Here Be Monsters

Here Be Monsters

By Here Be Monsters

An independent podcast about fear, beauty and the unknown. Since 2012.


HBM158: An Illusion

n the midst of a stressful move, HBM producer Jeff Emtman finds comfort in the phasing techniques developed by minimalist composer, Steve Reich. Note: this episode contains sounds that cannot be accurately represented by speakers.  Please use headphones.  Steve Reich compositions excerpted in this episode: Clapping Music, performed by Steve Reich and Wolfram WinkelViolin Phase, performed by Jonathan Morton Pendulum Music, performed by Joan Cerveró, Víctor Trescolí, Isabel León, and  Estefanía SánchezHere Be Monsters is an independent podcast supported by listener donations.  If you’d like to make a small monthly contribution, visit Producer: Jeff Emtman
14/12/2240m 9s

HBM157: The Raw Whatever

Allen H Greenfield is a UFOlogist and occult researcher.  He’s also a father of three.  His first child, Alex was the subject of HBM155: Ghosts Aliens Burritos.  In that episode, Alex tells stories from his childhood of chasing strange phenomena with his father. In this episode, Here Be Monsters host Jeff Emtman talks to Allen to get the “fatherly perspective” on UFOs, black lodges, tarot, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and (most of all) how to be a good parent. Allen Greenfield is currently working on the final installment of a trilogy whose first two entries are Secret Cipher of the UFOnauts and Secret Rituals of the Men in Black.  The forthcoming book is yet to be titled. Also heard on this episode: Rick Emtman, who is Jeff’s dad.Content Note: LanguageProducer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Serocell, The Black SpotSponsor: Pal’s PlantsPal’s Plants is a Flatbush, Brooklyn based subscription service for potted plants and intriguing zines.  Plants can be delivered to the 5 boroughs of New York City. Zines can be delivered anywhere in the USA.  Pal’s Plants is customized to your preferences.  They’ll have you fill out a short survey when you sign up so that you can be sure to get something you like each month in the mail. Pal’s Plants makes a great gift.  Use offer code HBM50 at signup to get half off your first month’s subscription.  Thank you Pal’s Plants for sponsoring Here Be Monsters.
28/11/2239m 51s

HBM156: Heavy Load-Bearing Body

Berlin’s Schwerbelastungskörper is a massive concrete structure that, today, is hidden in plain sight between a railroad and an apartment building.  It’s one of just a dozen remaining pieces of Nazi Architecture in Berlin.  And it’s not much to look at. It was built in 1941 as a test structure for a triumphal arch that Hitler wanted to build in that spot. The Schwerbelastungskörper (“heavy load-bearing body”) is the arch’s test structure.  It weighs about 12,650 metric tonnes, or about 28 million pounds, and it’s the equivalent weight of one of the four massive legs of the never-built arch.This plan was abandoned as World War 2 accelerated.  And the structure remained, slowly sinking into Berlin’s marshy soil, providing proof of the arch’s impossibility. In this episode, HBM host Jeff Emtman visits the Schwerbelastungskorper, records some impulse responses in the structure’s single room and reflects on his discomfort in finding beauty in another Nazi structure nearby, Tempelhof Airport (now a public park and refugee camp). Also mentioned on this episode: The Berlin Airlift, Austrian Tyrol, The Little Mermaid (1989), and Der Herr Der Ringe (Lord of the Rings movies dubbed in German).  Here Be Monsters is an independent podcast supported by listener donations.  If you’d like to make a small monthly contribution, visit Registration for the Here Be Monsters Art Exchange is open until November 10th, 2022.  Sign up: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot
09/11/2219m 19s

The HBM Art Exchange is Back!

The Here Be Monsters Art Exchange is back!It’s a really simple and wonderful thing where you, gentle listener, can mail a piece of art to a stranger and get a piece of art in return. It’s open to artists of all experience levels from around the world. The deadline to sign up is November 10th, 2022. Sign up and more info here: art exchange is made possible this year by HBM listener Devon Sherman, who’s offered her time and expertise to help with communication between artists. Thank you Devon. Devon is a past participant in the art exchange, and has an ongoing project where she illustrates Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. Another listener, known as “Endless_Want”, also helped out by making the Art Exchange’s promotional video, which you can see on the sign-up page and on our Instagram and Twitter.Music: The Black Spot, Robbie Quine—Glitter Rock Werewolf
24/10/2212m 34s

HBM155: Ghosts Aliens Burritos

Content Note: pervasive language, brief mentions of bigotry.Alex Greenfield says that there was no such thing as a normal day when he was a kid.  His dad (Allen H Greenfield) self describes as a “researcher in the shadow world.” And his mom soon grew tired of her husband’s lifestyle, which included a lot of time on the road: chasing rumors of cryptids, ghosts, and aliens.  But after his parents split up, Alex, his dad, and an ever changing cast of motorcycle gang members and step-moms kept seeking the occult. Some of the topics discussed in this episode: St. Simons Island in Georgia (and reported hauntings), The Okefenokee Swamp (and the ignition of swamp gas), The Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident (and subsequent protests), Mono Lake in California (and the UFO sightings  there), and a movie called Being There (wherein the character played by Peter Sellers appears to walk on water).Alex Greenfield is the writer of The Sand, 10.0 Earthquake, and other movies.  He also used to be the head writer for WWE Smackdown. Alex’s dad, Allen H Greenfield (aka. T Allen Greenfield), is a UFOlogist and occultist.  He is the author of Secret Cipher of the UFOnauts, The Story Of The Hermetic Brotherhood Of Light, and other books. Unrelated to this episode, but do give a listen to the limited series that Jeff’s been mixing for Crooked Media.  It’s called Another Russia, and it’s about the assassination of Russian dissident Boris Nemtsov, as told by Ben Rhodes and Zhanna Nemtsova.  Available now on every podcast app.  Also, Jeff’s headed back to Berlin, Germany for about a month.  If you know any good stories/interviews he should record while he’s there, send a DM on Twitter or Instagram, or use the contact form.Here Be Monsters is an independent podcast supported by listeners and sponsors. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Circling Lights, August FriisSponsor: is / ought books  is / ought books is a publisher of spiral bound self help manuals, art books, and non literary works on paper.All titles from is / ought books are available to buy online via the link below. is / ought books are also distributed via Small Press Distribution (SPD).Thank you is / ought books for sponsoring Here Be Monsters.
24/08/2232m 16s

HBM154: Ancient Roman Recipes

Sally Grainger was originally a chef, but in her 20’s, she was gifted a copy of an ancient Roman cookbook called Apicius. Apicius is a bit of a fluke.  It shouldn’t have survived the 2000-ish year journey into the modern era, but it did.  And in this episode of Here Be Monsters, Grainger explains how Apicius persisted due to being a favorite text for monks-in-training to practice their gilding skills.  And thus, this fascinating book of recipes (featuring cooking instructions for boiled ostrich soup, complex sauces, and cucumbers stewed with brains) is still feeding people today.While cuisine today might seem distant from ostrich soup, Grainger thinks that Roman food often gets inaccurately portrayed as overly decadent or overly spiced.  Cooked correctly, the cuisine is quite balanced, she says.  And in her book, Cooking Apicius, she uses her knowledge of ancient Roman life to put the recipes in context for a contemporary kitchen and contemporary cooks. Also, on this episode, Jeff also reads from a 1932 English translation of Apicius by Joseph Dommers Vehling, which is available in the public domain thanks to Project Gutenberg. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black SpotHave you seen the new HBM stickers? They’re beautiful.  Get yours here.  As of publish date: if you buy 4, one of them will be free.  The discount gets applied automatically when you add them to your cart.
22/06/2224m 26s

The Straight and Narrow

In 2012, a street preacher walking three small dogs tried to convince Jeff Emtman of his way of thinking about gender and the afterlife. In this Here Be Monsters brief, Jeff shares the short essay he originally wrote about the dinner party where they attempted to make an uneasy friendship. Jeff re-edited the essay in 2022 and gave pseudonyms to the main characters (“Cliff” and “Sophie”). Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black SpotHere Be Monsters is an independent podcast supported by listeners and advertisements from small businesses. If you’d like to support the show, consider sponsoring an episode, or becoming a supporter on Patreon. Some other news: 1. Album of German field recordingsThe recordings from the last episode (HBM153: Klänge from Berlin) are now available as an album.  Listen and purchase here.2. New HBM stickers are here! They’re beautiful, screen printed, die-cut, clear vinyl versions of the “HBM” logo.  Available for purchase on the HBM store. Patreon supporters can get some for very nearly free by following the instructions in this post.
02/06/2212m 24s

HBM153: Klänge from Berlin

The composer Pauline Oliveros thought there was a difference between hearing and listening.  She defined hearing as a passive act, something done with the ears.  But she defined listening as something active saying that listening happens in the brain.  Sam Parker is a recordist who takes inspiration from Oliveros’ words and work.  About six years ago, on an episode of Here Be Monsters called Sam’s Japan Tapes, Sam shared dozens of recordings he made during his first (and only) trip to Japan.  He released those recordings under the name Observance as an album called Japan, 6/21 - 7/14.On this episode, Here Be Monsters host takes two trips to Germany, and records the sounds of Christmas in Berlin, New Years in Saxony, and many hours of people and birds just going about their daily lives in the late winter and early spring. Before Jeff leaves on his first trip, he calls Sam Parker back, to ask for recording advice before the trip, and Sam offers three tips: Take lots of time.Capture moments of everyday routine. Trust your instinctsThe recordings on this episode are available as an album called “Field Recordings: Germany, 2021-2022” and it’s available for purchase on Bandcamp, under Jeff Emtman’s The Black Spot moniker.  Until June 30th, 2022, all profits from the sale of this album will be donated to The International Committee of the Red Cross. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Remixes from the recording session in HBM049: Sam’s Japan Tapes.Photos: Jeff EmtmanThank Yous: Sam Parker, Johanna Gilje Sponsor: HBM’s Patreon SupportersHere Be Monsters’ supporters on Patreon send a small monthly (or yearly) donation to help cover Jeff’s living expenses, pay contractors, fees, taxes, etc.Listener Kit Roberts supports HBM on patreon, saying “I’m a patron of HBM because no other podcast has ever made me feel like this one does…so small and singular and yet connected to everything all at once.”Thank you so much, HBM Patrons.👽👉Become a patron👈👽Recordings heard in this episodeMM:SS - Description.  (📸 means there’s a photo in the gallery)08:45 - Train to SeaTac airport.09:45 - Announcements on an Air France flight.11:00 - Turbulance and people rustling.12:30 - Berlin's Brandenburg Airport13:15 - A brown swan hissing and chirping13:30 - Boats rubbing against wooden piers and a small dog barking.14:15 - Cars driving on cobblestone streets.14:45 - Ice Skating at Berlin's Alexanderplatz 📸15:30 - Swing ride with metal chains at Alexanderplatz. 📸16:00 - Riding on the subway, then walking up several flights of stairs.18:45 - Radio playing advertisements, news, and christmas music20:45 -  A Christmas Eve service in a cathedral with a speaker reading a children's story.21:30 - Christmas carols playing as people mill around.22:00 - A wedding party in front of the Brandenburg Gate.23:15 - A Christmas exhibit with a lit up polar bear and fog machine.24:00 - Birds chirping in Berlin's Mauerpark as people walk by.25:00 - Crunching frosted leaves on a cold morning.25:30 - Walking through a forest in the Saxony Region of Eastern Germany.📸26:15 - Whistling through hands in the forest.27:00 - Buying 5 kilograms of potatoes from a vending machine as a dog barks.📸27:30 - Mountaintop shop selling hot drinks and snacks in Czechia.27:45 - Chopping kindling. Distant fireworks echoing through the hills in Saxony.28:30 - Snaps and pops of a small fire29:00 - Distant fireworks to celebrate the start of 2022.29:30 - Close fireworks echoing.30:00 - A strong wind blowing on a mountaintop in Saxony.📸30:30 - A tree swing creaking.31:15 - 6AM on the outskirts of Berlin.  Traffic starting, crow screaming.32:45 - Captive pigeons fluffing their feathers and cooing at Hasenheide Park34:00 - Slow motion recording of a sudden hailstorm.34:30 - A motorized billboard in a subway station35:00 - Accordion player performs in a subway station in Berlin's Mitte neighborhood.37:45 - Applause after a play.38:15 - A small bird singing several songs.39:30 - Church bells ringing.40:45 - Wind flapping the torn domes of the Teufelsberg listening station as people sing.📸43:00 - Walking through the forest near Teufelsberg as bikes pass.
04/05/2250m 15s

HBM152: Dirt Becomes You

What do you want to happen to your body when you die?  It’s a touchy topic where tradition, religion and death denial all come into play.  But across much of the world, there are just two options: burial and cremation, which both have substantial ecological impacts. In 2019, Washington State passed SB 5001, which legalized several new options for deathcare. In this episode, host Jeff Emtman visits Return Home, a facility in Auburn, Washington that’s using one of those new options, called “Natural Organic Reduction” (NOR) which is commonly called “human composting”.  Return Home has built the world’s largest NOR facility to date, with 74 available individual vessels.  Their process (which they’ve trademarked as “Terramation”) takes about two month to complete, and involves dressing a deceased person in a pressed cotton gown and placing them a bed of organic material, and left to naturally break down using active composting techniques that bring the contents of the vessel to well above 100° Fahrenheit for much of the composting period. The techniques used by Return Home were largely inspired by Katrina Spade, a death activist and the owner of Recompose, another NOR facility located near Seattle.  Spade was one of the people who strongly advocated for the passage of SB 5001.There’s currently one other NOR facility in Washington State: Herland Forrest in Wahkiacus.  Currently two other states, Colorado and Oregon have legalized NOR.  NOR’s future isn’t known.  It’s new and still relatively rare. Do enough people want to be composted to have it be a viable business model? Each of these companies have different approaches to their process.  Return Home’s model relies on scale.  They wouldn’t disclose the exact cost of building their facility, or how many simultaneous descendants they’d need in their facility to be profitable.  As of publishing, they charge $4,950 for their process and they have 15 of their 74 slots occupied.  And in some ways, the full ecological benefits for Return Home’s process also rely on scale.  In a follow up email, CEO Micah Truman stated that “We calculate our inputs as follows. Our electricity bill each month is about $1,700, and is sufficient to Terramate 74 bodies. This comes to $22 per body. In current gas terms ($5 a gallon at present) that is roughly 4 gallons of gas, which is about 1/8 the amount of gas used for cremation. The number is actually quite a bit better than that, as our electricity bill also powers our entire facility, not just the Terramation equipment.”When asked about the relative emptiness of the facility, Katey Houston (Return Home’s Services Manager) said, “The funeral industry is so slow to change. When cremation became a thing, it took sixty years to become mainstream.  The fact that we’ve served just over thirty families now in four months, is quite amazing.  And we’ve continued to grow month-over-month, and that’s all I can ask for.”Thank you Hannah Suzanna for help with research for this episode. Here Be Monsters is an independent, listener supported podcast.  Consider supporting the show on Patreon. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot and SerocellSponsor: Sleep With Me PodcastSleep With Me is a podcast that helps you fall asleep.  Host Drew Ackerman tells tangential stories, reads old catalogs, makes metaphors about washing machines, and does other calming things all in pursuit of slowing your mind down and letting you drift off to sleep more peacefully.  Subscribe to Sleep With Me on any podcast app.
30/03/2235m 7s

HBM151: Blowgun Time Warp

Season 10 of Here Be Monsters starts and host Jeff Emtman hallucinates his adolescence while working long hours.  Scenes from middle school dances, dawn bus rides, the basement, and ( most crucially), a late-night raffle at a hardware store.Do you like Here Be Monsters? Tell your friends, support HBM on Patreon, and have your boss sponsor an episode.Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Serocell and The Black SpotSponsor: RadioLabAre you curious about the world, but also want to be surprised, and even moved? Radiolab experiments with sound and storytelling allowing science to fuse with culture, and information to sound like… well, music. Join hosts Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser for an experiential investigation that explores themes and ideas through a patchwork of people, sounds, and stories. Listen to Radiolab
09/03/2227m 13s

Season 10 is Coming!

Season 10 is nearly here!  The season starts on March 9th and episodes will be released on a rolling basis until all ten shows are published.Want to advertise on an episode? Fill out the sponsorship request form. Want to support HBM with a small monthly donation?  Become a patron on Patreon. Can’t wait to share the season with you.  More soon. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot
11/02/224m 41s

Leaving Spotify

I’ve decided to remove my work from Spotify.  It’s not just their recent controversies around Joe Rogan, it’s a much bigger problem with the way that Spotify treats the medium.  If you listen on an app other than Spotify, you don’t need to change anything, just stay subscribed, and you’ll get all the new episodes (Season 10 is coming soon!).If you do listen on Spotify though, you’ll need to download a different app to keep listening.  Personally, I’m a big fan of  Pocket Casts, but there are a lot of good options out there. Direct links to HBM’s listing on several podcast apps: Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle PodcastsPocket CastsCastboxDeezerPodcast AddictRadioPublicAmazon MusicPodBeanThere’s a million more too :).  If you can’t find HBM on your favorite app, please send an email or a tweet.  Last thing: If you’re a podcaster and you’re interested in removing your own work from Spotify, I just published an article called “How to remove your podcast from Spotify without losing (all) your listeners”.  Perhaps an overly bold title, we’ll see..  Thank you for all the support for all these years.  I really appreciate it.  Season 10 will be here soon. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot
08/02/2212m 55s

HBM150: Cold Water

The origins of Julia Susara’s chronic fatigue are hard to pin down.  She still doesn’t know exactly how it started but suspects that a deeply broken heart had something to do with it.  She spent about three years going through some excruciating physical sensations: immense chills, brain fogs, pregnancy nightmares and the feeling that her blood was about to boil through her skin. Doctors weren’t able to figure out what was wrong, nor were the array of alternative healers she visited. Feeling that no one was able to help, she was at the edge of giving up. But, at her brother’s suggestion, she reluctantly visited a hypnotherapist who gave Julia instructions to swim daily in cold water.  So she started jumping in the ocean each day and felt a strange and near immediate change in her symptoms.  If you’re feeling suicidal, here are some numbers you can call to speak with someone who will listen. USA Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255UK Samaritans: 116 123Canada Crisis Services: 1.833.456.4566Japan Tell JP:  03-5774-0992Australia Lifeline: 13 11 14Denmark Livslinien: 70 201 201Other countries: check the list available at episode marks the end of Season 9.  Season 10 is coming, but the date is currently unknown.  Stay subscribed!  And keep an eye on the HBM Patreon page for an upcoming message with a season debrief and some musings about the show’s future.  That post will be public, so no need to be a member to read it.  Also, please note that due to some summer busy-ness, Jeff will not be able to run an HBM summer art exchange this year.  Sorry about that.  Thank you for all your support through Season 9.  It is such a pleasure to make this show. ~~~~~~~~~~Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Julia’s choir group and The Black SpotSponsor: AnimasusEmilius Martinez is an illustrator and designer who runs Animasus.  Animasus can help you design email campaigns, websites and improve the overall branding for your business.  Speaking of which, Emilius designed the new HBM t-shirt, which is wonderful. Thank you Animasus for sponsoring Here Be Monsters!
01/07/2140m 23s

HBM149: The Daily Blast [Neutrinowatch]

A short episode from the new show Neutrinowatch: A Daily Generative Podcast.  Each episode of Neutrinowatch changes a lil’ bit every day.  This episode, The Daily Blast, features two computerized voices (Wendy and Ivan), who share the day’s news. To get new versions of this episode, you’ll need to either stream the audio in your podcast app/web browser, or just delete and re-download the episode.  It’s updated every 24 hours.  Note: Due to Spotify’s policy of downloading and rehosting podcast audio, this episode won’t work very well on Spotify.  Most other podcast apps should handle it well though. Neutrinowatch is a project of Jeff Emtman (Here Be Monsters’ host), and Martin Zaltz Austick (Answer Me This, Song By Song, Pale Bird and others). If you’d like to know more about generative podcasting and the story of Neutrinowatch, listen to So What Exactly is Episode 149? and Jeff’s blog post called The Start of Generative Podcasting?Neutrinowatch is available on most podcast apps, and as of publish date, there’s currently 6.5 episodes available.  Each updates daily. Producers: Jeff Emtman and Martin Zaltz AustwickMusic:The Black Spot
16/06/212m 0s

So What Exactly is Episode 149?

Episode 149 is an odd duck for sure.  It changes every day due to some coding trickery that is happening behind the scenes. That episode is a part of a bigger project, a new podcast project that’s potentially the first of its kind.  It’s called Neutrinowatch, and every day, each episode is regenerated with new content. But this is a conversation between Jeff Emtman (Here Be Monsters’ host), and Martin Zaltz Austick (Answer Me This, Song By Song, Pale Bird and others) about the hows and whys of Neutrinowatch: A Daily Generative Podcast (available now on most podcast apps 😉)
16/06/2125m 56s

HBM148: Early Attempts at Summoning Dream Beings

As a teenager, HBM host Jeff Emtman fell asleep most nights listening to Coast To Coast AM, a long running talk show about the world’s weirdnesses.   One of the guests stuck out though; one who spoke on his experiences with lucid dreaming.  He’d learned how to conjure supernatural entities and converse with his subconscious.  Lucid dreams are dreams where the dreamer knows they’re asleep.  Some sleepers become lucid completely at random, but lucid dream training can drastically increase the frequency of their occurrence.Months ago, Jeff put out a call for dream prompts on social media.  He asked if anyone had questions for an all-knowing being to be conjured in a forthcoming lucid dream.  Some of the questions are heard in this episode.  While training for this episode, Jeff used two approaches to trigger lucid dreams.  The first was an audio recorder by the bedside.  Each morning, Jeff recorded his dreams (lucid or not).  The second method was a series of “wakefulness checks” throughout each day, stopping at random times to test reality, and to make a determination on whether he’s currently awake or asleep.  This tactic is useful as it may eventually trigger the same behaviour in a dream.  In this episode, Jeff attempts to lucid dream to answer listener questions, but finds the progress slower than he hoped.  Here Be Monsters is an independent podcast that is funded entirely by individual sponsors and donors.  You can become a donor at Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Phantom Fauna, and Serocell. Sponsor: Sleep With Me PodcastSleep With Me is a podcast that helps you fall asleep.  Host Drew Ackerman tells tangential stories, reads old catalogues, recaps old Charlie Brown specials and does other calming things all in pursuit of slowing your mind down and letting you drift off to sleep more peacefully.  Subscribe to Sleep With Me on any podcast app. 
02/06/2133m 0s

HBM147: Chasing Tardigrades

With much of the world shut down over the last year, HBM host Jeff Emtman started wondering if there were smaller venues where the world still felt open. In this episode, Jeff interviews Chloé Savard of the Instagram microscopy page @tardibabe about the joy of looking at small things, and whether it’s possible to find beauty in things you don’t understand.  Chloé also gives Jeff instructions for finding tardigrades by soaking moss in water and squeezing out the resulting juice onto slides.Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black SpotSponsor: Pod PeoplePod People is an audio production and staffing agency with a community of 1,000+ producers, editors, engineers, sound designers and more.  Pod People helps audio professionals find amazing job opportunities, and they're also  building a network of support that connects their members with other audio producers, educational workshops, events, and more.Pod People is free to join. After a short onboarding process, Pod People will send you clients and work opportunities that are a good match for your specific skills and interests. Join Pod People
19/05/2121m 17s

Theodora is @hypo_inspo

A brief follow-up to last episode: you can now follow our AI-powered friend Theodora on Twitter! She tweets several times a day, giving bad advice, good advice, and some strange poetry. Her account’s called Hypothetical Inspiration. Give her a follow.
05/05/212m 12s

HBM146: Theodora

How does a computer learn to speak with emotion and conviction? Language is hard to express as a set of firm rules.  Every language rule seems to have exceptions and the exceptions have exceptions etcetera.  Typical, “if this then that” approaches to language just don’t work.  There’s too much nuance. But each generation of algorithms gets closer and closer. Markov chains were invented in the 1800’s and rely on nothing more than basic probabilities.  It’s a simple idea, just look at an input (like a book), and learn the order in which words tend to appear.  With this knowledge, it’s possible to generate new text in the same style of the input, just by looking up the probability of words that are likely to follow each other.  It’s simple and sometimes half decent, but not effective for longer outputs as this approach tends to lack object permanence and generate run-on sentences. Markov models are  used today in predictive text phone keyboards, but can also be used to predict weather, stock prices, etc. There’ve been plenty of other approaches to language generation (and plenty of mishaps as well).  A notable example is CleverBot, which chats with humans and heavily references its previous conversations to generate its results.  Cleverbot’s chatting can sometimes be eerily human, perfectly regurgitating slang, internet abbreviations, obscure jokes.  But it’s kind of a sly trick at the end of the day, and, as with Markov chains, Cleverbot’s AI still doesn’t always grasp grammar and object permanence. In the last decade or two, there’s been an explosion in the abilities of a different kind of AI, the Artificial Neural Network.  These “neural nets” are modelled off the way that brains work, running stimuli through their “neurons” and reinforcing paths that yield the best results. The outputs are chaotic until they are properly “trained.” But as the training reaches its optimal point, a model emerges that can efficiently process incoming data and spit out output that incorporates the same kinds of nuance, strangeness, and imperfection that you expect to see in the natural world.  Like Markov chains, neural nets have a lot of applications outside language too. But these neural networks are complicated, like a brain.  So complicated, in fact, that few try to dissect these trained models to see how they’re actually working.  And tracing it backwards is difficult, but not impossible. If we temporarily ignore the real risk that sophisticated AI language models pose for societies attempting to separate truth from fiction these neural net models allow for some interesting possibilities, namely extracting the language style of a large body of text and using that extracted style to generate new text that’s written in the voice of the original text. In this episode, Jeff creates an AI and names it “Theodora.”  She’s trained to speak like a presenter giving a Ted Talk.  The result varies from believable to utter absurdity and causes Jeff to reflect on the continued inability of individuals, AI, and large nonprofits to distinguish between good ideas and absolute madness. On the creation of Theodora: Jeff used a variety of free tools to generate Theodora in the episode.  OpenAI’s Generative Pre-trained Transformer 2 (GPT-2) was turned into the Python library GPT2 Simple by Max Woolf, who also created a tutorial demonstrating how to train the model for free using Google Colab.  Jeff used this tutorial to train Theodora on a corpus of about 900 Ted Talk transcripts for 5,000 training steps. Jeff then downloaded the model locally and used JupyterLab (Python) to generate new text.  That text was then sent to Google Cloud’s Text-To-Speech (TTS) service where it was converted to the voice heard on the episode. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: LianceSponsor: Liance Independent musician James Li has just released This Painting Doesn’t Dry, an album about the relationship between personal experiences and the story of humanity as a whole.  James made this album while he anxiously watched his homeland of Hong Kong fall into political crisis.Buy on Bandcamp. Listen on Spotify.
28/04/2127m 30s

HBM145: The Juice Library

Like so many others, Amanda Petrus got a bit lost after college. She had a chemistry degree and not a lot of direction.  But she was able to find work at a juice factory in the vineyards of western New York.  Her job was quality control, which meant overnight shifts at the factory, tasting endless cups of fruit punch and comparing them to the ever-evolving set of juice standards that they kept in the “juice library.” She calls herself and “odd creature”, especially for the time and place: she was a woman working in a factory dominated by men, she was openly lesbian (and yet still rebuffing advances from her coworkers), and she was a lover of Richard Wagner’s—sometimes dressing up as a valkyrie.Unfortunately, much of her time at the factory was characterized by the antics of her juice tasting colleague, Tim, who, in some ways, mirrored the traits of her favorite composer.  He was incredibly gifted at understanding the flavor profile of fruit punch, able to predict the exact ratios of passion fruit, high fructose corn syrup, and red 40 needed to please the factory’s  clients.  But he also shared Wagner’s xenophobia and misogyny, with his own brand of paranoia, too.  Often, Amanda was a target of his outburstsThis came to a head when Amanda was suddenly fired and escorted from the factory after Tim levelled an incredible accusation of conspiracy against her. After this incident, Amanda got into grad school, and started her path towards teaching.  She is now a professor of chemistry at the Community College of Rhode Island.  She also runs the website Mail From A Cat where you can order mail...from a cat. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Serocell, Ride of the Valkyries (performed by The United States Marine Band),Overture from The Flying Dutchman (performed by University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra), Prelude from Parsifal (recording from the European Archive). Sponsor: Esoteric Bumper StickersEsoteric Bumper Stickers sells waterproof vinyl stickers can fit any feeling.  Not just for cars, Esoteric Bumper Stickers can show the world your knowledge of the briny deep, your passion for flora, your love of claws in the dark, etc. 
14/04/2125m 16s

HBM144: Keeping A Place

HBM Host Jeff Emtman has always been afraid of losing his memories. Places he cares about keep getting torn down.In this episode, Jeff bikes around Seattle recording the sounds of a popping balloon to capture the sound of places he likes: Padelford Hall’s Parking Garage, The Wayne Tunnel in Bothell, his old house in Roosevelt, The Greenlake Aqua Theater, and his front porch on a snowy day.  The sound of a popping balloon can be used to re-create a space digitally.  These popping sounds are loud ‘impulses’, and the space ‘responds’ accordingly.  These impulse responses can then be fed to an audio effect called a “convolution reverb” which interprets the impulse response and applies it to any incoming sound.  Rick and Kathy Emtman are heard on this episode.  Forrest Perrine helped with some of the recordings.  Support Here Be Monsters on Patreon! Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, August Friis, Serocell, Phantom FaunaSponsor: Walk in the Woods ZineWalk in the Woods is a free mini zine that you can get in the mail! Zine-maker Flissy Saucier writes and draws about her experiences walking in the woods in this monthly+ publication. You can donate to keep the project going and get additional benefits.
31/03/2129m 33s

HBM143: Laughing Rats and Dawn Rituals

Animals sometimes make noises that would be impossible to place without context.  In this episode: three types of animal vocalizations—described by the people who recorded them. Ashley Ahearn: Journalist and producer of Grouse, from Birdnote and Boise State Public RadioJoel Balsam: Journalist and producer of the upcoming podcast Parallel Lives.  Joel co-created a photo essay for ESPN about the “pororoca”, an Amazonian wave chased each year by surfers. Kevin Coffey, Ph.D.: Co-creator of DeepSqueak and researcher at VA Puget Sound and the University of Washington.  Kevin co-authored the paper DeepSqueak: a deep learning-based system for detection and analysis of ultrasonic vocalizations in Nature’s Neuropsychopharmacology journal. Also heard: calls of the Indies Short Tailed Cricket (Anurogryllus celerinictus), which may be the perpetrator of the so-called “sonic attacks” recently reported in Cuba.  Sound sent in by HBM listener Isaul in Puerto Rico.  Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black SpotSponsor: Chas CoChas Co takes care of cats and dogs in Brooklyn (especially in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Bed Stuy and surrounding neighborhoods). Chas Co welcomes pets with special behavioral and medical needs, including those that other services have turned away.  They offer dog walking, cat visiting, and custom care arrangements too. Visit to book an appointment. Thank you Chas Co for sponsoring Here Be Monsters. Please consider becoming a patron of Here Be Monsters at
17/03/2125m 59s

HBM142: The Vastness of the Universe

1,420,405,751* hertz is a very important frequency.  It’s the frequency that hydrogen radiates at, creating radio waves that can be detected far away.  And astronomers can learn a lot about the history and shape of the universe by observing this “hydrogen line” frequency with radio telescopesExtraterrestrial research astronomers also take a lot of interest in the hydrogen line...and it’s for the same exact reason, though the context is different.  It’s thought that if an alien species is capable of communicating with us, wouldn’t they also have figured out the importance of the hydrogen line?  And is it possible that just maybe, they’d use it (or frequencies near it) to communicate with us?  The theory being that the hydrogen line could be used as a kind of universal hailing channel for intelligent species—a representation of a shared understanding of physics. Talk of the hydrogen line was front and center in 1977, when an American astronomer named Jerry R Ehman found a very strong signal on the printout from a radio telescope dubbed “The Big Ear” at the Ohio State University.  The signal he found was close to the hydrogen line.  He noted the abnormality of the strong the signal by writing “Wow!” in red ink on the margins of the printout.  The so-called “Wow! Signal” has long been cited as potential evidence for alien communication. But Dr. Seth Shostak (senior astronomer at The SETI Institute and co-host of Big Picture Science) isn’t convinced.  His organization searches for extra terrestrial intelligence across the universe with a high degree of skepticism.  And he’s experienced a false positive or two over the years.  Seth thinks the Wow! Signal (and other related anomalous signals) are almost always tied back to human interference. In 1979 (not long after the Wow! Signal), frequencies near the hydrogen line became protected when a group called the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) created a 1000+ page document that included a worldwide recommendation to keep these channels clear for astronomy and SETI purposes, citing the “special importance to mankind to determine the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations.” (see page 920 of the Finals Acts of the World Administrative Radio Conference, Geneva, 1979)  Despite this protection, Seth Shostak says there’s still interference on the hydrogen line from human sources.  That interference draws the ire of radio astronomers everywhere. Seth says, “It’s like turning on a bright light in a movie theater—you don’t ingratiate yourself with the [theater’s] patrons.”*give or take some fractional hertzProducer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black SpotSponsorHBM’s Patreon SupportersHere Be Monsters’ supporters on Patreon send a small monthly (or yearly) donation to help cover Jeff’s living expenses, help pay contractors, and help pay fees/taxes associated with running the show.Listener Andrew Conkling says he signed up for the Patreon because Here Be Monsters is one of his favorite podcasts: “I wanted to be part of the journey seeing it continue.”Please note that HBM is free and there are currently no plans to change that.  However, patrons do receive some modest perks for their support. And that support means a lot. Thank you so much, HBM Patrons. 👽Want to become a patron?
03/03/2127m 42s

HBM141: Filthy Riches

When a group of broke college students start throwing lavish feasts, HBM host Jeff Emtman begins to wonder at the source of the food, initially assuming it was stolen.  But he’s soon corrected.  Confronted with the shocking amount of food waste in the local dumpsters, he quickly turns into a freegan dumpster diving evangelist, but is often thwarted by an angry employee of a local produce stand.  An employee whose face is always hidden by a bright headlamp. These encounters rattle him, making it hard for him to separate reality from his recurring night terrors about the incidents.  But, years later, and more than a hundred of miles away, he has an encounter in a chocolate dumpster which cures him of those nightmares. Many thanks to Jesse Chappelle and Hallie Sloan, who helped in the research of this episode. Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Serocell, August Friis, The Black SpotSponsor: Coffee Beer of Portland, Oregon Coffee Beer gets you to and from the best parts of your day.  Located at 4142 SE 42nd Ave, Portland, OR 97206, they serve coffee, beer, snacks and groceries for pick-up and delivery.  Order yours at coffeebeerdelivers.comCoffee Beer’s merch can be shipped!  HBM host Jeff Emtman especially likes their “Leave Me Alone” shirt.  Shirts, mugs and more, at coffeebeer.meThank you Coffee Beer for sponsoring HBM!
17/02/2140m 17s

Season 9 = February 17th

Season 9 will be here soon!  We’ll bring you ten new episodes about fear, beauty and the unknown.  We’ll see the fight for survival and beauty of the microscopic world.  We’ll learn how balloons can be used to capture the souls of doomed buildings.  We’ll listen for alien transmissions on a reserved shortwave frequency.  We’ll luxuriate in the scent discarded cocoa bean husks. and you’ll get quick-fixes to all your problems from the all-knowing, hyper-dimensional entity that sometimes advises Jeff in his sleep. As a side note, we’ve been re-shuffling some things behind the scenes on the podcast feed.  If you’ve got duplicate episodes showing up, you can likely fix that by unsubscribing and re-subscribing to Here Be Monsters.  Thanks for your patience! Also, we have a Patreon now.  Your support is very much appreciated.  Thank you! Producer: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot
08/01/216m 24s

HBM Continues as an Independent Podcast

For the last five years, Here Be Monsters has been a part of KCRW.  And in those years, we’ve put out a 100+ episodes under KCRW’s imprint.  However, moving forward, HBM will no longer be associated with the station, instead continuing as an independent production. This departure leaves HBM entirely unfunded.  So for our upcoming ninth season, we’re seeking community sponsors.  HBM would love to promote your business or project or just say some words that are meaningful to you.  Become a sponsor of HBM today.  Please note that the release date of Season 9 is currently unknown.  Probably early 2021. We’ll be transferring our feed off of KCRW’s servers in the coming month.  If we do it right, you won’t have to do anything on your end.  If you’re experiencing any difficulty with the feed, please send us an email or tweet at us. Thank you so much for your endless support.  Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot

HBM140: The New Black Wall Street

There used to be a neighborhood in Tulsa where Black people were wealthy. They owned businesses, built a giant church, a public library. Some Black Tulsans even owned airplanes. Booker T Washington called it “Black Wall Street.” Others called it “Little Africa” and today, most call it “Greenwood.” In the early 1900s, the neighborhood was prosperous and thriving, but Black Tulsans were still a racial minority in a young city that already had a reputation for vigilante justice. A local chapter of the KKK was starting to form. In the Spring of 1921, a Black shoe shiner named Dick Rowland was brought into custody for allegedly assaulting a white woman. Over the coming night and day, a huge mob of white Tulsans burned and looted and murdered in Greenwood and the surrounding areas. Dozens or possibly even hundreds of Black Tulsans died, thousands became homeless. But authorities never held anyone responsible. In fact, they detained many Black residents, some for up to a week. And insurance claims made in the aftermath were denied, as the insurance policies did not cover “riots.” Further reading on the Tulsa Race Massacre:Official Report from 2001 which describes the events of 1921 in detail and with context. Educational comic about the massacre published by the Atlantic and sponsored by HBO’s Watchmen. Riot and Remembrance By James S. HirschIn the decades that followed. Records of the event went missing, some fear they were destroyed. The mass graves have yet to be found. And many Black Tulsans believed they could face retribution for speaking out about the event. It wasn’t even taught in school until recently. As a result, a lot of Tulsans still don’t know the history of Greenwood. Local rapper Steph Simon was one of them. He grew up near Greenwood, and he went to middle school there. But it wasn’t until his 20’s when he stumbled upon a documentary about the massacre on Youtube. From there, he became obsessed with learning more about the true story of Tulsa. And in 2019, he released an album called Born on Black Wall Street where he reintroduces himself as “Diamond Dicky Ro” in homage to the young shoeshiner whom white mobs tried and failed to lynch on that night in 1921. In 2011, an Oklahoman journalist named Lee Roy Chapman wrote an article for the publication This Land. Chapman’s story, The Nightmare in Dreamland, was a devastating re-telling of the life’s story of an Oklahoman legend--a “founder” of Tulsa named Tate Brady. Brady was well known as an oil tycoon and hotel owner who ran in the elite circles. However, buried by history was Brady’s legacy of violence and racial animus. He was a defender of the Confederacy, he was credibly accused of tarring and feathering some IWW union members, and for part of his life, he was in the Ku Klux Klan. And on the night of the massacre, Brady was there, acting as a night watchman. He reported seeing several dead black people in the streets in or around Greenwood. With these revelations, a movement started to remove the Brady name from Tulsa. That movement succeeded partially, but the Brady name is still a part of the Tulsan landscape. When Steph Simon shot the cover image for Born On Black Wall Street, he wanted to incorporate the symbolism of Tate Brady. So he went to Brady’s former mansion—a house modelled visually after the house of Robert E. Lee’s, with murals of the Confederacy painted inside and big stone columns out front. It sits on a hill overlooking historic Greenwood. And he stood on the front steps of the mansion only to see a childhood friend driving by. It was Felix Jones, an ex-NFL running back. The two grew up together. To Simon’s surprise, Jones revealed that he’d just bought the mansion. And he invited Simon inside. Together they thought up ideas on how to transform the legacy of the house from something hateful to something loving. So Simon invited about a hundred Black kids to come have a party on the lawn while he filmed the music video for his single “Upside”. After that, Simon and Jones started throwing concerts there, drawing huge crowds and starting the slowly re-contextualizing the house into something positive. They renamed the house “Skyline Mansion.”As this transformation took place, another local DJ and producer, Stevie Johnson woke up in a cold sweat one night. He’d had a dream about rebuilding Black Wall Street, figuratively and literally. He opened his laptop and wrote down his ideas frantically, trying to remember his vision. And soon after, he started to act on it. His first step was Fire in Little Africa: a commemorative rap album to mark the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, featuring nearly sixty artists from Oklahoma. And over the course of a weekend in early 2020, rappers and community members and businesses filled Skyline Mansion to record dozens of tracks for the album. Fire in Little Africa will be available in February of 2021. Their podcast is out now. They’re also curating spotify playlists of the featured artists, and they’re accepting donations via the Tulsa Community Foundation. On this episode of Here Be Monsters, Taylor Hosking visits the former Brady Mansion to talk to the musicians who are looking to build a new Black Wall Street in Tulsa. Taylor also published an article in CityLab called Avenging the Tulsa Race Massacre With Hip Hop.A lot of people and organizations helped make this episode possible. We’d like to thank Steph Simon, Verse, Stevie Johnson, Keeng Cut, Written Quincy, Bobby Eaton, Felix Jones, Dan Hanh, Mechelle Brown, Chris Davis, Shruti Dhalwala, Brandon Oldham, Ben Lindsey, John DeLore, The George Kaiser Family Foundation, The Oklahoma Historical Society, and The Woody Guthrie Center. Producer: Taylor Hosking (Instagram) (Twitter)Editor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Steph Simon, Verse, The Black SpotAlso heard on this episode: recordings from Black Lives Matter protests made by Neroli Price of Seattle, Washington; Bryanna Buie of Wilmington, North Carolina; and Bethany Donkin of Oxford, UK. 

HBM139: Acceptable Pains

Hedonism seems pretty appealing right now—seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. On HBM137: Superhappiness, the hedonist philosopher, David Pearce imagined a future free of the systemic harms we currently experience: poverty, oppression, violence, and disease. But David thinks that even an idyllic, egalitarian society wouldn’t ensure universal happiness. He thinks that the only way to make everyone blissfully happy is to use technology and genetic engineering to make physical and emotional pain obsolete HBM producer Bethany Denton doesn’t fully agree. She thinks that heartbreak, homesickness, grief can all be good pain, pains that can make us better and kinder people in the long run. So what should the role of pain be in society? And further, what about the pains that we opt into, the pains we volunteer for? On this episode of Here Be Monsters, Bethany interviews people about long distance running, unmedicated childbirth, and voluntary crucifixion in the Philippines.Will James is a reporter for KNKX Public Radio. Ashlynn Owen-Kachikis is a special education teacher. Carlo Nakar is a social worker and recurring guest on HBM.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff Emtman

HBM138: Did Neanderthals Bury their Dead?

There’s a large cave in the foothills of Iraqi Kurdistan. It looks out over green and yellow fields and a river far below. Starting in the 1950’s, the American archaeologist Dr. Ralph Solecki led a team who excavated a trench in Shanidar Cave, discovering the remains of ten Neanderthals who died about 50,000 years ago. Dr. Solecki’s discoveries helped ‘humanize’ Neanderthals, a species of early humans often thought of as the brutish, stupid cousins of our species. In sharp contrast, Solecki believed Neanderthals to be nuanced, technologically adept, interested in art and ritual. Solecki suggested that the bodies at Shanidar Cave were intentionally buried. Many of Dr. Solecki’s theories on the complexity of Neanderthal minds seem to be correct. But he also made a famous claim about one of the bodies, named “Shanidar 4.” This individual was found with flower pollen around the body. Solecki suggested this was a ‘flower burial’, an intentional death ritual where flowers were laid on the body, possibly to signify the passing of an important member. This interpretation was not universally accepted, as others pointed out there are several ways for pollen to wind up on a skeleton. Half a century later, Dr. Emma Pomeroy from Cambridge University went back to Shanidar Cave with a team of archaeologists. They kept digging, hoping to help contextualize Solecki’s findings. To their surprise, they found more bodies. And their findings seem to support Solecki’s theories. The bodies were likely intentionally buried, and they were discovered in soil that contained mineralized plant remains, meaning that the pollen in Solecki’s findings couldn’t have come from modern contamination. It’s possible that Shanidar Cave may have been a significant spot for Neanderthals. But Dr. Pomeroy believes that further work is still needed. Currently, their excavations and lab work are on hold due to the current coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Pomeroy admits to imagining the lives of the Neanderthals she studies. She wonders how they spoke to each other, and what they believed about death and the rituals surrounding it. These things don’t preserve in the fossil record though, so we’re all stuck interpreting from clues, like the source of a bit of pollen or the maker of a tiny piece of string.  These clues have the ability to teach us the “humanity” of some of our closest evolutionary cousins. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot, Phantom Fauna

HBM137: Superhappiness

David Pearce thinks it's possible to end suffering. He’s a philosopher* who studies “hedonic zero”, the state of being which is completely neutral--neither good nor bad. He believes that, despite our momentary joys and sadnesses, most of us have a set point we tend to return to. And that “hedonic set point” falls somewhere on the spectrum of positive to negative. For David, his set point is negative. He’s always been melancholic and he has depression. He remembers his interest in philosophy sparking in his teenage years, when he felt an outcast.  He’d sit in the dark, and listen to pop music and try to figure out how to end the world’s suffering. He bought a book that introduced him to the concept of wireheading, which is the artificial stimulation of the brain.  The wireheads could experience instant bliss with nothing more than electricity. This concept was huge for David: promise of a concrete mechanism to elevate his mood, instantly and without drugs. Since then David has dedicated his life to understanding hedonic set points and how to manipulate them through physical interventions (like wireheading), gene manipulation (which is arguably already being done with IVF babies), medication, and the eventual transition to post-humanity. In 1995 David wrote The Hedonistic Imperative. He is the co-founder of Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association).  He currently sits on their advisory board.*David Pearce’s views align him with several philosophical movements, most notably transhumanism, negative utilitarianism and soft antinatalism. Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Circling Lights, Flower Petal Downpour

HBM136: Jacob's Lost Biography

In 2012, Jacob Lemanski started writing his autobiography a few words at a time when he signed his name on the digital card readers at the grocery store. He read somewhere that the credit card companies keep the signatures on file for seven years. He thought he might report his card stolen in 2019 so that some grunt at Mastercard would find the story of his life...or…more likely he thought it was a project destined to evaporate and never be seen by anyone. His inspiration came from an email forward containing a certain Kurt Vonnegut quote about making art for the sake of making art—whether it’s singing in the shower or writing bad poems. Vonnegut argued that art is one way to make the soul grow. Jacob considered turning this into a lifelong project. At the time that he and HBM producer Jeff Emtman first talked, he was four entries into the project. On this episode, Jeff checks back with Jacob about his grocery store autobiography. Jacob is a longtime guest on HBM and is a retired ant farmer living in Boulder Colorado.Also on this episode, voicemails from listeners, who share stories about their bodies, sounds from the world around them, and the things that make them feel guilty. Call us anytime (765) 374-5263Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot, August Friis

HBM135: Dying Well

We live in a culture of “death denial”. That’s what Amanda Provenzano thinks. She sees it when medical professionals use euphemisms like ‘passing away’ instead of ‘dying’. She sees it when funeral parlors use makeup to make it look like a person is not dead but sleeping. Most often she sees it when her clients’ loved ones insist their dying family member is going to pull through, despite all evidence to the contrary.Amanda is a death doula, someone who provides practical, emotional, and spiritual support to people who are about to die. Sometimes this means that Amanda helps dying people and their families sort out their end-of-life paperwork and advanced care directives; Sometimes she helps dying people plan their own memorials. And sometimes she sits with people as they die. She says the tasks she performs are different for every person, but that her goal is always the same: to advocate for the wishes of the dying.Amanda says that, in her experience, death is often harder for the loved ones to accept than it is for the person who is dying. “It’s almost like, in Western culture, it’s not OK to die… Like we guilt the dying person into trying to keep them here longer, with medicine and medical procedures because we, the survivors, are not capable of letting go of that person.” Because of this, Amanda recommends that people grieve by holding and touching the bodies of their loved ones after they die. She believes that talking about death openly will help people be less afraid.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot

HBM134: Questionable Hobbies of the Socially Isolated

Searching for something to do during government-mandated social distancing, Here Be Monsters host Jeff Emtman recently digitized his cassette collection, and re-edited them into blackout poems and proverbs. While in the process of doing this, Jeff re-discovered a mixtape he made in 1999, the product of endless hours of waiting by the boombox in the basement with a hand hovering over the 🔴 button.  And on this old mixtape, a 10 year Jeff attempted to make a fancy edit: swapping out the intro of one song for another’s.  It didn’t sound good at all, but it may have actually been Jeff’s first ever audio cut, predating the start of HBM by over a decade.  On this episode, Jeff shares a couple dozen of his recent blackout proverbs and short poems, made from a variety of bootlegged self-help audiobooks found in the thrift stores of New England. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot, August Blicher Friis

HBM133: Prey of Worms

Bodies are odd.  Anyone who can see their own nose will tell you the same.  So will anyone whose diet changed their body odor.  And so will anyone who’s ever felt their phone vibrate in their pocket only to later realize it was a phantom ring. Our bodies make stuff up constantly and do plenty of questionable things without asking our permission first.  It can feel disorienting, especially due to the fact that being our sole points of reference, they’re hard to see outside of.  So, people invent analogies for the body, ways to understand what it is, and how to use it. On this episode, Jeff interviews the operators of several bodies on the models they’ve developed to help them navigate the strangeness of the world we live in. Dr. Kelly Bowen is a naturopath in Seattle, Washington. Juliana Castro is the senior designer at Access Now and the founder of Cita Press. David Schellenberg is the singer and guitarist of Tunic, a noise punk band from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Divya Anantharaman is the owner of Gotham Taxidermy in New York City. Divya’s been on the show before dissassembling birds and explaining taxidermy.  See HBM093: The Brain Scoop. Tammy Denton Clark is a medical social worker in southern Utah.  She’s also the mother of HBM co-host Bethany Denton.In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his senses a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, and his fame doubtful. In short, all that is of the body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapors; life a warfare, a brief sojourning in an alien land; and after repute, oblivion.  —Marcus Auralius, Meditations, circa 180 AD. Translation by Maxwell Staniforth.Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot, Tunic, Serocell, August.Belcher Friis  (👈 New!)Thank you Allison Behringer of the Bodies Podcast for sharing Juliana’s comic about bodies of water. Thank you Jackie Scott for helping record the freight elevator noises heard in this episode. 

HBM132: Moral Enhancement

Natalia Montes was a teenager living in Florida when Travyon Martin was killed.  She says his picture reminded her of her classmates, “It could have happened to any one of us.”The Trayvon Martin shooting, as well as subsequent high profile police shootings and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked an interest in Natalia for trying to understand one of the most difficult elements of human psychology: implicit bias. Natalia calls implicit bias “the cognitive monster.”  And she says it lives inside all of us; this unconscious, unintentional prejudice that works against our best efforts to be egalitarian. Natalia says this cognitive monster is especially dangerous for police officers, because they’re more likely to perceive black and brown people as threatening. She, like many social scientists, believes that implicit bias is at the root of police shootings of unarmed black and brown civilians. This was especially apparent to Natalia during the trial of Darren Wilson, the police officer who killed Michael Brown in 2014. Wilson described Brown this way, “He looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face... it looks like a demon, that's how angry he looked.” Natalia studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Washington, and as an undergrad, she worked for the Center for the Science of Social Connection. Part of her job was to research implicit bias displayed by people trying their best not to be racist. One of the ways Natalia and her colleagues measured bias was the Implicit Association Test. The IAT is designed to measure the association people have between concepts (e.g. black people, white people) and evaluations (e.g. “good”, “bad”). The IAT is the most common way that implicit bias is measured, though it has come under scrutiny in recent years.As an undergrad, Natalia came across a study out of Oxford University. The intention of the study was to see if implicit bias could be treated with medication. The researchers administered the IAT to 36 participants. After the implicit and explicit bias of each participant was measured, half of the subjects were given a beta blocker called propranolol. Beta blockers are a common kind of blood pressure medication that block the effects of adrenaline. They can also be an effective treatment for anxiety. The results of the study showed that the participants given beta blockers displayed lower levels of implicit bias.Reading this study gave Natalia an idea: if medication could have this kind of effect on implicit bias, perhaps it should be administered to police officers. The implications are still theoretical, but Natalia argues that police officers are required to meet a level of physical fitness, so mandating officers take these drugs would ensure their moral fitness as well. Natalia wrote about her idea in a 2017 essay, and won an award from the International Neuroethics Society. A year later, she was approached by another philosopher, Paul Tubig, to expand her idea into a longer paper. As of 2020, the two are preparing to submit their paper for publication, and have presented their essay at the Northwest Philosophy Conference.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot and Phantom Fauna

HBM131: A Cure for Carsickness

Bethany Denton has a long history of carsickness. Ever since she was a little girl, long car rides made her nauseous and gave her stomachaches. Once, when she was four years old, her carsickness was so bad that she made her dad take a detour to look for a cure at the grocery store.At the time, they were driving through Central Idaho, visiting all her dad’s favorite places from childhood.  They drove to Kooskia and Kamiah, two small neighboring towns where Bethany’s dad lived for some time with his cousins. He used to love playing outside with his cousins, and hear stories about the land around them. One of his favorite places to go was The Heart of the Monster, a landmark that is sacred to the Nez Perce people. They also made the trip to the Denton family plot at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Kooskia, so that Bethany and her brother could visit their Grandpa Bill’s grave. Bethany’s grandpa was Bill Denton, a sportscaster for KREM-TV in Spokane. She never met him, he died years before she was born.Audio from the Heart of the Monster site courtesy of Nez Perce National Historical Park, used with permission.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot

HBM130: Mother Pigeon / Sister Marta

Mother Pigeon says the wild animals of New York City are hungry.  So she feeds them.Each morning, a flock of about 150 pigeons waits for her at her local park in Bushwick.  She feeds them twice a day if she can afford it, and once a day if she can’t.  Peas, lentils, millet and other grains, and corn in the winter to keep them warm.  “When you go out to feed birds, you’re treated like a criminal, so I like to call myself ‘The Pigilante.’”Mother Pigeon considers herself a press agent for the city’s “maligned animals”—animals strong enough to survive in urban environments, but not charismatic enough to become our pets. Animals like rats, squirrels, raccoons, and of course, pigeons.  She considers much of the information available on pigeons to be propaganda from greedy exterminators. Less controversial though, are the dangers of inhaling the dust from dried pigeon droppings, which often carry fungus spores harmful to those with compromised immune systems.It’s completely legal to feed birds in NYC’s parks. Though in 2019, the city proposed a rule that’d make what Mother Pigeon does punishable by fines and/or jail time.  She and some others vocally opposed this rule—it did not go into effect. On this episode of Here Be Monsters, producer Jeff Emtman visits Mother Pigeon’s studio.  She tells him about the illegal capture of the city’s pigeons for transfer to Pennsylvania for live pigeon shoots.  And she tells the story of how she used to pretend to be a nun to gain access to the captured pigeons and surreptitiously re-release them. Mother Pigeon sells felt and wire animals (pigeons and rats, mostly).  You can find her and her fake animals many days in Union Square Park in Manhattan.  She posts her whereabouts on Instagram and sells her art in-person and on Etsy.  Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot

HBM129: The Underearthlings

Lars Christian Kofoed Rømer claims his red hat is mere coincidence. He wears it because his mother-in-law knit it for him 15 years ago and he quite likes it. However, it also makes him visually match the mythical underground people he spent three years studying on the Danish island of Bornholm. Bornholm folklore sometimes references “De Underjordiske”, a kind of people that live under the many ancient burial mounds that spot the landscape. Lars sometimes calls the people “subterraneans”, “pixies” or “underearthlings”. They’re known as a militant group, fiercely defending themselves, their homes in the mounds, and the island. But not an unthankful group either, rewarding humans for kindness or bravery.It’s worth clarifying that Lars is no “troll hunter” (as the press often gleefully mistakes him to be), nor is he in the business of saying whether reclusive, sometimes-red-hatted people are real or legend. He is, however, in the business of collecting those legends and learning what they can teach us about us. And also what the legends can tell us about the archaeological significance of a Batlic Island that’s been conquered so many times that history’s forgotten who actually made those mounds in the first place. Pursuing legends is difficult though, as Lars attests to in this episode of Here Be Monsters. He tells producer Jeff Emtman stories of both the underearthings and the stories of the skepticism he faced when he pointed the anthropological lens on the place where he grew up. He says, “That’s why there was so much talk about this project. Had it been an anthropological study of shamans in Siberia, or something in the Amazon, then there would have been then public expectation that, ‘of course people there have spirits and stuff like that.’...But when it’s about what happens in your own back garden, then I think that’s where it gets more controversial...there’s certainly magic in distance.”Lars is an anthropologist and the author of Tales in an Underground Landscape, a dissertation he wrote while pursuing a PhD at University of Copenhagen. Many thanks to producer Rikke Houd, who connected Jeff to Lars and has interviewed him about De Underjordiske for the BBC show Short Cuts. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: Serocell, The Black SpotPhotos: Jeff Emtman

HBM128: Seeing Auras

Colby Richardson’s mom got leukemia when he was young. He has trouble remembering her. Soon after her death, Colby and his siblings wound up at a house in Hope, BC where he met Santo, a childhood friend of his mom’s. Colby remembers that Santo’s voice to be soft and extremely calm. Santo told Colby that he had a beautiful, green aura, a glow that surrounded his body. Back when his mother was alive, Santo had been able to see her aura too, the same green, but with a deep purply violet mixed in. That afternoon, Santo and Colby sat in a living room with their eyes closed. Santo led him in a visualization exercise where they breathed slowly together until a door emerged in their minds’ eye. They opened the door and let light shine down. And when Colby opened his eyes, he could see auras floating around too. Colby only saw Santo that one day, but it made an impression. In middle school and high school, Colby would sometimes stare to see the moving shapes of light around people. Eventually the ability faded. But even today, Colby still sees clouds of green and purple before he falls asleep. He says it makes him feel connected to his mom, like she’s watching over him. But he also worries that he was tricked into believing in magic while he was in a susceptible state, grieving the death of his mother. So, these days, Colby is uncertain about how to reflect on that afternoon in 2003. In the intervening years, he’s thought about getting in touch with Santo, but never found the right time.  Just recently, he finally reached out. He found that Santo’s health has degraded, and he may have missed his chance to get clarity about his experience with auras. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot


Most of us want to help.  But it can be hard to know how to do it, and not all altruistic deeds are equal, and sometimes they can be harmful.  Sometimes glitzy charities satisfy the heart of a giver, but fail to deliver results.That’s the paradox: motivating people to give often demands glitz, but glitzy causes often don’t provide the improvement to people’s lives than their less glamorous charity counterparts.  GiveWell is a organization that quantitatively evaluates charities by the actions they accomplish.  Their current suggestions for effective charities include groups treating malaria, de-worming, and direct cash giving to the poorest people in the world.  These effective charities are able to accomplish more with less resources. GiveWell is a part of a philosophical and social movement called Effective Altruism.  EA practitioners look for ways to maximize the effect of donations or other charitable acts by quantifying the impacts of giving.  This approach has been called “robotic” and “elitist” by at least one critic. In 2014, a post showed up on’s forum, written by Thomas Kelly and Josh Morrison.  The title sums up their argument well: Kidney donation is a reasonable choice for effective altruists and more should consider it. They lay out the case for helping others through kidney donation.  Kidney disease is a huge killer in the United States, with an estimated one in seven adults having the disease (though many are undiagnosed).  And those with failing kidneys have generally bad health outcomes, with many dying on the waitlist for an organ they never receive.  There’s currently about 100,000 people in the country on the kidney donation waitlist.  An editorial recently published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology estimated that 40,000 Americans die annually waiting for a kidney. The previously mentioned post on the EA forums attempts to calculate all the goods that kidney donation can do, namely adding between six and twenty good years to someone’s life.  Quantifying the “goodness” of a year is tricky, so EAs (and others) use a metric called “Quality Adjusted Life Years” or QALYs. The post also attempts to calculate the downsides to the donor, namely potential lost wages, potential surgery complications, and a bit of a decrease in total kidney function.  The post concludes that kidney donation is a “reasonable” choice.  By the EA standards, “reasonable” is pretty high praise; a month or so of suffering to give about a decade of good life to someone else, all with little long term risk to the donor.  On this episode, Jeff interviews Dylan Matthews, who donated his kidney back in 2016.  His donation was non-directed, meaning he didn’t specify a desired recipient.  This kind of donation is somewhat rare, comprising only about 3% of all kidney donations.  However, non-directed donations are incredibly useful due to the difficulty of matching donors to recipients, since most kidney donors can’t match with the people they’d like to give to. When someone needs a kidney transplant, it’s usually a family member that steps up.  However, organ matching is complicated, much moreso than simple blood-type matching.  So, long series of organ trades are arranged between donors and recipients.  It’s a very complicated math problem that economist Alvin E. Roth figured out, creating an algorithm for matching series of people together for organ transplants (and also matching students to schools and other complex problems).  This algorithm is so helpful that it won him a nobel prize.While the problem of matching donors to patients is difficult no matter what, it becomes much easier when a non-directed donor like Dylan can start a chain of donations.  Dylan started a donation chain that ultimately transferred four good kidneys to people in need.  And since Dylan’s donation was non-directed, the final recipient on his chain was someone without a family member to offer a kidney in return—someone who otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to receive a new kidney. Dylan speaks about his kidney donation experience to break down something that he sees as a unhelpful misconception: the perception that organ donors must be somehow unusually saintly.  He argues that kidney donation is a normal way to help others, and an option that most can consider.If you’re interested in kidney donation, Dylan recommends the National Kidney Registry and Waitlist Zero. Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent at Vox and the host of the podcast Future Perfect.  Jeff found out about Dylan from the podcast Rationally Speaking with Julia Galef. Also on this episode: Beth’s looking for help. She’s been thinking about some media she consumed as a kid that no else seems to remember or have even heard of. She’s tried Googling and checked various message boards, but hasn’t had any luck.The first is a movie (or maybe a TV show). In it, a time traveler, who is an older man, travels to the “future” (which at the time of Beth’s viewing was the mid-1990s.) The Time Traveler is stranded when his time machine breaks, but he is hopeful and friendly, and he ends up enlisting some neighborhood kids to help him find the parts he needs to repair his time machine. Eventually the kids are caught by their parents, who call the authorities. The police confiscate the time machine and take The Time Traveler into custody. As he’s being arrested, the once-jovial Time Traveler is distraught. He cries, “I want to go home, I just want to go home!” over and over.The second is a book. In this book, there’s a family of three or so kids, a mom, and a mean step-dad. The mom dies, and the kids are left with their mean step-dad. They grieve, and the step-dad gets meaner. Then there is an alien that gets into their house, possibly crawling down the chimney. The alien gets into one of the closets, and slowly starts taking over the house. The siblings find the alien in the closet and observe it. There is either a beep, or maybe a flashing light, that is beeping/flashing slowly, but gradually starts beeping/flashing more rapidly. They realize the alien doesn’t want to hurt them, it just needs to use their house to build a spaceship.  The house changes, getting stranger and stranger, and the beeping/flashing gets faster and faster. The kids realize the beep/flash is a timer, and that soon the house will blast off into outer space. Just as the house is about to take off, the siblings lock their mean step-dad in the closet, and he is whisked away in a spaceship that used to be their house.Do either of these sound familiar to you? They both made an impression on Beth, and she’d love to revisit them as an adult to see how her memory holds up.Please call, tweet, or email with any leads.  (765)374-5263, @HBMpodcast, and respectively. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot

HBM126: Sounding the Deep

How familiar are you with the shape of the continents?  What about the shape of the seafloor? If you’re unfamiliar with the contours of our planet’s underwater mountain ranges and plateaus and valleys, then you’re not alone.  No one really knows what’s down there; at least, not in any great detail.  That’s because, well, the water is in the way, and that makes it hard for our mapping satellites to see down there.  Even the seafloor maps we now have, the ones that include prominent underwater features, are often based on predictions from satellite observations of the oceans’ surface instead of observed data. At present, as much as 80% of the seafloor has yet to be mapped in detail. Even the Moon and Mars are mapped at a higher resolution than our own oceans.Dr. Vicki Ferrini wants to change that.  She is a marine geologist who specializes in bathymetry, the science of mapping underwater topography, and uses sonar to take measurements of water depth.  She uses these measurements and other data to create topographic maps of the seafloor.  Vicki is part of a global effort called Seabed 2030, an initiative sponsored by the Nippon Foundation and the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) to create a high-resolution map of the entire ocean by the year 2030.  Having a completed map will inform almost everything we do in the ocean, including modelling currents and the climate, exploring for minerals, oil, and gas, and managing fisheries and underwater habitats.  Seafloor mapping was essential to the plate tectonics revolution, and some scientists think that a more detailed map could lead to another major shift in oceanography.Vicki isn’t just interested in mapping the deep ocean.  In this episode, Vicki tests a small sonar designed for shallow waters.  She and her colleagues need it to map a shallow lake in the middle of a crater on a newly-formed island near Tonga in the South Pacific.  Mapping this small lake will give Vicki and her colleagues some insight into how the island formed, and why it hasn’t eroded as quickly as other volcanic islands like it.Producer James Dinneen went to Vicki’s childhood home on Cape Cod in Massachusetts to record as she tested the sonar device she was about to send off to her colleagues in Tonga.This episode includes archival tape, used with permission from San Francisco Maritime National Park Association.Producer: James DinneenEditor: Bethany Denton, Jeff EmtmanMusic: James Dinneen, Lucky Dragons, The Black Spot

HBM125: Deepfaking Nixon

There’s a beautifully written speech that was never delivered. Written for President Richard Nixon by Bill Safire, the speech elegizes astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong of Apollo 11, who’d become stuck on the moon, and were left to die there.  In reality, Buzz and Neil made it home safely, but this contingency speech was written anyways, just in case.  Sometimes it’s called The Safire Memo and is sometimes called In Event of Moon Disaster.The latter title share its name with an installation that’s (as of publish date) on display for the first time at IDFA in the Netherlands.  This project by Francesca Panetta and Halsey Burgund explores an alternate past where Aldrin and Armstrong don’t make it home from the moon.  The film portion of the installation heavily features a reading of The Safire Memo by a computer generated version of President Nixon sitting in the Oval Office, reading from notes, making all the familiar facial expressions, sharing the same vocal tics, presidential timbre, and some of the Nixonian je ne sais quoi that makes the fake nearly believable. But it’s not Nixon.  And it’s not entirely accurate to say it’s an actor.  It’s a kind of mix of the two, a synthetic Nixon generated by a booming form of artificial intelligence called “deep learning” which creates mathematical models of complex systems, like speech.  Lewis Wheeler  (the actor tasked with providing the voice of Nixon) did not have to imitate Nixon’s voice, only provide a proper pacing an intonation.  From there, the artists hired several companies (including Re-Speecher and Vocal ID) trained a computer model to translate Lewis’s voice into Nixon’s.This kind of deep-learned fakery (called “deepfakes”) currently usually falls somewhere in the uncanny valley—the tech is good enough to get create a strong impersonation of a voice, but one that sounds still a bit mechanical, or metallic.  This won’t be the case for long though, as more and more convincing deepfake voices emerge with each generation of new code.  And on the visual front, current video deepfakes are often so good as often pass the gut check of credibility.  This may have been most famously demonstrated in a Buzzfeed article where comedian Jordan Peele impersonates President Obama’s voice and a video deepfake moves his face along with the spoken words.  With the 2020 presidential elections looming, it seems almost inevitable that deepfakes will enter the media fray that’s meant to discredit political enemies, creating scandals that never happened.  And outside of politics, deepfake pornographers take up the task of swapping pornographic actresses’ faces with those of celebrities or the faces of female journalists they seek to discredit.  On this episode of Here Be Monsters, Francesca and Halsey tell producer Jeff Emtman that deepfakes aren’t going to rupture society.  We’ve dealt with this before, whether it’s darkroom manipulations or photoshop, societies eventually learn how to detect deception.  But the adjustment period can be rough, and they hope that In Event of Moon Disaster will help educate media consumers on the danger of taking media at face value, regardless of whether it’s deepfakes or just old-fashioned photo mis-captioning.Also on this episode, Ahnjili Zhuparris explains how computers learn to speak, and we listen to some audio examples of how computer voices can fail, using examples from the paper Location-Relative Attention Mechanisms For Robust Long-Form Speech Synthesis.  Also heard: a presidential  parody deepfake from user Stable Voices on Youtube. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot

HBM124: Banana Softies

“Gene” says it started because he wanted to be a veterinarian. So he took a job as a research associate at a vivarium that studied cancer drugs. He was often alone in the lab at night with hundreds or thousands of research animals around him.  The monkeys were his favorite, especially the rhesus macaques. He loved to give them treats, play movies and Celine Dion for them. And sometimes he’d lean up against the cages to let his monkey friends groom him. He knew the work would be hard, but he believed his  was justified because the primate research helped people in the long run.In his two years at the lab, Gene radiated a lot of monkeys.  He and his colleagues studied the deteriorating effects of radiation and the side effects of experimental cancer drugs seeking FDA approval. Once a monkey became too sick and lethargic, it was Gene’s job to euthanize them. He would hold them as they died and tell them he was sorry. After one study with a particularly high radiation doses, Gene found himself alone again in a lab late at night, euthanizing more monkeys and thinking to himself, “Those were my friends... Those were my fucking friends.” These words became the screamed lyrics to the unfinished, unpublished song that Gene performs in this episode.Gene left the job shortly after writing the song, but he still works in medical research. He no longer performs euthanizations. Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spotand “Gene”

HBM123: Water Witches

Some time in the 90’s, Kathy Emtman received a gift from her husband, Rick. It was a pair of bent metal rods, each shaped into long ‘L’. Nothing special, not imparted with any kind of magic, just metal rods. Colloquially, these rods are called “witching rods” or “dowsing rods”. HBM producer Jeff Emtman (child of Rick and Kathy) remembers a scene that took place the night of that gifting: each family member taking turns holding the rods, testing who had the gift of water witching. Each person held the rods by their short end with the long ends waving around in front of them. Gripped loosely enough, the rods spin freely, seemingly with a life of their own.  And believers say that when the rods cross, that’s where there’s water underground. That is...if a true witch is holding the rods.Who’s a water witch? Well it depends who you ask. Some say that the gift is rare, some say that it’s in nearly all of us. It’s a folk belief, one not canonized in any central text and one not well supported by science. However, it persists (strongly in some places) as a regular thing for people to do when they need a well dug—cited as a way to gather a second opinion before paying a well driller to dig on their property. And this desire for a second opinion seems quite understandable. Wells in the Palouse Region of Eastern Washington State (where Jeff grew up) often require digging hundreds of feet to find water of sufficient quality and quantity to sustain a family or a farm. These wells might cost $10,000 to $30,000 each. Further, the well drillers charge per hole dug, regardless of whether there’s water down there. So, picking the right spot is paramount.Well driller Brett Uhlenkott calls water witching a “farce”, preferring to drill based on his understanding of the landscape, his readings of the geologic maps and his knowledge of nearby successful wells. But he’s had clients who request he drill in a spot a witch found. And if that’s what his client wants, then that’s where he drills. Brett says there’s no mechanism for any information to travel the great distance between a witcher’s rods and a tiny vein of groundwater that runs hundreds of feet below the surface. Despite this, Brett keeps a pair of rods himself, saying that it might work for things closer to the surface. He cites an instance where he was able to locate a pipe or cable located several feet underground using the rods.  Brett thinks it might have something to do with minerals, or that it might just be something that we imagine in our heads.The mechanism most often cited for the seemingly organic movements of a witcher’s rods is so-called ideomotor movement, which is the same thing that makes Ouija boards work.  Simply put, these motions are the result of unconscious movements we make when we feel something should work.  With witching, these motions get amplified by the long rods, resulting in movement that seems to emerge from nothing.  Attempts to prove the validity of witching exist. Proponents cite a study by Hans-Dieter Betz that claimed incredible success rate in witched wells in countries with dry climates.  This paper received criticism for its unusual methodology.  Betz published another paper on water witching in a controlled environment, where he found a select few people who he claimed could reliably witch water, however that study also received criticism for its method of data analysis.  Back in the 90’s.  Jeff held the rods, and he was able to find the pipes in the house, the sprinkler lines in the yard.  The rods moved convincingly, crossing where they were supposed to, uncrossing where they weren’t. In this episode of Here Be Monsters, Jeff revisits his hometown, debates the merits of black-box thinking with his parents (Rick and Kathy Emtman), talks with his grandma (Peggy Emtman) about the desire to have a talent she can’t have, interviews three farmers and a former farmhand (Ian Clark, Asa Clark, Ron Libbey and Owen Prout) about their experiences with witching, and asks his parents’ pastor (Wes Howell of Trinity Lutheran Church) to explain the origin of the term “hocus pocus”.Others who helped with this episode include Lindsay Myron, Nick Long-Rinehart, Brandon Libbey, Mary Clark, Joe Hein, and Kirsten O’Brien. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot

HBM122: Should Cows Have Names?

Mike Paros lives in two worlds. In one world, he’s an animal welfare specialist and mixed animal vet, meaning he works with both “companion” animals like cats and dogs, and large animals like horses, cows, goats, and sheep. He spends much of his time as a veterinarian working with animals that eventually become meat, and most of his human clients are farmers that lean right politically.In the other world, Mike is a college professor at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. There he teaches anthrozoology and agriculture to a predominantly liberal student body -- lots of vegans and anarchists. Crossing back and forth between these two worlds invites Mike to have many discussions about how to ethically treat animals, within and outside of the meat industry.Producer Bethany Denton spent a day shadowing Mike as he disbuds and castrates dairy calves, and she asks him whether he thinks meat can be eaten ethically.Bethany interviewed Mike in 2018 about a class he was teaching called “Liberal Education in the College Bubble: Crossing the Political and Cultural Divide.” You can listen to that story here.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Circling LightsImages: Bethany Denton

HBM121: True North

Angels saved Here Be Monsters’ host Jeff Emtman once.  They picked him up and took care of him after a bad bike crash.  It was just one of many times that Jeff felt watched over by God.Jeff used to think he might be a pastor someday.  And so, as a teenager, he made an active effort to orient his thoughts and deeds towards what God wanted. In this episode, Jeff tells four short stories about faith (and the lack thereof) through the metaphor of declination, or the distance in angle between the unmovable true north, and the ever shifting magnetic north.  We have new stickers, commissioned from the incredible artist Violet Reed.  Get your HBM Can O’ Worms sticker at our store.  Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic:  The Black SpotPhotos: Jeff Emtman

HBM120: Own Worst Interest

In the fall of 1989, in Vancouver, Washington, a short, 29 year-old man named Westley Allan Dodd raped and murdered three young boys. The boys were brothers Cole and William Neer, ages 10 and 11, and four year old Lee Iseli. Content Note:Sexual violence, suicide and capital punishmentA few weeks later, police arrested Westley at movie theater after he tried and failed to abduct another boy. He quickly confessed to the three murders. The prosecution sought the death penalty, and Dodd pled guilty.Death penalty cases take a long time due to all the appeals built into the process. These appeals are designed to make sure the state hasn’t made any mistakes in the death sentence. They check for things like juror misconduct, incompetent defense lawyers, new evidence. Death penalty cases take years, sometimes decades.Westley Allan Dodd did not want that. Instead, he wanted to be executed as quickly as possible.In letters to the Supreme Court of Washington, Dodd urged the court to allow him to waive his right to appeal his death sentence. He believed he deserved to die for what he did, and wanted it done as soon as possible. Dodd was what’s known as a “volunteer”–someone who gives up their rights in order to hasten their own execution. The Death Penalty Information Center cites about 150 cases of “volunteers” in the United States. Dodd’s case sparked debate both among people who supported and opposed the death penalty. Some argued he had the right to choose whether the court would review the validity of his death sentence. Others argued that the law ensures that all defendants have due process whether they want it or not. In the meantime, Dodd continued to advocate for his own execution in interviews and in exchanges with his pen pals. He said he felt remorseful, and even wrote a self-defense booklet for kids to learn how to stay safe from men like him. The booklet was called “When You Meet A Stranger”.The debate made its way to the Washington Supreme Court.  In a 7-2 ruling, they decided that Dodd did, in fact, have the right to waive his remaining appeals. After just three years on death row (5 years shorter than the national average at that time) the State of Washington hanged Westley Allan Dodd. On this episode Bethany Denton interviews  Dodd’s former attorney Gilbert Levy. And defense attorney Jeff Ellis, who was a young lawyer during the time of the Dodd trial.   Bethany also talks to Becky Price, who was one of the recipients of Dodd’s pamphlet  “When You Meet A Stranger”.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic:  The Black Spot

HBM119: An Episode of Pebbles and Twigs

The end of our seventh season draws near! Just one more episode until we hang up our podcasting hats for a few months. We don’t want you to miss us too much though, so on this episode, we’re tying up some loose ends, answering some questions, and sharing ways that you can stay connected with us even when our podcast feed is quieter.Content Note:Sexual references and bodily injuryFive ways to help us out this summerHBM Summer Art Exchange.  You like to make art?  You like to get art? Exchange something with a fellow HBM listener.  All you have to do is fill out this form. It’s free (well, except for postage). Merch. Did you know that we have HBM shirts, stickers, art prints, books, sweatshirts?  Already have those?  Fear not, we’re working on a something new for next season. The VOICE Hotline Dataset.  In 2017, Jeff FOIA’d Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the records of the calls made to their VOICE hotline.  The (heavily redacted) spreadsheet contains 5,164 calls with many pieces of metadata for each call record.Google Sheets Version. This is a version that we’ve cleaned up a tad, added some useful analysis to.  You can view and comment collaboratively here. CSV Version. This is a version that you can use offline in software like Excel and Tableau. ICE FOIA LIbrary Version.  This is straight from the source.  Our FOIA is listed under Reports → VOICE Log: Apr. 2017- Oct. 2017Super Secret Facebook Group.  We have a top secret Facebook group.  If you want to be a part of it, just find it.  That’s the only test to get in. Voicemail Line.  Call us anytime.  Tell us your stories or record strange sounds, or ask us questions.  We love it when you call. Our number is (765) 374-5263.More reporting about the VOICE Hotline on Splinter and the Arizona Republic. Many thanks to the data scientist Ahnjili Zhuparris for the help with the VOICE dataset.  She created a whole slew of data visualizations for us here. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot

HBM118: Mountain Seabed

Life on earth began in the oceans.  And it used to be simpler. For the first few billion years, life consisted of microbes that didn’t really swim or hunt; they mostly floated and, if they were lucky, bumped into something they could engulf and digest. But that changed during the Cambrian period. Over a relatively short period of time known as the Cambrian Explosion, organisms started becoming larger and more complex. For the first time they grew limbs and exoskeletons; intestines and eyes. Animals from this period developed strange body plans that look almost alien to the modern eye. It was an unprecedented surge of biodiversity.  But many of the animal groups that emerged during the Cambrian Period died soon after during an extinction event, their bizarre body plans perishing along with them. To paraphrase the evolutionary biologist and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, these were “early experiments in life’s history.” Among the survivors of the Cambrian extinction event was metaspriggina, a tiny fish the size of a human thumb. This tiny fish is one of the oldest ancestors of all vertebrate life on earth - including us.Over millions of years and tectonic shifts, Cambrian-era seabeds became modern-day mountains. Today, one of the best places in the world to study fossils from the Cambrian period is at the Burgess Shale fossil deposit, high in the Canadian Rockies. The animals fossilized in the rock were buried quickly in mud that had the right conditions to preserve the soft tissues like brains, organs, and muscles, giving paleontologists a detailed glimpse at some of the first complex life on earth. Scientists have been mulling over the Burgess Shale fossils since they were first excavated in 1909. Stephen Jay Gould was one of those scientists fascinated by the Burgess fossils. He paid attention to the research coming out about them and started wondering what life would look like if a different set of animals had survived and our ancestors had died out. Would humans - or something like us - have ever evolved?  Gould thought not. In his 1989 book Wonderful Life, he came up with the ‘tape of life’ thought experiment. Gould wrote, “Wind back the tape of life to the early days of the Burgess Shale; let it play again from an identical starting point, and the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence would grace the replay.” This idea is called Evolutionary Contingency.Not everyone agreed with Gould. Most notably his contemporary Simon Conway Morris, another evolutionary biologist and paleontologist. Simon Conway Morris spent years studying the Burgess Shale, and it was his work that Gould had cited for his book about Evolutionary Contingency. Conway Morris disagreed with Gould’s interpretation that human intelligence was a fluke. He wrote his own book in 1998 called The Crucible of Creation and posited that, while life may have looked very different after a replay of the ‘tape of life’, consciousness may still have emerged in other forms. He wrote, “There are not an unlimited number of ways of doing something. For all its exuberance, the forms of life are restricted and channeled.” (p. 13) This idea is called Evolutionary Convergence. In August 2018, producer Molly Segal joined a group of paleontologists, including Jean-Bernard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum for their biennial dig at the Burgess Shale.  Caron believes that Contingency and Convergence both play a role in evolution, their debate has informed discussions about evolution ever since. This episode was produced by Molly and edited by Bethany Denton and Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot

HBM117: Grave Oversight

Sudan has been involved in ongoing civil wars since 1983. The wars were about religion, culture and resources. By 2005, approximately two million civilians had died. In 2011, the southern part of the country voted to secede from the north, creating the new country of South Sudan.  But there were still three regions that were claimed by both north and south: Abyei, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan. These regions are rich in oil and have fertile farmlands, so politicians and humanitarians predicted there would be violence following the secession. Civilians in these regions, mostly farmers and shepherds, would be caught in the middle.Content Note:Discussion of genocideNathaniel Raymond is a human rights investigator. He was looking into an alleged massacre in Afghanistan when he was introduced to the idea of using satellite imagery for humanitarian purposes. At that time, satellite images were sometimes used for documenting force swells and finding the locations of mass graves. But Nathaniel wondered if he could figure out a way to use satellite imagery proactively; what if he could figure out a way to see an attack coming and sound an alarm before anyone got hurt?Nathaniel wasn’t the only one who had this idea. Actor George Clooney had also been researching ways to use satellites as “anti-genocide paparazzi” in Sudan through an organization he co-founded called The Enough Project. The Enough Project and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and others sponsored the project. The Satellite Sentinel Project partnered with the private satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe, who gave the SSP permission to point some of their satellites where they pleased and take pictures. By December 2010, the Satellite Sentinel Project was in full swing, inventing a new methodology for analyzing satellite imagery of active conflict in real time. The mission of the Satellite Sentinel Project was threefold: Warn civilians of impending attacks,document the destruction in order to corroborate witness testimony in later investigations, and potentially dissuade the governments in both Sudan and South Sudan from returning to war in the first place. “We wanted to see if being under surveillance would change the calculus… If they knew we were watching, would they not attack?” The Satellite Sentinel Project would release their reports at midnight so that they would be available in time for morning news in East Africa. Critics of Satellite Sentinel Project say that South Sudan shouldn’t be a playground for experimental humanitarian efforts bankrolled by a foreign movie star. And Nathaniel says the critiques are valid. “It was always a Hail Mary pass. And, we must be clear, it was always an experiment, which in and of itself is problematic. But… what else are we going to do, sit on our hands?” Satellite Sentinel Project released a total of 28 reports over 18 months. The methodology Nathaniel and his team developed is still being taught at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. Today Nathaniel Raymond is a lecturer on Global Affairs at Yale’s Jackson Institute. Special thanks to Ziad al Achkar, one of Nathaniel’s colleagues from Satellite Sentinel Project that helped us with this episode. Producer: Garrett TiedemannEditors: Bethany Denton and Jeff EmtmanMusic: Garrett Tiedemann

HBM116: Finest and Most Rotten (Going Forward)

Mar 21, 1919 - NEW YORK CITYAn anonymous writer for the New York Tribune stands at 154 Nassau.  The writer asks passers-by a simple question: “Do you think this is a good world?”  It’s just four months after Armistice Day, and on the tail of a flu pandemic that killed 55 million worldwide.  The writer publishes five answers, ranging from “damned rotten” to “the finest”. Mar 21, 2019 - NEW YORK CITYProducer Ula Kulpa stands at the same spot and flags down passers-by 100 years later and asks the same question, “Do you think this is a good world?”  Today, life expectancies are up, yet we still fight wars. We are still sometimes cruel to loved ones and strangers. So, with the perspective of an additional century, what do New Yorkers think about the world’s goodness?Producer: Going Forward (Julia Drachman, Ula Kulpa)Editor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot,  Smiles by Lambert Murphy (1918), You Hear the Lambs a-Cryin' by Fisk University Jubilee Singers (1920)

HBM115: Bound in Walton et al.

A highway robber with many aliases lay on his deathbed after contracting a bad flu.  He dictated his life story to his captors before succumbing to his illness in July of 1837.  His captors published the highwayman’s story posthumously with the title: Narrative of the life of James Allen, alias George Walton, alias Jonas Pierce, alias James H. York, alias Burley Grove, the highwayman. Being his death-bed confession, to the warden of the Massachusetts State Prison.  The story he tells details common robbery, horse theft, jewel trafficking, many jailbreaks, and several yellings of the phrase “Your money or your life!” with pistols drawn. The book might have passed into obscurity if it weren’t for a dirty grey leatherbound copy that resides at The Boston Athenaeum. It bears a Latin inscription on its front cover: “HIC LIBER WALTONIS CUTE COMPACTUS EST” or (roughly), “This book is bound in Walton’s skin.” As legend has it, the highwayman Allen (aka. Walton) requested that his memoirs be gifted to a man whom he once tried and failed to rob, Mr. John Fenno Jr.  Further, the highwayman requested that the book be bound in his own skin.Books bound in human skin are rare, though not unheard of.  As of publish date, the Anthropodermic Book Project has confirmed 18 such books, and identified another 12 books previously thought to be human, but revealed to be of more customary leathers.  Narrative of the life of James Allen… resides in the former category, being confirmed as human skin via a test called Peptide Mass Fingerprinting.Dawn Walus, Chief Conservator at the Boston Athenaeum told HBM host Jeff Emtman that when they sent a sample of the book’s binding off for PMF testing, she and other athenaeum staff hoped the results would come back negative.  Dawn considers the binding to be a bit of spectacle, and a distraction from the hundreds of thousands of other books in their collection, “I don’t think we want to be known as ‘the place that has the skin book.’…It seems out of place today.”Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Phantom Fauna

HBM114: Envisioning AIDS

In a warm and dark room in the winter of 1987, people lay on the ground with their eyes closed.  A facilitator from the Shanti Project guides those assembled on an intimate visualization through the process of dying from AIDS.  Content Note: Visualizations of death and language.This took place at the Interfaith Conference on AIDS and ARC for Clergy and Caregivers in San Francisco.  The conference hoped to give religious organizations tools to help their dying congregants. The conference featured speakers representing Catholicism, Judaism, many Protestant denominations, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and New Age religions.  AIDS was a major issue at the time, with no cure in sight, and many many deaths per year.  And anti-queer rhetoric (see Jerry Fallwell), laws (see Bowers v Hardwick) and attitudes (see Pew poll on political values 1987) were all common. Around the same time as this conference, the FDA approved a drug called AZT for the treatment of HIV.  It was highly anticipated, but ultimately considered a failure.  More years would pass and many more people would die before the approval of effective anti-retroviral drugs.  And even more years before the first (and possibly second) cases of HIV would be cured.  But back in that darkened room in 1987, people laid on the ground with their eyes closed for an hour, while they tried to imagine what it would feel like to be covered in sit in a doctor’s office when the receptionist refuses to make eye watch from above as people try to resuscitate their dead bodies...and to observe their own funerals...all in effort to better understand better the questions people with AIDS were likely asking of themselves and their loved ones—a practice that AIDS scholar Lynne Gerber says was common at this time in the new age circles of the Bay Area. On this episode, Lynne explains some of the context around queerness and medicine and religion and AIDS.  She’s writing a book about these topics, and also making an upcoming podcast series with audio producer Ariana Nedelman.  Ariana provided us with the audio from the visualization practice via the UCSF Archives. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Circling Lights

HBM113: The Last Ones

Bethany Denton’s been thinking about grief a lot lately. In 2017, two of her friends, a mother and a daughter, died unexpectedly just two months apart. Since then, Bethany’s started seeing grief in just about everything, including a caribou at Woodland Park Zoo that dropped her antlers after a miscarriage. Content Note: Death and LanguageBethany’s good friend, Jesse Brenneman has also been thinking a lot about grief. It was his mother and sister who died in 2017. And shortly after that, his grandfather and father died too. So over the span of a year and two months, Jesse lost his entire immediate family.When Bethany told Jesse about the grieving caribou mother who’d dropped her antlers after miscarriage, Jesse suggested contacting his next door neighbor Ben Long. Ben is a writer and conservationist with an affinity for caribou.On a snowy January morning, the three of them drove out to the Flathead National Forest outside of Kalispell, Montana for a walk in the woods. They hoped to find caribou tracks in the snow. Caribou used to be plentiful in northwestern Montana and throughout the continental United States. These days, due to deforestation and destruction of their habitat, the caribou population in the lower 48 could be as low as three animals.You may recognize Jesse’s voice from his time as a producer for WNYC’s On The Media. Today he is a freelancer of many disciplines living and working in Missoula, Montana.Further Listening: HBM064: A Shinking Shadow, in which Bethany talks to Jesse’s sister Erin about her eating disorder.Producers: Jesse Brenneman and Bethany DentonEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: Jesse Brenneman and The Black Spot

HBM112: Negative Space

Back when HBM host Jeff Emtman was a photographer, he used to solve his problems with walks in the woods.  There, he’d see the ways that branches frame the sky. As an artistic concept, negative space gets hogged a lot by the visual arts.  In this episode, Jeff attempts to wrestle the concept into the sonic world; address his current problems by listening to the spaces between words and by listening to the ambiences of a semi-empty, possibly haunted hotel.  Below are some excerpts from Jeff’s ~2011 photo series called Portraits without People and the original version of HBM021: Potential Energy…the version with words. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot

HBM111: Waiting for Earth

Motherhood always seemed non-negotiable for Bethany Denton. Her upbringing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints certainly instilled this. Mormons believe in what’s called a “premortal existence,” a place up in heaven where the eternal souls eagerly wait their turn to be born on Earth so they can prove their faith to Heavenly Father, and then return to glory in the afterlife.  For Mormons, life on Earth is just a short test, an opportunity to practice free agency and serve God’s will. That’s why leaders of the LDS Church like Elder Dallin H. Oaks are concerned about falling birth rates among members of the church. They believe that “one of the most serious abuses of children is to deny them birth.”This belief in pre-life gives additional weight to God’s commandment to “be fruitful and multiply.” It’s about more than maintaining the populations; it’s about giving other children of God a chance to live. As an adult, Bethany lost her faith in the LDS Church. She stopped believing that her primary purpose in life was to be a mother, and for the first time, she started to seriously consider what her life would be without children. Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot, Lucky Dragons

HBM110: Big Numbers

For two thirds of his life, HBM host Jeff Emtman has been thinking about the distance to The Moon in terms of corn snacks.  Bugles specifically.  It was a factoid written on the packaging that purported to convey information about the distance to the moon.  The number itself has been long forgotten, but the taste of degermed yellow corn meal lingers. Content Note:LanguageIn this episode, Jeff takes issue with the significance that is placed on large and round numbers.  And he talks to his 2 year old nephew while they play the piano. And he interviews his brother about larger and smaller infinities.  And he makes podcast music on a tiny sampler.  But mostly he complains about turning 30, a number that’s round, if you count in base ten. But not everyone uses base 10.  Several languages of Papa New Guinea use base 27, using not only their fingers, but parts across all their upper body.  And many others from across the world have settled on base 20.  It’s possible that numbers are an advanced technology of language to make the abstract more palatable.  Homesigners are people who develop their own sign languages independent from established sign languages.  In a 2011 study called Number Without a Language Model, researchers contacted several homesigners who lived in numerate societies, but apparently had not developed strong words for numbers past three or so. Big thank yous to Alan Emtman, Brian Emtman, Ariana Nedelman and Ross Sutherland (who produces the fantastic podcast Imaginary Advice [this episode contains excerpts from Episode 49, “Re: The Moon”]). Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, SerocellFYI our voicemail number is (765) 374-5263. Give us a call sometime.

HBM109: Untitled Noises of New York (Sound Matters)

HBM host Jeff Emtman travels to New York City in an effort to fulfill open-ended recording assignments issued from afar by Tim Hinman for an episode of Bang & Olufsen’s Sound Matters podcast.  It should be noted that in this episode, Tim incorrectly states that Jeff is from the “lentil capital of Washington State.” In fact, Jeff is from the self-proclaimed lentil capital of the world. This episode was produced and scored by Tim Hinman.  Tim also hosts the fantastic podcast Third Ear. Read an interview with Jeff about the creation of HBM over on Bang and Olufsen’s blog.  Interview by Nathaniel Budzinski. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Tim HinmanMusic: Tim Hinman

HBM108: Witch of Saratoga

Angeline Tubbs may have been as old as 104 when she died alone in the woods, in a hut she made with her own hands.  She came to America with a British officer who fought in the Battle of Saratoga (see HBM074: Benedict Arnold Makes People Nervous). Content Note: LanguageIt’s uncertain what happened to the officer, but soon after the battle, Angeline began living a hermit’s life, on the outskirts of society, alone in the forest with her cats. She foraged and hunted her food.  Only rarely did she venture into the newly forming town of Saratoga Springs, where she made money by telling fortunes.On this episode, producer Alessandra Canario walks into the woods near where Angeline Tubbs lived and died. She builds her own shelter, makes a fire, and cooks her own food.  Alessandra wonders if she too might be a “witch,” due to a kinship she formed with trees as a child. But she also hears echoes of her mother’s warnings against being outside without a man for protection. Producer: Alessandra CanarioEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Serocell🐑 🥩 💀 Buy our new book! 💀 🥩 🐑

HBM107: Carlo Surrenders

Carlo Nakar spent more than twenty years in the United States before he was called by God to return to the the Philippines. It happened during one of his first classes of grad school at the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.  He looked into the rafters and asked, “Lord, what would be the hardest thing that you could ever ask me to do?” He received a verbal answer: “You should work with sexually trafficked girls in the Philippines.”Content Note: Human trafficking, sexual abuse, and language.At that time, Carlo was in grad school to find himself after a long stint working at a facility for abused and neglected kids.  But he had stayed there too long and effectively burnt out from the secondary trauma of working with children who were sexually aggressive.  He felt unfit to become a therapist. So it came as a surprise when God called him to work with sexually trafficked girls in the Philippines: “But I was called to do this. I have to show up.”Since receiving the call from God, Carlo accepted an internship at Samaritana in Quezon City, near his hometown of Manila, where human trafficking is prevalent. There he works with women who have been trafficked or worked as prostitutes. In this episode, Carlo tells the story of the first time he did street outreach in Quezon City on behalf of the organization. Since recording his audio diaries, Carlo traveled to India to attend a conference hosted by the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution. He attended a presentation on OSEC (online sexual exploitation of children) and for a second time he felt called by God. He said he felt a sense of certainty that this is the work that he is uniquely prepared to do. After graduation, he intends to work as a therapist for children who have been sexually exploited online.Carlo’s been on HBM before, in one of our very first episodes. Listen to HBM008: Chuck Gets Circumcised. Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot | | | Circling Lights

HBM106: Beautiful Stories about Dead Animals (part 2)

This is a special two-part episode, in which Kryssanne Adams describes the many times where she’s seen death or inflicted it upon animals. Content Note: Animal slaughter and other descriptions of deathKryssanne is a writer in Bellingham, Washington, where she also helps run the Bellingham Alternative Library, sings in a Threshold Choir, and works at a museum.We turned these episodes into a book, which is available for purchase in our store. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Serocell

HBM105: Beautiful Stories about Dead Animals (part 1)

Before Kryssanne Adams was old enough to understand death, she found a dead mouse and carried it around with her in a plastic Easter egg shell.  She talked to it and gave it water. Content Note:Descriptions of death/dismemberment, language.This is a special two-part episode, in which Kryssanne describes the many times where she’s seen death or inflicted it upon animals.  Soon, this will turn into a book, which will be available to purchase in our store. Kryssanne is a writer in Bellingham, Washington, where she also helps run the Bellingham Alternative Library, sings in a Threshold Choir, and works at a museum.Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot👉 Listen to Part 2 👈

HBM104: Scrapheap Reactor

Max Turnquist advises against wearing shorts while dumpster diving for used lab equipment. Almost every day, Max visits a university parking garage, where there are several small mountains of discarded equipment, some of it quite rare. Content Note: LanguageIt’s where he found his ion pump, and a lot of his rack-mounted monitoring gear and power supplies.  He’s building a small nuclear fusion reactor from scratch in his bedroom, and he’s doing it on the cheap. Viable fusion power has long been a dream of scientists.  Once a fusion reaction starts, its only waste products are helium, water, and relatively small amounts of neutron radiation.  The fuel for these reactors is often Deuterium (aka. “heavy hydrogen), a common isotope of hydrogen found naturally in seawater.  Compared to nuclear fission (the nuclear tech we currently use), fusion seems almost too good to be true—nearly free energy with few downsides. But there are a number of obstacles in the way.  Getting atoms close enough to fuse takes massive amounts of force and heat.  In the fusion reactors made by nature (stars), fusion happens because of the ridiculous amounts of gravity that create the high heat needed for this reaction.  But here on earth, where sun-like gravity isn’t an option, scientists like Max have to rely on trickier methods. Max thinks that physicists are intuitive scientists.  They observe something many times and gain an inherent knowledge of the universe.  He says that the biggest laws that govern the physics are often quite simple, elegant.  Max found himself drawn to one of the archimedean solids, and followed his hunch. His proof of concept reactor has a metal cage in the shape of a truncated icosahedron, a couple inches wide. In this shape, Max suspends particles in a cage of other particles.  This shouldn’t be possible, based on Earnshaw’s Theorem, which in layman's terms, means that it’s really hard to keep the particle in the middle from squirting out the sides.  But Max’s shape, along with a constantly changing voltage, suspends things in a Goldilocks-type way. He calls this “stably unstable”. His first proof of concept worked.  Now he’s on his second. He says he’s almost ready to do a major fusion test, where he’ll drag his 300 pound reactor out to rural Maine,  bury it in the ground and stand a safe distance away (to avoid the neutron radiation). And if it works, he’ll be on to solving the next problem, which is how to actually harvest the power it generates.  Max doesn’t think the solution is a single step away.  There are still many hurdles to overcome before fusion replaces the dirty and inefficient power we use today.  And maybe those hurdles are too many, maybe it’s a fool’s errand.  But he’s hopeful that fusion can save at least part of the world.  A couple more links for you: Socrates, Plato’s cave and the “known unknowns”Fluctuations in the Reindeer Population on St. Matthew’s IslandCarl Jung’s Red BookProducer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, Serocell, Lucky DragonsCorrection: In the episode, we misstate the natural abundance of Deuterium. The correct abundance is .015%. We regret the error.

HBM103: Fate's Notebook

Somewhere in Maritza Gulin’s basement, there’s a typewritten notebook that belonged to her father, Reynaldo. The notebook contains essential advice and warnings to Reynaldo, his wife Flora, and their five children.Content Note: Suicide, mental illness, animal sacrifice, language.In his younger life, Reynaldo’s atheism was strong and biting. But chronic migraines would often flatten him for days at a time. A stranger approached Reynaldo one day on the subway to tell him that he’d always suffer until he got right with God. Reynaldo subsequently became an adherent to two related Afro-Cuban* religions: Palo Mayombe and Santeria. Palo focusses on veneration of spirits of the dead and of the earth. Santeria focusses on a pantheon of demigods called “Orishas”, who are usually represented by equivalent Catholic saints. The notebook in Maritza’s basement is notable for its specificity. When she recently rediscovered it, she found warnings for her father against eating beans, sleeping with all the lights off, a requirement for white pajamas, a prohibition on horseback riding. Reynaldo followed these rules. He believed in fate, and was pretty accurate at predicting the time of his ultimate death from old age. Michelle Santana is a childhood friend of Maritza’s. She’s a psychic medium who’s not been formally initiated into Santeria, but she often consults the Orishas and the dead while working with her clients.  She’s done a number of readings with Maritza. Michelle, too, believes in fate, saying that, cruel as it seems, some people are just destined live bad lives, die young, and nothing can be done to change that. Maritza’s youngest sister, Vanessa, was born when Maritza was already an adult, so Maritza helped take care of her youngest sister. Vanessa experienced severe depression, especially after the birth of her first child. She committed suicide. After her Vanessa’s death, Maritza and her mother Flora lost their faith. They asked: if the future’s written, why weren’t they warned? Why weren’t they told either in the notebook or during their regular psychic readings. Flora says she’s mad at God. Maritza says she no longer believes in destiny.Despite this, Maritza still treads lightly around some of her father’s belongings. Some of this is due to respect for her father’s desires, and some of it is based on an abundance of caution. She recently deconsecrated a black metal cauldron that her father used in ceremonies. Michelle told her to bury it in her backyard or throw it in a river. Maritza did the former. Inside, she found a toy revolver, a pair of ram’s horns, railroad spikes, and other small items. Santeria’s practice of live animal sacrifice wound up in the US Supreme Court in the early 90’s as Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, in which a city in Florida passed an ordinance banning the practice of killing animals “in a public or private ritual or ceremony not for the primary purpose of food consumption”. The court ruled unanimously that this ordinance was unconstitutional, citing its attempt to restrict religious practice. Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Circling Lights, The Black Spot, Serocell*Today, Santeria and Palo are practiced across much of the Caribbean, especially Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic. Other areas of Caribbean diaspora like Florida, New York and New Jersey also have significant populations of believers. However, solid numbers of followers are hard to estimate due to the religion’s decentralization, which also contributes to the varying beliefs across adherents of different origins. If you practice or used to practice Santeria/Palo/Ifa, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Tweet at us @HBMpodcast.If you are feeling suicidal, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help in the USA (phone: 1-800-273-8255). Outside the USA, consult’s list of hotlines. If you’re experiencing postpartum depression, Postpartum Support International has links to local organizations that can help you.

HBM102: Breath Holder

Archer Mayo has always loved finding lost things. He grew up on several navy bases and spent much of his childhood swimming and looking for human detritus–sunglasses, teacups, glass bottles. That’s why he takes such delight in searching for old lead weights in the murky waters of the Columbia River in Washington state. Archer is a free diver and uses no breathing apparatus when he dives. He just holds his breath and gives in to his mammalian dive response. It’s a reflex that allows mammals to hold their breath underwater longer by slowing the heart rate and shifting blood from the limbs to the torso. “Once my mammalian dive response kicks in... I feel much more calm and centered.” Archer says, “I call it ‘The Flip’.”Archer envies whales and dolphins for living in a world that seems weightless. He can only go so long living as a bipedal mammal on the surface before he feels the urge to dive again.In this episode, HBM producer Bethany Denton watches from a river bank as Archer dives just outside of his home in White Salmon, Washington.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: Circling Lights, The Black Spot

HBM101: Much Corruption

Growing up, Jeff Emtman had a hard time balancing his piety for the One God with his piety for the Gnomish lord Berwyn.  Generally, he deferred to the latter, though he lost favor eventually with both.Jeff’s scoutmaster, a retired surgeon with a habit of collecting unusual boats, was always trying to get Jeff outside, away from the computer where he spent most of his free time playing a game where he tried to save the world from corruption and evil.  Ancient Domains of Mystery (more commonly called “ADOM”) is an massive roguelike game that’s inspired heavily by Dungeons and Dragons.  Developer Thomas Biskup released the first version of it in 1994. Jeff, a gnomish wizard of status, is susceptible to corruptive background radiation.  Once pure, his breath became ever more sulphurous, thorns that sprouted from his hands, etc. And he failed in his quest to save the world.The Surgeon invited Jeff to join him for kayaking on the Naches River of Washington State.   The river holds a small irrigation dam that the two must navigate--the Surgeon with ease, and Jeff with no small amount of existential, religious struggle. The “burning hands” spell in this episode comes from a Esperanto-language reading of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, released as public domain audiobook by Librivox. The excerpt used can be translated to “...and the chain was bound around the arm.”Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Serocell, The Black Spot, AHEE, Circling Lights ← New music!

HBM100: Faraway Minds

Anna Klein thinks that tea tastes better on the Faroe Islands.  She thinks the water’s more pure there, and the Northern Lights let the sky be whatever color it wants to be.  She often thinks about moving there.Content Note: Violence (momentary) and LanguageBut she also worries that her fantasies of running away to the remote corners of the world may be a familial urge to isolate herself, the same way her father did...a tendency that ultimately contributed to his early death.It was a loving and hurtful relationship that led Anna to retrace her father's life.  From her home in Aarhus, to his dying place of Copenhagen, to his hometown of Skagen, and then back to Aarhus again via the museum at Moesgaard.Producer: Anna KleinEditors: Jeff Emtman and Bethany DentonMusic: Lucky Dragons and The Black SpotNick White is our editor at KCRW, where there are a lot of people we don’t often get the chance to thank, but help us to make this show: including Gary Scott, Juan Bonigno, Adria Kloke, Mia Fernandez, Dustin Milam, Christopher Ho, Caitlin Shamberg, JC Swiatek, and many others.We’ll be back in the fall with new episodes.  In the meantime, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for updates from the off-season.  Rate us on iTunes and tell a friend too.

HBM099: Spell for the Repulsion of Astral Vampires

There’s currently an invisible, supernatural pandemic affecting the world, or so claims HBM host Jeff Emtman.  What else could explain the wide-ranging malaise of our current times? He thinks that the most logical conclusion is that astral energy vampires are draining humans of their lifeforce en masse.  Jeff’s never encountered one of these beasts, but that’s probably because he’s developed an elaborate spell to trap them in an alternate timeline.  In this video episode of Here Be Monsters, Jeff shares his special spell of repulsion.Content Note: Stylized blood and flashing imagesIngredients: An empty parking garageA pair of shoesLoads of old personal and family videosA tactile transducer Blood (any kind)A bathtubA strong knowledge of how to not get electrocutedA note from Jeff on the creation of this episode:I spent my teenage years listening to Coast To Coast AM each night from 10PM until I fell asleep.  It’s a 4 hour nightly show about the supernatural that exists in a world of increased potential for the unusual.  Guests, callers and hosts are so densely packed with stories of the strange that eventually what used to seem ludicrous becomes possible, and what used to seem possible seems likely.   Like many, I was deeply saddened to hear of Art Bell’s recent death.  Bell was the original host of Coast To Coast.  While I grew up in the George Noory era, Bell would still host most weekends.  But on further reflection of my years dedicated to this program, I came away conflicted.  It is truly an amazing feeling to have one’s world blown open on a nightly basis by some new ‘truth’ revealed, it’s also a format that often peddles in fear of the unknown.   It’s a fear that I internalized, hard. Now nearing 30, I’ve likely cumulative years of my life in fear of evils that don’t actually exist. And of the evils that do exist, I fall into nearly every demographic group that statistically protects me from them.  If I were a sociologist, I’d study whether there’s inverse correlation between the amount of generalized fear a person feels and how much danger that they actually live in.  I have a hypothesis about misplaced fears and their relationship to the supernatural, but I am no sociologist.So in this episode, I take a fanciful view on the enemies of the astral plane.  The astral plane is a favorite location of Coast To Coast, probably because its inherent indefinability means that just about anything goes.  But with that being said, please don’t bathe in blood, or electrocute yourself.Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot, Serocell, The Other StarsThis episode features illustrations by Fortunio Liceti from the 17th century.  Fortunio did not believe his subjects to be hideous, as he considered deformity to be the intersection of nature and art.  

HBM098: Feed the Queen

The Victoria Bug Zoo is home to dozens of species of insects and arachnids, and two leaf cutter ant colonies.There's the new colony, with a three year old queen whose kingdom grows every day. If all goes well, she is expected to live to the age of fifteen, laying an egg approximately every three seconds. Her colony is teaming with a healthy population of soldiers, gardeners, and foragers with the potential to reach more than a million ants. There is a constant stream of activity; the soldiers patrol the tunnels to keep the queen and colony safe, the foragers trek back and forth retrieving leaves for the gardeners who busily chew the leaves into substrate.Leaf cutter ants don't actually eat the leaves they cut down. Instead, they use chewed up leaves to build nurseries for the hatchlings, and to grow fungus gardens. The fungus produces a nectar, and that's what everyone eats. These ants have farmed and domesticated this fungus for many millions of years, long before humans discovered agriculture. This special relationship is called “mutualism”.The second ant colony -- the old colony -- is not a robust as the first. At thirteen, almost fourteen years old, the old queen recently passed away. In fact, Bug Zoo tour guide Ash Bessant discovered ants dragging dismembered parts of her body to the ant graveyard as HBM producer Bethany Denton was interviewing him.According to Ash, some of the ants continue to try feeding and cleaning the queen even after she’s died. Without a queen to lay eggs, the colony population will eventually dwindle and die out.Can’t get enough leaf cutter ants? We recommend the 2013 BBC documentary Planet Ant: Life Inside the Colony. Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, SerocellImages: Bethany Denton

HBM097: Fox Teeth

In the Westfjords of Iceland, people wait for birds to come ashore so that they can gather the feathers they leave behind.  These birds, called Eider Ducks, are the source of eiderdown, a ridiculously expensive and rare stuffing for bedding. This has landed the Arctic Fox in the crosshairs (quite literally).  These relatively common foxes are opportunistic eaters who snack on eider ducks if they get the chance.So the Icelandic government placed a bounty on each fox killed (if you can provide its tail as proof).  Hunters of the Westfjords set up elaborate baiting ambushes for the foxes, and wait in darkened houses with rifles in the middle of blizzards.But some foxes are smart enough to outfox the hunters.Megan Perra heard a rumor of a three legged Icelandic fox named “Tripod” that beat the odds.  A fox that grew to almost twice the normal size from stealing food from traps for three full years (or so the legend goes).  Megan is an illustrator/journalist from Portland, Oregon, and she’s currently working on a video documentary about the foxes’ interactions with humans. Megan retraces the steps of Tripod, from his birthplace in the Westfjords, to the lab in southern Iceland where he was dissected, and to his current home in a glass case at the Arctic Fox Centre.But some foxes are smart enough to outfox the hunters.Megan Perra heard a rumor of a three legged Icelandic fox named “Tripod” that beat the odds.  A fox that grew to almost twice the normal size from stealing food from traps for three full years (or so the legend goes).  Megan is an illustrator/journalist from Portland, Oregon, and she’s currently working on a video documentary about the foxes’ interactions with humans. Megan retraces the steps of Tripod, from his birthplace in the Westfjords, to the lab in southern Iceland where he was dissected, and to his current home in a glass case at the Arctic Fox Centre.She visits a rural gas station where she finds Jóhann Hannibalsson, the hunter who finally shot Tripod after years of trying.  The two of them go on a snowmobile ride that brings them to a cabin where, in the dark, Megan witnesses Jóhann’s version of a fox hunt. Along the way, Megan also speaks to Ester Unnsteinsdóttir (a fox researcher), Siggi Hjartarson (a hunter), Stephen “Midge” Midgley (Manager at the Arctic Fox Centre), and Þorvaldur “Doddi” Björnsson (the taxidermist who preserved Tripod’s body).Producer: Megan PerraEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot, SerocellImages: Feral Five Creative Co / Megan Perra

HBM096: Are We Still Afraid?

Here Be Monsters is almost 100 episodes old. It’s grown a lot since Jeff was a scared 22 year old learning audio editing in his basement. So as we approach the milestone, we take a look back, check in with some of our memorable guests, and take the chance to answer some listener questions while we’re at it.Content Note: Recreational drug use, deaths (intentional and accidental), eating disorder, language, and sex.On this episode we’ll hear updates from or about:Luke, Griff and Ira from HBM076: Griff’s SpeechRemi from HBM080: An Ocean of HalvesTariq from HBM077: Snow on Date Trees, Then on PinesTyler from HBM052: Call 601-2-SATAN-2Patti from HBM054: Flaming Sword of TruthErin from HBM064: A Shrinking ShadowJacob from HBM015: Jacob Visits Saturn, HBM072: Ant God▶   You can call us any time at (765) 374 - 5263   ◀Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman produced this episode. Nick White is our editor at KCRW. Producers: Jeff Emtman and Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot, Flowers, Lucky Dragons, Serocell

HBM095: The Bats that Stay

Not all migratory bats migrate.  We don’t know why some choose to stay behind at their summer roosts.  But according to the University of Washington’s Sharlene Santana, the bats that stay tend to die.  Content Note: Fleeting languageIn this episode, HBM host Jeff Emtman attempts to make a metaphor about bats and humans.  Perhaps it’s anthropomorphic, perhaps it’s unnecessarily poetic, or perhaps it’s a fair one.  Jeff leaves his home in Seattle to move cross-country to Boston.  Along the way he takes a five day layover in Colorado to meet up with an old friend (Helen Katich) and her girlfriend (Laura Goldhamer).  The three drive from Denver to the San Luis Valley of Central Colorado.  They visit Valley View Hot Springs and walk to the mouth of an abandoned iron mine 10,000 feet above sea level called “The Glory Hole.”  The Glory Hole houses an estimated 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats each summer.  These bats migrate in from Central and South America to eat bugs and raise their pups.  They fly together at dusk in gatherings visually similar to the murmurations of starlings.   This bat species, also known as the Brazilian free-tailed bat, is extremely social, and perhaps nature’s most gregarious mammal species.  Despite this, their social and hunting calls are completely inaudible to humans.  They produce ultrasounds, sounds too high pitched for human ears. But some audio equipment (see below) can still record these sounds, then computer algorithms can pitch them down into human-audible sounds.  One evening, Jeff and Helen and Laura hike to the mouth of the mine.  At this vantage point, they watch some of the bats flying out and Jeff manages to record some of their loud, ultrasonic vocalizations, before the storm forces them back downhill.  The next day, Jeff flies to his new home in Boston.Jeff recorded the bat calls in this episode with a Tascam DR100MK3 at 192kHZ sample rate and an Echo Meter Touch 2 Pro at sample rates of 256kHZ and 384kHZ.  The calls were recorded at frequencies of approximately 21kHZ to 36kHZ and time/pitch-shifted with Elastique 3.2.3 Pro.Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot and Laura Goldhamer

HBM094: The Fatigue of Violence

In the nearly 20 years that Susan Randall’s been working as a private investigator, she’s seen Vermont’s most disadvantaged people struggling to have life’s most basic amenities.  Sometimes her job is to interview people addicted to crack, to help determine whether they’re suitable parents. Sometimes her job is to examine blood spatter at gruesome crime scenes.  She recently helped defend a client who murdered a DCF worker in broad daylight.Content Note: Descriptions of violent crimesSusan has seen how humanity’s worst instincts become possible where cyclical poverty, incarceration, and drug addiction wreak havoc on communities.There’s a necessary split screen in Susan’s mind.  One screen shows a home life: dropping her kids off at lacrosse, helping them with school projects.  And another screen shows a work life: prison visitation rooms, run-down trailer parks, the color-shifted skin of a corpse.Producer Erica Heilman interviewed Susan over the course of three years.  Erica is a private investigator herself, and Susan was her mentor. The two talk about the mechanics of the legal system, poverty and how to survive a job that takes such an emotional toll.Producer: Erica Heilman of Rumble StripEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot

HBM093: The Brain Scoop

In school, Divya Anantharaman used to get teased for having long skinny fingers like ET.  But now she sees them as valuable asset for the intricate work she does.  Divya runs Friends Forever Taxidermy in Brooklyn, New York.  Content Note: Fleshy soundsIn this episode Divya carries a recorder with her while as she slowly disassembles a deceased pet parrot: snipping joints, scooping brains, removing eyes, separating the skin from the body. Birds’ skin is very thin—Divya likens the peeling to removing a delicate silk stocking.We found out about Divya through Erika Harada, another skilled artist in the Brooklyn taxidermy scene.Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: Serocell (new album out!) and Phantom Fauna

HBM092: Carry the Scent

Robert Larson does not have an easy job. He searches for missing people with his dog Captain Dexter as a K9 search and rescue volunteer. Robert often travels across the Midwest, and he does this work pro bono, relying on donations from his supporters to pay for gas, lodging, and dog food.Content Note: Death of a child, a mention of suicide, and languageRobert does not work with law enforcement. He’s not certified to do this work by any professional agency. He says that he has to work alone to do his best work, outside of the red tape of official search and rescue teams and law enforcement agencies.In 2013, Robert felt compelled to search for a missing one-year-old named Bryeon Hunter. It was his very first search. Robert went at it alone without the permission or cooperation of law enforcement. He quit his job and spent a 30 days searching for Bryeon, falling behind on his bills all the while.Incredibly, despite his lack of training and lack of support, Robert found Bryeon in the the Des Plaines River.Since finding Bryeon, Robert started his own search and rescue unit called K9 Specialties. He’s very active on Facebook, often using it to solicit donations and get referrals for missing persons cases from his followers. He’s gained a substantial following, but also hateful facebook group dedicated to disparaging Robert and his work.The group RTL Fanclub posts rebuttals to Robert’s Facebook activity almost daily. Its members have even gone so far as to caution families of missing people against working with Robert, claiming that he’s a con man and inept at search and rescue. They often criticize him for not having a “real” job, and accuse him of inflating his abilities. The group has about 230 followers at the time of broadcast.It’s not unreasonable for Robert to be met with skepticism and criticism. Search and rescue is a field that attracts scammers because families with missing loved ones are vulnerable to exploitation. After 9/11, scammers claimed to have found missing people. One K9 handler Harry E. Oakes charged hundreds of dollars a day for his services before he was debunked. Another K9 handler, Sandra Anderson, was indicted in 2004 for planting human remains for her search dog to find. Another fraud, Doug Copp, made hundreds of thousands of dollars after creating an unfounded theory to surviving an earthquake called the Triangle of Life.According to former executive director of the National Association of Search and Rescue Kim Kelly, there is a profile of a typical search and rescue scammer:They’re driven by ego, claiming to be “the only one” who can help, or overstating their skills.They self-deploy, which is never done by legitimate search teams.They work alone.They use their dogs to play on people’s emotions and assumptions. As one search and rescue expert put it, “people don’t think it’s a real search unless there are dogs and helicopters.”Robert occupies a grey area. He claims to help people the police have forgotten, people that the police don’t have time for. He points to his meager lifestyle as evidence of his pure motivations. To Robert, him doing something is better than nothing. To his detractors, Robert does more harm than good, making promises he can’t keep, and overstating his abilities.Producers: Lee Gaines and Alex KimeEditor: Bethany Denton and Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black Spot

HBM091: Hypnosis of Hunger

Producer Bethany Denton found a box in her basement storage room with two old cassette tapes inside. It took her a moment to realize what they were.Content Note: Descriptions of disordered eatingBethany has been fat her whole life, even when she was a kid. She ate hidden stashes of food when she felt anxious. By the time she was eleven years old, Bethany’s parents worried she would have health problems as as an adult, and they thought weight-loss hypnotherapy could help. The hypnotherapist tried to guide Bethany’s subconscious mind into making choices that would help her lose weight, like developing the ability to control her hunger with an imaginary dial in her mind. The hypnotherapist had Bethany visualize her favorite greasy, salty potato chips covered in vomit.  She had Bethany visualize her ideal, thin body, and affirmed that this ideal body was “who you really are.”  The therapist recorded their sessions and gave them to Bethany on cassette tapes.  She was supposed to use them to relax.Fifteen years later, Bethany never lost the weight, never achieved that ideal body. But she doesn't really eat potato chips anymore either.For information about treatment for disordered eating, visit The Emily Program.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: The Black SpotDo you have questions about how the show is made? Ever wonder how Jeff and Bethany work together? Who the hell is this “Nick White” guy? Give us a call, and we’ll answer it in an upcoming mailbag episode. Call us at (765) 374 - 5263 or email us a voice memo.💖 Be sure to check out our merch, and don’t miss our Meat Poster—just in time for Valentine’s Day. 💖

HBM090: Two Small Creatures with Human Eyes

Natural history museums are art galleries.  Scientifically focussed art galleries, but art galleries nonetheless.  Ian Tattersall, of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, is a paleontologist who sometimes oversees the construction of models for the museum.  Of personal interest to Here Be Monsters producer Jeff Emtman are reconstructions of very lifelike early humans, one with an arm draped over the other.  Ian calls these the “Laetoli Figures”—named for the place in modern-day Tanzania where some remarkable footprints of two hominids were found preserved in volcanic ash.  As far as early humans go, Australopithecus Afarensis are well understood.  There are 300+ individuals in the fossil record, including the famous ~40% complete fossil of “Lucy”.Given the evidence, there’s a lot scientists can be pretty certain in declaring: they lived in the trees, but they could walk upright.  They had small brains and big jaws, but their canine teeth looked a lot like a modern human’s.  There are other questions that are answerable through inference, through studies of modern animals and other fossils.  These techniques can yield a strong degree of certainty.But if the artist were to stop constructing at the edge of certainty, the models would never be completed. There are certain things that are essentially unknowable about these early hominids, like: “What did their skin look like?” “What color was their hair?” “Did they have the dark sclera of an ape, or the whites-of-the-eye of a modern human?”These uncertainties are ultimately up to the artist to answer.  “When you’re making a museum exhibit,” Ian (not an artist) points out, “you’re trying to create an illusion.  And to work at all, the illusion has to be complete.  And so you have to have all the details in there.”But these details are a form of artistry used as evidence by biblical creationists to lambast hominid reconstructions.  They see it as part of an effort to deceive the public, to lead them to believe that these ancient hominids were more human-like than they actually were.  Of particular interest to them is that question of the light sclera vs. dark sclera.  One author writes:Notice that a fossilized eyeball was not found.  So how would anyone know that the sclera was white, which would cause it to look more human. [sic] The reconstruction is pure speculation about how Lucy’s eye looked.Natural history museums are faced with a decision: create full-flesh reconstructions that by necessity contain elements of artistic license, or, present the public with mere bones.  Most seem to opt for the former, and understandably so.  The museum serves the public, and, like HBM producer Jeff Emtman, they want to see something relatable and remarkable, a piece of scientifically-oriented art.  And this question the artist must face, the question of the dark sclera (more ape-like eyes) and the light sclera (more human-like eyes) reveals something interesting about the artist and the process used to create the art.  The choices an artist makes can speak to their worldview, their biases, and their knowledge per their location in the world and the current moment in time.  Ian recognizes this, saying,You could not do a reliable reconstruction of an ancient human being or a dinosaur, or an extinct mammal without the science; and you certainly couldn’t do it without the art.  And this is where the two really intersect in a meaningful way.And the AMNH itself houses exhibits related to the ways in which modern assumptions about the past have affected the way the past is present, such as:  Griffins in the Gobi Desert (protoceratops), Cyclops of the Mediterranean (dwarf elephants), and the infamous unicorn horns of Western Europe (narwhal).Ian says that, in the quarter century since the construction of the Laetoli Figures, dominant scientific perception has changed to suggest that Australopithecus afarensis might have actually had dark sclera. As he puts it, “science is a work in progress.”Jeff Emtman produced this episode.  Voicemails from HBM listeners including Daniel Greene, Rachel Schapiro and Tony Baker.   Music: The Black Spot, The Other Stars

HBM088: Riptides and a Sinking Ship

A riptide recently pulled Ariana into open water off the shore of Santa Monica.  She thinks it’s her closest brush with death thus far.  A lifeguard rescued her.Even before the incident in Santa Monica, Ariana had a deep fear of water and drowning—so deep that she wondered if some previous version of herself sunk in a shipwreck.  The are different kinds of panics, some more helpful than others.  Music: The Black SpotEpisode produced by Jeff Emtman with help from Bethany Denton.  Please review us on Apple Podcasts.

HBM087: Trifle Not with Sacred Things

It hasn’t been easy for Ashley Fryer to let go of her faith. For thirty years, she dedicated her life to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She grew up attending church multiple times a week, and dutifully studied her scriptures. Over the years, she found inconsistencies in church doctrine, and would pile these up on what she calls ‘the shelf’.  She’d pile it higher and higher, thinking, “well, I’ll deal with it later.”For Ashley, her shelf broke on November 5, 2015. On that day, a new LDS church policy leaked. This policy said, among other things, that children of gay parents could not be baptized unless they were eighteen years old, living on their own, and had renounced same sex marriage. It was a controversial policy that members of the church came out for and against. This ran counter to Ashley’s personal beliefs, and she didn’t believe the leadership of the church spoke for God. So she put down her beloved scriptures, unsure what to do with relics of a religion she no longer believed in.Since then, Ashley has been on a journey of spiritual discovery. She started exploring Wiccan practices, paganism, and her Norse heritage. She found that Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld, resonated with her. Half beautiful maiden, half rotting corpse, Hel is the keeper of dead things. To Ashley, Hel represents a spirit of radical self acceptance, and new beginnings rising from the ashes. Ashley realized that she knew what to do with her LDS scriptures.This episode was produced and edited by Ashley’s little sister, Bethany Denton. Additional editing help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White.Music:  The Black Spot

HBM086: Eve is Hungry

In HBM085: Ascended Fiction, we explored a rumor about Scientology and whether there exists a belief that founder L. Ron Hubbard will return to Earth.Content note: language and substance abuse. Sources we talked to within and outside of the Church of Scientology gave different answers, and it's hard to know the actual truth, because the church's most sacred texts are kept secret.It got us thinking about hidden knowledge, and whether it's moral to withhold information. So in this follow-up episode, we delve into that more, but this time with Christianity.  Chaplain Vanessa Zoltan (co-host of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text) re-tells the story of Eve seeking knowledge from a fruit tree. We also have additional info from Tony Ortega, and a couple of secret-knowledge-voicemails from our listener line.You can call us, too. Right now, we're asking listeners this question: what is it about our moment in time that will be unknowable to archaeologists of the future? The quiet pink glow of fresh snow fall? Texting and driving? Something else? Let us know what you think.  Call us: (765) 374-5263This episode was produced by Jeff Emtman. Editing help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.Music: Swamp Dog, Phantom Fauna, The Black Spot

HBM085: Ascended Fiction

There’s an office in every church of Scientology dedicated to the founder.  It’s a full reconstruction: desks, chairs, books and memorabilia.  The church says these offices are traditional, a way of honoring the memory of L. Ron Hubbard, who died back in 1986.  L. Ron Hubbard’s office in Copenhagen, Denmark sits on a busy street.  There’s a big window that allows passersby to speculate on its utility.  Elisabeth Pedersen heard a rumor that the office was more than traditional.  She heard that it might be needed by the author upon his alleged reincarnation and return to earth.  Sussing out the veracity of this claim is difficult, because Hubbard and his successor David Miscavige choose to keep much of Scientology’s scripture out of the public’s reach.  And therefore, many of the Church of Scientology’s core beliefs must be sifted either through church officials, court documents, or the religion's detractors.One of those detractors is Tony Ortega, who’s been writing on Scientology since the 1990’s. He thinks Elisabeth’s rumor is a garbled understanding of a belief that might be held in an secretive wing of Scientology known as the Church of Spiritual Technology.  The CST is the group that holds and protects the copyrights to Hubbard’s body of work.  Tony says a defector from the CST told him about preparations being made for the return of L. Ron Hubbard.  His source later denied this.  When a religion has scriptural gatekeepers, how can you know if a rumor’s been debunked?  A friendly person at the church’s info center pointed out that the internet is full of misinformation about scientology and suggested that listeners of this podcast consult Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination for factual information about the religion and its beliefs.  They also suggested Freedom Magazine.  Scientology’s press officers were contacted several times in the months before release, but never responded. Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton.  This episode’s title was inspired by TV Trope’s article on Ascended Fanfic.Music: Serocell, The Black Spot 

HBM084: Are You Sure You're Awake?

Chrissy was having trouble remembering who she was when she woke up.  First she thought it was early-onset dementia, then she thought it was schizophrenia.  She had recurring hallucinations about being stalked by a beast that would talk to her while she slept.  Content note: language A doctor eventually told her she was waking up frequently throughout the night, some 30+ times per hour.  It was this inability to maintain a regular sleep cycle that helped her get a diagnosis of narcolepsy, explaining Chrissy’s excessive sleepiness, hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and sometimes episodes of cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle control after having a strong emotional response).Chrissy’s diagnoses frightened her. She tried to pretend it wasn’t true. This attitude drastically changed one day when she woke up in traffic, driving 100kph with her kids in the back seat.  She finally accepted her illness, recognized it as a beast, and looked for ways to feed it that wouldn’t affect her children.  She says that’s the only way it’s won—if it gets her kids.  This episode was produced by Bec Fary. Bec is a freelance audio producer and creator of the podcast Sleep Talker. Bec’s show is about sleep, dreams, and nightmares, and she’s covered narcolepsy before. That’s how Chrissy got in touch with Bec to share her story. If you have a story you want to share with us, get in touch.This episode was edited by Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman. Our editor at KCRW is Nick White.Music: Phantom Fauna, The Black Spot

HBM083: Sweet Like Snap Peas

Ryan Graves thinks that store-bought asparagus is as flavorless as potatoes.  But that's just because he's spoiled on the really good stuff. His preferred crop grows wild among the tombstones at Clinton Cemetery, hidden on an old gravel road between the towns of Pullman, Washington and Moscow, Idaho.  Most who are buried there died over 100 years ago. That intervening century left the cemetery mostly forgotten and overgrown.  And Ryan thinks the deep-rooted asparagus taste so good because of the natural quality of their fertilizer.  Ryan Graves thinks that store-bought asparagus is as flavorless as potatoes.  But that’s just because he’s spoiled on the really good stuff.His preferred crop grows wild among the tombstones at Clinton Cemetery, hidden on an old gravel road between the towns of Pullman, Washington and Moscow, Idaho.  Most who are buried there died over 100 years ago.Ryan Graves also appears on HBM042: Deers.  Jeff Emtman produced this episode.  Music: The Black Spot 


John Barner spent his entire childhood fiddling with his dad’s shortwave radio, picking up transmissions from all over the world. He like the way the sounds crackled, and the voices speaking foreign languages, and the eerie whine of transmissions coming in and out of static.One night John got a phone call from one of his friends who also had a shortwave radio. “I think I just found spy stuff,” John’s friend said, “come over.”John and his friends had found a number station, coded transmissions broadcast on unlicensed frequencies. Number stations are believed to be a form of espionage where intelligence agencies broadcast encrypted messages to field operatives. But no government has claimed responsibility for their existence.Number stations come in many forms. Some are beeps or sustained tones. Some are repeated bars of familiar folk songs. The rest are strings of numbers and words from the phonetic alphabet.John, like countless other shortwave enthusiasts, has been captivated by the mystery ever since discovering them as a teenager. He used to try to crack the coded messages, thinking he’d stumbled on the X-Files.Henry Cooke, a technologist and number stations enthusiast, believes that its the indecipherable code that makes number stations so alluring. He’s found internet forums dedicated to tracking number stations broadcasts and even videos of radio sleuths claiming to have found broadcast locations. Henry believes this to be a type of modern folklore; that shortwave enthusiasts trading theories about the origins and meaning behind the number stations are almost like telling ghost stories around the campfire.Garrett Tiedemann produced this episode. Garrett also produces the podcast The White Whale. Bethany Denton edited this episode with help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White.Number Station recordings courtesy of The Conet Project. Full archive can be found here.Music from John Barner’s new album, Shadow Time.  

HBM081: Kinnikinnick Nick VS The Bear

Boy Scout Leadership Camp was a bad fit for Jeff Emtman.  He was a meek 13 year old who didn’t eat meat and talked to animals with his mind. Regardless, Jeff wound up in the dry forests of Eastern Washington, with a group of other boys and a young scout leader, Nick, whose leadership style was...let’s just call it “eclectic”.Content note: language and drug use.Nick was rarely around, and when he did show up, he’d impart scouting wisdom on building giant towers, making drug paraphernalia, and pooping in the woods.  It was Nick’s lesson on plant identification that earned him the nickname “Kinnikinnick Nick”.  He browbeat the virtues of smoking the dried leaves Bearberry, a plant that grew wild across camp.  He claimed the plant an intoxicant similar to LSD.  Nick also sold weed.As the camp’s middle management wised to Nick’s dealings, they slowly sowed the seeds of conspiracy into the minds of the Jeff and the other campers.  And the middle management prepared for a late-night sting.Jeff Emtman produced this episode, along with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.Music:  The Black Spot

Psychic Blob and The Radio Race

On a hot summer day in 2014, HBM host Jeff Emtman received a bit of amateur, backyard surgery from a fish biologist.  It was for the KCRW 24 Hour Radio Race. which is a one day radio contest now in its fifth year.  The race gives contestants 24 hours to record, edit and publish  the most interesting radio story they can find.The 2017 24 Hour Radio Race is happening on August 19th (Saturday), and you can sign up at, this should go without saying, but never give or receive amateur surgery.We just got Instagram!  Follow us.

HBM080: The Ocean of Halves

Remi Dun enjoys her job. She's good at it, she makes good money, and she generally enjoys her clients’ company. And although her job rarely gives her sexual pleasure, one client with a curious tongue gave her two surprise orgasms. Another client doesn’t know that she stops making sexy faces as soon as he can’t see her. And another client simply wants companionship—his dad died recently and he’s still emotionally raw. And yet another client wants a rubber band around his balls—the thick blue kind you find on broccoli in the grocery store.Please Note: This episode is about sex. And there’s swearing.Remi is a part-time sex worker.  She uses pseudonyms.  She’s not out.  She worries that her friends would see her as destitute and her parents would convince themselves they’d been bad parents.  Still, Remi finds joy and security in her secret second job. She hopes to someday be out and proud, like the ones who have inspired her.  Balancing her “daytime” and “nighttime” selves is part of a bigger plan: to create a financial stability, to be fierce, to practice her feminism, and to develop her own romantic relationships with partners outside of work.  Though, sometimes she feels lost in her identities, swimming in what she calls “the ocean of her halves.”Remi contacted us to share her secret.  We mailed her a recorder for several months to record diaries and sounds from her life.  If you have a secret you’d like to share, please get in touch.Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman produced this episode. Our editor at KCRW is Nick White.  We are a part of the Independent Producer Project of KCRW.  Music: The Black Spot, Serocell

HBM079: The Tingles

Devaan describes it as a pulsing, tingling feeling on the back of his neck.   His preferred stimuli are whispers, shuffling cards, scissors, tapping noises, anything that makes a crisp enough sound to trigger his ASMR.  These sounds make him feel relaxed, euphoric and drowsy.  Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is a physical reaction experienced by some unknown percentage of the population (to varying degrees).  Due to being only recently recognized and named, ASMR is still poorly understood scientifically.  Its evolutionary purpose (if any) is uncertain, though one popular theory suggests that it might serve a social bonding or grooming purpose.Devaan’s ASMR awakening came one day at work when a co-worker whispered into his ear.  He googled “Why does my brain tingle when I hear whispering?”  He stumbled into the online community of “ASMR artists” (aka. “ASMRtists”) who stimulate huge audiences with their preferred triggers.He used these videos daily to combat his mild insomnia.  Soon he became reliant on them for sleep, consuming ASMR videos endlessly.  He became desensitized, even to his favorite videos, and thinks that he was (and maybe still is) addicted to them.Today, Devaan still uses ASMR videos to fall asleep, though he says he’s now more careful with his consumption.Producer: Molly SegalMusic: The Black Spot, AHEEAdditional Sounds: Arnaud Coutancier, Richard FrohlichScreaming: Benjamin Harper, John Hill

HBM078: Sagittarius Has $45

Sagittarius has been good for the last year.  That’s what he told us.  He told us that the cage that Luna designed for him is working.  She controls his money, his businesses, can read his email, can see his bank accounts, and can track the location of his phone.Please Note: This episode contains frank discussions of sexual addiction and desire.  All names in this episode are pseudonyms.He says that the next time he messes up, Luna will leave him, and take the kids with her. Avoiding this scenario makes the cage worth it.  Sagittarius is a sex addict.  His therapist told him that naming his addiction would be a good way to compartmentalize it. So he chose “Sagittarius”, a name he stole from the bow-wielding centaur of astrology known (in part) for emotional recklessness and who is represented by the planet Jupiter.Sagittarius first emailed us back in 2016, after we published an episode called HBM060: The Predators of McNeil Island.  In that episode, we talked to Chris, a man once deemed by the state of Washington to be a Sexually Violent Predator. Chris told the courts that he’d changed, no longer felt desire to be devious. Sagittarius identified with Chris, saw himself as a version of Chris that had never been committed or sent to court.  But Sagittarius wrote to say that, personally, he’d never say “never” again.   He’d been wrong too many times. Despite receiving some treatment, and despite the cage, Sagittarius does not feel cured of his addiction. He is actively hoarding cash, $45 of bills he keeps in his backpack.  A secret kept from Luna. Another $100 and Sagittarius could break free from his cage, and pay someone to have sex with him.In this episode, Sagittarius takes Bethany and Jeff on a walking tour of his New York City “hotspots” he used to frequent, and then takes Jeff on a late night bike ride to Battery Park, where his father once took him to see the Statue of Liberty.Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman produced this episode.Music: The Black Spot, Phantom Fauna

HBM077: Snow on Date Trees, then on Pines

Muhammad Tariq still doesn’t know who the men with guns were.  They wore masks on their faces when they came into the teachers’ lounge.  His small, gender-integrated school in Panjgur had been anonymously receiving literature that scolded them for teaching girls.  Tariq and the other teachers didn’t take it seriously until the six men showed up.While they beat the maintenance worker with the butts of their guns and smashed the office’s computers, one of the masked men mentioned that he knew who Tariq was, that he knew Tariq’s history of educating Pakistani girls, his plans to turn them against true muslim religion and culture.  After just fifteen minutes, they were gone again.  Tariq doesn’t know why they didn’t take him with them, as his province of Balochistan sees regular abductions and murders and sectarian violence (see documentary below).  Balochistan is also home to separatist movements, notably the hyper-nationalist Baloch Liberation Army.Estimates for numbers of the disappeared Baloch people vary greatly, from 1,000 to about 20,000.  Since 2010, Human Rights Watch has documented first hand accounts of disappearances, which often happen in broad daylight.After the incident in his school, Tariq feared for his life; said he needed to get out of Pakistan.  So he applied for and received a J1 visa, a cultural exchange program run by the US State Department.  After the visa expires, J1 recipients are supposed to return to their home countries.  In 2015, Tariq took a plane from Karachi to Washington DC, and when his J1 program was up, he filed for asylum with a personal certainty and faith that it would be granted to him.  The USCIS is supposed to schedule asylum interviews within 45 days, with a final decision within 180.  But (as of April 2017), the wait time for the initial asylum interview is an estimated 2 to 5 years.  Until Tariq gets that interview, he’s in a state of limbo—legally allowed to stay in the United States, though unable to find good work or afford college.Tariq moved to Seattle, where he met his fiancé, Catherine Adams.  She hadn’t ever met a Muslim before, and she had a conservative, christian upbringing in rural Oregon.  She'd only ever heard and seen negative stereotypes of men like Tariq before they met. But they fell in love quickly and are planning to get married late in the summer of 2017.  They’ve since moved to Catherine's small hometown of Medford, Oregon.On this episode, producer Jeff Emtman met the couple for a dinner of Pakistani biryani and apple pie, just three days before their move from Seattle, to Medford.Music: Lucky Dragons, Serocell, The Black Spot, AHEERate and/or review HBM on iTunes

HBM076: Griff's Speech

As a baby, Griff Eldridge was quieter than most.  But he slept well.  He fed.  He played with his big brother Ira. And he smiled easily.  For a long time, his parents Luke and Davinia didn’t worry, because he was so happy and healthy.When Griff became a toddler, Luke and Davinia started to compare his speech to the speech of  other children and to the standards laid out in the Personal Child Health Record, a book issued to new parents by the UK government.  Griff was on track when he started to babble around 12 months old.  But, unlike other children, the babble never evolved to understandable sentences.Luke and Davinia began to track Griff’s speech in a notebook and test his hearing. They took him to several doctors, none of whom agree on a single diagnosis.  They learned of “Verbal Dyspraxia” and “Phonological Disorder”.  He’d see a speech therapist.Griff is nearly four years old, about to start primary school, and still he’s never spoken a fully coherent sentence.  They have 18 months to get him up to speed.  Recently, Davinia’s been teaching Griff the signing language Makaton.In this episode, producer Luke Eldridge (Griff’s father) shares scenes from their home as his family works together to help Griff learn to talk.  Bethany Denton edited this episode, along with help from Jeff Emtman. Additional editing help from Nick White at KCRW.Music:  The Black Spot, FlowersHello NYC!  Jeff and Bethany are speaking at The Unplugged Soul at Columbia University’s Heyman Center on April 14th and 15th.  It’s free.  Register here.

HBM075: The Weight of Science

Anita Woodley went to the Rhine Research Center for scientific confirmation.  Since childhood, she’d dreamt the future, able to predict imminent murders in her neighborhood.  She prayed away her abilities for a period of her early adulthood, but they returned unexpectedly after the birth of her first child.  Her psychic abilities troubled her.  Going to the Rhine Center was her doctor’s suggestion.  Her doctor said she wasn’t alone, that there were others with her gift.  The Rhine Research Center is America’s oldest parapsychology lab.  It started in 1935 as the Duke Parapsychology Lab under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine.  Dr. Rhine, a botanist with a growing fascination of psychics, turned his attention from plants and towards ESP.  He devoted the rest of his life to legitimizing its study as a science.Duke University severed its affiliation with the Rhine Center in 1965 when Dr. Rhine reached retirement age.  The lab moved off campus and operates today as an independent non-profit.John G Kruth, the Rhine Center’s Executive Director, breaks ESP down into five categories: telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis and survival studies (persistence of self outside of the body).While living, Dr. Rhine believed he found evidence for ESP.  Other academics were skeptical.  What’s not up for debate is that Anita Woodley and others like her feel validated to have the weight of science confirming their abilities.  Anita was given a test similar to a Ganzfeld Experiment.  Also, she was tested for remote viewing abilities.  She says that she scored highly.  Due to the Rhine’s policy of not releasing records, we couldn’t confirm this.    We produced this episode in conjunction with Hi-Phi Nation, a story-driven philosophy podcast hosted by Barry Lam.  This episode serves as the introduction to his series called Hackademics which looks into modern overreliance on statistical significance.  Listen to Part One. Listen to Part Two.Barry Lam is a professor of philosophy at Vassar College and a visiting fellow at Duke University’s Story Lab.Jeff Emtman edited this episode with help from Bethany Denton.Music: The Black Spot | | | Serocell | | | Phantom Fauna

HBM074: Benedict Arnold Makes People Nervous (Rumble Strip)

There is an unusual piece of carved grey stone in the hills of upstate New York.  It depicts the boot of a notorious American villain who was shot in the leg during the Battle of Saratoga.  Major General Benedict Arnold’s name is nowhere to be found on the inscription.  Instead, it refers only to the "most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army”.  The rest is implied. Steve Sheinkin thinks that we can’t—and don’t—talk about Benedict Arnold’s actual history because it serves Americans an unpalatable contradiction.  Benedict Arnold won crucial battles for American independence, but he was also a turncoat.  Steve was often asked to sterilize history during his career as a textbook writer.   Certain characters of the American Revolution enjoyed near godlike status.  Giving counterevidence to their omniciencense or foresight was practically blasphemy.  But that counterevidence exists, found in letters and personal journals of George Washington, Paul Revere and others.  And these records paint much more conflicted, funny, perverse and sometimes bumbling portraits of the country’s forefathers.  But Steve’s bosses found it an issue of money.  His editors were especially risk-averse for fear of offending a seemingly all-powerful Texas State Board of Education, who, according to Steve, had no patience for course material that questioned manifest destiny, Protestant Christianity, or the free market.  And that, Steve says, is why textbooks are boring. Steve Sheinkin is now the author of many children’s history books that tell the stories left on the cutting room floor of his former employer.   Recent releases are about the history of the atomic bomb, the permanently undefeated Carlisle Indian School football team, and, of course, Benedict Arnold. We adapted this episode of Here Be Monsters from a brilliant piece by Erica Heilman that she made for her own podcast, Rumble Strip.  Rumble Strip is great, listen to it.  It’s part of The Heard.  Jeff Emtman re-edited this piece with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White. Music: Swamp Dog, The Black Spot

HBM073: A Trial Ghost Hunt

Ken Arnold and his wife Donna have opposite work schedules, but they are lucky to share a hobby. For the last nine years they have operated an all-volunteer group called the Puget Sound Ghost Hunters. They spend nearly every weekend together, along with a handful of other volunteers investigating paranormal activity in residential homes and notoriously haunted buildings all across western Washington. They don’t get paid for the work they do and over the years they have invested their own money into building a robust toolbox of paranormal detectors.Puget Sound Ghost Hunters have seen some turnover recently, and Ken and Donna are in need of new team members. They put an ad up on their website and on their Facebook group inviting would-be ghost hunters to join their team of volunteers.After a series of interviews, they narrowed it down to two candidates: Scott Harris and Tanya Routt, two people who seem to have what it takes to investigate reported paranormal activity with rigor and compassion.But before Ken and Donna offer membership to Scott and Tanya, they arranged a trial ghost hunt to see how they behave in the field. The four of them meet at the Walker Ames House in Port Gamble, Washington. HBM producer Bethany Denton was invited to come along and record the night’s activity.Producer: Bethany DentonEditor: Jeff EmtmanMusic: Phantom Fauna, The Black Spot

HBM072: Ant God

As far as gods go, Jacob Lemanski is more tepid than most.  Despite his omniscience, he feels unequipped to deal with the ethical decisions required of him. Content Note: this episode contains a description of a domestic assault. Jacob is the owner of AntLife, a company that makes large ant farms.  In one of his prototype farms, he was experimenting with different soil types.  One of his formulations caused a problem: tunnel collapse.  And during a cave-in, one of his ants became trapped in a small underground cavern, just inches from the surface. In this episode, Jacob recalls his personal history with both passivity and intervention, and tries to figure out what’s best for his ants.  Producer: Jeff EmtmanEditor: Bethany DentonMusic: The Black Spot

HBM071: The Evangelists of Nudism

Growing up Mormon in Montana, Bethany Denton had a phrase drilled into her mind from an early age: “modest is hottest.”  To her, it became a mantra even while many of her friends, especially other girls, struggled with Mormonism’s strict modesty standards. But never Bethany–she was fat enough to know that no one wanted to see that anyway.By the time Bethany moved to Washington State for college, she had rejected the church and was looking for new, broader experiences.  She got a job as a campus security officer, started drinking, and began wading into feminism.  She looked for new, non-Mormon role models to help her find adventure. That’s when she met Helen, a punk rock pirate who invited Bethany to join her for an all-expenses paid nude vacation, courtesy of an eccentric tech millionaire who evangelized the merits of nudism.Bethany said yes, and went with Helen to California to bake in the sun for a week, and to learn about the body she’d been hiding for the past 20 years, learn to decouple nakedness from sexuality.And when she returned, she felt utterly changed.  But she’d soon tearfully discover she was not entirely untangled from childhood guilt.Names in this story have been changed.This episode was written and produced by Bethany Denton, and was edited by Jeff Emtman. Nick White is HBM’s editor at KCRW.Music:  Nym, Half Ghost, Lucky Dragons Review us on iTunes and follow us on Twitter.

wet-slop-plop.wav (Among Other Sounds)

There are about 10,000 files in the Here Be Monsters sound library.   HBM producer Jeff Emtman has been recording, synthesizing and downloading them since way back before this show started.  And of these thousands of sounds, there’s a tiny subset of them that just keep winding up on podcast episodes.On this interstitial episode, Jeff plays back some of these heavily-used sounds and asks whether they occur because of an inherent goodness, a force of habit, or some kind of weird nostalgia he feels for the early days of the podcast. The site Jeff often downloads sound from is (see Jeff’s download history).  A big thank you to the many recordists there who volunteer their work to the public domain, especially Felix Blume, a sound artist and sound engineer who is responsible for many of the site’s best recordings.

HBM070: The Way The Blood Flows

“I used to think you were brilliant” Evan Williamson’s dad wrote to him in a letter.  Evan was in treatment for chemical dependency at the time.  His father asked if they could meet in Alaska to continue a family tradition of fathers and sons who fished together.  The Alaskan waters were teeming, and two spent entire days ending lives together.  Evan’s dad, amid all the death, explained that he too was dying.  The Way The Blood Flows a short story written and read by Evan Williamson, who currently makes videos and music with his wife Sidra as they travel the world.  Their series is called Sid and Evan Leave America.  You can follow them on YouTube and Facebook. Music: The Black SpotJeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White. 

HBM069: Redwoods of the In-World

Ariadne, Jacqueline, North, and others unnamed are all part of the same system.  They share a single body.  They take turns “fronting” the body, controlling it.  And when they’re not fronting, the system members are free to roam an infinite landscape, a pocket reality that they call the “in-world”. Together, they go to work every day, spend time with friends and lovers, go to shows, play video games, and live many aspects of a typical life. But when multiple people with varying interests, social skills, and gender identities share a single body, some things are tough.  It’s tough to live in a world that doesn’t understand you, doesn’t know your secrets, or just wants to diagnose you.The system members refer to their living situation as being “plural” or “multiple”.  Psychiatry calls similar situations Dissociative Identity Disorder.  The system members don’t identify with this diagnosis, as it requires the multiplicity to be hinderance.  They say it’s the opposite of a hinderance--it’s what lets them survive. Another perspective on multiplicity can be found in the work of philosopher John Perry.  1978, he published a paper called A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality which critiques popular assumptions of personal identity.  This writing was brought to our attention by Barry Lam, the producer of a soon-to-be released philosophy podcast called Hi-Phi Nation.  We mailed our spare recorder to the system’s home in the spring of 2016.  Over the course of several months, system members created diary entries and field recordings to share the world that Ari calls too “bright and loud”.Producer Jeff Emtman did an interview with Jacqueline, where she also described the building process of the in-world, including the creation a spot of reverence within it--a grove of redwood trees modelled on a forest near Oakland. One day, Jacqueline hopes to move from the city to the wilderness and have dogs.  Jacqueline said that there are no current plans to integrate the system. We found out about Ari, North, Jacqueline et al because we asked for listeners to tell us their secrets.   If you have a secret you’d like to share, please get in touch. Content Advisory:  This episode contains a brief description of sexual violence (and casual swearing too, but we don’t usually warn you about that).  The description of sexual violence is short and mostly non-graphic.  If you don’t want to hear it,  you just need to skip ahead about two minutes when you hear us talking about the state of Georgia. This episode was produced by Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton.  Nick White is HBM’s editor at KCRW.  Music: The Black Spot

HBM068: The Wake Up Stick

When Dylan Wright placed his first Craigslist ad back in 2006, he called himself a “nice and genuine person with waking up problems.”  He was looking for someone to help him in the mornings.  First it was phone calls, but those didn’t work, so he moved on to something more personal. Content Note: LanguageDylan’s problem is that, left to his own devices, he sleeps and doesn’t stop sleeping: “Seventeen hours was the longest I ever slept...that’s like four times as much as some people get daily.” And he’s tried to fix it in a lot of ways—bright lights suspended over his bed hooked to a timer, multiple alarms—nothing worked.  He lost jobs, missed flights, messed up personal relationships, all because he couldn’t wake up. So for most of the last decade, Dylan’s hired someone to come to his house, and physically wake him up.  “Nothing weird or inappropriate about this, it’s just a job.” he says.  Dylan estimates he’s had ten people fill this job.  Most of them quit abruptly, or just stopped showing up.  But he likes his current guy, who doesn’t even come into the house.   Instead, he’s taken to knocking on Dylan’s bedroom window with a long stick (that way he doesn’t have to stand in the flowerbeds).  He knocks until Dylan gets out of bed puts on clothes and makes himself some coffee. It’s $10 per day, five days per week, sometimes six. Lisa Cantrell produced this piece.  She’s the host of An Inexact Science, which is a podcast about human psychology.  Music: The Black Spot

HBM067: Dispatches From PestWorld 2016

Feeling anxiety about the American presidential election, HBM host Jeff Emtman took a trip to a place he hoped to be insulated from politics: PestWorld 2016, the largest American gathering of pest management professionals. Jeff has always liked bugs and pest animals, so it was a miniature vacation. He talked with the following attendees about the tools and the philosophy of pest management:Rose Eckhart of ZappBugg bed bug heaters Carlita Turk of TAP Pest Control InsulationDavid Walters of HY-C Home SolutionsEvan Bruce of Heat Assault glycol bed bug productsRoger Johnson and Evan Church of Pest RoutesSheree Swindle of Bed Bug Mutts with Lily LooBill Robinson of B&G Curtis Dyna-Fog sprayers and foggersAlan Huot of Wildlife Control Supplies outfitter for wildlife professionalsJeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White. Music: Serocell | | | Flowers

HBM066: What Jacob Heard

Jacob Sutton loved going to church when he was a little boy. He sang in the choir, and when he got older he led Bible studies and helped teach Sunday school classes. Eventually he learned to speak in tongues. Jacob grew up Pentecostal, the oldest son of a deacon. His father used to work with people who believed they were possessed by demons, and would use prayer and Bible readings to cast the wicked spirits out. All of his life, Jacob knew that demons and The Devil were very real, and that they could possess his body, if he allowed them.Jacob felt deeply connected to his male friends when he was young.  As a teenager, he realized that what he felt was more than friendship. But Jacob’s church was, like most Pentecostal congregations, staunchly against homosexuality. Jacob’s parents, pastor, and peers all talked about homosexuality as if it was a terrible disease that could only be cured by God. For years Jacob tried to hide his attraction to other boys, and became increasingly involved in his church in the hopes that he could just work through ‘the problem’.In his freshman year of high school, Jacob was feeling helpless against his gay attractions. Exasperated, he asked aloud for a demon to come into his body. He figured he was already evil, so he might as well “get something out of it”. A few months later, just as he was about to fall asleep, he heard a voice in his ear. Jacob was frozen in fear. He could not speak. The voice was dark, gravelly, and spoke a language he’d never heard before. Jacob knew in that moment that it was the demon he’d invited into his body.  It left only once he spoke the word “Jesus.” He woke up his father and they prayed together. The next day, Jacob signed up for “spiritual boot camp”. It was a three day retreat for members of the congregation who hoped to make a life change, led by Jacob’s father. For three days, Jacob joined fellow congregants in prayer and worship, hoping this would be the beginning of his healing from gayness. After the weekend, Jacob didn’t feel “cured”, but he did feel like he was closer to becoming the man God intended him to be.That was 13 years ago. Jacob has since stopped going to church and believing in God and Satan. He eventually came out to his family once and for all, and this time, he was met with open arms. Today he lives in Seattle and studies fashion design. And as of the time of this episode release, Jacob and his boyfriend have been together for almost three years.This episode was produced by Bethany Denton. Music: Serocell | | | AHEE

HBM065: We Pay Them In Meat

Walk through any natural history museum and you’ll see rows of effortlessly clean animal skeletons.  Chances are you're looking at a strange form of human/insect symbiosis happening in the museum’s back rooms. Preparing an animal’s skeleton for display is incredibly labor intensive for human hands.  So curators have turned to a family of beetles with millennia of experience. The dermestidae family of beetles have followed humans since our early history.  They’re opportunistic eaters, and they like the things we like: grains, bacon grease, leather, silk scarves, books, carpets.  And as early humans traveled, the beetles came with, colonizing across the globe. The majority of humans’ relationship with these beetles is and has been contentious, as they tend to wreak havoc on human possessions.  They’re often exterminated as pests.  But several species of the dermestidae family have a taste for dead flesh. Including dermestes maculatus, aka. “The Hide Beetle”.  And for this reason, curators have enlisted their help as “museum volunteers.” At least, that’s what Chris Stinson of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver, British Columbia calls them.  He’s the Curatorial Assistant of Mammals, Reptiles, and Amphibians and he approximates that he has 20,000 of these volunteers to prep the museum’s collection.  In this episode, Here Be Monsters producer Jeff Emtman smells the beetle tank, listens to them eat an owl skull, and holds a real flesh-eating beetle.*Jeff Emtman produced this episode, with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White. Music: The Black SpotHappy Birthday Paul.  We don’t know when your birthday actually is, but we hope it’s a good one...this year and every other. *Due to dermestes maculatus’ preference for dead foods, they’re perfectly safe to handle, unless you’re a wild turkey (and if you’re actually reading this, you probably are).

HBM064: A Shrinking Shadow

Erin was fat as a kid. Since middle school, she tried all different methods to lose weight. From a young age she developed the idea that the most important thing she could do with her life was lose weight.That's part of why she and HBM producer Bethany Denton were such good friends in high school. They were both fat, nearly the same size. Both tried and failed to lose weight since childhood. Together they felt safe to enjoy food without judgment.But they parted ways after high school.  Bethany moved to Washington State and Erin to Indiana for college. They fell out of touch, observing each others’ lives mostly through the distance of a Facebook news feed.  And there, Bethany began to notice changes in Erin.  She looked thinner, but also more hollow.  Her eyes sank into her head.  Bethany was ashamed that she felt jealous.  She also thought her old friend might be gone...turned into a shrinking shadow of her former self. On this episode of Here Be Monsters, Erin explains how she developed her obsession with exercise and her intense desire to lose weight.  She explains how she descended into a dangerous place with her eating disorder.  She would later understand her symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and irrationality to be typical of starvation, as observed in a 1940s experiment known as the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.After losing over 100 lbs, Erin hit rock bottom the summer after graduating from college. Her anxiety became intolerable, she was constipated, and her hair was falling out. After months of living with every characteristic of anorexia nervosa, she was given an official diagnosis once she became underweight. In 2014, Erin sought treatment. The first step in her recovery was a process called re-feeding. It's the process of replenishing a calorie deficit, providing a starving body much-needed energy to repair internal damage. Erin has since made nearly a full recovery. Today she lives in Portland, Oregon and works at a bakery. She keeps a blog about her experiences with anorexia.If you are suffering from an eating disorder, you can get help today. A good place to start is Eating Disorder Hope. Erin also recommends the website Performing Woman; she personally found it inspiring to her recovery.This episode was produced by Bethany Denton, and edited with help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White.  Music: The Black Spot

HBM063: The Art of the Scam, by Malibu Ron

Presumably, any given mystic falls into one of two categories: true believer or scam artist. It's foolish to think that this is a categorization that can be made at first glance. Spotting a good scammer is near impossible, unless they tell you outright.Content Note: Explicit ContentOn this episode of Here Be Monsters, Jeff Emtman has a conversation with an internet mystic who identifies as scam artist. Vice would call him an "Etsy witch"; he calls himself a "haunted demon seller." Regardless, he doesn't give out his real name.For the purpose of this story, let's just call him "Malibu Ron." Malibu makes his living selling trinkets supposedly imbued with spirits: sex demons, werewolves, mermaids, djinn, vampires, etc. They aren't. Malibu sells his intangible beings and spells online for as little as $5 and as much as $11,000.Malibu got into the business of internet mysticism about 10 years ago while he was very sick. He had to take extended medical leave from work. In his months of recovery, he read a lot online and discovered Etsy Witching. As a joke, he posted a cheap ring imbued with a sex demon. It sold for $12. He decided not to go back to his old job and instead focus on becoming a full-time witch. He now manages many (he won't tell us how many) identities and stores online.Malibu feels no guilt about his scam. He has a moral line and he doesn't cross it. No death curses, no sex enslavement of real people, and no spells to heal the terminally ill. He doesn't sell things that could make him feel guilty. And further, he says his clients are mostly rich. And he says his clients believe in magic because it protects them from realizing their cosmic insignificance. Malibu doesn't believe in magic (except for God, and maybe aliens).Malibu says that he lives well, but that he's no Donald Trump-- he's not rich. He spends his money on shoes. He values his personal collection of Nike Dunk SBs and Air Jordans at over $20,000. Several of his pairs are one-offs, meaning he's the only one in the world who owns them. But his home, his clothing, and all of his other outward appearances (apart from the shoes) are modest.Most of his clients are happy with his services, though Malibu does receive occasional death threats when his spells don't work. He says many of his clients would likely benefit from therapy and that, for some, magic rings may take on that role. Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.Music: Serocell ||| The Black SpotLike the show? Please review us on iTunes.Want to send us a sex demon? Do it on Twitter @HBMpodcast

HBM062: The Near Death of Sir Deja Doog

Before Doog could walk, his family gave him a guitar to hold and encouraged him to play music. By the time he was twelve, he'd started writing songs as a way to make sense of the confusing world around him. Back then he was just Eric Alexander, the friendly weird kid who dressed like a punky cowboy.  In college a fellow musician asked Eric what his middle name was. "Douglas," Eric replied. "Douglas? Doug, Doug... Doog... I'm going to call you Doog." The name stuck, and eventually Eric created his raspy, crass musical persona: Sir Deja Doog.Note: Explicit ContentIn his early twenties, Doog started hearing voices, seeing and feeling things that weren't there. He worried that he was losing his mind and avoided telling his friends what was happening. For years he was in and out of the emergency room and psych ward. He sought treatment and was medicated on and off for depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.But his problems persisted. In 2012, Doog became homeless and started hitchhiking up and down the West Coast. All the while he experienced terrifying hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. Throughout this period he continued to make music. With little more than a broken iPhone and an old guitar, Doog recorded hours of harsh, distorted music. Later he edited these recordings into a video he called Bad Dharma. (below).Doog's symptoms worsened. By 2013 he started having partial seizures. One night he had a vision that he was being abducted by ancient aliens, so old he could see through their papery skin. One of the aliens poked Doog behind his left ear.A few weeks later Doog was in the hospital again, feeling suicidal. This time the doctors gave Doog an MRI. When they scanned his brain, they found a small, calcified tumor called a glioma. The tumor was in the left hemisphere of his brain -- just inches from where the alien poked him in his vision. Doctors told Doog that he needed brain surgery immediately or he would soon die.Faced with the prospect of an early death, he ignored the doctors’ orders fearing the surgery would affect his musical creativity. Instead, Doog decided to focus his energy on creating his masterpiece: Sir Deja Doog's Love Coffin.For months, Doog obsessed over Love Coffin. He wrote and recorded day and night through partial and full seizures and debilitating headaches. It was only once his album was finished and his symptoms became unbearable that he agreed to surgery. Doctors removed the tumor and some surrounding parts of his brain.Today, Doog continues to recover, and he's slowly re-learning how to be independent as his brain heals. Seventeen months after surgery Doog was in remission, but soon after that doctors found gliosis in his brain—scar tissue that forms after severe brain trauma. Doctors continue to monitor him for additional cancers. It is possible that Doog will need chemotherapy.Doog performed for the first time after his cancer diagnosis on Halloween of 2015 (picture above). Since then, he's released an EP called The Return of Sir Deja Doog.

HBM059: When Cthulhu Calls

The most notable monster created by Howard Phillips Lovecraft was completely omnipotent, yet completely uncaring.  A massive, tentacled being that sleeps in the depths of the ocean--Cthulhu.  A creature that will one day rise again from its watery home to reclaim the Earth for itself.In this episode of Here Be Monsters, we team up with Eric Molinsky of the Imaginary Worlds Podcast from Panoply Studios. Eric speaks with Sheldon Solomon, a psychologist who co-founded the study of Terror Management Theory.  Solomon explains the absurd lengths that humans go to avoid realizing their own mortality.  And thus, Eric embarks on a fictional journey to find out why a creature so loathsome is constantly being turned into Cthulhu plushy toys and Cthulhu onesies for babies. Eric visits a store call Love Craft in Redhook, New York, where he meets Roberta Suydam (played by Ann Scobie). Roberta tells him to look in the water off Rockaway point, Cthulhu is real.  Seeking confirmation, he visits the Lovecraft Archives, deep in a basement lab in Lovecraft's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.  There, professor George Angell (played by Dan Truman) introduces him to the re-animated brain of "Howard" (played by Bill Lobely).  Howard Lovecraft turns out to be just as racist in death as he was in life.  Deciding to take matters into his own hands, Eric rents a boat to see what's out there in the waters off Rockaway Point, but as he draws closer to the dome rising from the water, he finds himself at wits' end.Balancing the literary genius of Lovecraft's dark mythos with his unabashed xenophobia is no easy task.  Readers must either choose to ignore the troubling aspects of his personal character, or disgrace him for his beliefs.  Or possibly, they may superposition themselves in both camps at once, trying understand Lovecraft as if he's a just another creature in a universe of his own making.Music: Serocell

HBM058: Kelly Is Cold

It was early in the morning of New Years Day and Kelly had just bought a purse-load of psychedelic mushrooms from Laramie Wyoming's local "druggist."  Kelly handed them out to the assembled company and took some himself.  He felt a bit apathetic about the world.  He was wearing thin shoes,, a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.  But when he went outside to look at the stars, he realized what he wanted more than anything else in the world...a book on combinatorics.Suddenly, Kelly found himself elsewhere, in a wavy and confusing reality, holding a large rock and looking through the windows of Coe Library.  He was thinking about the math books that lived there on the third floor.  He was very cold and had a decision to make. Kelly lives in Seattle today.  He cares about math, people and bikes.   His favorite book on combinatorics is Herbert S. Wilf's generatingfunctionology, which is available for free.Music: The Black Spot, FlowersOur first ever season wrap party is happening in Seattle in April!  Please RSVP to us on Facebook if you'd like to come. 

HBM057: Impostor in a Pink Pinstripe Suit

Growing up in small-town Montana, Bethany Denton's parents and teachers told her what she knew already: she was brilliant.  Bethany couldn't help but feel destined for something big, even though she often skipped her school readings and phoned it in.  Why try hard when you already know everything?Content Note: Explicit ContentIn high school, Bethany joined the speech and debate team and started winning medals in an event called Serious Oral Interpretation.  One afternoon Bethany went to the bookstore and stumbled across a monologue by American author Joyce Carol Oates entitled Nuclear Holocaust, from her play I Stand Before You Naked.   It's a first-hand account of a religiously devout and mentally unstable Southerner who eagerly awaits the world's destruction. It was the perfect kind of material for a Serious Oral Interpretation monologue, so Bethany bought the book. Her dramatic performance of this piece soon won her a trip to Las Vegas to compete against teenagers from across the country.Bethany spent the next couple months slacking off, per usual.  Later that summer in Las Vegas, Bethany steps in front of a room full of strangers and realizes that she's made a huge mistake.Bethany Denton wrote and produced this story, with editing help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White from KCRW. Track image by Angie Foreman.Music: The Black Spot, Flower Petal Downpour

HBM056: It Works Better in Movies

When Lina Misitzis was a teenager, she told people she was dying.  She wasn't.  But, an entire genre of "dying girl gets the guy" movies taught her that landing a boyfriend required a certain brevity on this planet.  She only lied to men, men she wanted to be with. Content Note: Explicit ContentThat was more than ten years ago, but the guilt of exploiting imaginary illness for (failed) romantic gain stays with her to the present.  Julia Wallace, her therapist, thinks that Lina can overcome this guilt by re-writing the story of her teenage years, by calling three people she wronged and telling the truth.   So, Lina does.   Music: The Black Spot, SerocellLina Misitzis produced this piece.  Jeff Emtman edited it with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.

HBM055: Ghost Tape Number Ten

All is fair in love and war... even mind games. The United States military employs psychological warfare in nearly every war it's part of. From creating a "ghost army" of inflatable tank fleets in World War II, to blasting heavy metal music toward enemy territory during the Gulf War, the purpose of these tactics is to decrease morale and inspire enemy combatants to surrender or defect. The US Military calls these tactics "Psychological Operations", or "PSYOP".The Vietnam War was no different. Threatened by the growing popularity of communism in North Vietnam, the United States joined the conflict in the early 1960's in support of anti-communist South Vietnam. Within a few years, U.S. Army 6th PSYOP Battalion tried a new form of psychological warfare, they called it "Operation Wandering Soul".Operation Wandering Soul was designed to exploit a Vietnamese belief that death far away from home meant becoming a restless spirit, doomed to wander aimlessly for eternity. The PSYOP unit hired South Vietnamese voice actors to play the role of ghost soldiers and their families lamenting in an echo chamber. They played these recordings at full volume from helicopters and airplanes flown over enemy territory in the middle of the night. The hope was that North Vietnamese soldiers, exhausted by combat, would drop their weapons and go home.In this episode, Sergeant Major Herb Friedman (Retired) explains how Ghost Tape Number Ten was created and its effect (or lack there of) on the course of the Vietnam War.  Friedman did not work in the U.S. Army 6th PSYOP Battalion nor any other psyops unit, but in his civilian life he became an expert U.S. psychological operations. You can read more about him and other psyop tactics at, including his article about Operation Wandering Soul.This episode included excerpts from Lynden B. Johnson's 1966 State of the Union address.Caitlin Pierce produced this episode. Caitlin is an independent producer living in New York, and is the creator of the podcast Borders. This episode was edited by Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman. Our editor at KCRW is Nick White.Music:  Phantom Fauna ||| The Black Spot

HBM054: Flaming Sword of Truth

Patti Negri is a witch who lives in a house buried deep in the Hollywood Hills.  Here Be Monsters producer Jeff Emtman and performance artist Lenae Day went to visit her one day in October 2015, audio recorder in-hand, in an attempt to better understand the mechanisms behind her magic. One of Patti's tools is astral travel (or astral projection), a form of controlled out of body experience where the travelers eschew their flesh and bone bodies for ones made of souls, or energy, or something else entirely.  In this state, travelers may move freely through time and space, see things previously hidden, visit alternate realities, or revisit past traumas, all while leaving their physical bodies safely at home.  This is sometimes also called "remote viewing".  From the 1970's through the 1990's, The US military researched remote viewing through Project Stargate, in which they attempted to gather intelligence on the Soviets and others via the employment of skilled remote viewers.  In 1995, the government disbanded Project Stargate for being "too vague and ambiguous, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the technique to yield information of sufficient quality andaccuracy of information for actionable intelligence."   During roughly the same time period, the Soviets also researched the paranormal.In this episode, Patti facilitates an astral projection session that unwittingly brings Lenae to one of her earliest moments of trauma.  And for that reason, listeners should note that this episode contains a brief, albeit vivid, description of violence. Patti Negri is a the senior vice president of the American Federation of Certified Psychics and Mediums, the co-host of the Cosmic Truth podcast, an actress, and a regular guest on reality television shows, including Bank of Hollywood, Mansion Hunters, and Ghostly Lovers.A special thank you to HBM listener Cynthia, for connecting us to Patti.Lenae Day helped record this episode.  She is a performance artist living in Los Angeles. She's also the co-creator of KLAM Radio, a new podcast in the form of a public radio station broadcasting out of a fictional desert casino town.Music: The Black Spot, Lucky Dragons

HBM053: Eleven Trips to Dreamworld

In 2014, Jeff Emtman mailed tape recorders to people around the world.  He asked them to keep the recorders by their beds and flip them on early in the morning as their dreams were still fresh in their minds.  Once the tape was full, they mailed it back to Jeff.   Until now, the dreams remained private.  But, on this episode of Here Be Monsters, you'll hear a small collection of the first set of dreams. In the coming months, more dreams will be uploaded to the Dream Tapes Project at  The project is currently seeking volunteers to help transcribe and upload hundreds of dreams.  If you want to help out, please get in touch. The Dreamers in this episode are: Anonymous Participant #001, Rebecca Williams, Micah Cruver, Alexandra Doumas, Beyana Magoon, Allison Baxter Lubbs, Lisa Sulenes, Traesti Gudmundson, Grace Woods, Samantha Wohlfeil, and Anonymous Participant #007. The dreams in the episode were edited for time.  Unedited dreams will live at the DTP website. Music: Phantom FaunaPlease take a moment to review us on iTunes. 

HBM052: Call 601-2-SATAN-2

Christian prayer hotlines are common in the United States. Less common are prayer hotlines for the other guy.  Since 2012, the Satanic Missionary Society in Olympia, Washington has managed a Satanic prayer line on their blog and receive prayer requests from people all over the country.  They ask for help with things like miscarriage, a romantic affair with a mother-in-law, a successful rap career, and more.Content Note: Explicit Content.Among those callers is Tyler Higgins, a young man from New England asking for Satanic prayers to get into The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (aka. AMDA), his dream acting school. But Tyler was raised a Seventh Day Adventist.  And his whole life, his pastors and parents told him that all popular actors sold their souls to Satan in exchange for fame and success. With that in mind, Tyler researches Satanism online and found the Satanic Missionary Society and their prayer line. Desperate to follow his dream of acting, Tyler calls and asks for Satan's help to get into AMDA. A few weeks later, his devout Christian parents stumbled upon email exchanges between Tyler and the Satanic mission. They call the pastor over immediately to perform an exorcism.The Satanic Prayer Hotline was started by a man who calls himself "The Anti-Chris" in Olympia, Washington. It is no longer active, but you can still hear the entire archive of prayer requests. And if you're feeling frisky, you can purchase a one-of-a-kind Faustian Bargain kit, including tools and instructions on how to sell your soul to the Prince of Darkness himself.Below are varying depictions of hell and Satan.  Click images to enlarge and read about their origins.Special thanks to The Anti-Chris, Ashlee the Blind Satanist and Lillith Starr for their help on this episode. This episode was produced by Bethany Denton with editing help from Jeff Emtman. Our editor at KCRW is Nick White.Please review us on iTunes! Music by The Black Spot ||| Serocell ||| Swamp Dog

HBM051: Sister Bethany, Proxy for the Dead

Bethany Denton was about five years old when she learned that she was a Mormon. When she was eight, she learned that she was an eternal spirit destined for an eternal afterlife.  The idea of eternity terrified her, and made her afraid to stargaze into the boundless universe.When she got older, Bethany was allowed to enter the Mormon temple in Billings, Montana to act as the proxy in baptisms for the dead.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was founded in 1830, and has practiced baptisms for the dead (or "baptism by proxy") since 1840. This practice intends to give dead people the opportunity to join the church in the afterlife from Spirit Prison, where all souls wind up. Mormon teenagers are eligible to serve as a proxy when they turn twelve years old.  Over the course of her adolescence, Bethany was the proxy for about 30 dead people. When Bethany was seventeen, the late prophet Gordon B. Hinckley tasked the youth of the LDS church to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover. Bethany took him up on his challenge, and started noticing inconsistencies that made her question (and ultimately lose) her faith. She doesn't go to church anymore and hasn't for almost ten years, but she's still a member of the church, and always will be...unless she sends a formal letter of resignation.Today, Bethany Denton is the Managing Editor of Here Be Monsters and loves to marvel at outer space.  She co-produced this piece with Jeff Emtman, along with help from Nick White, our editor at KCRW. Track image by Kyle Keenan.Music: The Black Spot. 

HBM050: The Scientist is not the Angel of Death

What's a life worth? About $25, before shipping.  At least, that's the case if you want a high-quality inbred lab mouse, like the C57BL/6J (in the biz, they just call them "black mice"). In this episode of Here Be Monsters, Jeff Emtman joins "The Scientist," an unnamed cancer researcher, for an after-hours trip to his lab, where they visit the hundreds of lab mice that he tends to.  The Scientist's job is to inject his mice with cancer cells, then attempt to cure them using experimental treatments.  After the cancers become too large, he kills the mice. The Scientist says that he is not a satanist, despite the satanic art that covers much of his body.   Instead, he considers himself a utilitarian, someone who believes that sacrifices must be made to promote the most good for the most beings (human or otherwise).  And "sacrifice" is actually the technical term he and others use for killing the mice.  The Scientist admits that it is a euphemistic word, but defends it because "from their sacrifice, you gain knowledge."In his lab, the death comes via carbon dioxide, which is often thought to be the most painless option (though it has critics).  Other labs use cervical dislocation--though generally there's a requirement that the animal must be unconscious first.  After the lab, Jeff and The Scientist sit out on a porch drinking beer, discussing the path to becoming a scientist, The Scientist's admiration of Neil Degrasse Tyson, and the beautiful French animated film, Fantastic Planet.Music: Lucky Dragons, The Black Spot, Flowers

HBM049: Sam's Japan Tapes

When Sam Parker went to Japan to celebrate his mother's 60th birthday, he brought along a handheld audio recorder.  For the next few weeks, he recorded every sound that he could find, attempting to capture as many audio snapshots of Japan as possible. Sam doesn't really take pictures.  Without his glasses he's legally blind twice over.  So, to remember and share his trip, he created five beautiful audio postcards.On this episode, Sam Parker and Jeff Emtman discuss the merits of deep listening and whether it's possible for a sound to be truly ugly.   Sam also shares three of his audio postcards. You can download all of Sam's postcards at (also embedded below).Sam and Jeff met in college while working at KUGS-fm, a student operated station in Bellingham, Washington.  Sam taught Jeff how to listen closely.  Music: Sam and Jeff made all the music on this episode using a guitar and a synthesizer, respectively.

HBM048: Barrie's Mental Tempest

Barrie Wylie has heard voices for as long as he can remember. Growing up on a small island in Scotland, the voices in his head were like secret best friends that he could play with. When he left school to become a fisherman at 15, his voices told him he was a disciple of Jesus.  He believed he could control the weather and prevent harm befalling his boat and his crew.As Barrie got older, his voices intensified. They became more aggressive, telling him to harm himself and others.He learned to cope by silencing the voices with alcohol and other drugs.  He wound up in police custody more than once. When a family friend died under mysterious circumstances, Barrie was arrested and falsely suspected of murder.  While in custody, he told his doctor about his voices.   An autopsy later revealed that the friend died of natural causes. But Barrie spent the next seven years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, all while heavily medicated for paranoid schizophrenia. The voices don't leave him, no matter how much medication he took. They only got worse, until Barrie believed he heard the devil himself inside his brain. He tried to kill himself at least twice.  [Please note: this episode contains two descriptions of attempted suicide.] It was a social worker from the hospital who first suggested the Hearing Voices Network to Barrie.  HVN takes an unorthodox approach.  They say that hearing voices in and of itself should not yield a diagnosis.  They encourage people to talk to the their voices, treat their voices as if they're real people.  This approach is not universally accepted.But Barrie said that talking to his voices actively gave him agency he never had before.  He stopped trying to rid himself of his voices and instead learned how to have healthy relationships with them.  He stopped trying to hurt himself.  He stopped believing that his voices could control him. He joined Facebook support groups that advocated the Hearing Voices appoach.  And that's where he fell in love with Rachel.  She also heard voices.   Barrie and Rachel are now married and have a young child together.   He says he couldn't be happier. Barrie runs a website documenting his story and helping others through theirs. This episode was produced by Luke Eldridge.  Luke is an independent producer living in the UK.  The episode was edited by Bethany Denton, with help from Jeff Emtman, and Nick White. Music: Serocell, Flowers, The Black SpotWe recently released another (very different) story about mental illness and delusions of Jesus.  It's HBM039: A Goddamn Missionary, in which a man with Bi-polar Disorder learns to control his manic episodes through medication and altruism. 

HBM047: Peacocks Without Tails

When Hippocrates noticed that the hair on the top of his head was falling out, he fought it by applying various ointments of opium to his scalp.  But none of them worked.  So he called it a disease and named it "Alopecia" (translated to "disease of the fox") after the mangy, hairless foxes that wandered Greece in those days.  His friends called it something different though, they called it a "Hippocratic Wreath." He also tried sheep urine.  That didn't work either. Content Note: Language.Like Hippocrates, HBM Host Jeff Emtman is concerned about his hair loss.  And unlike Hippocrates, Jeff is staying away from opium and sheep genitals.   However, he wants to know if there's a relationship between baldness and vanity, so he found three bald (and bald-ish) people asked them to share stories of their hair and how they lost it, how they fought it, how they dealt with it, along with their wishes and regrets.  Jeff Emtman interviewed: - Brian Emtman (Jeff's brother), who lost his hair at 20- Eric Nucci, who has genetically thin hair- Carrie McCarty, who has trichotillomania, a hair plucking psychiatric disorderIf you're a die-hard Here Be Monsters fan, you'll recognize Carrie's voice from a short radio piece called Psychic Blob, wherein Carrie extracts a benign tumor from Jeff's arm in her backyard.  Track image for this episode comes from an app called Make Me Bald (free, Android only). Music: Monster Rally ||| Lucky Dragons ||| The Black Spot ||| Flowers ||| Serocell

HBM045: Deep Stealth Mode (How To Be A Girl)

Marlo Mack gave birth to a son.  At least, she thought she did.  As a toddler, her son crawled towards dresses, wanted to be a princess, asked to grow long blonde hair.  And at age 3, Marlo's son requested to return to her tummy so he could come back out as a baby girl.  Marlo thought it was a phase--it wasn't.  So she started learning how to raise a very young transgender daughter.  She started keeping audio diaries.  In this episode, Marlo sends her child to a new summer camp, and struggles with giving her autonomy in revealing her gender identity to other children.  Marlo faces questions daily about how to best raise her daughter.  How can she stimulate her child while protecting her in a world often unkind to transfolk?  She tells her daughter that there are some people who are like Darth Vader, just too sad to be kind anymore.  Marlo Mack and her daughter produce a podcast about their life together called How to Be a Girl.  Marlo generously gave us access to her raw recordings for use on this episode.  How to Be a Girl is part of The Heard, a new podcast network.  Marlo also writes a blog called Gender Mom. Marlo Mack is a pseudonym.  She will keep their true identities secret until her child is old enough to understand the risks of revealing her identity.  These risks are real.  2015 has been an especially bad year for trans folk;  2015 has already seen the murders of at least 15 American trans women.  Marlo and her daughter exist in what they call "deep stealth mode."  So, when do you tell people that you're a girl with a penis? When is it safer to hide?This episode was produced by Marlo Mack.  Jeff Emtman edited it with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.  Music:  The Black Spot Resources for trans children and their parents: Trans Youth Family Allies   - for families of trans youthThe Trevor Project - specifically crisis and suicide preventionYouthResource - specifically for trans/lgbt youthHuman Rights Campaign - list of resources for trans youth

HBM044: Distant Warfare

Bridget Burnquist was backpacking around Southeast Asia. After weeks of drinking cheap liquor on beautiful beaches, she was beginning to feel as though her experiences were merely superficial. She heard rumors that the nearby country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) was home to beautiful mountain villages that have hardly changed for centuries, accessible only by hiking for days in the Burmese jungles. So she headed west into Myanmar, despite (or perhaps, because of) warnings from the U.S. State Department that essentially said, “If you get into trouble, you're on your own. Travel at your own risk.”It was spring of 2014, just a few short years after Myanmar had emerged from decades of isolation imposed by its shuttered military rulers. Hundreds of unique ethnic groups within the borders of Myanmar have since been fighting for political representation. Unbeknownst to Bridget, a civil war still waged within its borders.Bridget soon arrived in the Shan State.  This region of Myanmar is home to mountainous terrain and diverse ethnic communities, accessible only by foot. She joined up with a local guide and a fellow Western traveler.  The three decide to backpack through the Palaung tea country and up into the higher, wilder areas of Myanmar.  One night in the mountains, Bridget and her travel companions had an unexpected encounter with Palaung rebel soldiers that left her questioning her perception of violence and proximity.Since Myanmar gained independence in 1948, an estimated 130,000 civilians and soldiers have been killed in civil conflict; over 700 people have been killed this year. Recent peace talks between the Burmese government and rebel groups ended in a stalemate in August 2015. An election is slated for November 2015. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese advocate for democracy, is attempting to run for president against militant incumbent Thein Sein. Her candidacy has recently been disqualified by lawmakers, but Aung San Suu Kyi continues to advocate for constitutional change to allow her presidential campaign.Bridget Burnquist produced this episode with editing help from Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton. Our editor at KCRW is Nick White.Music:  The Black Spot, Serocell, Nym, Lucky Dragons

Lying in a Stranger's Grave

Carlos Gemora loved the feeling of the dirt at the cemetary where he used to dig graves.  One day he climbed down into the loamy, silty soil and looked up at the sky.  It felt like a womb... a death womb. This piece was produced by Alex Kime and Jeff Emtman, with support from Bethany Denton. Our editor at KCRW is Nick White.Music by Nym and Lucky Dragons 

HBM043: Last Chance To Evacuate Earth

Marshall Applewhite met Bonnie Nettles in 1972, and together they built a religion. It was called Heaven's Gate, and it drew heavily from the bible, astrology, and Star Trek. Applewhite and Nettles believed they were placed on Earth to deliver a holy message. They were the leaders of their new religion, and they changed their names to Do and Ti (pronounced "doe" and "tea"). After Nettles' death, the group developed a larger, stronger following, its doctrine evolved—incorporating more and more elements of outer space and astronomical phenomenons. In 1997, Heaven's Gate became known to the public as the world's most infamous UFO cult, when 39 members (including Applewhite) ate poison and died in their Californian mansion.  They believed that the comet Hale Bopp was their exit to a higher life.  Content Warning: Discussion of suicide. If you're feeling suicidal, or know someone who is, help is available for you. Suicide is preventable.  We recommend reaching out to The Samaritans, who operate a 24 hour hotline at (877) 870-4673.  Callers outside of the US can look at organizations available in their country on this list from Suicide.orgBut before all this, Heaven's Gate supported itself financially through web design. The cult created a small company called Higher Source, and together, members of the group would travel to different businesses and build them their first websites. It was through Higher Source that Heather Chronert met the members of Heaven's Gate. She was an employee of the San Diego Polo Club, and it was her job to work closely with two Higher Source web designers on the design and execution of the polo club's website.Steven and Yvonne Hill of Cincinnati, Ohio found Heaven's Gate online. The two were unhappy with their lives in Ohio, and when they happened on, it seemed like they'd found a religion tailor-made for them. Steven and Yvonne abandoned their lives in Ohio and moved to California to join the cult.  Steven was one of the last people to defect from Heaven's Gate before the comet lit up the sky and the believers of Heaven's Gate killed themselves. For background on this story, Lina Misitzis emailed a living representative (or representatives) of Heaven's Gate.  This document is their correspondence. This episode was produced by Lina Misitzis.  The episode was edited by Jeff Emtman, Bethany Denton and Nick White.  Special thanks to Amy Isaacson. Music: Flowers, Swamp Dog, Serocell, The Black Spot  Please review us on iTunes and follow us on Twitter.

HBM042: Deers

Andy Wilson and Ryan Graves are best friends, despite having very different opinions on the hierarchy of human and animal life. The two come face-to-face with those differences after a fatal encounter on a frigid winter day in northeastern Idaho when Andy's dogs chase a deer into Lake Chatcolet.Today, Andy is happily married (celebrating his year anniversary next week), working as a fine woodworker at Renaissance Fine Woodworking, and living in Pullman Washington. He now has three brown dogs and Quincy (the brown dog from the story) knows the word "deer" - but is less likely to chase one in his 11th year.Ryan works as a nurse in Pullman Regional Hospital and lives just outside of town.  His duck died last week, but he's looking forward to the five Muscovy ducklings he's going to acquire soon. And he's looking forward to deer season.This episode is heavily adapted from a short animated film also called Deers (embedded below), produced by John Summerson.  His film received support from the Princess Grace Foundation USA. Bethany Denton produced this piece for Here Be Monsters, with editing help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White.Music: Flowers ||| Lucky Dragons ||| Flower Petal Downpour

HBM041: Crossing the River, Feeling Watched

In his junior year of high school, HBM host Jeff Emtman left his home and everything he knew to live and study in a tiny village nestled in the Cascade Mountain range of Washington state.An outsider among outsiders in a tight-knit rural community, it wasn't long before Jeff felt the unmistakable feeling of being watched.This episode is the first in our 4th season of shows.  We recently joined KCRW.  If you'd like to know what that means for the show, you can read a little bit about our acquisition.Music: Swamp Dog ||| Serocell ||| Flowers <--.NEW!This episode was produced by Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton.  Our editor at KCRW was Nick White.

Fear of Silence

HBM producers Jeff and Bethany are having more and more trouble bearing silence.On this episode, Jeff calls back crow researcher Kaeli Swift and asks her what it was like to sit in silence with a stranger. And Bethany explains the differences in the anxieties that she and Jeff have towards silence.Music: The Black SpotPlease note that there are some delicate tones in this podcast.  If you're listening in a noisy environment, you might miss them.  That's not necessarily a bad thing...just pay attention to the sounds around you.Season 4 of Here Be Monsters will begin in June.

Forty Monster Bites

Here's a little gift for you.  It's clips of every episode of Here Be Monsters.  You can use this page as a hub to your discovery of HBM.  As each clip plays, a comment will pop up in the bottom of the player.  Click that comment and a new tab will open with a link to the full episodes.  Pretty neat, right?Just because we're on break doesn't mean we don't want to hear from you.  Please, let us know what we're doing right and wrong, like us on facebook, and subscribe/review us on iTunes. 2015 will be a great year for this podcast!  We'll keep you posted about the exciting developments that are happening behind the scenes right now, including the first ever HBM Live show in NYC.  Happy New Year!

HBM040: The Reformation Bible Puritan Baptist Church

Eric Jon Phelps knows a lot of things.  He knows that the Pope controls the world.  He knows that it was the Jesuits who poisoned him in Tampa.  And he knows that we can avoid the Vatican's plans to incite global race wars is to keep the races separate. Eric is the pastor of rural Pennsylvania's Reformation Bible Puritan Baptist Church.Content Note: Explicit content including bigotry, historical inaccuracies and language. The strange thing about Eric is that he's completely open he is about his views--and he doesn't shy from criticism.  He's exceedingly knowledgeable about the Protestant Christianity which makes him a fantastic and outspoken preacher.  However, the teachings of his church have landed him a spot on the Hate Map of America, which is where HBM Producer Emile B Klein found him.In this episode, Emile visits the church to investigate the story of Eric's rise and fall in the bizarre, radical, niche world of anti-papal internet talk radio and finds out how Eric's upbringing in the Civil Rights Era informed his views on white supremacy.Emile also speaks with Mark Potok, who is a Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who thinks that Eric should be ostracized and shunned by society.This episode, more than any other in our archive, is morally troubling, for many reasons.  One resource on that Emile recommends as supplementary reading for this episode is Jonathan Haidt's wonderful book, The Righteous Mind The Righteous Mind was essential for Emile's epiphany [spoiler alert] that hating hate is unproductive.  Emile says:"All in all, I know that I am taking a pretty unlikable stand, but it's a stand I think is decent in the long run."This episode contains a 6 minute excerpt from a roundtable intervention between multiple First Ammendment Radio hosts. It has been highly edited for time.  The original intervention lasted 2 hours and can be heard in its entirety right here. We tread on some pretty delicate subjects on this episode, please let us know how we're doing.Emile B Klein and Jeff Emtman co-produced this piece.   Emile is a radio producer and a painter who’s been touring the country by bike for the last 4 years.  He is the Director at You’re U.S., which is a non-profit that highlights the qualities that tie together modern Americans through arts and craftsmanship. This episode is Dedicated to Roy Silberstein, who always fought for the underdog.Music on the show fromThe Black Spot, Olecranon Rebellion, Serocell, Cloaking, Lucky Dragons

HBM038: Do Crows Mourn Their Dead?

Crows have really strange habits around death. When a bird dies, crows gather, squawking loudly and gathering as many other birds as they can find to come and look at the dead body.Much of what we know about crow funerals comes from the work of John Marzluff, a biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. He and Kaeli Swift (one of his grad students) are trying to get to the bottom of these strange phenomena using taxidermy crows and masks and Cheetos and raw peanuts.On this episode of Here Be Monsters, We look at and listen to the strange behaviors of crows and how they might be able to teach humanity about the origins of funerals and emotions.Many thanks to David Kestenbaum of NPR's Planet Money for his help on a short version of this piece made for radio...keep your ears peeled.Also, many thanks to Brian Emtman for tipping us off to this story.Some of the crow sounds in this episode came from Cornell's Macaullay Library. Citation:…org/audio/45291In this episode there are some amazing recordings of funeral practices from around the world, including Laos (LukeIRL), Bali (RTB45), Colombia (renatofarabeuf), and Ghana (Klankbeeld). via Freesound.Music from Flower Petal Downpour, Serocell, and The Black Spot.

HBM037: Uncertain Death

Recent episodes of Here Be Monsters have been largely about death.  So, on this episode David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg teach us about the exact opposite—immortality, living forever.  Their documentary film, The Immortalists, follows a small community of scientists who think of aging as a preventable disease, not an inevitable outcome.   Seeking immortality is nothing new, in fact, the oldest known text, The Epic of Gilgamesh, is largely about a king's quest to live forever.  And further, it seems to be a quest of the rich and powerful.  Today, the community of bio-gerontologists is largely white, rich, and male.  Co-director Jason Sussberg calls aging a "first world problem," associating it with Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs.  One of the film's protagonists is Aubrey de Grey, an incredibly vocal advocate of anti-aging.  He's a computer programmer turned bio-gerontologist.  In 2012, he participated in an Oxford debate against Sir Colin Blakemore where the motion was to defeat aging entirely.  A clip from this debate appears in the episode, and the whole debate is certainly worth watching.The Immortalists is not yet available for download, but it will be soon (release date is Fall 2014).  In the meantime, you can check your local film festivals and theaters to see if there will be showings.  Also, visit, @theimmortalists on Twitter, and The Immortalists on Facebook.

HBM036: Throw It In The Ocean

Eric Chase's memory of April 19th, 1989 is largely a blur. On that day, he was aboard the USS Iowa, a World War 2 era battleship, equipped with some of the world's biggest cannons, capable of leveling a city block with a single hit.Content Note: Explicit Content, namely graphic descriptions of dead bodies.But April 19th, 1989 was the day when one of the 16 inch guns aboard the ship malfunctioned and caused a huge internal explosion that claimed the lives of 47 sailors and caused a huge fire on the ship.Eric Chase was one of the responders who ventured into the turret to recover bodies, or, well, in this case, parts of bodies. In this episode of Here Be Monsters, Eric describes his experience inside the turret, putting organic material into garbage bags, wading through the destruction. He describes how it awakened a contradiction between his sense of duty and his sense of dissatisfaction with the Naval chain of command and policy. At the time of her commissioning in 1943, the USS Iowa was one of the world's most formidable war machines.  3 other similar ships, the USS New Jersey, the USS Wisconsin, and the USS Missouri were built at the same time.  They had an illustrious history fighting in WWII.In the video below, the Iowa displays her absolutely devastating firepower not long after her maiden voyage.As Word War 2 wound down, the USS Iowa was decommissioned / mothballed.  However, as part of President Reagan's 600 Ship Navy plan during the Cold War, the Iowa was brought back from mothballs, despite its age. Off the coast of Puerto Rico, during a 16-inch gunnery exercise on April 19th, 1989, something went critically wrong, and Turret 2 suffered a massive explosion.In the investigation that followed the explosion, the navy blamed Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton Hartwig, saying that he had been jilted by a his homosexual lover, another sailor on the ship named Kendall Truitt.  The Navy claimed that the explosion was a result of Hartwig's suicidal attack on the Iowa.Hartwig's family made congress conduct another study, being convinced neither that he was gay, nor that he was suicidal.  The congressional investigation, headed up by the General Accounting Office (GAO) found that the aging powderbags on the ship, combined with the fact that guns were being over-rammed with extra powder, likely caused a spontaneous explosion while the back of the gun was still open, shooting a massive fireball into the turret. The Navy re-opened their investigation and concluded that the cause was unable to be determined.  However, they did admit to fabricating the evidence against Hartwig.Even today, the two reports still contradict one another.This episode was produced by Alex Kime a writer and sound engineer based in Chicago. He also produced Fugitives of the Blue Laguna, which aired on Here Be Monsters earlier this season.Jeff Emtman is HBM's Lead Producer.  Bethany Denton is HBM's Story Editor.Music: Phantom Fauna, Serocell, Swamp Dog, Olecranon RebellionDid you know HBM's on iTunes? Subscribe, listen and write a review!

HBM035: Spirits of the Past

It was a group of businessmen in the late 19th century who originally invented the Ouija Board. They sold them in toy shops and promising questions answered “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy.” Spiritualism was all the rage in the United States, and, while hiring a professional medium could be costly, the Ouija Board allowed ordinary people to communicate with the dead.In this episode of Here Be Monsters, freelance producer Mickey Capper attends a modern seance, conducted by 20-somethings under an udder-like canopy in a living room in Chicago. They gather around a homemade Ouija Board to summon up spirits from the past. And they’re visited by the ghost of the seance host’s long-dead ancestors. The ghost has a striking message for her about a secret she didn’t want to share with the group.Mickey said the following about the experience:Even though I've always like the idea of trying to contact the dead through a community of friends, I hadn't been to a seance before. The darkness and the candles and the makeshift Ouija Board did work... at least as an icebreaker. I felt closer to everyone than I would have expected. I also learned that whether or not you believe you're contacting the spirit, there's nothing protecting you from finding things you'd rather not hear.Of course, Ouija Boards don’t run on a dark energy, the planchette isn’t moved by the delicate hands of wispy ghosts. Instead, its movement is achieved through a well understood phenomenon called the Idiomotor Effect. Ideomotor movements are subconscious muscle movements that occur when people think they are holding entirely still. They’re heavily influence by perception and bias. And in Ouija, it can be responsible for creating stunning messages that seem to be otherworldly.So, who was this ghost who revealed the host’s secret? It’s hard to know. But even for someone who would deny outright the existence of spirits and ghosts, it’s impossible to deny the power that belief in the paranormal holds.Mickey Capper is a freelance radio reporter and the co-host of Tape, which is a new podcast that interviews people who make radio. It's good, it's people you've heard of...listen to it. taperadio.orgMusic: The Black Spot, Serocell, Lucky Dragons

HBM034: The Grandmother and The Vine Of The Dead

Ayahuasca is one of the most powerful and most illegal hallucinogens in the world. It contains DMT. But, for as long as anyone can remember, it's been used by people who have wanted to know more about the universe.These people have traditionally been involved with shamanic tribes of the Amazon Rainforest, but in recent years, more and more people have had access to Ayahuasca through ceremonies lead by shamans in countries near the South American Equator.Ayahuasca (also called Iowaska, Yagé, Vine of the Dead, La Madrecita, El Abuelo, etc.) is not a party drug. In fact, it can be absolutely terrifying...Ayahuasca has a reputation for spewing up the taker's darkest fears in front of visuals of multi-dimensional cosmic weirdness and forcing them to confront every dark thought they've ever had. But it also has a potential for intense healing.In this episode, producer Lauren Stelling visits her old boss Cherub, who was facing a lot of grief after her best friend's daughter, Zippy, was killed in a freak accident of nature.Cherub was seeking alternatives to the common American treatments for grief, so, she flew away from her home in Washington State, down to a tropical rain forest where shamans guided her on a week-long Ayahuasca journey to find healing from her grief.The episode was produced by Lauren Stelling. She's a photographer living and working in Seattle, Washington. Check out her beautiful photographs. If you liked this show, you'll also love HBM015: Jacob Visits Saturn.  It's about MDMA therapy and feeling small. Big thanks to Choque Chinchay Journeys, who provided the recordings of icaros for this episode.Music:Serocell ←New!Monster Rally  ←New!Half Ghost Please rate the show on iTunes and/or tweet it to all your pals.

HBM032: Fugitives of the Blue Laguna

Back when David was a nerdy Oklahoman teenager, he fell in love with Stephanie. They both had angst towards their overbearing, conservative parents and they both wanted out.So, when the opportunity presented itself, they decided to run for it. They took David's blue 1976 Chevy Laguna and as much money as they could find and started driving to Portland to start a new life.Stephanie's mom found out and hired a private investigator. She told the PI to break David's arms if he ever caught up with them.So, they drove across the United States binge-listening to the the only cassette they had: The Cure's Standing on the Beach Singles.They get arrested for stealing condoms and deodorant, they learn how to sweet-talk free food out of Taco Bell, and they create fake identities for themselves.David and Stephanie make it to Boise, Idaho, where they move in with a bunch of Mormon punk rockers and assume a new life.And then they find out the FBI's involved. Suddenly David's facing 30 years of prison time for kidnapping and statutory rape. And, what started as an adventure, turns into something really serious, really fast.This week's show was co-produced and recorded by Alex Kime. He's a writer and sound engineer living in Chicago, Illinois.Music: Lucky Dragons and Justin LaForte David now works as a professor of Sociology in Washington State at a community college, where lives with his wife (not Stephanie) and daughter. He was one of the founding members of the Infernal Noise Brigade.

HBM031: The Roman Slug Death Orgy

In a strange, small, moss-covered forest in Bellingham, Washington, Jeff stumbled on to the most gruesome scene of hedonism he's ever seen.While it's not common for humans to witness slug death orgies, every once in a while, someone's there with a camera in the right time and place. These slugs are most likely European Red Slugs (Arion Rufus), which were first noticed in the Western United States by a Californian biologist who found one in a lawn in Seattle.Now, the slugs are commonplace, and have incredible omnivorous, cannibalistic, and genetalial (not a word) appetites.Some parts of slug life are akin to aristocratic Roman life under the rule of Caligula,a figure that historians love to hate...incest, murder, insanity, sloth, greed, etc.  While the stories of his perversity and violence are often debated and overblown, no one in their right mind argues that he was a good emperor or even someone you'd want to grab lunch with.This episode marks the launch of the long-awaited third season of Here Be Monsters.  Be sure to rate us on iTunes and tell your friends.Music: Phantom Fauna ||| The Black Spot ||| Lucky Dragons ||| Olecranon Rebellion <--New!Bonus article with a great title: Perverted cannibalistic hermaphrodites haunt the Pacific Northwest!

HBM030: Crickets, Cadavars, and Conventional Wisdom

This episode is a Grab-bag, it contains three segments that serve as follow-ups to the three most recent episodes of Here Be Monsters.Part 1: Crickets on TapeIn this segment, Jeff takes apart his tape recorder and installs a knob to help him slow down the tape without using digital wizardry in attempts to de-muddy the waters after HBM029: Do Crickets Sing Hymns.  He bought some more crickets and slowed the cassette slowed down to 1/3 speed.  The results were telling, and surprising.In that episode, we were talking about the confusion surrounding the bit of audio called God's Cricket Chorus by Jim Wilson.  In this segment we’ll clear up exactly what is known and exactly what is not about God’s Cricket Chorus and its derivative works.Also, a correction to a mistake we made in Episode 29 about how digital audio is constructed for our ears.  In that episode we represented the final product of digital audio to be choppy, yet moving by too quick for our ears to notice its choppiness.  This is NOT the case.  In fact, digital audio is always converted back to analog before it hits our ears.  This is done with a device called a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC).  Here’s an article that explains this process very simply  (Page 4 is where the good stuff starts).  Big thanks to the two commenter s who pointed out this error.Want to try stretching some crickets yourself?  Download this same set of cricket songs we used for the shows. Part 2: Conventional Wisdom on the Future of the Four HumorsIn HBM027: Balancing Act, Here Be Monsters producer Lina Misitzis delved into the rich history of the Four Humors, which was, for thousands of years, the way much of world understood medicine, the body and the universe as a whole.While we never heard from Alain Touwaide in that episode, he was central to our research of traditional medicine.  He’s the director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions in Washington DC.He spoke with Lina about the foggy past and likely future of Humorism.  Part 3: The Resting Places of Medical CadaversIn HBM028: Johnathan’s Cadaver Paintings, Johnathan Happ, a grad student at the University of Washington, visits one of the cadaver labs on campus.  He spends a lot of time there, studying the bodies, so that he can make paintings of them in his studio.  While that episode has a lot of information about the cadaver labs themselves.  We never got the chance to talk about  what happens to those bodies after their 3 year rotation in the lab.  So, in this segment, Jeff goes out to the Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in northern Seattle, where most of those bodies come to rest.  Special thanks to two employees of Evergreen-Washelli who helped out with a lot of the background for this piece:  Sandy Matthie (Reception at Columbarium) and Brian Braathen (Funeral Home Manager)Music: The Black Spot ||| Half Ghost  <-- New!

HBM029: Do Crickets Sing Hymns?

A bit of stunningly beautiful audio has surfaced online recently and it's riling up two different kinds of people--churchgoers and audio engineers. Some are saying that this music proves God's intention, others say it's a load of crap. The funny thing is that it's just recordings of bugs, crickets chirping, but with the speed turned waaaaaayyyy ddoooowwwnnn. Whatever it is, it's...undeniably "church-y".But some have argued that it's not just bugs in the recording, that there's voices or guitars accompanying the's just too good to be true.So, in this episode, audio engineer Toby Reif takes us down the rabbit hole of audio theory to help us understand how sound-stretching works, and the reasons why this long loop of cricket noises has touched so many.Jeff also buys 50 crickets in this episode to see if they'll chirp. Tune in to see what happens.Toby and Jeff originally heard the cricket audio from a Croatian Sound Cloud user who uploaded the sounds and mis-attributed them to the theater director Robert Wilson. (UPDATE: the Soundclouder who uploaded this has since corrected much of the misinformation that was formerly in the sound's description).Toby and Jeff love Paul's Extreme Sound Stretcher. It's free. (Windows/Linux only. sorry Apple folk)Music from: The Palisades ||| Phantom Fauna

HBM028: Jonathan's Cadaver Paintings

Jonathan Happ’s white lab coat and latex gloves make him look like a doctor when he stands in a room full of people. But he’s not a doctor…he’s an artist, and the people he shares this room with are all dead.In this episode, Jonathan takes a recorder into the University of Washington’s cadaver lab and reports on what he sees, and why he draws and paints images of the bodies.Sensitive listeners should note that this episode contains graphic (but mostly scientific) descriptions of the cadavers.The track image is one of Jonathan's paintings. To see a larger version and a drawing of the tendons in a cadaver hand, go to HBM's facebook pageHere Be Monsters currently needs your help. We're currently just a baker's dozen reviews shy of 50 on iTunes. Go to iTunes and tell people what you think of HBM.Music from: Swamp Dog ||| Flower Petal Downpour ||| Nym ||| The Black Spot

HBM027: Balancing Act

For thousands of years, Western Medicine thought it had itself figured out. Everything came in fours. There were four sensations, four fluids in the body, four kinds of people, and four elements making up the world. They were all related. There wasn’t one without the other. Everything was a balancing act, and it was called Humorism.In recent history, vaccines, sterilization, and other modern treatments have pushed Humorism out of the picture. But traditions ingrained in culture, science, and religion for thousands of years don’t just vanish. While few people still eat lemons to balance their yellow bile, or willingly drain their blood at the barber shop, elements of Humorism still play into modern society. They can be hard to see, but trust us, they’re here.Music from: Lucky Dragons ||| Nym ||| The Black SpotHey! Review HBM on iTunes! And like us on Facebook!

HBM026: John Comes Down The Birth Canal

It was 40-odd years before John Hanneman figured out what the night terrors of his youth represented. In this episode, John describes the first trauma he experienced in life—something we all share. And he explains how he overcame it to become the person he is today.Check out some pictures of John Hanneman over on the HBM's FacebookIf John’s voice sounds familiar, you aren’t imagining it. John appeared on the show waaay back on Episode 3: John Dips Below where he talked about his experiences diving below the waters of Puget Sound to take breathing lessons from a giant octopus.Music from: Phantom Fauna ||| The Black SpotHey! Review HBM on iTunes! And like us on Facebook!

HBM025: The Sasquatch of Pumpkintown VS Motley Crue Jon Bon Jovi

Homemade Bigfoot costumes can get you in a lot of trouble. And in gun-toting community of Pumpkintown, SC, a fake Bigfoot costume might get you killed too. But when the recession caused a local outfitter’s store sales to sag, it was a risk he was willing to take.In the episode, Ben Becker tells the story of a disgusting hound dog named “Motley Crue John Bon Jovi”, a tobacco-juice soaked Sasquatch suit, and the world’s worst hot sauce.Sharp listeners should note that no one fact-checked a single claim in this story. Wait, actually, we did look up Pumpkintown on Google Maps. It’s a real place. Use discretion before you use anything else in your term paper.Music from: Flowerpetal Downpour ||| Lucky Dragons ||| Nym ||| Swamp DogHey! Review HBM on iTunes! And like us on Facebook!

HBM024: The Friendliest Town In Texas

Shoppingspree Clark showed up on the side of the road outside the “Friendliest Town in Texas” with nothing more than a sketchpad and the burnt-out ruin of the RV he’d just bought.Content Note: Explicit ContentColeman, Texas’ self-claimed title is true because it used to be on a billboard above the highway. And the people that live there are diverse, troubled, religious, unusual…and friendly.This episode contains many adult themes, including suicide, prejudice, and racism. There are also unbleeped swear words and racial slurs. Use discretion.This episode was originally released by Shoppingspree Clark in June 2013.Most of the music on this show comes from Shoppingspree himself. His moniker, Crunchy Person, has some good albums up on Bandcamp.Music from: Javelin ||| Seagull InvasionHere Be Monsters is a proud member of the Mule Radio Syndicate.  They distribute some awesome programs...checkum out.Hey! Review HBM on iTunes! And like us on Facebook!

HBM023: The Near Destruction of Rey Jaguar [Extended Cut]

For lucha libre wrestlers, masks are everything. They wear them in the ring, they wear them to the grocery store, they wear them any time they appear in public. No one knows what face lies under that mask, so it makes sense that de-masking a Luchadore or Luchadora is highest taboo in the sport.In this episode, we travel to Seattle’s South Park neighborhood for Lucha Libre In The Park, a free wrestling event put on by Lucha Libre Volcanica. Costumes, yelling kids, exquisite masks, cross-dressing, motorcycles, bad victory speeches--everything you would expect, and one thing that no one saw coming.Check out the crazy photos from that night right hereThis piece’s shortened form (6 minutes) was entered as a submission in KCRW’s 24-Hour Radio Race. Listen to the original.And also listen to the other entries!Music from: Lucky Dragons ||| The Black SpotHere Be Monsters is now a proud member of the Mule Radio Syndicate, which distributes some other really great podcasts. Check them out at! Review HBM on iTunes!

HBM022: The Holy Ghost Fixes David's Brain

David Blackshire Key has been called a douchebag more times than he can count. It's probably because he used to wear big sunglasses--day and night, indoors and out. He wasn't a movie star, he just had brain cancer.Writer and radio producer Bridget Burnquist produced this show.One of his side-effects was a strange sensitivity to light called "photophobia". Even after doctors removed the tumor, his painful sensitivity continued. So he turned to his faith, looking for healing from a supernatural force.In this show, we reference Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California.Music from: Lucky Dragons ||| Swamp Dog ||| Flower Petal Downpour ||| The Black SpotHey! Review HBM on iTunes!

HBM021: Potential Energy

Season 2 of Here Be Monsters begins.The reasons why I bike at night are diverse. It’s partly because I don’t feel graceful anywhere else, it’s partly to run away and it’s partly out of persistent defiance of my failing vision.I recently biked out to a parking garage on the outskirts of Boulder, Colorado and remembered the most significant moment of my eighteenth year, a night that made everything I do now possible.The story involves electronic dance music, a laundromat, a bunch of sweaty teenagers pretending like it’s the eighties and one of the loudest amplifiers I’ve ever heard.Music Nym ||| The Black SpotHey! Review HBM on iTunes!

HBM000: Hello There

Here Be Monsters is a podcast about strange and unusual and beautiful and sometimes dark things.Jeff Emtman started Here Be Monsters in 2012.Here are three things you should know about the show:You can listen to the episodes in any order you want, there’s no need to start from the beginning. Some of our oldest oldest episodes aren’t on the feed anymore, but you can hear them all on our website, you listen to this show and you like it, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts, and follow us on social media.If you ever want to get in touch for any reason, it’s easy to do. We love hearing your feedback, your questions, your ideas for episodes, or secrets that you want to share. We have a contact form on our website, and we have a voicemail line: 765-374-5263.Enjoy the show!
01/01/122m 15s
Heart UK