Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

HBM079: The Tingles

Devaan Ingraham 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 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.

Molly Segal produced this episode.

Music: The Black Spot | | | AHEE

Additional Sounds: Arnaud Coutancier | | | Richard Frohlich

Screaming: Benjamin Harper | | | John Hill

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HBM078: Sagittarius Has $45 [EXPLICIT]

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.

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.  

Please Note: This episode contains frank discussions of sexual addiction and desire.  All names in this episode are pseudonyms.

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.

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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.

Flag of Pakistan’s Balochistan Province

Flag of Pakistan’s Balochistan Province


Documentary on Balochistan conflict, from Al Jazeera

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 | | |  AHEE

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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 (see below).

Makaton is a signing language meant to supplement spoken words.  

Nursery rhymes performed in 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   |||   Flowers

Hello 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.    

Conduct your own Ganzfeld Experiment from the comfort of your home.

Find images in the static from the comfort of your own home.

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 OneListen 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