Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bigfoot Grammar



As you probably know, I'm a professional educator. Part of that job is to make sure that my flock of students is communicating effectively and correctly in English. While I don't hold advanced degrees in grammar, I do consider myself somewhat of a "word-nerd," and enjoy understanding and playing with our fascinating English language.

There are two interesting grammatical questions in regards to writing about our giant, hairy, bipedal friends in the woods. The first is about the capitalization of the word, "Bigfoot."

"Bigfoot" was inducted into the American vocabulary in the fall of 1958. Betty Allen, one of the earliest American investigators into the subject, wrote in September of 1958 about some recent happenings in Humboldt County, CA in regards to bigfoot. The next month would be when Jerry Crew would be pictured on the cover of the Humboldt Times-Standard holding a cast of a 17 inch footprint with the words, "New 'Sasquatch' found- it's called Bigfoot." This article was picked up by the AP newswire and made headlines throughout the country.



The creature that left the footprint that Jerry Crew is holding also left footprints on several other occasions. This is possibly the same individual whose fooprints were cast near Hyampom, CA in April of 1963, as well as in Laird Meadow in October of 1963. This same individual is also written about extensively in John Green's excellent books chronicling his early work in Bluff Creek.

When speaking about this individual bigfoot, it would be appropriate to capitalize the word "Bigfoot." Proper nouns should always be capitalized. There are other individual sasquatches that have been given names over the years, such as Wrinkle Foot, Patty, and Cripple Foot, and their names should also always be capitalized.

Capitalizing the word bigfoot does a disservice to the species. It suggests that there is only one individual animal and "he" is seen all over the country. I find this to be one of the most prevalent misconceptions about the subject, and am often asked if I have ever seen "him." Perpetuating this misconception keeps the subject matter in the realm of kookiness rather than physical anthropology.

The second grammatical question in regards to my hobby has to do with the plural form of bigfoot and sasquatch. I have chosen to purposefully use "bigfoots" and "sasquatches" as the plural forms in my writing. ("Bigfeet" implies a plural of the foot, not the creature, and frankly sounds a bit silly. I use the word "watch/watches" as the justification for the plural "sasquatch/sasquatches." )

I am aware of using the singular form of animals as the plural, such as in the sentence, "Black bear range widely throughout North America." It might be appropriate to say the plural form of bigfoot or sasquatch in the same way, and indeed is commonly used in various books and blogs on the subject. I do not do this because of the issue of perpetuating the misconception noted above. I'd rather be slightly out of grammatical conformity than be partially responsible for people thinking there is only one of these creatures. I guess it's something like grammatical civil disobedience.

It has been written that if somebody uses the plural "sasquatches," they probably don't know what they are talking about. I respectfully disagree. Then again, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.



Friday, January 29, 2010

Chimpanzee Memory Test

Over and over again I am asked how the sasquatch could possibly have remained "undiscovered" for so long. While there are many details that go along with the answer to that question, it basically comes down to three things (in descending order of importance):

1. Humans vastly underestimate the other great apes.
2. Humans vastly underestimate the terrain in which these creatures live.
3. Humans vastly overestimate themselves.

Hundreds of pages could be written about the points above. Today's blog will only give a brief illustration of humans' underestimation of apes.

Humans feel nice and safe knowing that apes are significantly stronger than them because it's a physical trait. Apes are often viewed as brutes, so we are well-versed in the fact that we can't compete with them in this way. A chimpanzee (standing approximately four feet tall) is usually five or six times stronger than a man. The larger apes (gorillas and orangutans) are even stronger, perhaps 12 to 20 times so, though apparently no proper study has been conducted.


Some might get uncomfortable when it comes to comparing mental abilities... I don't. I love feeling my primate roots. It increases my appreciation of both them and us as kindred species. It makes me cringe to hear people refer to apes as "mere" animals, or "stupid" apes. Intelligence is a relative thing, and it is only through our own arrogance that humans judge it by what we can do well.

I recently ran across a video that illustrates an aspect of point #1 above in regards to apes' mental capabilities. I think it might blow your mind. It did mine. It made me giggle in humility too.

Things like this make me wonder about the cognative abilities of sasquatches. What are the possible implications of this video in regards to sasquatch food resources, habituations, or even threats should a foolish hunter pull the trigger on a bigfoot and not bring it down in one shot?

This last thought reminds me of the late Dr. Grover Krantz's response to the question, "What would be the first thing you'd do if you shot one?"

"Reload," he replied.





Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Listen to the Parafactor Interview


I recently appeared on the internet radio show The Parafactor. The hosts, Mark, Ash, and Jon were a lot of fun to talk to, lively on the air, and asked good questions. It was more like hanging out talking 'squatch around a fire than doing a formal interview. I think many topics were touched upon in a serious manner, yet with a lighter tone. Topics ranged from the PG Film to sasquatch preserves.

If you weren't able to listen live, you can hear the entire interview by clicking this link. (You might want to right click the link to open a new window or a new tab.)



Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ridge Walkers



Derek Randles on expedition in Southern Oregon


You probably have heard of Derek Randles. He is a co-finder and co-owner of the Skookum Cast, one of the most active sightings-chasers in Bigfootland, and is a key player in the Olympics Project. He was part of Dr. Meldrum's North American Ape Project, and knows (or knew) many of the "names of bigfooting" over the last two decades. He is certainly one of my favorite field partners, and a good friend.

Cliff Barackman, Derek Randles, and Wally Hersom at the PG Filmsite.


Derek owns a business that I think any bigfooter would be interested in. He calls this endeavor "Ridge Walkers Unlimited." Ridge Walkers Unlimited's goal is to educate and prepare outdoor enthusiasts for whatever they might encounter while in the wilds. Their services include training in first aid, wilderness survival, off-trail forest navigation, and much more. Their services are custom-tailored for the needs of your expedition. Whether this would be your first foray into the world of backpacking, or you're a seasoned veteran looking for a unique challenge, Ridge Walkers Unlimited would be an excellent choice for a guide service provider.

Of course, if you're reading this blog then you are probably a bigfoot aficionado like myself. That's where the extra value of Derek's services comes in. Any bigfooter who takes a trip with Derek will benefit from his 20+ years of first-hand knowledge on the subject. He is familiar with all of the cutting edge techniques of locating and attracting sasquatches. He is also well-outfitted with the appropriate technologies to capture images and sound recordings of all large mammals.

A cougar captured on one of Derek's remote cameras.


Derek lives on the Olympic Peninsula, which many consider to be the squatchiest place on in the United States. He is intimately familiar with his "back yard", and is studying the likely paths of the various apex predators that live there. He knows the trails and the ridge lines that act as corridors of travel from one food source to the other. He knows how to get you close to the animals that reside in this temperate rain forest.

Having been in the woods with Derek on many occasions, I can personally attest that he is an extremely enthusiastic tracker. He has probably has found more sasquatch footprints in remote locations than 98% of the active bigfooters today. He fears no climb, path, nor mountain top. He will go where he says he will, and do so with a smile on his face. His love for the outdoors is contagious, and he is a man of the utmost integrity and honor. He can be a formidable hiking partner, but if bigfooting is the goal, I can honestly not think of anyone else I know that would be a better person to backpack with.

Obviously, I highly recommend Derek's services. If you are a bigfooter looking to learn new skills and bigfooting techniques while hiking through some of the squatchiest places on the planet, then there is no other service that can offer what Ridge Walkers can.

(An invitation has been extended to me to accompany bigfoot-related trips. Who knows, maybe you'll even get the added benefit of having me as a guest-guide on such an expedition?)


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Parafactor 1/21



I will be making an internet radio appearance this Thursday night on a show called the Parafactor.


The segment is scheduled from 8 to 9pm PST, and the topic will be anything bigfooty. I suspect you will be able to call in and ask questions too, as that is usually the case with these shows.

If you'd like to hear me speak on a particular topic stop by the Parafactor and let me know. You can also post a comment below if you'd like to have me speak about something in particular.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Upcoming Sasquatch Exhibit at Washington State History Museum

I was just notified about this, and I can't wait! Ooooh, I love bigfoot stuff!


WASHINGTON STATE HISTORY MUSEUM EVALUATES SASQUATCH EVIDENCE

Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch Opens January 23



TACOMA – Explore the Sasquatch mystery in Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch, on view January 23 through June 27 at the Washington State History Museum.

Who or What is Sasquatch? Why are sightings in Washington among the highest in the nation?

This exploration of the Sasquatch story focuses on the Pacific Northwest environment which has created a rich setting for the traditional beliefs that have grown up around this being. The relationship of Northwesterners to the land, particularly its deep forests and imposing mountains, has led explorers and travelers further into the depths of our region.

How have scientists attempted to explain and investigate the Sasquatch phenomenon? Physical evidence collected in the field by anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz will be on display. Discovery Channel expert and Bigfoot author, Dr. Jeffery Meldrum of Idaho State University has contributed to the exhibit recently gathered field evidence including special foot and hand casts.

Supposed hoaxes and popular cultural interpretations of Bigfoot are featured in the exhibit including memorabilia from the Sasquatch Music Festival, Bigfoot Ale, Sasquatch Press, and the Seattle SuperSonics Squatch Collection.

Worldwide and across time, tales of larger-than-life creatures have been told. Tribal artifacts and artwork will convey Native cultural beliefs. On loan from the Maryhill Museum of Art is a prehistoric, ape-like Stone Head found in the Columbia Basin. Created especially for the exhibit is a full size mural of the legendary Dzoonokwa or “Basket Women” of the forests. Carved masks by Native artists are featured in the gallery. From werewolves to wild men, stories of beings both animal and man have been told across time. Some of these legends are explored in the exhibit. Also featured is artwork by cryptid illustrator Rick Spears.

Join the History Museum to discover the unique Northwest connection to Sasquatch. To support this special exhibition, we are hosting a number of programs that connect to the Sasquatch story.

Programs for 2010
THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE!
January 21, 2010
6:30 pm
BEHIND THE HAIRY CURTAIN: SASQUATCH SNEAK PEEK
Are you a Squatch Watcher? Do you yearn to know the truth behind the tales of Sasquatch? Then join us for this special “Behind the Scenes” walk-through with the curators of Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch. You’ll be amazed by prehistoric stone heads, native masks, footprint casts, and the world map of Sasquatch-like beings. Are you a believer?

GHOSTS OF THE GREAT HALL: ICONS OF WASHINGTON
February 6 < 1–3 PM
February 18 < 6:30 PM
Tours commence every half hour
Interact with iconic Washingtonians in this program that brings historical figures to life. Meet Ronald Debs Ginther, an artist who painted life during the Great Depression; rock out with Jimi Hendrix; search for Sasquatch with Dr. Grover Krantz; and work on a railroad with Anna Lind, a logging camp cook for Northern Pacific Railroad. This program is FREE with Museum admission.

GHOSTS OF THE GREAT HALL: UNSOLVED MYSTERIES
March 6 < 1-3 PM
Tours commence every half hour
Uncover some of Washington's unsolved mysteries with characters from the past. Hunt for lost treasure with D. B. Cooper, a Washington skyjacker who disappeared with his loot; hear a ghost story from Percy Buck, sole survivor of the Andelana shipwreck; search for Sasquatch with Dr. Grover Krantz, and question William H. Gilstrap, the Historical Society's first curator and secretary who was locked away during the "Great Tozier Heist." This program is FREE with Museum admission.

SASQUATCH DAY
June 6 < Times TBD
Bob Gimlin & Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum
Of special interest is the appearance in western Washington of two giants of the story of Sasquatch: Bob Gimlin and Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum.

One of the most famous pieces of Sasquatch evidence is the Patterson-Gimlin film made in northern California. This film features a female Bigfoot striding next to a sandy creek. Scientists world-wide have studied this film and remain divided upon its authenticity, however, the filmmakers Bob Gimlin and the late Roger Patterson have stood by their photographic evidence. Expedition partner and outfitter Bob Gimlin will join us for an audience discussion about his experience on the Bluff Creek expedition and the famous encounter on the trail, made immortal in the 24 feet of film images Patterson recorded.

Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum of Idaho State University and author of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science will be discussing his collected evidence. Dr. Meldrum is frequently seen on the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and the National Geographic Channel among others. His book is the companion volume to the highly successful Discovery Channel documentary of the same name. A professor of anatomy and anthropology, his work encompasses the evaluation of hominid footprints, including those attributed to Sasquatch, both in the lab and the field. The exhibit features casts made by Dr. Meldrum in Eastern Washington.

For more information, visit www.WashingtonHistory.org.

I'll be there. How about you? Let me know below!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

National Geographic Television with Dr. Meldrum

National Geographic Television (NatGeoTV.com) has produced a short video clip featuring Dr. Meldrum. It's actually pretty good, and far better than another recent example of media coverage on the subject.

In this short video, they briefly address the "where are the bones?" question, hoaxed footprints, Dr. Meldrum's background and expertise (the evolution of bipedalism), anatomical adaptations of sasquatch feet, and a few other tidbits. All that and a little more in just 5 minutes.

And most importantly no snickering at, nor belittling of the subject.

The only time I really cringed while watching the video was when they referred to sasquatch as "him" instead of "they". Ouch! Other than that, not bad.

Enjoy!



Friday, January 8, 2010

Possible Bigfoot Accidently Captured on IMAX Film?

The possible creature is seen to the left of center in the photo. Notice how
tall it is compared to the caribou seen from appoximately the same
distance to the right of the frame.

Several times a year, I receive information that somebody has filmed or photographed a sasquatch. Upon examination, a certain percentage of these are obvious hoaxes or misidentifications. A smaller number show what are either humans or sasquatches. These are usually from such a distance that one cannot tell either way. Probably even more are what the bigfooting community calls a "blobsquatch". These are the amorphous black blobs in the brush that kind of look like a vaguely sasquatch-like shape, if you held your head just right and stood on one foot in the right kind of light.

A typical blobsquatch.



Last October, I received word that a possible saquatch was found to be in the background of a piece of documentary film footage. The footage was from a documentary called Great North, and the segment in question was filmed in Ontario, Canada nearly a decade ago.

Great North (IMAX) [Blu-ray]
Click the pic to buy the flick.

When I saw the footage on Hulu.com I wasn't too excited, but put the footage squarely in the second category: probably a guy or a bigfoot.

The scene in question shows footage of a great caribou migration. In the background of the shot, not far from where the caribou are running is a large black figure which pops up from an unseen ditch and runs parallel to the ungulates for a short distance before ducking down and disappearing from view. It appears at approximately the 9 minute and 18 second mark. The possible bigfoot is not obvious at all, and it only appears for a few seconds. Look behind the caribou and slightly to the right. Hopefully the movement of a small black blob will catch your attention.


A full-frame screen capture indicating the location of the subject in question.


When one
views the footage at full-screen (by putting the mouse over the footage, controls show up on the sides of the screen. One of these changes it to "full-screen" mode) on a large monitor at high resolution, a human-like figure can be seen from the waist up. It looks like it might be a person wearing all black and running with a slightly stooped gait. There is what could be interpreted as an arm swing. It was interesting enough to watch a couple times, but it was basically a moving black blob with what appeared to have swinging arms.

Watch the low-res version of the clip that possibly shows a sasquatch
(You'll be subjected to a short advertisement)


Besides the creature just looking like it might be a bigfoot, I thought it was significant that the creature was found with an ungulate herd. It is my strong belief that deer and elk make up much of the sasquatch diet. In this region, caribou would be the food of choice.

I emailed back to the person who brought this to my attention to tell him that I thought it was possible this footage showed a sasquatch, but to my eyes the details weren't there to do much with. I then went back to my life and didn't devote much more thought to it.

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with Matt Moneymaker about this footage. He told me that he had an opportunity to view the Great North DVD on a high-definition, big-screen television, and it was more impressive than can be seen on any normal-sized computer monitor.

The most important thing Matt told me about the footage is that it was fimed with an IMAX camera. IMAX cameras are big. Not only are the cameras themselves big (100 pounds or so), but the images they record are big. Twice as big as normal film. That's why they look so amazing on large screens.

Big means detail. The bigger the image on the original negative, the more detail that was recorded. It is possible that enlarged digital images from the footage could yield amazing images. Publicly sharing these images could have some influence in the rising tide of scientific acceptance of the species.

There is an
article posted on the BFRO website about this footage with a call to action to look at the original IMAX negatives with a closer eye. I hope somebody with more time than I have steps forward to carry this torch.


Besides drawing your attention to it, the only thing I can really do at this point about this footage is to think how cool it would be to see this footage on the big, big, big screen: in the IMAX theater. Would I see a life-sized sasquatch pacing the caribou right in front of my eyes? It's at least possible.


I'm thinking this clip might show a sasquatch. We'll probably never know. After all, if sasquatches are real animals (which they obviously are if you look at the data) then there are probably some people who have filmed them. And some of those people probably filmed them on accident.


Of course, this clip might just show a person. What do you think? Post a comment below.

Update 1/14/09

Matt Moneymaker and Wally Hersom of the BFRO have determined that the figure was in fact a human. Kudos to them for following through with the investigation and solving this mystery. To read about their discovery and process, click here.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

One Year Down, Many More to Go!

Happy birthday to my blog, which turns one year old today! Thanks for reading it. Without you, I'd just be some guy muttering about bigfoot in the dark of cyberspace.

Want a piece of cake?