Welcome To Night Vale…

I was planning to write a “what to watch” style blog this week with tips for horror movies to get you in the Halloween spirit but they just don’t make good horror movies any more. Instead I’ve gone for more of a “what to listen” to vibe. I’ve been meaning to tell you about Welcome To Night Vale for ages but it’s really, really hard to explain it to people. Today I’m going to try. First up it’s a podcast – in the style of a radio news show from a fictional town called Night Vale. It has a kind of Lynchian vibe – think Twin Peaks but with a comedy twist. I say comedy but it’s not really played for laughs – the humour provides comic relief from all the creepy and mysterious things that happen in Night Vale. It trades on the legendary 1938 Halloween radio broadcast of War of the Worlds by Orson Welles that caused mass panic across America; leaving listeners believing that a Martian invasion was really underway. In the first episode the host, Cecil, describes Night Vale as “a friendly desert town, where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful and mysterious lights pass overhead while everyone pretends to be asleep”. That’s a pretty good introduction to the kind of things that happen in Night Vale. The show is shot through with an insidious sense of unease, terrifying things occur with regularity but are to the citizens of Night Vale completely normal. Running parallel to the mysterious and horrifying events are moments of genuine humour and in-jokes intricately built up episode after episode. The more you listen to it the better it gets. 

I don’t want to spoil too much for you so I’m only going to talk about what happens in the first few episodes. Here are some of the main characters and best features of Night Vale.

Khoshekh: a floating cat who lives in the men’s room of the Night Vale Community Radio Station. He purrs and rubs on your hand like a normal cat, but is floating about four feet off the ground. Intern Brad fixed up a litter box for Khoshekh using a combination of carpentry and dark magic. Khoshekh cannot be photographed. He does not show up in photographs, and anyone who tries to photograph him dies an agonising death within a week.  

The Glow Cloud: First appearing in episode two, the Glow Cloud came from nowhere glowing in a variety of colours and emitting a low, whistling noise. It was also telepathic and capable of mind control, leaving the inhabitants of Night Vale chanting “ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD”. The Sheriff’s Secret Police initially recommended that citizens “run directly at the cloud, shrieking and waving your arms just to see what it does.” This advice was ultimately unwise, as it was later revealed that the cloud rains down various small creatures such as lizards and crows, all of which appear to already be dead. It eventually left although later returning to Night Vale to joined the school board,eventually becoming its president. 

The Dog Park: I’m still not really sure what happens in the dog park but this is what we do know: “The City Council announces the opening of a new dog park at the corner of Earl and Sommerset, near the Ralph’s. They would like to remind everyone that dogs are not allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. It is possible that you will see hooded figures in the dog park. DO NOT APPROACH THEM. DO NOT APPROACH THE DOG PARK. The fence is electrified and highly dangerous. Try not to look at the dog park, and, especially, do not look for any period of time at the hooded figures. The dog park will not harm you.”

Let me leave you with a deeply profound quote from the Night Vale twitter account. “When a person dies and no one will miss them, the mourning is assigned to a random human. That is why you sometimes just feel sad“. Deep huh?

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