ALL HAIL THE MULTICOLORED GLOW CLOUD
October 8, 2013 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Welcome to Night Vale, the most popular podcast in the US, has an openly queer narrator (Cecil) with a (requited?) crush on a person of color (Carlos, a scientist). There's no physical description of Cecil, so fans have filled in the blanks. There is a lot of debate over whether he's white or should be portrayed as such. Fuck Yeah Brown Cecil explores various options; this blogger explains why a Native Cecil matters. Night Vale of Color celebrates the characters of color and this fan-made trailer envisions a diverse cast. But what is Welcome to Night Vale about? If you have a few minutes, the PBS Idea Channel will try to explain the unknown; if not, try this Buzzfeed primer. Or just listen to the podcast already! posted by desjardins (117 comments total) 104 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just started listening to this today and i am mad at myself for not starting sooner. It is indeed very good.

It's like tales from lake woebegone but if The Lone Gunmen and Lovecraft wrote them.
posted by sio42 at 7:18 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The elaborate and collaborative fanon construction that's gone on with Welcome to Night Vale is totally amazing. To the point where if I saw someone dressed as Cecil for Halloween, I would immediately be able to identify him, despite the fact that he is never physically described in the show at all. It's great! (Also, the Tumblr fans were apparently a huge driving force behind the podcast's popularity.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:20 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


My favorite part is the fancasting of the Apache tracker as Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:22 PM on October 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


I'd like to thank elizardbits for the introduction to Welcome to Night Vale.
posted by desjardins at 7:24 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's like tales from lake woebegone but if The Lone Gunmen and Lovecraft wrote them.

Somebody - probably on Metafilter, but if so, I forget whom - described it as "If Weird Twitter took over a town," and that sounds about right, given how well the Twitter feed fits there.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


sio42: It's like tales from lake woebegone but if The Lone Gunmen and Lovecraft wrote them.

Kate Leith: "It’s like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman started building a town in The Sims and then just… Left it running. For years."
posted by tzikeh at 7:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I decided I was going to start listening to this tomorrow morning now that I have a new podcasting app on my phone right before coming here! All of these details make me much more excited.
posted by lownote at 7:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I listen to half an ear with the arguments about Cecil's race on Tumblr, but I don't want to decide. Carlos is pretty clearly Hispanic, and I have my own headcanon about Cecil (Ira Glass-y, only short-haired and not insufferable), so I am happy to let others have what they may.

In the words of Hiram McDaniels: "I'm literally a five-headed dragon who cares. In fact, that's my campaign slogan: I'm literally a five-headed dragon. Who cares?"
posted by Countess Elena at 7:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


waitin' for the bus in the rain in the rain wait-waitin' for the bus in the rain
posted by tzikeh at 7:27 PM on October 8, 2013 [21 favorites]


desjardins, I demand an "andnowtheweather" tag.

I'll stop commenting now.

Maybe.

We have nothing to fear except ourselves. We are unholy, awful people. Fear ourselves with silence. Look down, Night Vale. Look down and forget what you've done. — Night Vale town motto
posted by tzikeh at 7:30 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay, one more comment.

For those who want to catch up so that they can listen to the next podcast (a new episode is posted every two weeks), but don't feeling like listening to the 32 previous podcasts: Welcome To Night Vale Episode Transcripts.
posted by tzikeh at 7:39 PM on October 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ooh I was hoping someone would make a good Night Vale post on here! I've been listening for a couple months now and have managed to get a couple of my friends hooked on it and we talk about it NONSTOP lately. I just think it's brilliant and hilarious and genuinely moving at times (I know I'm not the only one who teared up at a certain part in the "One Year Later" episode when things seemed bleakest.....)

Any other New Yorkers going to the live show on Thursday? I'm going to the one at 730 and am basically too excited to function right now.
posted by silverstatue at 7:49 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I binge-listened over the latter half of last week and a well-timed road trip to Dallas last weekend. It was described to me as "Prairie Home Companion in the X-Files universe".
posted by Gridlock Joe at 7:53 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


SPOILERS FOR NIGHT VALE below:

Hey, who wants to talk about StrexCorp buying the radio station?! Does that mean that Cecil and Kevin from Desert Bluffs may *gasp* be brought together? I'm totally shocked!

The Desert Bluffs/sandstorm episodes were my favorite. The place sounds lovely...and everything's covered in viscera!
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:53 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Love Nightvale.

A stray comment from Potomac Avenue turned me on to it.

Thanks PA.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:54 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This series is just so wonderful. I do not care how anyone cares to represent Cecil. It's really well done.
posted by andendau at 7:56 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a huge problem with Welcome To Night Vale.

I absolutely adored the first 5-10 episodes and got into the habit of listening to them right before bed, curled up under the covers with my dog at my feet.

And suddenly, to my horror, I started to fall asleep during the show.

Now something pavlovian has set in and I drift off within the first few minutes. iTunes tells me I have now listened to every episode, and yet I don't remember anything past the wheat quarantine.

Damn you, Cecil. Damn your mellifluous voice straight to hell.
posted by Sara C. at 8:16 PM on October 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've been kind of afraid to start listening because it might be too scary for me. But all this makes me want to try.
posted by rtha at 8:17 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's way more weird than scary.
posted by desjardins at 8:20 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm dressing up as the faceless old woman who lives in your house for Halloween.
posted by NoraReed at 8:23 PM on October 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, it strikes a tone similar to Daniel Manitou's (previously), but emphasizing humor much more strongly.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:24 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


rtha, I don't really do scary, but I have no problem listening to WtNV, even right before bed. It's worth a try, and I suspect you'll be able to tell very quickly if it's going to push buttons for you or not.
posted by MeghanC at 8:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not scary, it's just weird and creepy, but in a funny way. I don't like horror and I am fine with it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:27 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


SPOILERS FOR NIGHT VALE below:

The place sounds lovely...and everything's covered in viscera!


Is it, though? Maybe I misinterpreted, but I felt like there was a huge open question at the end of that episode because both hosts described things so differently (re: the strangling vs the hugging). So I am not sure if Cecil's description is the absolute truth, which gets at a big question as to how reliable a narrator he is. Either way, I am super excite for the coming episodes.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 8:28 PM on October 8, 2013


Yeah it's weird and sci-fi in a way that uses some associated horror tropes but it's way more Fortean than it is Lovecraftian.
posted by NoraReed at 8:29 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


STEVE CARLSBERG

*shakes fist*
posted by elizardbits at 8:54 PM on October 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


I bought two Night Vale tshirts and am eagerly awaiting them. Especially the glow cloud one, which apparently actually glows (in the dark, of course). My desire to ration the remaining episodes is warring with my need to know what's happening, especially so I don't have to worry about spoilers.

And really, who couldn't love a creation in which visitors are warned that should they be approached by a librarian, they should remain still and try to make themselves bigger than the librarian? Maybe it's just my evil twin.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:57 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's radio theatre, not news, so there's no reason to need to catch up by reading transcripts - and you would lose half the fun which is in the acting. I'm happily plodding my way through - I'm only on episode 10 or so, but I don't want to rush it because it's so good. I don't want to run out.

As for what Cecil looks like: I realise that I never thought about it. I think I assumed he was white because I am, and I have a semi-concious racial bias. His accent is just "educated American" and this doesn't suggest an ethnicity. So far (in the 10 episodes I've heard), I would say that his cultural assumptions (the way he talks about stuff like Religion, Angels, etc) sound very Anglo-American, even WASP. His objection to the guy who claims to be an "Apache Tracker" seems more about general PC/anti-racism than the more personal offence a Native person might feel.

But I've only heard a few episodes, so who am I to say? And I've been much too busy thinking about Carlos's hair, his beautiful, perfect hair.

rtha: it's definitely not scary-scary. It's not even as scary as Buffy or the X-Files (which is as scary as I'll go); it's really a comedy with occasional "oooh" bits.
posted by jb at 8:59 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the worst framing of any post I have ever read on MetaFilter. You have got to be kidding me.

The real story here isn't even linked in the goddamn post. It isn't even mentioned in passing. Why on earth is no one pointing out the real newsworthy fact, that of the cutting of Carlos' perfect, perfect hair?

If any of you aren't complete goddamn sheeple and would like to look into what happened, I'll point out that Carlos' curly, sassily-scientific locks were likely cut by Telly the barber.

That's Telly the barber, who is 5'9" with a small mustache, a thick potbelly, and speaking with a thick accent. He appears to enjoy sports, and his shop (located at the corner of southwest 5th Street and Old Musk Road) is decorated with pictures of combs, with a tell-tale spinning red and white pole out front, along with a sign reading "Telly's".

That's Telly the barber, on the corner of southwest 5th and Old Musk Road. If you want to know who's responsible and perhaps have a word with him. Perhaps someone could show Telly the barber (that's TELLY THE BARBER) the dog park.

Dog park.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:07 PM on October 8, 2013 [44 favorites]


Telly. The barber.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:09 PM on October 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Joseph & Jeff had this to say about Lovecraft and Night Vale:

Joseph: This is going to put off some of our fans, but I actually hate Lovecraft, both personally and for his writing. I don't think anyone can deny that he was a shitty person. His whole "cosmic horror" thing mainly came out of his intense racism. And I think that, on a prose level, he was also a deeply shitty writer. I mean his stuff his almost unreadable for me.

That said, I think he was brilliant on an idea level, and that's definitely where we connect with him. Our Lovecraft book, for me, is a way of leaving behind all vestiges of his writing, including the stupid names of his gods, while keeping the brilliance of his unnerving ideas and images.

Night Vale is often called Lovecraftian, but we never consciously chose to make it that way. I just think Lovecraft, awful writer that he was, has had such an impact on modern horror and science fiction that it's impossible to work in that field without using some of the ideas he generated. Which kind of annoys me, but I respect the old racist bastard all the same.

Jeffrey: Neither Joseph nor I have ever named our pet a racial epithet.


So it's interesting that for all this, the most popular-as-in-numerous representations of Cecil are as white dude with either an appropriative "third eye" tottaoo or actual eye / tribal tattos /eldritch tentacle (or in 2 cases I've seen, all of those at once).

And the writers, as talented as they are, have done some epic stumbling with the apache tracker character. Here's a kid's-gloves email by a native blogger to fink that went unanswered. Here's an email from fink to another blogger about how he insist that the APache Tracker totally wasn't redeemed even though Cecil calls him a good man because 2 episodes later in a brief aside, the monument to the Apache Tracker was buried and never spoken of again. He also doubled down on twitter saying that he wouldn't read or answer email about the Apache tracker-- must be nice to have that luxury, huh?

Now of course he'll also say stuff on twitter like"hey guess what, if you say "politically correct" everyone knows that you're secretly a racist. Everyone." and right arounf the right of the "PoC talk deal with pushback from white fans on tumblr w/r/t an anything but white Cecil" across fan blogs around last March, he tweeted, "if someone says "I don't care what color a person is" & then lists colors ending with purple or green, that person is definitely racist." but when PoC fans say these same things, hordes of white fans descend on them and send threatening and harassing messages. It's bullshit and has to stop.

WTNV is a great show. It's not perfect. And there is nothing wrong with pointing out the problematic things in a show you like or in the behavior of fans of something you like, either.

Also! Welcome to NIghtvale in ASL done by a Deaf fan was borne of fan discussion at the also awesome spinoff blog. Welcome to Disabled Vale.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:11 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


For those who want to catch up...but don't feeling like listening to the 32 previous podcasts

you are wrong for wanting this, and you should just listen to them. Seriously, I wish I had 32 unheard episodes in front of me. When I got through my backlog there was suddenly a hollowness in my life, as if...as if...Carlos had left town.
posted by echo target at 9:12 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I quite like the Cecil based off Danny Pudi that one artist has done. But others have a long-haired Cecil, and I really can't see that. I think he's a little too old-fashioned/twee to have long hair. He'd had short hair, and maybe wear suspenders and a tweed coat.
posted by jb at 9:17 PM on October 8, 2013


Oh, tzikeh, thank you for the link to the transcripts. I don't listen to podcasts, but I love the Night Vale Twitter feed, so...yes, thank you.
posted by limeonaire at 9:20 PM on October 8, 2013


I like Donald Glover as Cecil, actually.
posted by elizardbits at 9:20 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Joseph: This is going to put off some of our fans, but I actually hate Lovecraft, both personally and for his writing. I don't think anyone can deny that he was a shitty person. His whole "cosmic horror" thing mainly came out of his intense racism. And I think that, on a prose level, he was also a deeply shitty writer. I mean his stuff his almost unreadable for me.

Is this really a controversial point? I mean, even if you're unaware of what a toxic racist the man was, you can't get through two paragraphs without encountering an embarrassing adjective. The man was great with ideas and absolute shit with words. I figured we were all on the same page there.

He'd had short hair, and maybe wear suspenders and a tweed coat.

Pant cuffs just barely brush the tops of his shoes, yeah. Toying with the idea of a moustache, can't quite pull the trigger.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:21 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait a sec, was that Richard Ayoade as Carlos?

I DIE
posted by Sara C. at 9:22 PM on October 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like Donald Glover as Cecil, actually.

I think he'd be a little too young and hip.

I like Avery Brooks, but then I'm in the middle of a Deep Space Nine marathon, so I would say that.

I think in my mind I picture someone who is kind of a mix between Ira Glass and Edward James Olmos.

So basically probably a starship captain of some kind.
posted by Sara C. at 9:25 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, there is some Edward James Olmos in there for sure.
posted by limeonaire at 9:30 PM on October 8, 2013


so bummed I couldn't make the live show/meetup last week
posted by infinitewindow at 9:40 PM on October 8, 2013


As long as we can still hate Desert Bluffs.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:43 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


jb: [Cecil would have] short hair, and maybe wear suspenders and a tweed coat.

This is a dude who thought a tunic and furry pants (FURRY! PANTS!) was an appropriate outfit for a first date. I don't think I'd get a tweed-y vibe from someone with that kind of fashion(?) sense.
posted by tzikeh at 9:43 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


tzikeh: "jb: [Cecil would have] short hair, and maybe wear suspenders and a tweed coat.

This is a dude who thought a tunic and furry pants (FURRY! PANTS!) was an appropriate outfit for a first date. I don't think I'd get a tweed-y vibe from someone with that kind of fashion(?) sense.
"

And I still can't imagine what a "weekend lab coat" would be. Like a regular lab coat, but with a Hawaiian shirt print? (basically Carlos and Cecil are fashinaly inept dorks)
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:48 PM on October 8, 2013


I've been kind of afraid to start listening because it might be too scary for me.

Whatever horror there is, is more existential than actual slithering monsters.
posted by empath at 9:51 PM on October 8, 2013


As much as I enjoy WtNV, I'm glad to see more recent episodes having some strands of a longer plot thread sneaking in. As much fun as it was, some of the episodes did have a bit of a tendency to become "here's a normal thing. Now that thing is weird! Here's another normal thing..." ad nauseam.

Oh, and the voice of Dana the intern was done by Jasika Nicole, better known as Astrid from Fringe. Which is all kinds of awesome!
posted by themadthinker at 9:54 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


The criticisms of the Apache Tracker are fucking braindead, I'm sorry. People can be both racist jerks and have good qualities. It happens all the time. Not every racist is Hitler. And Cecil's opinion on whether he is a good man or not is heavily colored by the fact that he just saved the love of his life. It shouldn't be taken as the opinion of the writer.
posted by empath at 10:01 PM on October 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


empath: "The criticisms of the Apache Tracker are fucking braindead, I'm sorry. People can be both racist jerks and have good qualities. It happens all the time. Not every racist is Hitler. And Cecil's opinion on whether he is a good man or not is heavily colored by the fact that he just saved the love of his life. It shouldn't be taken as the opinion of the writer."

What's the word for when the user posts something that's the opposite of what the username implies? I think that people can have differing opinions over something without having thier intelligence insulted. ANd personally, I'm more willing to listen to an actual Native person speaking about thier lived experience that not.

And while a character's actions or events in a story may not reflect the personally helld feelings of the writer... they don't exist in a vacuum. The writer decided to write them a certain way, and the writer also lives in the same society as us, which means there are biases, conscious and unconscious, they we all carry with us.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:08 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


And the writers, as talented as they are, have done some epic stumbling with the apache tracker character. Here's a kid's-gloves email by a native blogger to fink that went unanswered. Here's an email from fink to another blogger about how he insist that the APache Tracker totally wasn't redeemed even though Cecil calls him a good man because 2 episodes later in a brief aside, the monument to the Apache Tracker was buried and never spoken of again.

The Apache Tracker was roundly criticised for being a racist jerk for months. Of course Cecil is going to forgive the Tracker, when the Tracker lays down his life to save Carlos (Beautiful Carlos). Cecil's response to that event is in character (and also in the heat of the moment).

He also doubled down on twitter saying that he wouldn't read or answer email about the Apache tracker-- must be nice to have that luxury, huh?

Every creator has this luxury. Nobody has respond to criticism.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:10 PM on October 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess what I mean is that I don't buy that the Apache Tracker is 'redeemed' by his sacrifice. He did one good thing, but that doesn't mean that all the racist stuff he did wasn't racist.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:13 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I meant the luxury of not having to address/worry about Native representation, racism, etc. Native people don't get that. Lemme quote from the entry I linked to:

"...[C]ultural context matters. it matters that we are denied the right to tell our own stories while white people overwhelmingly profit off of their own inaccurate depictions of us. it matters than when we speak up, we are frequently ignored. it matters that appropriation is more than just icky, but an extension of cultural genocide and the destruction of indigenous identity and that is why it’s really, really, really, REALLY not cool to write plots in which indigenous identity is something attainable for racist, appropriative assholes. it matters that every single self-identified native that i have seen reblog my first post has expressed the same discomfort that i feel with this plot, but we are still being spoken over, non-natives dissecting whether or not this plot is actually racist and if follow-up plots negate any racism hitherto, as if our feelings do not factor in one way or another. it matters that even in media that purports to spread a message of anti-appropriation, that is indeed progressive in many other ways, we hear nothing from any characters actually identified as native, meanwhile racists who contribute to the systems that harm us are graced with humanizing arcs."

The full letter she wrote is available here:
http://ellydwerewolf.tumblr.com/post/56644484499/apache-tracker-follow-up
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:13 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel a twinge of guilt every time I drink from my Night Vale Community Radio mug during local pledge week(s). Next time, KPCC. Next time.

Maybe if you had better commercials...
posted by book 'em dano at 10:31 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I pretty much picture Carlos as Dr. Suresh from Heroes.
posted by maryr at 10:32 PM on October 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would like to thank this post for the mental image of Richard Ayoade as Cecil. I love falling asleep to Night Vale because I get to relisten to the episodes and dream of viscera and glowing lights.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:33 PM on October 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


PS: thank you for reminding me to download more episodes before my trip on Thursday, because I'm sure listening on a plane hurtling through empty frozen air thousands of feet above shuttered National Forests and open water will be reassuring.
posted by maryr at 10:39 PM on October 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


viggorlijah: "I would like to thank this post for the mental image of Richard Ayoade as Cecil. I love falling asleep to Night Vale because I get to relisten to the episodes and dream of viscera and glowing lights."

As for me, WTNV episodes are the perfect companion to my grocery shopping, or long hikes on the way to run errands.
posted by ShawnStruck at 10:49 PM on October 8, 2013


I listen to WTNV during workouts. It is perfect, although the other folks in the gym are probably sick of me randomly yelping with laughter.

My two favorite things about WTNV are this particular word from a sponsor and the fan theory that Night Vale is actually a totally normal town, it's just that Cecil drops a lot of acid. "Hey honey! Want to turn on the radio and listen to that guy who mysteriously hates the dog park?"
posted by KathrynT at 10:56 PM on October 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


THERE ARE NO DOGS ALLOWED AT THE DOG PARK
posted by KathrynT at 10:56 PM on October 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is weird as hell. Like a strange, alternative universe behind the door of the 3rd cubicle in the men's room in the Nightvale Public Library. I just listen to the podcast. It arrives every week. I had no idea there was all this hot angry race debate surrounding the show. People can't listen to a story told, by voices, without needing to know what colour everyone is?
posted by Jimbob at 2:04 AM on October 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm just gonna throw out my minority opinion and then duck: I love the writing but hate the delivery. Cecil should sound like a DJ on the radio, but just doesn't.
posted by whuppy at 2:27 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jimbob, I am trying to find a way of saying, "The way Tumblr expresses its love of something is with fanart and riotous arguments over racism," without sounding dismissive of any of these things, but I'm still in bed and I give up. :)

I don't really understand fandom as a cultural phenomenon, but I love to read about it. WTNV in particular has had beautiful fanart made for it, a lot of which you can see in the links in the OP, and it's pretty hard to depict characters without making a decision on what race to show them as (etc). These decisions then get discussed and meta-discussed on Tumblr, because Tumblr has loads of really smart people thinking on the topics of racism, ablism, structural oppression etc. WTNV also attracts this kind of analysis more than some other shows because it's explicitly diverse and anti-appropriation.

In short, it's a feature not a bug, and I find that very worthwhile discussions arise from this way of looking at things, but if your appreciation for things doesn't slot into this form of fannishness, you're certainly not alone.
posted by daisyk at 2:31 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had no idea Lovecraft was a racist. I just associate him with very weird things.

Like management being moving large shapes behind frosted glass.

But i guess that could be The Laundry also. Strossian.
posted by sio42 at 2:31 AM on October 9, 2013


Am I the only one who hates the weather music breaks? Some of the songs are good on their own, but I feel like they fuck up the flow of the show more often than not.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:39 AM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah i also don't really like them. If it was a snippet that would be one thing, but the whole song is just too much. I fastforward usually.
posted by sio42 at 3:49 AM on October 9, 2013


i think that cecil's delivery is hilarious. it's like he's trying to sound a radio dj but this is what he does instead, sounding like a tv announcer from 1957.

i imagine Night Vale is really White Sands, NM where they did all the atomic testing.
posted by sio42 at 3:51 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a dude who thought a tunic and furry pants (FURRY! PANTS!) was an appropriate outfit for a first date. I don't think I'd get a tweed-y vibe from someone with that kind of fashion(?) sense."

Like I said, I'm on episode 10. There haven't been any dates. Maybe I'll change my image with more information - or maybe he's a tweed on weekdays, fur on the weekends type. (I am).
posted by jb at 4:25 AM on October 9, 2013


Which interpretation of Cecil's appearance is correct?

All of them.

Which seems perfectly normal to the townspeople even though they can't articulate why.





...TELLY.
posted by delfin at 5:08 AM on October 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


it matters that even in media that purports to spread a message of anti-appropriation, that is indeed progressive in many other ways, we hear nothing from any characters actually identified as native, meanwhile racists who contribute to the systems that harm us are graced with humanizing arcs.

I don't know, really. This is like... we have a character who is racist and appropriates Native culture. He dies, the narrator (who has constantly taken him to task for his racism) expresses gratitude and happiness that he saved someone's life in the process. Then they build him a statue... which they bury in the desert because he's still basically an embarrassment. That's not really ALL THAT MUCH of a humanizing arc.

I can see the argument that, even though the Apache Tracker was being set up as a racist target for Cecil to take down, there is still no Native representation in the show that isn't in some way involved in the punchline of a joke. But it does seem like this would be difficult to address in-show, because the creators have steadfastly refused to identify the races of pretty much anyone else, as far as I can remember.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:54 AM on October 9, 2013


I don't get the objection to the Apache Tracker. He was only given any redeeming qualities after he became an actual Native American (albeit Russian speaking. It's Night Vale.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:55 AM on October 9, 2013


I don't get the objection to the Apache Tracker. He was only given any redeeming qualities after he became an actual Native American (albeit Russian speaking. It's Night Vale.)

Actually, I think they made it pretty clear that although his physical appearance had changed, he was definitely still not actually Native American and was still that same douchey guy as before.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:57 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


we hear nothing from any characters actually identified as native

But if we DID hear from them, wouldn't you wager we'd be having the other side of this argument, the one that goes "How dare someone who's not native try to write a native character, how could they possibly understand what it's like well enough to write anything about the experience without engaging in appropriation or race tourism?" It's damned if you do, damned if you don't.
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:17 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Like management being moving large shapes behind frosted glass.

Henceforth the mods shall be known as Management.
posted by tzikeh at 7:23 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ian A.T.: "we hear nothing from any characters actually identified as native

But if we DID hear from them, wouldn't you wager we'd be having the other side of this argument, the one that goes "How dare someone who's not native try to write a native character, how could they possibly understand what it's like well enough to write anything about the experience without engaging in appropriation or race tourism?" It's damned if you do, damned if you don't.
"

The Sherrif's Secret Police confiscated my crystal ball, so I can't see into the past nor alternate timelines. That's why it's usually a good idea when discussing these things to stick to what actually happened.
posted by ShawnStruck at 7:38 AM on October 9, 2013


It blew my mind to realise that the Faceless Old Woman who Lives in my House is, in fact, Matilda.

I have this headcanon where Cecil is Danny Pudi and Kevin is Donald Glover and I know that doesn't really make sense but it just happened when I heard Kevin's voice and I'm totally OK with it.
posted by Gordafarin at 7:51 AM on October 9, 2013


I'm just gonna throw out my minority opinion and then duck: I love the writing but hate the delivery. Cecil should sound like a DJ on the radio, but just doesn't.

You don't listen to the late night hosts on a publicly funded classic and\or jazz station do you? Cecil sounds exactly like a night host on a small community radio station. That's a big part of the joke.

Also, I really want a "Faceless Old Woman who Secretly Lives in Your House for Mayor" bumper sticker.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:04 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had never heard of this show until now. Is it teen appropriate? My 13 year old son and I have been binging on Once Upon a Time, which is a "normal town is secretly weird" show (at least at first), but it is so, so dumb. I mean, that's partly what we like about it, but Night Vale sounds fun and smart. I'm excited to start listening!
posted by Biblio at 8:12 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had no idea there was all this hot angry race debate surrounding the show. People can't listen to a story told, by voices, without needing to know what colour everyone is?

Yeah, seconded. It's weird; this is one of my favorite podcasts, and when I saw it on the front page here, my internal voice said "Yay! We will now talk about Night Vale!" But now I'm just going to go back into my cave and pretend the fandom doesn't exist.
posted by echo target at 8:30 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've only listened to the first ten episodes or so (I don't want to run out either!) but I would definitely say it's teen appropriate. I would have loved it when I was thirteen.
posted by daisyk at 8:31 AM on October 9, 2013


Biblio: yes, it's an all-ages kind of show. Sometimes the weather (musical interlude from an indie band) has a few swears, but four times out of five you're better off just skipping through that part anyway; it's only occasionally good and usually just breaks the mood.

Wish they'd release a weatherless version alongside the full episodes.
posted by echo target at 8:33 AM on October 9, 2013


Biblio, it's something I imagine a teenager interested in "normal town is secretly weird" things would just eat up. It tends toward the creepy and, despite the protestations of Super Tough Doesn't Afraid of Anything MeFites, a few episodes are genuinely scary. But it always tempers everything with humor, even when the humor is creepy, and there's nothing typically "objectionable" about it.

Just that it may be really creepy. Did I mention that?
posted by byanyothername at 8:34 AM on October 9, 2013


But now I'm just going to go back into my cave and pretend the fandom doesn't exist.

That's sort of silly, considering how much fantastic fan-created artwork there is. Why not just pretend the tedious idiot asshole part of fandom doesn't exist?
posted by elizardbits at 8:34 AM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is it teen appropriate?

Probably? Nothing strikes me personally as not teen appropriate, but I know people who probably wouldn't let their kids listen to it for one reason or another. There's some mild cursing, and violence\death\cosmic horror, but the descriptions are the sort of thing you'd read in Lovecraft: vague and purple. I do think that some of the humor would be lost on a 13 year old, but the subverting of every day cultural institutions (The boy scouts; the highschool football team; that sort of thing), would really be appreciated.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2013


echo target: ...I'm just going to go back into my cave and pretend the fandom doesn't exist.

Fandom in general is so weird! What is it, why is it? I have a friend whose fanfic (in another fandom) is so popular that people make fanart of it - and of her! I wish I could understand but I just don't. I do love trying to figure it out, though, so if anyone wants to explain it to me, go ahead. :) (Though this is probably a derail, so feel free to ignore me or explain it by memail.)

---

Non-derailingly: here is some of my favourite WTNV fanart! Afro-Latino babe Carlos. The experience of discovering Night Vale. 'Go the fuck to sleep, Night Vale.'
posted by daisyk at 8:44 AM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, one last thing before I go out for noodles - do Americans in general pronounce the name Cecil 'See-cil'? In the UK, I've always heard it with the first syllable pronounced the same as in 'sessile'. Or perhaps I haven't heard it at all and that's just how I've pronounced it in my head. Anyway, 'See-cil' is new to me.
posted by daisyk at 8:52 AM on October 9, 2013


I'll note that the only character who has any kind of race defined is Carlos (well and the Black angel) and he could totally be Native American, which would both explain Cecil's defensiveness about the Tracker and his forgiveness for his dying to save Carlos.

And yeah, people care about what color people are, because if you don't say, people assume they're white. Even if you DO say people will assume they're white; people flipped their racist shit over The Hunger Games' Rue, who was explicitly listed as a POC in the book.

Night Vale fandom seems to be trying really hard to overcome the "white as default" trope and it's a nice change.

Also, Night Vale can't be near or in White Sands; you can see mountains from there. I'm pretty sure it's extraplanar anyway, existing in an in-between place with no standard location.
posted by NoraReed at 8:55 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can't believe I am just learning about this now! Thank you!
posted by jph at 9:09 AM on October 9, 2013


The show itself is teen-appropriate. Much of the tumblr fandom is not because it's full of the sexy sex art and fanfic. I tried to screen some of that out in my links so as not to surprise anyone but if you start digging around, there's a lot of NSFW-ness with Cecil and Carlos.
posted by desjardins at 9:22 AM on October 9, 2013


Am I the only one who hates the weather music breaks?

I don't mind them, but the weather songs on the first two episodes were actually about weather ("Waitin' for the bus in the rain!") and then they gave up on that, disappointingly.

And now, everyone's favorite radio game show, Wait, Wait... Don't! Please, Don't!
posted by moonmilk at 9:30 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


My assumption was that Cecil was Asian simply because my first introduction to the show was a link to a manga-style drawing of Cecil and Carlos embracing.
posted by vespabelle at 9:38 AM on October 9, 2013


I actually enjoy the weather breaks. Kind of like a palate cleanser or a rest break in between, plus I have found a TON of cool new bands.

I always imagined Cecil looking at the forecast being a never-ending report of "hot and dry" and was, like, "That's boring. Lemme put my iPod on shuffle and play it">
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:40 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Night Vale is indeed awesome. I got introduced through Chat and I've been loving it so. so. much.

Great post!
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:52 AM on October 9, 2013


do Americans in general pronounce the name Cecil 'See-cil'?

Cecil currently isn't a very common name in the US. The only Cecils I know of are:

Cecil Peoples, the MMA judge (long e)
Cecil the seasick sea serpent (long e)
Cecil B. DeMille (short e, long dead)
Cecil from Final Fantasy IV (I seem to recall the DS remake using a short e)
Cecil Terwilliger, Sideshow Bob's brother (short e, though Chief Wiggum pronounces it with a long e)
Zero people whom I have met in real life (no e)

So I guess it's split? I tend to favor the long e, because "Cecil the sea-sick sea serpent" is fun to say.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:00 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm just going to drop the SCP/Night Vale Crossover I found in the SCP wiki thread here and go about my day.

Also, a friendly youtube warning: Do not enter the dog park.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:05 AM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I definitely don't mind the weather segments; episode 21 gave me Dengue Fever, who I had somehow managed to avoid.
posted by detachd at 11:18 AM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


bswinburn and I had a meetup of two at the Night Vale live show at the Largo last week (sorry you couldn't make it, infinitewindow!), and the live show is definitely worth it if you are a fan of the podcast. It's really fun to be in a room full of fans, and to see real life Cecil Baldwin as Night Vale Cecil Baldwin. Also, it seems like they regularly have guest stars for the live show. LA had James Urbaniak (who did a couple of absolutely hilarious "ads" from "sponsors") and Jasika Nicole as Intern Dana. And I don't know if all the live shows are like this, but it seems like they make an effort to include as many different aspects of the podcast as possible, so there's something there for the Cecil/Carlos fans, the horror fans, the comedy fans, etc.

Oh, and my favorite "ad" from the podcast: this Target one about the varieties of silence.
posted by yasaman at 11:18 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have mixed feelings about the fan theories that Night Vale is perfectly normal and Cecil is tripping/crazy/the only one who can see the crazy shit. On one hand it's kind of nice because it's a realistic and feasible thing that could actually happen, but on the other that's no nearly as interesting as Night Vale as the place where all conspiracy theories are literally true.

Though my very favorite fan theory is Night Vale is a town of extras who have to deal with the fallout of an offscreen protagonist's world-saving.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:35 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yay, a great Night Vale post! I'm almost more a fan of the fandom than a fan of the show: watching the conversations about it unfold on Tumblr is fascinating, and at least in the circles I run in, it gives me warm and squishy feelings of belonging. Finally, media that only makes me flinch in a good way!

I was just passed this amazing post on Night Vale and queer storytelling the other day, and it may be my favorite fandom-related essay ever (but it does contain spoilers for the current episode).
posted by libraritarian at 11:53 AM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I started listening to Welcome to Night Vale back in January, after seeing a few of my friends retweet their consistently excellent Twitter account. I fell in love with the show as quickly as Cecil fell for Carlos, but for months I was the only fan I knew. I couldn't rave to anyone about "The Story of You," couldn't flip my shit over "The Sandstorm," couldn't cry on anyone's shoulder after "One Year Later."

And then I went offline for the July long weekend, and when I came back, it had started blowing up on Tumblr. And then it was in the iTunes Top 10. And then it hit #1. And the next thing I knew, Joseph Fink had quit his day job to do Night Vale full time and this secret little thing I loved was everywhere.

There's an obnoxious little voice in my head that says things like "it was cooler when nobody knew about it," but that voice can fuck off. I'm glad I found it when I did. I'm glad I emailed them back in March to tell them what their show meant to me, how it helped get me through a rough winter, and I'm glad they had the time to me write a really sweet email back. I'm glad I donated when they were still sending personalized thank-you notes.

But I'm even more glad to have people I can flail with about new episodes. I'm glad they've got the fanbase to do live shows and get awesome guest stars and make cool merchandise. And most of all, I'm glad they're seeing such success. They deserve it.
posted by Zozo at 12:19 PM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


(The Apache Tracker thing, though? Oof. I love the podcast, and 95% of the time it's better about this stuff than almost anything else out there, but the whole transformed-into-a-"real"-Indian thing felt wayyyy problematic to me—and I'm just a white guy. When actual Native Americans are calling you out? Maybe it's time to admit you screwed up.)
posted by Zozo at 1:12 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This gives me the same buzz I got from Pontypool.
posted by cthuljew at 2:14 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm really enjoying this so far. It reminds me a bit of John Hodgman's "This Day in Ragnarok" series from That Is All. The audio version of this section of the book plays very much like a radio drama (as do other sections).
posted by treepour at 2:20 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Night Vale can't be near or in White Sands; you can see mountains from there.

No, you can't. Mountains aren't real.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:37 PM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


You know, I found Night Vale a while back. Via twitter possibly? Or a recommendation in my podcast client? All of a sudden a few weeks later it is *everywhere*. Wil Wheaton is tweeting about it. Half my twitter feed is tweeting about it. It is on MeFi. I'm sure I've seen it a few other places as well.

Given the content I can't decide if I'm hipster-annoyed that I missed being in on it before it was popular or creeped out at how it just appeared all of a sudden.
posted by Canageek at 9:47 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really enjoyed reading like a year's worth of the SA thread on Night Vale as I caught up to the show a few months ago. It's interesting to watch how the podcast gets one or two mentions on Twitter to becoming the juggernaut that it is now.

I guess they were also a big draw at the LA Podfest this year, with a bunch of folks buying a one-day pass just to see them. (Though I love the Glow Cloud and the hooded figures that hang around the Dog Park*, how anyone could pass up Walking the Room, FOFOP, or the Dana Gould Hour is beyond me.)

* - do not think about the Dog Park
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:09 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've decided that the weather is actually communicating the weather in Night Vale, just in some inscrutable way.
posted by caphector at 10:12 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have to say, the pictures of Cecil in the Buzzfeed link led me to believe he'd sound like Ira Glass (these two for sure), so I was somewhat caught off guard when he didn't. But I'd totally buy Danny Pudi as Cecil. Can we make that happen somehow?

(I'm three episodes in and I love it, btw)
posted by gc at 10:24 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the last segment of Episode 21, “A Memory of Europe,” and one of my favourite pieces of writing from 2013:
Thinking back, ladies… looking back, gentlemen… thinking and looking back at my European tour, I feel a heavy sadness descend upon me. Of course, it is partly nostalgia, looking back at that younger me, bustling around Europe, having adventures and overcoming obstacles that, at the time, seemed so overwhelming, but now seem like just the building blocks of a harmless story.

But here is the truth of nostalgia:

We don’t feel it for who we were, but who we weren’t. We feel it for all the possibilities that were open to us, but that we didn’t take.

Time is like wax, dripping from a candle flame. In the moment, it is molten and falling, with the capability to transform into any shape. Then, the moment passes, and the wax hits the tabletop, and solidifies into the shape it will always be. It becomes the Past, a solid single record of what happened, still holding in its wild curves and contours the potential of every shape it could have held.

It is impossible—no matter how blessed you are by luck, or the government, or some remote invisible deity, gently steering your life with hands made of moonlight and wind—it is impossible not to feel a little sad, looking at that bit of wax, that bit of the Past. It is impossible not to think of all the wild forms that wax now will never take.

The village, glimpsed from a train window, beautiful and impossible and impossibly beautiful on the mountaintop, and you wondered what it would be if you stepped off the moving train and walked up the trail, its quiet streets, and lived there for the rest of your life. The beautiful face of that young man from Luftnarp, with his gaping mouth and ashy skin, last seen already half turned away as you boarded the bus, already turning towards a future without you in it, where this thing between you that seemed so possible now already and forever never was. All variety of lost opportunities slide from the window of public transportation, really.

It can be overwhelming, this splattered, inert wax, recording every turn not taken. What’s the point, you ask. Why bother, you say. Oh, Cecil, you cry. Oh, Cecil! But then you remember—I remember!—that we are even now in another bit of molten wax. We are in a moment that is still falling, still volatile, and we will never be anywhere else. We will always be in that most dangerous, most exciting, most possible time of all: the Now, where we never can know what shape the next moment will take.

Stay tuned next for, well… let’s just find out together, shall we?

Good night, Night Vale. Good night.
posted by Zozo at 11:56 PM on October 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Possibly the two best YouTube comments ever (from "this fan-made trailer" link):

Giltine002: I find it to lack the all mighty Glow Cloud.

KC Trimble: The All Mighty Glow Cloud was actually featured prominently in the original cut of this video (which you yourself viewed), however it erased all recorded footage of itself from the video as well as your memory of having viewed it.
posted by marsha56 at 5:22 AM on October 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I love the ads.
You love your family!
You.
Love.
Them!

RED LOBSTER / COME SEE WHAT'S FRESH - TODAY!
and also
What is trust? Is making a things proof that you exist? Is fixing a thing truth that you have ascended mortality? History? Incomplete?
Feel things? Feel things?
You can do it. We can help.
The Home Depot.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:03 AM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]




SHOP. AT. TARGET.
posted by maryr at 3:22 PM on October 17, 2013


I finally got around to listening to this. It is terrific, yes.

Today, at work at the pizza mines, a co-worker was talking about Krispy Kreme doughnut holes. He didn't know what to call them, so he called them nuggets.

I turned to him and, in my best Night Vale voice, said (paraphrased):
What some people call 'nuggets' is more properly termed eggs. And shortly after consuming one, it is not uncommon for one to hatch.

And while I do not wish to spread rumors, it has been said that after one hatches, eaters are known to have to spend a couple of hours in the bathroom, and in extreme cases, employ the services of a proctologist.

Whether that's true or not, medical officials warn: there is no cure for the Krispy Kreme egg.
posted by JHarris at 6:12 PM on October 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am late to this as well. Oh, but so happy to finally be here.
posted by ColdChef at 11:48 AM on November 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


The appearance of Cecil that fandom has agreed upon looks nothing like my Cecil. I hope their image doesn't supplant mine. Cecil is older and more of a small town bumpkin than this blonde emo kid. He wears a straw fedora and suspenders over either a light green or purple shirt, sometimes he wears a bowtie, and he has a J. Jonah Jameson brush mustache.
posted by painquale at 10:15 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]




I have to say, the pictures of Cecil in the Buzzfeed link led me to believe he'd sound like Ira Glass (these two for sure), so I was somewhat caught off guard when he didn't.

The 'real' Cecil (that is, the voice actor, Cecil Baldwin) also sort of looks as if he'd sound like Ira Glass.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:36 AM on November 6, 2013


I'm reminded of the Cecil who was the voice of the They Might Be Giants podcast, who, it was claimed, came from public radio, but was one of the Johns with his voice disguised I'm guessing.
posted by JHarris at 12:21 PM on November 6, 2013


This Cecil.
posted by JHarris at 12:24 PM on November 6, 2013


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