Saturday, May 29, 2010


This neat little paperback is copyrighted 1988 to Charles Pellegrino and was published in its mass-market form by Avon Books.
WHAT A GREAT READ. It almost seems to have been designed to appeal to both fish and humans, and it definitely appeals to those who are A LITTLE OF BOTH. While there's a lot of technical blah-blah in here, it never gets TOO THICK to wade through. EVEN A CATFISH LIKE ME CAN UNDERSTAND IT. There's also a lot of quoted discussion between the various parties involved in finding Titanic. Some of it you can take and some you can leave.
What I like, though -- and why I recommend this is as recruiting literature -- is the way the book is EQUALLY MOVING whether you are reading it from the point of view of one of US or one of THEM. A human is going to see the drowning of 1500 people as the familiar tragic clusterfunk that has NEVER LEFT THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE GLOBAL SHAVED-MONKEY COLLECTIVE. We all know THAT story. There were no binoculars to be found for the guy in the crow's nest looking for icebergs; it hit the ship just right to flood all the watertight compartments; there weren't enough lifeboats; the lifeboats were lowered less than half-full; yattata yattata yattata.
But read from a fish perspective, it's a GLOWING TESTAMENT to the teamwork and collective will that went into welcoming 1500 recruits home to the deep, where they dwell in wonder and glory forever. You see very few references to undersea life in the course of this book, but we were RIGHT THERE making sure it all went down smoothly -- you should pardon the expression.
>> Even some of the technical blah-blah helped bring the point home, like the diagram on page 93 that showed the scale of the Titanic compared to the World Trade Center -- which was still standing when this book went to press, of course -- and how laughably they are both dwarfed by the 2 and a half vertical miles of ocean water holding the ship in place today.
>> What somehow makes this all come together for the author is his interest in space travel, and the way the discovery of the wrecked ship coincided so closely with the Challenger explosion. He feels the two disasters went down for much the same reasons, and I'll take his word for it. But he seems to make NOTHING of where the Challenger ended up. Don't you see it, Chuck? Bottom of the ocean? Hello? He's critical of those who defy Fate by saying this boat can't be sunk or that no little piddling ice storm can damage our big, bad spaceship. But he doesn't notice that in both instances, THE FISH TOOK OVER IN THE END.
>> The rare references to marine life in this book only go to suggest that there is MUCH MORE down there, in Pellegrino's opinion, that bears studying. Nice attitude. And the descriptions he gives of what he sees -- implying that some of the operatives at that depth defy description and that some of them are rather dreadful, like the one he compares to the title character in Alien -- will probably lead new little Ballards and Cousteaus to start building their own submersibles. BRING 'EM ON. I DARE YOU.
>> A lot of the book is a minute-by-minute timeline of what survivors told the papers and the investigators about the sinking itself. I WELL UNDERSTAND your concerns about the reports of those who nearly died, who felt a strange peace and acceptance come over them, and then got spat or hauled out of the water somehow. ("An unlikely calm swept over him," etc., on page 114 is an example. It even mentions that the guy goes into a rage when he gets spat out by the ship, sucked back in, as if she couldn't make up her mind. REALLY too close for comfort, I agree, in that case.) I consider these security leaks to be WITHIN TOLERANCES. If people start to toy with the idea that accepting for fate at sea is not that bad, WHERE'S THE HARM IN THAT? Pellegrino NEVER COMMENTS on how they FELT about being hauled or spat out of the water, AND THAT'S THE IMPORTANT THING.
>> Much is made of the BRAVERY of those left behind on the ship, like the telegraph operator who commented cheerfully "It's definitely fish for breakfast for us tomorrow. Or vice versa." BRAVERY, or EAGERNESS, you may well ask!
>> Obviously, this book can be displayed QUITE SAFELY on just about ANY bookshelf. Even now that the movie has had its fifteen minutes of fame, and everyone has calmed down and gone home, there's NO SHAME in being interested in the subject. People have been studying the sinking for almost a century and there's NO END IN SIGHT.
>> This makes a TERRIFIC companion volume to one of my favorite novels, Dead In The Water by Nancy Holder. CLICK HERE TO SEE MY COMMENTS ON THAT. It's meant as a companion to Pellegrino's other book on the subject, and Bob Ballard's books as well. THOSE ARE FINE, TOO.
>> As in Pellegrino's other book, Ghosts Of The Titanic, he comments more than once here about the curious effect on the adventurers of seeing the ship. They all cried their eyes out, basically. What they never say -- TO MY RELIEF! -- is whether they cried out of the sense of loss of 1500 total strangers, or out of LONGING to go down and join them. They keep talking about how they want to explore the deep oceans because it's going to be so helpful down the road in space travel, but PLEASE.
ANYWAY, read this one. It's good!

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

State Atty General Hinges Election Results On Asian Carp Hunt

HEARD IT ON NPR THIS MORNING! That's right, ladies; they reported that recent testing shows no Killer Asian Carp have made it into the Great Lakes. We all know Attorney General Mike Cox has been leading the charge against these imported operatives, getting all the Great Lake states together and vowing on whatever lawyers hold sacred that NO CARP SHALL PASS. So I'd think he'd be PRETTY HAPPY, right? Well, after that it got WEIRD. The newscaster asked whether this development is going to hurt Mike Cox's chances at becoming Governor. The commentator quite seriously responded that it could, but the fact that no
have been found in the Great Lakes could also be seen as a positive.
I can hear you asking. Literally. The phone calls poured in all morning, asking whether he is ON TO US, and whether he is ONE OF OUR OPERATIVES who somehow didn't make it into the Directory, and if the Attorney General IS turning into a fish, will that make it better or worse for our Lamprey sisters?
HERE'S THE DEAL, LADIES: He is NOT one of us. He's not even on the recruitment list at this point. He just doesn't want to lose his DRAMA RATING with the other featherless bipeds as Election Day closes in. Nothing makes a human look more pathetic to his fellows than getting everyone all worked up over NOTHING.
The Lampreys are safe!

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Piscatorial Product Review: Chocolate Graham Goldfish Crackers

OK, the girls down at R&D have FINISHED their extensive taste testing of this relatively-new Pepperidge Farm product. I EVEN TRIED THEM MYSELF.
We're going to have to recommend these for SMALL FRY RECRUITING ONLY. The Cockles of my 2-chambered heart will be truly warmed every time I see a small, hairy human cub eating these. ESPECIALLY IF THEY SHARE. I would certainly be open to seeing these delivered by the 55-gallon drum to the daycares, preschools and kindergartens of the nation. LET'S GET ON THAT.
For myself, I rate them "meh." THEY JUST DON'T TASTE LIKE ANYTHING.
They're fine for keeping toddlers quiet, but not suitable fare for adults, AND DEFINITELY NOT FOR CATFISH.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010


The World Without Us by Alan Weisman is copyrighted 2007, and was published by Thomas Dunne Books, which is an imprint of St. Martin's Press, if you can believe that.
>> The guy starts right out talking about US. "After we're gone," the author muses on page 16, "nature's revenge for our smug, mechanized superiority arrives waterborne." He goes on to paint an intoxicating word-picture of the rain seeping into every nook and cranny of human accomplishment, eating pits into the metal, wearing away the mortar, rotting away the boards. Before you know it, every trace is gone. SWOON!
>> He goes ON AND ON about what would happen if every human UPPED AND VANISHED. He didn't say HOW. He mentioned the Rapture as a possibility -- you know, the one where everyone flies up to that Christian Heaven of theirs and leaves their clothes and shoes behind -- but he didn't even THINK of the Fish Revolution wherein everyone walks into the sea and swims away to dwell in wonder and glory forever with Dagon.
>> He also goes into how much human effort goes DAILY into keeping the water out of their high-and-dry world. The illustration above is some artist's happy impression of the results on the day New York City finally FAILS in its efforts to keep 13 million gallons of eager water from flooding the subways.
>> He gives more than a few examples of why the flood CAN'T HAPPEN TOO SOON. Check out the chapter on plastics, for instance. And the one on radioactive waste. Gee, when I was a bipedal college student a guest professor said to a whole classful of kids like me, with his head held high, that nuclear energy is, and I quote, "ABSOLUTELY CLEAN." Garsh, you mean he lied?
>> He also gives us a picture of what DRY LAND will be like when the featherless bipeds are extinct. "The wrecking crews weren't just trees...but also flowers. Tiny seeds of wild Cyprus cyclamen had wedged into cracks, germinated, and heaved aside entire slabs of cement." SWOON!
Well, if I tell you too much, it'll ruin the whole book for you. My advice is this: DROP EVERYTHING AND READ IT.
>> Oh, just ONE MORE, from page 267: "Barely one square mile, Johnson Atoll is a marine Chernobyl and Rocky Mountain Arsenal rolled into one -- and like the latter its latest incarnation is as a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge. Divers there report seeing Angelfish with herringbone chevrons on one side and something resembling a cubist nightmare on the other." AND YET WE SURVIVE.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Shaved Monkeys Experience A Glimmer Of Insight

An article in the Washington Post revealed unto the readership that the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is actually...are you ready?..IS ACTUALLY AFFECTING THE FISH. This is the very first comment to that effect I've heard or seen since the disaster began, WEEKS AGO. They go on and on about the effect it's having on all the poor widdle nesting birds, and the price of gas, and the PR status of the conglomerates involved.
In fact, the article specifically said that due to some sort of other toxic crap called "dispersants" added to the filth billowing out of the broken pipes, this Texas Tea is GOING BOLDLY WHERE NO OIL SPILL HAS GONE BEFORE -- to the bottom, where it is coating living Corals, gagging the Shrimp and hurting the nesting and feeding sites of Snapper and other desirable edible species. YEAH, AS LONG AS IT AFFECTS THE NAKED APES WE ALL HAVE TO WORRY, IS THAT IT? Because if there were no such thing as a Snapper, THE OIL SPILL WOULDN'T MATTER.
I don't need to tell you I'm not happy about this, ladies.

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Friday, May 07, 2010


Well, we just went to see this at the theater, and I'm PROVISIONALLY PLEASED.
Visuals: Beyond excellent. Only real reason to see this picture.

Message: Far from clear. "Oceans good"? If so, OK, fine. "Oceans in trouble"? They kept hinting at it without ever coming to the point. "Oceans worth exploring"? I would object to that -- TOO MUCH HAS BEEN EXPLORED ALREADY.

Voice-overs: IRRITATING. My dear Cod, by the end of the first reel I was ready to find -- and strangle -- Pierce Brosnan. It's probably NOT HIS FAULT they edited his commentary by putting it through a woodchipper, but IT COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLED BETTER.
There was, oddly, nothing much more to this picture. It was VERY pretty to look at, and EVEN MORE PISCATORIAL than Avatar. Overall, I'd recommend you rent it and JUST TURN THE SOUND OFF.

Sorry, Pierce; you just weren't making any sense, man.

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

AP Bulletin: Last Sardine Cannery in U.S. Closes April 18, 2010

IT'S TRUE. The Stinson Seafood Cannery in Gouldsboro, Maine shut it doors on April 18th, 2010 after a century of good, hard work bringing Sardines and Naked Apes together, using those cool little cans that have the wind-up keys on them.
I DON'T KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT THIS. You know I like to see the shaved monkeys being recruited by operatives of all sorts: on the fin, fried, baked and canned in oil. But our Sardine sisters DO need a break now and then, as anyone would, and certainly the cards and letters POUR INTO MY OFFICE asking for transfers of duty. Isn't a century of canned-recruitment detail LONG ENOUGH? they ask, and who am I to say no? WE CERTAINLY HAVE OTHER METHODS.
The article in front of me says that Bumble Bee Foods, of which Stinson is a subsidiary, blames reduced fishing quotas for the closure. But of course OUR GALS have been simply REFUSING TO SHOW UP since before the new quotas were instituted. Not just the Sardines, either. Strangely, though, the clandestine photographs -- taken and forwarded to me by land-based operatives -- of the supermarket shelves across the country reflect that there are PLENTY of canned Sardines available, just as there are still PLENTY OF BREADED COD in the freezer section, 20 years after those fisheries closed down due to lack of interest. HOW DOES THAT WORK AGAIN?
The article I found online says that 130 Naked Apes are losing their jobs out of this deal. They skim over the fact that even in Stinson's sorry showing last year, producing "only" 30 million cans -- down from a 1950 peak of 350 million -- A GREAT MANY MORE SARDINES THAN FEATHERLESS BIPEDS ARE LOSING THEIR JOBS.
Wait, I keep forgetting. Before humans came along, fish never NEEDED jobs, did they?

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