Sunday, September 21, 2014


It's not every day you read a book like THIS one, ladies.  Check it out IF YOU DARE...the ISBN is 978-1582346298.  The author is Jim Lynch.  I am NOT recommending this one for the entire conspiracy readership.  I have too much respect for your feelings.

I picked this one up only because I wanted to know why a never-named character in China Mieville's Kraken nailed this book upside-down to a wall in the Cephalopod Library in the Kraken church.  Sounds like a "tentacles down" vote to me.  My suspicions were deepened further when I learned that the book is a runaway bestseller getting rave reviews from any Shaved Monkey who reads it.  That piece of information made me both more -- AND LESS -- eager to see what was between the covers.

Naturally, the book is, on the surface, a teen coming-of-age story.  (Most runaway bestsellers among the Naked Apes are, whether the teen protagonist is trying out for the football team or being drained by a vampire.)  In this case, the kid at the center of the story (Miles O'Malley) is a dorky redhead so small that he can be mistaken for a third-grader.  But he's a voracious reader completely fixated on what looks to me like Piscatorial Love.  He devours anything he can find about marine biology and worships at the altar of Rachel Carson, and even runs a couple of microbusinesses out of his bedroom, concerned with trafficking OUR OPERATIVES to new recruits.  He also lives on the west coast of the North American Conspiracy Zone -- MY territory -- about halfway between what his species calls the Arctic Circle and the Equator.  The kid spends more time wading than he does walking, as near as I can tell.  SO FAR SO GOOD, RIGHT?

Ordinarily, this would make the kid PRIME RECRUITMENT MATERIAL.  But almost immediately things start to go wrong.  For one thing, he has no particular affinity for any piscatorial species.  I thought for a while he might be a Crab man, but I kept reading and he seemed no less intrigued with the Oarfish, the Anemone, the Kelp...It's all kind of the same to him.  More frighteningly still, he seems equally intrigued with any bit of human flotsam, like a bottle of pop or a hockey glove, he finds rolling in the waves.  He seems to totally miss the fact that they have been rejected by the water as inedible and deposited on shore for him to (gulp) keep in his garage. He "loves" us all, but he loves us with a kind of clinical impartiality that seems to see no real difference between a Sea Pen and a Grunion.  Similarly, the Shaved Monkey critics rave about the author's poetic language, but there's no real poetry here...Just data gathering.  Even the arrival of a Giant Squid, never seen before in that bay, who swims for untold distances only to breathe her last almost in Miles's arms on the beach, leaves NO real impression on the kid.  How can this be!? I thought as I read.  My astonishment deepened when a supposedly even rarer fish washes up...and Miles just sorts of lets that go, too.

And then the worshippers arrive.  A bunch of local weirdoes decide Miles has special powers.  A small army of Russians show up and start dousing themselves in the local mud, claiming it's curing them of this, that and the other.  Scientists in front of news cameras pontificate.   Mediums forecast staggering events.  Miles, the center of it all, is only interested in the girl he loves next door, and the fact that his parents are probably splitting up.  An insight Miles shares with his girlfriend leads to her writing a new song for her band.  A male friend of the protagonist, interested only in his work as an air guitarist, gets hooked on Piscatorial Love because of all the time he spends with Miles, which is good, but you know, it's ACCIDENTAL.  Once Miles gets to be a bit famous as the Amazing Squid Boy, even the kids who used to razz him in the recess yard are lining up to find out more about his central interest.  It slowly becomes clear that Miles does have a sort of special ability to lure and notice and find sea life...

AND MILES WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF IT.  He just wants everyone to leave him alone.

This is what makes The Highest Tide into a sort of I-Have-No-Mouth-And-I-Must-Scream type of horror story.

What I see in this story is one recruiting operative after another just about doing backflips to get his attention.  And he notices.  And then he walks away, unchanged. 

Don't read this one alone, ladies.  It's been giving me nightmares for a week.  I was so very happy when this book finally ended.

Friday, September 05, 2014



This 2013 SENSATION was directed by Griff Furst and stars Richard Moll, Lucky Johnson, and an assortment of the usual great-looking, well-funded, unsupervised teenagers FIGHTING THE MENACE WITHOUT THE HELP OF KNOW-NOTHING ADULTS.  What menace, you ask?  Well, A GHOST SHARK.  The story starts when a bunch of Homo saps hunting Amberjack on a charter boat mockingly blow up a Great White, whose battered corpse drifts into a HAUNTED CAVE that BRINGS YOU BACK FROM THE DEAD.   From there the movie is OFF AND RUNNING as our revenant recruiting operative appears anywhere -- anywhere at all -- that a Naked Ape is close to water.  Are the Shaved Monkeys frolicking on a Slip 'n' Slide?  Watch out for the GHOST SHARK.  Is there an overhead sprinkler system at the maritime museum?  You can expect a visit from the GHOST SHARK.  Water cooler in the office?  Yep, the GHOST SHARK is there, too...

Allow me to rave to you some more!


>> The overall moral message of this story is undeniable.  YOU CANNOT ESCAPE US.  EVEN AFTER YOU KILL US.  CHUMPS.

>> I cannot really determine where this story takes place -- it's called Smallport, some sort of prosperous seaside village. The accents (except for the mayor's) are bland and Midwestern, and there's no scenery to tip you off to where they are, but there's a maritime museum that has a prominent display marked "LIFE ON THE BAYOU," with miniature cypress trees and pirogues on the river in the diorama.  On the other hand, nobody here sounds Cajun or even Southern and the rest of the museum shows mostly tall ships and colonial-era gentlemen in powdered wigs, of the sort I associate with the Moby-Dick era.  I choose to read this to mean that it doesn't matter where this story happens, because, hey, water, water everywhere, you know?

>> Smallport is overwhelmingly white and middle class.  The sets are a succession of multi-bedroom homes with fenced yards that might all have been built in the past few years -- no gingerbread or slate roofs or surrounding desert or mountains or anything to give you a sense of place.  Much as in real life, this town has an African-American mayor (Lucky Johnson) who is also a single dad.  His all-white staff and underlings, like the sheriff, treat him with the utmost respect and never question anything he says.  Ever.  (Are we even in America at this point?  Could this be Mars?)  

>>  The mayor's son has a zillion friends, and they are all invited to his parties -- pretty girls and homely ones, cool kids and nerdolas, fashion models and fatties, preppies and freakshow attractions plastered with tattoos.  They all like each other and get along wonderfully.  Much as in real life.  They are all white and rolling in money, so anything they need to do -- like race to an abandoned boat on a Jet Ski, throw a party with unlimited alcohol available for all attendees, Google up information on a high-priced smartphone, escape arrest, or drive around all night in an expensive SUV -- well, they just go ahead and do it.  They never check with anyone, run out of gas or have a credit card declined.  The maritime museum even happens to be open exactly when they want to head over there and check things out.  And by great luck, all they need to know about how to solve their problem is right there at the museum, the first place they walked into.  I read this to mean that THESE SHAVED MONKEYS ARE PRACTICALLY GONNA NEED MAGICAL POWERS TO GET THEM AWAY FROM US.

>> Again, much as in real life, the curator of the museum knows all about the local legends and the magic cave, and just happens to have in his possession the diary of the one colonial-era resident who documented all the supernatural stuff for posterity.  It's written in Latin, but the lead teenager reads it easily and interprets it all correctly.  I thought for a minute that we'd hit pay dirt when the curator started connecting the goings-on in the magic cave to the disappearance of the Roanoke colony, but it sort of fizzled out when nobody but the girl fluent in Latin knew what the Roanoke colony was.  By the end of the exposition portion of our program, I had sort of decided it was what the Shaved Monkeys call a "red Herring." 

>> Ultimately -- I want to repeat -- EVERYWHERE IN THIS MOVIE, THERE IS A GHOST SHARK WAITING.  Isn't that the really important point?

>> The only man in town who appears to be down on his luck is the kooky old lighthouse keeper (Richard Moll), and he knows EVERYTHING but he is too drunk to explain it when the heroic kids come by.  No matter.  EVERYTHING JUST HAPPENS THE WAY IT NEEDS TO, with or without his input.

>> The references and homages to Jaws never let up for a second in this movie.  You have to like that.  It even made me wonder whether the featherless bipeds who created this movie made a conscious connection between the Great White that chased Mr. Quint all the way from the wreck of the U.S.S. Indianapolis to the waters off Amity Island, and this nameless operative returning from the local beach to put the munch on Smallport.  It's possible!

>> As usual, the human actors were wildly uneven and so was the quality of the SFX.  But the GHOST SHARK?  Pure magic, baby!

I won't ruin the whole movie by telling you everything that happened or how it came out.  Just see it.  Alas, this prize is only available on Blu-Ray.  IT'S WORTH BUYING THE MACHINE ESPECIALLY FOR THIS MOVIE.

ONE LAST QUESTION.  OK, the fishermen went after the Great White in the first place because they were angry that she ate the Amberjack they'd hooked, right?  SO WHERE'S THE VENGEFUL GHOST AMBERJACK? 

I happen to know the answer to that question.