Glorified PDP-11 assembler or not, C is still how a lot of work gets done… a lot of the work I find the most exciting, personally, where performance is a critical feature and not something to be left to chance. Not to mention all the low-level work that goes into making all these high-level languages run.
It's 7am on a Saturday and I've been up benchmarking and optimizing on my free time. I figure it keeps that part of my mind sharp so it's ready when I need it. And besides, it's actually fun!
"Creator's machismo" and "intellectual exercise" are definitely both reasons I'm at this.