Chad and Chris travel down to the American southwest to kick it with Juan Romero!
Next Week: The White Ship
Podcast: Play in new window
Sounds to me like Juan went to good ol’ Judaeo-Christian Hell.
Also, excellent podcast
You write that and immediately I imagine Jon Lovitz down there, dressed as the devil:
Hindoo is just an archaic spelling of the modern Hindu and may simply be used in place of “Indian” not necessarily carrying any religious connotations.
Another fine podcast. I’ve been meaning to compliment whoever came up with the scream-to-static audio effect at the top of your podcasts. What a fantastic idea. Blows me away every time.
I recall, in my tender years as a crazed teenage Lovecraft fanatic, running across TRANSITION in a Scholastic Book Club paperback titled THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH. An HPL story I had never read before!
Alas, I agree with the author; there really isn’t much here. There is a MOOD that demonstrates Lovecraft’s powerful way with atmosphere, but way too much is left unsaid, and personally I don’t believe that _Lovecraft himself_ could have told you _exactly_ what happened to Juan Romero. All sizzle; no steak.
We will encounter the motif of the “hidden nightmare grotto” in several better stories later on, and there are more terrifying and _explicit_ “transitions” awaiting some other hapless characters as well.
I do find it amusing that the narrator tells us he is reciting this dire history for the sake of SCIENCE, and then reveals absolutely nothing even faintly “scientific”. Unless we consider the science of ergot derivatives, if you catch my psychedelic drift. “He sees some trippy stuff.” You bet.
Yeah – I really wish we’d mentioned his “for the sake of science” bit in the podcast, because it’s such a hilarious justification.
Sorry to break my comments up into multiple… uh… comments, but there’s no edit function on these things.
Anyway, this podcast actually made me reconsider the story. I thought it was crap when I read it in high school, but you highlighted some aspects of it that I sort of skimmed over before, and I like it a lot better now. Your description of the bottomless abyss is much more evocative than his, and now that I’ve gone back and read it again, it’s one of my favorite moments in Lovecraft. Well done, sirs.
Also of interest: did you freaking know that the same guy that did that ‘Juan Romero’ comic strip also did a 40-PAGE all-bunny rendition of Robert E. Howard’s “The Fire of Asshurbanipal?” God, I love the Internet.
Oh, and speaking of Lovecraftian webcomics, you might find this interesting. It just popped up as a search suggestion when I typed “lovecraft” in Google. It’s a very fetching title.
I have to agree. When I first read this story (in preparation for the podcast, I might add), I thought – ugh, what a bad short story. Why choose did they choose this one?
However; you guys really made me rethink it.
It’s still not one of my favorites, but much better than I initially thought. Perhaps it was the sound effects that cliched it. Thanks again.
Well they’re going in chronological order, so expect some clunkers for the next few weeks. “The White Ship” is worse than this one, for sure. Favorite line: “This is the Land of Fancy, and we walked to the verdant shore upon a golden bridge of moonbeams.” Yikes.
I knew that Lovecraft would be taking us to some odd places, but who the heck expected to wind up in the land of fancy?!
I agree with J.B. Lee; all sizzle, no steak. Although this was a very well written, very atmospheric piece IMO, it leaves too much to be desired. Personally I found the story to be quite suspenseful, and love the way it builds tension, but the poor climax belies this suspense. I was expecting to actually “see” some sort of physical “transition” from the title and foreshadowing. An actual ‘sight’ which drives the protagonist stark, raving mad, like in Dagon. Instead it’s nothing but light and sounds.
Speaking of light, I thought it was rather strange that the protagonist’s ‘Hindoo’ ring lit up in the cavern (almost like how Sting, Frodo’s sword, lights up when orcs are nearby in the Lord of the Rings). It was never further explained, and almost seemed like a mere plot device, so the character could simply see in the dark. Exactly what the metaphysical connection between an ancient Hindu artifact and ancient Aztec rites are – I really have no idea. Perhaps it’s just apart of the (generally) pantheistic nature of supernatural horror.
One last thing I’m surprised you guys didn’t mention was the strong parallels between this story and “The Rats in the Walls.” Both stories involve caverns and unfathomably deep abysses which are discovered in the wake of archaeological/geological quests, as well as the ever-recurrent Lovecraftian theme of atavism. Juan Romero and Mr. Delapore both undergo atavistic transformations, taking on qualities of their distant ancestors, triggered by their witnessing of unutterable scenes of aeons past.
Then again I reckon you could also point out many similarities between this and “The Picture in the House” too, and probably still others as well. Lovecraft sure does love his motifs… almost as much as his racism.
By the way, did H. P. ever father any children? ‘Because there’s something oddly familiar about this squirt:
Good point about “Rats.” Lovecraft uses ideas over and over again, so it’s tough to make all the links. That’s what swell listeners like you are for!
I know the story isn’t anywhere near the best of Lovecraft, but it’s not the worst. And I find when I read a story over a few times I do find things I like and ignore the things I hate. I’m totally biased. I’m doing a Lovecraft podcast for Chthulhu’s sake!
That video was AWESOME. Frinkin’ racist kid!
You’ve mentioned in the past episodes whether the featured story has had any film adaptations, and being film-makers, I’d be interested to hear why you think some haven’t been touched and some have been done to death. For instance, is it just a bad story (e.g. Wall of Sleep), or is it that it would require too much CGI (e.g. Juan Romero)…
P.S. I hope you guys don’t forget about Howard’s 119th Birthday on Thursday!
Thanks so much for the reminder – we almost did!
I like what you’ve one – your soundscapes are particularly nice.
I also thought of the Picture in the House – right down to the lightning flash that ends the incident, though in Picture, it’s a literal lightning strike that sets the house on fire. The Picture in the House is my personal favorite for “creepiest story ever written in which nothing actually ever happens.”
There’s also some other story (I keep thining it’s the Lurking Fear, but every time I go back and read it, it’s not that one) that involves a foundling that turns out to have non-human or sub-human ancestry. (I’m pretty sure the reason I always think of the Lurking Fear is that both movie versions of it incorporate this element. Perhaps they both stole it from Romero.)
I didn’t want to make this a blatant plug, but couldn’t find any other way to mention this – my audio drama series, 19 Nocturne Boulevard, has adapted several of the lesser known Lovecraft stories, so when you get around to the Temple, the Picture in the House, or Within the Walls of Eryx, check us out.
Re: the foundling story… Could you be thinking of “Pickman’s Model?” It’s not really a major plot point, but there is this paragraph:
“And no sooner had I wondered what he made of their own young as left with mankind in the form of changelings, than my eye caught a picture embodying that very thought. It was that of an ancient Puritan interior- a heavily beamed room with lattice windows, a settle, and clumsy seventeenth-century furniture, with the family sitting about while the father read from the Scriptures. Every face but one showed nobility and reverence, but that one reflected the mockery of the pit. It was that of a young man in years, and no doubt belonged to a supposed son of that pious father, but in essence it was the kin of the unclean things. It was their changeling- and in a spirit of supreme irony Pickman had given the features a very perceptible resemblance to his own.”
Kinda sorta – The idea of changelings goes pretty much hand in hand with his interbreeding theories. It’s the foundling aspect that is different.
On a completely different hand, Pickman’s Model is the story with the only actual “joke” I can think of in all of Lovecraft’s standard mythos work…
Well, that’s the only one I can think of that hints at a foundling, aside from “Juan Romero.”
I LOVE Picture in the House – one of the stories that not a lot of folks talk about. I particularly love the odd book the old man is reading, with its strange depictions of white natives. I’m very much looking forward to covering that one.
Where can we listen to the audio dramas?
The show is 19 Nocturne Boulevard, and the website (with links to all the episodes) is http://www.19nocturneboulevard.com. The Picture in the House has not yet been podcast, but I’ll send a direct download to anyone who contacts me at firstname.lastname@example.org and mentions the hppodcraft – sound good?
I do hope that at some point you will also talk about The Temple – it’s one of my favorites and includes one of the most unique of all Lovecraft’s protagonists. More on that when you get there.
Also, as a side note – I’m pretty sure some of the implications in the book in Picture connect directly up with the history in “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family”. Part ape/part men, legendary caucasian natives, etc. It’s almost like the start of another myth cycle that he abandoned in favor of the more cosmic cthulhu mythos.
Lovecraft was right again! Seems there’s a cave system beneath the pyramids (I know this is off topic but thought you’d be interested):
These stories always remind me of Edgar Cayce’s prediction that someday a room would be found under the Sphinx containing a library. It may be unlikely, but it’s amazing to imagine the books that would be found in such a place.
I found this weird article, which is pretty relevent to “The Transition of Juan Romero”, and thought it might interest some people. It’s about these remains of giant humans which were discovered in these deep gold mines in California. Definitely weird and creepy.
The chasm reminded me of the pit in William Hope Hodgson’s House on the Borderland.
Enjoying the podcasts as much as my connection will allow me. Still behind, but catching up. In the podcast you seemed uncertain about the Spanish Vd. It’s the old-fashioned Ud you find in modern Spanish in place of Usted. In the past Vd. was used as the abbreviation for this formal word until VD became pretty well known around the world for Venereal Disease. Didn’t seem like a proper reference in a formal situation.
Loving the podcast, thanks for cranking them out, and I hope this is what you were wondering about in the story.
First off i just want to say i’m a huge fan of the podcasts. i’m pretty much addicted to them. But if at all possible do you guys have anything to do with loading them on itunes? i ask because the transition of juan romero and beyond the wall of sleep will not download for me to listen to.
Thanks for being a fan! Perhaps I should tell you about a little cult we’re starting…
Anyway, I did a test run on iTunes with those casts and they downloaded fine for me. All I can say is update to the newest version of iTunes. I guess… I’m not really that technical.
How do you guys pick the stories you talk about?
They’re going through all of Lovecraft’s works, chronologically. So it’s not so much that they pick the stories, more that the STORIES PICK THEM.
Boy do they!
[...] The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast (EP 6) “The Transition of Juan Romero” [...]
Wow! I feel honored that you’ve linked my humble little comic! Keep up the great podcast!
‘Hindoo’ is translation-wise the correct spelling for name of a Religion in India. Apparently British people didn’t get it right when they spelled it at first while they colonized India and so the spelling ‘Hindu’.
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