Bats Optional -What is Gothic Literature?

Brent and I have a new audio/podcast project called The FrankenPod.

“A podcast stitched together from the corpses of mystery, noir and gothic literature and cinema”

It’s very early days but we would love for you to give it a listen.

If you have a film or book you love and it fits the criteria we’d love you to contribute.

Listen to the new episode of The FrankenPod HERE

Here is part of the accompanying article for the first episode…

Before our podcast release next week I thought it might be a good idea to have a bit of a chat about Gothic literature and what exactly that entails. I am not assuming that everyone knows or doesn’t know about the gothic genre and this certainly won’t be a deep dive because I am simply not qualified. This is just to define the parameters of the initial genre we will be focusing on with Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

First up we need to acknowledge that the gothic genre is super problematic. There are stories that give a strong voice to people of all shapes, sizes, gender identifications, sexual orientations and nationalities but this progressiveness is a pretty recent development. Gothic literature can be racist, homophobic and is frequently classist and misogynist. Whilst we could dismiss these issues as being products of the time in which they were written I think it is important that we are aware of the problems in the things we love and to acknowledge them. The only way we can move forward is to understand the issues of our past. Frankenstein is classist, misogynistic and racist. It is my favourite novel of all time, but I completely acknowledge it’s flawed.

Let’s get into my barebones overview of Gothic Literature….

 For more go to Bats Optional – What is Gothic Literature?

Usidore Rocks and Little Squishing the Treesistance…

In an effort to defeat the book club the most available strategists in Foon have gathered to defeat the Dark Lord… and discuss The Great Gatsby.  Hello From The Magic Tavern has momentary lulls, especially since the imprisonment of the town but since the inception of the book club the podcast has found a new drive and focus.

And Flower (Brook Breit) has to be the most underrated character on the podcast. She is not taking any of your bullshit, I also suspect she may not have read the book. But who can blame her, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic is a bit of a tedious pain in the arse. It falls into the same category of books as Wuthering Heights; vastly overrated books about privileged asshats being horrid to each other in ways I just couldn’t give a shot about. My opinion, obviously. I add that disclaimer despite the fact that my mum is probably the only one reading this (but only if she has caught up with her paperwork). Hi Donna!

Anyway back to the Prison Town of Hogsface in the Land of Foon and the grass roots (Or tree roots) movement against the ruling powers of the Dark Lord who took over at the puzzling conclusion of the last story arc. The book club, which started as code for defeating the Dark Lord, came to the same conclusion that many of us who have found themselves ploughing through the Great Gatsby, Daisy is just the fucking worst and the woman punching is a bit much. 

So this post just petered off a bit huh?

Oh good.

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Undisclosed – Gary Mitchum Reeves – What the hell is happening?

I love Undisclosed, in it’s role as an advocate and in it’s role as a story telling format. 

Rabia is a ruthless badass who makes all things seem possible, Colin seems to be a walking information and trivia database that by no means is limited to legal matters and Susan, gosh where do I start? Her brain functions in a way that I both admire and am completely baffled by. 

My fangirling over Susan Simpson aside this new case they have been examining over the past few months has been completely engrossing. I’m not sure I completely understand what is going on.
If you thought Undisclosed slowed down after they stopped focussing on the Hae Min Lee case you might want to give it another go. The team haven’t slowed down, not even pausing substantially when Rabia, Oh I don’t know, um…. HAD A WHOLE HUMAN BABY. 

So there is this guy… Gary. He got prosecuted and convicted of shooting his partner Grace. But he doesn’t remember it… and her girls, the key witnesses look like they’ve being lying the whole time.

There are

  • Career Criminals
  • Corrupt officials
  • Druggings
  • Death threats
  • Other murders
  • Confessions
  • Retractions
  • Paid hits
  • Bumbling hitmen

And a potential murder weapon hidden in a coffin.

Oh my god it’s like someone has turned this poor guy’s life into a comedy heist mobster movie. But it’s Undisclosed so no matter how ridiculous things get Susan rises above it and keeps as factual and unemotive as it’s possible to do with the circus being rolled out in front of her. Poor Gary. 

Do it! Let me know what you think!

Buy Books From Book Depository So I can buy coffee! They have Rabia’s book Adnan’s Story which is a great read!

Within the Wires Season 2

As Belinda Blinked 3 draws to a suitably ridiculous conclusion and Twin Peaks finishes drawing the cycle it has meticulously constructed over twenty something years I wondered what would fill the void.

Enter Within the Wires Season 2.
Delving into the world of an artist and admirer before, during and after a great social change that swept through the society at large as well as through a more personal and finite domestic environment…

It’s an alternate universe to ours, a society not so divorced from our own as to be improbable. We are led through the Rememberance Wing of the Tate Modern in 1971 by hypnotic and authoritative narrator who questions our perceptions.

Your narrator for this series is Roimata Mangakāhia she takes you through the Tate Modern and an exhibition that showcases her mentors work. These works are treated with a unnerving reverie that will be familiar to those who have been exposed to glowing artistic commentary. The audio guide is defensive of the work and is very invested in the validity and meaning behind the work for reasons that have already begun to unveil themselves in the first episode.

The audio tour is best listened to while totally focused on the words. It’s not background noise. The words paint a stunning mental image of a work you will never see. It’s a beautifully disturbing and disjointed experience that seems to take part in the same universe as the first season.
Discussed works Episode 1

Still Life with Orchid – Claudia Atieno

House with Yellow Door – Claudia Atieno

The Charcoal Dish – Claudia Atieno

Woman in Bath – Claudia Atieno

Self Portrait with Cat – Claudia Atieno

Buy Books From Book Depository So I can buy coffee! I’m pretty sure they’d have the Welcome to Night Vale Books. If they don’t they should

The Disappearance Podcast…. its happening again…

To borrow a line from Twin Peaks “its happening again…”
I am going to recommend a podcast, and I know that seems to be all that I do but hear me out. In a world of true crime podcasts The Disappearance Podcast has been accidently downloaded by more listeners than any other podcast I have discussed with fellow podcast enthusiasts.

This is NOT a true crime podcast. But you could be forgiven for thinking that for the first four minutes of the debute episode.

In the beginning it seems like a pretty basic audio drama centred around the mysterious disappearance of a boy from the narrators childhood; Alistair Glamis. The narrator in question is a guy called John Herman, a normal guy who has decided to make a podcast about a tangential mystery in his life. A mystery that for some reason has struck a chord with him. It turns out Alistair left some stuff to John, which is weird because they weren’t really close. Things got a little stranger as season one wrapped up but it all seemed relatively standard for a podcast drama.

And then the message that changed EVERYTHING

<<<<< Spoilers below >>>>>

I was absent mindly working my way through my extensive podcast queue whilst cleaning one sunny afternoon when suddenly a familiar voice and the haunting music dropped this mind fuck straight onto my unsuspecting eardrums. 

“I’m John Herman, and this is the first time you’ve heard my voice…”

I’m sorry what? Haven’t I just spent six episodes listening to you speak?

That was it. I was hooked. This is a podcast that does it’s best work in the spaces in between seasons. I don’t think there is another podcast that is doing quite what The Disappearance Podcast is. Every podcast mystery drama I have encountered has been very linear; vivid creative and riviting, but linear.

Actually that is not true, Homecoming played with chronology using surveillance documentation. But nothing like this. In The Disappearance Podcast you are asked to follow three (now four) timelines and stitch together the threads. Its not quite new Twin Peaks Mark Frost/David Lynch level of playing with simultaneous timelines but it has got to be as close as you’ll get in 15 minute audio episodes produced by an independent content creator. Yes, I look back on that sentence and realize how many qualifiers there are in that comparison, but the fact is that if the podcast wasn’t in it’s infancy in September 2016 you would assume it was a taking inspiration from the Twin Peaks return.

Well it appears this series is about to enter its final episode. Catch up from the first episode, don’t leap in half way through.

I love it. Let me know if you love it too!

Alice isn’t Dead  **creepy arse update**


 Who IS that woman??? No spoilers but jeepers creepers Keisha is in trouble. The Thistlemen have nothing on this gal…

If you are in two minds about revisiting the series… well… do it.

Roberta Colindrez

She has an amazing voice.

It’s gorgeous, threatening and intriguing.

I can’t wait to see where this goes

The Thistlemen were hungry…

But she was… smart

My last post about Alice Isn’t Dead
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ShitTown – Chapter 4

After hearing about the mottos on the sundials earlier episode I went looking because I was sure the one in our town was more positive than the grim mottos in ShitTown.

Let others tell of storms and showers, I’ll only mark your sunny hours.

Not bad huh! A little cheesy but I like a sundial that can acknowledge its limitations.

On to the episode. I’m now assured, and I checked, that I’m listening in the right order. So it’s definitly providing some context to his abruptness about suicide. It’s bizaare the way he relates the practicalities of his early death in a way that we are lead to believe people who are serious about suicide never do. But maybe the reason that people who talk about suicide seldom carry through is because some one listens and intervenes, not because the intention isn’t there. But when you are continually suicidality depressed like John there is so much intervention involved, so much loneliness, how do you fill that void? I wish he had of got professional help… easier said than done…

So how does someone who pays such close attention to the practicalities of his suicide not leave behind a will? This makes no damn sense.

We learn a little more about the cousins in this episode, a there are inklings that maybe Tyler’s sense of entitlement might not be a well founded as it first appeared. I’m not sure he’s untrustworthy, maybe just misguided. But the cousins, man Tyler does not like them one bit, even saying that the cousins wanted John’s nipple rings because they were made of gold. And it’s true, Rita and Charlie do seem preoccupied with the gold and other things John left behind. Not to mention we don’t know what has happened to Mary Grace, John’s mother who is now under their guardianship.

We also learn that none of John’s close friends were called before his funeral, there seems to be no logical reason for this, many of them are horologists (people who study the workings of clocks), and many of them suspect that there is some nefarious reason that some one didn’t want them at the funeral. 

There seems to be a foreshadowing of problems with Tyler, and maybe another version of events that shed a less positive light on Tyler and his interest in John’s estate. He has literally towed the buses he claims are his from the property.

Then there’s the gold that Faye, the town clerk, was told about in the freezer in her final phone conversation with John. The concersation in which he drank cyanide over the phone.

The gold that dissapeared, along with some of Mary Grace’s valuables some time between that conversation and when the cousins arrived.

A time when only Mary Grace, the paramedics and the police had access…. oh and Tyler

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Instead of jumping up and down about the mistake that happened in my podcast app I’m deciding to embrace the misunderstanding. And it’s a good thing too because episode 3 is much stronger, and its no wonder because it flips the entire story on it’s head.

S-Town is an amazing and intricate story that suffers from the same issue as many podcasts with a massive twist suffer from, the people working on the podcast know why the story is worth telling, but it’s hard to convey to the audience the worth of the story without giving anything away. So the listener has to just trust in the host that this story is going somewhere.

So now the allusions in the later episodes to John’s maze make sense, and people being frustrated with the large swathes of exposition also makes a lot more sense.

I wonder the whole episode was needed.

But I still love it.

I still love John, even if he suddenly reminds me more of my father in law than he did previously. The maze also adds another dimension to the treasure hunt foreshadowed in what I now know to be episode 3.

What has this experience in misplaced chronology told me?

Apart from the eccentricity of podcast apps, the importance of editing, the dangers of immediate publishing and that I’m a sucker for non-chronlogical narratives? Well listeners and readers don’t need ALL the details right away. I must remember that in my own writing.

Chronology and time are abstract and fallible, huh, how fitting for a podcast featuring a depressed, fatalistic, genius clockmaker.

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ShitTown – Chapter 2

Bahh I listened to episode 3 as episode one so any references to earlier episodes are referring to episode 3…

😑 This is why you need to fact check even if you don’t want to research and come at the podcast with fresh eyes….

Okay before we get into the episode can we just have a moments appreciation for the S-Town website, that shit is beautiful. I love the way it moves and evolves as you scroll. It’s a nice change from some of the place holder websites you often see for podcasts. (No Usidore I’m not talking about Usidore Rocks, that is another exception {listen to Hello from the Magic Tavern for context})

Anyway onto potential spoilers for Chapter 2

Hearing John for the first time was exciting, he seems to be quite the story teller. Rambling frenetic anecdotes peppered with non sequiturs. Within the first sentence of Brian’s narration we get a tantalizing hint of the crime that John was obsessed with so it doesn’t look like that thread has been dropped. I’m so glad.

Kaybrum, Kabrum, Cabram, Kabram?

Who is Kabram Burt? And why can’t I google him properly? Yes I gave in and researched, well kind of. I’m currently paused on chapter 2 with 40 minutes to go of the episode and I couldn’t resist the allure of search engine spoilers. But without and easy answers I gave up.

Kyabrum? Kabrum (Kabram? Cybrum? Quebrim?) is the person that John suspected of murder, the murder that he was discussing with Brian prior to his death. You can find some speculative research here.

We hear about John walking into the tattoo parlour with his soapbox. We meet some rough, racist guys guys from Tyler’s tattoo parlour. We hear about John the miser, John the loner, John the shut in. But we also hear about the John who hated tattoos but propped up his friend Tyler’s business by getting multiple tattoos  and piercings

At the halfway point of this episode I think I may be in love with John B. McLemore…

But then we find out Kyabram Burt didn’t kill anybody. The guy he beat up didn’t die, and it was investigated thoroughly, there was no coverup, no murder. Just a fight… a nasty fight… but a fight. And there seems to be a weird rumour mill operating off half the truth that John seems to have latched onto for some reason which is strange for someone who is so meticulous.

The annoying truth of the situation seems to have depressed him more than before. He despairs for his town and “the clusterfuck” he sees around him. It’s like he was distracting himself from the apathy of the general population towards the slow detriation of the world and the futility of the human condition by looking into what turned out to be just another fight.

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