Wednesday, March 15, 2006



The Disguise Labs at HQ have come across with their improved recommendations regarding the best personal concealment strategies for our land operatives who are in the process of turning into certain types of cephalopod, namely Cuttlefish and Squid. THE NEWS IS NOT GOOD. To get really maximal effect from an updo, you are going to have to go with…brace yourselves…a beehive. They explain that it makes a virtue out of the necessity of having what used to be your skull getting longer and softer and evolving into a quill. They consider this a natural go-with for the dramatic scarves and upturned collars you’ve been using to cover the tentacles tucked under your chins. Eventually, of course, the rest of the body drops off and you can enter the sea with no hair at all. Those of you in the earlier stages of transformation can have the best of both worlds with a classic French twist.

But for those of you in the later stages, there is no real choice if you want to avoid looking like Connie Conehead.

There is one piece of good news: you are all on stand-down as far as wearing heavy pancake goes. HQ has finally settled the question of pancake vs. powder for Tentacle Gals. The verdict is that you get a much better concealing effect from even a very light application of translucent powder. The ripples of color across your face will hardly be noticeable, especially in a strong light. I would have thought a dim light would work better, but there you go.

Make that TWO pieces of good news. I did want to pass on to you that although a very large "graduating class" of Cuttlefish Gals enetered the sea for good this year, there has been absolutely no alarm raised about the many dessicated, headless bodies found strewn along the nation’s waterways. Go figure!

I just saw a VERY SPECIAL MOVIE on the recommendation of an Eastern Seaboard "first contact" operative, who works in the pharmaceuticals industry. If I had been thinking I would have listened to her and DROPPED EVERYTHING to find a copy of this priceless jewel of a film. As it is, weeks went by before I got around to it. I never learn. Once again I have underestimated the literary acuity of our gals working in the hard sciences. Don’t make the mistake I made, ladies. See it as soon as you can get your fins on a copy. I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WAS MISSING.

CLIFFIE’S NOTES ON Creature From The Haunted Sea

PLOT SUMMARY: This is a sort of screwball spy comedy, directed and produced by the thrice-great Roger Corman. A houseboat full of goofy career criminals wants a strongbox of gold appropriated from the deposed Cuban government, in the confusion surrounding Castro’s takeover. Unfortunately, the gold comes with its own staff, a team of Cuban Army officers. They need to be killed off to free up the gold for private use by the gangsters. Their leader comes up with a novel solution to the problem. To kill them off one at a time without arousing suspicion, he tells the Cuban general A SEA MONSTER DID IT. Little does he suspect that there actually IS a sea monster, and that it lives right in the shipwreck they used to conceal the box of gold. Hijinks ensue when the houseboat sinks and everyone has to paddle to an unidentified island in an overloaded dinghy, eagerly followed by their new aquatic friend.

>> From the opening credits (highlighted with a very Hannah-Barbera cartoon sequence) to the happy ending, this story is zany, zany, zany. I was reminded over and over of What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, but let me tell you right up front: this was a MUCH funnier movie.

>> I take this as firm evidence that Corman, at times, actually WANTS us to laugh at him. Who knew?

>> Every character is delicious (and not just to the sea monster). Our narrator, for instance, describes himself thus: "Little did they know that I, Sparks Moran, was an American agent. I… [was] …posing as a notorious gum-machine burglar from Chicago. My real name is XK150." He resembles a lightly-brain-damaged version of Nicholas Cage.

>> As long as we’re talking about the individual characters in the story, let me fill you in on the antihero. The heist gang’s leader is described as "Renzo Capetto, alias Capo Razetto, alias Ratto Pazetti, alias Zeppo Staccato, alias Shirley Lamour…The most trustworthy man ever to be deported from Sicily." He looks like a cut-rate Humphrey Bogart. Sad to say, this man is many times brighter than the rest of his gang.

>> Oh, just one more: wait ‘til you get a load of Porcina. Porcina looks almost grandmotherly in her flowered muumuu, if you ignore the maniacal grin plastered across her face at all times. She finds her true love in the course of this picture, and do they ever deserve each other.

>> No, I’m not going to spoil the laughs by telling you about everyone. SEE FOR YOURSELF.

>> The monster is staggering. I won’t ruin it for you.

>> The gangsters use a garden rake and a plumber’s helper to dispatch their victims. It just so happens that the marks they leave on the decedents are exactly like those left by the sea monster. I can’t help wondering how, as the houseboat sank with all its food, water and equipment, they justified taking THESE ITEMS along in a dinghy so full that everyone’s legs had to drag in the water.

>> I also have to wonder how, after landfall, the heroine managed to produce an entire high-fashion wardrobe to wear while they waited for rescue. Those capri-length pants had razor-sharp creases. Are you kidding me?

>> I am also startled to realize that the Cuban officers, who arrived on the scene jammed into the backseat of a convertible, with only the clothes on their backs and a strongbox full of gold, managed to completely conceal their identities as trained frogmen. After arriving on the island – remember, with their legs dragging in the water -- they managed to magically produce full kits of scuba gear from somewhere. And the gangsters had their own fins and tanks along, too, so they could off the Cubans underwater and frame the monster for the crime.

>> I consider this impossibly-materializing-scuba-gear business highly symbolic, on a number of levels. On the one hand, you can read it as meaning that ONLY MAGIC will allow the Naked Apes to conquer the seas. Bearing in mind that the sea monster was perched on the strongbox waiting for them the whole time, you also realize immediately that THEY ARE BOUND TO FAIL.

>> On the other hand, I hardly need to point out that you can read the frogmen WHO ENTER THE SEA AND NEVER RETURN as our operatives. The ones eaten by the sea monster are, well, coldcuts.

>> The monster should not have been equal to even a modest handgun, and luckily nobody – on a boat full of military personnel and gangsters – seemed to have one. I take this is a hopeful sign concerning the preparedness of the landscum for our eventual full takeover of dry land. I am not at all sure that the filmmakers were thinking this far ahead, however.

>> The Great Scribe of Dagon, H.P. Lovecraft, has already covered the subject of gold beneath the sea at sufficient length, to put it mildly. But when you see who winds up with the coveted strongbox at the end of this story, you will understand all.

>> Those who survive the film at the end are the ones WE CANNOT USE. Yes, Sparks is one of them.

>> I think the moral of this story is that to defeat cartoon humans, all you truly need is a cartoon monster.


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