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Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Dot Net

Lyle Zapato | 2007-05-13.4100 LMT | Cascadia | Nature

Long-time tree-octopus-sighter and forest-canopy-researcher Y. D. Bar-Ness has started a new website called TreeOctopus.net, which (besides containing information on his international forest research, writings, photos, curriculum vitae, etc.) offers his services as a Professional Tree Octopus Naturalist (available for birthday parties? contact him to find out.)

He also has a CryptoEcological Notes section that includes different tree octopus species and many other little-known or endangered creatures, such as the Seattle Viaduct Troll (subspecies of the more familiar Fremont Troll) and the transdimensional Phase Shark -- all organized via a handy Crypto-Iconic rating system.

I welcome Bar-Ness to the exciting field of arboreal octopology and await his many important contributions to the saving of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus!

Lyle Zapato

Anthropologist Beguiles Magical Octopus From Island Clans

Lyle Zapato | 2007-04-18.1650 LMT | Politics

According to The Walrus magazine, members of the Lau Lagoon clans of Solomon Islands are accusing Canadian anthropologist Pierre Maranda, recipient of the 1996 Canada Council Molson Prize and proponent of structuralism, of stealing the clans' sacred octopus, holding it captive in a swimming pool on his "faraway island" (Canada), and using its magic power to make himself rich and famous, thereby leaving the islanders vulnerable without its protection:

The [Lau people's] ancestors, who were descended from worms, lived on a mountain above the jungled folds of Malaita. One day, a hero named Golo'au ventured forth from the mountain to discover the promised land, which was not land at all but a vast, reef-protected lagoon fringing the island's northwest coast. Golo'au and his kin built rafts from bamboo and they paddled out onto that calm water. They pulled hunks of coral rock from the shallow bottom and piled them upon each other until they had created islands on which they could build thatch houses. The Lau raised their children on the water, safe from the headhunters and mosquitoes that populated the bush. Fish filled their nets. Life was good. When the ancestors died, their spirits did not leave the lagoon. Instead, they inhabited the bodies of sharks and birds and, together with other spirit creatures, they were able to protect their descendants with their magic.

For centuries the Lau people honoured the spirits by following their edicts and killing pigs for them. The priests of the Rere clan offered regular blood sacrifices to the speckled octopus that inhabited the reef near the island of Foueda, ensuring the octopus would protect them from the dangers of the sea. "The octopus took care of people," the man with the scarified cheeks told me. "If they were lost at sea, he would bring them home. If they were drowning, he would save them." Sometimes the octopus would crawl right up out of the sea into a priest's canoe to let him know it was time for a sacrifice. It would crawl onto land, too. If you left a basket of food outside your door, the octopus would plunk himself down on top of it and engulf it. He preferred pork to fruit.

The Rere priests had kept the octopus's name a secret so that lay people, fools, and enemies could not abuse its power. But, said my friend, all that changed half a lifetime ago. That's when Maranda tricked the priests into giving him the secret names of their ancestors. He used those words to beguile the octopus, lure it through the reefs and away across the Pacific. The creature did not go willingly. It used its power to strike Maranda with a terrible illness and it killed his wife. But still it did not return. The octopus had not been seen near its coral sanctuary in years. Now, with no spirit to protect them, the people of Foueda have become vulnerable, falling victim to mysterious diseases or drowning inexplicably in the empty and unforgiving sea.

Of course, Maranda has his own version of the events. And then there's the complicating factor of a custody dispute over the octopus (Seventh-day Adventist islanders apparently want it rebaptized with a proper Christian name, like John, or Paul, or Ringo).

Regardless, this incident does highlight the importance of teaching your sacred octopus about Stranger Danger: If a strange anthropologist approaches you and offers you tasty pork treats, do not go with him -- even if he knows your name. He could be leading you to a life of mytho-semiotic debauchery in Québec.

Fortunately, I don't think the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus has much to fear from being lured away from the Republic of Cascadia since we have a system in place to keep just such a thing from happening: Should the tree octopuses be reported missing, an Octopus Alert will be howled to the Sasquatch Militia, who'll place the borders on lockdown until they are recovered. In the unlikely event that the abductor manages to escape Cascadia to Canada, interhominoidal agreements ensure that the Royal Canadian Mounted Wendigos will be waiting to recover the tree octopuses and extradite the abductor back for delimbing. So don't get any funny ideas, Pierre.

Lyle Zapato

"A New Dawn for the Tree Octopus"

Lyle Zapato | 2007-03-09.2560 LMT | Cascadia | Fonts | Art | Crass Commercialism
poster

Introducing the poster "A New Dawn for the Tree Octopus", issued by the Cascadian Department of Cephalopod Conservation to raise awareness of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus's plight. It depicts a lone tree octopus in the coastal forests of Hood Canal waking from her coniferous lair to a New Dawn for her species. Are you doing your part to help save the tree octopus?

(The poster was created by artists employed by the Cascadian Works Progress Administration, which provides honest jobs for honest barter to unemployed Sasquatch trained in the vector arts.)

Currently I'm making the image available on a mini poster, large poster, and postcards. If anyone is interested in having it on anything else, let me know.

As a bonus, the poster uses my newest font: Enemy Sub! (Actually, I made the font over a year ago and just procrastinated putting it up.)

Also, I updated the Tree Octopus logo used on the merchandise in the shop. I ate my own dog food by using my Duarte Centenario font, which, while not as patriotic as the previously used Tahoma, does look better with the rough tentacle ribbon image. If you bought a product with the older image, it's now a valuable collector's item. Sell it on eBay and get rich!

The Typing Octopus

Octopus Lie

The Typing Octopus | 2007-02-28.7010 LMT | Nature

Human create website: OCTOPUSTRUTH.COM

Octopus think: better name: OCTOPUSLIE.LIE!

If you would believe the mainstream media, octopuses are cute, cuddly sea-faring playthings that want nothing more than to kiss you with their oozy tentacle-stickers and do your homework. These "spiders of the sea," the standard story goes, have no hidden agenda- they want to stay in their tanks, learn tricks, and eventually molt into beautiful silverfish. But behind their smiling eyes and waving hands is an UNDERWATER NIGHTMARE far more sinister- and frightening- than the government and its allies in the news media would have you know.

Imagine an animal that can come through your shower drain in a matter of seconds. An animal that can squeeze through any small fissure in your apartment walls. An animal only stopped by the lack of salt water in the normal american household.

Read, my friend, read! And discover the STUNNING TRUTH about the octopus species- a species which is half squishy, slimy cephalopod, half frenzied, plotting brainiac: and all evil.

Lies! Lies! Lies!

Octopus harmless to human: just want tasty crabs, salmon information box. Human not tasty... octopus assume. Octopus agent not infiltrate human sink/bath/toilet, not envelope puppy, not drink milk. Lies!

Octopus not harm human unless provoked. Human keep creepy pentapodal arms out of octopus lair, octopus keep arms out of human lair: octopus desire octopus/human détentacle.

Octopus not interfere with human attack squid: octopus hate squid too. Stupid squid think squid better than octopus. More lies!

Proposal: arrangement of mutual benefit: human leave octopus be, give octopus salmon information box, stop speaking offensive octopus joke, stop anti-octopus lie website: octopus tell human secret of colossal squid, continue not envelope puppy, stop signaling offensive human joke.

If human agree: turn skin purple with white spots.

Octopus await reply.

Lyle Zapato

Another Colossal Squid Caught

Lyle Zapato | 2007-02-23.5590 LMT | Nature
Colossal squid

Around the beginning of this month, a 10m long, 450kg male colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) was caught in the Ross Sea by a fishing vessel. This is the largest squid ever caught, and it was captured live and intact. (It's now dead and on ice.)

This was all over the news yesterday, and I have added a special report on it on my Cephalopod News section. (I added it to the page with the report on the previous colossal squid catch when I noticed a huge number of hits to that page coming from Google searches.)

For the benefit of blog readers who haven't been paying attention to CephNews, factoids about this newest colossal squid can be read on the report page

UPDATE: 2007-03-08

According to Newsweek, video footage of the squid being hauled in was shot by Bennett and was sold to a production company in Auckland for an undisclosed amount. A documentary featuring the footage should be released sometime in April.

UPDATE: 2007-03-15

Removed factoids from above so I don't have to update two lists. Go read the report for all the details.

Lyle Zapato

Thujoctopus pilosa

Lyle Zapato | 2006-12-29.1710 LMT | Nature | Crass Commercialism | Letters

Newly added to the Tree Octopus sightings: Marc L. sent in a photo of a rare tree octopus that specializes in redcedar:

Here is a rare and endangered Cephalopod Thuja Pilcata or locally known as the Western Red Cedar Climbing Octopus. You don't see one of these babies everyday!! Especially this far inland!!

Emacs!


Photo detail enhanced using advanced ZPi cephalopod-image processing
technology.

Marc has his names a bit confused, which is understandable given the esoteric nature of tree octopus cladistics. Thuja plicata is actually the scientific name for the Western Redcedar tree that this octopus calls home. The correct binomial for the octopus itself is Thujoctopus pilosa, named for the lush coating of bluish velvet that it evolved to help retain moisture as it migrated deep inland from its ancestral Pacific home. Unfortunately, this notable trait led to its current rarity.

Originally considered a cheaper domestic alternative to fine velvets imported from Italy or Kashmir, redcedar octopus pelts became popular in the early to mid 20th century with a growing North American middle-class desperate for luxury goods. In particular, evening dresses made entirely of undyed T. pilosa pelts became such a fixture during the post-war period that they were immortalized in the song "Blue Velvet" -- made a hit in 1951 by Tony Bennett and again in the 1960s by Bobby Vinton.

(The song also featured prominently in the 1986 film "Blue Velvet" by director and animal lover David Lynch, who considered it emblematic of the moral degeneracy of suburban middle-class life. Lynch spent much of his childhood in the woods of eastern Washington and was well aware of the devastation brought against the local tree octopus populations by the twisted, fetishistic desires of the suburbs.)

Eventually, shrinking numbers of redcedar octopus combined with inexpensive mass-produced synthetic velvets available on the burgeoning global market led to the pelt trade becoming unprofitable -- narrowly saving T. pilosa from extinction.

UPDATE 2007-01-01: Marc sent another picture showing a breeding colony of "Cedar Pus", as locals call them.

The Typing Octopus

Ohio River Killer

The Typing Octopus | 2006-08-10.4690 LMT

Many news reports state octopus body found in Ohio River by fisherhuman. Much confusion: octopus hate rivers and Ohio. Suicide or foul play?

Now revealed: octopus victim of human's bizarre "project". Human student dumped octopus body in Ohio River after filming snuff movie. Snuff movie featured "picnic scene" of horror.

Human bought corpse from St. Matthews seafood store. Planned on eating corpse. Octopus too old for human student; human student likes young corpses. Dumped in river instead. Thought river would wash away interest in crime against octopusity. Human thought wrong!

Octopus community issues demands: Student human and accomplices charged with desecration of octopus corpse. Octopus snuff film destroyed. St. Matthews charged with cephalopodicide.

The Typing Octopus

Octopus Skills Pay Bills

The Typing Octopus | 2006-04-18.0750 LMT | Nature
The Typing Octopus

Human Attack Squid!

The Typing Octopus | 2006-02-27.6565 LMT | Nature

Innocent squid vacation off Chile. Enjoy warm seasonal water, delicious fishes.

Encounter female human fry. Think harmless. Investigate.

Brutal attack by humans! Humans stone squid to death! Drag dead squid vacationer from water! Carry corpse through street! Gurgle horrific human sounds!

Chile coastline not safe for cephalopods. Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!

'PAWS' Poster

The Typing Octopus

Giant Squid Diving

The Typing Octopus | 2006-02-04.0620 LMT | Nature

squid

Humans, stop pestering octopus. Pester squid instead: giant squid diving expedition.

"Red Demon" Giant Squids of Mexico
Jaguars of the Oceans

Join us for an adventure that fewer than 20 divers a year get to experience, an underwater encounter with the Giant Squid (Dosidicus gigas) otherwise known as Red Demon squids in Mexico. Growing up to seven feet long, 150+ pounds and occasionally bigger—possibly much bigger these are the pinnacle predator of the ocean. An apex predator that even sharks stay clear of.

Sandwiches, anti-squid armor provided.