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Wee Beasties

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Wee Beasties

Christian Railsback and Dr. Kimothy Smith

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Wee Beasties is a monthly podcast inspired by Anton Van Leeuwenhoek's clever description of the "cavorting" specimens beneath his microscope as "wee beasties." Our episodes feature informal discussions about all things pathogens, offering scientific information and playful perspectives. Our seasons are thematic, and will center around subjects like epidemiology, microbiology, biotechnology, and cell biology. Find out more about the show at weebeastiespodcast.com.
 
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Water, like everything else on Earth, including you, is full of bacteria. But not all bacteria are created equal, with many being more harmful than others. Yes, Escherichia coli (E. coli) pollutes our ground and surface water through fecal contamination, but the bacteria is also simply found and widely distributed in nature. As one of our hosts, Ch…
 
“Mary has died of Typhoid Fever”. Ah, yes. If you are of a certain generation, you remember being met with these abrupt notifications while playing Oregon Trail. While this game taught generations of young people about Western migration in 19th-century America, it also familiarized them with various diseases…and, how to avoid getting run over by wa…
 
Ready to think twice about the filtration used to treat your water for consumption? Ready or not, our hosts are exploring the gut microbe, Campylobacter jejuni. This gram-negative bacterium is about 0.2um – 0.5um in size. Small, but mighty enough to warrant the use of a 0.05um filter if you want to catch this bug and potentially avoid some stomach …
 
Time to talk about the most widespread infection in the world, Helicobacter pylori. Following the accidental abandonment of incubated plates, H. Pylori colonies were discovered, launching a larger investigation into the microbiology of the human stomach. More research is needed on this disease-causing gram-negative bacterium, but our hosts provide …
 
This month, Dr. Kimothy Smith and Christian Railsback explore a well-known pathogen to healthcare facilities worldwide, Legionella pneumophila (Lp). Premise plumbing systems serve as the coziest of homes to this harmful and sometimes deadly bug, making routine biosurveillance efforts a must. Our hosts take a deep dive into the metabolic and cellula…
 
In this episode our hosts are joined by Dr. Paul Sturman, Research Professor and Industrial Coordinator at the Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE), to discuss biofilms and their relationship to the CDC’s list of opportunistic pathogens. This season, Dr. Kimothy Smith and Christian Railsback have been dissecting this list of pathogens, specifically…
 
In this episode, Dr. Kimothy Smith and Christian Railsback discuss Klebsiella – a gram-negative bacteria that causes various healthcare-associated infections. Though Klebsiella has a broad scope at the species and sub-species levels, this episode concentrates on common characteristics, environments, and levels of drug resistance. A transcript of th…
 
In this episode, Dr. Kimothy Smith and Christian Railsback discuss non-tuberculosis mycobacterium (NTM) and how it differs from a gram-negative bacterium, like Pseudomonas. Cell structure, metabolic Mycobacterium avium performance, exploiting biofilms, and culturable but non-viable cells are among the high points on the pathogen odyssey today. A tr…
 
In this episode, Christian Railsback and co-host Dr. Kimothy Smith one another’s virtues and conduct a shallow dive into the molecular machinery, persistence, and epidemiology of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the first of several waterborne pathogens discussed this season. A transcript of the conversation appears below. More about Pseudomonas aeruginosa:…
 
On Origins is a prologue episode offering some brief history of Anton Van Leeuwenhoek, and how his clever description of the "cavorting" specimens beneath his microscope as "wee beasties" inspired the name for our podcast. Our first season focuses on the CDC list of opportunistic waterborne pathogens; our first regular episode dives into Pseudomona…
 
This week we take a trip to a winter wonderland that quickly turns into a psychological horror-scape in the deft directing hands of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. The Austrian duo, perhaps best known for their work on Goodnight Mommy, are once more exploring the dark recesses of motherhood. This time around they focus on the unhappy holidays of …
 
One part '80s slasher classic, one part Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday special, with just a dash of Calvinball: Psycho Goreman is unlike any horror movie we've talked about before. Director and writer Steven Kostanski (The Void, The Editor) delivers a masterful piece of fun with this creation that stars, as the promo puts it, a little girl and a big…
 
This week's episode looks at 2019 Mi'kmaq horror film Blood Quantum by director and writer Jeff Barnaby. The movie takes the zombie trope and uses it as a pointed exploration of many of the social-political issues faced by the peoples of Canada's First Nation (and most certainly also seen by the United State's Native Americans.) It's a deft creatio…
 
One part Tomb Raider meets Indiana Jones and maybe The Goonies, one part tour of Dante's Inferno, this week's horror movie is a favorite of both Long Legged Beasties co-hosts. John Erick Dowdle's As Above, So Below does an excellent job of luring the unsuspecting into a surprisingly scary tale of a descent into hell. Join us as we discuss the deepe…
 
Food, glorious food. Just, you know, eaten, stomped, and handled by dozens, sometimes hundreds of people before you. No, this week's horror film isn't about the Golden Corral, it's the surreal, sometimes stomach-churning Spanish hit The Platform. Join us as we discuss the many levels of horror, social commentary, and even humor found in this great …
 
The latest from writer and director Bryan Bertino (The Strangers, The Monster) takes place across a week on a secluded Texas farm. The Dark and the Wicked is the sort of tense experience that revels in its creeping dread but still remembers to deliver a few shocks to punctuate the experience. In this latest episode, we discuss THAT scene, what the …
 
On its surface, His House is a taut tale of terror in a house haunted by enraged spirits. But scratch the surface and you discover a compelling examination of the experience of refugees, the lingering impact of their journeys, and the need to balance cultural identity with a requirement to assimilate. Director Remi Weekes' premiere feature is easil…
 
There's no debating that Gremlins is a holiday movie, but is it a horror flick? We dive deep into the furry little heart of the mogwai and his evil kin in this latest episode of Long Legged Beasties. Join us for a discussion of what a mogwai is, why snow doesn't impact them, if Gizmo could ever go full gremlin, and of course, how to classify this h…
 
What's a holiday celebration without the annoying in-laws, the last-minute mini-crisis averted, and -- oh, right -- the embodiment of ancient Austrian folklore hunting you down in the midst of a blinding blizzard? Krampus manages to nearly walk the same deft line perhaps first created by 1984's subline Gremlins. That isn't to say that the Michael D…
 
Derided as a hodgepodge of mixed-bag dialog and a slightly scary, but not scary enough plot when it first hit in 2009, Jennifer's Body has - as of late - received a bit of redemption as a feminist horror classic of sorts. But not everyone agrees. Drop in and have a listen as we discuss the Diablo Cody-penned horror black comedy starring Megan Fox a…
 
This week we fully embrace the holiday of the day (in the U.S. at least) with an ode to Thanksgiving via this sort of good, sometimes not-so-great horror flick Kristy. In it we see a college student, who decided to stay back for the Thanksgiving Day break, being hunted by a group of cybercult killers. Enjoy!…
 
Billy Zane. Just let your eyes rest on that for a few seconds. Have you completely settled into the notion of Billy Zane, are you one with the Zane? Good, now, let's talk horror. Billy Zane -- there he is again -- stars in this often forgotten, typically maligned masterpiece of character-actor casting. In this episode, we talk about the Zane, about…
 
Trapped in the confines of a deserted gold mine town, women are paired up with bestial killers with names like Babyhead and RotFace in a sort of real-world battle royale for the super-rich. The Furies is a gruesome horror flick by Australian director and writer Tony D'Aquino and there's a lot to talk about. Join us!…
 
There's something wonderful in the slapstick nature of Sam Rami's sort-of-remake of the original Evil Dead. Evil Dead II takes the same premise, the same horrific, creeping evil, and then injects not a little Three Stooges and Monty Python. The result isn't just groovy; it's glorious. Fortunately, we've got Josh Ruben, the talented writer, director…
 
They're here ... but this time they've brought along a friend. In this week's episode, we discuss horror classic Poltergeist with Chris Peckover (director of Better Watch Out). The movie -- which managed to scar an entire generation of children in the '80s -- isn't just Peckover's favorite horror flick, it also offers a masterclass in how to delive…
 
What happens when two Catholic school buddies grow up to run a reality exorcism show that is entirely faked? They get sucked into a real, nasty exorcism, that's what. Director Damien LeVeck presents 2019's The Cleansing Hour, a clever take on the classic spinning-head, pea-soup-squirting demon-possession trope with a slow burn that delivers one hec…
 
Ring (Ringu) has probably done more to shape the way people think about Japanese horror than any movie released before or after it hit the box office in 1998. In this episode, we discuss the Hideo Nakata classic, how it shaped horror, lead to a J-horror revolution, and why it still works so well.
 
One Cut of the Dead isn't really a horror movie, it's a horror movie inside a comedy. But that doesn't stop us from categorizing it, or at least the movie within the movie. Shin'ichirô Ueda directed and wrote this marvelous take and re-take on zombie horror that has a cast in a schlock horror movie trying to survive a zombie outbreak and over-the-t…
 
Set during the heat of the 1980s Cold War, Russian sci-fi horror flick Sputnik drops viewers into the dark corners of nationalist pride and militaristic hubris. The film's Russian cosmonaut is both a national hero and potentially deadly weapon when he returns to earth with an unwelcome alien hitchhiker inside. In this episode, we talk about the cul…
 
Before life, uh, found a way or he had ever heard of a melt stick, Jeff Goldblum was breaking hearts and changing the world as inspired loner scientist Seth Brundle (and later, lady-killer Brundlefly) in the masterful recreation of The Fly. In this episode, we explore the 1986 David Cronenberg classic with the help of our pal Ludwig Kietzmann.…
 
David Slade may have directed one of the glimmer-tastic Twilight Saga flicks, but his take on Steve Niles' horror comic miniseries 30 Days of Night earned him all of the vampire bonafides he will ever need. In this latest episode, we explore the unique flavor of bloodsucker found in Barrow, Alaska's polar night, why this action-horror movie works s…
 
The weeping woman, or La Llorona, is a Hispanic legend that traces its origins back to the 16th century. We've seen a number of films based on the chilling tale of a spectral woman in anguish over her drowned children, but none have been as compelling as this latest. Director Jayro Bustamante blends the haunting narrative and lush cinematography to…
 
It’s been more than 120 years since H.G. Wells released the serialized tale of a scientist driven mad after turning himself invisible. In the intervening years, The Invisible Man has given life to a slew of movie creations. Most recently, the talented Leigh Whannell (Saw, Dead Silence, Insidious) used its underlying themes to create a powerful tale…
 
Who's up for a little Norwegian folk horror? This week's episode delves into director Ari Aster's Midsommar, a more unsettling follow-up to Aster's already pretty frigging unsettling Hereditary. While the two movies aren't tied together by story, both highlight Aster's rising influence as an auteur horror filmmaker. Fortunately, we have the talente…
 
In this week's episode, we sit down with Kinda Funny's Greg Miller to discuss one of the best horror movies of 2020: Host. Filmed during the pandemic, Rob Savage's indie masterpiece is very much a product of its time; both in how it was created and the way in which it encapsulates the sense of isolation and fear everyone seems to be struggling with…
 
Candyman, Candyman, Candyman. I sure hope you weren't sitting in a darkened bathroom staring at a mirror when you read this. In this week's episode, we explore the intricacies and nuance of 1992 classic Candyman. Directed by Bernard Rose and starring Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons and, yes, Vanessa Williams, Candyman is a…
 
In this week's episode, we break down the wonderful found-film horror flick Hell House, LLC. Joining us for the discussion is Dr. Elisa Melendez, a pop culture sociologist who loves bad movies, writing songs, and gave voice to Borderland 3's Tyreen Calypso. Hell House, LLC, directed and written by previous LLB guest Stephen Cognetti, is a classic h…
 
This week's episode focuses on Tigers Are Not Afraid, and starts with a conundrum: Is this particular movie, directed by Issa Lopez, a horror movie at all? Fortunately, we have apparent polymath A.T. White, who wrote, directed, and scored the wonderful movie Starfish, on hand to discuss the vagaries of what does and doesn't constitute a horror movi…
 
In this week's episode, the Beasties are joined by Hell House, LLC writer and director Stephen Cognetti to discuss the classic 1997 hell-in-space horror flick Event Horizon. Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and Kathleen Quinlan, and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, Event Horizon is another horror film that hit theaters to terrible reviews bu…
 
In this week's episode, the Beasties dive into the deep, dark world of underwater drilling, hungry merfolk, and something that looks an awful lot like Cthulhu. We're discussing William Eubank's 2020 sci-fi horror Underwater, which stars -- among others -- Kristen Stewart as mechanical engineer Norah Price.…
 
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