HBM039: A Goddamn Missionary

Terry Crowley understands that he is an imperfect hero. But his efforts to help people in crisis are made possible by his ability to speak their language. That's because Terry himself has Bipolar Disorder and has been treated five times for thinking he was Jesus.

But Terry, who splits his time between the small town of Hoquiam, Washington and Seattle, knows that keeping his delusions in check will mean the success of his mission to help his friends and family and the "crazies" on the street that he checks in with.

The simple fact is that people who live on the street are more likely to have mental illnesses. PBS has a good factsheet about the knowns and unknowns of homelessness

In this episode of Here Be Monsters, Terry often refers to Manic Depression, a condition that, per the DSM-5, has been reclassified as Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, memory, concentration, sleep, sex drive, appetite and self esteem.

The causes of Bipolar Disorder are unknown, but it's thought to be hereditary.

Bipolar Disorder can disrupt personal and professional relationships, but it is treatable. Therapy, medication, support networks can help mitigate its negative impacts.

Bipolar Disorder often goes undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or untreated. If you experience symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, or know someone who does, help is available.

More information about Bipolar Disorder from the National Institute of Mental Health

If you're feeling suicidal, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US, at 1-800-273-TALK

For help outside of the US, here is a list of suicide prevention hotlines for almost every country


This episode was produced by Jeff Emtman with help from our Producer in Training, Grant Shprintz, and our story editor, Bethany Denton.

Music on the show from: Phantom Fauna ||| The Black Spot ||| Lucky Dragons

Right now, our friends over at NPR's Snap Judgment are running a crowd funding campaign that is critical to the success of great storytelling on the radio. Go ahead and toss them a dollar and tell them HBM sent you. They have some great rewards, too.

HBM037: Uncertain Death

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Recent episodes of Here Be Monsters have been largely about death.  So, on this episode David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg teach us about the exact opposite—immortality, living forever.  Their documentary film, The Immortalists, follows a small community of scientists who think of aging as a preventable disease, not an inevitable outcome.   

Watch Trailer for The Immortalists

Seeking immortality is nothing new, in fact, the oldest known text, The Epic of Gilgamesh, is largely about a king's quest to live forever.  And further, it seems to be a quest of the rich and powerful.  Today, the community of bio-gerontologists is largely white, rich, and male.  Co-director Jason Sussberg calls aging a "first world problem," associating it with Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs.  

One of the film's protagonists is Aubrey de Grey, an incredibly vocal advocate of anti-aging.  He's a computer programmer turned bio-gerontologist.  In 2012, he participated in an Oxford debate against Sir Colin Blakemore where the motion was to defeat aging entirely.  A clip from this debate appears in the episode, and the whole debate is certainly worth watching.

The Immortalists is not yet available for download, but it will be soon (release date is Fall 2014).  In the meantime, you can check your local film festivals and theaters to see if there will be showings.  Also, visit TheImmoratlists.com, @theimmortalists on Twitter, and The Immortalists on Facebook.


If you enjoyed this conversation, you'll probably enjoy HBM010: The Time Traveler's Convention which touches on many of the same topics, but through the lens of retrograde time travel.  You might also enjoy our interview with Sean Dunne, another filmmaker who made a short doc at the annual Gathering of the Juggalos.  We talked to him in HBM016: 10,000 Juggalos.

Music on the show from Swamp Dog and Serocell

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

HBM030: Crickets, Cadavars, and Conventional Wisdom

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This episode is a Grab-bag, it contains three segments that serve as follow-ups to the three most recent episodes of Here Be Monsters.

Part 1: Crickets on Tape

In this segment, Jeff takes apart his tape recorder and installs a knob to help him slow down the tape without using digital wizardry in attempts to de-muddy the waters after HBM029: Do Crickets Sing Hymns.  He bought some more crickets and slowed the cassette slowed down to 1/3 speed.  The results were telling, and surprising.

In that episode, we were talking about the confusion surrounding the bit of audio called God's Cricket Chorus by Jim Wilson.  In this segment we’ll clear up exactly what is known and exactly what is not about God’s Cricket Chorus and its derivative works.

Also, a correction to a mistake we made in Episode 29 about how digital audio is constructed for our ears.  In that episode we represented the final product of digital audio to be choppy, yet moving by too quick for our ears to notice its choppiness.  This is NOT the case.  In fact, digital audio is always converted back to analog before it hits our ears.  This is done with a device called a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC).  Here’s an article that explains this process very simply  (Page 4 is where the good stuff starts).  Big thanks to the two commenter s who pointed out this error.

Want to try stretching some crickets yourself?  Download this same set of cricket songs we used for the shows.

Part 2: Conventional Wisdom on the Future of the Four Humors

In HBM027: Balancing Act, Here Be Monsters producer Lina Misitzis delved into the rich history of the Four Humors, which was, for thousands of years, the way much of world understood medicine, the body and the universe as a whole.

While we never heard from Alain Touwaide in that episode, he was central to our research of traditional medicine.  He’s the director of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions in Washington DC.

He spoke with Lina about the foggy past and likely future of Humorism. 

Part 3: The Resting Places of Medical Cadavers

In HBM028: Johnathan’s Cadaver Paintings, Johnathan Happ, a grad student at the University of Washington, visits one of the cadaver labs on campus.  He spends a lot of time there, studying the bodies, so that he can make paintings of them in his studio. 

While that episode has a lot of information about the cadaver labs themselves.  We never got the chance to talk about  what happens to those bodies after their 3 year rotation in the lab. 

So, in this segment, Jeff goes out to the Evergreen-Washelli Cemetery in northern Seattle, where most of those bodies come to rest. 

Special thanks to two employees of Evergreen-Washelli who helped out with a lot of the background for this piece:  Sandy Matthie (Reception at Columbarium) and Brian Braathen (Funeral Home Manager)

Music:

The Black Spot ||| Half Ghost  <-- New!

 

HBM029: Do Crickets Sing Hymns?

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A bit of stunningly beautiful audio has surfaced online recently and it's riling up two different kinds of people--churchgoers and audio engineers. Some are saying that this music proves God's intention, others say it's a load of crap. The funny thing is that it's just recordings of bugs, crickets chirping, but with the speed turned waaaaaayyyy ddoooowwwnnn. Whatever it is, it's...undeniably "church-y".

But some have argued that it's not just bugs in the recording, that there's voices or guitars accompanying the insects...it's just too good to be true.

So, in this episode, audio engineer Toby Reif takes us down the rabbit hole of audio theory to help us understand how sound-stretching works, and the reasons why this long loop of cricket noises has touched so many.

Jeff also buys 50 crickets in this episode to see if they'll chirp. Tune in to see what happens.

Toby and Jeff originally heard the cricket audio from a Croatian Sound Cloud user who uploaded the sounds and mis-attributed them to the theater director Robert Wilson. (UPDATE: the Soundclouder who uploaded this has since corrected much of the misinformation that was formerly in the sound's description).

Toby and Jeff love Paul's Extreme Sound Stretcher. It's free. (Windows/Linux only. sorry Apple folk)

Music from: The Palisades ||| Phantom Fauna

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

Check out Lina Misitzis of HBM fame singing Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen on our new favorite Mule Radio video podcast, It Might Get Personal!

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 “monsters11” to get 10% off and a free trial.