Friday, October 17, 2014

Things I Share With You: Welcome to Night Vale

During my extensive hiatus from blogging, one of the things that was making me happy was "Welcome to Night Vale", which I binge-listened to over the course of the last couple months' commutes. For those of you unfamiliar with the cult series and its basic concept, it's a podcast that purports to be the local radio show for a small town called Night Vale out in the desert...um, somewhere. Somewhere very difficult to enter, and possibly even more difficult to leave. A place where the strange and inexplicable are ordinary and everyday, and reported on by friendly broadcaster Cecil to all his listeners.

Cecil reports on local news, like the opening of the new state-of-the-art Dog Park ("dogs are not allowed in the Dog Park...people are not allowed in the Dog Park") or the PTA meeting which was interrupted by an infestation of pteranodons; he covers traffic, explaining to people that the signs which once displayed "either a graphic photo of a run-over pedestrian, indicating you should wait, or time-lapse photography of flowers wilting, indicating that it is safe to cross" now read, terrifyingly enough, the stark and chilling word "WALK". He delivers the Community Calendar, which contains such tidbits as the information that this Thursday, the Night Vale Public Library will become unknowable and everyone will forget it exists for two hours. And he delivers ads from sponsors, such as Outback Steakhouse ("Outback Steakhouse: Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.") In short, he's a full-service small-town radio host, in a small town whose inhabitants just happen to include a literal five-headed dragon, a glowing cloud that rains small dead animals, and The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home.

It's brilliant, hilarious, deadpan dark humor, and it's also quite poetic and deep at times. There's a lot of hidden depths that are gradually revealed, and mysteries that are unraveled...or not. That's the thing about a series like this. Answers may be provided, but they are never guaranteed. Oh, and the voice acting is fantastic, starting with Cecil Baldwin as the voice of Cecil and going through guest stars such as Jackson Publick and Mara Wilson and Wil Wheaton. It's very much worth a listen. I highly recommend it if your sense of humor is as twisted and as warped as mine.

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