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Episode 53 - Peyton Place by Grace Metalious (with special guest!)

Today we have a special treat for you - we got Henry from FireStarters   to read Grace Metalious' Peyton Place  with us and let me tell you... it's a real Peyton Place in there. I honestly can't even describe the plot of this book so let me just give you the trigger warnings, I guess?  So this book is trying really hard to shock you, which shouldn't shock you - the stuff that isn't  intentional in it, therefore, is... more shocking?  So on that front look out for rampant 1950's racism that thinks it's progressive including whoa  n-word count and awful depictions of mental illness, including a character who dies by suicide.  The stuff you're here for, though - the Peyton Place  stuff - includes but probably is not limited to because my god: incestuous rape and abuse, secret illegal abortion(s), an industrial carnival accident, a cat strangled in absolutely bizarre circumstances (I mean seriously usually I'm the one freaked out by animal cruelty but t

Episode 21: Clan of the Cave Bear




Ayla is an anatomically modern human (is it technically Cro Magnon?  This is set in modern day Ukraine. To the Wikipedia!) orphaned and raised by a tribe of psychic Neanderthals.  This one isn't the one with all the doin' it (evidently that is Valley of the Horses which also has a bunch of blonde dudes who shop at Cave-REI), it's the one with a ton of rape and abuse in it. (A note: the cave I was talking about extensively is Shanidar.  Shalimar is, of course, a perfume.  Apologies.)
Image result for clan of the cave bear cover
So the fun thing about this book, and the factor that I know made everybody's mom love it, is the great research Auel put into it.  (Shades of Savage Ecstacy, y'all.)  She really knew her shit, at least about the state of research into Homo neanderthalensis in the late 70's - but since then there have been amazing finds and a lot of research using tools unavailable when Auel started writing.  Some of which, by the way, match her fiction.  (Uh, not the psychic part.  But the fucking part, yes!)  
Although the blue eyes, not so much.  Not coexisting with Neanderthals.
Here are some really great articles about some of this stuff.
Cave bears Chauvet painting
So much of what we know about Neanderthals is conjecture, but there is evidently no anatomical reason for them not to speak.  Additionally, the Neanderthal Genome Project shows that we share a gene with them that's important to our speech (warning, PDF).  
Here are some throwing spears that predate the Neanderthals - as I understand it there is no reason to think Neanderthals couldn't throw well.
Neanderthals on Gibraltar were killing the shit out of birds. Fuck birds.
Errbody out here fuckin' errbody.  Neanderthals fucking humans, Neanderthals fucking Denisovians, Homo sapiens also fucking Denisovians and getting some adaptive traits from them, and if I understand this right there's a reintroduction of archaid hominids from Africa at some point that's posited.  We find a new plant, we taste a little bit of it.  We break ground in new territory, we map it.  We find another person of a different species, we fuck 'em.  You can dress us up, but you can't take us out.
This is a charming short interview with Auel right before The Land of Painted Caves came out, but what I really love about it is the excerpt they picked from the book.
Image result for neanderthal facial reconstruction
Modern facial reconstructions of Neanderthals are a lot less alien than they used to be - expectations of what they'll look like has surely changed along with the assumption that they were radically unlike us.  Guess what?  They may have had more evolved faces than you do!  (Or, at any rate, had changed in the face after splitting from us.)  
Oh hey guess what some of the Shanidar remains including Shanidar 1, our evidence that Neanderthals cared for tribe members in old age and disability and Auel's clear inspiration for the character of Creb, and Shanidar 4, the "flower burial" which might mean that Neanderthals had complex funerary practices or might mean that burrowing animals like flowers, may have been looted during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  I can't confirm or deny it with a five minute search - these remains were/are held by the Iraq Museum.  Anybody know if they're still there?


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