Welcome back to Pop Pedestal, the series where we pay tribute to our pop culture favorites. Up today is Margaret Lanterman—better known around Twin Peaks as the Log Lady—played by Catherine E. Coulson.
My log has something to tell you. Can you hear it?
Pedestal Profile: Though not much is known about the Log Lady’s interior life, she is a fixture in the town of Twin Peaks, Washington. Her nickname comes from the log she carries with her wherever she goes—the log is presumably imbued with the spirit of her dead husband, a lumberjack (the back story on Margaret Lanterman, brief as it is, suggests that her husband died in a fire on their wedding night and that—maybe—his spirit entered the log). She and her log have a psychic connection, and she (along with some of the more open-minded town residents) believes that she can offer advice and even predict the future by interpreting the log’s messages. Here she is doing just that for General Briggs at the Double R Diner: Throughout Twin Peaks’ too-brief run in 1990-91, Log Lady appeared in 12 episodes, often providing key (though cryptic) information in the case of Laura Palmer’s murder (which, for those of you who haven’t seen the show, is its central plot point). Later, when the series was syndicated and then released on DVD, Log Lady introductions were added to each episode. Good thing too, because the intros are awesome. Here’s the first one, from the pilot, where she mentions her log and also sets up the series a little:
Admirable qualities: Where to start? First of all, Log Lady keeps it realer than just about any other character I can think of, ever. It takes a lot of courage and conviction to walk around in public talking to your psychic log, even in the oh-so-quirky Twin Peaks, but she doesn’t seem to care what others think. Here’s how she describes it to Agent Cooper:
I carry a log—yes. Is it funny to you? It is not to me. Behind all things are reasons. Reasons can even explain the absurd. Do we have the time to learn the reasons behind the human being’s varied behavior? I think not. Some take the time. Are they called detectives?
Subtext: I am smarter than you’re giving me credit for, and being a detective is just as weird as being a Log Lady if you think about it. BOOM. Also, Log Lady is very observant and super keen to what’s going on around her. She always has wise words to impart, and she seems able to predict what’s going to happen before it occurs. Is it the log that helps her witness events that no one else in town sees? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, she’s one of the sharpest tacks in the Twin Peaks box. Frivolous bonus quality: I love Log Lady’s sweaters.
Her influence: Though Log Lady couldn’t be considered a main character by any means, she gained a following after only the first two episodes, and the Log Lady love continues. Check out some of this terrific fan art for evidence of this:
That’s not all: The Log Lady character’s creation story is almost as interesting as the woman herself. Apparently, while filming his short Amputee (which starred Coulson), David Lynch had a vision of Catherine Coulson holding a log and decided that someday he’d create a show based on that image. The show was to be called “I’ll Test My Log with Every Branch of Knowledge” and it would have starred Coulson and her log going to various institutions (e.g., the dentist) and we the audience would learn lessons through it. (David Lynch, if you’re reading this: PLEASE MAKE THIS SHOW.) Anyway, when it came time for Twin Peaks, Coulson was working as a camera operator but she stepped in front of the lens for Lynch’s new series and Log Lady was born.
Think of her when: Think of Log Lady when you have a hunch or an idea that’s so out there that you aren’t sure you whether or not you should share it. Margaret “Log Lady” Lanterman wouldn’t let that stand in her way—she’d tell the world her idea, and so should you!