Here Be Monsters Podcast

The Podcast About the Unknown

HBM098: Feed the Queen

The Victoria Bug Zoo is home to dozens of species of insects and arachnids, and two leaf cutter ant colonies.

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.

From: Ants! Natures Secret Power A giant ant colony is pumped full of concrete, then excavated to reveal the complexity of its inner structure.

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.

Music:  The Black Spot   |||    Serocell


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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

HBM091: Hypnosis of Hunger

Producer Bethany Denton found a box in her basement storage room with two old cassette tapes inside. It took her a moment to realize what they were.

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Content Note:

Descriptions of disordered eating

Bethany has been fat her whole life, even when she was a kid. She ate hidden stashes of food when she felt anxious. By the time she was eleven years old, Bethany’s parents worried she would have health problems as as an adult, and they thought weight-loss hypnotherapy could help. The hypnotherapist tried to guide Bethany’s subconscious mind into making choices that would help her lose weight, like developing the ability to control her hunger with an imaginary dial in her mind. The hypnotherapist had Bethany visualize her favorite greasy, salty potato chips covered in vomit.  She had Bethany visualize her ideal, thin body, and affirmed that this ideal body was “who you really are.”  The therapist recorded their sessions and gave them to Bethany on cassette tapes.  She was supposed to use them to relax.

Fifteen years later, Bethany never lost the weight, never achieved that ideal body. But she doesn't really eat potato chips anymore either.

For information about treatment for disordered eating, visit The Emily Program.


Bethany Denton produced this episode and Jeff Emtman edited it. Here Be Monsters is part of KCRW’s Independent Producer Project, edited by Nick White and managed by Kristen Lepore.

Music: The Black Spot

Do you have questions about how the show is made? Ever wonder how Jeff and Bethany work together? Who the hell is this “Nick White” guy? Give us a call, and we’ll answer it in an upcoming mailbag episode. Call us at (765) 374 - 5263 or email us a voice memo.

→ Be sure to check out our merch, and don’t miss Meat Posterjust in time for Valentine’s Day. ←

HBM089: Human Wish Tree

Tatianna Zichella is the sideshow performer also known as The Amazing Mazi Keen*. Sometimes, Amazing Mazi sticks swords down her throat and into her stomach juices. Sometimes she suspends her body from hooks in her skin. And sometimes she asks people to make a wish, write it on a piece of paper, and staple it to a fleshy part of her body. “Like a human wish tree!” she tells producer Bethany Denton, as she hands her a staple gun.

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Content Note:

- Language

Music: Lucky Dragons

* This name is derived from Mazikeen, a comic book character from the Sandman series, who (in turn) derives her name from the Jewish version of the Arabian jinn or genii.

A post shared by Mazi Keen (@theamazingmazi) on

HBM087: Trifle Not with Sacred Things

It hasn’t been easy for Ashley Fryer to let go of her faith. For thirty years, she dedicated her life to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She grew up attending church multiple times a week, and dutifully studied her scriptures. Over the years, she found inconsistencies in church doctrine, and would pile these up on what she calls ‘the shelf’.  She’d pile it higher and higher, thinking, “well, I’ll deal with it later.”

For Ashley, her shelf broke on November 5, 2015. On that day, a new LDS church policy leaked. This policy said, among other things, that children of gay parents could not be baptized unless they were eighteen years old, living on their own, and had renounced same sex marriage. It was a controversial policy that members of the church came out for and against. This ran counter to Ashley’s personal beliefs, and she didn’t believe the leadership of the church spoke for God. So she put down her beloved scriptures, unsure what to do with relics of a religion she no longer believed in.

  Hermod before Hela , by John Charles Dollman in 1909

Hermod before Hela, by John Charles Dollman in 1909

Since then, Ashley has been on a journey of spiritual discovery. She started exploring Wiccan practices, paganism, and her Norse heritage. She found that Hel, the Norse goddess of the underworld, resonated with her. Half beautiful maiden, half rotting corpse, Hel is the keeper of dead things. To Ashley, Hel represents a spirit of radical self acceptance, and new beginnings rising from the ashes. Ashley realized that she knew what to do with her LDS scriptures.

This episode was produced and edited by Ashley’s little sister, Bethany Denton. Additional editing help from Jeff Emtman and Nick White.

Music:  The Black Spot