MonsterTalk is a podcast that uses monsters to talk about science. The hosts use their skeptical eye to critically examine legendary and cryptozoological creatures, folklore, and supernatural occurrences. Each of the episode’s topics is extensively researched and professionally presented. The hosts often welcome experts on the subjects of discussion, which further elevates the conversation. The hosts, Blake Smith, and Dr. Karen Stollznow are passionate for monsters, the paranormal and critical thinking which comes across in MonsterTalk.
Blake Smith, an IT profession by day, is a writer and researcher of matters concerning Cryptozoology and the paranormal. Born in the rural town of Carterville, Georgia. Fueled by the legends of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and other well-known monsters of the time Blake’s passion for cryptics slowly transforms from believer to “formal doubter”. It began with his reading the works of Jan Harold Brunvan, author of several books on urban legends and folklore. Along with reading more critical thinking material, Blake personal experiences helped him with his transition. Blake has experienced sleep paralysis, a temporary condition where one cannot move or speak upon waking and a series of light bulbs which unknowingly exploded while nesting in their fixtures. Blake is a husband, father, an evil practical jokester, and a lover of puns. You can find Blake on various social media sites under the name Doctor Atlantis.
Dr. Karen Stollznow is the author of several books about hauntings, strange and unusual religious beliefs, language, and fictional stories. Born in Sydney, Australia she is a Doctor of Linguistics and has taught at several universities in the United States and Australia. Karen has spent many years researching and investigating cryptics and paranormal claims. She currently resides in the United States where continues to write about language with a focus on myths and misconceptions at her website. Karen is a wife, mother, and a saint for enduring Blake’s puns.
MonsterTalk podcast, a science show about monsters, began in 2009 with Blake, Karen, and former host author, investigator, and skeptic Ben Radford. Ben appears on their earlier episodes. The hosts have welcomed authors, scholars, and well-known personalities in the field of skepticism and critical thinking. Bring a wealth of knowledge on the topic at hand. Each episode focuses on a specific cryptic, paranormal event, folklore, or related topic. Most of the topics come from Blake personal interests as he is the driving force of the podcast. Luckily he has good taste in monsters. Blake is no stranger to the RPG hobby. A picture of him appeared on the MonsterTalk Facebook group wearing a t-shirt with David A. Trampier artwork from the AD&D Dungeon Master Screen. With an affinity for the Cthulhu Mythos, Blake and has produced several MonsterTalk episodes that discuss Lovecraft and his works. Blake and Karen have touched on several subjects on MonsterTalk that I’ve used or going to use in upcoming RPG campaigns. I’ve listed below some that our reader here at Rolling Boxcar should find interesting.
The Zombie Autopsies
Hosts Ben Radford, Blake Smith, Dr. Karen Stollznow welcome Harvard medical doctor Steven Schlozman, author of The Zombie Autopsies. The three discuss Romaro type zombies and a plausible mechanism for a zombie apocalypse. Steven postulates a medical answer on what drives a zombie, to a virus which affects behavior that could be linked with zombies. The discussion is heavy on the science but could be useful for a person wanting to create viruses as a monster or an apocalypse in a roleplaying setting.
Hosts Blake Smith and Ben Radford interview Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker, a.ka. The Bug Chicks. Spurred by the internet sensational image of a Camel Spider during the Gulf War Kristie and Jessica give the truth about Solifugae (Camel spiders). They also discuss the fear of spiders and other insects. I listened to this episode right before I ran the Call of Cthulhu scenario “Legs” by Jim Phillps which uses giant spiders as the main antagonist. This episode inspired me to add flavor to insect-like monsters in that scenario.
El D20ablo — The Satanic Panic & Role-Playing Games
Hosts Blake Smith and Dr. Karen Stollznow welcome author Joseph Laycock to discuss his book Dangerous Games, a look at Dungeons and Dragons and the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. There is really no monster discussed here except the people perpetuating the panic. A lot of the discussion is well-covered material already known to most role-players but it’s always nice to see people covering the topic.
Grimoires — Part 1 & Part II
Blake Smith interviews State Department Archivist Jerry Drake, Ph.D. on the history of grimoires in western culture. They look at the history of magic books, writings and its history in science. They discuss the difference between occult books and real grimoires. This a must for any fan of Call of Cthulhu the roleplaying game.
Magic: Sex, Drugs and Rocket Propulsion
Blake Smith and researcher Jerry Drake recount the life of Jack Parsons, rocket scientist, and occultist. If you are unaware of who Jack Parsons was or have maybe just heard the name this episode of MonsterTalk will complete your knowledge of this mysterious 20th icon.
The Great Beast 666
Blake Smith welcomes John L. Crow to discuss Western Esotericism and the life of occultist Aleister Crowley. This is a great discussion of Western Esotericism and a look at the life of Aleister Crowley. I’ve read a lot about Aleister Crowley so most of the discussion was not new to me but I did learn one thing that I never got out of a book. That one thing was the realization that I have mispronounced his last name for years thanks to a popular heavy metal song. It’s pronounced “crow lee” like holy. Thanks, Ozzy.
The Call of Tut-Thulhu
Blake Smith and Archaeologist and author Jeb Card discuss his new book Spooky Archaeology. In Jeb dedicates a whole chapter to Cthulhu and cosmic mythology in relation to archaeology. He shares his theory on how H.P. Lovecraft’s story “The Call of Cthulhu” is an archaeology science fiction story which sets the archetype for these types of stories. Jeff digs deep in giving examples on his theory which turns into a great discussion on Lovecraft and his works.
Chained Heir: Gothic Horror in Glamis Castle
Hosts Blake Smith and Dr. Karen Stollznow talk with Mike Dash about the folklore surrounding the Glamis Castle in Angus, Scotland. Glamis Castle is home to many mysteries. It is the home of a ghostly figure known as the Gray Lady. It’s also rumored that the Glamis family locked away a disfigured family member in a secret room which became known as the monster of Glamis Castle. The Monster was kept away from prying eyes and cared for by a dynasty of men loyal to the family. Mike discusses the secret rooms within the house and the stories of people searching and locating some. It’s a great discussion on the history of the castle and the occupants that could inspire your sword and board or horror roleplaying game.
American Goblins — Part I, Part II, & Part III
The American Goblins is an account of an alien encounter with little green men that occurred in 1955 on a small farm in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. In Part I, Blake recounts the incident and the people involved through documented evidence from newspapers and other official reporting. He is later joined in Part II by skeptic and scientific investigator Joe Nickell. The two further discuss the incident and postulate what real-world animal most-likely visited the farm that night. Then lastly in Part III Blake interviews the hosts of Astonishing Legends, Scott Philbrook and Forrest Burgess. Together they look at the facts and evidence written about the encounter and point out the errors that are within due to the growing interest in fly saucers and aliens at the time.
These are just a small sampling of fascinating episodes MonsterTalk Podcast has to offer. Some other creatures and topic covered by the podcast are Yokai, The Columbus & Enfield Poltergeists, The Mongolian Death Worm, Bigfoot, Robert the Doll, as seen on the T.V. show Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour and much more. Lovers of monsters, science, critical thinking and puns, lots and lots of puns, will enjoy listing through MonsterTalk enormous catalog of episodes.