An abbreviated history of Pocahontas and John Smith, this episode looks at the conflict largely from the Powhatan side. This isn't the Disney version. It is gritty, dark, violent, and, if Mattaponi oral history is to be trusted, fairly disturbing. Still, it tells the story of a clash of worlds, and one woman who stood in the middle to bring a brief peace.
The creature this week lives in lime trees and, in return for probably not paying rent, will hurt you if you're mean to the tree.
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My interview on The Podcast Digest:
Mattaponi Oral History:
The Disclaimer (and post):
The story of Pocahontas and John Smith has turned from compelling historical story of a brave woman who united two warring nations, to a melodramatic, oversimplified love story. In reality, Pocahontas likely never view Smith as more than a friend, since she was 11 when they first met. But they won't meet quite yet. We need to talk about the world they both inhabit, and the nations that will collide in the early 17th century.
Then, on the creature of the week, you'll see why you want to bring hair clippers when checking on your infant in the middle of the night.
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This is not the Beauty and the Beast you've heard. It's not even the story the one you've heard is based on. That one is a super-pared-down version of an 18th century French novella. The original contains way too much description about fairy politics and power structures, 18th century Pandora, and an idea for a "Downton Abbey" reboot...with monkeys.
The creature of the week is Papa Bois, from Trinidad and Tobago. He will show you why regular exercise and a balanced diet of strangers lost in the forest will keep you healthy well into old age.
Two stories from Greek Mythology: first, it's the story of Sisyphus, who you might know from his interminable, crushing labor, but who actually really deserved that punishment because of how horrible he was. The second story is of good-guy-Bellerophon, Sisyphus's grandson, who is constantly having that football pulled out from under him just as he is about to kick it.
The creature is an 80-foot-tall, sneaky Japanese skeleton who has a drinking problem...in that he has a difficult time drinking the blood spewing from his decapitated victims.
As you've probably come to expect, the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, perhaps the second most famous story from One Thousand and One Nights, is much more violent than modern adaptations would have us believe. Medieval Persia was a dangerous place, and you needed to have your wits, a lot of luck, and apparently an extremely loyal, wily slave girl to survive.
The creature this week is the Nix, and it will give you yet another reason to shout at strangers in the grocery store.
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Three stories of tricksters. We have Coyote from Native American mythology giving great gifts and racing a turtle. There's also Anansi the spider-man from West African folklore, who is trying to buy the stories of the world. We also catch up with our old friend Loki from Norse mythology, who just wants to give Thor's wife an impromptu, un-asked-for haircut.
The creature of the week is an emaciated horse who will either play harmless pranks on you, or crush you to death in the street.
The conclusion of the Saga of Arrow-Odd, a man who is destined to live 300 years, yet cursed to be killed by his favorite horse. He's watched his friends and brothers die in his struggle with his adversary, the evil half-troll Ogmund, but this battle is destined to stretch over centuries, into a world that looks completely different to both of them.
The creatures this week hang out in pantries, and either tempt you with too much cake or destroy your ill-gotten, likely buttercat-acquired food.
The saga of the legendary Viking Arrow-Odd contains trolls, ogres, giants, magic arrows, and a sorceress getting smacked in the nose. The mistakes of one Viking's past...or just a Viking being a Viking, haunt him. There's a dangerous Viking teddy bear, and if an angry, famed warrior offers to show you his arrows up close, do not take him up on that offer.
On the creature of the week, you'll see that when you're at the supermarket, someone might just secretly be a giant purple blob that lives in the river.
A story from Chilean folklore about the smartest woman in the world, her talking shoe, and a prince that deserved a slap on the face.
The creatures this week are the abatwa, from South Africa, and you'll learn why ants are the best roommates ever.
Two stories from the Grimm brothers, both of which have people going up, but in different ways. The first is the story of Rapunzel, and the second is about a small tailor who uses one success to face giants, a rampaging boar, and a unicorn when seeking the hand of the princess. The only problem? His greatest achievement may be based on a lie, and he's either the world's smoothest con man or completely delusional. Or both.
The creature this week is a stack of old weasels. That catch things on fire.
The much-requested story of Prometheus, a Titan who was cursed by Zeus to have his liver pecked out every day for defying the Olympian and bringing fire to the earth. We'll also talk about the Titanomachy, the very literal clash of the Titans at the very beginning of Greek mythology, where Zeus comes to power and we all learn that any policy that involves crazy paranoia is basically the only one a Greek god considers.
The creature is the gooseberry wife, but unlike the name, and the berries she protects, she is not sweet, and might eat your child.
Old foes resurface as Balin, the fugitive knight, flees from King Arthur's court. He'll find himself on a perilous (and, at times, ridiculous) quest, where he'll inadvertently put the events in motion that will start the quest for the Holy Grail. Oh, and Arthur gets the Round Table and gets married.
The creature this week is the little naked person buried just below the ground who will scream horrendously if you try to pick him out. Also, he might just kill you.
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When we left king Arthur, the monstrous Questing Beast was lumbering toward him. We'll learn all about that beast and the line of kings cursed to hunt it. Then, Merlin shows up with a chilling plan to solve the problem of the child that is destined to grow up to destroy Arthur. We'll also meet Balin, a disgraced knight who just got out of jail and meets with an unexpected quest for redemption...that might just curse all of England.
On the creature of the week, you'll learn why you want to stock up on pineapples, especially if you are pregnant and don't want this mosquito-like vampire coming after you.
The story of the legendary King Arthur, from just after when he pulled the sword from the stone.Though he's in his late-teens or early-twenties, he is not at all taken seriously by his barons or petty kings, who revolt almost immediately. Less than one year into his reign, he is hiding behind the walls of a castle waiting for the best moment to escape, all while Merlin stands atop the wall shooting fire at the armies assembled out front.
The creature of the week is the Mahaha, and you'll see yet another reason why you shouldn't trust the blue shirtless man wanting to tickle you.
This week: two folktales from Japan. One is about a humble, happy stone cutter who becomes a power-mad, bitter stone cutter. The other is about, surprise surprise, supernatural occurrences at a Buddhist temple in a remote mountain region.
The creature of the week is...or are...the blue men of the Minch. They are blue, men, and very, very good at writing poetry.
The story of a famous dragon from the folklore of north east England is filled with knights, curses, and, of course, the need to kill your favorite childhood dog. The story of the Lambton Worm is a quest for redemption where many people die because of a young man who just wants to yell cuss words at children and throw his trash in a well.
The creature of the week is the butter cat. That should be enough to want to listen to the creature of the week.
Norse mythology, like all mythology, is strange. Thor's hammer is gone. It was stolen...or he just left it somewhere and forgot about it. To get it back, though, he's going to have to do something more difficult than fighting legions of giants. He's going to need to get married.
And there's the origin of poetry, which contains way more men formed from spit than you'd expect for the origin of poetry.
On the creature of the week, seriously, just stay out of the woods. It never ends well. Except when it does, and you find love and learn to put on a puppet show.
In this famous story from Greek Mythology, we'll meet Cupid (not a baby), as he accidentally nicks himself with his own arrow. In a podcast episode that is like the movie "Mean Girls" with a trip to the Greek underworld, you'll see why it is against the law to harbor someone who's prettier than a goddess.
The creature of the week is a forest creature that operates on a very annoying wood chip economy.
A double-sized episode with the whole epic and slightly-ridiculous story of a cattle raid that ended up taking way longer than it should have. It involves a young man hulking out numerous times, several creative ways to kill your opponent in single combat, and a fight to the death between best friends. Also, you'll see why you shouldn't bring your squirrel to an active war zone.
The creature of the week is a scary, hairy little zombie who, like Jack Frost, will nibble at your toes. Unlike Jack Frost, though, he will bite them clean off.
Queen Medb, King Ailil, and Fergus make their way into Ulster while the army is crippled by feeling as if they are going into labor. Only one man, barely out of childhood himself, can stand against the invaders and protect his people until they are able to rise. That man is Cu Chulainn. This week, we learn the origin story of this Irish superhero (he's kind of literally a superhero, too. He can hulk out.), including how he got his name, which basically means dog.
The creature of the week is one that will, unsurprisingly, drag you into the river and kill you. What is surprising, though, is the party that happens in your village when you kick it out.
Starting an epic string of legends from Celtic folkore. We're back in the time of kings, princesses, and intrigue. You'll see how you can steal a kingdom with fancy accounting, curse a nation because of a careless comment, and start a war to prove to your spouse how rich you are.
The creature of the week is the monaciello from Naples, Italy. When he's not helping you, he's stealing your clothes...off your body...
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It's the original story of the Snow Queen, more commonly known as the source material for the hyper-popular Disney movie named "Frozen". The original, though, is incredibly different, and contains much more violence, kidnapping, and weirdness than the adaptation.
On the creature of the week, you'll see why you shouldn't get drunk and take walks by the river
This week, it's a horror story from Korean folklore. A little girl gets lost in the forest, and then a strange problem begins tearing her family apart.
Then, on the creature of the week, you'll see how buying sunglasses for the guard might help you rob a temple.
The first episode of much-requested Native American folklore has giants, ghosts, anthropomorphic coyotes, jilted lovers, and the reason for why the tick got so flat. Because you've always wondered how the wood tick got to be so flat.
On the creature of the week, it's an animal from Australian folklore who is lurking in stagnant water, just waiting to give you a deadly hug.
The story behind the transition from Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus is one that includes murder, priest-punching, and ominous, demonic-looking companions. This episode looks at the legends behind an austere bishop who has been transformed into a magical, portly elf.
**Note: as I say in the show, this episode is not for young children. The story of St. Nick includes grisly murders and mentions of prostitution. Listener discretion is advised.**
The creature of the week is another sort of Santa from Spain who, in the old days, eschewed the coal for bad children for a long, deadly scythe.