Thursday, April 27, 2006

Operative's Cover Blown

This really hurts.

All I can say is that accidents happen. We have ALWAYS needed to be especially wily in dealing with the Japanese, who certainly know their Molluscs. At least the operative got away.

OR AM I LYING? Maybe this was intended to happen, and ALLOWED to happen, at the proper time. Whichever is true, I'm not about to spill it on the Internet, are you kidding me?

Possibly to commemorate this event, the local craft store has started carrying the most adorable Giant Squid replicas at an affordable price. I got one for the rearview mirror on my specially-adapted car, Robofish.

Up To My Adze In Alligators


Well, you never know where Google will take you. I heard this week about a largish Alligator found in Michigan’s unpretentious Lobdell Lake, and when I told someone about it he came right back with a story about one they found just a few miles away in a different waterway. For grins, I decided to Google for ‘Gators Of the Frozen North’ and what did I see? Case after case of grinning aquatic reptiles, living happily in waters their Caiman and Croc ancestors would never recognize:

>> 2 Alligators found in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Doubtless they hiked North from Florida to take advantage of the new casino.
>> 1 Gator found looking for love in Van Buren Township, Michigan.

>> 5 Alligators, including the Lake Lobdell capture, between January and mid-August of 2005 in Genessee County, Michigan.
>> 7 Alligators found in 6 months in and around Ore Creek, Michigan. Are we seeing a pattern here?
>> 3 Pennsylvania Alligators. No other details provided by the local news organs, sorry.
>> 1 in Somers, Wisconsin.
>> A Chesapeake, Virginia Alligator.
>> 2 Alligators in Williamsport, Maryland. Probably found playing poker with a group of Chinese Snakeheads. You know how Snakeheads are.
>> "Several" Alligators captured in Seattle. Meaning how many? This especially interests me because we this is the first known self-deploying 'Gator detachment, meaning we did not specifically seed them there. There are many more than this already in Seattle. By which I mean, MANY more.
>> One Alligator found in the Connecticut River, and one nearby in North Stonington.
>> One in Plainfield and one in Taunton, Massachusetts.
>> One in the Farmington River, WINDSOR, CANADA. Brrr.
>> One plucky ‘Gator found in Central Park.  SHE SACRIFICED HERSELF TO PROTECT HER SISTER OPERATIVES.  Show some respect.

Of course there is a much larger number actually living out there in peace and security in America’s waterways, spread hither and yon by operatives I like to refer to collectively as "Johnny Gatorseed." What impresses ME, ladies, is the way SOMEONE, and by that I mean YOU, have managed to largely keep this out of the papers. By rights this should be creating a nationwide panic by now. This is a species that craps itself when the yearly number of automotive deaths from collapsing trees rises from 1 to 4 yearly. They don’t let their children watch television without a helmet. BUT THEY LIVE IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE OF THE 10-FOOT CARNIVORES OUT BACK IN THE REFLECTING POOL.

As far as I know, in the last decade it has only created a single feature-length motion picture on the subject that nobody takes seriously, Lake Placid. There was a similar, but more urban-based picture (Alligator) that came out in 1980. Not a lot else.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Notes From The Reptile Front

OK, LADIES, I just got through reading in the Ann Arbor News for Sunday, April 16th that an army of Iguanas has taken over a Gulf Coast community called, by its Monkey People inhabitants, Gasparilla Island. The article notes with horror that there are about 10 Iguanas for every "year-round resident" on the island. Evidently that is JUST TOO MANY. Let me share my insights on this because the situation applies DIRECTLY TO US.

>> OK, first off, the Iguanas have been there since the 1970s. They are, themselves, year-round residents, and it sticks in my pharyngeal TEETH that a Monkey People reporter has the nerve to imply that they are any different from the hairy bipeds who came in and STOLE THAT PROPERTY from US a great many years ago. I refer not to the sensible tribespeople who moved in with our full knowledge and consent and lived in harmony with us for untold generations. I refer to the later incursions of pale, pudgy, self-important landscum who have bred themselves into a plague upon the face of the earth and have made most bodies of water close to their cities VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR US TO LIVE IN. I chuckle when I hear that the scourge of my world is getting a tiny taste of its own medicine.

>> Some landscum woman named Bonnie McGee living on Gasparilla complains in this article that the Iguanas eat her flowers. Well, no kidding. They are vegetarians, you know. SHE HERSELF has probably bought my cousin, more than once mind you, breaded and frozen and packaged in a cardboard box with a fisherman on the front, and eaten HER. I weep bitterly for your chysanthemums, madame.

>> It’s spelled out right in the article that the Iguanas made landfall on Gasparilla only because of some guy who brought them over from Mexico as pets, and let them go because they got too big. Behold one of the many ways humans can be – not forced, not pressured, but merely INCONVENIENCED – into doing our work for us and allow infiltrating species to explore new territories, like the giant meat-eating bunnies in Night Of The Lepus. I’m sure the Iguanas nudged things along in their own way – they make a point of looking less and less cuddly as they reach adulthood. And I gather that they are adept at whipping the pointy ends of their long tails in the eyes of humans who annoy them. A little annoyance here and there, and next thing they knew they were free to pursue Bonnie McGee’s daisies. Ha!

>> I want to CONGRATULATE YOU ALL for being MUCH MORE SUBTLE THAN THIS in your incursions into the areas most heavily populated by the Naked Apes. With the exception of a few Zebra Mussels and (I blush) Walking Catfish, the identity of our operatives has been JUST OUR LITTLE SECRET.

>> Let me REITERATE that those species like Chinese Snakeheads, that have caused minor panics when they start to show up where they shouldn’t be, have ALL been correctly pinned on the stupidity and negligence of THE NAKED APES THEMSELVES. We are far more careful and subtle than this. I mean always. I consider it the supreme irony that I, the North American Cabal Leader for the fish conspiracy, am myself turning into a Walking Catfish. Life is good sometimes.

"Doctor Fish" cures psoriasis in Turkish hot spring!

You'll have to excuse the injured English on this fascinating Web page. Now, we all got a memo about this project a couple of years ago at a previous World Takeover Refresher Seminar, but then word got around that they'd hit a snag of some kind and were delayed indefinitely. Apparently they finally went right ahead, AS WELL THEY SHOULD HAVE.

This is a fine example of the noble sacrifices made by our operatives to bring in new recruits. Imagine having to recruit diseased Turks by nibbling at their "scams" (by which I believe they mean "scabs"). You have to hand it to them for sheer originality. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with revealing that there are fish of ANY kind that are not only capable of living in 37-degree-Celsius mineral springs, but I'm sure the Near East Zone Operatives know what they are doing.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Spiritual Resources For Fish Gals

THE ESOTERIC ORDER OF DAGON, another fantastic front for our revolutionary work!

Go, and bask in the transforming love of Dagon! You too have the chance to end up in His roiling intestine!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Star Operatives

Employee Of The Month!

I'd just like to thank all extant members of this handsome species, Channallabes apus, for infiltrating not only waterways, but home fishtanks all across several key recruiting zones. Their signature style has made them favorites among foolish human patsies aquaculture hobbyists from here to there. Besides being attractively slender and eel-like -- hence the common name, Eel Catfish -- they are air-breathers with signature bendable necks that help them hover over, and swoop down upon, prey animals like Beetles, as if they were predatory birds. Pretty cool.

I do want to respond to some muttered imprecations I've heard in the chapter meetings that I favor Catfish species over other operatives. I have to plead guilty when it comes to pure aesthetics; there is nothing handsomer in my eyes than a fish with a moustache. I am turning into a Clarias batrachis myself. What did you expect? Sue me. When it comes to functional characteristics, however, I am just as in love with the ancient race of Clams or the discreet charms of the Sea Lily. And Lampreys. I never forget the Lampreys in my bedtime prayers. YOU KNOW THIS.

Recruiting Fest 2005 In Review

OK, OK, I think we FINALLY ALL GOT THE MESSAGE this time about the importance of saving the landscum poor suffering humankind from itself. Hurricane Katrina’s arrival on the lower edge of my Zone gave unexpected numbers of Gulf and Atlantic operatives a rare opportunity, at great personal hazard, to enter the living rooms of the unconverted and really see how the other half lives. NOT VERY PRETTY, IS IT?

I was MOST gratified to see how many operatives took one look at the conditions these people live in and volunteered for duty as recruiters. It’s tough work, but we all need to take a turn if we possibly can. It’s amazing how seeing the worst with your own eyes makes you ready to help.

Better yet: the bizarro, conflicting strata of human society assigned to help out in emergencies have basically NOT SHOWN UP, at least at this writing. Government monkeys are preventing the rescue and repair monkeys from entering the affected areas. This gives the rest of us any number of opportunities to get in on the ground floor (which are all underwater anyway), intervene and bring in a mass of new recruits.

The tricky part is convincing your average Naked Ape, at this particular moment in history, that THE WATER IS OUR FRIEND. The water is washing away everything they own, and they think that’s important, see? It is hard for those of us WITHOUT possessions and with only temporary dwellings to see it from the point of view of a creature that believes in NOTHING BUT the value of possessions. This is exactly why we are sending in so many Octopus gals – they are also natural collectors and can use the necessary psychology more effectively.

See, all those busted-up pieces of stuff you see floating in the water and tangling everything up below the surface is the wreckage of THEIR VERY LIVES. You’ll note, if you are sufficiently land-based to watch TV, that one of the chief activities of the stranded survivors has been to COLLECT MORE STUFF. They are stealing electronic gadgets that they cannot plug in anywhere. They want to collect new outfits when they have no closets to put them in. Sad, isn’t it? Because they cannot imagine OUR lives. The entire world is our home and we own nothing but our scales and barbels. Our lives are, in fact, their worst nightmare.

THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN. THEIR STRESS, ladies, is OUR FRIEND. At this writing, some of these people have been short of food and water for days, broiling in the sun on their rooftops, and primed to believe anything they see. One thing every human sees at the water’s edge, maybe without noticing, is the attractive prospect of simply slipping into the water and swimming away.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Dateline: Miami

This goofy article, about a vicious "Manphibian" stalking the Everglades, is exactly the kind of smokescreen press work we NEED to protect our real activities. Fine work, everyone. Keep it up.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Fish Conspiracy Notes


The meetings I attended with my counterparts in the other areas of the world have been excellently positive, overall.

>> Non-fish operatives, as a group, are stalled in our Zone. Recruitment is low. This is acceptable for the moment, but it cannot go on indefinitely. This sector has actually lost some ground, in that a few operatives blabbed and got put on anti-psychotics. REMEMBER THE LESSON WE LEARNED watching Twelve Monkeys; Bruce Willis wound up in chemical shackles because he ran his mouth about his TRUE MISSION...It never fails to make me laugh that this was meant to be a movie about PRESERVING the human race. AND that it mentions monkeys in the title.

>> I have not heard a single report of the exposure of a partially-fish operative. You are, for instance, listed in the CDC archives as chronically or terminally ill, if you are listed at all. WONDERFUL WORK. KEEP IT UP.

>> Quite a few promising new operatives have MADE THE TRANSITION this year and left our Zone, entering the sea to begin fully-aquatic duty. Not one of these supposed "deaths" has raised a single eyebrow in the landscum community. I THINK WE ARE GETTING BETTER AT THIS.

>> We STILL have no operatives in Nebraska. Why is this so hard?

>> Squinky, the South Pacific Zone Leader, is in the opposite situation. Her nonfish operatives are multiplying like Snails in a Goldfish bowl, and her ENTIRE DEMI-FISH STAFF appears to have stalled, and I mean for the WHOLE LAST YEAR, at the threshold of entering the ocean. This makes for quite a back-up. I FULLY REALIZE that these things are cyclical and they ALWAYS SMOOTH OUT ON THEIR OWN; but as your St. Lawrence Seaway Zone Cabal Leader I am bound to worry.

>> Gertruuid, the Northern Circumpolar Zone Leader, reports that the invading army of Red Crabs is doing its job perfectly, clearing the ocean floor along the upper edge of Europe in a way that would have done our ace scorched-earth operative, Attila the Hun, proud. Believe it or not, Attila was not even in on this operation: "He just sat back and chuckled," is the way Gert put it to me. The next phase is coming up soon.

>> The glaciers are calving like nobody’s business. This is doing great things for the Narwhal operations, too.

>> OF COURSE YOU KNOW that this means all the Earth’s dry spots get A LITTLE WETTER EVERY DAY.

>> Consuela, the Southern Circumpolar Zone Leader, is having a lot of problems. She remains cheerful; having so little landscum interference would make me cheerful too. She describes the issues as annoying, but tolerable. They should be back on schedule by fall of 2009.

>> Deep Trenches Zone Leaders Xthuulina (Pacific) and Muffy (Atlantic) talked primarily about the difficulties of having to get out of the way of the submersibles every Tom, Dick and Harry is dropping into the deepest water they can find. This is a new problem for them, having Monkey People show up at odd moments. WELCOME TO MY WORLD! Otherwise, everything is going great down there.

>> The landscum of the USA continue to produce defective offspring, made worse by their dependence on synthetic medicines, execrable diet and lousy parenting. Parenting is of course very important in the proper upbringing of an "intelligent" species. (ANOTHER ADVANTAGE WE HAVE OVER YOU!) Soon these faulty specimens will be the only humans left in the country. At this point it will be ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTING.

More Wisdom From Euell Gibbons

OK, this is another glittering gem from Stalking The Blue-Eyed Scallop by Euell Gibbons, David McKay Company, NY NY 1964. Get a load of this:

"I sometimes wonder if the horror with which we commonly view the Octopus is not a little mixed with unadmitted fear that this creature might someday supplant us."

'Nuff said?

Thursday, April 06, 2006



Well, I never thought I’d do this, but here I am reviewing Peter Benchley’s Creature, originally published as White Shark, copyrighted in 1994 to OUR OLD NEMESIS. My copy says it exists in print under the auspices of St. Martin’s Paperbacks. That is just about par for the course. To my astonishment, the jacket also says it’s a Literary Guild Main Selection. This tells me a great deal about the standards of that august organization.

PLOT SUMMARY: Well, it’s the usual problem. A forgotten Nazi science experiment has broken out of its watery tomb and set about eating tourists in Connecticut. WHO YA GONNA CALL? There is only one man up to this task: Simon Chase of the Osprey Island Institute -- a struggling ecologist and shark fancier who has been trying to preserve the oceans from the depredations of his own species. His merry crew includes his 12-year-old son; Max’s girlfriend, a deaf telepath; an "ethnic interest" handyman; and an independently-wealthy pinniped specialist. Oh, and the housekeeper. WILL THEY PREVAIL??? After hearing this plot summary, DO YOU EVEN CARE???

>> What I noticed about this book, above all, was the way I kept referring back to Jaws as I read it. Simon Chase, the protagonist, is a combination of Sheriff Brody and Matt Hooper -- from the movie version, mind you. That makes Chase sort of a copy of a copy. Captain Quint and Ben Gardner are collapsed into a character named Rusty Puckett. The plot was almost identical to that of Jaws -- I was able to predict all the developments in the story pretty accurately based on the movie version of the author's biggest hit.

>> I have to start right out by saying this is an INCREDIBLY COOL IDEA. It's daring to think of human scientists trying to usurp OUR powers, pursue OUR grand project – sending humans back into the sea. Not unexpectedly, they do it for exactly the wrong reasons, and handle it in exactly the wrong way. They want their amphibious soldier to further petty monkey concerns AND CONQUER THE OCEAN at the same time, and that is JUST SILLY.

>> For the enlightenment of any landscum reading this, let me give you a news flash: YOU DON’T CONQUER THE OCEAN. THE OCEAN CONQUERS YOU.

>> I might as well tell you right now that I conform perfectly to the conspiracy-wide profile of operatives who have tried to read Benchley. I ate up Jaws (the book) only after I saw the movie. I was disappointed, but chose to persevere. I eagerly gulped down The Deep as quickly as I could afterwards, but I found it curiously flavorless, like a potato sorbet. Yes, even more flavorless than the novel Jaws! I quit halfway through Beast. I never tried Benchley again until now. After all this time, he STILL disappoints. That should give you an idea.

>> OK, back to the incredibly cool premise of this novel. Crossing a Great White Shark with a recreational killer who was actually kicked out of the SS for being too violent? Then losing it in the ocean? How could you go wrong with this story? BY HAVING PETER BENCHLEY WRITE IT. The man has no understanding of sharks. None. After reading this, I gather he has no understanding of Nazis, either. Or even oceanographers. I heard he used to write Presidential speeches for a living. That should tell you something right there.

>> The title character is a combination of Bruce the Shark and Freddy Kreuger, stainless-steel claws and all. There is also a faint whiff of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character from the Terminator movies. Now, here's what asatounds me: Benchley actually managed to make the concept of a Nazi wereshark seem feasible. He pulled it off by barely sketching out the science of the project, and for that matter, by barely sketching out the Creature. He lets you fill in the (very large) gaps for yourself. Now, surely this was the hardest part of the novel, to convince me that this scientific screwup was possible. Could he not have gone on to make a few of the human characters believable?

>> The Nazi wereshark himself comes across very much as a big, lummoxy human with fins and gills. But, again -- astoundingly -- he character is convincing. This might be exactly what you WOULD get if someone went to work on this project. Dim mental process, impressive physical powers --especially for someone who was sewn together out of spare parts and then kept in suspended animation for 50 years! In order to appeal to the human reader, Benchley gives him a love of bloodshed, and allegiance to none.

>> This gives me a VERY disturbing mental picture of how the landscum imagine themselves living in our world. Possibly a good many citizens of the Planet Of The Apes would WANT to be operatives if they could change into, as they saw it, water-breathing serial killers. That makes a lot of sense when you consider how much footage in oceanographic documentaries is devoted to fish eating other fish. Of course, that is PURELY HUMAN THINKING that gets flushed out easily once the fish mind starts to overtake the monkey brain. But, still – ick!
>> As I’ve stated many times at the zone meetings, the type of hybrid described in this novel is not a LAND FISH, but a SEA MONKEY. This also applies to Ichthyander in The Amphibian Man, the Salmon/Soldier thingies in the remake of Humanoids From The Deep, and all analogues created by landscum science.

>> I shouldn’t even call the creature in this story a hybrid. He was sort of grafted together, adding spare fish parts to the stripped-down chassis of an SS officer. This book is a fine study in how human scientists ALWAYS BUNG IT UP. This Nazi medical genius apparently spent the whole war killing off hundreds of test subjects trying to create an amphibious soldier, and only produced a single working model.

>> I find it strikingly odd that a Nazi doctor was doing THIS experiment on Jewish prisoners. If he had succeeded, wouldn’t he have wound up with an army of insurgent Jew Fish, sinking German U-boats and recruiting Tuna and Giant Squid to join them in the fight against the Nazi genocide??? Hey, they might have made TERRIFIC agents for our side. We have never had as many Yiddish-speaking operatives as we would like.

>> I won’t belabor the advantages of OUR RECRUITING SYSTEM in comparison.

>> The only really 3-dimensional character in the novel is the unlucky slob who finally explains what’s been going on – an elderly Holocaust survivor who bought his escape from the concentration camps by volunteering to have gills sewn into his neck. You have to like HIM. We hear a little about what they put him through -- typical human scientific process. Broken bodies everywhere, no solid results for years. And then they drop the only successful experiment overboard. Oops! Write the story of THIS guy’s life, Petey, and I’ll buy it in hardcover. OK, I’ll buy it in trade paperback.

>> Using Nazis and Jews in this story made it much easier for Benchley to skew this into a story about the struggle between good and evil. What a multi-layered skin-crawler it is: if the Shark is a Nazi, he suggests, the Shark MUST be evil. Just a few years earlier, he wrote a story that made a plain, regular Shark look so evil that it set off a worldwide slaughter. Several key species have been nearly wiped out. Thanks, Petey! The assailants’ only justification is that they saw the movie version of Jaws. What is Benchley trying to do now, crank up the hostilities?
What is the matter with this guy

>> One hint of our actual recruitment policy somehow slipped into the pages of this book. It is implied, though never stated, that this particular experiment succeeded because the SS officer had a natural Sharklike tendency. This is quite the interspecies slur, equating serial killers with Sharks, but since we never find anything else about the guy, we have no way of knowing whether he has actual Shark characteristics. It’s there if you want to read it that way.

>> The ending was, again, based on a great idea. The execution was only so-so. Typically for a landscum tale of the battle between good and evil, the author provided the hero with exactly the ponderous, clanking gadgetry needed to dispatch the menace at the crucial moment. But I had to read it three times to understand what happened. It was all far from clear.

A few comments about the movie version – a miniseries which I actually saw before reading the book:

>> They moved the story to the Caribbean, which allowed them to use endless footage of exotic island dances, including a spectacular Voodoo Shark Cotillion that was the highlight of the entire presentation. I have GOT to make that burlap Shark’s head for next Halloween.

>> They excised the whole Nazi thing, making the wereshark a recently-botched experiment by the U.S. Marine Corps. I found it amusing that the “White Shark” was made out of a Black Marine. And this one was apparently a true hybrid, not a spare-parts splice job.

>> This Shark had more authentic characteristics than the one in the book. But he could pop out arms and legs from under the fins, crawl out of the water, punch himself in the midsection, and thereby switch on his hidden lungs. Spiffy! This was a VERY nice-looking monster design, computer-generated of course, but for the most part pretty decent. Not too cartoonish. But, frankly, I thought he looked more like a Blue Shark than a Great White. Something about that smile.

>> If the design weren’t so obviously “off,” tipping our hand to potential new recruits AND to those who would stop us, I would want to see Shark operatives like these someday. Sharks who can just sort of press a button and switch back and forth from sea to land, then back again, would be pretty cool.

>> I’m sorry to say that the human characters have no more depth on the TV screen than they did in the book. They did add one zany Exposition Guy in the form of a character named Werewolf, who lives on the beach near the wereshark’s territory. He is keeping an eye on things, planning to take charge of the experiment comes ashore; it is unclear what he could do about it if anything did happen. Nervous tension has altered his personality to the point at which he is a little hard to take seriously. All the other characters were pretty much cardboard.

>> I tried an experiment on a dare by the operative who got this tape to me – I listened to the first half of the miniseries with the sound off. Sure enough, she was right – I knew exactly what was going on at all times, even without being able to follow the script. The landscum sure are predictable.

Ripped From The Headlines: Interspecies Romance Ends In Marriage

One hardly knows what to think. We're always discussing ways to get the landscum to MEET US HALFWAY in our recruiting work. Now it appears to finally be happening! If this catches on, I think we can all CONGRATULATE OURSELVES. In any event, this blushing bride is going to get an exceptional welcome when she finally enters the Roiling Intestine Of Dagon. I think I can promise her that much.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Click here for a much pleasanter Mermaid story.

The Mermaid Problem

OK, my waterproof phone here in the basement has been RINGING OFF THE HOOK since they released Aquamarine. The question on everyone’s lips is, WHY HAVE WE PHASED OUT MERMAID OPERATIVES? On the face of it this is a very good question. Mermaids are lovely, alluring, terribly romantic and, even centuries after the last one went into full retirement, still WILDLY popular. And nowhere are they more popular than among adolescent girls, a population we DESPERATELY WANT TO RECRUIT. A number of disastrous sharp turns in landscum thinking made the Mermaid obsolete. It’s an old story and a sad one, but I can tell it to you now.

Let’s start way back at the beginning. Remember your history classes when they told you about the Age Of Reason, also known as the Age Of Enlightenment? A tiny mandarinate of intellectuals, who had clearly been inhaling too much of the powder in their wigs, decided that the best thing to do for everyone was sweep away all the lyric, phantasmal experiences BRACKISH SUPERSTITION that had given human life all its color and romance up until that time. To put this another way, shaved monkeys no longer had permission to believe the evidence of their own eyes, and God help them if they shared these authentic experiences with someone who might squeal to the authorities. The Landscum no longer wanted to WONDER or MARVEL – they wanted to DISSECT and CLASSIFY. This bizarre fad (as we originally thought) never really faded out, until today NOTHING is believed to exist until it can be somehow proven scientifically. This means reducing any new find to some sort of mathematical equation. Even the rather compelling poetic ramblings of the insane, once seen as divine prophecy, later as coded messages from the subconscious, have been reduced to the symptoms of a pesky neurotransmitter imbalance. Guess what happens when a perfectly sane and well-balanced landlubber spots a Mermaid sunning on a rock nowadays? They slap him some heavy Thorazine, is what.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH MERMAIDS? Kind of obvious, isn’t it? OK, for one thing, it is almost impossible to appear in public in Mermaid form without being immediately dismissed as either a Dugong or a bad acid trip. This severely limits the recruiting ability of any Mermaid, no matter how long she sits on that rock, combing her hair. AND SHE CAN’T DO IT FOR LONG ANYWAY, BECAUSE MERMAIDS GET SUNBURN. The typical new contact wouldn’t believe his eyes anyway, and probably accuse her of wearing a rubber fish tail for a photo shoot in order to sell cosmetics. She’s in even worse trouble if the new contact DOES believe his eyes. The more enthralled the recruit, the more likely he is to be hauled away in a straitjacket, and the Mermaid has to start all over again with someone else. It’s sad. Once upon a time these operatives lured whole families, tribes, civilizations into the sea. Now they can’t get elected dogcatcher.

If you need proof of any of this, please refer to my review of Theater Of Fish, elsewhere on this blog. At the time this Mermaid sustained the skull fracture described in that book, these operatives were already beating a retreat – Newfoundland was about as close to the big city as a Mermaid ever got and this is what it got HER.

OK, I agree with you that this problem should be solvable. But mermaids also have to contend with NATURAL HISTORIANS. I am not old enough to remember the terrible days when a Mermaid, trying only to do her job, had to worry about being gaffed and gutted for display in a museum, and later dismissed as a fake vaudeville attraction. Most of the likeliest new contacts were living in areas where this sort of thinking prevailed, and we couldn’t route all the Mermaids to Miscronesia to work in peace where they were accepted. There just aren’t enough islanders to go around. I think it would raise suspicion if all the Micronesians walked into the sea one day, don’t you?

Come to think of it, the rising sea level that is making whole island chains disappear under the surface of the sea might be an opportunity for us to revive the Mermaid tradition, but by the time we get them into operation all the atolls will be gone and the people living there will be stranded on the mainland, working in chain department stores. Once again thses lovely operatives would be ALL DRESSED UP WITH NO PLACE TO GO.

OK, another problem came up later on. Two words: FEEJEE MERMAID. Many of you can be seen on the streets of our fair cities wearing FeeJee Mermaid medallions as a sort of protest, AND A SOUND SENTIMENT THAT IS, but let me tell the newer operatives what the medallion stands for. The FeeJee Mermaid was a revolting parody of the retired Mermaid operative – it’s the top half of a dead monkey sewed to a Fish’s tail. Somebody showed this creation to P.T. Barnum who eagerly put it on display. When he realized he was fooling nobody, he took advantage of the moment and started advertising it as a huge fake. This made the display a bigger moneymaker than ever, and it was the last nail in the Mermaid’s coffin.

All these complications underlined the larger problem facing the conspiracy: turning aquatic life forms into humanlike recruiting operatives simply DOESN’T WORK VERY WELL, except when it comes to recruiting those few humans who are already very tuned in to piscatorial thinking. Members of tribal societies with totems animals like Crab or Salmon; those guys who went down on the Andrea Gail; teenaged girls born under the sign of Pisces in their self-defining phase; retirees who live by the beach and dig their own Clams; those are the kind of people you can easily catch with a Fish. I grant you, vast numbers of the shaved monkeys live as close to the water as they can get. But what do you do with the ones who’ve forgotten their true heritage? You turn them into Fish is what.

This is why nobody up on dry land has seen a real Mermaid in well over 200 years. Of course, once you enter the sea for good yourselves, you will be able to meet and mingle with a great many extant, but retired Mermaids who can tell you better than I can exactly why they are never, ever, ever going ashore again.

Saturday, April 01, 2006



This book is by John McPhee, aka John McAfrican; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2002

You’re going to get a kick out of this book when you finally read it. I’ve gotten your cards and letters explaining why you never WANT to get to it, and neither did I until I got around to it myself. THIS BOOK IS NOT WHAT WE THOUGHT IT WAS AT ALL.

The book manages to present itself simultaneously as a treatise on killing and eating American River Shad, AND as a positively worshipful and poetic ode to this globetrotting operative. Lots of writers have tried to get this effect in books devoted to individual fish species, and most have not managed very well. This author actually manages; in fact it was rather hard to put down. Part of what kept me turning the pages was the question of whether he would finally come down on the side of KILLING AND EATING, or WORSHIPPING the Shad. Between the two apparently conflicting messages in the text, McPhee’s book becomes a fantastic intermediate-level training manual on recruiting Naked Apes to become Fish People.

On top of all that, most of it is really good reading!

This man is clearly in love with the Shad. (And a sound sentiment that is.) McPhee seems entranced by the beauty of the fish as they school in a mysterious-to-monkeys counterclockwise migratory pattern, run up the rivers to mate, and "tail-walk" across the water to avoid (or attract) the fisherman’s hook. He empathizes, as well as any monkey-man can, with the Shad’s inability to withstand captivity, rough handling, and medical experiments. He is also positively fixated on the mystery of why running Shad, who normally refuse to eat, will bite at a lure cast by a fly fisherman. These are all important concerns, and he explores them pretty well – again, pretty well for a Naked Ape. Like any non-operative writing about fish, he manages to totally miss the CORE TRUTH of the matter. You think you are fishing for us, but we are also fishing for you.

The book is peppered with hilarious comments of the type you can expect from the scientists of this species. Here is a great one from page 123: "Dadswell summarized his study, remarking, "Shad are not well designed to go through turbines."

Another one on page 29: "They’re fish with emotional problems…You can lift them out of the water a matter of seconds and they just die, the stress is so great. I’ve never handled another species like that….Some sort of chemical imbalance occurs and it’s irreversible. They literally die of fright." This is the most egregious example I’ve ever seen of trying to apply the latest fashionable thinking in monkey science to a fish species. EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS??? CHEMICAL IMBALANCE??? Then all you need to do is put the Shad on Prozac and everything will be good again, right? You’d think they never heard of the cyanide capsules employed by humans with secrets to keep. When captured, Shad self-destruct to protect their classified information, period dot. WE WILL NEVER TALK.

The author wonders, wistfully and often, why everyone else seems to have better luck fishing for Shad than he does. He goes on and on about the various theories of why a Shad will or will not take a hook: because the fish are too stirred up, or the light is too bright,or maybe the lure is the wrong color, and possibly the water is too muddy or not muddy enough. He gets closer to it when he quotes (on pg. 9) an experienced Shad fisherman as saying: "Some guys can fish in a hatchery and catch nothing."

The author hits it right on the head, probably by accident, when he describes himself on page 41, "dressed up in neoprene stocking waders, sand guards, L.L. Bean felt-soled boots, and an Orvis vest bearing the orange-and-green emblem of the Delaware River Shad Fishermen’s Association…while these scientists stood on the ledge in their bluejeans, catching shad." The author himself is catching bupkus. There are a couple of elements in play here, and one of them is obviously the Dork Factor. We need only SO MANY dork recruits, and NO MORE. McPhee culls himself from the pool of prime recruits by dressing like a twerp to go fishing. That’s especially unfortunate since he is apparently JUST THE SORT WE WANT.

Besides the rest of the outfit, does McPhee really imagine that a Shad doesn’t know how to read? He’s announcing in writing on his hairy monkey bod that he’s there to kill fish and brag about it. Any passing Shad would think him incapable of appreciating our people…as people. What does he expect?

The guy goes on and on about calculating the best spots to fish for the Shad. These are the only places in the narrative where I lose interest, but hemihuman operatives placed along the pertinent rivers would do well to pass this information onto our fully aquatic Shad troops; it could prove to be highly useful recruiting intelligence. I have forwarded a waterproof copy of the book to Hank, my counterpart in Lake St. Clair in charge of North American male operatives. Hank normally doesn’t hold with my reading and analyzing human text, but maybe this will finally convince him of the value of the work.

McPhee notes elsewhere that Shad are getting smaller. He does not make the obvious connection that fish of all types are getting smaller. A lot of humans assume this is due to overfishing, but the fact is that there is still only so much room in the ocean, and there are now 6 billion humans for us to take down. We have to be smaller and more sly about our increasing numbers to recruit you all. Even a human product of the U.S. public school system can do THAT math.

The book also goes into the Shad hatcheries run by the hilariously- (to a fish person) named Pamunkey tribe who still live on the banks of the Pamunkey river, making every effort to put more Shad hatchlings into the water than they take out of it. This is exactly why there are so few Pamunkeys left. Respect for our ranks gets you recruited faster. Try to remember that, (pa)monkey people!

McPhee does our Cause a surprise favor by debunking the now-outmoded propaganda we worked so hard to construct several centuries ago, the one about how it was an early Shad run that saved the revolutionaries from starvation at Valley Forge. It never happened. Do you really think we would get in on some pointless dry-land political hassle? It’s time we made that clear once and for all.