HBM059: When Cthulhu Calls

HP Lovecraft.  1934

HP Lovecraft's drawing of his own monster, Cthulhu.  1934

...Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which has shielded him since the sun was young...He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise...

 

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

Hey, by the way, we're having a Season 4 wrap party in Seattle in May.  Let us know if you can make it.

Domes in the water off the coast of Rockaway point.  Click through for map.

Domes in the water off the coast of Rockaway point.  Click through for map.

We produced this episode in collaboration with Imaginary Worlds from Panoply Studios. 

We produced this episode in collaboration with Imaginary Worlds from Panoply Studios. 

Domes in the water off the coast of Rockaway point.  Click through for map.

Domes in the water off the coast of Rockaway point.  Click through for map.

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. 

Jeff Emtman wearing his protective garb prior to entering The Scientist's lab. 

Jeff Emtman wearing his protective garb prior to entering The Scientist's lab. 

The Scientist points to the spot where he injects cancer cells into lab mice. 

Trailer for "Fantastic Planet" (1973). AKA "La Planète sauvage".

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

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.

This episode is sponsored by Squarespace, the easiest way to create a professional website. They’ve got a great deal for HBM listeners. Go to SquareSpace.com and use the promo code “monsters10” to get 10% off and a free trial.