The first thing I noticed about the Moon Graffiti story from The Truth Podcast was the plot of the story. The question “what if they crashed?” simply never occurred to me, but I am sure it occurred to President Nixon, as this speech was prepared for him in case a tragedy were to happen. I believe that the story tellers did a great job of doing what Ira Glass describes, the constant asking and answering of questions to provide enhancement and momentum to a story.
I also thought the use of background music and sounds were especially helpful at enhancing this audio story. Around the 4 minute thirty second mark there is eerie music playing as Armstrong describes their predicament. Similarly, at 6:20 there is a repeated whooshing sound playing as they describe kicking the sand and how the surface of it moves. There is a shutter sound played when they are taking photos.
Towards the end, likely around the twelve minute mark, there is chaotic sped up background music playing that creates a feeling of disassociation as Armstrong nearly drifts into unconsciousness. I feel like these were all effective uses of sound to enhance the audio story.
For the other leg of this assignment I also listened to What Doesn’t Kill You with Ira Glass and several other guest speakers.
I actually really liked this Podcast. I had never heard of Tig Notaro, the first guest, but after listening to the clip from her set I’ll have to check her out. She is hilarious. Anyways, I also enjoyed the formatting of this Podcast. It is broken up into four different acts. The Prologue is a very brief introduction from Ira Glass about what he will be talking about with Tig Notaro.
Act One (roughly fifteen minutes) is a clip from Tig Notaro’s live show shortly after her cancer diagnosis. It is during this show (the opening actually) that she reveals she has cancer. This clip is really interesting from an audio storytelling perspective because since it is live, the only audio enhancements are coming directly from the audience. When Notaro reveals that she has cancer, she is met with a mixture of sympathetic gasps and nervous laughter. As the set progresses of course, the audience begins to respond well to her material, and she gets quite a few laughs.
Act Two tells the story of a teenage girl from New Zealand who survived a shark attack. The girl, now a woman, does a great job of describing the scene, noting that she was a “little further than waist deep” when the shark attacked her. She is also very good at describing images and the sensations she was feeling during the aftermath of the attack. I am suuuuuuper squeamish, so while I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story, it was somewhat difficult to listen to because of the descriptions used by this woman.
For example, when she starts vomiting blood and stomach lining, she notes how she “feels like I am on fire” (seriously my whole body shivered when she said that). She also describes the feeling of losing consciousness as “lifting off in an airplane”, which I feel like is super accurate.
Act Three is almost harder to listen to. It is about a young woman named Kathy with the compulsive intrusive thought to consume inedible (often sharp) objects. She says she has swallowed nails, glass, pencils, knives, a plastic fork, two antennae, a chess piece, and several other objects. She described not being able to consume these objects as more agonizing than the act of consuming them.
The woman genuinely felt if she did not consume these objects that she or her mother would die. She was diagnosed with OCD.
She describes an incident of swallowing a knife in the bathroom of the psych hospital where she was staying. There is a warning before she begins speaking that what she is about to describe is graphic. It is extremely graphic. She ends up cutting a hole in her esophagus while trying to get the knife down. And she describes it in agonizing detail!
Finally, about two thirds of the way through this act, Kathy is transferred to a different hospital where she says she was treated kindly by staff. It is a tender moment, and a stark contrast to what she has been previously describing. There is soft piano music playing in the background to suit this moment. Similarly, at the end of the segment, the woman interviewing Kathy notes how she is doing very well now and has an apartment on her own. The background music playing fits the emotion of the moment.
Act Four is short, about 4 minutes. It is about a man who was stabbed in the throat. His story is enhanced through the use of background music to go with the mood he is setting in his story.