Month: February 2023

Protect and serve? Yeah right.

A Tradition Of Violence review

Rating –

A Tradition Of Violence logo

Sitting in my house in Britain, despite ridiculous amounts of government corruption and ineptitude, I am usually thankful that I don’t live in America. No offense to my American friends, they seem to have the same problems, but with the added threat of gun violence.

Being a cop in the USA, must be an awful job, facing real danger of death at every call. Journalist Cerise Castle has changed my opinion somewhat though. Allow me to explain.

So what’s it about?

Residing in the LA Sheriff’s department are a number of organized police gangs. These gangs are no different from the criminal organizations the police are sworn to stamp out. Tales of extortion, theft, and even murder are rife, and seem to be endorsed from the highest offices in the state.

As with criminal gangs, these groups of Sheriff’s deputies have scary names and all sport tattoos showing their commitment to each group. Whilst mostly white males, these gangs also recruit a number of ethnic groups to avoid being tagged as “white supremacist”. Having said that, there are some who are actual white supremacist groups (I mean, of course there are right?)

This podcast dives into stories of these gangs, and no punches are pulled. The stories and language are graphic and awful. It’s mind blowing to me that this goes on in the 21st century.

Is it any good?

Again, this is one of those podcasts I’m loath to describe as “good”. It’s a brilliantly written and researched podcast, and it’s absolutely necessary to shine a light on this behavior. For the most part though, the series is heartbreaking and rage inducing in almost equal measure.

As if the stories are not bad enough, when the deputies concerned actually make it to court to face justice, they invariably get off. The court costs? Picked up by the taxpayer. The Los Angeles taxpayer it seems is the LASD’s piggy bank to cover any legal costs they may get bothered with.

You may wonder why this is allowed to continue, why the people in charge don’t stop this. Well, the people in charge are also gang affiliated. Because of this, it makes it very hard for anyone else to move in and clean things up. I sincerely hope that this is a situation that can change. 

Final thoughts

This is a hard hitting and harrowing series that attempts to shed light into the corrupt inner workings of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. I appreciate that the stories told here may not be for everyone, but I do urge you to listen to it despite this.

Of all the possibly triggering podcasts I’ve reviewed, this ranks pretty low on the list, for me at least. Sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone though. Real life isn’t all sweetness and light, and stories like this need to be told.

I would hope that if enough people listen to podcasts like this and cause enough of an outcry, then maybe things could change. You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.

You can read more about it, and find podcast links here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

Let’s twist again

Run, Hide, Repeat review

Production company – CBC

Rating –

run, hide, repeat logo

As you may no doubt have noticed, I’ve been on something of a true crime binge recently. This one cropped up and the trailer sounded interesting, so off I went and subscribed. What I got wasn’t anything like what I was expecting though. Despite how I have tagged this post to improve those dastardly SEO algorithms, I wouldn’t call this a strict “true crime” podcast. By the time I was about halfway through the series, I knew that this review was jumping the queue of half written ideas in Google docs, and being the next post on this blog.

So what’s it about?

Run, Hide, Repeat is a true story told by CBC journalist Pauline Dakin. Told over five episodes, this is a small yet perfectly formed series you could binge in a day easily.

The situations she experienced during her childhood were almost beyond belief. I would go so far as to say “singular”, but by the time the series ends, it seems to be a more common occurrence than anyone could guess.

After her parents divorced, Pauline’s mother met a preacher called Stan Sears. A man who seemed to offer comfort and counsel to the family. Before long though, things change and Pauline’s brother and mother, together with Stan are moving across the country, never staying in one place very long.

While young kids are quite happy to go along with whatever their parents say without question, after a while questions are asked, particularly when things stop adding up, and the answers are shocking. The reasons given are enough to shake the family to its foundations, and nothing it turns out is as it seems. That is twist number one. At this point in the story it is a very gripping tale of cat and mouse, and stress levels on the family are obviously very high indeed.

You may notice I said “twist number one”. Believe me there are more twists to come. Yes, I am being deliberately vague here. I don’t want to give anything away at all, not that you’d believe me if I told you.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. If this was a work of fiction, it would be brilliant, and yet unbelievable. The fact that this actually happened is both gripping and tragic. Not tragic in the way you may be imagining as you read this, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Each twist brings its own tragedy, and yet Pauline and her brother made it through. 

Final thoughts

As I write these blog posts, I’m not sure how many people actually go and listen to podcasts based on my reviews, or whether they read these after listening so they can scoff and call me a moron. By rights, this review should be about 150 words longer than it is, but I don’t want to give any clues or spoilers at all.

If you haven’t listened to this one yet, then do so. Immediately. It’s an outstanding story and I guarantee you’ll love it.

You can get Run Hide, Repeat here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

O Trawlerman. O Judge

The Silt Verses review

Production company – Rusty Quill

Rating –

The Silt Verses logo

I usually have some idea of what I’m getting myself into when I subscribe to a podcast. It’ll be recommended by a friend, or I’ll hear an interview on another podcast. I went into this one completely blind. The name sounded interesting, but I honestly don’t remember hearing anything about it at all. This made for a rather interesting experience, and I’ll tell you all about it here.

So what’s it about?

The Silt Verses is a rather “folk horrory” series. At first it seems to be set in an indeterminate country in an indeterminate timeline. At a guess, it’s America at some point in an alternate present or future. I’m only guessing that because of the voice actors, and the fact that they have modern tech like mobile phones. These are details that are almost irrelevant though. The point of the story is the sheer weirdness of the events. There are strange religions, odd people and sinister antagonists. Did I mention strange religions? There are LOTS of strange religions.

The story follows pilgrim Carpenter and her young partner Faulkner. They follow the faith of The Trawlerman, a river god of water and silt. Carpenter’s grandmother was highly regarded in the faith, and Carpenter has that same ego so beloved of people who trace a lineage back to something important. 

As their voyage continues they meet many allies and enemies. There are strange symbols carved everywhere, and horrific creatures lurking in places both magical and mundane.

The pagan ways of the populace are pitched against followers of The Saint Electric and similar deities, truly modern gods for the technological age. Everywhere they go they meet people who follow different gods, and there are gods of everything.

Is it any good?

On the whole, yes. There are a few niggles here and there that stop it being a true “five brainer”. My main problem is that whilst the acting is top notch on the whole, there are a few cast members who let the rest down. There are also parts of the story where it is obvious the cast were recording at different times, and on different equipment. You can hear the cuts in the audio and this really distracts, particularly on headphones.

As the first series progresses, I found myself enjoying the exposition episodes more than the main thread. Don’t get me wrong, the main story is great, but there’s only so much bickering I can take. I get it, the young one thinks the old one is out of touch and the old one thinks the young one is an idiot. That’s life. The backstories though are so brilliantly written, particularly Paige’s corporate history. That is like an episode of Black Mirror.

As I have said in past reviews, the term “Lovecraftian” gets bandied about a lot nowadays, and is a badge usually hung on anything that is a bit weird. I think this podcast truly is Lovecraftian though. The whole thing has a dreamlike quality that is simply delightful, due in part to the ambiguity of the setting. The only thing we have to go on as far as dating is that it takes place “after the last great religious war”. I also loved the episode about the god of hunger. That was a nice, ambiguous concept that offered a nice (albeit no less gruesome) contrast to the more physical horrors encountered in the story.

Final thoughts

When I first started this review many months ago, it was a three brain show. At that point it was nothing more than a title and a rating. I recently revisited it to refresh my memory as to why I gave such a low rating and decided it was worth five brains. Taking everything into consideration though, it is a solid four.

If you like Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, or Charlie Brooker, then you will love this show.

You can get The Silt Verses here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Campfire tales of terror

The Historical Natives review

Rating –

The Historical Natives logo

I first heard of this show whilst listening to a podcast about the awful stories of residential schools of Canada. Whereas that show was about the more corporeal type of awful monster, this show is very much folklore based. After sitting patiently in my “unplayed” list of podcasts, I decided it was time to do The Historical Natives revie

Now the more hawk-eyed among you may think that the low score you see above is an indicator of a bad podcast (as it usually is). Please read on though, and let me explain my decision.

So what’s it about?

The Historical Natives is a folklore podcast in the vein of Uncanny Japan. Each bitesize episode covers a different creature from first nation folklore. These run from the well known (Sasquatch and the Wendigo), to the equally terrifying, though less well known Walking Sam or the Stick Indians. These creatures are not exclusive to single tribes either, but are known by many names and descriptions across the entire continent. A prime example here would be the sasquatch.

The hosts are MacKenzie Taylor and Josef Stafford, two self confessed, albeit recently converted horror fanatics who grew up in a small village in the wilds of BC. The strange thing was, it wasn’t even a “true” horror film that sparked this journey off, but Wayans brothers spoof Scary Movie. I’m not gatekeeper enough to care how people get into horror though, it’s the destination not the journey that’s important.

The second half of each episode gets a story written by Josef on the aforementioned creature. It is also is a language lesson of sorts where the hosts teach you a new word from the relevant dialect of the tribe featured in the episode.

Is it any good?

It could be very good, easily as good as Uncanny Japan, but it is ultimately let down by the hosts’ inexperience. Mackenzie and Josef started this show using a grant from a business initiative for First Nations people. This is a great idea, because sometimes (as it is here) there are people capable of producing great content who wouldn’t normally get a chance.

Having a microphone and a means to upload audio is only half the story though. The room they record in is not really suitable for the job. Some heavy blankets hung around the place would probably help no end. Unfortunately it sounds like they are sitting in a kitchen, recording the podcast to a mobile phone.

Also you can really tell the whole thing is written down first. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but the times where they try to make it sound like a conversation, particularly in episode 1, gives the impression of a school exam where you have to write dialogue for a presentation. I would guess that English might not be their first language or that their reading skills just aren’t brilliant. There are times when they stumble over words as they read them.

I’m really trying hard not to be patronising or presumptuous here. I have great patience listening to people speak, and I’m happy to ignore these hurdles to get to the story underneath any linguistic problems or equipment issues.

Final thoughts

You really should give this one a go. Try your best to ignore the shortcomings and you’ll find a really interesting series. Ultimately I feel I may have started this show too late. The website is no longer live and there is no real social media presence any more. This is a great shame because with some work this could be a brilliant show. Their culture is so rich with stories that it’s our loss if they don’t continue.

So “migwetch” Kenzie and Josef. I hope you get the time in future for more episodes.

Usually at this point I give you a link to the website where you can find the episodes. Unfortunately though, because the website is down, you’ll just have to search your podcatcher for episodes.


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