“This … is Lore”

Writing from Nashville, Tennessee —

I’m giving myself a sort of real-life rezz-day present today … more like tonight, actually. I’ve traveled to Nashville with my daughter for a show.

(sounds of plunking banjos in the background, followed by a scratching record)

No, not that show, ya nimrods! (Although we should take a look at the Grand Ole Opry one day, I suppose ….) This will be a live “concert” performance of a show that took the podcast world by storm a few years ago, and has since spawned two related programs, a streaming-television series, and three books. All of this created by one man.

He’s Aaron Mahnke … and this is Lore.

Across 125 episodes, as of this writing, Aaron has exhibited to listeners his taste for the odder corners of the world’s folklore and history … especially the darker corners. Ghost stories, strange phenomena, criminal activities (such as the “resurrectionists” Burke and Hare), serial killers (e. g. H. H. Holmes), etc. … all are grist for the excellent research done by Aaron and his people, and are offered up to you in his own peculiar style of delivery. A touch of dry humor leavens the shows, keeping them, especially the more murderous stories, from falling into a sort of Grand Guignol recitation of horrors. The music also contributes to the atmosphere of the show — mostly simple piano solos, or similar small arrangements, executed and frequently composed by Aaron’s friend, Chad Lawson. (Chad will be appearing with Aaron tonight, as well.)

I had the pleasure of meeting Aaron last year in Atlanta at a signing promo for the third of his trilogy of Lore books, and I promise you he’s nowhere near as bloody in temperament as it may seem from his programs. You can see what he looks like from the photo above; in personality, he’s quiet and charming, and a father. He’s authored five other books; but most of his time these days is given to exploring Lore, as well as his other podcasts, Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities (sort of Lore in two short, 10-minute pieces each week) and Unobscured, a season-long in-depth exploration of a single topic. The second season, examining the spiritualism movement with focus on Andrew Jackson Davis and his work, has just begun; the first season took a deep look at the events in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

Take a listen while I’m watching the man himself … I suspect you’ll be wanting some more Lore in your life. As a starter, here’s several shows I enjoyed. (The earlier ones, unsurprisingly, will sound different in timbre and delivery from the later ones. Also, Aaron did a little redubbing at the end of the older episodes to insert commercials. The guy’s gotta pay the bills, you know. Just warning you ….)

  • Episode 4: Dinner At the Afterglow — “Deep in the forest at the northern tip of a small island near Vancouver Island, there is a stone monument standing amidst the trees. How that structure came to be, and what it meant to those who built it, are both interesting stories. But it’s the unofficial reports — the sightings and experiences of those who visit it — that truly deserve to be told.”
  • Episode 10: Steam and Gas — “The well-worn carpets and imperfect walls of an old hotel can often make guests feel as if they are staying in a little slice of the past. In one grand old hotel, however, that truth has never been more true.”
  • Episode 47 — Missing the Point — “Our world is full of mysterious sightings, but most of them can be explained away with cold logic and common sense. When multiple reports flood in, though, the unbelievable can sometimes become undeniable.”
  • Episode 53 — Trees and Shadows — “Our connection to animals is ancient, intimate, and complex. Humans have worshiped them, sacrificed them, lived with them, and been buried with them. But folklore from all over the world hints at a darker connection, and it just might be true.”
  • Episode 54 — Teacher’s Pet — “The more crowded our world becomes, the more frequently we are confronted with our commonality. Our interests, our passions … even our appearance. But just how similar can we get? Well, that’s the stuff of folklore.”
  • Episode 79 — Locked Away — “Our lives have a way of becoming magnets that attract pain and suffering. Some of us go through more than others, but in the end, we’re all running from something. Just how far we might go to get away is a mystery, but it could never top the lengths one person went to, to escape a life of pain and guilt. This is her story.”
  • Episode 91 — Beneath the Surface — “Islands have served a variety of functions for people over the years. They can be a place of safety and privacy, or of simplicity and escape. But islands have played host to other less savory events over the years. And just because they can be small, it doesn’t mean they can’t be dark.” (Hey, this place is one of my favorite on Earth; I just had to include it — HG)
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