Elephant Seal Haute Culture

Does this Transmitter Make Me Look Stupid?

Does this Transmitter Make Me Look Stupid?

I’ve been pawing through the old photo archive for some picture that I can then begin to blather about today. I found this one. It really is just a photo of a photo, but it seemed humorous enough to use. At California’s Año Nuevo State Park, researchers glue transmitters to the heads of elephant seals. Every year, these transmitters are glued to the seal’s head. They eventually fall off and are retrieved the following year, when the animals come on the beach each summer to molt. The transmitters track these elephant seals as they migrate throughout the year. This research hopes to answer some basic questions about how these animals live. Just to show that I actually do have some real photography chops, I submit the following, already posted photo of a real live elephant seal.

Old Elephant Seal

Old Elephant Seal

Beached Whale Day

This post is a juxtaposition of a couple of themes, but it is basically about movie reviews. Let me back way up and try to explain. “Beached Whale Day” is an aphorism that refers to the resultant human population after an occasion of much over indulgence. Picture your family on the couch, watching football, after Thanksgiving dinner. Closer to the thread of this story would be New Years Day. Picture the morning after, where the huddled masses from last night’s New Year Eve Party gather around the Wide-screen HD hearth and watch movie after movie. This has been Dan’s New Year’s welcoming ceremony for several years now. I am now co-opting at least his party’s title.

Now I don’t have any photos of whales, beached or  otherwise to provide graphics for such a post, but I do have this rather land bound Elephant seal from Año Nuevo. It will have to do. For this inaugural segment, I’ve also thrown in a couple of other photos. So, without further ado, let’s get on with the movies.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – I’ve seen Spielberg’s Lincoln and that is an excellent movie. Vampire Hunter by comparison is not too bad. Heck, I’ll even go out on a limb and even give it a not bad. I watched this movie because of some comment repartee with Karen. She liked the book.

A schlocky movie with good book is way ahead of any movie without a well written foundation, like Prometheus, which I also saw on the same night. Marquee talent and something just shy of NASA’s budget, when it comes to special effects couldn’t redeem this film’s bad writing. People, don’t stick your nose into any bubbling vessels of alien goo, we learned years ago, but I digress.

Vampire Hunter has an axe wielding hero reminiscent of the real life Lincoln and not just the fabled rail splitting frontiersmen, who was so iconic that he was born in the log cabin that he built himself. In real life, Lincoln dissuaded a challenging duelist by his vigorous application of a cavalry sword “of the largest size” against an unsuspecting willow tree. I especially liked the morphing of young Lincoln’s campaign against vampirism to his historical campaign against slavery. When you equate the two, like the movie does, it makes it so much easier to demonize your political foes, both then and now.

The Lincoln Lawyer – Keeping with the Lincoln theme this Matthew McConaughey vehicle [I am just way too cute] is a trial procedural. Set in modern LA, the film gets its name, because McConaughey motors around town in the backseat of a Lincoln Continental. He hooks, but doesn’t quite know how to land his rainmaker client, who eventually turns shades of Double Indemnity. His quirky, most prosecutors would say illegal, application of justice, jells well with the street justice that he deals out daily.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil – Returning to the axe wielding themes of the first movie in this trifecta, I offer up this deliciously dark chocolate of a comedy. Poor Tucker and Dale are the victims in this movie. The rustic West Virginian backwoodsmen that they are, they find themselves ill-equipped at dealing with the visitations of their more gentrified college brethren. This comic horror film turns Deliverance stereotypes on their heads, but there is never a good story to tell the county sheriff, when he shows up and sees you dragging the half-body that you’ve just pulled out of your wood-chipper.

None of these movies are in the least bit award contenders, but what is the sense of me recommending to you a movie that we both know is good.  You could call these three B-movies that would be fair. If you only see a couple of movies a month, then none of these are for you, but if you watch as many movies as I do, then there are not enough acknowledged A-list films to go around. I prefer to look at this process not as a lowering of standards, but rather a broadening of horizons.

Ano Nuevo State Park

Ano Nuevo State Park is a home for elephant seals. Ano Nuevo is a world class site. There are only a few such places on earth, for elephant seals. There are none that are as accessible to the public as Ano Nuevo.

Liz first clued me into Ano Nuevo. She had visited it just before I met her earlier this year. Then it was the elephant seal’s breeding season, their high tourist season. I couldn’t visit them then, but I made it this time.

Ano Nuevo is located halfway between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. During breeding season reservation are required. On Tuesday, I just drove in to the park.

There are two points, south and north, at Ano Nuevo. The south point only had about a half dozen small elephant seals. The north point had about fifty seals.

The docent pointed out the infant elephant seal skull that was sitting on the park bench. What I took for some sort of prehistoric elephant seal skull was in fact part of a whale’s skull. Ninety percent of the seals were males and they were all fighting.