Heard around the West

  • BAMBI GOES BALLISTIC: Avenging deer bags a hunter

 

If hunters can hone their target skills on computer games, why can't anti-hunters? Now they can, thanks to a $20 parody game called "Deer Avenger," created by a staff writer for TV's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." It stars a buck with a bad attitude and an arsenal to boot, who fights back with a slingshot that fires lightweight and then heavier deer droppings. Soon, however, Avenger's firepower escalates to an M-16 rifle and bazooka. The bandoliered deer also comes equipped with a "dozen time-tested calls for the elusive, big-bellied deer hunter, including "Free beer here" and "Help, I'm naked and I have a pizza," reports New York's Newsday.

Ski executives gathered at Vail let themselves in for a "tongue-lashing" from an outside expert named Sergio Zyman. He's the marketer who misfired by introducing a new Coca Cola "to a world that didn't want it," reports the Denver Post. Zyman apparently didn't learn from his expensive error. A few months after new Coke was dumped, Zyman said he still thought his failed initiative was brilliant and worth repeating. His advice to the static ski industry was anything but radical: Substitute precise messages instead of "hope marketing" and pursue all of those "lapsed" skiers.

Skiing could be dying anyway, if you believe a classified ad in the Aspen Times, Dec. 15. It offers 110 acres in Alaska for $200,000 and advises potential buyers to "Invest now and wait for the Greenhouse Effect to make it worth millions." Geologist Mark Meier at the University of Colorado seems to be on the same track. He told AP that in the next 50 to 70 years, melting will eliminate all the glaciers from Montana's Glacier National Park. He places the blame "squarely on global warming."

Meanwhile, downhill collisions at some resorts have entered the vocabulary as "ski rage." At Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado, a skier and snowboarder got into a brawl after the boarder "jumped and hit the skier's friend," reports the Summit Daily News. The skier then allegedly punched the boarder and kicked him in the face, breaking his nose and a few teeth. The skier now faces an assault charge and the boarder was cited for reckless boarding. A week later, a boarder took a jump in a restricted area and knocked over a passing skier. Confronted by a ski patrolman, the snowboarder responded by punching the patrolman in the face; he now faces charges of harassment and disorderly conduct. Summit County Sheriff Joe Morales speculates that both ski rage and road rage are caused by congestion, though in the case of skiing it's slopes and not lanes that are in short supply. The Vail/Beaver Creek Times took an informal poll, asking boarders and skiers what they most dislike about each other; adjectives were not in short supply. Skiers said that snowboarders were often noisy, reckless, foul-mouthed and "dressed funny," while snowboarders said that skiers were narrow-minded, whiny and creaky-kneed people, who hogged the mountain with their wide S turns and "dressed funny."

It is "brain leaks," however, that may be an unsolvable problem on the slopes, according to research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Peter Hackett, an emergency room physician at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, found that at the high altitudes frequented by skiers and boarders, tiny blood vessels can leak plasma into the brain, causing swelling that leads to confusion, lethargy and clumsiness. Above 13,000 feet, a handful of mountain climbers can also develop cerebral edema, the more serious form of mountain sickness. In Colorado's Summit County, where ski slopes are above 9,000 feet, one of every five skiers suffers from mountain sickness, Hackett says, and at Breckenridge resort, where the slopes climb to 10,000 feet, close to half of all skiers suffer from headache and nausea. Hackett told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel that when skiers stay in bed, "ski areas lose about $35 million a year to mountain sickness. That's a huge problem."

Denver's Westword weekly continued its tradition of noting strange but true stories emerging from Colorado last year. One noted that PetsMart stores offered "potty training seminars for dogs." Also included, under the heading "It Really Does get Lonely Down on the Farm," were some names of animals shown at the National Western Stock Show: Irrezippable, Bad Girl, Freckles Floozie, and Shesa Hot Chick. Finally, a not-so-strange story, since it comes from the federal government, about our shuttered atomic bomb factory at Rocky Flats near Denver: "The government added Rocky Flats to its National Register of Historic Places, then announced it would be demolished in the year 2006."

Finally, 9,300-year-old Kennewick Man continued his travels in late 1998, arriving at a Seattle museum where scientists will begin to investigate where he came from and who he was. Found in 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River, the skeleton is highly controversial because some of its features differ from those of Native Americans. As a government van carried the remains from Richland, Wash., to the Burke Museum, two groups of people marked his passage by praying along the roadside - Native Americans from four Washington tribes, and Californians who worship the Old Norse gods. The groups differ in their attitudes toward Kennewick Man: the Native Americans claim him as an ancestor and wish to bury him without further delay, AP reports, while the West Coast pagans, who do not oppose scientific study, hope he is one of their own.


Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumper sticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

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