Archive for April, 2009

What’s in an influenza name? A lot, apparently. And like the swine this one is named for, it doesn’t smell so sweet. A

H1N1 Swine Flu Virus Magnified

H1N1 Swine Flu Virus Magnified

growing number of voices are clamoring for a better title for the recent virus, since it also (strangely) includes DNA from human and avian strains of influenza. The American pork industry is grunting the loudest because people mistakenly think they can catch swine flu by eating pork chops, and tenderloin sales are beginning to plummet.

Even genius raconteur Paris Hilton has fallen for this misconception. When TMZ crews asked her if she was afraid of swin flu, she stared blankly for a moment and then replied, “No, I don’t eat that.” (April 28 show)

So yeah, if  Paris is confused, the name has got to change. Some have suggested Mexican flu, but I think that sounds culturally biased. Here’s an idea. The virus contains DNA from three different species, which makes it an official scientific chimera. So how about the Chimera Flu? I’ve drawn my own nightmare image of it (right, copyright Linda Godfrey).

It does seem to spread very rapidly, so Flash Flu might be apt, and has great alliteration.

Scientists, however, have dug deep into their pocket protectors and pulled out the dull medical label, H1N1. That’s the official nomenclature of this particular virus and they say that’s what we should call it. OK. If you pronounce the 1’s like i’s, it sounds like Hiney. Hiney Flu.

But that makes  flu  the butt of a joke, and I don’t think that pig will fly. So I’m sticking with Chimera Flu. In world mythology, chimeras were everywhere — griffins, sphinxes, leopopards — and often had bird and human parts. Pig men are not unknown in folklore, either. It appears this version will spread worldwide, so that part fits too.

I’m glad that’s settled. Now to wait for the rest of the world to catch on.

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Yes, I’ve been away for a while, but it’s been a little crazy. One thing I did during my blog hiatus was to finally start a img001Cafepress store where some of my creature designs are now immortalized on a variety of t-shirts. People have been asking me to do this for 17 years and I have always said no, partly because I didn’t want to be in the souvenir business, and partly because I think hawking merchandise tends to take away from a researcher’s reputation.

It was the Yahoo group Unknown Creature Spot and their dialogue about dog men in cornfields — which devolved into something called CornDog Man — that finally nudged me into an e-commerce experiment. They asked if I would draw a cartoon of this creature for them, and I obliged, and then they began asking if they could get CornDog Man t-shirts. Truth be told, I kind of wanted one myself. So I took the plunge and opened a Cafepress store, which handles all the messy business stuff like printing, stocking and shipping, and set up a few CornDog Man shirt models. I enjoyed seeing my art on t-shirts so much that I added a couple of others; my original Beast of Bray Road sketch, a Bigfoot head, and my Weird Deer emblem.

I don’t know how long I’ll stay in the creature-T biz, I surely don’t expect to get rich from it. But I guess if a few people get a kick out of wearing my artwork, there’s nothing wrong with that. And I will probably be my own best customer, I already ordered a green Weird Deer shirt for my own summer wardrobe. And the CornDog Man, of course, in corny golden yellow.

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