Q:   When is a featured artist not an artist?
A:   When she or he is a scientist.
What qualifies a scientist to stand in the Tentacle spotlight?
Some scientists spend their lives locked in the lab-coated towers of academia, poking toothpicks into formaldehyde-soaked frogs. The Tentacle Sessions has no patience for such people. We want to bring you scientists of action, brave-hearted, brilliant, indefatigable super-humans equally at home in the wildest of outbacks or the rowdiest of cocktail parties. And funny, they have to be funny.
The list of researchers who would qualify today is brief, but if we could extend
our recruiting into the past it would include the likes of Darwin,
and, of course, Boroditsky.
It is a rare scientist indeed who is fit for our forum.
In June we featured Dr. Douglas J Long who is indeed cut from that cloth, made, it would seem, also from
that long-ago broken mold. Doug has traveled in over 35 countries and studied great white sharks, rattlesnakes, flesh-eating snails, and deep-sea fishes. He is also an expert in all manner of embryologic processes. He is not your run-of-the mill biologist, as you can tell by the company he keeps.
Currently working for the California Academy of Sciences, Doug serves as acting chairman of the Department of Ornithology & Mammalogy and
also the Collections Manager for the department. Which means that he spends his time travelling the globe charting and collecting the animals of the world. He has discovered over a dozen previously unknown species of animals and amassed thousands of slides and some incredible stories in his travels. On June 17, 2001, he brought those stories to Cafe Du Nord and our Tentacle Sessions audience.
Doug's travels in the past year have included expeditions to the Golden Triangle (Burma, Laos & Thailand), New Zealand,
Patagonia (Chile & Argentina), and the Gulf of Guinea (western Africa). His adventures included side-stepping cobras, avoiding landmines, rum-loving elephants, CIA operatives, rebel insurgencies, malaria epidemics, and drinking alcohol in the most unexpected places. He also gave details of the fauna and culture of the countries and some of the challenges that wildlife conservation faces in each of them.
It was an incredible night. The audience left thoroughly entertained and more knowledgable for the experience. We actually had to cut the post-show Q&A short, eventually, as it was getting late. Doug just has too many great stories to cover in one sitting. And that doesn't even count his hobbies.