Podcast: The Hidden Almanac
Welcome to the Hidden Almanac. I'm Reverend Mord. Today is September 13th, 2013.The Hidden Almanac is a podcast created and written by Ursula Vernon and produced by Kevin Sonney. According to her blog, Ursula Vernon came the idea after hearing too many people describe Welcome to Night Vale as "HP Lovecraft meets A Prairie Home Companion" and started wondering what would have happened if Lovecraft had met Garrison Keillor's other radio show, The Writer's Almanac, instead.Each five-minute episode follows a set format: After introducing the program and announcing the date, Reverend Mord recounts a couple of events that occurred on the same day in history, profiles a saint whose feast day it is, and offers some seasonal gardening tips. All of these might at any moment take a sudden turn into the uncanny, despite which Reverend Mord will narrate all of them in the same calm, matter-of-fact voice. At the end of each episode, Reverend Mord reads a couple of sponsors' messages, then signs off.
The Hidden Almanac provides examples of:
- Christmas Creep: One episode is sponsored by Suzie's Seasonal Assassins, an organization devoted to discouraging perpetrators of Christmas Creep with extreme prejudice.
- City with No Name: Many of the historical events occurred in "the city", the name of which Reverend Mord apparently expects his listeners to know without being told. The country in which it is set likewise remains unnamed.
- Dissonant Serenity: Reverend Mord maintains the same calm, soothing tones no matter how weird the subject under discussion becomes.
- Everyone Hates Mimes: Mimes have been banned within city limits since the Great Mime Uprising of 1893, and there are rumors of an underground Mime cult. (Whether the Uprising itself was inspired by prior mistreatment is unknown; apparently the ringleaders never said what their motivation was.)
- Foil: On occasion, Reverend Mord is substituted by Pastor Drom, who, as her name implies, is pretty much his opposite in every way. The only thing they seem to have in common is a fondness for gardening, though her interest seems to be primarily pharmacological.
- It Makes Sense in Context: An excerpt from The Book of the Gear regarding Heinrich's cooking proclivities seems absurd, but is entirely appropriate within the book as a whole.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Most of the historical events are one-offs, but some of them are recognizably pieces of the same jigsaw puzzle. Among the more obvious are the anniversaries of the Hateful Decrees, and the milestone-by-milestone history of the Spice Wars.
- Literal Metaphor: The library slogan "Get lost in a book" gets interpreted in the most disturbing way in subsequent episodes.
- Not So Stoic: The normally deadpan Reverend Mord becomes audibly frustrated when dealing with the antics of Pastor Drom. He is also displeased by the advent of a cat living in the garden, eating songbirds. Very. Displeased.
- Parody Commercial: The sponsors' messages at the end of each episode.
- Production Throwback:
- Rags to Royalty: One episode ends with a message of thanks and farewell to Sheila the Intern, who has been discovered to be the lost heir to a distant empire.
- Running Gag:
- Sponsors' messages that respond to the previous episode's sponsor's message.
- Events that had no witnesses, or which otherwise occurred in circumstances such that it's not clear how Reverend Mord knows so precisely what happened.
- In an early episode, the gardening section discussed zucchini, and the danger of ending up with more than you know what to do with. Several episodes over the next few weeks returned to the subject of Things To Do With All That Zucchini.
- The dangers of getting lost in a book.
- Seen It All: The Prominent Citizens of Echo Harbor are typically unfazed by strange occurrences, usually shrugging them off or at most remarking them as unseasonal.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: "This episode is sponsored by the Silent Night Club, which is absolutely not a front for the underground Mime Cult."
- Talking to Plants: Played with in one of the gardening tips, which notes that the flavor of horseradish is related to stress, and thus recommends that to really enhance the flavor you should be mean and insulting to the plant.
- The Verse: We get enough references to shared cultures and historical events that it's apparent this takes place in the future of the same world as Digger, Gearworld, and Black Dogs.
- Totem Pole Trench: The tale of a much-admired socialite who cut a swathe through high society before being unmasked as sixteen crows wearing a trenchcoat.
- Town with a Dark Secret: Echo Harbor seems to be a hotbed of cult activity and ritual sacrifice.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: The Modern Peculiar Art Movement, whose proponents and their exploits are often given notice.
- Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Her Imperial Majesty Queen Raganthoth IV, Ruler of the Glass Wastes and Protector of the Coriander Isles.
- The Wiki Rule: Now has a wiki, with the encouragement of the producers. (Direct quote: To quote one of the producers "Oh God, Please. And a timeline would be really useful.")
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: The Red Wombat Company, the show's most persistent supporter, usually sells tea, but sometimes offers other goods and services, which may or may not be relevant to the subject of the episode.
- World of Weirdness: The setting of the podcast, an impression conveyed not only by the events Reverend Mord describes, but implicitly by the matter-of-fact way in which he describes them. (And occasionally more explicitly; an account of an incident in which a man spontaneously transformed into a cloud of butterflies features the phrase "Spontaneous butterfly explosions were nearly unknown at that time".)
That's the Hidden Almanac for September 13th, 2013. Be safe, and stay out of trouble.