It’s that time of year again, when the sun wakes up early and goes to bed late. Being the sun-deprived PNW’ers that we are, we have little qualms fitting as many outdoor activities into that time as possible; for we know it won’t last but a handful of very short weeks. Luckily listening to podcasts can be enjoyed equally indoors, outdoors, rain or shine. Does anyone really want to watch television on a gorgeous sunny day out? Have you tried reading a book outside in a rain storm (I really hope not for the books sake)? With a podcast, you can easily listen to a show in any season. What’s more is that many podcasts are very educational and even motivational, making it feel like you are accomplishing more than watching reruns of Seinfeld. Listening to podcasts rarely feels like a chore, but instead can help you feel like you’re being mentally productive, while simultaneously freeing your hands and eyes to perform chores, or be outside soaking in the sun.
Here Be Monsters is a show about “the unknown”, our fears, and humanity. The body of the show is philosophical and spans topics from art, politics, and lifestyle, to science, fantasy, and spirituality. Thanks to a friend that introduced me to HBM, it has quickly become a staple in my listening habit. HBM was created and is hosted by one of our fellow Washingtonians, and graduate from Fairhaven College, Jeff Emtman. Jeff first created/debuted HBM back in the summer of 2012, and it is now impressively on its third season. Impressive because Jeff has created this show independently, and has a quality of show that approaches that of better funded and more seasoned podcasts. However HBM was very recently picked up by the Radiotopia collective, which is good for everyone in keeping this show going. HBM will fit right in with the other shows hosted by Radiotopia (Strangers, 99PI), as Jeff Emtman is another host whose voice fully drives the emotions of the show. Jeff’s voice reminds me of the host for 99PI, Roman Mars, for you can hear the curiosity in their voices. The stories and people that Jeff chooses to put on the show are clearly interesting to him, which means he gets into the stories with a full curiosity that is infectious and entrancing. Because HBM is created independently and is not regulated by the FCC (as is true with most all podcasts), language can be strong (read as, there is swearing) and some subjects may be risqué for some listeners, particularly the young ones.
My first foray into HBM began with an episode called “The Roman Slug Death Orgy”, and while you can start anywhere in the series, I found this episode to be particularly captivating. To sum it up, Jeff comes across a scene of slugs which is quickly and poetically relatable to Rome during the rule of Caligula. Listeners take note, this episode contains descriptions of sex and death. The visual landscape created by Jeff for this episode is very engaging, and while somewhat disturbing, is also very poetic, thoughtful, and real. Some of you may be able to relate closely to this episode as it takes place in Bellingham!
Another favorite episode of mine is “How I Learned to Love Rejection.” This episode is a story brought to us by the host, Jeff, and tells a tale many of us have thought of doing at some point or another, an American Daydream if you will. For several very relatable reasons Jeff decides to hit the open road and hitch hike across the U.S. It’s a story about overcoming fears, adventure and self-discovery.
The format that HBM follows is pretty loose, and open to change depending on the subject matter. Since the other two recommendations were focused on Jeff’s stories, I implore you to check out the episode “10,000 Juggalos”. An interview with Sean Dunne, director of American Juggalo, reveals an honest look at Juggalos and their summer event The Gathering of the Juggalos. Much of media is devoted to ridiculing this group, but despite that the group continues existing and looks to have created a very strong culture around their beliefs which stem from the music of rap duo Insane Clown Posse.
For me it took but a few minutes to feel the pulse and rhythm of this show and instantly feel the desire to download the entire backlog of episodes. HBM covers a lot of ground in its three seasons, which made it a tough choice to choose only three episodes to recommend to you. While I’m sure there are people who would not enjoy this show, I’m betting most would come around if they gave a good listen to a couple episodes, which is often the case for myself listening to other podcasts. However with HBM the attraction was nearly instantaneous, and my hope is that you feel the same pull that I do to Jeff Emtman’s slow and thick voice that guides you easily and thoughtfully into another world. Happy listening readers, and the best of summers to you.
Born in Seattle, raised in Bellingham, Joel is a real cloud loving, tree climbing, North Westerner. He can be found living by a Troll in Seattle, often exploring a vast array of breweries, and music happenings. He works as an audio/video technician in Redmond giving him a perfect drive for listening to podcasts. He is also a professionally certified dance instructor, and produces his own local concerts in his spare time.