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15 September 2013 @ 06:11 pm
Podcast Review: Welcome to Night Vale  
Does anyone else on my flist know what I'm talking about when I mention Welcome to Night Vale? It's a twice monthly podcast that's been going on for over a year now that's gained a growing following on, (where else) Tumblr. I have no idea how it was that I got turned onto it. I know it wasn't Tumblr so perhaps it was an article on Buzzfeed. But either way I decided to give the podcast a listen.

The general premise of the podcast is that it's a community radio broadcast for a small town somewhere in the desert, Night Vale. And this town basically sounds like it was founded after HP Lovecraft, David Lynch, and Rod Sterling got together, drank some absinthe, and thought it might be fun to create a little community. The goings on in Night Vale are bizarre and local citizens are just too used to it to care. Twice a month, the radio host, Cecil Baldwin (voiced by actor Cecil Baldwin) gives us local news, traffic reports, and weather reports, all of which are strange and even stranger. Angels visiting old ladies? Sure. A cat permanently floating above a sink in the men's bathroom? Must be Thursday. Wednesday canceled due to scheduling issues? Hey, it happens. Strange beings swallowing up the locals? Don't say we didn't warn you. All of it are reported by Cecil's dry, nonchalant tones.

I'm really not doing this podcast justice because it is much more clever and amusing than I'm making it sound. However, it took me about 10 episodes before I started to get into the groove of this universe. I initially was not a fan of what I deemed to be cutesy black humor and the show itself felt very one note to me in that it was like Twilight Zone on crack where every episode just wanted to startle you with weirdness with little value. But something made me press on with the podcast and now I find myself strangely invested in the world of Night Vale. As is a bulk of people on Tumblr, I see.

Actually, the fandom base on Tumblr is part of the reason why I kept on with this show. Welcome to Night Vale has hands down some of the most talented fans out there. The artwork inspired by this show has been pretty amazing and I adore how given that we don't know what anyone looks like, all the different interpretations out there. One major target of fannish love for this series the developing romance between Cecil and newly arrived scientist, Carlos. At the start of my listening of this show, I found Cecil's voice to be dulcet and calming and perhaps a bit too lethargic at times. But soon he was obsessing over Carlos whom he instantly fell in love with and now fangirls about (seriously, he FANGIRLS LIKE WHOA) the perfection that is Carlos and his vocal work took on some qualities that I started to enjoy.

The artists of Tumblr often draw Carlos as a man of color with perfect hair and thanks to Cecil's oft detailed descriptions of what Carlos is wearing on a given day, the images of Carlos are pretty consistent. Cecil, however, is another matter. So far, it looks like a lot of people have decided that Cecil has white hair, a third eye on his forehead, glasses for his other two eyes, and tattoos that sometimes move. Why this is, I have no clue. I know the question is out there if perhaps Cecil is not exactly human but I have little idea of where this theory came from since I'm pretty sure Cecil has spoken about himself as human.

Regardless, I do intent on continuing to follow the podcast even if I remain sometimes underwhelmed by certain episodes. I actually find the Twitter account that the podcast has going (each tweet is wonderfully creepy) a better format for this type of humor. Oneliners that unsettle you is great as a oneliner but a half hour show of nothing but oneliners tends to wear away at me. Still, there's something about the citizens of Night Vale and Cecil's reports for them which keep me at least checking in to see what's next.

For anyone else who wants to give the podcast a listen, it's free and you can access the episodes through HERE.

If you're still apathetic about giving it a try since my review was hardly effusive, perhaps Buzzfeed can sway you.
aelfgyfu_meadaelfgyfu_mead on September 15th, 2013 11:52 pm (UTC)
I have at least one other friend who listens and is very enthused about it. I'm not into horror. On the one hand, sometimes it gets into my head and really bothers me. On the other hand, I've tried to read Lovecraft, and I can't make it through more than a couple of pages of his prose.

How much horror is in it?
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 15th, 2013 11:57 pm (UTC)
How much horror is in it?

I'm almost tempted to say not any. Cecil reports some goings on that are technically horrific (e.g. librarians who will eat you alive) but they're delivered in tones so deadpan that you get lulled into this feeling that it's all just regular news. I find the tone of the show overall to be tongue-in-cheek enough so that everything feels very blase rather than frightening.

The tweets are probably the most disturbing things for me.
Dusty: SPN-Cast. Mishapocalypse '13dustlines on September 16th, 2013 01:33 am (UTC)
I've been wanting to listen to this for months!!! The characters seem so fascinating, and my Tumblr feed is being overcome by posts of this nature. Have you heard of Orphan Black, also? That also has taken over my Tumblr feed and, curious, I checked it out recently. OH MY GOODNESS, IT IS BRILLIANT.

I expect good things from Night Vale, though I haven't listened to it yet. I've read some fanfic though, which is a bit backwards, I suppose. Ah, the shifting faces of fandom!
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 16th, 2013 01:35 am (UTC)
Dusty! It's good to see you, my friend on the plains of LJ again!

It's funny that you commented about this because whenever I listen to the podcasts, I think of you specifically. The humor and deadpan quality of Cecil strikes me as something you would very much appreciate. I definitely think you should give it chance.
Dusty: SPN. Rainy Daysdustlines on September 16th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
Oh! Um, yes. *blushes* I'm easing back into the water, so to speak. It's very good to see you too, and thank you for saying so. :)

Interestingly enough, whenever I'd hear things about Night Vale, I kept thinking, "I bet 'Scrib would love that." So we kinda have that in common!
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 16th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC)
I think my favorite thing about this show so far is the floating cat in the men's bathroom. So random and yet so sinister and cute.
Dusty: SPN. Cas + Lightsdustlines on September 16th, 2013 03:23 am (UTC)
Awwww!! *flails everywhere* That's a good image to fall asleep thinking about. I'm waking up in about five hours. Maybe you can email me! I'd love to hear how your life's been treating you lately, and it would be a nice thing to read after an early work shift tomorrow.

(If you have time, that is! I don't want to be presumptuous. :)
X-parrotxparrot on September 22nd, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC)
Ahahah those tweets are marvelous - "here's your Cuttlefish Card" XD

(and I need to check out the tumblr fanart, so curious where Cecil's "look" comes from...I don't know how exactly I picture him, but not with a 3rd eye...!)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 22nd, 2013 11:45 pm (UTC)
"You are a special person. In fact, you are one of only a handful of people to ever inhabit your body."

This one is my favorite of that particular bunch.

so curious where Cecil's "look" comes from...I don't know how exactly I picture him, but not with a 3rd eye...!

I'm not sure where the idea for the third eye came from. Did a fan just draw it one day and a bunch of people got on the bandwagon? Same thing with the moving tattoos? Or just tattoos in general?

It almost feels like Cecil is modeled somewhat after Newton Geiszler from "Pacific Rim" so maybe it was that.