Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Lovecraft Country Podcast: Welcome to Lovecraft Country Radio | HBO

Difficulty: 0




HOST: You're tuning in, to Lovecraft Country Radio.

There's some strong language ahead, buckle up.

ASHLEY C FORD: Hello, I'm Ashley C. Ford.

I'm a writer, podcast host, and horror enthusiast.

SHANNON HOUSTON: And I'm Shannon Houston,

I'm one of the writers for HBO's new series,

Lovecraft Country.

I'm also a film and TV critic at Pace Magazine,

a parent of three,

-free Black children-- -ASHLEY: Mm-hmm.

SHANNON: And a person who watches at least

one episode of Buffy Season three, every week.

ASHLEY: We are hosting the upcoming podcast,

Lovecraft Country Radio.

The companion official podcast to the HBO Series,

Lovecraft Country.

SHANNON: Ashley, I am so psyched

to be talking about the show, finally.

Way back in 2017, which was basically 23 million years ago,

I met with a delightful story teller named Misha Green.

I had read this book, called Lovecraft Country,

ahead of our meeting. And then, she proceeded to tell me

all the ways she intended

to adapt the hell out of this story.

How she saw horror in conversation with Blackness

and queerness and fantasy and imperialism,

and this very strange country we call America.

I thought to myself, even if I don't get the job,

and I will cry myself to sleep for the next six months

if I don't, um,

I am watching the fuck out of this series.

So, don't think of me as a writer on a show,

think of me as like, kind of a psychotic fan girl,

and a critic, who will literally never stop talking

about this show, ever.

ASHLEY: You don't have to stop talking about this show,

because I'm gonna wanna talk about this show with you

all the time. I grew up, loving horror.

And because there was very little censorship

in my house, I was allowed to watch horror films,

really early. And they-- I-- I didn't realize they were even

a different genre. They were just some of my favorite films.

Child's play, Nightmare on Elm Street.

When I was five I was traumatized by the movie

Fire in the Sky.

-SHANNON: Oh God. -ASHLEY: That part wasn't fun.

But, we made it, we overcame Shannon.

SHANNON: Yas, yas.

ASHLEY: And here we are, today. I'm so glad to be here.

SHANNON: I'm so excited, and you know,

I would like watch scary movies definitely,

occasionally with my face half covered, peeking through,

you know, like, I really have recently come into it,

and obviously working on this show

had a lot to do with it. So, there's something in this

for everybody. For the scaredy-cats like me,

and the big brave girls like Ashley,

and, you know we still have another week before

the season begins, but we just wanted to give everyone

a little quicky, a little quick crash course

on what you should know before tuning in.

ASHLEY: That's right if you've seen the trailer,

you know there's a whole lot of action going on,

we don't have to tell you that.


ASHLEY: But we are going to make sure

your viewing experience is extraordinary.

SHANNON: Yes we are. So, lets start with maybe

the most obvious of questions. What the hell is,

a Lovecraft Country?

ASHLEY: Let's go.

SHANNON: So we should start with a very interesting character.

H.P. Lovecraft, and the Lovecraftian horror genre.

So H.P. Lovecraft is considered the father of cosmic horror,

and he's beloved for his epic world building,

and this real talent he had in creating powerful monsters

that often speak to the terror of the other.

He has a powerful legacy in American literature,

and like a lot of great writers, and great Americans,

he has a powerful legacy of racism.

ASHLEY: Hello.

SHANNON: I feel like we kind of need to start this

with a quick read of Lovecraft's very famous poem,

"On the Creation of Niggers."

ASHLEY: Read it Shannon.

SHANNON: "When, long ago, the gods created earth.

In Jove's fair image, man was shaped at birth.

The beasts, for lesser parts, were next designed.

Yet, were they too remote for human kind.

To fill the gap, and join the rest to man,

the Olympian host conceived a clever plan.

A beast they rot, in semi-human figure,

filled it with vice, and called the thing, a nigger."

-So there's that. -ASHLEY: Woo!

That-- Now we did not, let's just--

We didn't infer anything here.

This is not some analysis. (LAUGHS)

That's what was written.

SHANNON: I'm just reading a poem.

ASHLEY: You're just reading a poem,

that's exactly what was written. So, how do we get

from H.P. Lovecraft, that poem,

acknowledging this history, to this show?

Um, and that starts with

Matt Ruff's novel, Lovecraft Country.

Matt Ruff wrote this novel after reading...

(CHUCKLES) ...a bunch of H.P. Lovecraft,

and seeing that specter of racism there.

You know, and let's be honest, a fully-formed ghost.

Okay? This isn't--

This ghost isn't too transparent.

Uh, it's right there, you see it.

-SHANNON: Right. -ASHLEY: Um... (CHUCKLES) It's a--

It's a Patrick Swayze-like ghost.

He writes this novel, and it is also inspired

by an essay by a woman named Pam Noles.

Who wrote about the shame associated

with being a young, Black woman,

who loves sci-fi, and honestly,

not only didn't see a place for herself in that world,

but didn't see a place for any Black people

-in that world. -HOUSTON: Right.

FORD: Until someone else pointed out to her that

that should be the case. Which, you know,

some people will think, you know,

"How do you not see yourself in a world?"

But we know how hard it is to be what you can't see.

-SHANNON: Amen. -ASHLEY: And if you don't

see yourself in these places, it is really, actually,

very easy to assume that you do not belong there.

SHANNON: Yeah, what's interesting too,

what I love about Pam Noles' essay,

is at the end of it, there's this call to arms,

and this is really powerful. She's saying,

and her parents are saying if you love a thing,

and that thing has not made space for you,

you don't have to give up loving the thing,

but you do need to interrogate the thing,

and fucking put yourself into that space.

Fight your way in, beat down doors,

do something to announce yourself.

-ASHLEY: Yes. -SHANNON: And to also point out

the fact that, "It's not that I didn't

belong here, it's that you guys

wouldn't allow it, or couldn't allow it."

Like I was actually always here, all along, you know?

ASHLEY: In order to grapple with his work,

you have to grapple with race. And Pam Noles talked

about that. And then Matt got to meet

with Jordan Peele, the one and only.

Which was a little confusing for him,

because at the time, Jordan was mostly known

for his work in comedy...

-(SHANNON CHUCKLES) -...and not horror.

But Matt was like, "Fuck it," and set the meeting anyway.

And I think that's how we get to Misha Green.

SHANNON: So, yes, Misha Green, showrunner of Lovecraft Country

answers this call-to-arms, you know?

And she's-- She's a storyteller and she built this writers room

that was beautiful, chaotic, insane,

dysfunctional, powerful, all of the things, you know?

A lot of people may be picking up on it

from the trailer, but Lovecraft Country

is also a family drama. Um, I saw the family drama

of our characters reflected in this incredible room

that I got to live in for six months

with these incredible writers. And I, um,

just have to shout them out, Sonya Winton

and Jonathan Kidd, our co-EPs,

Ihuoma Ofordire, Kevin Lau, and Wes Taylor.

Um, and, you know, with Misha Green

as our fearless leader. We really dove in,

and we made something that I'm, like,

thrilled and terrified to share with the world,

in all-- in all the right ways.

The way Misha's vision looks presented to me,

was basically like, "Look, Matt Ruff's book

is our foundation, and we are going

to study the fuck out of this book,

and we are going to understand everything

that happens. And why it happens,

and all the choices that are made.

And we're going to take it, and then we're going

to like jump in a spaceship and go into, like,

the universe and do what we want there.

I actually think that, you know,

while I truly hope that we succeeded,

I'll let the critics and the people decide,

and Black twitter, mostly. Uh, whether or not

we succeeded, but it feels--

It feels like we certainly fucking went into space

-with this one. -ASHLEY: I love that.

Because, you know, the history of war

in America is the biggest influence on this show

that I can see. And horror is in the foundation

of America. It is in the foundation,

and it is also here in present day.

And I feel like this show does a really good job

of showing us that spectrum of time,

that these things are not old or new.

These are not old or new monsters.

We have always been dealing with the same monsters here.

SHANNON: Yeah, and I think, too, like we're talking

about horror being baked into the fabric

of this-- of this country. And of course there's

so much else that's baked in, right?

But being an American, and-- and especially

being a Black American means that you are faced

with horror and terror. But I want to say, like,

our ancestors also built in joy and hope,

and not just struggle, but fighting back,

and constant fighting back. And it's interesting

to think about, again, how much that's true

for our ancestors, how much it's true

for our great-grandparents, our parents,

and how much it's true for all of us right now,

for our children coming up in this particular time.

So, on the one hand, yes, this is a show

set in the 1950s, it is a period piece.

On the other hand,

as much as our characters and stories are,

you know, in direct conversation with the arts and culture

and Black experiences of the 1950s,

Lovecraft Country is also

in direct conversation with the art, film, TV,

and politics of 2020.

This show is equally influenced by James Baldwin and Beyonce,

and I think that's gonna show.

ASHLEY: I think so too. I mean, I definitely got that.

And one of the things you said earlier about,

you know, our ancestors leaving us hope and joy

and how those are baked into the foundation of this country

as well as horror.

Is that, you know, horror, in and of itself no matter how

it ends, is always a genre that the core is always hope.

There is always at least one person who is facing,

uh, not great odds, which is what makes it scary

and they can't give up.

They can't give up until the end,

and when you think about the horrors

and atrocities committed against Black people, indigenous people,

all sorts of marginalized people

or people with marginalized identities

in this country horror is our story

because it is hope that will not end,

it will not ease against unspeakable and cruel behaviors

and actions taken against us.

SHANNON: Yeah. I love that you said that, and I also--

What I'm really proud of, of this show is we're deep

and then we're still fucking having fun

and there's still parties, and there's still, like--

an iconic fashion moments that I just cannot get over.

And that's what I want for our listeners

and for the Lovecraft audience.

It's deep, but it's fun.

So, in line with having the fucking time of your life,

but also, you know, being the intellectuals

that we are.

Um. We do have some homework, but the fun kind. I promise.

So, we're gonna leave you guys with some recommendations

for movies, articles, or TV shows that you might wanna

watch for better context leading up to the premiere.

Obviously, one book to start with is Lovecraft Country,

Kara Walker, a favorite of mine, My Oppressor, My Enemy.

H.P. Lovecraft.

This is something that I'm really excited to tackle

throughout the course of this podcast.

Can Shannon learn to pronounce "cthulhu"?

-ASHLEY: Cthulhu. -SHANNON: Uh-huh.

It's not cafuloo, right. We want it to be cafuloo.

But it's not. H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu.

Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic. Octavia Butler, Bloodchild.

Toni Morrison, Paradise.

Caroline Randall Williams, this incredible essay,

"You Want a Confederate Monument?

My Body Is a Confederate Monument."

James Baldwin,

"The American Dream and the Negro."

What else do we have, Ashley?

ASHLEY: Underground by Misha Green

because you really want to get a sense, I think,

of Misha Green's tone and the storytell--

The way she does storytelling-- because I think that it will--

it will probably ease the transition into

Lovecraft Country a little bit.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is

a must-see, and if you get the chance

I would definitely recommend that you check out

some photography by Gordan Parks because that will be

a nice little treat as you go through the show

to pick up on some of that.

SHANNON: Yes. Absolutely.

So, guys, Lovecraft Country premieres on HBO

and streams on HBO Max on August 16th at 9 p.m.

We will be with you every Sunday night to process

what the hell just happened together.

ASHLEY: So subscribe now to Lovecraft Country Radio

on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else

you get your podcasts. Probably Stitcher or some shit.

You won't wanna miss it!

The Description of Lovecraft Country Podcast: Welcome to Lovecraft Country Radio | HBO