Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

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.  

Music: The Black Spot

👇 HBM021: Potential Energy, the version with words.

👇 Excerpts from Portraits without People photo series by Jeff Emtman, 2011

PSSSSSSSSSST………

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.  

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Content note:


Language (fleeting)

In 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.  

A preserved Mexican free-tailed bat at the welcome center of Valley View Hot Springs

Helen Katich

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 Emtman produced this episode.  He recorded the bat calls 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.

Music: The Black Spot ||| Laura Goldhamer

HBM080: The Ocean of Halves [EXPLICIT]

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.  

The contents of Remi’s bag, laid on a bedsheet.  Contents include coconut oil, wet wipes, money, mouthwash, hosiery, lube, tampons, pepper spray / mace, condoms, cell phone charger, deoderant, eye drops, and cosmetics.

The contents of Remi’s bag, laid on a bedsheet.  Contents include coconut oil, wet wipes, money, mouthwash, hosiery, lube, tampons, pepper spray / mace, condoms, cell phone charger, deoderant, eye drops, and cosmetics.

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

Episode art by Remi's partner. 


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We’re on Season break!  We’ll be back with Season 6 starting in the fall.  Thank you for your supporting comments on Twitter, your reviews on iTunes / Apple Podcasts, and your likes on Facebook.  We’re already working on Season 6.  It will be even better.

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 observance.bandcamp.com (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.

Photos Courtesy of David Parker and Juliana de Groot.

This episode contains postcards 1, 3, and 2 (in that order).  Here are Sam's liner notes:

Postcard 1 (begins 08:30)

My dad being a smart-ass on top of Mount Omuro, Izu Peninsula.

Old-school drone at the Meiji Shrine gift shop.

Crowds at the Osaka aquarium

Samurai re-enactment at Himeji Castle.

A private onsen in the town of Ito.

Mystery music coming from out of the woods at Yoyogi Park + my mom explaining directions for purifying yourself pre-shrine.

Birdsong from Miyajima, one of the most serene places I have ever been to.  You should go.

Postcard 3 (begins 11:40)

A television playing an old Donald Duck cartoon in Shimokitazawa.

Lunch-time rush hour at Shibuya station - each beep is a person going through the gate.

A bucolic little tune being piped through speakers in a light-post.

The performance artist Morimura Yasumasa re-enacting the final words of author Yukio Mishima.

Windchimes at Daisho-in temple, which was maybe the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to in my life, no hyperbole. 

Postcard 2 (begins 15:00)

An ATM transaction in Harajuku

Music in the lobby of a hostel in Miyajima

The best laugh I heard all trip, Narita airport.

An anti-militarization/nuclear warfare protest in Osaka. The current Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe) is a hawk and has authorized an expansion of US military bases in Okinawa.

While in Miyajima, I walked by a building and someone had left a portable CD player with a speaker on a staircase. It was playing this song on repeat. This was pretty typical of Miyajima. There are also some wind chimes playing very low in certain places. Maybe you can hear them?


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 page

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Music from: Swamp Dog ||| Flower Petal Downpour ||| Nym ||| The Black Spot

Here Be Monsters is now a proud member of the Mule Radio Syndicate, which distributes some other really great podcasts. Check them out at MuleRadio.net.

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