Things That Did And Didn’t Happen at the Bosque Del Apache

Something Hitchcockian happened to me yesterday. Before I explain, I’d like to know, for qualitative research purposes, if anything Hitchockian has ever happened to you?

Have you ever, for instance, made a tongue-in-cheek pact with someone on a train about murdering each other’s spouses and then found out he wasn’t joking?

OR: Has your head ever detached from your body, taken on a strange green pallor and emitted rays in a purple vortex of vertiginous light?


OR: Have you ever fallen in love with a woman only to discover she’s an actress hired by someone else to 1) impersonate his wife (whom he murdered) and 2) fake her death by “jumping” from a mission tower so he could switch out the body of his actual wife for his fake “hired” wife whom you’re in love with???

vertigoNo? Okay. That’s disappointing. I don’t want this blog to be all about me. I’m most comfortable writing about other people.

I will continue…The Birds. 1963. Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) is terrorized by legions of vicious birds in Bodega Bay. Film critic David Thomson called it Hitchcock’s “last unflawed film.”


What happened to me yesterday at the Bosque del Apache, a bird sanctuary outside of Socorro, was really pretty similar to this seminal film about evil, psychosexual paranoia and loss of control over the natural world. I would like to take a moment here to compare and contrast the film with my experience.

First, some backstory: Every winter the Bosque del Apache’s marshy lakes are deluged with migratory snow geese, sandhill cranes, bald eagles, etc., attracting birders from all over the U.S. Dave and I decided to drive down and give it a once over.

Note: All text in quotes are taken from Wikipedia’s entry on The Birds.

What Was the Same

1) There were lots of birds



Some of those birds attacked me.



In The Birds, “An amateur ornithologist dismisses the reports of attacks as fanciful and argues about it with Melanie.”


Dave dismissed my reports of attacks as fanciful and argued about it with me.


In The Birds, “Melanie drives there and waits for class to end, initially unaware that a huge number of crows are massing nearby.”


We also drove there (to the Bosque). We weren’t waiting for class to end, but I was initially unaware that a huge number of snow geese were amassing nearby.


“The film concludes ambiguously, as the car carrying Melanie, the Brenners and the lovebirds slowly makes its way through a landscape where tens of thousands of birds are perched.”

Our trip also concluded ambiguously, pretty much the exact same way! (Except without all of those extra people in the car).

What Was Different

“At Cathy’s birthday party the next day, the children are set upon by seagulls.”


That didn’t happen.

“Melanie develops a relationship with Mitch, his widowed mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy) and his younger sister Cathy (Veronica Cartwright).”

The Birds Alfred Hitchcock Tippi Hedren Suzanne Pleshette pic 1

I didn’t really build any new meaningful relationships to speak of.

A drunk believes the attacks are a sign of the Apocalypse, and a traveling salesman suggests exterminating them all.


Dave and I didn’t drink a thing on the trip and you aren’t allowed to shoot birds at the sanctuary, no matter what they do to you.

So, I fully admit that there are some significant discrepancies between the plot summary for The Birds and our own little outing to the bird sanctuary.

Another difference is–Dave was right– I wasn’t really attacked by birds as much as I let on.


In The Birds, Hitchcock neglected to include a shot of a lone sandhill crane.


I think this was a bad move.

In The Birds Tippi Hedren never took time out to “bird watch” the birds that were attacking her.


In The Birds, Tippi looks gorgeous while under attack.


I could probably have looked a little better with some effort.


So that was my HItchcockian event.



Happy New Year(s): I Made You Some Cards

Well, here we are in 2014. It makes sense that it would be 2014 eventually. Numerically I mean. We probably could have seen it coming, in a chronological sort of way, but that doesn’t change the fact that some of us still feel completely disoriented and betrayed.


Some of us already felt unmoored in space and time, never knowing what year, season or month it was, let alone our current age.

Should I wear leggings because it’s 2013 or because it’s 1985? Why are those French people who despise American food holding hamburgers on the boulevard?  Who is this Shia LeBeouf kid? There is something very off about these strawberry shortcake dolls. William the Conquerer did what??? What do you mean I should vacation on the Albanian coast this summer?


When my cousin is sending voice texts over the phone while driving should I reveal my alarm or act like I knew all along you could do that?

Time feels all bendy, ribbon-candy-ish again, of late.


I’ll tell you why. All of that postmodernism stuff we were talking about in 2005–or whenever it was we were in a postmodern literature class together as non-degree students because we thought any class with postmodern in the title must be nonstop laughs–all of that talk of fracture, intertextuality and fragmentation was just a teaser for the HYPER postmodernism about to explode on the scene.


When all media from all eras is available instantly on youtube; when typewriters and record players and curing your own meats and sewing your own sandwich bags are en vogue concurrently with ipads and drone-delivered mail; when nearly every historic and fauxstoric era has its own cult following and romping grounds (renaissance fairs, steam punk conventions, speakeasys, nursing homes)…it is impossible to feel locked into a stable time and space with an underpinning culture. It’s just layer after layer of vellum, everything is overlaid translucently on top of everything else.


To make matters worse, for the last eight days I’ve been displaced to my old pre-21st century home in Harrisonburg, Virginia where everything is mostly the same but slightly askew.

For example: I’m driving along…do dee doo…in my parents Prius, which is like this partially electric car thingy, ready to blow under my all-time favorite railroad trestle by my old friend Danielle’s parents’ house, when I am driving under….nothing! I see the trestle has vanished.. ripped out, I’ve been told, to widen the road so there would be less “traffic jams” and “fatal accidents.”


That’s not all. Acme Stove and Video where you could once purchase a new wood burning or gas log stove and/or rent videos is now plain old Acme Stove. YOU CANNOT RENT VIDEOS!!

And Spanky’s! Everyone’s old favorite Little Rascal’s themed hang out, where we cut our names into the table and split bills to the half penny, is nothing but an apparition of floating sandwiches and hot fudge croissant sundaes and chubby adolescent faces haunting the soulless Asian tapas restaurant that replaced it.


Yet the town is predominantly intact, more same than different.

So in that spirit of muddled space and jumbled time, I have designed the above new year’s greeting cards for you my dear readers.Though they all say 2014, they’re pretty much valid for any year. Nobody’s keeping track anymore.