Misplacing Bigfoot: Turning a Great Quest into a Brainless Shouting Match

Todd Standing recently released a documentary on Netflix titled—informatively if not creatively—Bigfoot.  Taking these ninety minutes in conjunction with yet another season of Finding Bigfoot leads me irresistibly into a few reflections.

Standing is the real deal.  On his own weekly serial called Survivorman, Canadian naturalist and hiker-extraordinaire Les Stroud tramped through British Columbia with Standing for a couple of episodes two or three years back and was probably more than half persuaded by his host of the gigantic crypto-hominid’s existence.  Standing spends days and weeks at a time quietly fusing with some of the wildest terrain in the Northern Hemisphere.  He is the source of what must surely be the best close-up photos ever taken of a Sasquatch (on the assumption, of course, that the photos are genuine).  Yet he is no black belt when it comes to producing entertainment for the broadcast media.  Stroud, having logged years of experience filming his own series, integrated Standing into two riveting episodes.  Their well-edited pace preserved a flow sadly lacking in Todd’s just-released documentary.

Nevertheless, both Bigfoot and Survivorman share a potentially lethal liability, from the mainstream marketer’s perspective: they have no bells and whistles, no fireworks and hoopla.  Investigators of this caliber (and there aren’t many) examine unnaturally bent or snapped trees in highly artificial formations, they scrutinize indentations in the moss that might be enormous footprints, and they assess the tidy disappearance of apples and other goodies placed high on spindly branches that wouldn’t support a squirrel and would require a mangling assault from a bird.  All very CSI, very professional… just not likely to induce the consumer of reality shows to dribble potato chips and pizza from his dropped jaw.

Now, the FB Four Stooges, as I’ve grown fond of calling them, have their shtick down pat.  Entry scene in van cruising along an interstate, initial night exploration with hoots and hollers, “townhall” meeting, interviews of individual witnesses as one of the party camps out in a “likely spot”, then reunion for the final night’s grand finale of more hoots and hollers… which of course turn up nothing—“but we’ll be coming back here.”  No kidding.  As long as the cow gives milk, keep pulling on her udders.

I’m afraid I’ve taken a positive dislike to the Stooges.  They’ve milked their cash cow for too long.  Unless they are themselves representative of some less evolved primate species, they’re bound to realize that the routine isn’t going to produce close contact after… what is it?  Six or seven years?  A Sasquatch just might respond from a very great distance—if the moon is blue—to one of their yodels with a howl that no audio equipment can capture.  As soon as they repeat the cry in the wrong pitch or cadence, however, or fail to repeat it after the proper interval, the critter and his whole clan know for the remnant of this infrared media blitz to stay under cover.  Bigfoot doesn’t want to be seen, idiots—and you don’t know his language!

A good case could be made, I know, that we’re the idiots for watching.  I, for one, am watching no more—or perhaps fast-forwarding to the eye-witness accounts, which are much the most relevant information gathered by the series.  On the other hand, I think the hubris of this lot is very genuine.  The presumption that Bigfoot is a lumbering mega-gorilla without enough sense to invent clothes or leave trash in the open infuses the entire hour, year after year.  The high-handed digital imposition of a young King Kong in the bushes to animate every witness’s testimony is especially annoying.  These mock-ups look nothing like Standing’s photographs.  Have you noticed that the witnesses themselves are never invited to comment upon the accuracy of the cartoonish reconstructions?

The Stooges are now in full celebrity mode, trotting out family members, devoting episodes to their favorite reminiscences, traveling the country to do live gigs on campuses… laughing all the way to the bank, and posing all the way to Hollywood-class stardom.  Meanwhile, poor grunts like Todd Standing try to keep pace by piping in Heavy Metal from some old Rambo flick to cover transitions from one scene to another as an ATV crashes through the underbrush.  Todd, please take a tip from Les Stroud.  Just stay simple.  People who are receptive to this possibility are few and thoughtful, if popularly represented as weirdo wackos.  The multitude who mock and rail are tuning into Animal Planet because the prospect of several adults screaming wildly into the night turns them on.  Let the wheat and the chaff separate.


Snotty Ideologues of Film Industry Again Rape American Frontier

If I’m any sort of a critic, I’ll claim to be one of culture rather than film.  The two are not widely separated—yet perhaps too widely, for all that, when irredeemable garbage like the “Danish Western” (you read that right) inscrutably titled The Salvation can be released upon the world.  As has become my wont on Netflix, I fast-forwarded through huge sections after witnessing the sick beginning, pausing only to take in two minutes here and there.  I had to see just where the thing was going, you know: I simply couldn’t believe that the only direction was down.  Boy, was I ever wrong!

Here’s a Wikipedia summation of about two-thirds of this sagebrush saloperie.

The family [a rancher reunited after years with his wife and young son from Denmark] boards a stagecoach bound for their small residence while Peter [the rancher’s sidekick or foreman or… who cares?] stays behind. Their coach is also boarded by two recently released criminals, Paul and Lester. Following a tense struggle, the two criminals throw Jon out of the moving coach after which they rape and kill Jon’s wife. They also kill his son and the stagecoach drivers.

With great effort, Jon catches up to the coach to find his family murdered. Enraged, he kills the two convicts.

Unbeknownst to Jon, Paul is the brother of Henry Delarue, a notorious gang leader and land baron. Upon hearing the news, Delarue kills three innocent citizens of Black Creek, the town that reports the deaths to him. He also forces the townspeople to cooperate and find his brother’s killer.

After burying his wife and son, Jon decides to leave the town with Peter and sells his land to Keane, Black Creek’s mayor and undertaker. Before they can leave, Jon and Peter are captured by the town Sheriff, Mallick. As Jon sits in his cell, Mallick tells him that his death will buy the town more time while he tries to alert higher authorities of Delarue’s actions. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Delarue is working with the Standard Atlantic Oil Company and with the help of Mayor Keane, had been acquiring Black Creek and its surrounding land, which was close to an untapped oil reserve. Delarue’s now widowed sister-in-law, Madelaine, acts as his accountant and suffers sexual and physical abuse from him.

I won’t torment you any longer.  Frankly, what little I could make out of the remaining “plot” was merely more of the same ghoulish blood-fantasy.  I’d utterly missed all the crapola about Standard Oil.  Stagecoaches, long-barreled revolvers… and Standard Oil?  Was the CIA also involved, perchance?

This all pisses me off highly, for several reasons.  First, don’t pretend that you’re making a Western if you can’t play by the chronological rules.  Colts are not AK-47’s.  Stagecoach drivers don’t rumble along obliviously while their passengers rape and murder just under the floorboards.  Frontier towns whose every occupant is equipped with a Winchester do not quake in fear as a half-dozen psychopaths put bullets through the skulls of old women; and as for that, the number of criminals who raped men’s wives, slit their children’s throats, and executed their grandmothers was pretty close to zero in my considerable reading of Western history and first-hand accounts.  Precisely because practically everybody carried a gun, a Charles Manson who sought forcible entry into your house would be sure to meet with a dozen bullets from a dozen directions. I only wish the Manson-in-becoming sixth-grader who composed this script had met with an analogous reception from parents with switches and yardsticks.

Hollywood, of course, doesn’t “get” the fine points of gun ownership.  Europeans, a fortiori, can’t begin to understand the concept of effective self-defense (which is why they’re waiting for us, perhaps, to chase Putin out of Ukraine).  If this moronic video screed were only aimed at the firearm… but my discovering the role of Standard Oil in the sadistic fantasy is a scintillating example of something I’ve written about very recently.  The European intelligentsia, like other cultists of the political Left, knows no bounds—neither those of shame nor of common sense—in the matter of projecting every perversion and atrocity a deranged or over-medicated mind can imagine onto their ideological adversaries.  “Americans?” mulls Danish Filmmaker. “Think big business.  Think brutal, wanton murder.  Think rape and infanticide.”  And the only white hat in the satanic comic strip is a quiet émigré from Denmark!

Jeez, why did we bother helping you guys in 1941?  (Oooh, that’s right–I forgot you were Hitler’s ally.)  And you won’t raise a peep against radical Islam! Who is it nowadays, by the way, that’s requiring young children in public school to finger their pudenda and play sex games before their voices change?  Remind me again… who is the pervert here? On that basis, at least, Islamic fundamentalists and American Christians could agree to throw the EU off the stagecoach.

Yet the “critical response”, according to Wikipedia, was quite positive in general.  Referring to a Web nexus of professional critics, the oracle informs us,

The site’s critical consensus reads, “It’s all but impossible to add anything new or fresh to the traditional Western, but – thanks in no small part to Mads Mikkelson’s [sic] performance – The Salvation comes close.”  On Metacritic the film has a score of 64 out of a 100 based on 19 critics, signifying “generally favorable” reviews.

Look, I get t that historical films are always ultimately about the here and now.  Yet at the same time, you accept certain realistic limitations in selecting a historical period as your context.  Arthurian knights must not greet each other with a hearty, “What up, dawg?”  Al Capone shouldn’t be storing the bodies of victims in a freezer for his dinner.  Nelson’s Victory didn’t fire torpedoes.

From what I’m seeing lately, the film industry throughout the decadent West (and I mean Europe and the U.S.) has developed an obsession with thrusting psychotic attributes onto exotically sick villains said to belong to the past and then having sensitive cosmopolitan types who sport “I’m with her” stickers on their chariot’s bumper or horse’s butt barge in like avenging angels.  This kind of scenario abuses the past in ways that I consider unforgivable and despicable.  At the same time, it sheds no light whatever on the human condition in any age, because its Manichaean moral polarities are childish—“pre-school” childish.  What sickens me most is that I can’t even picture myself, as a creator, imposing some of these obscene, twisted behaviors on history’s true villains.  If I were making a film about Stalin’s unleashing his troops like ravening wolves upon a fallen Berlin now inhabited by no one but women and children, I would still paint some of my lupine characters with a tortured conscience.  After all, in the depths of their depravity, something stubbornly human must have sparked within at least a few of these butchers.

Nope—that’s not how our political adversaries see us.  If we’re not slavering hellhounds, then we’re wimpy pseudo-pious hypocrites. (Did you catch the irony of the mayor-preacher’s being a pimp for Standard Oil?) And they use a grotesque caricature of the American West to give a location to their Hell.  My God, what snotty, overweening arrogance!

American-Made Claptrap Butchers History and Entertainment at One Blow

Hollywood is right: we inhabit a sick nation. One irrefutable proof of this is the non-stop claptrap churned out by Hollywood.

I don’t write movie reviews—and I did not, in any case, make it halfway through this sixth-grade collision of a camera with a boilerplate script. One does find oneself, however, retreating to the Tube over holidays and other occasions that bring relatives together who’d rather not listen to each other talk any longer than necessary.

Not being a film critic (the last great war movie I saw may have been Breaker Morant), I admittedly have little to fall back on by way of reference and context. I’ll simply content myself with saying this much about American Made: it appears to me to extend upon an incomprehensible style than even I can identify as a template (thanks to earlier holidays and similarly forcible exposure to “what’s hot”). Why would you combine a comedy with an opus claiming to be about history? Or to put it another way, what would cause anyone to view history as a stock of cliché jokes hatched at the expense of clueless two-dimensional cartoon characters? Was The Honeymooners the story of D-Day? Was Barney Fife at Thermopylae?

This idiot flick purports to tell the truth of the Iran-Contra scandal through the eyes of a pilot who graduated from taking reconnaissance photos to smuggling drugs to smuggling arms to… well, as I confessed, I made my excuses and left the room about halfway through. The pilot very annoyingly projects an almost utter incompetency in world geography, basic English diction (I told you a band of sixth-graders produced the script), and “buenos dias” level Spanish… yet, curiously, he’s meant to be cool. I suppose the subtext is that only an imbecile (and all Southerners are imbeciles to Hollywood) would get into bed with the CIA, and that our foreign operations are all run exclusively by such imbeciles. Or not quite exclusively: the recruiter of imbeciles is himself something like a combination of Mafia thug, Machiavellian cynic, and Gestapo fanatic. And lest that description mislead anyone into suspecting depth of characterization… no: I’m trying to portray a train wreck of stereotypes, not a coherent human psyche.

The blonde wife was the one source of relief, being extraordinarily cute—but that remark, of course, is no longer permissible thanks to its noxious degree of “objectifying” (even though her object-value is the “actress’s” sole reason for being in the film, and even though, as noted, all parts are thoroughly stereotypical).

Somehow, in Hollywood, you can project all the moral trespasses you claim most to deplore—bigotry, sexism, greed, corruption, exploitation, hypocrisy, gross abuse of power—onto representatives of the political ideology you most despise… and emerge satisfied that you have recreated history. This is a game that I observed to be played last year during another holiday “bonding” ordeal whose first hour I failed to endure: an infantilized rendition of a gun-running scandal called War Dogs. Still waiting for Hollywood’s take on Operation Fast and Furious, which actually possessed many of the qualities found in the undertakings of Middle School drop-outs.

Is this kind of thing, I wonder, just the utopian-brat class’s cathartic urination on adult events too complex and uncooperative to leave its hallucinogenic worldview unembarrassed? I mean, does the general public really pay money to sit through such pseudo-artistic excrement? Even worse… do young people in the audience, perhaps, really believe that history is a cartoon produced by bungling villains with cliché-filled balloons trailing out of their mouths?


If You’re Male and Have a Pulse, Then Someone Somewhere Could Ruin Your Career (Part Two)

Despite such moments of sublime insight as concluded my previous post, I was an emotional wreck by the time I was awarded a Ph.D.  Once again, I sought refuge among “salt of the earth” types who professed strong religious principles—specifically, in the singles class of a mammoth Baptist church feeding off the small East Texas city where I found work.  I ended up trying to court another strawberry blonde (damn it!), this one as statuesque and serene as the other had been tomboyish and lively.  We had many private conversations which I mistook for intimate, but which, in retrospect, were ice-cold with all that box-checking and “image maintenance” to which young women pay such attention.  When I dared at last to bring my Olympian beauty a lavish bouquet of flowers, the temperature hit Absolute Zero, and I realized that the soles of my shoes again needed cleaning.

Here I will observe (as I begin to aim this long ramble at a destination) that either one of my strawberry blondes—either Baptist Preacher’s Cowgirl Daughter or Celestial Ice Queen—could have charged me with stalking, as the word is now rather carelessly understood.  Yet in both cases, I was only believing the claptrap that I was told and trying to show myself patient and respectful.  One girl was competing with a roommate and a soap opera to stage Cattle Country’s Most Roller-Coaster Romance, the other playing some Duchess of Lonely Hearts game until a dentist finally swept her up in his gilded coach.  I could have done without the “I’m so innocent” act, in the former case, and the “My past has mysteriously wounded me” act, in the other… but I was given no cues outside the context of games that I didn’t know how to play.

If I were running for public office, could an incident of this sort not be dredged up out of my past to prove me a creepy pervert?  Or what about the woman (no longer a girl, by any measure) who threatened to accuse me to my new bosses of being a predator?

I had met her through a book club, of all things (this was a bit before the Internet and Match.com).  I was well into my thirties now myself; and as disgusted and embarrassed as I was by my own lack of progress in these matters, I had acquired greater powers of observation.  I knew very early that Cynthia was a seriously damaged subject.  She spoke to me once of her father (with whom—and her mother—she still lived) knocking her cold with a fire poker as if it were the kind of thing every child goes through; and her fondness for alcohol and cigarettes was hard to hide.  Yet there was a sensitive, genuine person on the flip side of her fiercely sarcastic and vindictive alter ego.  I could add that she was an attractive blonde… but that would explain nothing at this point, for our initial acquaintance had smoothly advanced though the mail.

When I severed this always prim and proper relationship, I knew well that I might be accused of rape, kidnapping, child-cannibalism, and burning candles at an altar to Adolph Hitler if Cynthia were having one of her bad days.  I haven’t forgotten that lesson.  The claim made currently in the press and other highly politicized circles that women never lie about such matters isn’t laughably wrong: it’s dangerously, criminally wrong.  It’s the equivalent of a loaded gun placed in the hands of a drunken psychotic. Does no one remember Potiphar’s queen, or the tragic Phaedra?

I met my wife shortly thereafter: a brunette, who was visiting the singles class in a Baptist church!

The ancients, having survived a disaster at sea, would take their tattered clothing and their salty oar and nail it all to a post in Poseidon’s temple.  I offer my past miseries up to God for anyone to see who’s of a mind to learn.  The Seventies and Eighties did not liberate women.  Those times left them abused, confused, resentful, eager to fight, and quick to run for cover.  We cannot undo the damage by burning a few—or many—males at the cross.  If the typical male has now become predatory and if gentlemen are in very short supply these days, it is because yesteryear’s feminists trashed all lady-like qualities and attempted to be predators themselves. The result was as predictable as a foolish wildebeest’s charge into a lion’s den.

Our culture remains, in sexual matters, a smoking Chernobyl, and a garden hose won’t accomplish the necessary detoxification.  Just this past week, I found a series on Netflix titled Godless—brilliantly produced and even very poignant at times, but heavily embedded in the notion that women could be gunslingers in the Old West or, as prostitutes, could make out as well as a Wall Street tycoon.  I could name at least half a dozen other serials, movies, or Netflix gems that sell the same Kool-aid—and I’ve only seen the trailers and teases, for the most part. Women “whuppin’ ass” in a world where whimpy men can’t pry themselves loose from their coffee mugs… really?  So that kind of Never Never Land fantasy is going to help us get everyone’s head straight? Including the male’s?

The old Virginia Slims ad propaganda needs revision: “You’ve got a long way to go, baby…” except that—pardon me, progressive marketers—a gentleman doesn’t address a lady as “baby”.


Netflix Movies: Just Stick Your Head in the Toilet

Over the holidays, my son wanted us to watch a movie together. He had something very recent in mind, and he didn’t think Netflix would carry it. I’d never logged onto Hulu, and the Roku seems to have misremembered the PIN number that I wrote down a long while back, so… we went movie-hunting in Netflix, despite my son’s strongly expressed misgivings.

(The previous paragraph, by the way, is an excellent capsulization of e-life: infantilized product names, cryptic acronyms, passwords and numbers galore, software malfunction [I wrote the PIN down precisely because it worked at one time]… so much spiritual poverty amid so much material wealth!)

After we tired of combing through endless yet uniformly idiotic offerings, I all-but-blindly clicked on something titled U.S.S. Indiana. It claimed to be historical. How could you go far wrong with World War II? It opened with two ordinary seamen puttering up to a Southern mansion in an old truck. The one was ushered into a roomful of profiteer-industrialists back-slapping each other over all the riches the war had brought them and closely questioning their guest in bell-bottoms about the Manhattan Project. The other was taken upstairs to a bevy of hot Southern chicks dancing to jazz in slow-motion moves that reminded one of Ice Follies… and of these, she who was most overly made-up partnered up with Sailor Boy for a lust-at-first-sight tango.

Back to menu. Scroll down. Hmm… Canadian movies. The Canadians are more tasteful and cultured than we, are they not? They’re always telling us so. I’ll try this.

Rampage: President Down. Guns, guns, guns. Explosions, assassinations, land mines, tunnel-crawling, body armor, target practice, machine-gunning, more explosions… punctuated with Superhero Mass-Murderer’s raves on some recorded message or other about the United States being solely responsible for all the violence and evil in the world.

We ended up with Trailer Park Boys, a serial which seems much more adequate to the genius of the contemporary Canadian mind. My wife had retired to bed by that time, so the steady barrage of f-bombs fell on hardened ears; and, of course, it occurs in a context which underscores the impotence of brain capacity hasn’t learned to cope with modern living. One can let loose and laugh.

What about the “serious” productions, however? A common seaman being grilled by drooling capitalists about the nuclear bomb before one was ever dropped? Did someone hire the Trailer Park Boys to write this script?

I’m sure the Canadian snot who directed the assassination-orgy would argue that we Americans brought all the violence into the world–so if we’re offended, well… take that! But you’re the one responsible for this movie, imbecile. And if you have a specific indictment to lodge against a specific American foreign policy initiation–Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Obama’s beloved drone program–then do some research and make a film about that particular adventure. Your vengeance-flatulent fantasy about the lone-wolf weird kid turning the tables on the playground bullies and taking them all out (in FBI and CIA gear) with grenades and exploding bullets conveys about as much moral insight as Stephen Paddock Against the World would have displayed if the Las Vegas shooter had lived to get a directing gig in Hollywood.

I could drop some trailer-park adjectives myself when I think about what utter crap our “entertainment” industry is churning out. You tedious, talentless, parasitic, hypocritical, sanctimonious, morally vacuous, intellectually bankrupt, doped-up, spaced-out legions of deadbeats and losers! I hope your punishment is to watch your own creations over and over for all eternity.


The Cold-Blooded-Killer Ideology

What was the political ideology of the highly educated, well-to-do, self-righteous thug who ambushed Senator Rand Paul with deadly intent as he mowed his lawn?

What are the ideological connections of the brutal Antifa cowards who routinely destroy property while kicking and sucker-punching bystanders whenever any college campus schedules a constitutionalist speaker?

What were the politics of Gabby Gifford’s shooter? What were those of the assassin who turned his rifle on U.S. senators practicing softball? How about the Butcher of Las Vegas?

What is the political persuasion of people who consider mass-murderer and rabid racist Ché Guevara’s face a fashion statement?

None of these figures was an Islamic terrorist… and, yes, we have had plenty of those. We’ll probably have plenty more, unfortunately. But the rash of white male homicidal sociopaths recently is notable—and it appears that child-murdering punk Devin Kelley was of the same political stripe as the others I have just named. A profile is emerging: disgruntled, angry at the world, socially inept, abusive in intimate relationships, furiously resentful of mainstream culture and traditions, particularly inimical to Christianity, committed in Charles Manson fashion to some kind of helter-skelter anomia intended to usher in some kind of revolution… hmm. Maybe a criterion for the legal purchase of a firearm should be supplying objective evidence that one is not a Leftist.

Oh, I know—we have the idiot who drove his truck into a crowd during the Charlottesville KKK rally (which, by the way, was utterly unpremeditated); and let us never forget that media darling of mass-murderer paradigms, Timothy McVeigh (who, by the way, was dishonorably discharged from the military, like Kelley). But for every hayseed mumblety-peg who forgot which gear of his truck was “reverse”, we now have a hundred slogan-spouting Leninist sociopaths.

Speaking of mass murder… what is the political preference of the creative geniuses who churn out lurid blood-sport fantasies for our “entertainment” venues—nightmares so graphic that one wants to look away even during fifteen-second television teases? What about the party-affiliation of the willing participants in these sadistic bacchanals—people known as “actors” for some odd reason? What about the designers of rape-and-mutilate video games and of the hardware that purveys them—which political ideology does this lot seem most likely to embrace?

Which side has constantly promoted the murder of babies in the womb for half a century now, even to the point of sanctioning the extraction of the child’s brain with a large hypodermic as he or she attempts to exit the birth canal?

Which side has tirelessly advanced the exploitation of women as sex objects, not just by way of movie and film production but also and especially by disseminating in academe a code of casual, on-demand, recreational sex?

Which side, in short, has consistently broadcast a view of life as a meaningless sojourn among partially evolved primates whose only compensations are sex, intoxication, hallucination, and electronically sustained fantasy, and whose highest moral imperative is to reduce the number of wasteful, useless Yahoos thus impeding the good Mother Earth’s natural cycles?

Confiscate all the guns, if you like. It won’t do any good as long as a studied self-perversion continues to define the “progress” of our society.


Animal Planet Peddles More Unicorns

I think “cryptozoology” is a really fascinating subject. The assumption is always made by the general public (and usually fed by professionals in the sciences, who don’t like to admit that something might possibly lie beyond their ken) that we must surely have discovered by now every life form on Planet Earth. This is an ignorant, arrogant leap of faith. Because most of us have now squeezed ourselves into “megalopolis” or into one of the concentric rings of suburbia enclosing it, we can’t imagine any weird creature’s escaping detection. One thing we fail to consider is that our collective influx into cities has left rural areas depopulated. Yes, the explosion of human inhabitants in all quarters of the globe would seem to compensate for any relative diminution in the percentage of people filling this or that corner. I doubt that this proposition is unassailable, however. Comparatively few though we were a hundred years ago, our overwhelmingly agricultural society still concentrated its strength very heavily in the boondocks. Now any drive along a rural highway (and how many of us ever take such a drive?) reveals desolation on all sides. Abandoned houses are falling apart everywhere, and seldom does any new structure rear its satellite dish in their place.

People who should find themselves in the country for some reason are also less likely now to know its sights and sounds. They can’t tell a wolf’s cry from a coyote’s or a crow’s call from a caracara’s. The situation where a tenderfoot thinks he may have seen a chupacabra when he’s only run across a large stray dog often works in reverse, thanks to such ignorance: a person might see an unidentified species and assume that it is a familiar one. Witnesses in shooting incidents almost invariably say that they at first thought the gunshots were a backfiring car. The stronger tendency of the human mind is to blend the unique into the commonplace, not the other way around.

Thirdly, the encroachment of human beings on so many once-remote parts of the natural environment can create opportunities for more resourceful species that were formerly hard-pressed. Squirrels are much more abundant in suburbia than in the wilderness. Humans have chased off or killed most natural predators (foxes, snakes, hawks) while allowing the “cuddly, adorable” little fur-ball to chew up orchards and attics unmolested. If something extraordinarily perceptive and intelligent like a Sasquatch did exist, an invasion of humans that thinned out rival predators like panthers and bears while allowing food sources like deer and squirrel to proliferate might actually improve the outlook for survival.

All of this is merely to say that I was looking forward to the first episode of Animal Planet’s Destination: Mungo last Sunday. Quite a letdown. Once again, we are treated to a showman who expensively, ostentatiously makes his way to some forgotten corner of the planet… and then spends one night in the “hot spot” to see if his infrared cameras are activated by anything larger than a rat. Bwana Mungo hasn’t even heard of the coelacanth, apparently (and hasn’t yet figured out how to pronounce the word, either). In one scene, he contacts his biologist buddy in the States to ask if the Postosuchus, a Triassic ancestor of the crocodile, might really exist today, as Liberian locals are reporting. Responding via satellite through a laptop linked to a smartphone, the suitably bearded academic tells an inspirational story. “Have you heard of the coelacanth, Mungo?” “No, never. Tell me about it.” Oh, please!

In the first place, the coelacanth’s presumed date of extermination was considerably closer to our own time than the late Triassic (by a factor of close to a thousand). In the second place, coelacanths inhabit ocean trenches and would be virtually undetectable to human beings in the normal course of events. In the third place, of course Mungo has heard of the coelacanth! I learned of its lately discovered survival into the present when I was a young boy—a professional wildlife photographer and cryptozoology enthusiast could no more have remained ignorant of the subject than a physicist could fail to have heard of a quark. And finally, biologist buddy’s fishing stories transmitted by satellite, however inspirational, are insufficient reason for Mungo to rise from his laptop feeling new confidence in his quest. He hasn’t garnered a single particle of arcane information about tropical African fauna that might be seen as assisting his search. The whole exchange is highly staged and utterly ridiculous… almost as bad as a mockumentary about mermaids.

So… my quest of credible shows on the subject of cryptozoology continues as we permanently put the Amusement Park of Mungo at our backs. I’m looking for something rarer than a unicorn, it seems. In the meantime, old episodes of River Monsters are far less a waste of time.