Comments by Chris Gang

Comment for "The Moth On Air: A first person story by Jeffery Rudell" (deleted)

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Review of The Moth On Air: A first person story by Jeffery Rudell (deleted)

A real tear-jerker -- and I mean that in only the best way. This is a somber, honest, heart-wrenching, and poetic story, and it makes great radio. Not for casual listening, though.

Told to a live audience, and according to the intro narration, done without notes or cheat sheets and entirely in one take, the piece has an notably slow pace. But the delivery is perfect, and the dark, extremely personal nature of the story demands it. It's off-the-cuff, sounding well-planned but not rehearsed or scripted -- very authentic.

The inclusion of the audience's reactions has the potential to be really cheesy and manipulative, like a laugh track, but here it lends even more heft to the harsh reality the storyteller faced. And it's not a sobfest either, with just enough laughs to convey that Rudell has come to terms with his parents' rejection.

The intro and outro narration are fine and not really noteworthy, though I was still reeling from the emotional intensity of the piece when some jazz and peppy narration faded back in.

Like a non-sarcastic David Sedaris monologue, this piece delivers an truly earnest and ultimately uplifting close look at a gay man's suffering. No one should have to suffer being completely erased by formerly loving parents, and Rudell's courage and humor are really admirable. To hell with the news; the world needs more radio like this: emotional, intense, and moving. Heartily recommended.

Comment for "The (de)Evolution of the Political Speech"

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Review of The (de)Evolution of the Political Speech

Engaging and to-the-point, this presents a quick overview of an important issue that seems to be plaguing politics today. The narration is smart and inquisitive, raising some interesting points, and the interviews include some thought-provoking sound bytes.

This presents a very short look into what seems to be such a complex issue; after listening, I'm frustrated not to know more. There is so much that could have been developed further (how our society's concept of news has changed over time, the role we expect politicians to play in everyday life, why the media has reduced political coverage to <10 second sound-bytes, the increasingly negative nature of political campaigning, etc.), and now I'm curious to learn more.

But isn't that the point--to make the listener want to know more? Maybe. I suppose it depends on the context in which you hear this piece. As a short news analysis feature, this piece is fine, if agonizingly brief. As an hour-long in-depth exploration, it could be fantastic.

Comment for "Scab Artist"

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Review of Scab Artist

This is a fascinating and challenging listen. I absolutely loved the first few minutes of the piece for its experimentalism and its honesty, but I soon came to worry that I wasn't "getting" it. Still, if you're looking for a meandering but intensely personal document of a young man's life in a harsh city, you'll like this.

The piece opens with choppily-edited voices repeating different definitions of the same words, honest, depressive-sounding rap, and a rambling, off-the-cuff description of the narrator's life in a dirty, crowded city. The piece oozes dark cynicism: the first narration ends by saying, "I'm alive, I guess."

The stories that follow are oddly fascinating, and some of the writing is poetic and image-rich: moldy chili that grows back, pizza that serves as "sudden and satifsying grounding in reality". But much of this seems thrown together at random, as if the narrator wanted to include what he considers key elements -- drugs, crazy people, fetishist neighbors -- in an attempt to gain non-conformist credibility. (What a concept!) "I am the underground," the narrator tells us, cynically saying it's only because he doesn't have enough money to buy into consumerism. It's unclear how sincere he is.

The central metaphor -- that a residue of life builds up, crustily, around each of us from our interactions with everyone else, like a scab where blood meets the air -- is promising but seems under-developed. At times it seems like the piece is merely an attempt to lend meaning to a set of otherwise less meaningful experiences. But, the cynical narrator would argue, isn't that all that life is?

It sounds great, though. The echoed, repeating phrases and the use of music are both really well done. McCandless is certainly right about one thing: the story does merit repeat listenings, even if that's only because it's so non-linear and potentially confusing the first time through. I had to listen again, because I wanted to "get" it.