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Lyle Zapato

The Tree Octopus - A Journey

Lyle Zapato | 2009-02-27.7530 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature | Field Trips

The Tree Octopus - A Journey is a short documentary by Steven Chen, Ashley Coburn, and Corey Doerscher following their trek into the Olympic National Forest along the Staircase Trail on a journey to find the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. While they were unsuccessful in getting footage of the elusive creature (unlike other seekers), they did uncover some greater truths about man's relationship with tree octopuses, as well as getting some great shots of its damp native habitat.

In lieu of live footage, the real substance of the film comes from an interview with Park Ranger David Scherer, who has dedicated the better part of the last five years to researching tree octopuses. You can hear his passion as he talks about their rich hues and the luster of their tentacles, and how they are a bright light leading him out of the darkness that he, as a park ranger, harbors and into a place of healing.

Read more...

Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Caught On Tape! (And A Poem)

Lyle Zapato | 2009-02-26.6760 LMT | Cephalopods

The person behind the Save the Tree Octopus! YouTube channel has made an exciting find -- actual video of Octopus paxarbolis in the wild:

Note how it rhythmically moves its arms as a warning to the intrusive videographer to keep away. This uncharacteristically aggressive behavior was undoubtedly learned from decades of human poaching. Ever since a nonarboreal octopus was put on display at the Crystal Palace Aquarium -- causing a sensation with the public and starting the trend of all respectable aquariums needing an octopus in their collection -- cephalopods have come to know fear of human capture (and given that they're now being pitted against other animals in blood sports, can you blame them?)

This scared Tree Octopus doesn't want to be the first of its kind to end up an attraction in some terrarium. Why would it want to spend its tragically short life in captivity, forced to mate under the perverse gaze of humans or fight squirrels to the death? Remember, if you encounter a Tree Octopus: take only pictures, leave only dollar bills.

Speaking of the Crystal Palace's octopus, here's an 1872 ode to it written by Arthur Clement Hilton (under the pen-name "Algernon Charles Sin-burn") in parody of Swinburne's "Dolores":

Octopus.

Strange beauty, eight-limbed and eight-handed,
    Whence camest to dazzle our eyes?
With thy bosom bespangled and banded
    With the hues of the seas and the skies;
Is thy home European or Asian,
    O mystical monster marine?
Part molluscous and partly crustacean,
    Betwixt and between.

Wast thou born to the sound of sea trumpets?
    Hast thou eaten and drunk to excess
Of the sponges—thy muffins and crumpets,
    Of the seaweed—thy mustard and cress?
Wast thou nurtured in caverns of coral,
    Remote from reproof or restraint?
Art thou innocent, art thou immoral,
    Sinburnian or Saint?

Lithe limbs, curling free, as a creeper
    That creeps in a desolate place,
To enroll and envelop the sleeper
    In a silent and stealthy embrace,
Cruel beak craning forward to bite us,
    Our juices to drain and to drink,
Or to whelm us in waves of Cocytus,
    Indelible ink!

O breast, that 'twere rapture to writhe on!
    O arms 'twere delicious to feel
Clinging close with the crush of the Python,
    When she maketh her murderous meal!
In thy eight-fold embraces enfolden,
    Let our empty existence escape;
Give us death that is glorious and golden,
    Crushed all out of shape!

Ah! thy red lips, lascivious and luscious,
    With death in their amorous kiss,
Cling round us, and clasp us, and crush us,
    With bitings of agonised bliss;
We are sick with the poison of pleasure,
    Dispense us the potion of pain;
Ope thy mouth to its uttermost measure
    And bite us again!

Lyle Zapato

Book Review: The Procession of Mollusks

Lyle Zapato | 2009-02-14.6090 LMT | Entertainment | Cephalopods | Cascadia

The Procession of Mollusks, a novel by Eric E. Olson.

(Disclosure: I received a free copy from the author and am thanked in the acknowledgements.)

It's the 49th annual March of the Mollusks festival in the Pacific Northwest town of Newport Bay and a strange murder has taken place: the body of Board of Supervisors Chairman Snodgrass is found hanging upside down, naked, drained of all blood, with a saucer-shaped wound on his back. The initial suspect is Dr. Roberto "Berto" Fiori, a malacologist with controversial theories about mollusks, in whose house the body is first found. But things become more complicated as the victim has trouble staying dead.

Olson's first novel is told through the narration of two characters: Torrence Haflek, a reporter with a fondness for parks who may-or-may-not actually be employed; and Jimmy Wilson, a 13-year-old fascinated with sealife and videography. Both discover they're suffering from an unexplained medical condition that gives Haflek waking hallucinations and Jimmy a voracious appetite.

The plot thickens as the two -- along with Berto and Angela Angraboda, Haflek's ex -- uncover Snodgrass' involvement in a plan to end the danger of red tide poisonings for shellfish consumers (and thereby promote the shellfish industry,) with a neuromodulator implant, now undergoing clinical trials in Newport Bay. And then there are the giant, seemingly-friendly snails that have begun to appear in the area by the thousands, bringing with them the attention of Sir Richard Attenborough.

Also, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus plays a role in Dr. Fiori's research. I won't go into details, but if the sasquatch find out what humans have been doing to their food supply, there's gonna be some delimbings. Tree octopuses are watching from the woods and parks around Newport Bay, and they've taken an unusual interest in Haflek, whose relation to them is reminiscent of Tyrone Slothrop's relation to V-2 rockets.

The Procession of Mollusks is an enjoyably bewildering tale of hermaphroditic gastropodan sex, transhumanism (of a sort), and the existence of objective reality itself in a world mediated by nature documentaries.

Lyle Zapato

Font: Halloween Roller

Lyle Zapato | 2009-02-10.5910 LMT | Fonts | Art | Retro

Halloween Roller

Halloween Roller is based on the title text of a WPA poster for a roller-skating carnival held in NYC's Central Park on Halloween, 1936 (mimicked above). Most characters are very angular with only slight curves on the normally rounded parts, except for the "O" and related characters which are incongruently perfect circles. Includes lowercase and Cyrillic.

Lyle Zapato

Happy Birthday Kamani Hubbard!

Lyle Zapato | 2009-02-05.5550 LMT | Polydactylism

Three weeks ago, Kamani Hubbard was born with fully functional sixth digits on both hands and feet. While polydactylism occurs in 1 out of 500 births, it's very rare for the digits to be more than deformities. Kamani's extra fingers and toes are so perfect that no one noticed the abnormal number until his father spotted them well after birth.

While the decision to remove the extra digits is the parents', Kamani's doctors are advising that he be allowed to keep them:

"It's merely an interesting and beautiful variation rather than a worrisome thing. I would be tempted to leave those fingers in place," said Dr Michael Treece, a paediatrician at St Luke's.

"I realise children would tease each other over the slightest things, and having extra digits on each hand is more than slight. But imagine what sort of pianist a 12-fingered person would be. Imagine what sort of a flamenco guitarist. If else, think of their typing skills."

Baseball experts have already pointed out that the extra fingers could come in extremely useful in pitching the ball.

Now that humanity is beginning to perfect lateral polydactylism -- possibly as part of some sort of flamenco-guitar-related sexual-selective force -- could we start seeing the inevitable exponential polydactylism necessary to manifest the Handelbrot Set?

Lyle Zapato

They Get You When You're Sleeping

Lyle Zapato | 2009-01-10.0036 LMT | General Paranoia | Mind Control

The same psychology team that last year reported two-thirds of the British population suffer from orthonoia has come out with a new study showing a link between orthonoia and excessive sleep.

For those who don't remember and can't be bothered to read the first link above, orthonoia is the gullible doppelganger of paranoia. Orthonoids are easily lulled into a sense of trust and security, leaving them prey to the Varied & Sundry Agents of Evil, whom orthonoids are incapable of suspecting and thus avoiding. Those who seek to control society are always looking for ways to decrease natural, healthy paranoia while increasing dangerous, self-defense-defeating orthonoia.

Of course, since this research was funded by the Wellcome Trust -- being as they are a part of the Medical Establishment and named for the man who introduced England to the modern pill, ushering in the age of pharmacological orthonoia -- they frame the findings as showing that people need to get more sleep in order to overcome paranoia:

"As most of us know, a few nights of poor sleep can make us feel stressed, muddled in our thinking and disconnected from the world," says [Dr. Daniel Freeman, a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London]. "These are ideal conditions for paranoid fears to take hold. Regular, good-quality sleep is important to our psychological wellbeing."

....

"The good news is that there are several tried-and-tested ways to overcome insomnia," he says. "In particular, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has proven benefits. The intriguing implication of the research is that use of the sleep techniques may also make us feel safer and less mistrustful during the day. A good night's sleep may simply make us view the world in a much more positive light."

If sleep doesn't turn you into the model of a trusting, unquestioning citizen, maybe it'll at least soften you up enough for you to trust practitioners of "cognitive behavioural therapy" (otherwise known as "brainwashing"), which Dr. Freeman just so happens to be. No wonder the Government and the Medical Establishment are always insisting that you should get at least eight hours of sleep a night... That's how They get you!


Still from the docudrama They Live! Note the sleep commands.

To paranoid researchers, the findings of this study aren't surprising. One of the main ways that orthonoia is induced is through psychotronic mind control, which is widely suspected to have a stronger effect during REM sleep. Without resistance from the conscious mind, imagery and ideas can be easily slipped into the brain through dreams.

There is, however, some question about the causation: does sleeping as little as possible increase paranoia through an increase in conscious psychotronic resistance, or are paranoids just less likely to sleep since they know what's lurking out in the shadows, waiting for them to lower their guards? There's also the confounding variable of late-night talk radio, which is very informative to the paranoid mind. Exposure to it -- which, obviously, increases with lack of sleep -- could also contribute to an orthonoia decrease.

'Paranoia: The 21st Century Fear', by Daniel and Jason Freeman.

Dr. Freeman is using the media buzz from the study to promote his book, Paranoia: The 21st-Century Fear. As he notes, paranoia has been increasing recently. Although he pointedly neglects to mention it, this is thanks to the tireless efforts of sleepless paranoids staying up late into the night to post on their blogs about inexpensive mind control protection. (You're welcome.) But Dr. Freeman isn't writing a paean to paranoia. His orthonoiac thesis is that there's too much paranoia in the modern world and that we need to "tackle it".

The book description uses a very telling phrase in saying it "takes us beyond the tabloid headlines" (bold mine). As you would know if you had read the first link in this post, tabloids (the newspapers that peddle in salacious scandals, not the pills invented by Henry Solomon Wellcome) were created by the Powers That Be to misdirect people away from true paranoia by keeping their natural paranoid instincts preoccupied with manufactured controversy and petty fears. This empty-calorie pseudoparanoia not only atrophies people's ability to be authentically paranoid, it also serves to deflate any true paranoid suspicions by making them look ridiculous when ensconced in celebrity trivia and fad diets. That the Wellcome Trust, of all organization, would use that phrase in the description of a book attacking paranoia could only be a intentional shout-out to their fellow evildoers in the Forces of Mind Control.

Well, that's enough blogging for tonight. Now to stay awake until dawn, then I'll be safe from the Shadow People for another day.

Lyle Zapato

An Octopus In A Saw-Mill

Lyle Zapato | 2008-12-28.7770 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature | Cascadia | Art | Politics | Retro

Here's an interesting political cartoon by Ryan Walker from the July, 1904 issue of The Comrade:

'Will it hurt the octopus?' by Ryan Walker

Of interest isn't the political message of the cartoon -- a condemnation of the Republican-controlled US congress' refusal to prohibit government contracts with trusts -- but rather the metaphor being used: an octopus in a saw-mill. Although this trope is all but forgotten in the modern political cartoonists' lexicon, the ecological horror of its origin haunts the forests of Cascadia to this day.

As mentioned previously, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus will instinctively hide deep inside the branches of its tree if the tree is violently disturbed -- as when being felled by loggers. This often resulted in octopuses going undetected until the trees got to a saw-mill, where the octopuses usually met an unfortunate demise in the mill works. Besides killing the innocent cephalopods, these accidents cost timber companies thousands of dollars every year during the 19th and early 20th centuries due to valuable timber and pulp becoming stained with octopus ink and mills being forced to shut down for the better part of a day for deoctopussing.

Needless to say, this did not please the timber companies, nor the workers who had to clean the mangled, inky octopuses out of the works. To the timber industry, tree octopuses were nothing but costly nuisances -- a view that led to anti-octopus eradication campaigns being promoted in logging camps. Sadly, these profit-motivated cephalopodicidal outbursts were one of the major contributing factors to the tree octopus' current endangered status.

But during the time when tree octopuses were still abundant in the forests of the Northwest, "an octopus in a saw-mill" became a common idiom for an annoyingly messy accident waiting to happen. This makes the joke of the cartoon clearer: Not only will the buzz-saw hurt the trusts octopus, it'll also gum up the blade of legislation and splatter ink on Uncle Sam's patriotic finery, tarnishing his image. Presumably the Socialist editors of The Comrade found this prospect darkly amusing.

UPDATE 2009-10-02: Google Books has a collection of full issues of The Comrade, including the one with the above cartoon. Also, if you are interested in political cartoons or propaganda featuring octopuses, do visit Vulgar Army, a blog devoted almost exclusively to just that.

Lyle Zapato

... And An Octopus In A Christmas Tree

Lyle Zapato | 2008-12-26.2760 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature | Cascadia | Sasquatch Issues

James from Seattle/Olympia writes in with a discovery he made in his Christmas tree:

2008-12-25: "Pacific NW Xmas tree Octopus"

Just letting you know, we spotted this adventurous tree octopi feeling particularly festive.

Xmas Tree Octopus

Sometimes tree octopuses hitch a ride in Christmas trees harvested from farms on the Olympic Peninsula. When its tree is being jostled violently, a tree octopus will hunker down deep inside the branches near the trunk and camouflage itself to look like bark. This is a defensive mechanism to protect it from wind storms and sasquatch trying to shake octopuses to the ground. They may stay hidden like this for days after a particularly violent shaking, such as experienced by Christmas trees when they are chopped down and transported.

Many octopuses have a natural instinct to decorate their lairs with attractive baubles, and O. paxarbolis is no exception. When it finally comes out of hiding and explores its tree, finding it covered in shiny ornaments and sparkly lights, it will become so mesmerized by the baublely abundance that it'll hardly notice that its tree is sitting in some human's living room.

Scandinavian immigrants considered it good luck to find a tree octopus in their Christmas tree. Granted, that's because they like to eat them. But for us more enlightened cephalopodophiles, we can consider it a sign of good luck that the species hasn't yet gone extinct.

And to keep it that way, please remember to remove any octopuses you find before disposing of your Christmas tree. They can be put in a shoe box -- with a bit of moist branch to make them feel comfortable and some tinsel to keep them distracted -- and taken to your nearest chapter of the Friends of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus for reintroduction into the wild.

Lyle Zapato

O Alumbaum!

Lyle Zapato | 2008-12-17.9840 LMT | Aluminum | Mind Control
Alumbaum

O Alumbaum, o Alumbaum,
How are your boughs so shiny!
You sparkle even in the nights,
So I hide you from satellites.
O Alumbaum, o Alumbaum,
How are your boughs so shiny!

O Alumbaum, o Alumbaum,
You dampen the psychotrons!
You help me resist mind-control,
Emitted from the grassy knoll.
O Alumbaum, o Alumbaum,
You dampen the psychotrons!

O Alumbaum, o Alumbaum,
You're coated in corundum!
I know you won't rust in the rain,
So weathermen won't seize my brain.
O Alumbaum, o Alumbaum,
You're coated in corundum!

(Learn more about the Seasonal Aluminum Deflection Tree.)

Lyle Zapato

Zaidi's Sabotoss

Lyle Zapato | 2008-12-17.3248 LMT | Politics | Anarchy | Fashion | Art

J'Acshoes!

We here at ZPi approve of all shoe-based protest. Clog the machine!