Bigfoot Sighted at the Library

Many of us look back at the 70’s with fond embarrassment. Feathered hair, down vests, CB radios. This was the decade in which Clint Eastwood co-starred with an Orangutan, and we liked the idea so much that for three years we tuned in to watch Greg Evigan and a truck-driving chimpanzee in BJ and the Bear, a show that arguably jumped the shark in its opening credits. In celebrity news, a drunken Grizzly Adams’ beard was set alight by a drink called the Flaming Eddy, while another famous big hairy guy did some even more embarrassing things, and I don’t mean Chewbacca.

The 70’s were a heady time for Bigfoot, with movie and TV deals and all the attendant merchandising, and stunned by the glare of Hollywood (or the omnipresent nose candy), Image of Bionic Bigfoot Doll Courtesy of JD Hancock via Flickrthe famously reclusive creature made some very bad decisions. I was reminded of this the other day when I noticed the library’s newly purchased Bionic Woman DVDs included a couple of episodes in which Bigfoot guest starred. I used to be the proud owner of a Bionic Bigfoot action toy, the necessary foil to my truly awesome Major Steve Austin doll, with its creeply peel-back-able arm and bionic eye you could peer right through. The pair could fight just like on TV, or even drag race! In The Six Million Dollar Man franchise, bigfoot actually turned out to be an android scarecrow left behind by space aliens, which was kind of a stretch, but these were crazy times remember, when the pairing of bigfoot and aliens seemed as natural as pairing roller & disco; The Captain & Tennille; BJ & the bear.

Employing my librarian skills, I ventured a subject heading: “Bigfoot – drama.” And hit gold, of a sort. The Bigfoot Terror Collection is a suite of downloadable films which casts its merciless glare on the nadir of Bigfoot’s filmography, before Harry and the Hendersons resurrected his career as a loveable, overgrown plush toy. The best title for true Bigfoot aficionados has to be Legend of Bigfoot, a 1976 shlockumentary in which noted sasquatch paparazzo Ivan Marx – a man who truly has bigfoot on the brain – scours the earth in hopes of capturing the gentle giant on film. When at last he corners his leading man in some far northern desolation, bigfoot is typically camera shy. Sadly, this was not always the case.

Just two years before, Bigfoot’s cousin the Yeti had appeared in Shriek of the Mutilated, a low budget slasher movie that falls well within the realm of so-bad-it’s-good. To attempt to explain the inspired illogic of this bizarre cinematic fever dream is beyond me. I loved every minute of it. In 1979, Bigfoot made another regrettable appearance in The Capture of Bigfoot. By far the scariest part of this movie is the gnashingly bad overacting of Richard Kennedy as the town baddy, Mr. Olsen. (You may remember Kennedy from his equally galvanizing appearances in C.B. Hustlers, Ilsa: Queen of the SS, or Invasion of the Blood Farmers). The less said about The Search for the Beast the better. Made in 1997, it is a softcore drive in flick featuring a goggle-eyed, amorous Alabama swamp ape. (Not that I watched the whole thing, or anything). You’ve been warned, or tempted.

Bite Me

“Vampire? Such a provocative word, wrapped in too many clichés and girly novels.” -Uncle Will, The Radleys

Yup, more vampires…admit it, you love them…or love to hate them, but either way they are here to stay. They are making their way into our literature and our movies, but they don’t always have to leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Author Matt Haig introduces us to what looks like a normal suburban couple, but underneath the facade The Radleys are anything but normal. Peter and Helen Radley are abstaining vampires, who have two teenagers, Rowan and Clara, who know nothing about their supernatural traits. After Clara experiences a tragic night their hidden life is threatened and in a haze of worry Peter calls upon his brother Will for help, but Will, a practicing vampire, has even more secrets that could destroy this family. Together they will come to realize some secrets need keeping; even lies can protect the ones you love.

Currently in production for Season Four in the United Kingdom, Being Human brings George, the werewolf, Mitchell, the vampire, and Annie, the ghost, all under one roof. They decide to live among humans and attempt to live ordinary lives, but  it doesn’t come as easy as they would hope. They struggle with their own natures, the threat of being exposed, and fighting over who does the dishes. With humor and horror alongside one another this series keeps you entertained and on the edge of your seat.

And They Lived…

As children our parents read us stories with happy endings; it’s just part of the innocence of childhood and into adulthood we come to expect that big Hollywood ending. The first movie I saw that didn’t go the way I wanted it to was My Best Friend’s Wedding starring Julia Roberts. I was angry that Julia Roberts’ character didn’t end up with her best friend. It was only years later that I began to respect the unhappily ever after and understand the fulfillment that can be achieved from being on your own. I can still be caught by surprise when something doesn’t end in a perfect picture, but then I smile and am thankful because I feel like someone is telling me the truth rather than lying to me. Continue reading “And They Lived…”

Take a walk on the lighter side of religion

Here are some unconventional books (and a movie) about religion and the kind of religious practices you might not hear about every day.

The year of living biblically: one man’s humble quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible by A. J. Jacobs (2007).
A. J. Jacobs’ quest is to follow the Bible as exactly as he can. He goes beyond obeying the ten commandments by eschewing clothes made of mixed fibers and not trimming his beard edges. Throughout this funny and insightful journey, Jacobs gives us his trademark humor and skepticism.

Lamb: the gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal  by Christopher Moore (2002). You may not find the gospel according to Biff in your regular bible, but after reading this you’ll wonder how Jesus got along without the guy. The style is smooth and the humor good-natured in this novel of an alternate reality that ultimately has a message.

The unlikely disciple: a sinner’s semester at American’s holiest university by Kevin Roose (2009). Raised by liberal parents, and a sophomore at progressive Brown University, Kevin Roose decides to spend at year at Liberty University, founded by uber-conservative Jerry Falwell and now the largest Christian fundamentalist university in Continue reading “Take a walk on the lighter side of religion”

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Blank US Bicycle Route Shield. Design based on the specifications in the 2004 edition of Standard Highway Signs. Public Domain image.

When I was in college, I lived off-campus with a small army of roommates. I had a great time, and I don’t have any major complaints about my roomies. However, young people often become obsessive with music and play the same albums and songs over and over and over again. For example, I had one roommate (we’ll call him Tim because that was his name) who constantly played Kansas. It seemed like torture to be forced to listen to “Dust in the Wind” all day long only to be woken after a full evening of entertaining by the shrill Kansan vocals again in the morning. I had another roommate, Pat, (his real name) who played Queen albums 24/7. I moved. That’s how I handled that situation. Although years later I would suggest that the Geneva Conventions be updated to include a mention of the damage that can be done by repeated listenings to Kansas, I have come around to Queen.

Today is Ride Your Bike to Work Day and in honor of this occasion I would suggest two things: Continue reading “I Want to Ride My Bicycle”