In this, the last episode of 2013, Al and Tony gush over Krampus: the Yule Lord. Tony tells the story of how this podcast almost didn't happen. Albert is mad about Man of Steel.

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Links to Things:

Direct download: HEP_-_68_-_Mistletoe_Spear_Kryptonite_Paddle.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:52am EST

Al and Tony surf the yule tide with a the greatest Christmas action movie of all time, Die Hard. Albert is foiled in his attempt to spoil The Hobbit for people who have managed to ignore it for over eighty years but now suddenly care for some reason and he is absolutely not still worked up about this at all. Also we answer a bunch of fan questions.
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Die Hard Game Sega Saturn / NES
 
Direct download: HEP_-_67_-_There_and_Spoilers_Omitted_Again.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:11am EST

Expecting

by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt

It didn't make no sense to me, but Momma said it made the birthing easier, so I did it anyway.

I was scared. It was my first time, and I wasn't married. People already talked about my family's strange ways. Then I started showing, and the gossip spread like ripples in a swamp.

"Let 'em talk," Momma said. "It don't make no difference. We'll have the last laugh on Judgment Day."

Easy for her to say. She didn't have to go to school. She didn't have to see the looks the other girls gave or hear them whispering behind her back. She didn't have to put up with the rude comments of the boys. Like I was some kind of whore.

KatieJo thought it was neat. She would. She wanted to talk about it all the time. "What's it like? I want one too, but papa would tan my hide if'n I don't finish school first. Does it kick yet? Will you let me feel it when it kicks?"

I tried to explain that it wasn't all roses. I told her about the morning sickness and the weird cravings and waking up each day feeling more like a bloated whale.

"It'd all be worth it, to bring a new life into the world."

I couldn't talk to KatieJo about how scared I was. There's this thing growin' inside me, getting ready to pop out. I did tell her what Momma said about eating clay.

"She has you eating dirt? Gross. Dirt has worms and parasites and all kinds of nasty things."

"It makes the morning sickness go away."

I didn't explain to KatieJo how Momma and me had gone out into the woods by moonlight. We said some prayers in the old language and then we dug down, past the regular dirt, past the worms and wriggling white grubs, down to a special clay. Momma and me dug it up with our bare hands. It glowed in the moonlight. She smeared some on my lips and then my belly. That was the first time I felt it move. I thought about the grubs and worms we had dug past.

I didn't tell KatieJo any of this, 'cause Momma asked me not to. But I did remind her that my Momma was a wise woman who had given birth several times.

"Be that as may be, you still wouldn't catch me eating dirt."

Yeah. And you're not the one expecting, are you.

The further along I got, the better the clay tasted to me. The bigger I got, the more I wanted it. I started carrying a bag of clay in my pocket so I could snack on it at school. I'd try to do it when I thought no one was looking, but I guess people saw anyway. They called me white trash and all kinds of things.

Momma said it didn't matter. They called her worst her first time. It still hurt. I'm not sure Momma cared. She was spending more and more time at church, getting ready for the delivery.

The next day at school I had the craving real bad. I reached my hand into my pocket when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Miss Spencer, the school nurse.

"Madison, I need to see you in my office."

Miss Spencer made me uncomfortable, but I was a good girl -- whatever the jealous trash at school said -- so I went. When we both sat down, I realized the nurse was as uncomfortable as I was.

"Madison... I think it's time we had a talk about your...condition..."

I didn't hear anything that required a response, so I didn't say anything. A queasy feeling hit my stomach really hard. I needed more clay soon. I rested a hand on my big belly while Miss Spencer went on.

"First, I want to applaud your decision to keep going to school. Your education is very important."

Momma said I wouldn't be in their school at all if the law didn't make me go. But she said it was best to obey the laws of men so people didn't come snooping around things that were none of their business. I learned the way the world really worked at church.

"But I have to wonder, dear, if you're seeing a doctor like you should be."

I felt movement inside me and cooed part of a song in the old language before I responded. "What do I need a doctor for, when I have my Momma to take care of me?"

"I just mean that you may need something more than just...folk remedies..."

I got exactly what Miss Spencer was saying then. She thought me and Momma were hicks who didn't know what we were doing.

"If I went to the doctor, what would he do?"

"Well..." Miss Spencer leaned forward. "He would want to examine you. And he'll probably put you on a supplement."

My belly wriggled. I don't know how she didn't notice. "What's a supplement?"

"It's a pill with vitamins and...minerals." Oh, the look on her face when she realized what she had just said. "Special minerals, formulated in a lab."

Pain shot through me. I took out a ball of clay and swallowed it. The movement in my belly settled a little. "So you want me to give up healthy and natural food and minerals for something somebody I don't even know made in a lab I ain't never seen?"

The nurse's nostrils flared. "I'm just trying to get you to do what's best for your baby."

I stood up to leave.

"Baby?" I pulled out a bit piece of clay, bit off some of it and grinned at Miss Spencer as I wolfed it down. "Whoever said I was having a baby?"

From under my clothes, a tentacle took the rest of the clay from my hand.

<center>---</center>

Donald Jacob Uitvlugt lives on neither coast of the United States, but mostly in a haunted memory palace of his own design. His short fiction has appeared in numerous print and online venues, including Necrotic Tissue and the Wily Writers podcast, as well as the anthologies Dying to Live and A Fistful of Horrors. He strives to write what he calls “haiku fiction” -- stories that are small in scope but big on impact. If you enjoyed “Expecting,” let him know at http://haikufiction.blogspot.com or @haikufictiondju.

Direct download: HEP_-_Short_Echoes_8_-_Expecting_by_Donald_Jacob_Uitvlugt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32am EST

This week Al and Tony get their drink on with Grabbers, the best people-getting-drunk-to-avoid-being-eaten-by-aliens movie you'll ever see. Albert is excited for Christmas and Godzilla. Tony mocks Florida's "cold" weather. Also, new original fiction!

 

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Links:

Deadpool movie on track (at least so says Ryan Reynolds. I am not holding my breath. I can only hold my breath for like, maybe a minute so...)

Krampus: the Yule Lord by Brom (What kind of pretentious weirdo goes around just calling himself Brom? And then the guy has the audacity to write a dark and moving reinterpretation of classic Christmas demigods populated with characters so real you feel like you know them better than you know yourself? Geez, what a poser.)

 

 

 

Disclaimer: While recording this episode Albert opened his big fat mouth about how you couldn't get classic Christmas specials online anywhere. In between then and the time of this episode's release Hulu posted A Charlie Brown Christmas for the sole purpose of making him look stupid. We are onto your shenanigans, Hulu; our vengance will be swift.

Direct download: HEP_-_66_-_Rarer_Than_A_Sober_Irish_Alien.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:38am EST

On this week's episode Al and Tony geek about not-quite-found-footage-film End of Watch. Tony talks about everyone's favourite mayor, Rob Ford. Al tries not to be a racist.

 

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Links:

Direct download: HEP_-_65_-_Unfounded_Footage.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:13am EST

Eric Luke, author of Interference, joins Albert and Tony and talks writing, careers, cool movies, old radio, and much more. Afterwords, Tony and Al get into Queequeg's coffin and talk about The Florida Man.

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Links:

Eric Luke's Homepage

Eric Luke's Twitter

MetaFour Productions

Dinosaur vs. the Potty

The Florida Man

Albert Berg: Slenderman

Kickstarter for Noble Beast Classics

César Sebastián

The Pequod by César Sebastián

Direct download: HEP_-_64_-_Interview_With_Eric_Luke.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:23am EST

This week Al and Tony discuss The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle. Later, Albert becomes a bit unhinged talking about retail and Black Friday.

 

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Links:

Direct download: HEP_-_63_-_One_Fish_Two_Fish_Butt_Fish_Blue_Fish.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:09am EST

This week, the guys go way WAY back to the days when people who weren't hipsters wore cool hats to discuss Alfred Hitchcock's Rope.

 

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Links:

Direct download: HEP_-_62_-_Dont_Cut_the_Rope.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49am EST

This week, the guys review and discuss the incredible podcast audio book by Eric Luke, Interference. Then Albert gets amped up on caffeine and Tony talks about chewing tobacco trauma.

 

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Links:

Denver Zombie Crawl

The Walking DeadRope on YouTube

Interference by Eric Luke
X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Ender's Game

E-cigarette safety studies: No link here, because after some searching it appears that there are a number of conflicting studies about the safety of e-cigarettes. One oft-cited test found that e-cigarettes contained some amounts of carcinogens and other dangerous substances including a "chemical found in antifreeze". It should be noted that the main "chemical found in antifreeze" is alcohol which is a poison in the right formulation and dosage. As we mentioned in the show itself caffeine and nicotine are also technically-poisonous substances that many people partake of every day without apparent injury.

We're not qualified to make a judgement call on whether e-cigs are "safe" but we would caution against reading too much into statements which essentially boil down to "This product contains chemicals." (I'm glaring at you anti-vaccine activists).

 

 

Direct download: HEP_-_61_-_Everyone_is_a_Hipster_in_the_Future.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:45am EST

This week Al and Tony trek through the vampire-ravaged world of Stakeland. Tony talked about stuff. Albert said something stupid. As he was writing this blog post Albert clumsily tried to cover up the fact that he had forgotten most of what was actually said when the podcast was recorded, but that failed, so he turned it into one of those pretentious self-referential jokes instead. Shenanigans.

 

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Links:

Direct download: HEP_-_60_-_Dont_Go_Stakin_My_Heart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:53pm EST

This week the guys discuss the crime comedy Pain and Gain and wonder whether Michael Bay may yet have hidden depths. Later the guys discuss the surprising benefits of flatworms, and Tony has never heard of Dave Barry.

 

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Links:

Creationism debate Reddit thread (Al thinks this is fake, but has no proof.)

Salvador Dali's Ocelot

 
 
Direct download: HEP_-_59_-_Bodybuilding_Ninjas_for_Jesus.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57am EST

In this episode Tony and Al uncover the truth the Norwegian Tourism Ministry doesn't want you to know as they review the groundbreaking documentary Troll Hunter. Later, they discuss the freaky future of 3d printing, and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of crass commercialism.

 

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Probapumpkins Pumpkins by Joseph Devon

 

*I know right? Can you imagine how the conversation with the investors went? I can't. "You want to make a musical about Spiderman called Turn Off the Dark? Sure, here's 65 million dollars," is not something I can imagine anyone saying ever. Yet another piece of evidence that you're living in an illusion. We've tried to tell you. Frankly I don't know how we can make it any clearer. Wake up.

Direct download: HEP_-_58_-_Dont_Touch_the_Red_Button.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:21am EST

This week the guys dig into the manic cinematic world of Night Watch, a Russian film that mashes up...well pretty much everything, honestly. Then, Tony talks about his recent experiences with hypnotherapy, and freaks Albert out in the process.


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Links:

The Road

Direct download: HEP_-_57_-_The_Night_that_the_Lights_Went_Out_in_Moscow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:25am EST

In this episode of the Human Echoes Podcast, Tony and Al wrap up Time Travel Month with a look back at arguably the greatest action movie of all time, Terminator 2. Later, the guys talk about how various types of media are dealing with the shift to the world of digital content distribution, and Tony convinces Albert that Michael Bay might have finally made a good movie.

 

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Links:

 

 
 
 
Direct download: HEP_-_56_-_No_Fate_But_What_We_Retcon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:01am EST

On this episode Al and Tony ruminate on the film adaptation of The Time Traveler's Wife. Tony envisions an entirely disproportionate revenge for the man who smashed up his car; the guys geek out about guns.

 

Spoilers for the book version of The Time Travler's Wife: In their discussion of the movie, the guys suggested a number of ways in which the story did not go far enough in exploring the specifics of time travel element. Upon further research, it appears that nearly EVERYTHING they discussed, including the teleporting fetus, were covered in the book.

 

Links:

Samuel L. Jackson on Talking Bad

Direct download: HEP_-_55_-_Gunning_for_Time_Travelers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:12pm EST

This week, Time Travel Month continues as the guys dig up a little known Spanish film, Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes). Tony recounts his firsthand experience with the Colorado floods. Albert has crazy fan theories about Dinosaur Train.

 

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Links

Video of the flood in Colorado

Children of Sorrow Trailer

Zach Braff Kickstarter

Free Edgar 2013 shirt

Achievment Hunter Minecraft Lets Play's

 
 

Direct download: HEP_-_54-_The_Dark_Side_of_Dinosaurs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:18am EST

Zombies Have No Respect for Plumbing 

by Tony Southcotte

Zombies have no respect for plumbing. They don’t

teach you that when you fill out the paperwork for your

apprentice license. 

Since the plague slowed down, people didn’t see the

need to finish off their family members. You just pay a

wrangler to tie them up, slap a rubber ball in the mouth,

and send them home. They may want to tussle with you every

once in a while, but for the most part they just sit there.

People hold on to some hope for a cure, but I know better.

Christ could raise Lazarus, but Lord knows he wouldn’t try

to bring a pork chop back to life.

I used to just pull hair out of drains. Use a snake or

some other such tool to drag natted balls of bath grime and

shaving leave-ins out of bathtubs.

This brings me to my current predicament. Standing in

the shower of some blue haired granny who just couldn’t say

goodbye to her oaf of a husband. I saw him walkin’ in, that

festering pile of meat. The red ball in his mouth would

have made him look like a pig on a spit, that is, if he

still had any natural color left in him.

She called to tell me her drain was backing up; that

a horrible smell and rusty colored substance was coming

through. I figured it was a sewage back up. Not my favorite

call, but you can gouge these people and they have to pay

Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t sewage.

When I start pullin’ the snake back, the white chunks

start dropping off the cable, little flaps of raw skin.

At this stage, it starts to fall off like a bad sunburn, 

only meatier. The smell hits me and I want to double over.

At least if the worst happens I am in a bathroom and can

easily find the can.

“Ma’am, do you know anything about this?” I ask,

pointing at the muck, retching under the stench. I’m pretty

sure more than a couple teeth are in the mess now.

“Oh dear. Why don’t you plumbers make these drains

good enough?”

“Well, we don’t expect you to push the cherished

remains of your dead husband down the drain.”

“But he needs his shower, his hygiene was never in

order, even before his accident. I just pushed it down with

my toes.”

Now, I normally don’t take kindly to this sort of

viscera, or the type of person who puts up with it, but

something struck me in that moment. Its brilliance was so

simple, but the idea that would revolutionize the in home

zombie phenomenon and plumbing as we know it. “Miss, would

you like me to install a garbage disposal in here?”

“Can you do that?”

Yes. Yes I can.


This week Al and Tony kick off Time Travel Month with Terry Gilliam's Kafkaesque sci-fi masterpiece Twelve Monkeys. Later they discuss the potential perils of CEO worship in American business, and wonder is Edison might have been onto something with D.C. power after all.

 

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Direct download: HEP_-_53_-_The_Twelve_Red_Herrings_of_Christmas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:31am EST

Dancing.

Sometimes it looked like we were dancing.

There was nothing for us to hear, we could not verbally communicate anything. And so we 

watched each other. We watched each other dance. The slow motion twirls and spins. We

found we couldn't speed up to reach anyone else, our only means of communication being

found in glimpses when we managed to catch eye contact when our spinning matched up just

right. 

The planet below became the center of my vision. I closed my eyes for this. I always do. It lasts 

for about an hour, until the blackness of space comes into view again. I sometimes imagine that 

the planet below is one I've never seen before. That it's inhabitants did not send me and my 

kind into the depths of space.

Suspended in the shadow of the planet. Freezing. But even the burning of the veins of ice 

creeping beneath my skin was relief compared to the hell that met us under the hateful glare of

the sun.

Leo was nearest to me, perhaps twenty feet away. He was still in his suit from the job he had 

on the planet below. Possibly the least violent of any of us, Leo had created an extraordinarily 

stable life with the mortals. He had even convinced one of them that he had feelings for her.

Finishing off the picture. Past him were the others. Veronica, Leland and Tobias. The mortals

had sent out a larger group of us before, much larger. Perhaps ten thousand. We had managed, 

using pure luck, to avoid their advanced detection methods. The world had calmed until groups 

of citizens, conspiracy theorists, convinced that their neighbors and co-workers and mothers-inlaw were our kind, started using homemade versions of the methods used by each government. 

It was the mist that did it.

The garlic mist.

Some of them flew little remote controlled planes around town, spewing the stuff into the air.

This was effective enough to get one of us when it went out of range of the owner’s controller 

and began dropping low near a crosswalk. It was close enough for her skin and eyes to react - 

enough for the people around her to know.

As for the others, they caught us by leaving the stuff everywhere. The entrance of every grocery 

store and coffeehouse. Doorknobs of houses and clothing hangers in department stores. No 

one was happy about the stench that eventually built, but after they got Veronica, the complaints 

fell silent out of fear and curiosity.

The mortals couldn't kill us, they couldn't trust us, they couldn't throw us in a cage somewhere; 

we'd be meat taking up space many places couldn't afford. 

And so they sent us into space.

The first group was sent in a few pod-like things. Just stuffed in, really to the brim. One of them 

was kept on earth, to supposedly be sliced and diced. Good luck to them - they’ll never break 

his skin.

Later on, they decided that even the pods were too merciful, since they protected us from the

harsh vacuum of space. They designed small ships that were designed to disintegrate in the

later stages of its flight through the atmosphere, leaving us exposed as we are now. To the void 

outside that made the pressure of every pulse agonizing. That made it impossible to breathe. 

That left us with no insulation from the biting cold. And no protection from the sun.

That horrible burning star. And so our immortality becomes our greatest curse.

I would give anything to breathe again. To feel air in my lungs. Wind. Solid ground under my 

feet. Anything. Anything but this freezing void.

I feel a heat at my back as my dead eyes are still fixed on the planet. This isn’t normal; the sun 

won’t find us for another hour. An impact. Solid, excruciating, but not enough to break me. It 

sends me spinning out of control, but I catch a glimpse of the culprit: a small meteor. I watch 

it falling, a fiery tail growing behind it, the rock slowly grinding away as the atmosphere tears 

it apart. Eventually it disintegrates completely. Only then to I realize that I was not watching it 

descend below me.

I had been falling next to it. It had sent me on a path back to the planet’s surface.

I start to feel warm. The ice in my veins is thawing as the friction of the atmosphere tries to 

break me apart as it did the meteor. Tries, and fails. I will not die. I will survive the fall. There is 

so much to do on the surface. They will be made to regret what they did to us.

Finally, I will have my revenge. I will bleed them dry.


In this, the fifty-second episode of the Human  Echoes Podcast, Tony and Al pay off a long-running joke and review Man on Fire (Albert felt cheated by this title as Denzel Washington is not immolated by the end of the film). Also featured in this title is the wonderful story "Suspension" that won the Vampires in Space flash fiction contest.

 

 

 

[Retraction: Tony stated during the discussion of Tony Scott's suicide but, according to the coroners official report Tony Scott had no such illness at the time of his death.]

Direct download: HEP_-_52_-_On_Vengeance_and_Vampires.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:19pm EST

 

This week, Al and Tony do battle with found-footage zombie diesel-punk cyborg war film Frankenstein's Army. Then, Tony holds up his boombox and it is awesome.

 

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Lynx

Direct download: HEP_-_51_-_Three_Words__Wait_for_It.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:04pm EST

This week, the guys follow the river on down Arkansas way and see if this Mud movie is all its cracked up to be. They discuss the importance of a complete breakfast; Albert thinks about moving to Colorado.

Direct download: HEP_-_50_-_Brown_Water_Blue_Balls.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 2:34am EST

In this week's episode, Al and Tony go fishing with Bait, a surprisingly good movie about a shark loose in a supermarket (yes, you did just read that correctly.) They also dig into tales of the great men of history and the great women who made their conquests possible; Tony catches Albert doing his sexy lady voice.

 

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Links to Things:

Clarkesworld Podcast (with Kate Baker!)

The Story of Oriental Philosophy

Hernando Cortez

In Brightest Africa: the autobiography of Carl Ethan Akely (this file contains some tpyos and formatting issues due to being a scanned work, but it's still totally worth your trouble.)

For Delia (Carl's first wife) Akeley's perspective you might also enjoy a book she wrote about her exploits in Africa called Jungle Portraits.

Beyond Dinocalypse by Chuck Wendig

 

(Correction: Albert was wrong about Cortez dying on some conquest or other. He died in Spain of pleurisy. Albert's version of it is better though.)

 
Direct download: HEP_-_49_-_This_Podcast_is_Waterproof.m4a
Category:general -- posted at: 1:53am EST

In this episode Al and Tony geek out about the first English-language film from Korean director Chan-wook Park, Stoker. Later they talk about the wonder of old graveyards, and get hyped up for the final season of Breaking Bad.

 

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Links:

Ozymandias Breaking Bad trailer

500 Days of Summer

Oldboy remake

I Saw the Devil

Old Bald Mountain Cemetery

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Letters for Zachary Dear Zachary

 

Failed author AMA

Direct download: HEP_-_48_-_The_Ozymandias_Connection.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:55pm EST

This week its a gore-fest as the guys discuss the Evil Dead remake, chainsaw deaths, and the proper handling of ancient books of forbidden knowledge. Tony checks out the SCP Foundation; Albert screams a lot; dinosaurs continue to be awesome.

 

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Links:

SCP Foundation

I Am a Toaster

Hard Core History

Frankenstein's Army

I, Frankenstein

TVTropes

R.I.P.D.

T-Rex found with soft tissue

The Spellman Files: The Last Word

WWI who stopped sleeping after being shot in the head.

 

Retraction: Albert got his facts wrong when talking about Eragon in this episode. It was Carl Hiassen who "discovered" Christopher Paolini, not Orson Scott Card.

Direct download: HEP_-_47_-_Frankensteins_Apocalypse.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:05pm EST

On this week's show Al and Tony break down the bizarre South Korean revenge movie Oldboy. They also break down the new 3D printing boom, and seek out the connections between Napoleon Dynamite and The Prestige. Stay tuned after the sponsors for a nerd out on the film Pacific Rim.

 

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3D printed space stations

Robotic hand that can feel

Napoleon Dynamite tether ball incident

Oldboy hallway scene

SPACE VAMPIRE FLASH CONTEST

Direct download: HEP_-_46_-_On_Revengence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:11am EST

I want you to imagine that we are alone.

That on the biological spaceship we call earth, we drift through the void as a ship would upon quiet seas. On all horizons, there are no shores to be seen. In the deepest night, only the stars shine to share the lonely burden.

In our own sea, the solar system, we have found isles, but no refuge. Some planets seem suitable at a distance, but are toxic underfoot. Others, volcanic and turbulent, devoid of life. Some are even devoid of surface.

So we look outward, out to that currently insurmountable ocean. Centauri beckons. A mere 4.27 light years. An instant to the cosmic scale, or 165,000 years in our most advanced space vehicle. There is a chance of an exoplanet here. A planet that humans could call home. A place where the skies are blue and the soil rich. Where the only major difference is that the familiar night sky gives way to new stars and constellations. Where our own home star is just a glinting mote in a crystalline sky.

But only a chance.

What if we reach this world and still find ourselves as the only intelligent being in the universe? Do we look outward to our galaxy? There are an estimated 10 billion earth like planets in The Milky Way. Are we so lucky that only Earth had the chemical composition to spawn life? That we are 1 in 10 billion? Do we push this further and consider the quintillions of star systems in the known universe?

Is it empty?

Are we alone?

Are we the only instance of the biological epoch? Are we the only sets of atoms that are even aware of atoms?

Our vessel drifts through infinite black, embraced only by the mass of a finite thrashing from the basest elements in our star.

Yet we are one of billions in our own cosmic neighborhood. One of billions of trillions on far off shores in galaxies further than comprehension. Less than a single grain of sand in a great desert, or a piece of spittle falling into an ocean.

Does this make us more important? Or less? Are we simply a temporary anomaly so far beset in the depths of the void that it will never matter, or are we the only matter that matters because we understand ourselves to be matter? Or is our consciousness just the conduit for our delusions of grandeur?

Is it blind arrogance to think that with all that is, only we exist to understand it? That our one rock is somehow the center of all. That we do not share this common cosmos with a single other microbe or form of life, except for what is on our little blue ball. That an entire universe is dead except for us, who are to this planet little more than bacteria.

It cannot yet be said for certain, but smart money disagrees. Life thrives in every nook and cranny on this world, often in places said to be near impossible. If we can go 1 for 8 plus a Plutoid on our own block, then what’s to say that the same vitality doesn’t grip the rest of the universe? Even if the odds are 1 in 100, 1 in 10,000, hell, one in 10 billion for a heavenly body to contain life, that still makes for a staggering amount over the course of an entire universe.

Do I believe we are alone? Not a chance.

Direct download: TDS_Thoughts_-_1_-_Alone.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:25pm EST

In this episode, Al and Tony dig into the documentary Dark Days, and discuss the manifold problems of homelessness, and tenacity of the human spirit. They also discuss medical nonsense and Albert is outed as a Sharknado hipster.

 

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Links:

Sharknado

Texas legislature bans tampons

Pacific Rim

"N."

"The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward"

Direct download: HEP_-_45_-_Dude_its_Like_Medical.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:10am EST

Albert flies it solo suffering his way through the real-estate themed horror film House Hunting with a full-length commentary. Check out the movie on Netflix and watch along he encounters monsters with goofy hats, annoying antagonists, and a twist ending that makes not the slightest bit of sense.

Direct download: Albert_vs._Movies_-_1_-_House_Hunting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:18pm EST

This week, the guys chat with awesome author Ellie Anne about writing, trans-media, and her new steam-punk fantasy novel, The Silver Sickle. Later in the show we dig into the strengths and weaknesses of World War Z (warning: spoilers).

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Links:

The Silver Sickle by Ellie Anne

Film Crit Hulk

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Breaking Steele Aaron Patterson

J. C Hutchins

Transmedia

Sundown: White Birch [also on Google Play]

Steampunk Holmes

Direct download: HEP_-_44_-_Author_Interview_with_Ellie_Anne.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EST

A Ghost In Time 
by B.T. Joy
He closes his eyes. The light flashes. 
Somewhere west. Wyoming. Montana. Little Hallmark across the street. Hanging lilacs. Next door along. A picture house showing the matinees. His eyes, getting old, can’t see the listings. 
May as well cross. Look what’s on. Halfway over. An Asian guy in an immaculate suit passes. He feels the familiar repulsive burn of electric between them. The Asian guy thinks they’ve brushed bodies and makes something of it. 
“Hey fella! Watch where you’re going, huh!?”
He doesn’t respond. 
You’re wondering how he can be so calm? It wasn’t always that way. Not always that way at all. 
His shuddering feet reach the other curb like tiny boats coming into shore and he shuffles to the doors of the picture house. He doesn’t have time to watch the movies. He’ll never have time to watch a full movie again. But sometimes he likes to read the advertisements. 
Schindler’s List. Jurassic Park. Sleepless in Seattle.
Must be the early 90s now. Christ the world was getting old. 
He closes his eyes. The light flashes. 
Sidewalk bench. Sitting. Early morning and no folk around. The Deep South by the look of the trees all shining in the muggy wind and the French Colonial facades, blue and peach, that line the good-sides of the streets like Hollywood sets of pinewood and plaster. 1970, by the cars.  
But what were you asking? Oh, yes, so calm. 
He wasn’t always so calm. It wasn’t always that way. For the first ten years he’d run around from place to place- from time to time- like a devil on speed. Trying to grab at people. Shouting. Screaming his name. Saying he was lost and he wanted to go home now. 
Nothing ever changed. He couldn’t make anything change at any rate.   
Nothing ever stayed the same long enough for anyone to understand. 
He looks down at his hands. Resting on his legs that rest on that little sky-blue bench in Louisiana or Mississippi; or wherever the fuck he is. Old hands. With delves deep as canyons and the little lilac rivers of veins rushing everywhere; eroding the skin. 
So old. Getting so... so... old. 
He closes his eyes. The light flashes.
Chase Field. On the grass. Fuck. Chase Field again. On the grass. Strewn with shirtless bodies, old and young. Brown porpoises lolling in the Phoenix summer. Pittsburg Pirates win. Arizona Diamondbacks lose. Ten runs to three. 
He sits on the wall. The lawn is emptying. Gingham. Striped. Checker. Tartan. Calico. White. The blankets are being skinned from the lawn. Folded between semi-naked bodies glossed with sweat. The grass is littered with cartons and discarded chili-dogs. The march is being played. 
Not again. Not again with the fucking march. Must times be recycled. Isn’t it bad enough. Isn’t it torture enough. Isn’t it hell enough. 
The march. The march. The triumphant peppy march. Pittsburg Pirates win. Arizona Diamondbacks lose. Ten runs to three.
The people are swarming like a chain of coffee-coloured ants. They bear insufferably close. The repulsive electric stabs at him. A thousand stinging tentacles. 
He falls off the wall and wails when he hits the earth. Mothers pull their children into shawls of towels and blankets. 
“Just a drunk.” They whisper to each other. 
From the flat of his back he stares up at the painful Arizona sun. 
He closes his eyes. The light flashes.
Dark place. Perhaps by the sea. Because he can hear it lolling on the shore. Cooler night. Still on his back. Faint wisps of air up there. In all that blackness. Faint green. Radiation green. Perhaps it’s thicker than it looks because there are no stars. 
But the sea. The sea out there. In the dark. Still lolling on the shore. 
What were you asking? 
Calm? 
Yes. 
Calm now. Calm now. Like the sea. Like the sea. Out there. In the dark. Still lolling on the shore. 
Not always like this. Not at all always like this. Ran frantic once. Devil on speed. Grab people. Shout. Scream name. 
Lost. Lost. Lost.  
Want to go home!  
Want to go home!
Sea now. Dark. Lolling on shore. 
What were you asking? 
What? 
Does he remember? 
Of course he remembers. 
Who could forget? Done with her. Blood on privates. Hers. His. Jimmy’s. Jimmy’s knife. Pulled it out. No. Put it back. Pulled it out. More blood. Throat this time. Not from below. Not from where they’d forced themselves inside. 
Throat this time. Welling up. Red. Like the sea. In the dark. Lolling on the shore. Tongue lolling. On the grass. Sea on the shore. Tongue on the grass. Lolling. Lolling. 
He closes his eyes. The light flashes.
Chase Field. On the grass. Fuck. Chase Field again. On the grass. Old and young. Brown porpoises. Lolling. Lolling. Lolling. Pittsburg Pirates win. Arizona Diamondbacks lose. Ten runs to three. 
He sits on the wall. Gingham. Striped. Checker. Tartan. Calico. White. Red. Like the sea. Welling up. Lolling. Lolling. Blankets. Skinned from the lawn. Not again. Not again. Fucking march. Recycled. Bad enough. Torture enough. Hell enough. 
The march. The march. Pittsburg Pirates. Arizona Diamondbacks. Ten runs to three.
Swarming ants. Insufferably close. The repulsive electric.
He falls. 
Mothers pull children. 
“Just a drunk.”
“Just a drunk.”  
  Painful Arizona sun.
He closes his eyes. The light flashes. 
No. No. 
Interstate 44. Lebanon. Missouri. June 14th. Cover of cypress trees. Old Harley store closed for business. Almost transparent moon. Dark clouds and gold-dust of dawn. 
No. No. No.  
He looks to the trees. To the murmuring sounds not leaves but men are making under the anonymity of shade. No. Old now. Weak now. No. 
In the dark a hand. His hand. Her mouth. His jeans. Her blood. Jimmy puts back his cock. Pulls out his knife. 
She dies. And here, they didn’t know, they knew too well, folk are placed in pods of iron; and fed to eternity. 
He closes is eyes. The light flashes. 
Direct download: HEP_-_Short_Echoes_5_-_Hard_Time_by_B.T._Joy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EST

In this episode Tony and Al take a ride with Rubber, a movie about a cold-hearted serial killer named Robert who goes around exploding people's heads with his psychokinetic powers; also he is a tire. Later the joys of bad movies are extolled, and the tragic wonder of technological progress is examined.

 

Links

Atantic Rim

Phil Hornshaw 

So You Created a Wormhole

Upstream Color

Joyland by Stephen King

Linotype: the Film

John Titor

David Icke

Bohemian Grove

Coral Castle

Bishop Castle

 

"Linotype: The Film" Official Trailer from Linotype: The Film on Vimeo.

Direct download: HEP_-_43_-_The_Secret_Society_of_Forgotten_Arts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:25am EST

This week the guys wander the ash-grey labyrinthine hallways of House of Leaves. They discuss men of steel and iron. Tony is sleep deprived; Albert is just stupid.

 

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Links:

 

Immortals

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

House of Leaves Annotated (Albert thinks he remembers this being a thing, but can no longer locate it. Here is some other fan obsession in its place.)

The Tall Man

Sunshine

Kick Ass 2

That story about Nick Cage Jim Carrey pulling his support for Kick Ass 2.

Pomodoro Technique

Habit RPG

Provigil

 

A fun fact: the word pomodoro mean's "tomato" in Italian, because the original kitchen timer used for the technique was shaped like a tomato.

Direct download: HEP_-_42_-_Sleepless_in_Sector_ZZ9_Plural_Z_Alpha.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:48pm EST

This week Al and Tony are Mama's boys as they talk about the new horror film produced by Guillermo del Toro and directed by some guy you've never heard of (That's bound to be a good sign, right?). They sink their teeth into the effectiveness of various horror tropes and take a shortcut through the land of memes. Also, Javier Botet is freakin' scary looking.

 

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Links:

Achievement Hunter Let's Plays

Red vs. Blue

Hold Your Breath

The Devil's Backbone

Andy Serkis

Javier Botet

Marble Hornets Entry #72

Confession Bear Meme

Slender Man meme

 

Next week we'll be veering into the literary world to talk about the work of heartbreaking genius that is House of Leaves.

 

 
Direct download: HEP_-_41_-_Your_MOM_is_a_Bad_CGI_Effect.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25am EST

In this special edition of the podcast, Al and Tony spoil the everloving crap out of Game of Thrones. You've been warned. Catch up with the show first. There may be some other subtle spoilers from further in the series, but no major details.

Direct download: HEP_-_SPOILERCAST_1_-_Game_of_Thrones_Season_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

This week the guys check out the viral web series Marble Hornets, and enter a terrifying world where the Slenderman photo-bombs every home movie ever. Later they discuss the competing values of privacy and security and Al complains about not nearly enough nukes going off.

 

Download it now.

 

Links to Things:

Smodcast

Dan Carlin

Vice nuke documentary

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

The Silver Sickle by Ellie Anne

Pontypool (movie)

Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess

House Hunting

Sympathy for the Slenderman

Direct download: HEP_-_40_-_Sympathy_for_the_Slenderman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:39am EST

This week the guys dig into retro found-footage short film anthology V/H/S. Also discussed: MMA fighters with exploded toes; MMA fighters with no limbs at all; GMOs are complicated; charity is good.

 

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Links:

Kyle Maynard: aka the no arms no legs wrestling guy.

Marble Hornets

"Take This Lolipop"

Under the Empyrean Sky

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Common Sense Podcast

 

 

A clarification: we talk about Bill Gates being involved with developing GMOs for the third world. We talked about Monsanto's questionable business practices. What we did not discuss (because we were not aware of it at the time) was the fact that Bill Gates's foundation is working with Monsanto to develop these improved crops. To quote the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy completely out of context, "This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." On the whole me maintain that trying to help keep people from starving to death is a good idea, and will leave off criticizing too harshly those who are doing far more than us in trying to make a difference.

 

 
Direct download: HEP_-_39_-_And_They_Lived_Harpily_Ever_After.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:49am EST

This week Al and Tony go up against The Seven Psycopaths. Tony reveals his love of coin collecting. Albert is still excited about giant robots. Game of Thrones hijacks the podcast.

 

Download it here.

 

Links:

War nickles

Django (1966)

Unforgiven

Atlantic Rim

Transformers Prime

Battlestar Galactica

 
Direct download: HEP_-_38_-_Coin-Operated_Robot_Cowboys.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:24am EST

Common Use

by Jay Wilburn

“I don’t understand why we are here.”

The older gentleman in the driver’s seat adjusted his fedora and scanned through the pages of his ledger. “If you understood, you wouldn’t be riding along to learn, would you now, compatriot.”

The younger man in the passenger’s seat peered through the windshield of the parked car at the battered, silver trailer. He saw the eclectic, folk art around the grassless lawn and a windmill that appeared nonfunctional in the desert wind.

“We are eliminating obsolete words for the next edition. Is the fellow that lives in this domicile an expert on lexicon?”

The driver closed his ledger and placed it on the broiling dashboard. “He’s a hold out, a hold over.”

“I don’t understand, sir.”

“You are quite the ingénue, ain’t ya?”

The young man wiped at the sweat gathering in his collar. “We learn through inquiry, sir. I’ll wait in silence if that serves you better.”

“Touché, son, touché,” the elder leaned back and blinked the sweat out of his eyes. “Every year we have new entries for the dictionary. Changes in technology and ridiculous slang have to be added to sell the print editions and now online searches powered by commercial ads. Did you ever think the dictionary would be subject to commercials?”

“Never could have imagined, sir,” the younger man looked out his side window.

He saw a dusty bus parked at the edge of the property. It had an open top and sides with benches that crossed all the way over with no center aisle. He wondered if that would be cooler in the desert than sitting in the parked car. He also wondered what a tour bus ride through open desert would reveal.

“Me either. Me either,” the older man continued, “Also, self-important authors take it upon themselves to bastardize the language and invent new words where old classics would do their tripe works just fine. Every writer now thinks he is Poe, Shakespeare, or Winfrey and the English language is their playground.”

The younger man noticed a small plane behind the trailer. Sand had blown across the short runway. The craft did not appear airworthy.

The older man held out his hands in front of him over the steering wheel. “We have more words, but no extra money, so arcane words must be quietly eliminated.”

“Yes, sir, I understand our job,” the young man undid two buttons on his dress shirt and loosened his tie. “Why are we not back in the office instead of out here at a hermit’s trailer.”

“Well, then, I guess you do not understand the job at all,” the older man countered.

He reached back over the seat and brought an older edition of the company’s print through open desert would reveal.

“Me either. Me either,” the older man continued, “Also, self-important authors take it upon themselves to bastardize the language and invent new words where old classics would do their tripe works just fine. Every writer now thinks he is Poe, Shakespeare, or Winfrey and the English language is their playground.”

The younger man noticed a small plane behind the trailer. Sand had blown across the short runway. The craft did not appear airworthy.

The older man held out his hands in front of him over the steering wheel. “We have more words, but no extra money, so arcane words must be quietly eliminated.”

“Yes, sir, I understand our job,” the young man undid two buttons on his dress shirt and loosened his tie. “Why are we not back in the office instead of out here at a hermit’s trailer.”

“Well, then, I guess you do not understand the job at all,” the older man countered.

He reached back over the seat and brought an older edition of the company’s print quietly push them out of the lexicon.”

“Like what, sir?”

“He is the last one in America calling his airstrip an aerodrome and he calls that eye sore bus a charabanc. Both words are on the block this year and we need him to let go.”

The younger man squinted and started to speak, but his elder continued after a breath.

“Not so immediate, but as a bonus, he calls his blog The Brabble and refers to his mental health treatment as alienism. So here we are.”

The older man opened the cover of the dictionary. It was hollowed out in the middle. He handed the roll of duct tape to his younger partner. He lifted out the clippers and trench knife for himself.

“Sir, what the hell?”

“We have to obtain his tongue for the company before we deal with the body. Have the tape ready as soon as I have it. Your first time will be easier out here in the desert.”

“I can’t do this. I won’t.”

“Son, if you are not useful, you are obsolete. You can start walking now and make me do this myself, but I will catch up to you. The company sent you out here for your first time for that reason too. What will it be?”

“Is this necessary?”

“Dictionaries are serious business. Leave the tape on the hood, if you decide to run.”

The older man removed the keys from the ignition and stepped out of the car. The younger man looked down at the space in the false volume. He looked back through the windshield where the older man knocked on the door to the trailer. He held his hat in place against the wind. The door opened slightly and he threw his weight into it disappearing inside. The fedora tumbled off his head and bounded across the sandy lot.

     The younger man exhaled as he made his decision. He lifted the roll of tape and opened his door.

---

Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in beautiful Conway, South Carolina by day and writes horror by night. He has not set aside time for sleep yet, but he is hoping to add it in the near future.

Jay Wilburn is featured in THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR vol 5 with editor Ellen Datlow.

Jay Wilburn is a featured author with Hazardous Press at the 2013 World Horror Convention in New Orleans June 13-16. He is also a panelist on THE RULES OF GENRE WRITING at this convention.

Jay Wilburn is a faetured author on the Dark and Bookish authors tour and documentary.

His debut novel, Loose Ends, was published with Hazardous Press. Time Eaters is his new novel coming in November of 2013

Check out his website here

Follow him on Twitter here.

Direct download: HEP_-_Short_Echoes_4_-_Common_Use_by_Jay_Wilburn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:09pm EST

This week the guys stand on the banks of Upstream Color and peer into it's murky depths. Albert gushes about Hemlock Grove. Tony solves the mystery of the Greys. (Seriously, it's like the best explanation for "alien" visitation you've ever heard.)

 

Download the intergalactic wonder now!

 

Links:

Hemlock Grove

Space Vampire (CYOA)

Warhammer 40k: Necrons

Blindsight by Peter Watts

The largest object in the universe

The Mythical Show

A Poetry Show

@sherlockmadam (Hannah Elizabeth)

 

Direct download: HEP_-_37_-_Jumping_the_Vampire_Space_Shark...IN_SPACE.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am EST

 

This week the guys dissect the heady time travel movie Primer, and discuss the upside of adventure. Also, Albert is squicked out by transvestites and fleshlights.

 

Download!

 

Links to Stuff we talked about:

Jack Churchill

Pigin English

The Primer Universe

The Crowbar Bandit

Birth of Nation

Intolerance

The Unending Mystery

Miracle Jones

Miracle Laurie

xkcd Primer chart

 

Direct download: HEP_-_36_-_The_Adventures_of_Jack_Churchill_in_the_Fourth_Dimension.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:15am EST

In this week's episode, Al and Tony walk the haunted halls of The Orphanage and meet some ghosts that aren't completely stupid. They also talk about Minecraft factory farming, new movies, and the strangeness of geophagy.

 

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Some Links:

Next week we talk about Primer (available on Netflix). Don't miss it!

Direct download: HEP_-_35_-_Lets_Kill_Judas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02am EST




Unmeaning

By Rebecca L. Brown


They crawled before his eyes, those centipedes of syllables. He’d gathered them up one sentence at a time and tried to tame them. Tried to teach them how to dance. To punctuate the bareness of a blank page with elaborate linguistic ballet.

Too many parts. Too many nuances of meaning. In each syllable, a palimpsest. All the dirty little sounds - they shared them. Swapped them. Meaning and unmeaning like an ugly Summer morning. Like a mind so full of meanings that they blur. They shifted. Slipped out from the edges of the pages when he wasn't looking. Slipped into his dreams - a linguist’s dreams - and burned their meanings in the darkened corners of his mind ‘til morning.

A word can cut you if you let it. Let them cut or cut them first. Engrave them with new meaning or allow them to define - and you the definition of a fool.

No. He would not be made a fool of.

He’d pinned them to their pages, then, all broken-backed - loose-lettered and unlovely. His pen a scalpel blade, he cut away the silent letters first. Double letters next. A lexicographic massacre - cut deep enough and all that’s left is meaning and the truth inside.

Confetti pages fell like fresh, unwritten snow.

He laughed - is laughter just a sound and not a word? Just sound without a meaning? He laughed until his cheek bones ached and words were nothing but the shadow of forgotten meanings.


***

Rebecca L. Brown is a British writer based in Cardiff, South Wales where she lives with her partner and assorted menagerie. She wanders through various genres (including horror, sci-fi, romance, humour and fantasy), forgets where she was supposed to be going and gets horribly lost on a regular basis.

Rebecca has a first class BA in Archaeology and a keen interest in languages, mythology and science. Her friends regularly discourage her from talking about fractals because things are better that way. Rebecca’s hobbies include martial arts, drawing, baking, weightlifting, leatherworking and music. She has also been known to knit an occasional fish.

For further information, or to contact Rebecca with writing briefs, interview requests etc., you can get in touch with Rebecca atrebeccalbrown@hotmail.co.uk or by visiting her Facebook page.


Direct download: HEP_-_Short_Echoes_3_-_Unmeaning_by_Rebecca_L._Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14pm EST

This week the guys try to open the stuck drawers of Jan Svanmajer's Alice. Then they bash Tim Burton, muse on the greatest monsters of history, and announce the winner of the Hacking the Time Machine flash fiction contest.

 

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Links:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

 

Through the Looking Glass and what Alice Found There

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Shisha

HabitRPG

Jaberwocky

H. H. Holmes

Elizabeth Báthory

Rebecca L. Brown

Direct download: HEP_-_34_-_The_Jabberwock_and_other_Monsters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40am EST

This week the guys are set adrift with the gorgeous film of survival and spiritual discovery, Life of Pi and must appease it with bioluminescent wheels and bigfoot sightings. Also, vicious rabbits beat up on poor defenseless snakes.

 

Download it now!

 

Links:

 

Hillarious reviews of How to Avoid Huge Ships

Matt Forbeck

Carpathia

Albert's review of/Jasper Fforde fanfiction story about Carpathia.

Battledogs

Harcore History

Marine Lightwheels

Rabbit vs. Snake

 

Next week we'll be talking about the surrealist masterpiece by Jan Svankmajer, Alice.

 
Direct download: HEP_-_33_-_Rabbits_and_Tigers_and_Bigfoot_-_Oh_My.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12am EST

The week Tony and Al yak a spell with Joseph Devon, the amazing author behind the amazing books, Probability Angels and Persistent Illusions. The guys talk about writing, stories, and weird animals. Tony is snowed in. Albert buys a mini van.

 

Download the wonder directly into your noise canceling earbuds.

 

 

 

Links:

 

Get Joseph Devon's book!

Or the sequel!

The Wire

Archer

Jon Benjamin Has a Van

Miracle Jones

Bill Oberst Jr.

The Something Store

Double Slit Experiment

The Mantis Shrimp

Start Your Novel

 

Direct download: HEP_-_32_-_Its_Pronounced_Devon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:46am EST

This week, the guys take a look at The Frighteners, and try to figure out how Peter Jackson went from this to making Lord of the Rings; Albert espouses the greatness of Total Failure.

 

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RSS

 

Links:

 

Evil Dead

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Double Dead

Jack the Giant Killer

Direct download: HEP_-_31_-_Dont_Fear_the_CGI_Reaper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:59am EST

This week we travel to a curious parallel universe lighting takes the place of logic, and obscure Babylonian deities try to make good on that warehouse full of Super 8 film they bought back in the sixties; it's our review of Sinister. Later we answer more of your weird questions and spoil the crap out of Game of Thrones (but it's at the end of the episode and we give you plenty of warning, so never fear if you'd like to avoid aforesaid spoilers.)

 

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RSS

 

Links:

Insidious

The Amityville Horror: A True Story (it isn't really, though).

"The Rains of Castamere"

Joseph Devon

Direct download: HEP_-_30_-_Mr._Boogies_24hr_Film_Supply_Store.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:02am EST

“Not everybody gets a private tour of Argonne National Laboratory.”

“I know. Thanks for showing me around.”

“Will you remember this when you go back to school?”

“Of course.” Annette smiles up at her uncle.

They turn a corner and enter command central. Rows of black-capped processors fill the expansive computer room. Theo waves his hand at the machines.

“This used to be the Sequoia Blue Gene Q. I modified her to run at 20.1 petaflops, and renamed her ‘Mira,’ after your aunt. She’s now the most powerful supercomputer in the world. Mira has 49,152 compute nodes, and 70 petabytes of disk storage – the fastest to date. And this is confidential,” Theo says, stooping to whisper. “I secretly programmed her to calculate the correct M-theory of the universe.”

“M-theory?”

Theo scans the room for late-working lab assistants. Seeing none, he continues. “The 11-dimensional string theory, birdie. The quantum structure of the universe.” He chuckles and taps Annette’s head. “Soon we’ll have the theoretical physics equation which will perfectly describe universal reality.”

“Soon?” Annette says, ducking her head.

“By my estimations, Mira will gift us with the equation tomorrow. Then Theo C. Stout will be recognized as the most accomplished and celebrated scientist in history. And science – as we understand it today – will be turned up-side down. Nothing will be the same.”

They stroll between the towering computer cabinets.

“So what’s that pretty head of yours thinking?”

Annette shrugs. “ ‘Knowledge is power,’ as Sir Francis Bacon famously said.” She smiles up at her uncle.

“You’re close, dear,” he says, running a finger along a casing. “The correct phrase is ‘Scientia potentia est,’ and we have the philosopher Thomas Hobbs to thank for that gem. Have you passed your Latin courses yet, sweetie?”

“I’m not taking Latin.”

Theo stops abruptly and blinks at Annette. He bursts out laughing. “You almost had me fooled there, dolly. Imagine that.” He playful tugs at her ponytail.

Annette frowns as Theo polishes the casing with his sleeve.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Annette purses her lips. “And I know Lord Acton said that.”

“I suppose that would pass at your university. But his proper name is ‘John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton.’ And the un-butchered quote is,Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ You say you’re a humanities major?”

Annette’s face reddens, and Theo pats her head.

“Yes. But I-I-” Annette stammers, “I’m in my second year.”

“I’m sure they keep the city library open all summer. A solid self-education can fill in the gaping cracks and holes of an institutional education. What’s on your summer reading list, dear?”

“Well, I’m keeping up with the major authors – I mean, the top-sellers in fiction – so I can better understand the, uh, sociological impact of… of popular culture.

Theo raises his brow.

She bites her lip. “You know – John Grisham, E. L. James. Well, I kinda flipped through ‘Fifty Shades… ’ Borrowed it from a friend. Didn’t much care for it.” Her face reddens again, and she turns away and studies a processor rack.

“You know, you should think about cracking open a practical book now and then,” Theo says. “You’re welcome to borrow any of the computer science and physics books in my office library.”

Annette’s gaze sweeps over stacked silver trays and black and white wires. “Would any of those books tell me what’s inside Mira? The inner workings?”

“Sure. A few of them might give you an idea of the mechanics, but to learn what’s really going on inside Mira, you’d have to spend decades studying everything from advanced software engineering to quantum mechanics.”

Annette sighs. “Well, I was more interested in what Mira actually looks like on the inside. I’m taking an independent art class in the fall and was hoping to get inspiration – a peek at the guts of a supercomputer. I want to see something none of the art students have seen.”

“I can let you have a peek inside, right now, if you’d like.” Theo winks at her. He takes a multi-tool from his pocket, unscrews the top two screws of a cabinet, and carefully flexes the plastic casing back a couple inches. He switches on the flashlight extension and hands the tool to Annette.

Grinning, Annette positions the flashlight and peers into the crack.

A slight jumping movement. She focuses, and sees a large black spider tensed on a webby mass of white wires. Annette frowns and steps back.

“Well? Did you get your inspiration?” Theo says, snapping panel back into place.

Annette is silent.

“Do you need another look?”

She clears her throat. “No. Thank you.”

The next morning, Annette is quiet at breakfast.

“Something on your mind, dear?” says Theo.

“I was just wondering,” she says, “If an insect somehow got into Mira, would that potentially affect her M-theory calculations?”

“A bug? Mira is one-hundred percent bug-free. I coded a customized anti-bug subroutine into her software. Even with the quantum calculations she’s doing, there’s no way a software bug could pop up.”

“I don’t mean a software bug. I mean a spider.”

“Of course!” Theo says, laughing. “Mira has a web crawler constantly scanning the academic libraries for the latest research in theoretical physics.”

The phone rings, and Annette answers.

“Uncle Theo – it’s Charlotte. She says there’s an emergency at the lab.”

Theo grabs the phone. “Charlotte? Theo here… What? Actual spiders? Is this a joke?… Okay. Thank you.”

Annette shivers.

“Charlotte told me the lab is quarantined,” Theo says, trembling. “Filled with spider webbing and… millions of spiders. Can’t even open the doors. The spiders spun layers of webbing over everything.” He collapses on the sofa and pulls back the window curtain. “Snow? In July?” Theo crouches behind the sofa back and peers out the window at a glinting white landscape. “This catastrophic global climate change is happening faster than anyone predicted.”

Annette stoops and pats Theo’s head. “That’s not snow.”

CMStewart is a fiction writer and a philosophy of technology [This is the name of a philosophical field http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_technology] enthusiast. One of her flash fiction tales is published in the anthology Twisted Tales: Flash Fiction with a Twist.

Her flash fiction bog is

CMStewartWrite.wordpress.com

and her G+ stream is

gplus.to/CMStewart

She lives in the USA with her husband and two cats
.


Direct download: HEP_-_Short_Echoes_2_-_Thats_Not_Snow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:54am EST

In the near future robots will control our lives by being super helpful, or at least so says the sappy indie dramadie Robot and Frank. (yeah, I said dramadie. Not taking it back either.) We dig into it's robotic guts, as well as hypothesizing about a catastrophic gravity inversion and talking about the benefits of a cool title.

 

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Next week we check out Sinister. Don't miss it!

Direct download: HEP_-_29_-_Insert_Something_Insufferably_Clever_About_Cool_Titles.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:33am EST

This week Al and Tony review Disney's videogame mashup movie Wreck-it Ralph. Then Al gets in way over his head talking about feminism, and Tony's smoke detector signs up for Twitter.

 

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Fred: The Movie

beep

The Rape of James Bond

The Frighteners

Dead Alive

Black Sheep

Start Your Novel

Direct download: HEP_-_28_-_Of_Filbert_and_Feminism.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:10am EST

This week the guy accept the dubious invitation the travel back in time with the quirky comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. Then they talk about artist with hard-to-pronounce names and argue about who the greatest solo fighters in history were.

 

Get it here!

Or follow our RSS with whatever service you use that isn't Google Reader

 

Links to Stuff:

 

The Book of Five Rings

The 48 Laws of Power

Snow Crash

Law Abiding Citizen

Zdzislaw Beksinski (try saying that five times fast)

"Take This Lollipop"

Children of Sorrow Trailer

Direct download: HEP_-_27_-_Old_Action_Heroes_Never_Die_They_Just_Melt_Away.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40am EST

This week, the guys talk about the psychological (probably) horror (debatably) film Bug. Also, they discuss the benefits of time travel vs. teleportation, pitch the script for the hit new cooking show Downtown Arby's and...I'm forgetting something here aren't I? It'll come to me. Just a second...BILL OBERST, OMG ITS BILL OBERST MAKING A GUEST APPEARANCE ON OUR PODCAST, I THOUGHT FOR SURE THAT WAS JUST A DREAM.

 

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Links:

Bill Oberst Jr.

Take This Lollipop

Children of Sorrow

 

Morgellons Syndrom

A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick.

Drood

Downton Abbey

Direct download: HEP_-_26_-_Bug_Awful.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:24am EST

Mr. Lincoln, a cult leader, an evil redneck, and a decade of being Christ, Bill Oberst Jr. is a man of many faces and a wealth of talent. In this interview, Bill talks to us about the life of a hard working hollywood actor. He also questions us on moral grounds involving a bride in the headlights.

We can't thank him enough for being the first guest on the Human Echoes Podcast. If you all enjoyed this interview as much as we did, find Bill at his website, or check out some of the movies he is in.

Direct download: HEP_Interview_with_Bill_Oberst_Jr..mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:08am EST

This week the guys deal with their demons as they discuss the indie pseudo-horror flick Lo. Then they discuss Phillip K. Dick, the nature of reality, and jetpacks.

 

Rewrite your reality tape by downloading this episode.

Or, unearth the true nature of the universe by subscribing to our RSS

 

Links:

 

The Booth at the End (free on Hulu) (You can't be our friend if you don't watch this show. Seriously, it's awesome.)

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (This book. It's weird.)

 

Next week we're peeling back the insanity of Bug. Either that or talking to Bill Oberst. Or both. Tune in and see.

Direct download: HEP_-_25_-_Swing_Lo_Sweet_Chariot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EST

This week the guys round out Mockbuster Month with the stunning Civil War documentary, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. Then Tony mentions a spider whose bite induces a boner that can kill you and for the rest of the episode...let's just say if you mapped out the wave-form we're pretty sure it'd penis-shaped.

 

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Links:

 

Brazillian wandering spider (aka the Death by Boner spider)

Ruby Gloom (that kids' show that Albert is definitely, 100%, not into. He swears. *cough*)

 

Original painting of pro-wrestler Abra- "The Hammer" Lincoln aka The Emancipator by Jeromy Taylor. Check out Jeromy's hilarious Youtube video chronicling Lincoln's wrestling career here. (Used by permission)

 

Direct download: HEP_-_24_-_Its_Dicks_All_the_Way_Down.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:06am EST

This week, the guys crack open Nazis at the Center of the Earth in the latest installment of Mockbuster Month and continue their examination of what makes a bad movie good. Also, Albert repents of his spoilage with weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and Tony makes all of us look bad when he reveals his progress on the journey to developing better habits.

 

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Or, be like Tony and make the podcast your habit with our RSS feed.

 

Links:

 

 

Next week we'll finish out Mockbuster Month with a look at Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. Don't miss it!

 

Look! Look and DESPAIR

Direct download: HEP_-_23_-_Nothing_Beats_Robot_Zombie_Hitler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:01am EST

This week find the guys slogging into a mire full of the wonderfully horrible movies produced by The Asylum. To begin, a movie that Tony hated so much he literally threw up while watching it, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus. (Albert still thinks this film is pretty rad). Then things get serious when the guys discuss how to conduct a drug intervention, and try to calculate the speed of dark.

 

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Links:

Jon Ronson

Direct download: HEP_-_22_-_Kinky_Giraffes_vs._The_Incredible_Aging_Man.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:43am EST

In this round of the Human Echoes Podcast the guys prove their manhood by talking about fighting, girls, and having poor fashion sense. They also spin some thoughts about surrealist noir masterpiece, Dark City.

 

Check it! Download here!

Or, save yourself the hassle and subscribe to the RSS feed.

 

Links and Things:

The Drabblecast

MMA

Rocky Mountain Oysters

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

 

Shout out to @DannyBrophy, @Priority&Default, and @TonySouthcotte'sgirlfirendwhoseTwitterhandleIdon'tknow for sending in their questions for this week's podcast. If you have a question for us, tweet it to @HEPodcast and we'll talk about it on the show.

 

Direct download: HEP_-_21_-_Tastes_Like_Chicken.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:05am EST

This week finds Al failing at the junkyard with his dinky red toolbag and Tony at therapy after his beloved Broncos hear a rapping at their chamber door. Will the guys pull it together for long enough to talk about dueling serial killers, the faith of evil men, and The Bleeding House? Tune in* and find out!

 

*By "Tune in" we of course mean "Download". Old habits die hard.

Or "Subscribe" to our "RSS feed."

 

 

Links:

 

Next week, the guys dig into the reality bending noir film Dark City. Don't miss it.

Direct download: HEP_-_20_-_Another_Way_You_Can_Die.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:31am EST

In this week's episode the guys discuss the amazing stop-motion film Paranorman. Also on offer, the mechanics of word choice, the prospect of simulated reality, and the joy of boobs.

 

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SHOUTING FOR NO REASON!

 

Linkdump:

World of Vacancy

Stephen King

The Dark Tower

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Simulated Reality

Joe Rogan Podcast

You're Doing It Wrong (Danny Brophy's Podcast)

Ellie Anne Soderstrom

Boobs

 

Next week we'll either be talking about The Bleeding House or World of Vacancy. Or both. Or neither. Basically, just listen in and we'll see what happens.

Direct download: HEP_-_19_-_Dead_Puritans_Dead_Prostitutes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:27am EST

In this week's thrilling episode the guys take on the new movie John Dies at the End, and dive arms-deep into the guts of the question, "What makes a good adaptation?"  Later in the episode they try to build a better apocalypse, face off against the scariest of waterfowl, and unload some spoiler-filled thoughts about Django Unchained.

 

Duck-sized horses can download the podcast here.

Horse-sized ducks should subscribe to the RSS.

 

Albert's Computer Conked Out and Lost the Notes for the Link Dump So Here Is a Picture of a Dog Answering the Telephone Instead:

 

Next week we'll be talking to Charles Schmidt about his book, World of Vacancy. Don't miss it!

 

If you do the Twitter thing give us a follow: @Albert_Berg, @tsouthcotte. You know, if you want to.

Direct download: HEP_-_18_-_Camel_Holocaust_vs._The_Arachnopocalypse.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:34am EST

The Human Echoes Podcast celebrates the new year by forcing musical-hating Tony Southcotte to watch the nerdgasmtastic internet phenomenon Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Will its musical stylings melt his crusty heart of stone? No. No they wont. But you should listen anyway as we discuss art history, and answer absurd questions from YOU.

 

Download it in all its awesomeness here.

Or quench your need for feed with the RSS.

 

Links to Stuff We Might Have Talked About:

 

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Kevin Eslinger

Jacek Yerka

Doctor Who on Netflix

Epic Rap Battles of History

Danny Brophy: Twitter and Podcast (Warning: may contain nut)

House of Leaves

 

Next week we'll be looking at the newly released movie/adaption John Dies at the End.

 

For even more awesome, follow us on Twitter. @tsoucoutte and @Albert_Berg

Direct download: HEP_-_17_-_Ask_a_Stupid_Question_Get_a_Horrible_Answer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:52am EST

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