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Lyle Zapato

Query: Tree Octopus Donations

Lyle Zapato | 2008-04-09.1510 LMT | Cascadia | Letters

I get many emails from students asking various existential questions about the plight of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, a subject that is now taught in most schools. Here's the most recent one from Maddie, who has a question about donations:

Hi,
 I dont know u but was wondering about your tree octopus article posted on the web. I read it and was wondering if it was really true?! The last thing is, (if it is true) who does the donations go to??? So if you could get back to me as soon as possible i would appreciate it alot!

My response:

Hello.

All articles on the Internet are true, even the ones that claim that some are false. This was proven by Kurt Gödel, who showed that the Internet is incomplete. Please help fix this situation by adding more articles to the Internet.

Donations to help the tree octopus should be given directly to the tree octopuses. Here is how to donate: Travel to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State (ask your parents first). Stand in the tree octopuses' forest near a tree and hold out a dollar bill. If you stand still enough, eventually a tree octopus will come by on a branch, reach out, and take the bill with her suckers. She will continue to return for more bills as long as you hold them out, so bring lots of singles. She will use them to line her den in the trees, as the bills will soak up rain water and keep her skin moist. Given the current value of the dollar, this is the most cost effective way to help.

Thank you for your concern for the tree octopus.

Regards,
Lyle Zapato

Lyle Zapato

Saipan Octopus Tree

Lyle Zapato | 2007-12-11.3080 LMT | Crafts
SAES' octopus tree

On the heels of Lenore's creation comes another tree octopus tree...

For the Paseo de Marianas Christmas tree decorating contest, San Antonio Elementary School (of Saipan, not Texas) created an octopus topped tree:

A handmade octopus head atop the tree is made of paper and stuffing. The octopus head is intended to symbolize the school's mascot and the garland made of plastic was made to look like octopus tentacles.

Like all the trees in the "Green Christmas" contest, which promotes keeping the island clean and beautiful, they used only recycled materials (and some paint and glitter).

Well that settles it; two independent incidents constitute a Zeitgeist. Now that you're all rushing off to craft octopus ornaments, might I suggest hanging them on an aluminum tree (just beware of subterfuge).

Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Tree

Lyle Zapato | 2007-12-06.3640 LMT | Crafts

A grandmother named Lenore decorated her tree with 99 octopuses, one for each of her grandchildren.

99 octopuses in a tree
This is what Sasquatch dream of instead of sugar plums.

She made each of them herself from a pattern called Octophrost, Santa of the Sea, available for purchase from Futuregirl. (Tree Octopus ornaments! Why didn't I think of that?)

Besides being festive, it's educational for the kids, allowing them to see the population density of Pacific Northwest Tree Octopuses prior to their becoming endangered. Someday all trees in Cascadia will look like this again.

Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Comic

Lyle Zapato | 2007-10-22.6050 LMT | Art | Random Found Thing
Tree octopus comic, first panel

Above is the first panel of a one-page comic titled "Strange Tales of the Pacific Northwest. Episode 34: 20,000 Legs Under the Trees", drawn by Lukas Ketner and written by Ryan Brown. The rest of the comic is an exciting, action-packed tale of peaceful tree octopuses forced to roll up their tentacles to defend themselves from a hungry cougar.

It was published inside the cover of an Oregonian magazine or some sort of periodical. I'm still trying to track down the details. The email address I have for Ketner returned a "no such user" error, so if you know him or Brown, please let them know I'm looking for them. In the meantime, if someone knows more about exactly where and when this was published (or would like to get me a physical copy), please email me. I'll update this post if I learn more.

Update 2007-10-30: The publication is The Bear Deluxe Magazine, issue #25, published by Orlo, a "nonprofit organization using the creative arts to explore environmental issues" based in Oregon.

Lyle Zapato

Mr. Beale And The Poulpe

Lyle Zapato | 2007-10-08.1355 LMT | Defensive Techniques | Random Found Thing | Retro

Today is International Cephalopod Awareness Day. Which poses the question: Why should we be aware of cephalopods?

In years past, lack of awareness of our cephalopodan cohabitants has only led to misunderstandings, and often times violence. Take for instance this sad tale of an encounter gone horribly wrong between an Englishman and a Japanese octopus:

Mr. Beale and the Poulpe

[Octopuses'] remarkable spirit, as well as their strength, is evinced by an adventure which Mr. Beale, an Englishman, had with one of them among the rocks of the Bonin Islands, where he had gone ashore to seek for shells. As he was moving about, he was suddenly arrested by seeing at his feet a most extraordinary looking animal, crawling toward the surf, which it had only just left. It was creeping on its eight legs, which, from their soft and flexible nature, bent considerably under the weight of its body, so that it was lifted by the efforts of its tentacula only a small distance from the rocks. It appeared much alarmed at seeing him, and made every effort to escape. Mr. Beale endeavored to stop it by pressing on one of its legs with his foot; but, although he used considerable force for that purpose, its strength was so great that it several times liberated its member in spite of all the efforts he could employ on the wet and slippery rocks. He then laid hold on one of the tentacles with his hands and held it firmly, so that it appeared as if the limb would be torn asunder by the united efforts of himself and the creature. He then gave it a powerful jerk, wishing to disengage it from the rocks to which it clung so forcibly by its suckers. This effort it effectually resisted; but the moment after, the apparently enraged animal lifted its head with its large projecting eyes, and loosing its hold of the rocks, suddenly sprang upon Mr. Beale's arm, and clung to it by means of its suckers with great power, endeavoring to get its beak, which could now be seen between the roots of its arms, in a position to bite. A sensation of horror pervaded his whole frame, when he found that this hideous animal had fixed itself so firmly on his arm. Its cold, slimy grasp was extremely sickening; and he loudly called to the captain, who was at some distance, to come and release him from his disgusting assailant. The captain quickly came, and taking him down to the boat, during which time Mr. Beale was employed in keeping the beak of the octopus away from his hands, soon released him, by destroying his tormentor with the boat-knife, which he accomplished by cutting away portions at a time.

(From Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom (1859), p. 498, by Samuel Griswold Goodrich.)

Raising cephalopod awareness will help end the ignorant, speciesist attitude that lets Englishmen think it's proper to step on the arms of innocent octopuses. He deserved to be bitten and was just lucky that the octopus totally screwed up the kusa zuribiki move.

UPDATE: Also see Celebrate International Cephalopod Awareness Day at Cephalopodcast for more cephalopod-awareness-related links.

Lyle Zapato

International Cephalopod Awareness Day

Lyle Zapato | 2007-10-05.8875 LMT | Announcement
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.