podcast

Robert Bloch and Inside Psycho

Last week brought the final episode of the six part podcast series Inside Psycho. I had been stockpiling them since the first episode released and then listened to them all over a few days’ time. I am so happy that I did, because this series sure was wonderful!

Psycho is a particular favorite of mine. I couldn’t even guess how many times I’ve seen it, and if I’m flipping through channels on TV and it’s playing, I will sit there and watch the rest of it. I love it for so many reasons: Hitchcock, film making/cinematography, creepy and weird, Anthony Perkins is pretty perfect.

With all that said, I must admit, I was a little apprehensive of Inside Psycho. So much has been written and made of the 1960 film, I wasn’t sure if there was anything to add. Would this podcast be more for the neophyte and offer nothing new? I was certainly wrong and delighted about that.

The first episode, of course, talked about noted Wisconsin weirdo Ed Gein, who was the inspiration behind Norman Bates in the book Psycho, written by Robert Bloch. Episode 2, however, revealed so much. Notably, I was unaware that the young Robert Bloch frequently corresponded with HP Lovecraft, the latter who encouraged Bloch’s writing and creativity. The letters have been collected in a book.

All six episodes were stellar. The production itself was an engaging amalgam of documentary-style, radio drama, and a little horror, thrown in for good measure. Yes, of course, there were aspects of the story’s history that I was well aware, but details, for example, like the film making process was more than appreciated. Psycho was innovative in its craft and film making. There was also a particularly humorous account about how the rating censors couldn’t agree if there actually was nudity in the shower sequence.

Also, can you guess another horrifying sight that the censors thought obscene? The shot of the toilet in the bathroom. The idea of showing a toilet in a film or television show was greatly verboten. THE HORROR!

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Dead lady? Yes. Flushing toilet? GOD FORBID!

Links:

 

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On Being Annoyed at Donna Leon

I am annoyed at a writer I have never read and have only heard of in the past days as I randomly listened to past episodes of The Guardian Books Podcast (“Writing crime with Donna Leon, Duncan Campbell and Barry Forshaw” from May 2016.)

Overall, the episode, including Donna Leon’s segment, was highly interesting. My annoyance didn’t come until later when she was asked why her novels weren’t translated into Italian. But before I continue, let me first add, the long-running series of detective novels by Donna Leon are set in Italy and feature an Italian police commissioner (and I assume, many other Italian characters). Leon writes in English but has lived in Italy for many years, and the novels have been translated into other languages as well–just not Italian.

It’s not as if the Italians are not interested in them, but it comes down to the strange vanity of the author herself. She insists that they not be translated and the absurd reasoning is quoted all over the internet.

I don’t want to be famous. I don’t like being famous and I don’t want to be famous where I live. I just don’t like it. It doesn’t do anyone any good to be famous. I have enough. I don’t care. See this is what people find so confusing. I don’t care. I don’t care if the books get published in America. I don’t care if they get published. I just don’t. I have enough. I’m not interested — the idea of more has no importance to me. I don’t care.

Yes, all of the Italian publishers would kill to have them. I don’t want to be famous. I am spotted on the street by German, Austrian, French, Danish, everything… at least 3 or 4 time a day[.]

From a 2003 interview

I find this whole notion to be ridiculous. Unless you are Stephen King or JK Rowling, no one is spotting you 3 or 4 times a day.

Unlike some other European countries, English is not widespread in Italy and I deduce that her avoidance to have them translated into Italian alleviates the possibility that she would be critiqued by Italians. That she might be called out for aspects of her series that she wish to be hidden in the cloak of unreadability for an Italian audience.

Granted, yes, this is all speculation on my part as someone who hasn’t read a Donna Leon book. But still I became incredibly annoyed as she kept on insisting. As an avid reader, I often get bummed when an international book I’m interested in is not available in English or if an author has one book translated but not anymore from their oeuvre.

Some light Googling led me to a quote in The Independent,

“There’s the risk of falling into stereotypes, and Leon, despite the bonhomie of her Commissario Brunetti, is not exempt. It’s not for nothing that she doesn’t want her books translated into Italian,” wrote prominent Italian reviewer Ranieri Polese. 

I made the mistake of reading further into the aforementioned 2003 interview, and her answers to various questions carried on in the annoying vein. Perhaps, I am concentrating on minutiae, but really Donna Leon was very annoying.

 

Loving and Listening to LORE Podcast

I am an unabashed lover of podcasts (I think I’m not alone in this sentiment). Although, I am very picky. I only listen to a few and I think I’ve boiled down what makes me automatically lose interest in so many: 1) bad recording equipment, 2) the host’s voice, and 3) lack of storytelling abilities or the simple but crucial talent of being able to keep a conversation going.

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For a few months, I’ve had the newish Lore queued up and ready to go, but because of my aforementioned hesitance to new listening options, I sadly let it sit.

But as I was trying to de-stress yesterday, I slipped into a warm bath and began to listen.

Aaron Mahnke, a writer himself of the supernatural, produces and hosts this really excellent endeavor. Besides avoiding the above mentioned technical curmudgeony, Mahnke clearly does research for each episode’s topic. They last roughly 15-20 minutes and are released every two weeks (I will be impatient once I’ve caught up and realize I have to wait… impatient child, I can be). The lore which the podcast is titled from is both clearly documented events and the peripheral monsters that we don’t quiet see clearly.

What had me first going was that I found out that Mahnke covered the 19th Century New England vampire panic I had just recently read about, along with the lycanthropic tendencies of a wealthy German farmer. He investigates what goes bump and glows in the forest or the persistent infatuation we have with mental asylum (one episodes covers the institution that HP Lovecraft was influenced by).

The podcast creates a mood. The stories are told without glorifying the macabre and squeezing out bloody details like a tabloid (although, there is plenty of unpleasant and gory happenings).

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As of this typing, I’ve breezed through about eight episodes so far. I just did some internet sleuthing on Aaron Mahnke and he has a few novels published (As a lover of the strange and scary things forests can hold, I am particularly curious about his 2014 book Consumed).

Has anyone else listened to Lore? Any other suggestions? I also am keen on Bookfight, Serial, The Bugle, How Did This Get Made, and the occasional This American Life. I’ve tried giving Welcome to Night Vale a chance, but more often than not, I find it tedious which definitely outweighs the fewer amusing bits. I have also sadly given up on This is Horror, because of the host’s voice; I know, I’m awful but I just can’t do it.

post script I use Podcruncher on my phone, but Lore is also available to listen to straight on the website.

post post script For those interested in the podcast but are deaf or hard of hearing, Aaron Mahnke does the brilliant thing of posting transcripts. (I had a acquaintance in grad school who was deaf and I remember her lamenting the fact that she often couldn’t access certain podcasts because of the lack of transcripts).

post post post script I have never once cared about the music played on a podcast and couldn’t care less when the hosts gives this info, but the music here is truly wonderful and he offers the list for every episode.

Tools for the Writer

After last week’s post about free podcasts, I started to search around (read: procrastinate) about other technological helpers made for the writer. Now, I haven’t tried any of these yet, but when I have the time, I certainly will. If you use any, please leave a comment with your opinion and experiences. Hopefully, some of these can be useful tools for the writer who needs help organizing or becoming motivated or just is always on the fly that they need a swift place to record their writing. Also, there might be more exceptional programs, but because I fall under the category of “poor writer of no importance,” the programs & podcast I am sharing today are all FREE. Click on the images to access more information. Enjoy!

8David Morley, Director of the Warwick Writing Programme, leads you through a series of creative writing challenges designed to help you develop your creativity and talent as a writer and reader.

 

 

A Novel Idea Use its simple interface to create your characters, locations, scenes, and novels and then link them together to create your story’s plot. Use the Idea feature to quickly jot down your creative sparks and link them to your story elements. Arrange your scenes by dragging and dropping them into place. Add scene goals and objectives for each character.

 

MoleskineThe look and feel are classic Moleskine; the digital capabilities are inspiring. Enjoy all the things you usually do with your Moleskine journals, and send your creations out into the world, page after page.

 

WerdsmithWerdsmith turns your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into a portable writing studio, so you can write any time, any place.

 

 

Pocket WritersGot a great idea for a story? Then why not write it. Pocket Writers has a simple three-step publishing system. Give us a title, write your story, publish. It really is that easy. You can save your stories as drafts and come back to work on them later.

 

Daily DiaryDaily Diary will make it easy for you to start writing your personal dairy. It has a beautiful interface that will make dairy writing more fun and enjoyable. Daily Diary is safe and efficient. Daily Diary is password protected so that it will be private for you.

 

Flash Fiction PrompterFlash Fiction Prompter is an easy-to-use and simple writing prompter that provides a instant starting point for your Flash Fiction (or other short literary forms) by giving you a random character, setting, and plot, which are the basic ingredients for any story.

 

Chain-StoryCreate. Collaborate. Compete.Did you ever play that writing game at school? You know the one – you write something, pass it on to someone else who continues the story, who then passes it on to another person who gets to see what the previous person wrote, but not what you wrote… and so on. This app is that, but with no paper required. You don’t even have to be in the same country, let alone the same room!