Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lore Podcast Verdict: GO LISTEN TO IT RIGHT NOW (Aaron Mahnke's Supernatural History Podcast)


In the words of Fats Domino, "Yes, it's me, and I'm in love again....". I had my Louisville loot to show you this week, but haven't I been a lazy-so-and-so and not gotten around to photographing it in the daytime hours. Well, tell a lie, I have been busy. This week I've been to a dr's appointment for a yearly checkup (kept waiting for an hour, not a happy camper that afternoon), eaten dinner and gabbed my head off over at Emma from Fiercest Lilliputian's g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s new house (I love eating pizza and talkin' trash more than anything in the universe), and have been clawing my way through a French book for the Alliance Fran├žaise book club meeting next month (it's good, but reading a whole fiction book in another language is more grueling than I remembered-- I read so fast in English that it's hard for me to slow down in French so I actually understand what's going on). However! I thought I would check in with you to give you a podcast rec that will change your life if you're a fellow devotee of the creepy and unexplained.

GUYS, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND GO LISTEN TO LORE RIGHT NOW. Do it! I'll wait....just take your time. Come back here when you're finished so we can talk about it.

Ok, so you're obsessed now, right? Or if you didn't immediately heed my exhortations to jump on the Lore bandwagon, 1) shame on you, don't you trust me by now and 2) let me tell you a little bit more about the series/where I'm coming from podcast-wise and see if I can't sway you to my way of thinking.

Working as I do in an atmosphere where there's lots of audio dead time, I am always on the lookout for new podcasts. I review books with my headphones on, solo, and at a relatively repetitive speed (unless I'm grappling with a particularly difficult French title about semiotics/philosophy/politics or something else where a firm grasp of the language doesn't necessarily give me an understanding of what the book is about), so I like to have programs that are essentially the equivalent of having company with me that I can focus on/disregard as needed. Problem? I hate like 99% of podcasts. Something about the medium lends itself to either being stultifyingly boring and pretentious (see: almost all history podcasts I've listened to) or too dumb to bear (see: most unscripted "comedy" podcasts where there's a comedian prattling on about the yogurt they had for lunch and "wasn't it weird, y'all! It was crazy! The yogurt was all like 'Eat meee, get in my belllly....' so yeah....that was good..."). Ones I listen to on a regular basis, and cannot recommend enough:
  • Fresh Air (duh, even though Terry Gross gets on my last nerve sometimes, how am I supposed to get my fix of pop culture/current events otherwise)
  • What's the T with RuPaul and Michelle Visage (for obvious reasons, it's like hanging out with two super cool people with only the occasional compulsory commerical about shaving kits by mail and mattresses)
  • New Yorker fiction podcast (because who knew writers could be such good readers of other people's work for the most part, and I've found all kind of authors I want to read more of through this one)
  • No Sleep Reddit podcast (I should be ashamed of this one, but I'm not-- I am so desperate for scary stuff I will go to the mirage in the desert and drink the sand when it's not water...and honestly, sometimes it IS really scary )
  • Le journal en fran├žais facile (sounds like it would be "easy, preschool" French but is actually pretty rigorous French daily news for even an experienced non-native speaker)
I've tried a lot of comedy/history/literature/French/movie podcasts with little to no success. And then along comes Lore under the "editors' choice" section of the Featured tab. The description says "Lore is a bi-weekly podcast about the history behind scary stories", which piqued my interest. But yeah, it probably sucks, right? WRRROOONG.

Like stories about witch trials and tribulations? Check out episode 12, "Half Hanged"

Aaron Mahnke writes, researches, produces and performs a twenty minute program every two weeks that focuses on a different supernatural, grisly, horrible or just downright creepy event. Subjects? Salem witchcraft, unexplained creatures, old wives' tales, mental asylums, haunted dolls, goblins, ghosts...he's only 15 episodes in so far, but to say he's made a favorable impression on this listener is a grand understatement. Each story is presented in an intelligent context with details and careful pacing enough to avoid the pitfalls of most history podcasts, the plodding retelling of events-- and THEN THIS HAPPENED, and THEN ANOTHER THING HAPPENED, dates dates dates, sources sources sources, then THAT ALSO HAPPENED. While using actual historical facts, he arranges said information with a fiction writer's attention to narrative suspense, keeping your thrill loving little listener's heart fluttering with interest for the duration of the program. This podcast feels kind of like a Twilight Zone/In Search of... mashup, with a healthy dose of that Reader's Digest encyclopdia set "Mysteries of the Unexplained" thrown in...and I don't know how to praise something higher. This is what we've been looking for, people! And someone actually made it!

The kind of scary I can get me some love, girl! says both the skeleton and the sea creature. (Source)

Two other programs I tried to listen to in the "others like this" made me appreciate what Mahnke DOESN'T do as much as what he does. One program seems to specialize in mindless ranting about "omg, y'all, I f-ck'n love f-ck'n ghosts and sh-t, you guys, REALLY, I'M SERIOUS" with the cohost call-and-responsing "Yeah, you like, like crazy horror type things and I mean, who else would go on a ghost tour like you did, did you like, see anything or was it scary or....?" "OH. MY GOSH, I was like freaking out because I'm just that weird kid who like has always been obsessed with scary stuff?" It felt like a documentary about upspeak more than it did a horror/history podcast, and I gave up after ten minutes. The other had three nerd dudes (my own kind, I know, but that doesn't make them immune to criticism) talking about historical events in very grave, serious tones, with super attention to source material ("And then this comes out of the August 1891 issue of the London Police Gazette, there's a pdf of it on our website if you want to check it out, and it reads [reads entire thing]") and little care for whether or not the information (which was spot-on spooky) was presented in a manner that was anywhere near listenable/interesting. If you read Dracula in a monotone with no inflection and paid special attention to the footnotes rather than the fact that dude is climbing up walls like a lizard and seducing young girls to drink their blood, I don't know what to tell you, you need to reassess what your POINT is.

I know I'm being mean, but again-- you have to recognize how this is not only a great show, but based on its competition, it's heads and shoulders above the field of horror podcast as we know it. I WANT ALL THE SHOWS TO BE LIKE THIS ONE.

I like that it looks like they're fighting. Also, maybe I should do a blog about the Illustrated Police Gazette bc holy heck.

Through interviews across the internet, I've learned that it takes this one-man operation about 30 hours of research, writing, and production to come up with each episode, which is kind of awe inspiring when you think about it-- a lot of the time, especially in this modern day of instant updates and instant gratification, I think it's hard for people to wrap their heads around how long it takes to actually create quality content. What takes me 15 minutes to listen to not counting commercials took him almost a full-time gig's week worth of time to create. No wonder he's a little chary to commit to a weekly rather than biweekly schedule. Don't kill yaself, Mahnke! We need you! I'm thinking about subscribing on Patreon and kicking in a few bucks so I can listen to the extra episodes and read the transcripts and support the whole endeavor. You know when yours truly and her hard earned dolla dollas are willing to part ways to something like this, it has to be truly awesome, and it is. 


Anyway! I don't want to give too much of it away, but go listen and do tell me what you think, I think it's BRILLIANT and I hope he makes 1,000,000 more episodes.

How about you? Seen anything horror-related I need to know about? How psyched are you about Halloween coming up in a couple weeks? What kind of podcasts do YOU listen to?

Gotta get going, but I will pull it together and take some pictures of what I brought back from Kentucky this weekend for your viewing pleasure next week. Have a fabulous weekend (IT'S THE FLEA MARKET, OMGGGG) and I'll talk to you soon! Til then.


  1. I just gave the last episode (Unboxed) a whirl and oh hey, btw, THANKS FOR HOW THE HELL WILL I BE ABLE TO SLEEP TONIGHT NOW????? Hahaha, it was fascinating but oh my - spooooooooooky. I'll give the others a go - but during THE DAY. :) Thanks for the tip off! :)

  2. another friend posted about this one facebook this week and i love it! i wish there were more episodes! it really is good. all my friends love last podcast on the left but i hate the hosts so much. they really think they are FUNNY but uggggghhh. I've heard good things about the sword and scale. Have you tried that one? I also really love story telling podcasts, The Moth is my favorite because it is a lot of "regular folks" telling stories at their events. There was a recent one about Whitey Bulger that was SO GOOD!



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