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George Saunders | Scary Movies | Jessica Jackson Hutchins


Gather round all you ghoulies and goblins. “State of Wonder” is going to channel up some ferocious wonders on this week’s episode.

We’ve got picks for some of the best scary films and an interview with the producer behind a new podcast about one Portland’s most eerie urban legends. Then we’re heading to the cemetery for one of the most original takes on the after-life since Dante’s “Inferno”: George Saunders’ first novel, the Man Booker Prize-winning “Lincoln in the Bardo.”


Movies To Scare You - 1:24

Once you have your outfit and your candy on lockdown, the only essential left pending for Halloween is some good-quality scary movies to watch. John Rosman, enterprise producer on OPB’s digital team, got to talking about what to watch with horror aficionado Geoff Todd, editor at large at the popular film blog Film School Rejects. You may have seen the amazing Twitter feed he created, One Perfect Shot.

Check out Rosman’s video of Todd’s five picks for Halloween, including “Cat People,” “American Werewolf in London” and more.


The Polybius Conspiracy podcast logo.

The Polybius Conspiracy podcast logo.

Courtesy of Polybius Conspiracy

The Polybius Conspiracy - 7:58

Maybe you heard the rumors about a mysterious arcade game seen in Portland in the 80s that resulted in all sorts of weird side effects, like dizziness, nightmares, mind control and maybe even abduction. Well, a new Radiotopia podcast is on the hunt to prove or disprove the urban legend of Polybius. It’s called “The Polybius Conspiracy.” Consider it “Serial” meets “Stranger Things.”

Listen to co-producer Todd Luoto’s full interview on “Think Out Loud.”


Various scarab beetles — commonly called "jewel beetles" or "Oh, my!" beetles for the reactions they elicit — are exhibited in a case at the Oregon State Arthropod Collection. 

Various scarab beetles — commonly called “jewel beetles” or “Oh, my!” beetles for the reactions they elicit — are exhibited in a case at the Oregon State Arthropod Collection. 

Nick Fisher/OPB

On The Hunt For The Coolest Creepy Crawlers Around - 15:54

Here at “State of Wonder,” we take our name very seriously. Wonder is all around us, even though we might not see it because we’re not looking in the right spot or we’re distracted by our cell phone — or it’s literally underground, burrowing away in the dirt beneath our feet. This next story takes us out of doors with a type of curator we don’t get to spend much time with: a curator of insects.

Watch the “Oregon Field Guide” profile of entomologist Chris Marshall‘s hunt for the elusive rain beetle.


Basso Cannarsa/Random House

George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo” - 21:00

Some things are worth waiting for. After years of writing short stories and essays and winning just about every accolade out there, George Saunders finally published his first novel earlier this year, “Lincoln in the Bardo,” and just last week, it won the Man Booker Prize. All of the action takes place in one night in a graveyard full of the spirits of people who don’t realize they’re dead and are visited by Abraham Lincoln, who comes to mourn his young son Willie. Saunders blends his imagined, talkative souls with historical texts about the president.

Listen to Saunders hour-long conversation on “Think Out Loud” before a live audience at literary arts.


Hutchins in her studio.

Hutchins in her studio.

April Baer/OPB

Jessica Jackson Hutchins On ‘Oregon Art Beat’ - 35:51

Jessica Jackson Hutchins is one of the best-known contemporary artists Oregon has produced, but that recognition lies largely outside the state. Her paintings and large-scale ceramics are regularly seen in New York galleries and in international venues like the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Oregon Art Beat Kelsey Wallace caught up with her this summer during the Portland Biennial. You can find Wallace’s video profile on “Oregon Art Beat.”


Martorel's home and studio, in a Puerto Rican beach community, were among the few structures in town that survived Hurricane Maria's wind and rain.

Martorel’s home and studio, in a Puerto Rican beach community, were among the few structures in town that survived Hurricane Maria’s wind and rain.

Mario Galluci/Courtesy of Linfield College

Puerto Rican Artist Antonio Martorell At Linfield Gallery - 42:26

The visual artist Antonio Martorell was in San Juan when Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico in September. He lives a couple hours away in a small beach town, and he spent several frantic days worried sick about his family and workshop before he could make it back. But this gracious 78-year-old gentleman — seldom seen without one of his trademark hats —  takes disaster as a matter of course, and he found a way, despite blackout conditions, to get his prints, sketches, sculpture — and himself — to Linfield College for an exhibition two years in the making. “Rain/Lluvia” is on view at the Linfield Gallery through Nov. 18. 

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