Saturday, March 11, 2006

DEMENTIA-13 -- plus crabitat tips!

Today’s Extra: How To Keep Your Hermit Crabs Alive I

Crab Inspectors visiting pet stores across the country are calling in ten new complaints a week, and I’ve realized that we need to take drastic action. Land hermit crabs in homes and pet stores are dying off like plague victims because, even at this late date, nobody knows how to take care of them. These are animals that should live upwards of twenty years, even in captivity. In most stores, the clerk in charge of the crabs is a pimply-faced kid with a droopy lower lip who can’t even spell his own name correctly. The store owner often knows even less than the clerks. This should help you understand that odor of death seeping out of the crab tanks in the store. It’s inexcusable. Most amazing to me is the fact that most of the hermit-crab books sold in pet stores offer almost NO information on actually keeping the crabs alive.

Your assignment is to copy and distribute these care sheets to every pet store in your territory. Encourage the store owner to hand a copy to every crab customer. Some of them will obviously come back to our own operatives this way, but that’s no loss. SOME OF YOU CAN USE A REFRESHER ANYWAY.

As a side note: I can’t help wondering how the folks at PETA sleep at night. They’re trying to stop the traffic in hermit crabs because it isn’t ‘dignified’ for the crabs to be kept as pets. ARE YOU FOOLS NOT AWARE OF HOW MANY CRABS DIE OF NEGLECT IN THE PET STORE, EVEN BEFORE THE PIG-IGNORANT CUSTOMER BUYS THE SURVIVORS TO KILL THEM OFF AT HOME? Address THAT, will you? Sorry, was I yelling again?


>> Crabs are beach creatures who need heat, high humidity and bright natural sunlight to do well. A land hermit crab in nature has constant access to sea salt, clean water both fresh and salty, and calcium in the form of crushed-coral sand. There are other crabs to talk to, lots of outfits to try on, and trees and rocks to climb. There are all kinds of things to eat washed up daily on the beach – fish, seaweed, coconuts, wood scraps. The closer you get to this ideal, the better.

>> Provide sunlight in the form of a natural-spectrum bulb of the type intended for reptiles. The store clerk can adapt a fishtank light hood for use with this bulb, or you can perch it on top of a wire-mesh lid which is actually better to keep the crabs in. Some people take their crabs outside in mesh bags or birdcages so they can get real live daylight.

>> The tank can be lined with natural crushed coral, gravel, or anything approved for use with fish. This should be deep enough for the crabs to tunnel into a ways, and kept damp at all times to maintain a high tank humidity. Crabs will suffocate if their gills dry out. Wash out the gravel WEEKLY with hot water, and sprinkle fresh sea salt into it before you replace the crabs.

>> Provide a water dish deep enough to let your tallest crab submerge himself completely, filled at all times with CLEAN, room-temperature SPRING WATER. The dish must NOT be slippery inside – these are LAND crabs, and they will drown if they cannot get out easily. At least you need to provide a rough-textured rock in the dish to allow the crabs to get out. You can now buy fabulous faux-stone water dishes that have lots of surface texture to make climbing easy.

>> Crabs need objects to climb to keep them in top condition. Rearrange the furniture weekly to keep them from getting bored. Avoid adding anything with electrical cords that lead out of the tank or any objects tall enough to help the crabs escape. Remember that they can squeeze out through tiny cracks and lift incredibly heavy objects, dropping their shells if necessary to fit through the smallest holes. They will form themselves into living ladders so the crab at the top can escape. THEY WILL TRY TO GET OUT EVERY DAY, AND THEY ARE SMARTER THAN YOU ARE, BELIEVE ME. Take no chances.

>> The secret weapon in your crab tank is a slab of cork bark. They climb it, they hide under it, they can carry it easily and rearrange it any way they want. They even eat it happily. It floats and it never seems to get moldy, even after months of standing in damp gravel. Every crab tank should have a chunk of this stuff. It even comes in a tube shape that they are absolutely crazy about.

OK, on to the reading guide...
Dementia 13

Released in 1963, directed by a younger and more foolish Francis Coppola
Starring William Campbell, Luana Anders, Patrick Magee...heck, you name it!

PLOT SUMMARY:The action focuses on the pond out back of Castle Halloran in some unnamed corner of Ireland. Bad things happen there, especially during weddings. All I'm going to say, to avoid spoiling it for those who haven't yet seen it, is "keep your eye on the pond." This is one of those pictures, like The Ring, Jaws, The Changeling and The Incredible Mr. Limpet, with the compelling theme of "the answer is in the water."


>> By me, the main message in this film is that if left to their own devices, humans will make a hash out of fish territory. Look at what they do to the pond in the course of the story! Nothing but bad, unhappy events, one after another for years and years, imposed on our sisters -- and then they drain the pond dry without even saying thank you.

>> The women in this movie certainly give me a bad vibe -- it's unmistakable in each case, no matter how faint. Kane is no prize, for instance. As Lady Halloran would say: I don't care for her. And Lady Halloran is a hard proposition in her own right.

>> And look at Louise! When her husband dies of a heart attack while they're out rowing together (in both senses of that phrase) on the pond, she coolly dumps him overboard tied to the boat's anchor, then sets about gaining the confidence of her mother-in-law to get a cut of the inheritance. Nice.

>> The Halloran sons are all pieces of work, too, frankly. Nice twist when it comes to these fine boys.

>> Reasonably good Irish superstition content. Maybe they underplayed that just a hair.

>> Good use of the family doctor in the plot. Like all doctors, he performs almost no useful services to anyone but dashes in at the right moment to claim credit for unravelling the whole mystery himself. Typical.

>> I really can't get past the fact that even after they drain the pond and find out The Truth In The Water, they manage not to find the body Louise disposed of there. What was that all about?

>> It's good to see Coppola make such a clumsy film that still manages to be so disturbing. Makes me realize the potential that may be lurking in others out there making movies.

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