Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

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.

Valley where William heard RPGs

Valley where William heard RPGs

WARNING: The videos below contain images of warfare that may be disturbing to some viewers.   These videos were uploaded a group claiming to be the TNLA, a Palaung rebel army.  We sampled sounds from these videos for the episode.   Jeff examined the first video, and believes that the sounds of gunshots were added in post-production.

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.  

But 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 heavensgate.com, 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. 

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.org

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  

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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

Ryan Graves walking the hills of the Palouse.

Ryan Graves walking the hills of the Palouse.

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.

 

UPDATE:

This is Jeff, host of HBM. I have a very unusual update to our most recent episode, where I described a feeling of...

Posted by Here Be Monsters on Saturday, June 27, 2015

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.