Browsing Archives for Books & Letters

This is the book that made me a vegetarian.

As you can see by the cover, it is all about meat.

Okay, okay.  It is not really about meat.  It is actually about female evolutionary biology.  And it reads like the craziest science fiction/fantasy realm/neolithic/ muse of the ancients/primitive odyssey/gothic horror/ fairy tale you ever heard.  It is as if the author wrote it from a trance while channeling Ayla from Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear.  I do not doubt for an instant that Leonard Shlain was an extraordinarily smart man because he was also a surgeon who was also a professor of surgeons, but boy could this man also string together a story regarding how early humans may have functioned.

In his book he’s got women trading sex for meat and having secret meetings to convince the men-folk to marry them, while the men are also having secret meetings to convince the women-folk to marry them, but at the same time they are also secretly planning to trade their women for other women from other tribes but not until they bleed and only if none of the men in the home tribe want the young women for themselves and then after long intense debate they finally agree to not sleep with their daughters.


Turns out that men used to be even more primitive than they are now!

But that is only because they weren’t as smart as women.

I knew it!


Cuz guess what!

Women understood time before men did! Because women have cycles!  And that cycle is controlled by the moon!  And the moon is controlled by… by…. well the book doesn’t explain the moon’s power.  But that’s okay – because Bill O’Reilly doesn’t get the whole moon thing either.  But the moon did give the power of time to women and once women figured out time, they started figuring out all sorts of things!  Like pregnancy and fatherhood and that if they traded sex for meat, they had a better chance of surviving.  Because meat equals iron.  And iron replaces lost blood!  And you can eat dirt to get iron, but meat is much tastier!

I know!

Totally insane!

I can’t even remember all the fascinating tidbits that I learned from this book.  But let me just see if I can list a few.

1.  Prepubescent boys don’t like meat.

2.  During adolescence, the meat switch suddenly flips on for boys and suddenly they crave bloody protein.

3.  Human females are the only creatures on earth that need help delivering their young.

4.  Why?

5.  Because huge headed infants, tiny holed moms.

6.  Women lose an absurd amount of blood over the course of their lives – no other animal even remotely compares.

7.  This blood must be replaced constantly and since there were no iron supplements in cave man times – meat was the easiest way to get it.

8.  Women came to rely heavily on men to supply her with the much needed meat because she usually had a baby or a toddler or was heavy with child and this made running after an animal with a spear very difficult.

According to this book…

9.  8% of men are lefthanded (world wide).

10. 8% of men are colorblind (worldwide)

11. 8% of men are bald in the prime of their life (world wide).

12.  8% of men are gay (world wide).

13.  Why 8%?

14.  Don’t know.  But probably evolution was helping our species to survive.

15.  How did the above factors help the human species to survive?

16.  Left handed men attack from a different direction making a band of hunters more effective.   Colorblind men can detect animals even if they are camouflaged.  Bald men do not alert animals to human presence as quickly because bald men don’t look human to animals.  Don’t believe me?  Hold up a photo of a bald man in front of your cat.  Is the cat frightened?  No?  See!  And finally  – a gay hunter will not have children/wife to distribute his portion of the hunt to, so his ‘meat’ goes further.

Other interesting things from this book…

Oh heck!  It’s all interesting.  It’s so interesting that at times felt like I was reading pure fiction and at other times I felt like I was reading pure horror and then I became a vegetarian.  This book made me a vegetarian because I don’t want to associate myself with those horrible primitive humans from which I came.  It also made me feel very poorly evolved.

Sex., Time and Power by Leonard Shlain is absolutely fascinating, extremely bizarre and so full of information about early humans that you will start wondering if those alien abductees aren’t also telling the truth.  I am going to read his other book, “The Goddess and the Alphabet” as soon as I recover from this one.

I finally watched the Grey Gardens re-make starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange and thoroughly enjoyed it. ‘Twas no small task to channel such immense characters. I thought Lange especially disappeared into the role of Big Edie.  I wrote about the documentary version of Grey Gardens here, and my sister and I had our own Grey Gardens fashion show here.

The new film (released in 2009) takes the audience back into the history of what both Edith Bouviers (relatives of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onasis) were prior to their dissent (I mean descent!) into mad ruin. There are love affairs gone wrong and an inability and or refusal to function in reality for both women. I have no idea how much of the back story is accurate, but I can positively attest that every outfit is superb, the soft shoe is stellar and the movie is extremely entertaining. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is definitely worth a watch.

Here’s a scene from the original documentary – the famous ‘skirt scene’ with Little Edie.

And here is Barrymore’s version.

For at least a year (maybe two… quite possibly three) people have been recommending the show, William and Mary to me.  Of course, I valued this recommendation and nodded agreeably and then tucked it away in my brain and kept right on with my usual viewing habits of period pieces set in the English countryside, filled with characters who flit around in white dresses, and breeches, top hats and bonnets and climb in and out of ponds only to sit astride a horse looking both gallant and wistful and then gallop off at full speed into a fragrant forest with coat tails flying out behind, pausing only for a cup of tea accompanied by a hefty slice of pound cake and then dancing and then piano and then orgasmic duet followed by a gut wrenching confession that leads to a broken heart and a grim future of bleak spinsterhood which is saved at the very last possible second by a letter that flutters down from a window where it was caught on a nail and then apology and then proposal in a garden with a wicket and a picnic basket and then kiss and then a wedding with a carriage and  clip clop horse hooves beside an old stone church and everyone lives happily ever after….!

except for the body that is floating in the lake…

But that is the next movie…(same stone church, same top hat, entirely different picnic basket).

The end.

But I must have stuck William and Mary in my Netflix queue at some point because a few weeks ago I got the first disc in the mail and after initially sighing in deep disappointment because clear lack of breeches and white dresses, I sat down to watch it and in only nine point seven seconds I had fallen deeply in love with a midwife named Mary and then three point five seconds later I was deeply in love with an undertaker named William and then seven point two seconds later the three of us are all in the bathtub together at a very nice hotel along with a crazed mother, the father of Mary’s children, her depressed ex-boyfriend, four sullen teenagers, three lunatic pregnant women, and several grieving families.  It was a bit crowded, but I was enjoying myself so much that I hardly noticed!

William and Mary and their crazy, misbegotten lives are wonderfully authentic and such a terribly beautiful mess.  It will remind you of yourself and all the people you love.  Because really – we are all such a terribly beautiful mess aren’t we? You simply must adjust the lenses sometimes to see it right. That’s what William and Mary did for me.  They adjusted my lenses.

Now if I could only get my hands on the dang third season! It is killing me not to know what happens next!