Thursday, September 21, 2006


Well, THIS one was JUST PLAIN INSULTING. Written by Alan Dean Foster and published by Ballantine Books (Del Rey division) in 1980, this was on the dollar rack at the used bookstore, and I can certainly see why. The story centers on the intellectual fixations of a marine biologist named Cora Xamantina who is finally going to study the Holy Grail of her ilk, an all-ocean planet called Cachalot long since invaded by her own species. The planet is jealously guarded by its few landscum colonists because of the tremendous resale value of its lifeforms and minerals.

STRANGE TO SAY, the planet is also the sole refuge of all of Earth’s surviving ceteacean species, who have long since gotten some kind of shots to MAKE THEM INTELLIGENT. That's what I said. This led the Rubbery Ones to get in touch with their feelings of rage at humanity for the centuries of slaughter they went through, and they called it quits with the Monkey People. (How they arranged to move here without working in cooperation with humans is less than clear. Foster states in so many words that whales have smarts now, but no technology. They have an inexplicable desire to pod together in the rolling waves, under the stars, and think things over. To the Monkey People, this is SHEER MADNESS.)

Oh, yeah, BACK TO THE STORY. Cora not only wants to study the local fauna, she wants to study some whales, knowing it can’t be allowed. Actually, she won’t get to study much of anything fun, because she’s been assigned to hurry up and find out why the floating cities of Cachalot are disappearing without trace and without any survivors. THEY CALLED IN WHO? AN OFFWORLD MARINE BIOLOGIST AND HER DAUGHTER, THE DISGRUNTLED MUSICIAN? DON’T THEY WANT SOMEONE A LITTLE BETTER EQUIPPED? I’D SAY IT’S A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT TO CALL IN THIS HALF-BAKED TEAM COUSTEAU, BUT WHAT DO I KNOW? I’M JUST A CATFISH. DON’T ASK ME ANYTHING. CARRY ON. I’M SURE YOU’LL DO FINE. YOU ARE AFTER ALL THE MOST INTELLIGENT SPECIES ON ANY PLANET, ANYWHERE.

You already know the background to this one. It’s the same as in any novel populated by humans. Cora is in a power struggle with her daughter, who is bored with her advanced degree in marine biology and only wants to play her 'neurophon' all day long. Cora wants her to get serious and make with the scalpels and the jellyfish. She also grapples daily with her unresolved issues about her husband, a philandering no-good who went out and got himself killed somehow, leaving Cora devastated. She’s fought hard all her life to make it here, to the pinnacle of a marine biologist’s career, and she’s not about to give up now even though she has no idea what she’s up against and blah, blah, blah. Her only recourse is to seek a forbidden audience with the unwilling spokesman of the Sperm Whales, the most likely feller to know what’s going on here. WILL HE BREAK THE SILENCE OF A THOUSAND YEARS AND SOLVE THE MYSTERY?


>> I know we are never going to break the landscum of his fixation on cetacean intelligence until we’ve turned the last human into a Bream. But somehow the particular wording of this story just fries me in butter. It takes a lot to render me speechless -- you know that, heh heh heh -- but reading Foster's bland statement that humanity had found a way to medically bring out the intelligence in Whales put me into such a state that it took several sharp raps on the side of the tank, delivered by one of my air-breathing assistants, to snap me out of it. Foster says in so many words that Whales had NO real intelligence until the shaved monkeys came along and gave them some kind of hormone shots – with their cooperation or consent, we can never know – and twisted them into a new form that allowed said monkeys to communicate with them for the first time, using headsets as if they were in waterlogged translation booths at the United Nations. NEVER does it cross a human’s mind that the mind of the tiniest Blind Cave Fish is superior to any human’s, partly because of its REFUSAL to truckle with humanity.

>> It braces me, just a little, to see that the lot of them responded to the mass drug experiment in this sickening story by signing a non-alignment pact with the whole hairy species, and leaving the planet to get away from them.

>> Too much monkey talk in this story, not enough undersea exploration. For Scrod sake, man, you take us across the vast, lightless gulf between the stars and set us down on an ocean planet, and then you don’t even let us look around? You have us padding down carpeted hallways, looking for the microfilm room. I can do that in Detroit.

>> Too little access to the forbidden Whale civilization. I guess I see the literary reasons Foster could not let us in, but it was still maddening, like the half-glimpsed Mermaid civilization in the remake of She Creature. Against my will, the author drew me in that far -- AND THEN HE LEFT ME HIGH AND DRY.

>> We get only a little glimpse of why shaved monkeys even want to live here. He sort of tosses you an "of course they want to be here" racist bone by pointing out that the settlers are largely Polynesian – it’s in their blood, of course they want to live on a planet without land! Dude, even the Hawaiians come ashore sometimes.

>> I find the idea of a wetsuit that you can live in for WEEKS a little unsettling. Wouldn’t you start to itch all over after a while? Humans generate so much grease and drop so much hair. And they get pruny so fast. Yeeeeeccccccch.

>> I have to like the TERRIBLE SECRET they uncover that solves the mystery. Of course, they have to invalidate the whole thing by painting it over with that gaudy, tinpot requirement of every sci-fi story: HUMANLIKE INTELLIGENCE. If THAT lifeform has a humanlike intelligence, I am a fighter jet.

>>I really, really do not like where the story seems to be heading as the book closes.

Read it if you dare and tell me what you think. This is a true horror story for the Fish reader.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Peter Jackson's KING KONG

Now, you ladies may be wondering why I'm including this fish-free movie on my piscatorial website. But I finally saw it after a great deal of pressing from others, and although I disagree utterly with the male human teenager who insisted that it was one of the greatest films ever made, I do have to say that it sums up EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW about our quarry.

This new version came out in 2005, directed by Peter Jackson (yes! the man who brought us the Sumatran Rat Monkey!). It stars Naomi Watt as Ann Darrow, Jack Black as Carl Denham, and Adrien Brody as Jack Driscoll. I've seen every version of this story, but only this one succinctly captures the true, distilled essence of the flawed species we seek to convert into US.

As you'll recall, in the original version, Ann Darrow was an actress hired by entrepreneur Carl Denham to star in an adventure film set on a remote tropical island. Jack Driscoll was a feller on board ship that she fell in love with, and who had to rescue her from Kong over and over throughout the story. Later versions diverged quite a bit, but Peter Jackson brought the story back home, painting the characters with a lot more depth and detail than we got in the first Kong, and giving us some terrific scenes of prehistoric mayhem in the bargain. AND tender interspecies romance.

BUT FORGET ALL THAT. This is, at its core, an edge-of-your-seat action movie, about some little shaved monkeys who found their greatest fear -- A REALLY BIG, UNSHAVED MONKEY WHO COULD WHUP THEM ALL. The rest of the story was just about who would get to keep the pretty blonde, and who would get to do the triumphal chest-pounding in the end. This is really about the monkey Everest, the ultimate ego threat. CAN ANY MAN PREVAIL AGAINST KONG? Nope, but Ann Darrow can. After swallowing this bitter pill, the males typically decide to capitalize on it . When this too proves to be more than the humans can handle, they simply shoot Kong down off the Empire State Building and blame the whole thing on Ann. It wasn't the fighter planes, it wasn't drunken Carl Denham and his greedy-ass get-rich-quick scheme; "It was Beauty killed the beast." OK, gotcha.

I think we can agree this spells out ALL THE STRATEGY YOU NEED to capture the interest of, and recruit, any landscum male we encounter. Watch this movie and learn.

You know, before we forsake the subject of this film, I would like to linger a moment over the Skull Island tribesmen. What a lovely bunch. It's hard enough to imagine what a 25' Gorilla is doing on a remote island with a population of Dinosaurs; what these wretched humans are doing here, huddling on a leafless crescent of beach behind a hundred-foot wall of stone carved in shrieking Gorilla heads is really a puzzler. Why the sight of Kong sends them into a white-eyed, zombielike ecstasy is another good question. What exactly has Kong done for them lately?

At first I thought they were being typically human, worshipping the thing that keeps them miserable, instead of lashing together some canoes and heading for better territory. But I took a second look, and then a third:

>> They seem to live on a stretch of land with no hunting grounds, no place to farm, not even a decent stand of coconut trees or a waterfall. What do these people eat and drink?

>> It rains here continuously. They seem not to care about staying dry. They rather seem to like the damp. They aren't even pruny. Hmm.

>> You're supposed to think they're black. But there are real black people on board the ship that brings Denham's film crew to the island. Look again: the islanders are green.

>> Why in Cod's name would these people worship Kong? Is that what they're even doing? Or are they the devoted caretakers of an irresistable tourist attraction, waiting for the right boatful of rubes to come along and take a look? Could Kong be the real hostage here? Is he a pawn to the nefarious plans of the Skull Island Greenies?

>> Why in Scrod's name would they want to feed Ann Darrow to Kong? Surely they knew the menfolk would not understand, breach the wall, see Kong for themselves, send for reinforcements...a-HA! GREEN-SKINNED, SEMI-AQUATIC WELCOME WAGON LADIES!

Any other questions?

Monday, September 11, 2006

WELCOME Killer Carp!

OK, I vowed I would review another movie or book before anything else happened, but this came in from Cliffie's Clipping Service and I could not resist. The Detroit Free Press for Sunday, September 3rd, 2006, has a great big article called


right in Section A. How can you not like that? It shows pictures -- COLOR pictures -- of the disputed operatives leaping out of the water, apparently attacking idiots venturing out on the treacherous waters around Bath, IL, in amazingly overloaded dinghies. The landscum and operatives both are participants in the aptly-named Redneck Carp Tournament, an all-new traditional showdown in which the vicious, deadly


lie in wait for the insufficiently-armed rednecks to come along in their wallowing little motorboats, SO WE CAN KILL THEM.

Oh what a jolly time is had by all:

The idjits swing their clubs, wave their nets, and catch a few Carp, who do run quite large, up to 60 lbs and 5 feet long.

The Carp recruit a great many knuckleheads promising new converts for our glorious Cause. The ones they don't convert, they get the chance to hurt -- clunking into the heads of the unwary, blackening eyes and loosening fillings. (THAT'S NOT AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS, LADIES.)

Meanwhile, the newspapers wax wroth about how the Great Lakes are about to be converted to massive Carp ponds next week if a Great Wall of Carp isn't erected underwater IMMEDIATELY, at a cost of about 20 million simoleons, at a time when the mayor of Detroit is standing out in front of the Manoogian Mansion with the CEO of Ford Motors, helping him hold a sign that says "WILL WORK FOR FOOD."

Environmentalists weep and gnash their teeth about the size and ferocity of the Asian Carp currently devouring everything else in the St. Lawrence Seaway. Exactly what they were saying a few years ago about the Sea Lamprey. Where is the Sea Lamprey now? That horror-film star of yesteryear, the Dracula of the seas, has been pushed rudely aside by visions of a


that hits you "like a bowling ball," according to stunned witnesses. Come on, has anyone ever been hit by a flying bowling ball? Wouldn't that go right through you? I don't expect this frenzy to last, BUT I DO EXPECT ALL OF YOU TO MAKE THE MOST OF IT. Recruit as many as you can as long as you can. Carp are not like Sharks. Kill one Carp and three more will spring up -- literally, heh heh heh -- to take the victim's place. YOU CANNOT STOP US. YOU CANNOT WIN.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Get Ready for Fish Amnesty Day!

Click here to learn about THE ONLY DAY OFF WE EVER GET IN THE YEAR, brought to you by -- of all people -- PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment Of Animals.

I know you HATE TO LAY YOUR BURDENS DOWN, even for a single day, in the seemingly endless task of converting every single shaved monkey to our Cause. But speaking as your St. Lawrence Seaway Zone Leader, I feel it's important to step back now and then and look at all we've achieved. ONCE A YEAR IS PLENTY, LADIES.

I want to you think about this:

Over 100,000 recruited in a single day in the tsunami.
Steadily-rising sea levels AROUND THE WORLD.
The flooding of one Southern state after another here in the USA.
1700 recruited in a few hours in New Orleans, Florida, Mississippi and points South.
The rise in Alligator and Shark recruitment numbers in those states.
Whole Pacific Island chains DISAPPEARING.

Who do you think is doing all this, THE EASTER BUNNY?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Welcome Home, Steve

He "died" the way he lived, up to his adze in operatives. Yes, Steve Irwin has finally entered the sea forever, during a trip to the visit the Stingrays of the Great Barrier Reef. WE CAN'T BELIEVE YOU FINALLY MADE IT! It must have been a tough, tough decision to make, as greatly loved as he is up on dry land. This is a fitting end to a long, happy career recruiting humans from all walks of life by hooking them up with scaly, toothy, venomous, fully- and semi-aquatic operatives of all kinds, ALL AROUND THE WORLD.

Great to have you here with us, where you will dwell in wonder and glory forever.