January 25th, 2008

krazy koati

I thought I was so cool

The story of the were-brontosaurus starts with Elmont Ruggs, who dreamed from the young age of 46 of writing the definitive natural history of the brontosaurus. The first step was to find some brontosaurs, but this was no challenge as he could call them on their cell phones. He was delighted to actually find a group frolicking all night in the Marsh Lake Creek Meadow mall parking lot. A group of six took him in, as they needed someone to be a volleyball for their game, and he relished the chance to curl up and be batted by the heads of dinosaurs. Unfortunately on match point one of them, distracted by moonlight, mistimed a volley and pinched him nastily with the teeth.

They laughed it off, in halfhearted and tense fashion. Elmont might have forgotten it except for the impossible events thirteen days later. As the Moon -- one day short of being full -- rose he felt an eerie tingling, a growing nervousness from the secondary brain at the base of his tail, and he realized he was stumbling forward onto four limbs which were growing more elephantine by the second. He raced outside, barely making it in time to lift his head on its enormous serpentine neck above the roof.

As were-brontosaurus Elmont found himself living a reasonably normal life by day and most nights, but those nights immediately around the Full Moon had him amazingly transformed. He never lost his drive to serve science and recorded carefully all that he discovered.

For example, there was the struggle to find what to eat. He was sure he was hungry for dense prehistoric fern forests. Most of the prehistoric fern forests had by now turned into coal beds, so this was a good lead: he had to find someplace which looked like it was turning into coal, and then get there earlier. It was an excellent plan requiring only that he know geology, and he would have gone hungry temporarily but regularly if he hadn't discovered the garden departments at his home furnishings stores. His descriptions of how new employees responded to his credit cards while in brontosaurus form alone filled forty pages of notes, and made for great reading.

A few critics said his observations crossed the line between detailed case study and blog entry, however, particularly in minor recordings of such things as ``Which Legion Of Doom Plan To Destroy The Superfriends Are You?''. But many of his observations were revealing. For example, Elmont noticed a tendency to gather freshly-done laundry and curl up on it to sleep. This exonerated his cats for messing up the clothes, although he was never able to explain the fur or whose clothes they were. He knew he couldn't be making a mistake about the responsibility, since he didn't have cats. Not after the first couple Full Moons, anyway. If you were a cat, would you stick around with a person who turned into a dinosaur every few weeks? Certainly, if you were an anti-werecat using the experience to understand cat-ness, but that wasn't the case here. Elmont just wanted the fur explained.

Between what he learned from ordinary observations, the occasional interview, and Likert scale-based surveys of brontosaurus opinion, and then what he derived from his direct experience, Elmont's book promised to be a definitive natural history. He was shocked when one of the publisher's in-house reviewers recommended against publication, because the brontosaurus was nothing more than a mistake created by a jumbling of dinosaur fossils from the late 19th century, and the species -- to the extent it was at all -- was mostly the apatosaurus.

Elmont's frustration and urges to get past this whole herbivore habit grew stronger when he learned this reviewer would tirelessly and tiresomely correct people who used ``literally'' to describe things which were meant figuratively, and he suspected everyone who knew the reviewer would approve giving in to his urges.

But eating your reviewers is no way to get reliably published. So what was there to do? He carried on being whatever he was regardless of whether he was or not, and that worked out pretty well.

Trivia: The first Winter Olympic Games, at Chamonix in 1924, were known at the time as an International Winter Sports Week. They were not officially designated the I Olympic Winter Games until the International Olympic Committee Congress meeting in Prague in 1925. Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Edited John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle.

Currently Reading: The Garments of Caean, Barrington J Bayley.