, #250th episode you know that they have very little intention of going away. Why should they? Even If you don’t find the main story much to come away with, then the rest of the pod cast is always full of such tid-bits, drabbles, writing tips and forum addresses for writers that they are almost worth picking up just for them.
There is a beautiful and warped sense of humour flowing all of the way through these pod casts and at the end of these there is a request to help out financially with whatever you can. This is a fair enough request. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. That simple.
There is adult content here in both form and thought but anything regarded as too sweary is bleeped and I would recommend that it is listened to by teens upwards. Not, you understand, out of any form of prudery, but more to do with it needing a certain age of mind to understand some of the fascinating concepts presented.
So is it horror? Humour? Sci-fi? It is all of these things and it merges them all extremely well. I, for one, will most definitely be listening to Drabblecast again. I recommend you give it a try.
OVERALL RATING:- 4/5
Now go and check them out for yourself:- www.drabblecast.org
Review by Peter G Staff (Pod-Master General)