Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dressed as the sabertooth "Smile-O-Don", Dan Wald Angers Local Paleontologists

La Brea, CA

In an effort to enlighten children about the Pleistocene Epoch, Dan Wald dressed as the sabertooth cat smilodon, which he jokingly titled "Smile-O-Don." Smilodon, which existed during the early part of the Quaternary Period was a large cat capable of bringing down Mastodons and other large animals. Although smilodon were some of the top predators in their day, Mr. Wald only served as prey for a local group of paleontologists who decided to wage a war of informational correctness against him. Dr. John C. Merriam, leader of the anti-Wald/Smile-O-Don group stated, "Smile-O-Don? What kind of shit name is that? We're here to teach accuracy and Mr. Wald isn't part of that agenda." While wearing his sabertooth tiger outfit, Mr. Wald was known for teaching small children about all variety of creatures that lived during "his time" while visiting the La Brea tar pits. Sitting in a semi-circle around him, Mr. Wald weaved stories of giant rhinocerous and scheming wolves all while singing to children. One parent reported that her daughter would come home from the tar pits singing,

Back in The Quarternary Period was a big old cat
His name was Smile-O-Don and he had stripes on his back.
Although he took down game with his big old teeth,
He was nice and a friend to meeee.

It was around that time Dr. Merriam discovered Mr. Wald had been performing his free paleolithic sing-a-longs and decided to mobilize other paleontologists in the area to put a stop to them. "Learning is about understanding the concepts and for cock's sake, spelling the name right. These children know nothing of the other thylacosmilids that roamed these plains. Smilodon underwent convergent evolution before going extinct; Mr. Wald won't even get that lucky." When asked about Dr. Merriam's coment, Mr. Wald responded, "I am happy because I eat meat. Big cats need it to keep their coats neat. Smile-O-Don was master of his day. Or at least he hopes you think of him that way," although it is unknown if he was speaking in character at the time.

Reportedly, during one of Mr. Wald's sing-a-long sessions, the paleontologists confronted him, "the truth about smilodon cannot come from an impure vessel such as yourself," to which Mr. Wald sang, "During the ice age it got really cold. Big predators like me didn't fit the mold." Upon hearing his non-direct response, the local paleontologists picked up Mr. Wald and threw him into the tar pits. According to witnesses at the scene, children began screaming for Smile-O-Don to save himself. The paleontologists chided them, saying that smilodon could do nothing to save himself from his evolutionary fate. Thankfully a local man dove into the tar pits and drug Mr. Wald out. Infuriated by his rescue, Dr. Merriam screamed, "you didn't survive the ice age and you won't surive the fire-age either!" and then ignited the saber-tooth costume. Thinking that water might save him, Mr. Wald dove back into the tar pits - apparently forgetting that they were tar - and inadvertently set fire to the tar pits themselves.

Again the local man rescued Mr. Wald from the tar pits and managed to remove him from the then melting costume. Mr. Wald stumbled from the smoldering heap and mumbled, "Smile-O-Don won't get his deposit back. Paleontologists should kiss my, " and then went unconscious having been slapped by Dr. Merriam, who yelled "extinct species should stay dead, especially those with incorrectly spelled names!" As paleontologists went in for the kill, children surrounded Mr. Wald and sang "it's not his fault they went extinct; even smilodon's existence was on the brink." Thanks to the children's efforts, rescue workers were able to extract Mr. Wald and move him to a nearby hospital, while the remaining park visitors gazed on in horror as the paleontologists changed into Cenozoic-themed costumes and tried instructing the children. Despite their effort, paleontologists were unable to convince any children to sing with them, which in part was due their "corny lyrics" and also due to their close proximity to the now-blazing tar pits.

Since the incident, Mr. Wald has reworked his educational agenda. "Smile-O-Don was a thing of the past, I guess. I mean it went extinct. Those paleontologists woke me up to the issues of today. Now instead of focusing on educating children about the past, I need to focus on those things that need to be saved today. I'm now redoubling my efforts on saving the several species of wild orchid. I've got several variations on the same costume and it's rather easy to physically represent several species in a matter of days." Children have been rather shy to respond to a singing orchid, but Wald has hopes that they'll come around, "I mean there's at least one kid that sings the 'orchids are beautiful as they are rare; so let's plant gardens and then take care' song with me, so I imagine there will be more in time." Unbeknownst to Mr. Wald, the child was actually a catfish-shaped mailbox and was merely reflecting the sound of his voice. Local botanists have remained largely neutral towards Mr. Wald's campaign with the exception of a small group of mischievous botanist occasionally picking up Mr. Wald while in costume and then planting him firmly in the ground.


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