The Podcast About the Unknown
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.
- Violence (momentary)
- Language (fleeting)
But 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.
Anna Klein produced this episode. Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton edited. Nick 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.
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.
- Stylized blood (video)
- Flashing images (video)
A 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.
Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton. Thank you to Brian Emtman and Ariana Nedelman for loaning the camera and lenses.
This 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.
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.
Bethany Denton produced this episode, with editing help from Jeff Emtman. Nick White is our editor at KCRW, and Kristen Lepore is our manager at KCRW’s Independent Producer Project.
There’s still time...
... for you to order a meat poster to be hand delivered by Jeff himself! If you live in the Boston area and want to save on shipping for one of our meat posters, check out our store.
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.
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).
In other news, if you live in the Boston area, and would like free shipping on our HBM Meat Poster, Jeff will deliver you one on his bike (while supplies last). Just purchase the poster as usual, then we’ll refund you the shipping cost. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to know if the offer’s still good or to see if you live within delivery range.