Saturday, August 30, 2008

Olympic National Park

Just coming back from 5 days in Olympic. Words, for the moment, fail. Here are some pictures for the meantime, taken on the Klahhane Ridge Trail.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just in time, a new hoax

Just as the sailboat of my novel had run aground on another sandbar of confusion, the Georgia Bigfoot hoaxers came to my rescue. I still find it hard to believe that this got so much attention from the NYT, National Geographic, etc. I didn't have the impression that bigfoot hoaxes were that rare or newsworthy. However, I'm glad it happened. In my novel (and in some of my recent short stories also) I've been struggling with the question of why people hoax. Generally hoaxers are considered low-lifes and con artists, out for a buck. It seems like a very hard way to make a living; how much are you likely to get for a bf carcass, seeing as there's no X prize for cryptozoology? So maybe they want something else, most likely unsavory, but what? Fame? Fame for being a bf hoaxer? Or power? I think there's something to the power angle, in being able to "put one over" on somebody--the same thrill some people get from practical jokes. I guess what will happen once the hoax is exposed doesn't concern these guys (one of the Georgia hoaxers got fired from his job as a cop as a result)--or they think, perhaps rightly, that infamy will become a more benign and lucrative sort of fame soon enough.

I'm still ruminating on all the implications, but one aspect that struck me is how seriously the bf community polices itself. Note, for example, the comments by Michael Rugg, founder of the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton (which we visited a few weeks ago). Belief based on the most fleeing vision is fine, but deliberate hoaxing gives the whole enterprise of finding bf a bad name.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Going after McCain

Why is Obama still playing defense, and rather gently at that? Why isn't he taking the fight to McCain's ground? I don't want to play pundit, and I sense--or hope--that Obama's team is smarter about all this stuff than Kerry's was. Still...if this is happening, could it be because there's an embarrassment of riches? Like Bush, McCain presents so many targets that it's almost baffling; it's a peacock display of stupidity and corruption. Should Obama go after the incoherent policies (foreign, domestic?)? The constant "gaffes" (confusion)? The lobbyists running the campaign? The whole non-maverickness of the supposed maverick? The belligerence and terrible temper? The misogyny? The affair(s)?

Here's one for the family values crowd: the team currently running McCain's campaign is the same one that created the ugly, racist "whisper campaign" about his adopted daughter in South Carolina in 2000. What does it say about this man that he is now selling out his own family, his own daughter, for political gain? Why won't he stand up for his own vulnerable child? Who would do this?

(Also: why does Blogger put a red "misspelled" underline below Obama and not McCain?)

Monday, August 11, 2008

She who hesitates

...finds out that the amazingly insightful blog post she was dreaming about a few days ago has already been written, at Sadly, No!

“[E]litism” in this country isn’t defined by how much money you have, but whether you ever enjoy your life. For instance, you can make a lot of money and not be an elitist if your work is joyless and purposeless. This is why the Waltons are considered salt-of-the-Earth types, even though they’re the richest family in the world: because the only joy they get out of life is exploiting cheap labor both here and abroad to produce and sell cheap plastic crap. And since the Waltons are such miserable people, it’s hard for the average spite voter to feel much resentment toward them, since they’re basically richer versions of themselves.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rec'd from Stanford's Contracted Services Group

...and posted without comment:

Subject: Changes to the toilet paper


We are now seeing yet another repercussion from the economic problems affecting our manufacturing businesses. The major paper companies have universally reduced the width of toilet paper by 1/4”. In most cases this does not affect the functioning of the dispenser however, in the models with folding end pieces there is a problem. Our current supplier is providing extensions to place beside the TP to keep it in the holder and the janitors are adding them now.

We are also looking into the new, smaller sustainable companies coming on the market to see if they have products which have the old dimensions and are green.

Please bear with us through this and let us know if your building is experiencing problems.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Bigfoot Discovery Project

Last Sunday Trev and I visited the Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is an exceedingly interesting place and well worth a visit. I was a little overwhelmed. The most exciting thing to me was a first-edition copy of Roger Patterson's Do Abominable Snowmen of America Really Exist? That's the academic in me: I was so taken with the sight of book that I ignored the casts from the Patterson bigfoot site on the shelf just below. No bigfoot hunter I! Anyway, it's impossible to overstate the fascination that the Patterson-Gimlin film and the story of its making have had for me over the years. Robert Michael Pyle's wonderful book Where Bigfoot Walks has a good overview, and this Wikipedia article goes into more loving depth--including the tidbit that Bob Gimlin, who will be in Felton for the BDM's festival next Saturday, acknowledges that the film might have been a hoax, though he was not in on it. Anyway, read the whole article and see if you don't get obsessed.

While we're on the subject of me being a dweeb who misses the bigfoot for the book: I see on the BDM site that they have mitigated the singular / plural problem I've always wondered about. Supposedly there are many Bigfoots, or bigfeet, or whatever, but "Bigfoot" suggests that, like the Highlander, there can be only one. However the BDM uses a lower case "b," and seems to employ "bigfoot" as a collective noun that's the same as its singular form, like "deer." Problem solved; and in the process the monster is converted to a more-or-less regular forest critter. (I suspect certain style guides have already instituted this preference. When I published my article in Tin House, I noted in my bio that I was writing a novel about Bigfoot--and the editor, lc'd the "b." At the time I thought it was a mistake, but it turns out they were ahead of me.)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Remembering anthrax

Glenn Greenwald is right, as always. Even as our "President" and the candidate to succeed him relentlessly flog 9-11 to this day, they never mention the anthrax attacks that came in the immediate aftermath. As Greenwald says, the anthrax mailings ratcheted up the fear level tremendously. The notes that went with the mailings, as well as plenty of news analysis, led us to believe Middle Eastern terrorists were everywhere in the US, just beginning to reach into their limitless bag of tricks. It now appears the attacks were carried out by a deranged researcher working for the US government--a fact that the administration was too inept, or too uninterested, to discover.

UPDATE: Greenwald, along with today's NYT, points out that there still is no solid evidence against the scientist in question. We may be in for another thrilling ride on the government / media bullshit roller coaster.

The Stone Gods

I'm now reading Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods and am consumed with jealousy. Just when I feel like I'm getting reasonably good at writing, just as I'm thinking "I can do that" when reading published novels of some repute, this comes along.

Must remember: Do not envy. STEAL.