Friday, March 24, 2006

Soft-Shell Crab Dining Tip From Euell Gibbons!


Well, this has been QUITE a week book crawling. Scouring the used-book outlets for readings I can interpret for you, I came across a book I’ve personally wanted for YEARS: Stalking The Blue-Eyed Scallop by beloved aquatic-life advocate Euell Gibbons, David McKay Co., Inc., New York NY, copyright 1964. Catherine R. Hammond did the almost-eerily-precise line drawings of our sister operatives. This is the Field Guide Edition (yes!). I feel compelled to add that in the distant year of 1971, when this edition was printed, it would set you back only $2.95 to buy it new. Oh, turn back the clock! Nowadays it would cost you sixteen bucks in paperback.

This is an entire Gibbons volume devoted to the myriad ways our fully-aquatic operatives can capture and recruit shaved monkeys, all the while convincing said recruits that THEY are capturing and assimilating US. There are delicious laughs on every page.

Seriously, Gibbons and Hammond should be proud of this work. They describe and illustrate the art of wildcrafting in the waterways WITHOUT anthropomorphizing, which frankly gets irritating after a while, and WITHOUT ONCE failing to respect the different lifestyles and habits of the species described on every page. Like the immortal Will Cuppy, Gibbons (you have to love his name, too) is respectful enough to capitalize the operative species, and even the names of the recipes he uses to eat them: for instance making Crab Cakes out of Green Crabs. This is a man I like.

I’m not going to attempt a one-shot review of this entire, sterling work; it is simply too full of TINY, GLITTERING LITERARY GEMS. I’m going to sprinkle these throughout the blog, to tantalize you into FINDING YOUR OWN COPY of this book. I would not be opposed to you campaigning as a group to convince the publishing houses to reprint this spectacular recruiting manual. IT CAN ONLY SPEED THE PROGRESS OF THE REVOLUTION.

Here’s a great one I found on pgs. 42-43:

“Although Soft-Shells [crabs]
are easy to clean and simple to cook, I somehow never think of them as a camp dish…the idea of serving such luxuries on paper plates to people in camp togs or bathing suits seems inappropriate. They are good enough to deserve the splendor of snowy linen, gleaming silver, delicate china, sparkling glassware and the finest wines. I feel faintly embarrassed approaching a well-cooked Soft-Shell in anything less than my best.”

You newer contacts may not fully appreciate the humor here. He’s breaking out the candelabra and dinner jacket in order to be recruited and consumed by Crabs who have been caught off duty, fast asleep in their underwear.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

MUST LOVE JAWS -- the short film


Paste this address in your browser to see an absolutely startling re-interpretation of Jaws, the Holy of Holies, the film that has both recruited AND KILLED more landfish operatives than any other piece of human propaganda.

I think the makers of this short film -- Mike Dow and Ari Eisner -- were kidding, if you can believe that. But they inadvertently cut through to the heart of EVERYTHING WE ARE TRYING TO DO HERE. Man meets Shark. Man loves Shark. Shark eats man. Both find true happiness. IS THERE ANY MORE TO IT THAN THAT?

Yes, yes, yes, I am one day going to be getting to my own interpretation of this staggering film. It's just such a big subject, you know, like a Pentecostal Baptist writing a thumbnail review of the Bible.

By the way, this film took about a year to load onto my computer, but the Manoogian Mansion can't seem to afford a cable linkup to the Internet, so I am still using dial-up, unlike many of you. Have at it, either way. It's well worth the wait.

Our Operatives' Talents Touted In Landscum Glossy Magazine


WELL, LADIES, the April 2006 issue of Discover has certainly proven to be a goldmine of Fish Intelligence, in both senses of that phrase. It was on page 12 of this issue that I learned that our contacts in Pittsburgh, PA are finally ready to publish some of their findings regarding the intelligence testing of Goldfish. A Calico Fantail who wishes to be anonymous (in the article, "Nemo Goes To College," they used the pseudonym "Albert Einstein" – especially funny because before she joined our ranks she was a homeless woman whose first name was, in fact, Albertine). Now she not only has luxury digs in the home of a well-off engineer but has gotten her picture in a glossy magazine. Not many Goldfish can say that. And needless to say she is reporting STRAIGHT BACK TO US on the engineer’s findings about her ability to do simple tricks like swim under a limbo bar. This guy is almost the only one out there trying to prove that we are intelligent creatures. Of course they continue to assume that "intelligent" means either "able to work mathematical equations" or "willing to take orders from Naked Apes." Sigh. I shouldn’t complain – Jessica Ruvinsky’s article makes clear that we are still swimming WELL BELOW THEIR RADAR.
Let me note that the image above is an action photo of our famed operative, Alberta Einstein!

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! On page 26 we see an article linking the three-dimensional camouflage skills of Cephalopods (see earlier blog entry on the movie Possession) to the possible linguistic challenges of the day when Homo sap. finally meets intelligent extraterrestrials. In "Why Not Morph?" Jaron Lanier writes enviously of the ability of the Cuttlefish, Octopus and related species to not only change their colors, but their shapes and behaviors, in ways that boggle the puny landscum mind. I was PARTICULARLY SATISFIED to see the author point out the embarrassing limitations of computer graphics and cutting-edge "virtual reality" programs compared to the inborn talents of our operatives. To listen to most of these people talk you’d think it was the proudest achievement since the Great Pyramid, but to the fish people it’s JUST LAUGHABLE. I did not know, by the way, that early prototypes of virtual-reality "avatars" were aquatic creatures, like Lobsters. Ha!

The author knows all this, but he still misses the point. He says on page 27, "If Cephalopods someday evolve to become intelligent creatures with civilizations…" IF??? I know, I know, they don’t consider you intelligent until you’ve become stupid enough to split an atom and annihilate yourself. But still!

And let us bear in mind that he is only discussing the comparatively gaudy, tinpot talents of the Cephalopods. He describes virtual reality programs as a pale imitation of what a Cuttlefish can do, and he said a mouthful THERE. But a Moon Wrasse who changes from male to female as needed is as far above the Cuttlefish in this respect as the Cuttlefish is above Homo sap. And on down the chain, to the deepest parts of the ocean, and from there to the very MIND OF DAGON.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Starfish" by Galway Kinnell


POETRY CORNER

CLIFFIE’S NOTE: I consider this just a nice poem, not precisely religious in nature, but feel free to read it any way you want.

"Daybreak" - Galway Kinnell

On the tidal mud, just before sunset,
dozens of starfishes
were creeping. It was
as though the mud were a sky
and enormous, imperfect stars
moved across it slowly
as the actual stars cross heaven.
All at once they stopped,
and as if they had simply
increased their receptivity
to gravity they sank down
into it and lay still: and by the time
pink sunset broke across them
they were as invisible
as the true stars at daybreak.


(Cliffie brushes away a little tear…)

Come to think of it, there’s a great Starfish story used as a burnout-prevention tool by landscum human social workers – always important in the face of the species-wide behavioral problems that seem to spring up everywhere, like mushrooms in the shade, just when you thought you had them ALL STAMPED OUT. This Hydra-like dysfunction is THE major reason we are trying to get the human race converted back into fish. Or if you like, the major reason we need them ALL STAMPED OUT. Anyway, here’s the story.

A woman is walking up and down a beach at low tide, picking up one stranded Starfish after another and pitching them back into the water. A man comes along and watches her a while. He looks down the beach, and sees uncountable Starfish beached all the way to the horizon. "What are you trying to prove?" he asks. "There must be thousands of beaches and millions of Starfish. How can you ever make a difference?"

The woman picks up a really big Starfish and pitches it far into the water. "I just made a difference to that one," she says.

I have no idea where it came from because although it’s printed everywhere on posters and t-shirts, nobody is ever credited. You know what that means, right?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

AQUAMARINE: The Movie


AQUAMARINE

Starring a bunch of giggling and/or sneering girls in their early teens

PLOT SUMMARY: OK, this is your basic mermaid story. Chick with long flowing hair and a fish's tail washes ashore at the Capri Beach Club, hiding out in the club’s seawater-flooded, kelp-shrouded beachside swimming pool. She immediately sets her cap for the club’s hunky lifeguard, Raymond. She enlists the help of two 12-year-old girls who have loved Raymond MUCH longer than the mermaid has. It should not be possible to obtain help from such persons. But the mermaid has serious leverage: the girls are about to be separated when one of them moves to Australia, and the mermaid says they will get any wish they want if they help her. Their goal is to stay together. Comedy ensues as the mermaid, Aquamarine, tries to get Raymond to fall in love with her without him finding out her species. This needs to happen before her own time ashore runs out and before the friends have to separate. WILL THEY PREVAIL?

CLIFFIE'S NOTES ON THIS ULTRALIGHT COMEDY FEATURE:

>> I fail to understand something here. The story goes that any mermaid supposedly lives only to make landlubber men fall for her. Why, then, would she have to prove to herself or anyone else that there is such a thing as love? That's what all this fuss is about. Evidently she's trying to make a point to her father, Poseidon.

>> I fail to understand why the landscum think they are the only species capable of love. Fish are MADE of love and Poseidon definitely does not need to be filled in on that fact. Jesus, humans are so dumb I could slap them over and over until they…oh sorry, back to the review.

>> I fail to understand something else. Say Aquamarine succeeds in getting Raymond to fall for her, under false pretenses. THEN what?

>> On second thought, never mind; that part should work out. Raymond is a dork. He might not even notice he's involved in a Piscatorial Romance. By the end of the film I still wasn’t clear on whether he knew which end was, well, you know.

>> I fail to understand how the filmmakers expected this story to be believable to their target audience. All this stuff about braving your deep fears or sacrificing a great desire for your best middle-school girlfriend is a load of horseapples. I am speaking to you as a former twelve-year-old girl myself.

>> I fail to understand something else. Speaking as a part-fish, part-human amalgam, I have to say the last person I would ever go to for romantic advice is a twelve-year-old dateless wonder still in her hopeless-crush-on-a-high-school-senior phase. Never mind TWO of them.

>> I did like one quip by the title character: "We're not mythical. We're discreet."

>> This film combines the least engaging features of Blast From The Past with those of Dagon. I kept waiting for tentacles to shoot out of Aquamarine's mouth and engulf Raymond's head, but it was not to be.

>> There was no totally-excellent scene in which Poseidon came ashore in a towering rage. If you’re going to make him seem like a power-hungry ogre, I say do it right.

>> We also never got to see a mob of angry Fish People storm the beach and eat the bathers. This is a major oversight as far as I’m concerned.

>> There were actually a lot of good things about this movie: the script, the pace, the acting, the fact that neither one of the landlubber girls is an Odious Child type. It isn't overly sweet.

>> I have to give this film a resounding "meh," yet I’d still advise you to see it -- it's perfect if you're trying to entertain a niece for the weekend or something. But make sure it’s a landlubber niece. We want only positive, HELPFUL messages going to our young part-fish operatives. This might well give them the wrong idea about – not their recruiting goals, exactly, but the best way to ACHIEVE them. This Aquamarine character does everything wrong, every step of the way, and finally gets what she wants only by sheerest luck.

>> In fact, LET ME LIST THE MISTAKES: 1) She’s working alone, in actual defiance of her Pod leader. As if she knew best how to handle a recruiting operation – sheesh. 2) Hiding in a shallow wading pool that’s about to be emptied and cleaned is suicide. If she had been spotted she would have been pinned to a dissecting table before the first reel was over. 3) Recruiting the least likely prospect on the whole beach is just stupid. There is no reason to do things the hard way. 4) Coming ashore from the sea instead of moving towards an aquatic life from the land is also just stupid. We stopped doing it that way CENTURIES ago, for EXCELLENT reasons. 5) Outing herself to not one, but FIVE of the landscum by the end of the film, without converting ANY of them to our side first, is bizarre beyond belief. You all know the steps we follow: start with the DNA transfer, THEN wait and see what species the new contact transforms into, and THEN, NOT BEFORE, tell them who they are and where they’re going. 6) Making a spectacle of herself. Oh, this list could go on and on. I’d better quit. If you need this explained to you at THIS late date, you need to be KILLED and EATEN.

>> Come to think of it, this naive fantasy film could easily become the Reefer Madness of our glorious Movement. Aquamarine has all the qualities of the many cautionary films aimed at teenagers to keep them away from sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll: a good, solid message embedded in a laughably ignorant morass of idiocy. I MAY YET ADOPT IT AS A TRAINING FILM. Let me watch it a few more times and maybe show it to a couple of mixed-species focus group.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA


BAD NEWS FOR YOU SQUID GALS

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.

Ripped From The Headlines (but not very recently)


Today’s topic:
Bethany Hamilton, your new role model

I was talking to a colleague on the phone one night and she happened to tell me about the interview airing on 20/20 with Bethany Hamilton, the 13-yr-old surfing ace whose arm was nipped off by a shark Halloween morning. We both made a point of watching, because this is a rare opportunity to observe on national TV the behavior of a brand-new recruit concealing the first stages of her transformation. You’ll all be receiving tapes of this interview in your mailboxes soon. Every one of us has felt the transformation from the inside, but we rarely get to observe it from the outside – especially with the option to rewind and replay.

CLIFFIE'S NOTES ON 20/20's INTERVIEW WITH BETHANY

>> It's NOT just Keanu...I guess they ALL talk that way in Hawaii!

>> That kid is really focused. She didn't lose her cool when a shark the size of a Volkswagen bus snapped her arm off. Her only thought at the time was whether she was going to lose her sponsorships because of it. Three weeks later she was already toning up to get back on a surfboard. You apparently cannot keep her away from the water. This girl lives out of my territory, but she is the type I would feel lucky to have as an operative.

>> Speaking of focus, I would like you to notice that even during the videotaping of this, the most profound turning point in her life to date, Bethany did not leak ANYTHING on the air. I’m beaing in mind that this segment could have been pared down from many hours of taped interviews, and the parings COULD have been full of security breaches, but I think not. Look at the way she carefully gives those super-bland answers to the interviewer guy, neatly dodging the potential areas of risky intelligence by pretending to be too blonde to understand the questions. (Yes – the Naked Apes still believe in the Dumb Blonde stereotype. Pass the bleach.) If she surfs the way she thinks, hoo boy! Her sports career may be over, but I wouldn’t shed a tear for her just yet. Behold the next Worldwide Fish Conspiracy Leader!

>> I haven’t called our Pacific Islands Cabal Leader to check yet, but I came away with the distinct impression that this Shark bite was a moment of mutual consent, with months of preparation before the moment of transfer. It must have been amazing to see it all go down. In any case she accomplished her mission perfectly, and I know that’s not easy when the operative is so much bigger than the new contact. This makes the subsequent murder of our contact operative even more sickening to me. This was a Tiger Shark of rare subtlety with her best years ahead of her. We will all miss her terribly. A moment of silence, please, for the loss of one of the Pacific’s finest.

>> The speedy capture and killing of a shark like this one should have been impossible. All I can think is that she needed to sacrifice herself for security reasons. Again, I haven’t had time to call and check on the details with Squinky at Pacific Islands Takeover Central HQ.

>> I had to laugh at the segment of film that showed Bethany in her hospital gown, chatting amiably with a surfer-dude friend who lost a leg the same way she lost her arm. They marvelled together at how the bites didn't hurt at all. I can never get over how scared people are of Sharks. And up here on dry land, only you and I know what it really means when someone is painlessly bitten by a Shark.

>> I can detect only one whiff of the possibility that Bethany revealed too much, and it’s SO faint that no Naked Ape would ever catch it. Everyone, but everyone, is more upset about this than she is. In reality, of course, she’s modestly underplaying the fact that she can now bask in her new destiny, knowing she will one day join us in the sea forever. To a human viewer she just seems terribly plucky in the face of personal disaster. I can never get over how easy it is to conceal oneself behind human stereotypes. THEY DON’T SEE WHAT GOES ON RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES. Don’t you have to love it?

ON A RELATED TOPIC…KUNO, YOU WILL BE MISSED

>> We’ve all heard that Kuno the Killer Katfish Catfish was himself killed this summer in the severe heatwave that wiped out so many humans in Europe, including many of our newest operatives in France. Kuno worked out of Volksgarten Park Lake in the Berlin area for years, accidentally finding fame when he consumed someone’s Dachshund puppy while training a newer operative. This happy accident took Kuno’s recruitment numbers higher than those of any other European Catfish in decades. I feel compelled to add that although the news organs and his adoring fans describe him as enormous, even comparing him to Nessie, he is not really all that large for a member of his species. At least I’ve seen bigger. But you know how the Naked Apes are. Tell them something is a certain way and they will see it that way, from that day forward, no matter what happens to change their perspective. This is a great advantage that works for us every day in the field. All you and I have to tell them is that we have a rare disease and from then on they will see us as tragically ill…NOT as people happily transforming into fish.

But I digress. The strangely happy postscript to this story is that Kuno will continue to make new contacts once he is stuffed, mounted and put on public display by the city of Bremen. Now, I know this is a VERY TOUCHY ISSUE and I DON’T want to start another big debate on the subject, but try to read this next sentence without getting mad: I think we need to carefully take note of how many new contacts we make through Kuno in the museum. As much as we all love the ancient tradition of humans who spend decades tracking lake and river monsters too wily to be caught, I STILL THINK IT’S WORTH INVESTIGATING to see how much different the results are when those elusive creatures are, in fact, caught. End of subject. Just think it over, OK?

Shark Panic Stand-Down!


OK, calls and letters are pouring in, complaining that our operatives are being exploited. BBC News online has published their finding that Pentagon scientists are training or altering or doing SOMETHING to defenseless Sharks that will allow them to track enemy ships and submarines and stuff.

Let's settle this right now. The panic is unnecessary. There is nothing a Shark can do that does not SERVE DAGON. This development is entirely beneficial to US. We have merely allowed landscum scientists to believe that they are customizing Sharks for use as stealth trackers as a way of obtaining better access to THEIR labs for OUR use.

Everything is under control.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

THE DA VINCI COD


In Cod We Trust...

WELL, MA’AM, I have to say I was actually frightened when I read the jacket copy on The DaVinci Cod by Don Brine (HarperCollins, 2005, New York, NY). Part of that copy reads thusly: "Leonardo DaVinci knew a very great deal indeed about what Cod really are, and that sinister knowledge is only now coming to light…" ITALICS MINE. I thought I was holding the ultimate security leak right there in my hands. OK, they’re not really hands anymore at this point. You know what I mean.

I couldn’t believe it when I started reading. THE WHOLE THING IS A JOKE. And actually quite a good joke. See, the protagonist -- a complete moron pretending to teach a fictional subject at the University of London – is roped into a murder investigation after the authorities discover that the murder weapon – a Codfish – has the protagonist’s prints on it. After that things start to get weird.

As in Dan Brown’s much drearier DaVinci Code, a sexy Frenchwoman appears, evidently on a mission to haul our hero all over the city while lecturing him about some kind of conspiracy that has set him up to look like the killer of a curator at one of London’s wonderful art museums. She connects this crime to every conspiracy in history. But mostly she talks in riddles about one secret organization you’ve never heard of, C.O.D. This proves to be the rotten, chum-smelling heart of the Catholic Church, leading all the way back to the earliest days when Christ was still alive. Our hero – a blithering idiot who can barely follow what the Frenchwoman is saying -- ultimately reveals that he is not the kind of expert they need on this case, and the Frenchwoman decides he knows too much. This, in spite of the fact that she’s the one who’s been telling him everything from the beginning of the first chapter. From here, things get ugly. WILL THE HERO SURVIVE?

>> There were just two items that really shivered my scutes, besides that terrifying jacket blurb. One is on page 84: "All the conspiracies of the world are masks deliberately worn by the C.O.D. to hide their very existence." Is that too close for comfort, or what?

>> The second is on page 152: "…you must know that it is far more than merely a metaphor. You must know it is the literal truth -- the great secret apprehended only shadowly [sic] by human religions and philosophy." What is the Frenchwoman sputtering about now, you ask? She’s reacting rather violently to a crack the hero makes, equating God and Cod.

>> Why does this get her so upset? Because in spite of her going on and on about the deep secrecy of C.O.D., she has blabbed EVERYTHING to her audience – not only the hero, who could probably be trusted to keep his mouth shut, but also to a guy with Tourette’s Syndrome. Scrod knows what he’s going to say or do next. She knows she’s in trouble here.


>> How could she be so stupid? BECAUSE SHE’S NOT ONE OF OUR OPERATIVES. THIS WHOLE STORY IS JUST A JOKE. This is what happens when you send a human to do a Fish’s job. It’s like the hallmark of Human enterprise: they just have to gum everything up.

>> I love the respectful treatment of major works of art and religio-historical figures in the story; for instance, the references to certain secret sigils inscribed on the "hairdo of Christ."


>> I smile at the way this author humorously underlines the very element I didn’t like about The DaVinci Code: the way EVERYTHING is a symbol and EVERYTHING is in code and EVERYTHING, supposedly kept secret for millennia, is discovered and unravelled within a few hours by this single character, who is then so upset that she’s explained it all to our hero that she gets hostile with him. Come on, he didn’t ask to be dragged out of bed for this.

>> The explication of Human subterfuge is delicious. The murder victim found at the beginning of the story was getting TOO CLOSE TO THE TRUTH and had to be taken out by the most subtle and unobtrusive means available: someone jammed a Codfish down his throat, cut gill slits into his neck so he’d bleed all over everything, and left him in the main hallway of a public museum in London. Way to cover your tracks, people.

>> Now here’s something I don’t get. WHAT IS ALL THE FUSS about these big secrets? It’s been known forever that Christianity has a great appreciation for, and entanglement with, the water and fish. If someone paints some of these well-known details into a picture of the Last Supper, why is that a big deal? If God lives at the bottom of a deep-sea trench in the North Atlantic, why is that skin off anyone’s knees? Why is it worth killing anyone?

>> The discovery of the grim secret of the Mona Eda is one of the finest moments in Naked Ape literature, laden with emotion and meaning that survives the goofiness of the book’s premise. For this scene alone, you need to read the book.

Overall, I rate it highly, especially recommending it for readers who enjoy le genre spouf, of the ultra-light type – think of Rosemary Cartwheel’s Love’s Reckless Rash and you’re on the right track. This may be the only book you see of this type that involves OUR GLORIOUS CAUSE.
I just wanted you all to know that the image on this page is available at the official Ray Troll website in more than one form, including t-shirts. YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

DEEP RISING


Today’s Topic: Tentacular Glee!

DATELINE: WASAU, WISCONSIN

It seems our publicity-bound "special operative" has been sighted in the vicinity of America’s Dairyland. It certainly took them a while to notice, but the scheduling problems are nothing in comparison to the good news that she was released back into the water unharmed after inserting herself into a likely-looking net on her "maiden" recruiting operation. It should be very exciting to see whether (codename) Chompy, the White Muskellunge, will have the same wavemaking impact as the white Deer and Buffalo that have been born the past few years.
And YES, there will be a pool. Contact your local chapter reps to put money on: the number and sex of new operatives recruited by Chompy; the number of news items claiming Chompy heralds the dawn of a new Ice Age; the number of news items comparing Chompy to "Meg," the albino Megalodon in Steve Alten’s novels; the number of Yorkshire Terriers Chompy consumes in order to make a name for herself; the number of Indian legends discovered, foretelling the sighting of white Muskies as a sign of some sort.

News items and Indian legends written by operatives DO NOT COUNT. We keep careful track of those. Don’t get any ideas. Winners will be announced September 30th.
OK, ON TO THE REVIEW!

The time has finally come for me to review Deep Rising, one of the silliest adventure movies to come out in a couple of decades, but one that is VERY EDUCATIONAL AND STRANGELY THOUGHT-PROVOKING for you and me. This film came out in 1998, and stars Treat Williams and Famke Janssen. It’s hard to decide which actors to list because hardly anyone stood out as "the star," in the usual sense. I just went with the male and female characters who seemed to have the most lines.

PLOT SUMMARY: A motley charter-boat crew of wisecracking lowlifes is hired by an even motlier crew of slick professional killer types. Everyone is travelling in a small boat through heavy seas towards THEY KNOW NOT WHAT. The boat’s crew eventually learns that they have been hired to help rob a cruise ship, a kind of floating casino that is (ho hum) impervious to sinking and has a stupendous anti-pirate system. This is the cruise ship’s maiden voyage. DO YOU SEE IT COMING YET?

Under protest by the charter-boat hands, they all board the strangely dark and silent ship…To find nobody there. Oh, except some SEA MONSTERS who have eaten the entire ship’s complement – yes, even the guys juggling the flaming torches and the poor little canape girls. WILL THE THIEVES SURVIVE?

CLIFFIE’S NOTES:

This is the first real advance in heist movies since time out of mind. YES, EVEN THE MIND OF DAGON, and that reaches back PRETTY FAR. I cannot imagine why nobody has thought before to add sea monsters to this tired and flagging subgenre. I have never liked this kind of storyline but I can tell you, this one is a gas.

The pace of this movie is good – not too ‘breakneck’ for the old folks, but the story never drags so the young’uns are happy too.

Good old Rob Bottin, "the Jack Nicholson of rubber," designed the sea monsters. He came through for us perfectly, creating some super-oogly tentacle-waving critters that spend most of their time concealed inside pipes and under catwalks. The rare glimpses we get during most of the movie are as effective as I dared to dream. The final all-out confrontation with the critter is really boss.

We are not actually considering a sea monster like this down at the R&D labs. NOTHING needs thast many mouths. And it would be too hard to hide, now that remote-controle submersible cameras are in vogue.

I’m sorry to say there are quite a few irritating elements in this picture. The ship’s engineer, for instance, does double duty as Odious Comic Relief Lad. I was ready to rip the guy to pieces by the middle of the story. What makes it worse is the way this guy gets off a really good, well-timed joke in one scene, then spends the next three or four scenes spewing unamusing non sequiturs. He could have been used much better.

Another character plays Exposition Lad, offering entirely useless information on the sea monster’s likely species and a theory to the effect that the deeper the water, the bigger the members of this species get. And the boat is adrift over the Marianas Trench, where the water is really, really deep. Popular culture would have you think that the Trench is crowded with immense sharks and water-breathing dinosaurs and such. Hey, why not this critter too? If the scriptwriters had really been thinking, they would have had the other characters shout this guy down immediately: 'IF YOU CAN’T TELL US HOW TO KILL IT, SHADDUP.'

The pirates are just so derivative, you know? Just once I’d like to see a bunch of professional thieves who are not directly modeled on the ones in Die Hard. You know the types – each one is from a different country, they all wear fabulous outfits and are armed to the teeth with state-of-the-art grenade launchers, laser-scope guns and gas grenades. We have to hear about their mercenary credentials. Ho hum.

>> What I want you to notice here is the way the sea monster cuts effortlessly through all this muscle and firepower, the way a hot knife runs through butter. She manages by staying out of sight for the most part, THE WAY WE DO IN REAL LIFE, emerging only to eat recruit the occasional straggler.

Even here we have an irritating element! Can you imagine a sea monster that would waste good recruiting material – in this case, the skeletons of the passengers and crew – by depositing them inside the ship? That offal would have fed I-don’t-know-how-many crabs and worms and you-name-it on the sea floor. A REAL sea monster recycles.

I couldn’t help noticing that this creature, presented to us as entirely aquatic, has somehow thought to hunt above water, swum miles away from home to accomplish the deed, and has even commandeered a boat. It makes me wonder whether there have been any new leaks in Hollywood lately. It’s just a little too close to the way we operate ourselves, you know?
On the other hand, I probably shouldn’t worry. They never made any attempt to explain how this was possible. That makes clear to me that THEY HAVE NO IDEA.

I was sort of curious about the nature of Treat Williams’ character. He plays the down-at-heel, happy-go-lucky Irish criminal usual to this sort of picture. What strikes me is that the other characters keep calling him "Finny." I thought that was his name until someone made the effort to call him by his full name, "Finnegan." How now? Are we an operative or what?

And then look at that showdown with the sea monster at the climax. She had any amount of opportunity to crush "Finny" like a bug, but she somehow didn’t get around to it until he had the opportunity to blast her one with some kind of super-powered rifle dingus. And THAT didn’t seem to do more than cheese her off. AND she didn’t proceed straight to offing her assailant. I tend to think he aimed deliberately for a non-lethal area, maybe even missing her entirely, and she played it to the hilt as a delaying tactic so nobody would notice that she was letting him escape. You can feel free to read this scene any way you want – this is still America, until we get through with it – but that’s what I see going on.

I found the choice of survivors at the end of the picture to be terribly unfair. But maybe they were trying to be realistic for a minute.

BENEATH LOCH NESS


AN IMPORTANT WORD TO THE GIRLS IN THE MEMBERSHIP:

I have been getting quite a few worried-sounding cards and letters from the rank and file, asking about a repeating theme in the books and movies I’ve been reviewing. Operatives have been talking about this issue in the chapter meetings, spreading the word AS WELL YOU OUGHT, and you’re right, I’ve put off discussing this one far too long. In a world where they publish a new Twelve-Step-oriented self-help book every frocking month, I feel it is only fitting to name this issue "OPERATIVES IN DENIAL."

(This is not to be confused with Operatives In The Nile. Everything is under control in the North African Sector.)

Miriam Caskey in Michael McDowell’s Blackwater series. The ‘Gentleman Guppy’ in Waterworld. Elphaba and Nessarose in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. Murai in Attack Of The Mushroom People. Max and Peaches in Lefcourt’s Ghost Crab. What do all these characters have in common? That’s right, they are all FIGHTING DESTINY and trying to keep their heads above water. They want to get up on dry land where they think they belong. Now, what are these blame-fool operatives up to, anyway? It’s a completely fair question, and here’s your answer at last: THEY ARE WORKING FOR US, THE SAME AS YOU ARE.

>> Miriam Caskey is a glaring example of a landfish who hasn’t found herself. She is raised entirely by the Monkey People side of the family. She certainly seems to think she is 100% human, but look at what she does with her waterless life. SHE MAKES MONEY FOR HER FAMILY. TONS OF MONEY. This of course is what makes it safe for her sister to reproduce and return her children to the river, where they belong. Remember when the sisters go on their first day trip to the Gulf coast? While her sister explores the ocean bottom for hours, Miriam stays on the beach and tans, totally unconcerned that the sister may have drowned. SHE KNOWS EVERYTHING IS ALL RIGHT. On some unconscious level, she is protecting the interests of the mother she claims to hate. And Elinor, her mother, knew it would work out this way. IT WAS ALL ARRANGED IN ADVANCE.

>> The Gentleman Guppy, a.k.a. Ichthyo-sapiens, to be discussed at length in another column. But let me put yet another spin on his puzzling behavior. Anyone paying attention can see that the humans in this movie, barely surviving on the surface of the ocean, are better off on Dry Land, and The Guppy takes them there himself. He then turns right around and heads for the open ocean again. COULD IT BE THAT HE IS PLANNING TO TAKE THEM ALL ASHORE, ONE BOATLOAD AT A TIME? Clearing the ocean’s surface of monkeys would be a helluva break for ALL the Gill Folk, don’t you think? It’s a big job to tackle, and this stoic feller is just the kind of finboy we’d need to head up the operation if an appreciable number of Naked Apes tried to colonize the ocean’s surface. It’s a real possibility that we WILL have to deal with this problem, once we succeed in completely melting the polar icecaps. Let me add that this is the only idea I can come up with that explains why the Gill Man in this picture ever warmed up to the horrid little Tattooed Girl. SHE DOES HAVE HER USES.

>> Elphaba. Let’s talk Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. This is a green-skinned woman of unknown provenance, deathly afraid of water, who was nevertheless raised in a vast swampland after her parents were lured there by a native of that region. Both her mother and her putative father were madly in love with this man. I’ve never heard of an operative who deals this way with married couples, but hey, this story takes place in Oz, where the rules are all different. Notice that the worse her dread of water grows, the more Elphaba wants her life to be over. When she finally faces her worst fear in that encounter with Dorothy and the mop bucket, she finds the release she has been seeking for years. Her whole life was sink or swim, anyway. She finally swam. Is it just me, or does the significance of her sewing wings onto monkeys become terribly sad in this context?

>> And Nessarose! The Witch of the East! Well, YOU AND I know the significance of a lovely girl born without arms who has trouble walking on land. Her father is almost certainly the Quadling glassblower from the Great Southern Swamps of Oz, meaning Nessarose is a Swamp Thing herself. She even has magical powers, learned from the landfish who recruited her. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, HER NICKNAME IS NESSIE! DO THE MATH!

>> Murai, the Matango Man. He finally got it right after trying to postpone the inevitable. As usual, love found a way. If you look at it from a recruiting perspective, Murai’s decision to eat the mushrooms on the trip home and address a panel of doctors in a half-transformed condition makes sense. From this point it’s a certainty that SOMEONE will send a boat full of intrepid researchers to Matango Island to raise the census there. And they will probably bring Murai with them to show them around. Or he may just be introducing the fungus to a whole new Pacific island chain, the clever dog. Either way, we win!

>> Max and Peaches. Peaches and Max. I can only agree that their behavior is disgusting and reprehensible. I cannot argue with the reality that their desire to become human again, as quickly as possible, is revolting. LET THEM GO BACK! All they do is kill each other off when they ARE in human form. HAVE AT IT; YOU’RE DOING US A FAVOR.

See, no matter what they THINK they’re accomplishing, the Operative In Denial is doing nothing but helping us out. Don’t lose any scales over these sorry specimens. They cannot hurt us. WE CANNOT FAIL.

ANY OTHER QUESTIONS? Call me 24 hours a day on the waterproof line.

Today’s topic: Nessie A-Go-Go

BENEATH LOCH NESS

2001
Directed by the redoubtable Chuck Comisky
Starring Patrick Bergin, Brian Wimmer, and Lysette Anthony

Where to begin?I rented this tape with low expectations and, well, I was not disappointed. Here's how it goes: A team of divers exploring the floor of Loch Ness for the "Expedition Channel" experience a low-level seismic disturbance, which apparently rips a hole in the Earth's crust. The head investigator is flung to his death into the new rift in the lake bottom and crushed under a terrifyingly huge, transparent computer-generated rock; his body is not found. Another "Expedition" employee flies in to investigate: Brian Wimmer, an actor I will always remember fondly as "that guy who tried to use psychology on Freddy Kreuger at the pool party that time," dressed up to look like a low-rent Indiana Jones. He and the surviving Loch Ness investigative team, who all have the high cheekbones and deep tans necessary for movie-industry scuba divers, set out to recover the body, save the TV series and Get To The Bottom Of This.

Well, the usual stuff happens. People start disappearing, and there are odd readings on the diving team's underwater gear suggesting that Something Big Is Moving Around Down There. A few drunks dynamiting for fish disappear, and the local crazyman (Patrick Bergin) tells us how his boat was capsized and his son eaten years ago by 'Nessie.' A guy on a glass-bottomed-boat tour of the Loch gets a blurry videotape of something long and reptilian slithering past the tourists' feet. Meanwhile, some pranksters hoping to freak out the tourists with a fake Nessie lose a compatriot to something that chews him up and spits him out. Some Neo-Druids having a ceremonial paddle in the Loch encounter...technical difficulties. The movie includes quite a few lines and sound FX intended to remind us of Jaws. They even have a scene with a couple of teenaged pranksters trying to freak out the tourists with a model Nessie. They don't neglect to show Wimmer's character with his girlfriend, Lizzie Borden (yes, Lizzie Borden) (played by Lysette Anthony), trying to convince the Coast Guard Constable to close the beaches, because "this was no boating accident." The Constable scoffs at the very idea, but soon enough holds a press conference announcing that they've found Nessie dead on the shore of the Loch, so everyone can calm down now, it's all over, nothing to see, folks. They open a morgue freezer to the press to show what looks like a baby Elasmosaurus and prove that the threat is gone. The local crazyman is there and gets quite angry because the creature that ate his son was much, much bigger. CAN’T YOU SEE WE’RE STILL IN DANGER, YOU FOOLS?

The diving team, as usual in this sort of film, breaks into the morgue at night for some kind of half-a$$ed autopsy on an Elasmosaurus. Instead of a Louisiana license plate they find an enormous bite mark on the dinosaur's hindquarters, making clear that their quarry is STILL OUT THERE -- apparently something large and toothy enough to eat Elasmosaurs.Well, we get to see it for ourselves -- a computer-generated Kronosaurus with a serious diastema, managing to look even phonier than the 60-foot Megalodon in Shark Hunter. It does harmonize aesthetically with the phony CG rocks and water we see throughout the film.

Well, ma’am, the crazyman shows up in a kilt and blue facepaint, carrying a spear and some explosive ordnance, just in case you weren't clear yet on the fact that he's a Scotsman bent on bloody revenge. He finagles his way into one of the team's diving suits and sets out to blow the Kronosaur to Kingdom Come. There's a showdown in which the taunts the Kronosaur into swallowing him, whereupon, a la Kevin Costner in Waterworld, he blows her up from the inside and collapses the breeding cave, ending the menace forever.Except we never find out what became of the Kronosaur's mate. Or pod. And we never find out what became of the baby Nessie's parents. And...

This film gets 'one fin up' for the sheer nerve of attempting to combine Shark Hunter, The Trench and Braveheart with Indiana Jones And The Fishtank Of Doom. It also gets 'one fin down' for lousy special effects, bad script, uneven acting and logical gaps big enough to pass thru an aircraft carrier.But it has a clean, innocent, naive B-movie feel that makes it well worth renting if your mind works in that particular way.

Labels: , ,

DEEP BLUE SEA


We'll get to the movie review in a second. First, here is an info sheet for you to print and distribute.

Today’s topic: How To Keep Your Hermit Crabs Alive Some More

ABOUT FOOD

>> Crabs are scavengers who eat any gross dead thing that washes up on a beach, as long as it is still fresh. Keep this in mind when you shop. They love fish, fresh or dried coconut, driftwood and cork bark, the crab pellets sold in the stores, all kinds of fruit, mild-flavored greens and vegetables, crackers, fish-food flakes, and the pellets intended for ducks, ferrets, rats, carp, guinea pigs, monkeys and rabbits.

>> For the reason stated above, you cannot give crabs the same food day after day. They will stop eating it completely. They will also not be able to face the same food again, even their favorite, if you let it go rotten in the tank and then try to replace it with fresh.

>> NEVER FEED BREAD TO YOUR CRABS, or anything else baked with yeast. It kills them rather slowly and horribly. Unyeasted breads like crackers, matzoh, hardtack, and cornbread are fine.

>> Crabs love kelp, and you can buy it in tablet form at the health-food store. Take some yourself, Fish Girl, it’s good for you.

>> Crabs ALWAYS need a mineral chewy available. They love cuttle bones and the calcium blocks intended for turtle tanks. These are pinchably delicious to a crab. They also badly need the calcium.

>> Alternate meat, fruit, grains and vegetables when you serve dinner to your crabs. Four-course meals rarely wash up on a beach, and you want to approximate the beach lifestyle as closely as possible. Their natural tendency is to find a big chunk of something, eat it until they can’t stand the sight of it, then move on to a big chunk of something else.

>> Reptile vitamins are good for crabs. Sprinkle some on their dampened food every so often, but not every day. The stuff is powerful and not all of them like the taste. Once a month is plenty.

>> Crabs refusing to eat are miserable indeed. Check to make sure the tank is clean, warm, humid, and properly lit. Make sure the food is fresh and not the same thing they’ve had daily for a week. Make sure the tank smells fresh and that there are no dead crabs in there. Bad smells kill a crab’s appetite, the same way they kill yours.

CLIFFIE’S NOTES ON Deep Blue Sea

I put off reviewing this movie for a long time because of the horrible reviews it’s gotten over the years. Imagine my surprise when I finally saw it and realized it is actually A HILARIOUS SPOOF ON THE CURRENT HUMAN-FISH POLITICAL SITUATION, full of inversions and sly jabs at the "ruling class" (supposedly humans, at least if you ask THEM) that Oscar Wilde would have been proud of.

PLOT SUMMARY: Humans trying to find a cure for their own degenerative brain diseases decide to Tamper In Dagon’s Domain by creating a group of mutant sharks. In the usual course of things, the sharks turn on their tormentors in a wonderfully diabolical way, sabotaging the underwater facility that is the setting for the story and systematically flooding it, section by section, so they can swim right in and put the munch on the researchers. Through a combination of luck and pluck, and in spite of my rooting consistently for the sharks, a handful of humans survive.

A character sums up the story nicely in the midst of the crisis: "Now, you see how that works? She’s scroon with the sharks, and now the sharks are scroon with us!" Well, yeah, what did you expect? Did you expect us to give you money? The unfolding of this plot encompasses some fine moments shamelessly stolen from Jaws, The Poseidon Adventure, and, oddly enough, Vertical Limit. The result makes for a two swell hours of entertainment, with alternating moments of super-high tension, great knock-you-out-of-the-water surprises, and of course lots of the explosions, wisecracking commentary, and terrified females in foundation garments that are so beloved of the hairy bipeds.

I’m telling you – if this were a true story the humans would be OURS by now. The Notes below should help illustrate the way the Monkey People could one day, in a perfect world, PLAY RIGHT INTO OUR FINS:

To hand the land back to the fish in just a few easy steps, Dear Humans...

START HERE: take some Mako sharks, known for their high-speed swimming and willingness to eat Naked Apes. Enhance their brain size dramatically, particularly focusing on the forebrain which governs reasoning and will. While you’re at it, feed them Miracle-Gro pellets so they get as big as school buses. Do all this in an invasive, humiliating way that leaves them COMPLETELY PISSED OFF AT THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE.

NEXT: Ignore any evidence you see that the Sharks are starting to plan, anticipate their captors’ next moves, and hunt cooperatively.

TAKE CARE to let the enhanced sharks watch through a handy observation window as you insert immense, harpoonlike needles into the heads of test sharks, so they understand perfectly that they are going to be next if they don’t make a move, and quickly.

DON’T FORGET TO include in your researches a plan to remove the enhanced brain cells from the sharks and insert them into the noggins of human medical test subjects, THUS MAKING THEM PART SHARK. The only sad part of the movie for me was the fact that you never got to see this happen. The fun we could have had!

PROCEED THUSLY: When the sharks start doing things like swimming backwards, playing pranks with helicopters, pounding through steel doors to get at you, and feigning death so they can snap pieces off you during medical tests, tell yourself that EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL.

NEXT: When the mutant sharks start sabotaging your test facility, DON’T KILL THEM. Instead, stand around arguing about the ethics of gene therapy.

PROCEED AS FOLLOWS: Wait until the damage is done without intervening. Do not make any attempt to check around the damaged facility to search for survivors. Let other members of your species fend for themselves.

TIP: If you are accosted by a mutant shark on the open sea in a small boat, your best move is to jump into the water and flail around like mad. At this point, you can trust that the preternaturally hunky hero guy, a shark wrangler with a chequered past, will arrive out of nowhere and dispatch the menace. With a crossbow. Isn’t that how it’s usually done?

TIP: If you are accosted by a mutant shark in a sunken research lab, make sure you are standing in chest-deep water when you reach for the submerged, but still functioning, electrical gadget that you will then use to dispatch the menace. If you are female, remove your wetsuit before proceeding.

TIP: If you have an axe with you, use it to chop through the bulkhead, escape the room, and allow the shark to chase you longer, rather than ending the suspense by burying the business end in the shark’s skull.

HELPFUL HINT: When you are trapped in a teeth-chatteringly-cold, shark-infested, watery hell and all you have left are wisecracks, wield them ruthlessly and without scruple. The sharks will be SOOOOOOO impressed.

SUGGESTION: At the height of the danger, stomp around the edge of the pool in the lab where the sharks have been going through hell for months. Deliver, AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS, an impromptu speech on the importance good morale in the face of desperate situations. Be sure to give the sharks their rebuttal time.

I laughed so hard at this movie! I can’t recommend it too highly.

And get a load of the closing theme song for this remarkable movie! This is delivered from the apparent POV of a happy "half man, half shark" operative, recruiting new contacts in the briny. Rapped by LL Cool J. I cannot reveal on the Internet whether or not he is One Of Us, but see the movie, read the text of this rap and draw your own conclusions.

"Deepest, Bluest" (Shark's Fin)

Deepest, bluest – my hat is like a shark’s fin
Manmade terror
Hungry jaws of death
Y'all don't cross my depths
I'll pause your breaths
I cause you to sink down forty thousand leagues
Bleeding to death with no arms and short sleeves
My world's deep blue
Killers gotta eat too
Looking for human flesh to rip my teeth through
Other fish in the sea but
Barracudas ain't equal
To a half human predator created by a needle
Jet black eyes baby they stare while you sleep
When your Titanic sinks I'm the one you gon' meet
Hearing terrified screams they surround my team
All you see is trails of blood
Even God won't intervene
Nightmares of darkness
My appetite is heartless
Even if we related, you eliminated regardless
In the deep blue, underwater walls
Half man, half shark
My jaws don't fall
Our Father who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Killers sworn to beast
Swallowed them in flames
They switched my DNA
Trip me into Cool J
I can't fight the feeling
I'm born to kill prey
To survive an attack
There's only one way
Battle to the death
That's how sharks play
Weapons left behind
We dueling with the mind
You blind, crippled, or crazy
You're real easy to find
Struggling to flow with hemorrhages in your throat
Getting the lap dance while I smash through your boat
Eat your whole fam
Nothing left but a right hand
Clinging to a rail
Escape, attempts fail
You'll never make it home
Tear the flesh off your bone
Walking in undercurrents is a dangerous zone
I'm talking death out a moment's notice
You wasn't focused
Me and my crew strike
Like some underwater locusts

Uh, uh take it deeper
Uh, uh take it deeper
Uh, uh take it deeper
Uh, uh take it deeper

These waters are waist level
The hallway's flooded
Lost your scuba gear
The killer's cold - blooded
His name's LL
You don't really want it
I ate your ancestors
The ocean is haunted
I'm closing in cause I'm supposed to win
How the cold steel feel when it froze your chin
Should of stayed on dry land
Stroke while you can
Cause now you under pressure in the land of the damned
Abandoned pirate ships
Eels and sod scum
Fish that glow in the dark
The Titanic's hub
Underwater storms
Your blood is so warm
You're life vest is off
And that turns me onKiller for centuries
The Gotti of the deep
In the next millennium
I'm still gonna creep
Sand under my belly, ocean over my head
Through the light in the shadows
You become the living dead

Copyright 1999, LL Cool J

Can I just add a thought here? Human imagery ALWAYS connects Sharks with being dead. Load of crap if you ask me. Once your transformation to Piscatorial Consciousness reaches a certain level, you’ll know that Sharks are all about CLEARING THINGS UP. Which is the reason Naked Apes have made every effort to exterminate every species. The sad thing is that they truly can’t tell the difference between CLEARING THINGS UP and BEING ANNIHILATED. LL Cool J appears to see the shade of difference here, in these last couple of lines – "you become the LIVING dead." Nobody dies under the ocean – they only get EATEN and enter a different level of consciousness.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, March 11, 2006

THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM




A WORD OR TWO ABOUT AQUATIC WOLVES

I have gotten 6 or 7 frantic calls about the "reed wolves" mentioned in Jean Auel’s latest installment, The Plains Of Passage. Thanks for finally making me get to that book, which I’ve meant to read for ages. I consider the disclosure of the damp doggies to be "within tolerances."

Ditto the toidy rats in the recent, delightful remake of Willard. I realize many of my readers have never lived in big cities or even on dry land. These same readers may not realize that rats have been coming into houses that way ever since the invention of indoor plumbing. Speaking as a Detroiter, well, nothing about rats surprises me, especially since I toured their REMARKABLE INSECT FARM on the fabled Isle of Zug. Willard makes a timeless statement about the foolhardiness of the human who dares think he can tell the rest of us what to do.

While I’m thinking about it, let me recommend ALL Jean Auel’s books to you. They maintain a properly respectful attitude at all times towards the Danube River and every fish therein, especially the all-important Sturgeon. That "Neanderthal" fishing-by-hand technique made me long for the times when humans and fish could really communicate. It also hints, but not too revealingly, at the capability of each land creature to return to the water. Above all, Auel’s books give us a nostalgic, if oversexed, look backwards att he world before it was completely overrun by Naked Apes. Hank and I have often speculated on what the world would look like today if the Neanderthals had survived Homo sap and not the other weay around. These books have given us tremendous food for thought and a lot to argue about. Thanks, Jean!

GEFILTE SCANDAL UNMASKED AS HOAX!

One of my operatives on the West Coast has informed me that the Pod has found a source for that story about the talking Carp. A Carp in a fish market at New Square, 30 miles north of Manhattan, was heard to make some apocalyptic statements, rather loudly I guess, and in Hebrew, as it was about to be converted into gefilte.

Now, this story is upsetting to me personally, because it reminds me so much of what happened to Ralph and Sarah Bleak after the last International Conference. But I also regard it with deep suspicion because according to the site, the gefilte guys ignored the carp’s hollering and chopped it up as usual, even though one of them knew Hebrew, understood the Carp’s warning, and said the fish identified itself with a human name. Come on, would YOU ignore that and keep slicing up the protesting victim? Besides, I checked with Hank. There have been NO complaints or disruptions of ANY kind among our gefilte-duty operatives on the East Coast. Ever.

But the site where I found all this explains that there is a belief in some Hasidic circles that righteous people can be reincarnated as fish. That tells me that there was a leak, all right, but just the kind of leak we want – WE have leaked into the Hasidic community. I love to hear about human legends like these, because while they are veiled and distorted, they are also EXACTLY TRUE. You think that when you die you go to Heaven? YOU COME TO US.

Now, for today’s movie-viewing guide…

CLIFFIE’S NOTES ON AGENT SYLVIA MARSH

Well, I see that the Piscatorial Book Club has been active. The calls and letters are pouring in at HQ, asking me about Lady Arabella March from Bram Stoker’s lesser-known novel, The Lair Of The White Worm. The movel was made into a dandy film by Ken Russell. I can well understand the confusion you describe, whether you saw the movie or read the book. Let’s straighten this out.

YES: I expect you all to look to Lady Sylvia as a guide to proper operative behavior. I say Sylvia (the name of the character in the movie version) because she is the one you need to study and imitate, more than the one in the book.

YES, I know the movie is all snakes, snakes, snakes – but let’s take a closer squint at that imagery. You’ll remember from the novel that nobody’s really sure where the Lambton (or D’Ampton) Worm comes from, but the legend states it came out of the local SWAMP. The Worm now lives in a WELL. How many snakes choose that lifestyle?

Did you check out the Worm in the movie? Looked like a plain, ordinary 100-foot-long albino Lungfish to me.

I’ve loved this movie for years but I’d seen it many times before I really noticed the lyrics of the D’Ampton Worm Song, performed at the yearly D’Ampton Worm Memorial Banquet:

John D’Ampton went a-fishing once,
a-fishing in the weir;
He caught a fish upon his hook
he thought looked mighty queer;
Now what a-kind of fish it was John D’Ampton couldn’t tell;
But he didn’t like the look of it,
so he threw it down a well.
Now the worm got fat and growed,
and growed an awful sight;
With great big teeth and a great big mouth,
and great big goggle eyes…"

This is EXACTLY how Agent Sadako got her start in Ringu. Someone slung her down a well, too.

Check out Lady Sylvia’s ceremonial worm costume in the movie. She’s painted blue and wearing a ceremonial BATHING CAP. With SCALES on it. Hello? Are we a snake or a fish?

I want you all to practice getting as good at concealment as Lady Sylvia in this movie. She’s the best at this, and she needs to be. Sylvia is immortal – she’s been living in Temple House SINCE THE ROMAN OCCUPATION OF BRITAIN with NOBODY THE WISER. You thought you had problems hiding your barbels and falling hair? Try living 3,000 years in a small town without getting any older and without anyone getting suspicious.

Do NOT use Sylvia as a role model in your method of making new contacts. She is absurdly sexy, dripping money, always wearing vinyl thigh boots with her hair slicked back. We do want recruits other than horny teenaged boys.

You can ignore all that stuff about controlling the snakes with wind instruments. Snakes are deaf. Whatever they were catching in this movie, it wasn’t snakes. But do you know what’s really, really, really sensitive to sound and can in fact be stunned or paralyzed by a loud noise? A fish, bunkie. Don’t you remember how they finally caught the Creature From The Black Lagoon?

Ignore the stuff about sacrificing virgins to the snake god. That’s the usual human misinterpretation of how we handle funerals. You will have to overcome crazy propaganda again and again as recruit this species. They live for these half-baked ideas.

Ignore the stuff about feeding screaming victims into the hungry maw of an immortal monster. Movie convention demands this kind of nonsense. If they knew what they were talking about the human converts would fling themselves joyfully into the waiting mouth of Eternity, knowing that they would become, not lunch, but Immortal.

What I want you to notice and imitate is Sylvia’s ability to hide in plain sight and her utter, singleminded boldness in serving her scaly god. In these things she is a fantastic role model. In spite of the way the book and movie veer off into snake imagery, I can rate them both highly as resource material for undercover fish operatives.

Labels: , , ,

WICKED




Today’s Topic: It Ain’t Easy Being Green

JUST A SIDE NOTE HERE…
I saw on a BBC News website that when some crabbers noticed a three-clawed crab in one of their pots, she was spared the tortures of the Miracle Bamboo Steamer and put in a display tank in a Welsh tourist trap of some sort. As a sideshow attraction she is making contacts all over the place. This is a LONG-DISUSED RECRUITING IDEA. Could it improve our outreach efforts? Call in and let me know what you think.


CLIFFIE’S NOTES ON ‘WICKED’

I just finished reading Wicked: The Life And Times Of The Wicked Witch Of The West, by some feller named Gregory Maguire. It was published in 1995 by ReganBooks, which is an imprint of HarperPerennial, which is a division of HarperCollins. The Monkey People publishing business is a tangled web indeed.

OK, this may not seem to you like an appropriate subject for Cliffie’s Notes, but wait until you read it. THIS IS THE MOST PISCATORIAL NOVEL TO COME OUT IN DECADES! There is something fishy going on everywhere you look in this story, and I mean that in all possible senses of the word. The Wicked Witch of the West herself often does not know what to believe or which end is up.

>> Maguire makes the familiar children’s fantasy into, well, A CONSPIRACY NOVEL. With fish. Lots of them. All kinds. One of them is a landfish who is RECRUITING YOUNG WOMEN TO HELP HER CHANGE THE WORLD.

>> And what a world! – to quote the the Witch herself. I never thought of Oz as having a history, let alone politics, racial persecution, religious conflicts or military dictators. It’s all right there in the book, though.

>> There are fish in wells, frying pans, underground caverns, swamps and buckets throughout the story – some silently witnessing the proceedings, some taking action. The landfish, working as a house mother at a women’s college dormitory, is a role model for every one of you. You couldn’t possibly tell whose side she was on UNLESS YOU WERE IN ON THE CONSPIRACY. Maguire takes it a step further and sees to it that several people who ARE in on the conspiracy can’t tell whose side she, or they, are on. That is pretty slick. It’s clear to me she is hiding in plain sight and subverting the Wizard’s goals to further OUR OWN – like a Jewish guy passing as an SS officer and secretly rescuing Jews in the process.

>> At the center of the story, of course, is a green-skinned woman who’s DEATHLY AFRAID OF WATER. And her relationship with water is paramount in this story. But there’s a lot more to her than that, believe me. The Witch has had a far more complicated life than we ever supposed. And she’s not even a bad person, if you can believe that. NOBODY in this story is who you thought they were. I never expected the Witch and Glinda the Good to be college roomates, for example.

>> I love the imbedded piscatorial symbolism in this story. Here’s just one example: late in the book, the title character is looking into her magic mirror and sees the Wizard of Oz trying miserably, again and again, to fling himself into the sea, only to be flung back. THERE IS A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO JOIN OUR RANKS!

>> The Witch gradually realizes in the course of the story that she is a perennial failure. What she doesn’t realize is that her failure comes from always isolating herself from supporters, which (believe it or not) she always had in large numbers. Compare her to the landfish house mother, who lived a long life of finagling and died peacefully in her bed. The Witch ends, of course, with a bucket of mopwater dumped over her head. Talk about facing your worst fear.

Well, I don’t want to tell you too much and ruin the book for you, but this is a swell story, very hard to put down, and it has FLYING MONKEYS!

Labels: , ,

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?

ENVIRONMENT BASICS:

>> 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."

CLIFFIE'S NOTES ON THIS HIGHLY AQUATIC FILM:

>> 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.

Labels: , ,

ISLAND CLAWS


FEELING CRABBY!

CLIFFIE’S NOTES ON ISLAND CLAWS

This fine cinematic achievement was created for the small screen in 1980. Directed by Hernan Cardenas, it stars Robert Lansing, Barry Nelson and a cast of KILLER CRABS!

Well, I thought I'd laughed before in my life, but I was wrong. THIS IS SIMPLY THE FUNNIEST MOVIE EVER MADE. Incidentally, it’s also a fine, incisive portrait of what we, the Fish People, are up against in promoting our glorious Cause.

Let’s do the quick plot summary first. Perky Blonde Reporter with great cheekbones, the daughter of a guy who runs the local nuclear power plant, makes a trip to a nearby fisheries-research lab to do a photo essay on the crab team's attempts to alleviate world hunger. She quickly falls in love with the Hero who is a blonde with great cheekbones. He is working on developing bigger and better crabs with a team of blonde scientists who have great cheekbones.

Meanwhile, back at the nuclear-power plant, there's a massive spill of contaminated water that runs off into the ocean. You guessed it: the local crabs begin to behave strangely, travelling in large packs at times and to places they wouldn't normally. The Perky Blonde comes across a molted exoskeleton that came off a crab the size of a Ford Festiva. Eventually the big crab (now the size of a bank building) shows herself. There’s a shootout, and the heroes prevail.

None of this has anything to do with why the movie is so funny.

>> This film gives me the impression that it was originally 18 hours long, but had to be cut down to its current 91-minute length to make room for the commercials. As a result, the dialogue in this movie sounds as if it were shredded by an army of -- KILLER CRABS! People just sort of blurt out random sentences that have nothing to do with what anyone else is saying. They also smile in all the wrong places. Strangest of all: this is not, in fact, a film-editing problem; in even the most surreal scenes, the camera is pretty well stationary with no visible cuts. Here’s my favorite conversational exchange:

PERKY BLONDE: When can we see our friend, doctor?
DOCTOR: Well, she came to briefly, but she was incoherent. What she said didn't make any sense at all.

>> Sometimes individual lines appear to have been run through a woodchipper. My favorite is spoken by Barry Nelson as they piece together the exoskeleton of the first giant crab they’ve ever seen or heard about. "It may be another crab of the same species that we've never seen before." Hunh?

>> The characters are weirdly assorted. Much of the story takes place in a bar called The Half Shell. In this down-at-the-heel setting, clean-cut blonde preppies, blue-collar roughnecks, hippies, bikers, and an assortment of guys who look like they are trying out to play Captain Quint can be seen drinking, joking and racing hermit crabs together like best buddies. This violates a cardinal rule of ‘70s filmmaking, namely that people of differing social classes and lifestyles must always be dire enemies, usually squaring off in a picket line or protest march of some kind in the course of the movie. This assortment is being serenaded by a guy who looks as if he wandered off the set of a Western being filmed on the next lot, using a player piano and a banjo to give us a rousing -- OK, not rousing -- rendition of "Oh, Suzannah." Presiding over this unsettling scene is a cartoon Irish drunk whose brogue fades in and out like a distant radio signal. We learn that the drunk raised the utterly preppy Hero from infancy, and was once best buddies with the rich guy who runs the reactor plant. Um, OK. Whatever you say.

>> We learn that the Hero and the Perky Blonde were Brought Together By Fate, because her dad killed both his parents years before in a drunk-driving accident. This potentially major plot point goes nowhere, even after the Hero finds out the truth. He is supposedly enraged about it, but he simply never mentions it to the Perky Blonde. And we never even find out if they hook up at the end. They just drop the ball completely.

>> There is no evidence that anyone in the movie has an IQ above about 53. When a blonde scientist with great bone structure is mauled in the woods, the good townspeople immediately conclude that she was attacked by Haitian boat people and get together a posse to hunt them down. They discuss with straight faces the likelihood that the girl's arm was ripped off by voodoo.

>> There are, in fact, some Haitian boat people in this movie. Everyone else in the story is being “attacked” in the safety of their homes by packs of dozy, apathetic, somnolent crabs that appear to have wandered in looking only for a place to curl up for a nap. Meanwhile, the boat people are sleeping rough in the woods by the beach without getting so much as a nip from the chelicerated menace. Let me add that the Haitians' voices are overdubbed in French, with flawless Nebraska grammar-school accents.

>> There's also a scene at the height of the crisis when the heroes stop on the causeway, having found an abandoned car, a boat moored to the causeway pilings and the boat's owner draped over the railing. Do they call an ambulance? Do they even check to see if the guy is alive? No, they pile into the boat and leave. Nice.

>> Just about every crab-related injury is caused by human panic. The Perky Blonde, riding along a trail in the woods, runs into and over a pack of crabs in her path and falls off her bike. She gets up, walks away from the scene without any suggestion that the crabs are coming after her – as well they might after she ran them over! -- then calls the hero in a panic to ask him to come get her, seeing as she's just been attacked by ferocious monsters. She gets a scratch on the arm; the crabs lose half a dozen comrades under the wheels of her Schwinn. Nevertheless, the conclusion drawn is that the crabs are a terrible menace.

>> Likewise, the giant crab later tears a house to the ground. There are people inside at the time, but nobody gets a scratch. Unless the guy’s homeowner’s insurance has lapsed, where’s the problem?

>> In a scene intended to terrify the decapodaphobiac, crabs advance on a converted school bus lived in by one of the characters. They are quite civil about this; you even see one of them knock politely on the door of the bus. As soon as the crabs realize the owner is unfriendly, they leave calmly and in an orderly fashion. He freaks out anyway, whacks at them ineffectually until he knocks over his oil lamp or candle or whatever it was, and burns himself to a crisp, the dork.

>> Can someone explain how EVERYONE in this movie manages to miss seeing the friendly attitude of every crab they encounter? Even the giant one does a minimum of damage. She’s amazingly tolerant of the Naked Apes harassing and assaulting her, and she even has the presence of mind to play dead when the Hero hacks off one of her eyestalks – and that probably didn’t tickle, either. Check out the scene when a guy gets picked up in one of her tremendous claws, and he screams in agony and squirts blood out of his mouth as if all his innards had been crushed. Well, all I can say is that it must have been psychosomatic, because she ISN’T EVEN SQUEEZING. He’s just draped over her thumb. She didn’t even put a crease in his shirt.

>> Can someone explain to me why, after all the fuss made about getting the crab darts at risk of life and limb, and making sure the gun is aimed at the soft part of the crab's thumb joint, does the hero give up on using it? The crab isn’t even kicking up a fuss. She’s just standing there quietly in front of the bar. He could have shot her a dozen times.

>> Can someone PLEASE explain the way he finally dispatches the giant crab by hacking off a single eyestalk with a pointed stick? Would that kill any crab you ever heard of? Would a fisheries research scientist working on a crab project REALLY not know any better than this?

>> Can someone explain how a guy with a history of drunk driving and negligent homicide even gets put in charge of a nuclear power plant? Oh, wait, I forgot; in ‘70s terms that would make him perfect for the job. That would even help explain the radiation spill. Never mind.

>> Can someone explain to me how the science team’s goal of developing bigger, meatier crabs is going to alleviate hunger for anyone but the rich folk crowding into the seafood restaurants along the Eastern seaboard?

>> Can someone explain to me how a fisheries research lab happens to have a tranquilizer gun and a supply of experimental crab darts on hand?

>> Can someone explain to me why the best acting in the whole movie is done by "Trouble" the dog, who has a great death scene, limping pathetically onto the beach with ketchup poured all over him after an apparent off-camera tangle with the giant crab? Indeed, why is “Trouble” almost the only character to come to grief? I notice that his owner is the guy whose house is pulled down by the crab, and that a little girl who pets him experiences crab difficulties as well. Is “Trouble” the Tippi Hedren of the crustaceans, or what?

>> Can anyone explain how this movie came out so lousy when one of the writers on the script was none other than Ricou Browning, former Olympic swimming star and the guy who wore the Gill Man suit in the underwater scenes of The Creature From The Black Lagoon? How could the result be anything less than expert, nay, dazzling in its brilliance?

>> Can someone explain why this terrible movie, of all the lousy killer crab movies ever made, has absolutely the most stunning creature effect I've ever seen? Yes, I'm including Ray Harryhausen's giant crab from Mysterious Island, because Ray just hollowed out a regular crab and ran wires thru. This baby was clearly a carefully-constructed 15’ tall working model. She’s huge. Graceful. Detailed. NICE paintjob. Anatomically correct, except for the disconcerting way she stuck her tongue out at the camera in that one shot. Even though they made her roar like a lion, she was CONVINCING. The entire budget must have gone into the crab. Not that I'm complaining. I LOVE IT. But crabs everywhere must be mortified to be associated with this film.

Honestly, ladies, the very ineptitude of this movie is a MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR US ALL. How can we fail in our world-takeover scheme when the enemy is this damn dumb? OK, not all of them are this bad, but according to the best intelligence available to me, the North American Cabal Leader (Women’s Division), the dumb ones vastly outnumber the smart ones. A viewing of this film should help clarify the situation if you are unsure.

Of course, this movie also underlines the need for great caution in working with new contacts among the landscum. Some of them do come unglued, no matter how well you follow the excellent example set by the friendly crabs in this film, and next thing you know someone’s hacking off your eyestalk with a pointed stick.

One thing I especially liked about this movie: unrealistic and laughable as it is in many places, there is nothing fictional about one aspect of the story. The landscum always forget that where there is one giant crab, THERE ARE A BUNCH MORE WAITING TO COME ASHORE.

Labels: , ,