Hooting Yard – Frank Key
"There was no hat or cap on the shriveled head I took from the sack, just a few strands of filthy, matted hair. I sat on the grass and took a pair of snippy butcher's scissors out of my pocket and gave the shriveled head a much-needed haircut."
I've been listening to a podcast called "Hooting Yard" for only a couple of weeks, but in that short time I have grown quite fond of it. Frank Key, whom I discovered through his narration of various stories on possibly the greatest ongoing podcast of all time, 'Escape Pod', writes each week's episode. Keys is a dour Brit who's voice never fails to conjure up images of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's a fascinating listening experience since the works are so surrealist and patently strange, they often have no plot at all. The material he reads and writes is not only absolutely hilarious but often has a thin vein of malice and puck-like mischievousness running throughout it. Each episode is in some way related to a warped, fun-house mirror reflection of our own world. This place, Hooting Yard, has reoccurring characters, places, and a rich mythology. While it's sometimes difficult to even understand what he's talking about, the more I listen to it, the more I come to recognize the world. It's really cool stuff.
The full effect is akin to combining the humor of the Guide, the surrealism of Dali's paintings, and the hallucinogenic quality of some strong drug—in a free, easily downloaded format.
As a quick aside, my favorite surrealist short story is Harlan Ellison's "The Mouse Circus." Unfortunately, the only way to procure a copy is to get your hands on the amazing and expensive "Essential Ellison" omnibus.