HBM101: Much Corruption

Growing up, Jeff Emtman had a hard time balancing his piety for the One God with his piety for the Gnomish lord Berwyn.  Generally, he deferred to the latter, though he lost favor eventually with both.

Jeff’s scoutmaster, a retired surgeon with a habit of collecting unusual boats, was always trying to get Jeff outside, away from the computer where he spent most of his free time playing a game where he tried to save the world from corruption and evil.  

Ancient Domains of Mystery (more commonly called “ADOM”) is an massive roguelike game that’s inspired heavily by Dungeons and Dragons.  Developer Thomas Biskup released the first version of it in 1994.

Jeff, a gnomish wizard of status, is susceptible to corruptive background radiation.  Once pure, his breath became ever more sulphurous, thorns that sprouted from his hands, etc. And he failed in his quest to save the world.

The Surgeon invited Jeff to join him for kayaking on the Naches River of Washington State.   The river holds a small irrigation dam that the two must navigate--the Surgeon with ease, and Jeff with no small amount of existential, religious struggle.

Example of a character bio created in ADOM. This character, a dwarfish wizard was born in the sign of the Falcon, which garners benefits to initial willpower and charisma. Also has increased ability to survive in in wild. Dwarves tend to be good with magic and subterranean skills.

Character ‘@’ engaged in combat with goblin berserker ‘g’ in a partially explored dungeon. Hostile ice vortex ‘V’ approaches. Far right: Staircase leading upwards ‘<’, lawfully aligned altar ‘_’ and an ancient statue ‘&’. Also pictured: walls ‘#’, floors ‘.’, and doors ‘#’.

The “burning hands” spell in this episode comes from a Esperanto-language reading of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, released as public domain audiobook by Librivox. The excerpt used can be translated to “...and the chain was bound around the arm.

Producer: Jeff Emtman
Editor: Jeff Emtman
Music: Serocell, The Black Spot, AHEE, Circling Lights ← New music!

HBM099: Spell for the Repulsion of Astral Vampires

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.

Ingredients: 
- An empty parking garage
- A pair of shoes
- Loads of old personal and family videos
- A tactile transducer 
- Blood (any kind)
- A bathtub
A strong knowledge of how to not get electrocuted

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Content note:
- 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.

Music: The Black Spot | | | Serocell | | | The Other Stars

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.  


One more thing...

We recently posted an HBM sweater design to our Instagram as a joke.  But some people really liked it.  Should we print it? Let us know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

HBM096: Are We Still Afraid?

Here Be Monsters is almost 100 episodes old. It’s grown a lot since Jeff was a scared 22 year old learning audio editing in his basement. So as we approach the milestone, we take a look back, check in with some of our memorable guests, and take the chance to answer some listener questions while we’re at it.

Content Note:

Drug Use (recreational)
Death (accidental)
Death (intentional)
Eating Disorder
Language
Sexual Humor
Sex

On this episode we’ll hear updates from or about:

Luke Eldridge and his sons Griff and Ira from HBM076: Griff’s Speech
Remi Dun from HBM080: An Ocean of Halves
Muhammad Tariq from HBM077: Snow on Date Trees, Then on Pines
Tyler Higgins from HBM052: Call 601-2-SATAN-2
Patti Negri from HBM054: Flaming Sword of Truth
Erin from HBM064: A Shrinking Shadow
Jacob Lemanski from HBM015: Jacob Visits SaturnHBM072: Ant God

▶   You can call us any time at (765) 374 - 5263   ◀

Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman produced this episode. Nick White is our editor at KCRW. 

Music: The Black Spot  |||  Flowers ||| Lucky Dragons ||| Serocell

HBM063: The Art of the Scam, by Malibu Ron [EXPLICIT]

Presumably, any given mystic falls into one of two categories: true believer or scam artist. It's foolish to think that this is a categorization that can be made at first glance. Spotting a good scammer is near impossible, unless they tell you outright.

On this episode of Here Be Monsters, Jeff Emtman has a conversation with an internet mystic who identifies as scam artist. Vice would call him an "Etsy witch"; he calls himself a "haunted demon seller." Regardless, he doesn't give out his real name.

For the purpose of this story, let's just call him "Malibu Ron." Malibu makes his living selling trinkets supposedly imbued with spirits: sex demons, werewolves, mermaids, djinn, vampires, etc. They aren't. Malibu sells his intangible beings and spells online for as little as $5 and as much as $11,000.

Malibu got into the business of internet mysticism about 10 years ago while he was very sick. He had to take extended medical leave from work. In his months of recovery, he read a lot online and discovered Etsy Witching. As a joke, he posted a cheap ring imbued with a sex demon. It sold for $12. He decided not to go back to his old job and instead focus on becoming a full-time witch. He now manages many (he won't tell us how many) identities and stores online.

Malibu feels no guilt about his scam. He has a moral line and he doesn't cross it. No death curses, no sex enslavement of real people, and no spells to heal the terminally ill. He doesn't sell things that could make him feel guilty. And further, he says his clients are mostly rich. And he says his clients believe in magic because it protects them from realizing their cosmic insignificance. Malibu doesn't believe in magic (except for God, and maybe aliens).

Part of Malibu Ron's shoe collection.

Malibu Ron.

Malibu says that he lives well, but that he's no Donald Trump-- he's not rich. He spends his money on shoes. He values his personal collection of Nike Dunk SBs and Air Jordans at over $20,000. Several of his pairs are one-offs, meaning he's the only one in the world who owns them. But his home, his clothing, and all of his other outward appearances (apart from the shoes) are modest.

Most of his clients are happy with his services, though Malibu does receive occasional death threats when his spells don't work. He says many of his clients would likely benefit from therapy and that, for some, magic rings may take on that role.


 Jeff Emtman produced this episode with help from Bethany Denton and Nick White.

Music: Serocell ||| The Black Spot

Like the show? Please review us on iTunes.
Want to send us a sex demon? Do it on Twitter @HBMpodcast

HBM035: Spirits of the Past

It was a group of businessmen in the late 19th century who originally invented the Ouija Board. They sold them in toy shops and promising questions answered “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy.” Spiritualism was all the rage in the United States, and, while hiring a professional medium could be costly, the Ouija Board allowed ordinary people to communicate with the dead.

In this episode of Here Be Monsters, freelance producer Mickey Capper attends a modern seance, conducted by 20-somethings under an udder-like canopy in a living room in Chicago. They gather around a homemade Ouija Board to summon up spirits from the past. And they’re visited by the ghost of the seance host’s long-dead ancestors. The ghost has a striking message for her about a secret she didn’t want to share with the group.

Mickey said the following about the experience:

Even though I've always like the idea of trying to contact the dead through a community of friends, I hadn't been to a seance before. The darkness and the candles and the makeshift Ouija Board did work... at least as an icebreaker. I felt closer to everyone than I would have expected. I also learned that whether or not you believe you're contacting the spirit, there's nothing protecting you from finding things you'd rather not hear.

Of course, Ouija Boards don’t run on a dark energy, the planchette isn’t moved by the delicate hands of wispy ghosts. Instead, its movement is achieved through a well understood phenomenon called the Idiomotor Effect. Ideomotor movements are subconscious muscle movements that occur when people think they are holding entirely still. They’re heavily influence by perception and bias. And in Ouija, it can be responsible for creating stunning messages that seem to be otherworldly.

So, who was this ghost who revealed the host’s secret? It’s hard to know. But even for someone who would deny outright the existence of spirits and ghosts, it’s impossible to deny the power that belief in the paranormal holds.

Mickey Capper is a freelance radio reporter and the co-host of Tape, which is a new podcast that interviews people who make radio. It's good, it's people you've heard of...listen to it. taperadio.org

Music
The Black Spot
Serocell
Lucky Dragons

Track image from a 1915 edition of The Ogden Chronicle