Saturday, May 26, 2007

Quote Of The Day


"In southern California, white croakers are called 'tomcod.' Just as a friendly warning, people who continue to do this will be severely punished, once I take over."

-- Milton Love, Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of THe Pacific Coast

This is a delightful read, by the way. He does fail to mention that all of the specimens he describes are IN OUR ARMY.

Oh, the publication stuff? Really Big Press, Santa Barbara, CA 1996.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Operative Tires Of Headgames


It's been a long, long waiting game, and Scrod knows there's nothing more patient than an Alligator, but I guess it all had to end someday. The operative, formerly known as Sigrun Hummersdottir, from a small town in Oklahoma whose name I can't spell, transformed rather suddenly while on vacation in California. She has been PRETENDING TO BE A FLOATING LOG EVER SINCE. She recently turned herself in to the human authorities.

"Don't give me too much credit," she was quoted as saying at the time of her arrest. "Talk about hiding in plain sight; the blame fools never noticed me floating in the water right under their noses." She ultimately decided that she was not pulling in nearly enough recruits in that billet, and put in for a transfer. We tipped off Animal Control the same day, and the rest is history. (The hairless bipeds do have their uses. They did all the driving.)

That's really the end of an era.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Thousand Apologies


I can't believe I forgot National Sea Monkey Day AGAIN. Wasn't even mentioned on the blog until now, days late.

If my assistants still had hands that could work a gun, I would have myself put in front of a firing squad.

There Has Got To Be A Way To Set This To Music


"Many thousand human lives –
Butchered husbands, slaughtered wives,
Mangled daughters, bleeding sons,
Hosts of martyred little ones,
(Worse than Herod’s awful crime)
Sent to heaven before their time;
Lovers burnt and sweethearts drowned,
Darlings lost but never found!
All the horrors that hell could wish,
Such was the price that was paid for – fish!"

- - from a poem by Issac Reed

I found this happy little verse in The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1968 (pg. 250). We’re coming up on the 118th anniversary of that first amazing experiment in overland recruitment. It was SO SUCCESSFUL that we followed it up swiftly with a second recruitment festival in 1900, in Galveston.


McCullough covered a lot of territory in this book, but he moved a little too fast. If he had slowed down and CHECKED HIS FACTS he would have realized how many people supposedly "killed" in the course of the story NEVER MADE IT onto the burial lists or even the lists of known missing. Another major oversight was his casual mention of occluded fish baffles. Here’s my advice: NEVER TRY TO BAFFLE A FISH.

Part of the value of this book to us is in recognizing that the landscum see our recruitment festivals as natural disasters...Let’s start with the word "natural." This one in particular is wryly called a ’natural’ disaster by the author because it was supposedly caused by human error, in creating and maintaining the South Fork dam. It never crosses their tiny little minds that WE were the prime movers in that operation. We simply were not getting enough recruits from the few rich guys who played on the reservoir formed by the dam; they weren’t the sort we wanted anyway. So splat went the dam, and next thing you know we had THOUSANDS of new recruits, many of them quite willing as it turned out.


As global warming progresses, the weather will only get WILDER and the recruitment festivals MORE AND MORE SUCCESSFUL. I wonder if we can possibly hope to match the recruiting numbers Squinky, my Pacific Zones counterpart, racked up after that undersea eathquake? That one must have impressed Dagon himself...herself...what is Dagon anyway, huh?

Quite A Little News Item


Our newer operatives, who still think like the landscum, might think of this as a vulgar display of our power. NOT REALLY. Think about it, ladies: it shows that we cannot die out even if they kill off our menfolk entirely, which is a terrifying statement, BUT ONLY IF THEY NOTICE THE MESSAGE. This story is treated as a scientific curiosity, something that applies only to a bunch of dateless marine biologists in moldy Docksiders. If they only had ears to hear, they would realize they are hearing their own death knell...or, if they join us in time, their own victory cry.

FOOLS!

Friday, May 18, 2007

I Love It When This Happens


See, if they had given him the special-ed rights he deserves according to Social Work magazine, he would have been able to tell them that all he wanted was a slice of the restaurant's signature mushroom pizza.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Calls On The Waterproof Phone


Calls have been pouring in since I reviewed Tormented for you. The questions have been excellent and deserve answers:

Dolly Varden of Bodega Bay, CA, asks: What's the matter with Vi in this story? She had a chance to take Tom, his fiancee and the fiancee's little sister into the sea in one fell swoop, then she just...didn't.

Well, Dolly, I think we can easily see that Vi was a very new operative. She can live underwater, and communicate with Tom telepathically to bring him to her, but she has not even begun her physical transformation into fish form. It would be asking a lot, at this early stage, for her to pull off a complex recruiting move like the one you are describing. I couldn't do it myself until I was nearly sixty, and this little gal is only in her twenties.

Frankie Leigh Siluris of Little Miskatonic, MA, called to point out: I think Sandy is the best recruiting material in the whole story. Not only does she apparently live on that beach 24 hours a day, but she finds all the clues laid down by Vi and would cheerfully follow Tom into either fire OR water, allowing Vi to use him as a lure. In contrast, I'm not sure what Vi even sees in Tom Stewart, other than his connection to Sandy. Why not cut out the middleman and recruit Sandy instead?

EXCELLENT question. I can't speak for Vi, who is after all a character in a movie, but here's my guess: she's doing exactly what you long for her to do, but very slowly, trawling Tom back and forth across the beach like the LIVE BAIT that he is. Tom sure seems able to snag any female he wants, and why waste a talent like that? But the other great thing about Sandy is that she's likely to moon over Tom for the rest of her life, whether he marries her big sister or not. Vi can easily use this to lure her in. But she is MUCH MORE USEFUL TO US up on dry land at her age. That puppy love for Tom will keep until she's ready to join us in the sea. Either way, taking her now or later, Vi wins. My only shadow of doubt is that Vi may have blown the whole bit by appearing in public in the stolen wedding ring.


Ray Dasyatis, of Slidell, LA, called in with this comment: I fail to see the significance of Mrs. Ellis in the story. A little help here?

Ah, Mrs. Ellis. This is some of the subtle symbolism for which Bert I. Gordon is so famous. Here's Mrs. Ellis, the local blind lady, cheerfully discussing the question of ghosts with Tom and even interacting with them herself, without realizing what she's up against. Vi is not a ghost but one of our operatives, transforming from a pretty blonde lounge singer to a water-breathing telpath -- I'd guess an Electric Catfish, but there are no guarantees with these artistic types. In the movie Mrs. Ellis is blind to the fact that she's dealing with a ghost; as a human, she AND HER WHOLE SPECIES, EVEN THE FILM CREW, are blind to the fact that they are dealing with a trickier-than-average FISH.

Keep those cards and letters coming, kids. I'm going to go watch the movie again.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

New Recruiting Technique Declared A Success


No doubt you have all EAGERLY READ about the fish farm employees rescued from a terrible death in an immense vat of fish feces. Let's just say it was a happy ending ALL THE WAY AROUND, as we have four happy new recruits and they have a great piece of disinformation circulating to keep them confused. What's intriguing to me is that all the news organs YANKED the articles and printed retractions in the past couple of days. never fear; people NEVER read the retractions.

Now, I know you're already objecting that this is a very tricky position to lure a recruit into. TRUE ENOUGH. But the experiment has tremendous implications for landscum exposed to much smaller amounts of fish pooh, like Goldfish keepers and scuba divers. Someone in R&D got the idea after seeing a TV show about an Orthodox Jewish community mysteriously plagued by pork tapeworms. The answer to the mystery was oral-fecal contact, vectored by infected kosherless Guatemalan houskeepers. In other words, you don't have to immerse them neck-deep to get the desired results.


Oral-fecal contact -- now THERE'S an exalted image to send you off to bed.

TORMENTED


PLOT SUMMARY: A jazz-pianist recruit, Tom Stewart, is living on an island and about to get married to the girl he think he really loves. His recruiting operative old girlfriend, Vi, shows up, explaining that he is not going to get away from her that easily. Their negotiations take them up the stairs of the lighthouse near where he lives, and the railing collapses under her. He lets her fall into the sea, imagining still that she is just a lounge singer and he is well rid of her.

Fool! Everything Vi told him is true; he is not going to get rid of her that easily. First, pieces of her jewelry start to wash up on the beach where people can find them. Then her hand appears, wearing the ring he bought for his fiancee. Her head shows up on the endtable and reads him the riot act. He tries to shake off the apparitions, telling himself he’s just got cold feet before the wedding, but then the man who brought Vi to the island on his boat shows up, demanding the $5 she owes him. The demand quickly turns into a blackmail threat. Blast! Now is what Tom going to do???

CLIFFIE’S NOTES ON THIS RATHER TENSE ROMANCE:

>> I wasn’t sure why this film was recommended to me as a piscatorial romance, until I actually saw it. My Cod, what a beautiful picture. Sometimes a recruit DOES get recalcitrant, and there is nothing to do but TURN UP THE HEAT until he comes around. This is a rather fanciful picture of how that works, but it is after all Bert I. Gordon we’re talking about.

>> This story would have come out very differently if Tom had gone on to recruit his fiancee and her smitten little sister, bringing them along for the ride, but the idiot actually thinks that after kissing Dagon on the mouth he can go back to his landscum life.

>> I can’t be the only one who noticed how much the sweet human fiancee resembles her persistent aquatic counterpart. It becomes clear quickly that Tom has never let go of Vi, no matter who he’s engaged to. Humans are quite prone to this sort of self-deception, and it pays to bear that in mind AT ALL TIMES.

>> In a way, I wonder if the fiancee knows more than Tom does about what’s really going on. She suspects quickly that Tom is carrying on secretly with someone else, even though he would not admit it even to himself. And that piercing scream when she finds her wedding dress slathered with seaweed tells me A GREAT DEAL. And Tom, the blithering idiot, actually thinks that just because Vi dropped 25 feet into the surf, that she’s somehow disappeared from human ken.

>> Although the landscum viewer might dismiss Vi’s pristine condition, after rolling "dead" in the waves for a week, as bad special effects, I think the obvious answer is that she’s NOT DEAD.


>> It absolutely slayed me, the way the blackmailer kept asking for the "fin" Vi owes him.

I found this film on a compilation disc called Nightmare Theater, marketed at Halloween time. The other movie on the disc was, interestingly, also a moving piscatorial romance, Dementia 13. (Be warned: That one's not a comedy.) You should look for it next time Halloween rolls around.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Planet Of The Apes: Today's Reality


Click here to get a load of THE MOST DANGEROUS DEVELOPMENT YET in shaved-monkey culture.

I mean, WE ALL KNEW THIS WAS COMING. Sooner or later ALL the Great Apes, as they like to think of themselves, will band together against their common enemy, as they like to think of US. THAT'S GRATITUDE FOR YOU.

Not too long ago, I saw an article in Social Work magazine explaining that because some Gorillas have been taught Sign Language, that means that all Gorillas should have the right to special education services, as if this advance proved they were defective humans rather than perfectly good Gorillas. I forbore to put this in the Notes for well over a year. Even though Social Work is the stuffiest, most hidebound periodical you can imagine, and this article was stewed, brewed and tattooed by a review board the size of the Sony Corporation before it came out in print, I thought, dang, this author has GOT to be kidding. This is an elaborate exercise in landscum logic, testing social-service policy to its logical limits, an attempt to show the ultimate absurdity of all their good efforts to help the weak.

That's what I thought...until this Viennese lawsuit hit the press.

NEVER FEAR, ladies: WE WILL PREVAIL. But this part is going to really stink, OK? Just so we all know what we're getting into.