Tag: Folklore

And the winner is!

Trophy pic

December 2nd marked the 1st anniversary of me launching this blog. In a rather preemptive strike on the traditional end of year lists that will invariably clog up all your timelines in a few weeks, I thought I’d get in with my rather unofficial awards celebrating the best (in my opinion) podcasts you can get. So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the first annual podcastgeek awards ceremony!

Some shows I will have reviewed, and I’ll be adding links to the reviews where available. Others will be reviewed as soon as I get round to it. Each category will have a shortlist of five entries in no special order apart from how they spring to mind. At the end of each shortlist we will have the winners. I hope you have the patience to read all the way through. It shouldn’t take too long!

Now, there may well be some glaring omissions, especially if you’ve been following this blog for a while, but seeing as this will be an annual event, there is always next year, and I promise no series will win more than once.

The drinks are flowing here at the podcastgeek enormodome and the guests are waiting with bated breath to see who takes the gongs home. So without further ado, I’ll roll out the red carpet as the spotlights rake the night sky, put on my best bib and tucker and heap praise on a multitude of shows. DRUMROLL PLEASE!

Best fiction podcast

This was a tough one, because the entire shortlist is excellent, ultimately though, the result will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read my reviews.

The winner is THE MAGNUS ARCHIVES!

Magnus Archives Logo

Best true crime podcast

  • Hunting Warhead
  • The Lazarus Heist
  • Death In Ice Valley
  • Deep Cover
  • The World’s Greatest Con

Another tough one. Another 5 incredible shows, but there’s only one winner tonight. This podcast won just for the fact that there is some resolution to the crimes, and the fact that there are no real trigger warnings.

The winner is THE WORLD’S GREATEST CON!

World's Greatest Con logo

Best gaming/geek culture podcast

I had originally intended to spend a month or so only reviewing this rather niche area of the podcastverse, but I didn’t want to lose either of my regular subscribers, so I decided against it. Anyway, these are five very worthy podcasts, but for the sheer range of subject matter there can be only one (as the highlander would say).

The winner is HYPNOGORIA.

Hypnogoria Logo

Best science podcast

Originally I avoided science podcasts, thinking they would be stuffy and boring (despite having an interest in science). How wrong I was. The podcasts here are all very accessible and very entertaining.

The winner is BIG PICTURE SCIENCE.

Big Picture Science logo

Best comedy podcast

Over the years, I have listened to plenty of “comedy” podcasts that are as funny as standing on a plug. The shortlist here though are all very, very funny indeed. That said, in much the same way the The Magnus Archives was a rather predictable win, so is this. This one is a very sweary win “fae Dougie, Lee and John the dug”.

The winner is A SCOTTISH PODCAST.

A Scottish Podcast logo

Best paranormal/folklore podcast

I could have happily had four of Danny Robins’ podcasts and one other to make up the numbers, but that wouldn’t be fair, especially with so many interesting paranormal and folklore podcasts out there. The winner of this category really takes top spot, like hypnogoria, for the sheer breadth of subject matter. This really is a great series.

The winner is BONE AND SICKLE.

Bone And Sickle logo

Best factual podcast

Possibly the hardest category to judge, due to the catch-all nature of the title. Again, the shortlist entries are all worthy of your time, and I recommend you check them all out. The contrarian in me has decided though that it has to be heroic.

The winner is HOW TO BURN A MILLION QUID.

How To Burn A MIllion Quid logo

Phew, that’s a lot of podcasts isn’t it? And I’ve obviously done a load of listening. That is only a small selection of the podcasts that I’ve pumped into my brain over the last few years. If the best idea is to “write about what you know”, you can see why I started writing about podcasts can’t you?

“Ha! Mr podcastgeek” I hear you scoff. “Why don’t you get a life?”

In response I will click my fingers and out of the shadows a group of no-necked toughs in suits will have these hecklers ejected from the venue.

We have had some great shows mentioned this year, and despite missing out on a win, I really need to give an honourable mention to The Good Friends Of Jackson Elias. When I posted my review of that podcast, it had so many shares and comments, it is BY FAR the most popular post I’ve written. So thank you to all the Call Of Cthulhu and Chaosium fans who took the time to help grow my blog. It is greatly appreciated.

This ol’ Blumhouse

Production company – Grim & Mild/ Blumhouse

Rating –

This was probably my first introduction to Aaron Mahnke podcasts when the first series came out two years ago. Almost immediately though, I also found Haunted Road, and realised that there were some pretty big shows in the Grim & Mild camp. Series two was last year, and season 3 is scheduled for this year. It’ll be interesting to see where they go. The title of this series is also apt for this time of year, so it gets slotted in nicely here.

So what’s it about?

13 Days Of Halloween is a horror anthology podcast, with each season being completely different to the last so I think to make life easier, I’ll break this up into two parts.

Season 1 is an Amicus style portmanteau story that sees a voiceless stranger (possibly meant to be you, the listener?) “You” arrive at the sprawling and spooky Hawthorne Manor. You are met at the gate by The Caretaker, played by the outstanding Keegan-Michael Key. A talented actor, you may recognise him from the sketch show Key and Peele, or from his film roles. The caretaker guides you round the house where you meet the residents. Each episode takes place in a different room. Are the people you meet there real, or ghosts, or figments of your imagination?

The story unfolds like a puzzle as the motivation of the caretaker becomes apparent. But what will be the outcome? The many threads of the present weave with the many elements of backstory to create a very expansive universe and a gripping story indeed.

Season 2 takes a different path. This is more like a regular horror series. The main character now has a voice, and the setting has changed (and expanded) to encompass a whole town. In this case, the wonderfully named Direbrook, a sleepy fishing village in New England.

This has more of a folk horror/Lovecraftian feel, the quaintness of the setting offset somewhat by the strange greetings used by the locals and the veiled warnings to the main character. I said this was more folk horror, and like Midommar or The Wicker man, you have a feeling early on that there will be a sinister climax to it all.

A nameless woman regains consciousness on a beach, and is found by an older woman and local, known as “Mother”. As the series progresses, this duo explore the town and amongst the standalone stories (as in series 1) are clues that reveal the identity and reason for the unnamed woman to be here. The Lovecraftian elements develop quite early on, with similarities to stories like The Shadow Over Insmouth, and even films like In The Mouth Of Madness.

Is it any good?

Season 1 was very good in its own way. As I said earlier, it is reminiscent of the 70s movies by Amicus, in particular it reminds me of the film Asylum. Keegan Michael-Key is his usual eccentric self, and seems to be channeling Tim Curry from Clue. This in itself is no bad thing, although it does grate a bit during the higher camp moments.

Season 2 is certainly bigger, although maybe not better. As I said, the protagonist now has a voice. This is something that seems a tad redundant, because she hardly ever says a word. As in season 1, the protagonist is guided through the story, this time by the mysterious “Mother”.

I’m currently listening to this season again, because despite finishing it relatively recently, I can’t actually remember anything about it past episode 2. I think that says a lot about this show, which is a shame.

Final thoughts

This is something of a mixed bag. Having the production clout of Blumhouse and Grim & Mild sets this head and shoulders above lower budget productions, but ultimately this is a show that leaves me wanting. On paper this should be my ultimate podcast, one that would have my “brain” rating increase to 6 or 7, but it misses the mark somehow.

Now that season 3 is almost halfway through, I’ll give it a go. Hopefully third time’s a charm.

You can get 13 days of Halloween here:

https://www.grimandmild.com/13days

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Buddha, Coulda, Shoulda

The Subjective Truth review

Production company – Good Pointe

Rating –

The Subjective Truth logo

I found this through the other Good Pointe show Two Flat Earthers Kidnap A Freemason. Honestly, I was expecting something similar. This was no light-hearted satire though, but a decidedly darker (though no less entertaining) drama. So join me as we head off in search of Buddha Kline.

So what’s it about?

Amateur treasure hunter team Buddha Kline and his wife Amy are on the trail of the legendary Fenn Treasure. They get split up and Amy makes it back, but Buddha has vanished.

The series follows podcaster and journalist Graham Anderson as she tracks the ever cooling case. She meets Buddha’s family and friends, and a whole cast of strange characters along the way.

Pretty soon the strange phenomena that seem to follow the legendary treasure and the town of Taos, New Mexico start to appear and things get very weird indeed.

Is it any good?

It’s great. Earlier on in the series, I was giving some serious thought to scoring it lower. I think it dropped to about a three brain rating at one point and it was in danger of making it on to my end of year “also ran” list. Ultimately, it ended up captivating me though. The acting isn’t great across the board, but really, that didn’t matter. It’s very easy to get fully absorbed into the story and any niggles are soon forgotten.

As I said in the intro, seeing as this is a Good Pointe podcast, I was expecting something else (this was rather presumptuous of me, I’ve only listened to one other of their shows). This series is more like the alternate reality mindf*ck of the excellent PRA shows Rabbits or Tanis. The world building is amazing, and the adverts are so well observed that they could easily exist.

As the series progresses, little nuggets of existing urban legends, folklore and creepypasta are thrown in. These are sometimes so subtle in the main story arc that it’s almost “blink and you’ll miss it”. I loved the inclusion of the Three Kings ritual and the Polybius arcade machine in particular, even though the latter was a touch reminiscent of the Rabbits podcast.

There are also later “bonus episodes” that fill out the mythos and give occasional comic relief (whether intentionally or not). Sorry, but the mattress phone call was funny no matter what you say!

This is also one podcast that could have carried the odd trigger warning here and there (I can’t believe I just wrote that), trigger warnings tend to bring me out in hives. The episode that dealt with the “reboots” in depth was heartbreaking. Coming from someone with skin thicker than a rhino with psoriasis, that’s really saying something.

There’s also some pathos here as the series reaches its climax. Graham’s past catches up with her somewhat and what she experiences is also rather harrowing, it’s also a great portrayal of how people in the public eye get treated (or so we’re told). It’s the sections like these that set it apart from the aforementioned PRA podcasts and set this one on a true path of its own.

Final thoughts

The problem with my listening habits is that because I’m working my day job and listening at the same time, I can miss certain details. That’s entirely my fault. This series is one that I’ll be returning to immediately for another run through. I think there’s a very important point I may have missed at the end that was a big twist. It won’t affect the score any. It can’t go higher than a five brain rating!

Are there better podcasts out there? Yes. But don’t let that put you off. This is an outstanding series I’ve come to love, and I’m almost ashamed of myself for almost writing it off after the first two episodes. Do yourself a favour and subscribe immediately. You won’t be disappointed.

You can get The Subjective Truth here:

https://thesubjectivetruth.libsyn.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Terror never sounded so good

Uncanny Japan review

Rating –

Uncanny Japan logo

I love folklore, and (as I have said before) living in Wales there is plenty on offer. Because of this, I am often drawn to the more mysterious style podcasts. Whether actual folklore or fiction inspired by folklore, I just can’t get enough. Maybe it’s because of my love of J-Horror or Anime, but Japanese folklore has captivated me for years. When I stumbled across Uncanny Japan I immediately subscribed and pressed play with baited breath.

So what’s it about?

Each episode, the host, Thersa Matsuura explores a different aspect of Japanese Folklore. Don’t expect to yawn through well trodden tales of the Kappa, Urei and Yokai so beloved of western audiences. This series also covers the lesser known traditions, festivals, and mythical beings said to lurk in the shady corners of the country. These episodes are what you could call “bitesize”. Most podcasts on folklore tend to run at one hour plus, so these 20 minute gems are very short in comparison. I think there have been a few even shorter!

The episode starts out with a brief introduction with the beautiful binaural recordings, and then Thersa starts telling the stories. Not all of these are discovered from ancient sources, although many are. There are some modern day cases that crop up too, and in the later episodes there are similar tales from all over the world. While this does technically leave the Japanese side of the stories, I don’t mind. All stories have a shared source, and drawing these parallels are great fun.

Is it any good?

Definitely. Thersa expertly covers so much ground in each relatively short episode, yet it never feels rushed. The fact that a 20 minute episode can feel much longer could be used as an insult for a review of a lesser show, but here it is absolutely a compliment. This is partly due to her amazing calm voice and the use of atmospheric recordings of her surroundings. The incessant piping of frogs or chirping of cicadas could be somewhat Lovecraftian in the bleak heaths of New England. Here though, it really brings her stories to life.

These sound effects coupled with Thersa’s soporific voice would lend itself to be the perfect sleep aid, although I can’t guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep from some of the content here! There are some very creepy tales indeed, and the thought of having some of these dark denizens of the Japanese countryside invade my dreams isn’t something I’d relish.

Final thoughts

This is one of those shows that you don’t have to be interested in the subject to enjoy. Thersa is a joy to listen to and her knowledge of her subject matter is immense. She has also published books of fiction based on Japanese folklore as well (we are occasionally treated to some excerpts of these on the show).

Where other folklore shows have fallen by the wayside, either through the podcast coming to an end, or me getting bored, this one has got real staying power and is always great to listen to. Do yourselves a favour and give this series a go. You can thank me later.

This is also one of two podcasts on Japanese folklore that I had subscribed to, and the only one I am still subscribed to. Truth be told, I only ever listened to two episodes of the other one and gave up on it. Thersa has set the benchmark for Japanese culture!

You can listen to Uncanny Japan here:

uncannyjapan.com

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Usborne Legacy

As Yet Unexplained review

Rating –

As Yet Unexplained logo

I first heard of this podcast from Richard Daniels (of The Occultaria Of Albion fame). Unfortunately it wasn’t originally available on every podcatcher and in the interest of fairness, I avoid reviewing such shows. The reason for this is that not everyone has Amazon, or iTunes or Spotify, so I don’t want to review shows that not everyone can enjoy. However it seems that it’s being shared on all apps now, so with great eagerness I subbed and settled down to binge on the whole thing as quickly as possible.

So what’s it about?

This is probably best described as an audio version of the now beloved Usborne books on the unexplained. These were very popular when I was a child and are now experiencing something of a renewed popularity (by people my age, as it goes).

Each episode looks at a different subject. They range from ghosts to UFOs, and from folklore to strange military cover ups from the East and West. There are some very creepy stories here indeed and they are all very well narrated.

Whether intentionally or not, Westley Smith’s narration lends itself to the vintage patina of the show. I can almost imagine him like James Burke on some windswept moor accompanied by a hungry cameraman as he investigates ancient burial chambers, or strange lights in the sky. Also, his voice reminds me of a mix of the character James Hunter from Haunted: An Audio Drama and Jonathan Sims from The Magnus Archives.

Is it any good?

I love this show. The whole thing has a very retro feel. From the logo to the soundtrack, this is a very good pastiche of classic mystery books and shows from my childhood. To be honest, there won’t be any new information here for anyone with an interest in such things, but that really doesn’t matter. Westley Smith does such a good job telling the stories that you almost forget that you know the stories and get sucked into the tales being told. Surely that is a mark of a great orator.

Despite the lack of new information, there are some genuinely creepy moments in the series. The haunting of 50 Berkeley Square will never not be scary, but there are other tales to chill your blood too. The ghosts of Charterhouse, the San Pedro Haunting, and the stories of Russian Cosmonauts drifting off into space are terrifying. The latter especially so, because despite the transmissions being classified, there were people around the world who happened to stumble across them. 

While a show like The Occultaria Of Albion wears its hauntological badge with pride, that show represents a fictional 1970s UK. This is more like the actual late 70s TV shows and books. In the episode on ancient UFO sightings, he’s describing woodcuts that I had studied as a child in my parents’ books on such things. That only reinforces the nostalgia factor, for me at least.

Final thoughts

I really can’t recommend this show highly enough. It’s easy to digest and very well produced. As I mentioned earlier, there aren’t any groundbreaking revelations here, but that’s ok. You can enjoy the show for what it is, and what it is is excellent. Almost immediately, this rose to the top of my favourite podcasts on such subjects.

***NOTE***

I apologise for the constant comparisons to Richard Daniels’ show, but they come as something of a package deal. Indeed, after every episode, that dastardly Richard Daniels manages to inject a subliminal advert for TOoA just to further his own nefarious agenda!

You can get As Yet Unexplained here:

https://asyetunexplained.wixsite.com/home

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Taking the normal out of paranormal

Occultaria Of Albion review

Rating –

The Occultaria Of Albion logo

I heard about this very recently on one of the many facebook pages I frequent. I duly subscribed, as I always do when a new podcast crosses my path. I’d planned to put it off for a while, I’ve got a few new series on the go and I’m trying to review those first. I’m also trying to avoid those pesky “queue jumpers” that inevitably appear from time to time. Every time I opened my list of podcasts though, I’d see this one calling out. This morning I finally gave in and took the plunge into the strange world of the Occultaria Of Albion.

So what’s it about?

The Occultaria Of Albion is a strange beast. At first glance (and indeed at the first episode), it appears to be one of the many folklore podcasts that are springing up like fairy rings. But scratch below the surface and you find something very interesting indeed.

The host and head archivist Richard Daniels investigates a different subject every episode, from ghosts to cryptids and UFO sightings. The episodes are split between retellings of traditional stories and interviews with eyewitnesses.

The first episode is a very low-fi release, recorded on what sounds like a mobile phone or cheap microphone. This isn’t a bad thing in this case however as I imagine him sitting in a shed that smells of creosote talking into a strange recording device. It reminds me a lot of the old Oliver Postgate animations, which were also created in a shed that no doubt smelled of creosote.

Is it any good?

After the first episode or two I wasn’t sure if I’d go the distance with this. This seems like a very low budget affair and as such the voice acting isn’t always up to scratch. There are a few occasions where you can almost see the person reading off a bit of paper. I can forgive that though because the mythology and the whole aesthetic is so good.

I’m glad I did stick with it though, because every episode gets better in terms of content.

There are a lot of genuinely funny moments and Richard Daniels is a very talented writer and host. His wit shines through any production shortcomings. Don’t think that this is just a purely comedic exercise though. There is a lot of folkloric and horror knowledge here that gets parodied very well. This is very much like Les Dawson playing the piano. You have to be very talented and knowledgeable to make something seem so “amateur”. (Please don’t take that the wrong way!)

This is also another one of those podcasts that has me wondering if it is entirely fictional or if some of the stuff presented is actually worth googling (at the risk of being caught out). As I have said previously, I don’t mind that at all. And I have to resist the urge to look up any film or book that gets mentioned.

Final thoughts

From the analogue bleeps of the little interludes, to the very 70s hauntological look of the OoA releases on their website (they look like releases by Ghost Box or The Belbury Poly) there is a lot to love here, especially if you’re into that sort of thing. There’s a lot to love even if you’re not. Another hauntological note here is the similarity of the yoga teacher character to the legend of the Radiophonic workshop Delia Derbyshire. I’m not sure if this was an intentional impression or not, but it made me smile.

This is well worth your time to listen to. Each episode is different enough to seem fresh. I assume this is because the release schedule is somewhat “sedate”. Although as I write this, I’m awaiting the imminent release of the new episode at the end of the week. I should also point out that I’ve listened to the whole back catalogue of episodes in a day, well about 4 hours truth be told.

As I said previously, Richard Daniels is a very talented writer and I can’t help but wonder if this series would be improved if it was just him retelling these stories. The excerpt from a talk that he gave on the Halloween episode was amazing, and I could really listen to that stuff all day. I’m prepared to overlook the poor voice talent, but I’m not sure if you would be.

You may wonder when then, after my seemingly relentless nitpicking of the acting, why I gave this a five brain rating. I think in this case it is deserved because it is so bloody good. That’s the only thing that there isn’t to like, and even then the actual script is very good. So there. It’s my blog and I’m in charge!

You can get The Occultaria Of Albion here:

https://redcircle.com/shows/occultariaofalbion

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

***NOTE***

This is possibly the only podcast I’ve found that doesn’t really have it’s own webpage. The official TOoA site just recommends you search for the podcast, and the link I provided above seems to have links for all possible podcatchers.

Bleeding saints and forest witches

Bone And Sickle review

Rating –

Bone And Sickle logo

Honestly, I’ve been a fan of this show for years now. Therefore I feel it’s high time I got my lazy ass round to waxing lyrical about it. Originally, it had crossed my mind to write these reviews in some kind of chronological order from when I first heard them. Discovering so many great series though, meant that the inevitable queue jumpers soon put paid to that.

So without further ado, join me in the dusty yet cosy library in Al Ridenour’s ancient manor house, and lets delve into the weird and wonderful world of folklore.

So what’s it about?

Bone And Sickle (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) is primarily a folklore podcast. Now don’t roll your eyes and expect some boring academic banging on about corn dollies and morris dancing. This is a very entertaining show indeed.

The host, Al Ridenour is something of a recluse, holed up in a sprawling mansion. His only companions are his books and his long suffering servants (originally his butler Wilkinson, and more recently his housekeeper Mrs. Karswell).

Originally started as a companion to his book “The Krampus And The Old, Dark Christmas”, it has grown to encompass not just Germanic folklore, but all manner of global traditions and tales. I haven’t read this book, but if it is half as good as this podcast it’ll be a really great piece of work.

Each episode he looks at a different subject, and using some (quite frankly amazing) research, he uncovers little known facts and alternate versions of well known (and not so well known) folk tales and celebrations. There’s lots of debunking too, as some well known “facts” get dispelled. It’s interesting how stories change over time, sometimes centuries. What we think of now as “well known” is often completely different from the original tales.

Is it any good?

I’ve listened to this for so long, I can’t remember how I discovered it. I suspect that Mr Ridenour was interviewed on one of the other folklore podcasts I listen to. As soon as I’d finished the first episode I was hooked. There is an awful lot of information crammed into every episode. It never feels “academic” though, and it’s certainly never boring.

The inclusion of the butler Wilkinson, and then the apiarist MrsKarswell add both some comic relief, and some of the creepier meta stories that occur as the series progresses (from possessed mummified cats to the disappearance of the gardner). Interestingly, Sarah Chavez who plays Mrs Karswell also has her own very good podcast series all about the perception of death around the world. This isn’t her review though, so that’s all I’m saying for now!

The content here is similar to a series like Hypnogoria, where a great deal of knowledge is presented in an entertaining (and occasionally very funny) manner. There is also some inevitable overlap of the subject matter occasionally, but that’s ok, I don’t get bored of listening to this stuff. I’m loath to keep the comparisons going here, but I can’t help it. Both this and Hypnogoria deserve your time for the same reason.

Final thoughts

Al Ridenour is a brilliant host. A mix of eccentric weirdo* and folklore academic, he really makes these subjects interesting and easy to digest. Also, Sarah Chavez is great as Mrs. Karswell. A long suffering servant, who I suspect has some very creepy backstory and is usually in no mood to put up with Ridenour’s strange behaviour. She does her best to keep this ship on course, although her own eccentricity is hardly up to the task. Somehow though, the two of them manage.

The butler Wilkinson was also a great foil, and I was rather sad when he left, but Mrs. Karswell has been perfect at filling the gap. My mother was also rather enamoured with Wilkinson, although I don’t think she ever went so far as to join the Patron to get the signed photo of him, but I digress.

This is my favourite folklore podcast, in admittedly a rather short list. Better to be at the top of a short list than the bottom of a long list though eh? And one that is well worth your time. The subjects are diverse and I have to say that whilst pretty much every podcast uses show notes, they don’t always work in my podcatcher. It’s usually just a link to the website version. Bone And Sickle though has the full show notes right there to scroll through. I think this is a really nice touch that shows the effort put in to give everyone the best experience.

*I’m sure he’s not an eccentric weirdo in real life.

You can find Bone And Sickle here:

http://boneandsickle.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

I want to believe…

Monster Talk review

Rating –

Monster Talk Logo

The Monster Talk podcast was actually recommended to me by my first proper subscriber, and the first guy to reach out and message me, so thanks for that Mr. Vincent!

Truth be told, I don’t really listen to any science podcasts. I know that people go on about the Infinite Monkey Cage and shows like that, but for some reason I always gravitate towards audio drama. This isn’t because I’m some science denying luddite, I just like some bang for my buck during work hours. Monster Talk has plenty of bang for your buck thankfully.

What’s it all about then?

Monster Talk is a bi-monthly podcast that promotes critical thinking and skepticism in the field of cryptozoology and the paranormal in general, which sounds kind of stuffy and long-winded but is surprisingly good. Every week, the hosts Blake Smith and Dr. Karen Stollznow examine a different topic and interview people in the relevant fields.

This is like the anti-Coast To Coast AM. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of love for the late Art Bell. In fact I spent an inordinate amount of time in the early 2000’s downloading mp3’s of his show from P2P sites. My point here is that while Mr Bell would have pretty much anyone on his show that had a good story to tell (Mel’s Hole or the legendary phone call from Area 51 spring immediately to mind), there were a few occasions where he must have felt like Peter Venkman hosting “World Of The Psychic”.

Monster Talk isn’t like that. All of the guests are experts in their fields, and (so far) they are charming and witty. The conversation bounces back and forth with ease and is very entertaining to listen to. As I said in my review of Mark Rees’ show, I believe that you are more likely to retain facts if they are presented in an engaging manner. Hopefully if more people listened to this show then more people would question pseudoscience despite the buzzword of “cognitive dissonance” (yes it does work both ways all you conspiracy theorists).

Is it any good though?

I’d have to say yes, it is very good. I’ve started from the beginning, as I always do, and there are a few niggles. You have to remember that the first episode was 12 years ago, so the audio quality here is pretty low. This isn’t so bad though, and gives these early episodes a cosy feeling that takes me back to those halcyon days of illegally downloading the aforementioned Art Bell shows over a dial up connection (ask your parents, kids). There’s only been one episode so far that’s been close to unlistenable, but that was due to the phone connection with the guest rather than the overall audio quality. 

Blake is very funny, as are the other hosts, but knowledgeable enough not to fill each episode with inanities and pointless jokes just for the sake of it. The questions they ask are also just at the right level for me. I’ve had an interest in a lot of this stuff for many years, but I’m by no means an expert. I certainly learn something new in every episode without having to resort to googling strange jargon and esoteric terminology so beloved of experts in niche fields.

Final thoughts

This has instantly become one of my all time favourite podcasts, easily in my top 5. Seriously, I’d give it an 8 or 9 brain rating if I could. Like Hypnogoria, I’ll be listening to this all day every day for a while yet, and loving every minute.

At the time of writing, there are 242 episodes! I’m on episode 27, so I’ve got some catching up to do. Thankfully this is a totally binge-worthy podcast and I can really see myself having to make an effort to listen to other shows just to keep this blog going.

The paranormal seems to be enjoying something of a renaissance in the last decade or so that it hasn’t had since the 1970s. Unfortunately the modern shows seem to lack any sense of balance. They will always side with extraterrestrials or demons rather than more mundane explanations. I understand that, I mean if you don’t get the ratings, you don’t have a show. And we all know nothing will get ratings than saying “it was aliens”, you’ve seen the memes.

This is a refreshing change to all the crazy haircuts, shaky cameras and huge leaps of imagination. It’ll be a real shame when I eventually catch up and have to wait 2 weeks for a new episode.

You can get Monster Talk here:

https://www.monstertalk.org/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Heeeeeeello Folks

Podcast Title – Hypnogoria

Rating –

Hypnogoria logo

Thankfully, I don’t have to review podcasts on an episode by episode basis or I’d be here a loooooong time with this Hypnogoria review. When I listen to a podcast series, most of the time I don’t listen right from when it first airs, maybe I’ll be a series or two behind (occasionally it’ll be a really old one that has long finished by the time I discover it). With Hypnogoria I joined it about nine years after it started NINE YEARS! This the longest running British Podcast on horror and suchlike. Hell it might be the longest running British podcast full stop. It’s also one of my favourites, which is why I’m waxing lyrical about it here.

So what’s it all about then?

Hypnogoria is a true labour of love by Mr. Jim Moon, a literal oracle of all things horror, folklore and geek culture. I do not use that term lightly. He really is a font of knowledge on pretty much any subject you care to mention. He has a lovely jovial tone, mixing great humour with a deep understanding of his chosen subjects that will at once remind of that nice English teacher or favourite Uncle. I first heard about him after he had done a reading of a classic horror story on a different podcast. Once I heard him read, I had to find out more about his show and I wasn’t disappointed with what I found.

The episodes vary greatly in content, and as such the show has diversified over the years into:

  • Hypnogoria – The main show that covers various pop culture and folklore topics (books, films, comics etc.)
  • Microgoria – Short, off the cuff shows that don’t always warrant full episodes. Despite the name and Jim’s best intentions, these have the habit of sometimes running longer than actual Hypnogoria episodes!
  • Tomegoria – Book review episodes, where a new book is discussed every episode
  • The Commentary Club – Where Jim and his wife watch a film and discauss all manner of trivia and interesting tidbits.
  • The Great Library Of Dreams – In which Jim reads a classic horror story.

That sounds like a lot of stuff…

The main Hypnogoria episodes will either be a one off episode, maybe a review of a film or TV show or a whole series of episodes covering a single topic (some of the earlier ones covered the 2000AD comics, the history of Batman, Zombie films, Christmas folklore and classic Universal monster movies) and I really  think that’s what makes this show stand out. You may not be entirely interested in 1970s British kids TV shows or Vincent Price, but that’s ok. Just skip to the next episode and I guarantee you there’ll be something to enjoy.

But is it any good?

Now having said all that, it may sound like Jim may be spreading himself a bit thin by covering such diverse topics. However, that’s not the case at all. Each episode has an incredible amount of research involved, and the facts that get uncovered can be very obscure indeed. I always get caught out when he doesn’t include some obscure fact that I know, and I have that moment of glory before he mentions that exact thing and expands on it. I guarantee that even if you’re a massive fan of H.P. Lovecraft, or even Father Christmas (yes really), Jim will dig up some remarkable nugget of knowledge that’ll blow your mind. The fact that each episode has so much work involved shows that he really does have a deep love for all that he does, and he wants to share it all with us.

Final thoughts

A decade’s worth of shows looks a bit daunting when you first hit “subscribe”, but don’t be discouraged by the quantity. You don’t have to listen to them all in day long binge sessions (like I did), just find something you like and dive in. I suspect you’ll even find some new areas of interest to follow (like, I don’t know, 1970s Spanish zombie movies *ahem*). Since first discovering this podcast, I have found an appreciation of comedy series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (in fact, all of Matt Holness’ work), the Father Brown mystery stories, the novels of Adam Nevill, and the aforementioned Spanish zombie films.

I must confess that I haven’t listened to every single episode. I have listened to over 95% of them though, even ones on subjects I already know about. As I said, he’ll uncover some amazing bit of trivia, or debunk some well held belief, and make your world all the better for it.

Hypnogoria is a podcast that easily joins the more traditional folklore type podcasts with pop culture shows like some podcast colossus (allow me the hyperbole here).

Everyday’s a school day with uncle Jim!

You can listen to Hypnogoria here

http://hypnogoria.com/

Or on your podcatcher of choice.

The lore of the land

Ghosts and folklore of Wales review

Rating –

Being Welsh is something of a privilege. We have the coolest looking flag, and the best national anthem. We also have a Christmas tradition of having a rap battle against a horse’s skull on a pole (yes, really). This is partly why this review is being released today. But I digress…

This is another queue jumper for my review schedule, but one I think is worthy. As soon as I’d heard the first episode I knew I’d be ploughing through the whole lot in no time. I’d actually be further along with it, but the pre-Christmas work rush has put the kibosh on my 8 hour listening sessions somewhat. So without further ado, here is my review of the Ghosts and folklore of Wales podcast.

So what’s it all about then?

Ghosts and folklore of Wales is a weekly podcast by the perpetually cheerful Mark Rees, a Welsh journalist, author and folklore fanatic. In fact, according to Mark, this is the ONLY podcast dedicated to Welsh folklore. Every episode revolves around a different subject, and usually includes a few stories related to the main theme. So far he’s covered stories about the Welsh versions of the “Black Shuck” dog, the infamous Mari Lwyd, various tales of devils, and even the story of a headless Jesus driving a coach and horses. See, Wales is nothing if not fascinating.

But is it any good?

You can really tell that Mark has a great love for what he does. His enthusiasm is contagious and his witty style of storytelling is a joy. After listening to the first episode I had decided that this was a “four brain” podcast (maybe a three). I had judged too quickly though, because I didn’t realise how subsequent episodes would go. The things that I would have critiqued actually have become endearing features of the style of the show. Hopefully he keeps his special effects budget exactly as it is!

It’s amazing how he manages to research some of the stories found here. For every well known ghost, or tale of fairies, there are some really obscure local news reports that must have taken all his journalistic skill to unearth. I suspect that he spends hours hunched over a microfiche machine, or maybe poring over old archives. Maybe he just types searches into his work computer, who am I to assume? Not all of these are truly paranormal however. Stories the local ne’er-do-wells tormenting unwitting victims are just as good as, if not more entertaining than a real ghost story.

Another thing I love about this podcast, and one that sets it apart from other podcasts like this is the fact that he will translate the Welsh names of the subject of the episode. I suspect that other podcasts don’t do this because. A) the sources they use don’t do it. B) they don’t speak Welsh themselves so can’t do it. or C) They don’t think it’s important. It’s just some hard to pronounce word that sounds weird and thats good enough for them.

The great thing about translating though is that it gives more depth to the subject. I mean who knew that the dog breed Corgi, actually means “dwarf dog”. Not dwarf because it’s small, but because it was owned by the mythical dwarves? This also provides someone with only a passing grasp of Welsh (me) with plenty of head slapping moments when I try to figure it out and get it completely wrong. At the risk of perpetual ridicule, and full disclosure, I translated it to “choir dog” or even “singing dog” because the Welsh for choir is also “Cor”.

Final verdict

A lot of paranormal and folklore podcasts (and I’ve listened to quite a few) have a tendency to get rather stuffy and academic. This is probably just the nature of the beast, as a lot of the resources available tend to be stuffy and academic. What sets this series apart is the light-hearted way each story is told. I’m reluctant to use the comparison, but it’s more along the lines of Horrible Histories than some late night BBC documentary.

I’m really not putting it down with this comparison, but I feel you are more likely to retain facts when they are related in an engaging manner. An engaging manner is (thankfully) what Mark has in spades. His self-deprecating humour is endearing rather than irritating and his real sense of disbelief relating the more far fetched tales and hoaxes result in some proper laugh out loud moments. You are also guaranteed to learn some obscure nugget of wisdom from the aforementioned translations. The Dwarf Dog is absolutely being retained for when I get to go on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

I know that Mark has also written a number of books on the subjects of ghosts and folklore. I’ll be getting my hands on them soon, because if they are half as well researched and written as this podcast then they will be a great addition to any collection.

You can get the show here:

http://markreesonline.com/ghosts-folklore-wales-welsh-haunted-podcast-mark/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

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