Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monsters, real and imagined (no, this is not about politics)

Steven Segal is playing guitar with Marty Stewart. He is an EPA agent trying to stop evil casino tycoon Kris Kristofferson from polluting the river and killing a bunch of hicks, all the while charming and falling in love with the sassy redhead from CSI. She is not sassy in this movie. Apparently all of Nashville has decided to cameo in this movie as well, so in addition to Marty and Kris, we've got Randy Travis (who is a bad guy and gets shot by Segal in a truckstop diner) and Travis Tritt, who just performs at the casino. The one thing Marty Stuart and Steven Segal and Travis Tritt have in common is having improbably horrible haircuts and they've all sported these same damn horrible haircuts for more than twenty years in public life now. Maybe they could at least trade bad hair cuts with each other (if I had access to the internet right now, I would so spend the rest of the night photoshopping their hairdo's on each other and any of my friends I could find old photos of).

Everyday I tell myself I am not going to comment on the things my roommate chooses to watch on his tv and then day after day I am confronted with something out of the darkest depths of videotaped hell. How many thousand movies has Steven Segal made? Seriously. He and Jean Claude Van Damn could completely fill the rotation of a cable network and never show the same film twice in two years. I thought taking a job out at sea would bring me adventure and excitement and leave me with a greater appreciation for the wonders of our planet. Instead it has left me with informed opinions about the filmography of Segal and Van Damn. One day (probably later tonight) I'm going to break down and do a side by side comparison of these two ass-kicking fools, but first I have more important things to comment on: aliens and squids.

There is no better place to watch space flicks than lying in your bunk on a boat in the middle of the ocean. You are kind of lurching around and the feeling of being isolated inside a ship is real for you so it makes the flick all the more believable. I'm about to admit something which a person of my age shouldn't be able to admit: prior to tonight, I'd never watched the original Alien. Now I've seen bits and pieces on cable, and I remember when it first came out I read the spoof of it in Mad Magazine, but I never saw it. But this just made it more awesome to watch it this time in this isolated ship-bound seclusion.

Of course when you aren't in a movie theater, there always seems to be some kind of interruption right at a crucial moment. This is usually unwelcome and totally ruins it for you, but sometimes it is perfect. So tonight, at the end during the self-destruct sequence when Ripley is running for the shuttle and rounds the corner to face the critter, my roommate opens the door and asks me if I have seen one of the big squids yet. He had just caught a really big one, so I paused the movie and jumped out of bed and ran out on deck to see this beast. The bastard was a fucking Humboldt (I think) squid that was damn near three feet long! There is this monstrous thing sitting there, flashing angry colors and staring at me. I was down close taking pictures and it moved unexpectedly and I had a sudden flashing image of the Alien attacking me.

I've heard these are pretty mean little monsters. All squid have little mean hooked beaks, as I have on occasion been reminded when trying to get photos of the beautiful little flying squid that sometimes land on deck. Three inches long, but they will twist themselves into a knot to bite your fingers. Now there was no way in hell that I was going to get anywhere near the beak in this giant thing, but in addition to having the big version of the terrifying mouth all cephalopods have, I'd heard that these guys also have claws on their suckers. Of course the scientist in me conspired with the idiot in me to reach out and touch a sucker and see if it is true.

It is true, and they can move surprisingly quickly and are pretty strong. Thankfully he didn't get a good grip on me. Those are some serious fucking claws.

While inspecting this one, my friend got another on his hook and I got to help him pull it in. I could see other squids swimming about it, glowing white in the light like they do most of the time at night, while the one on the hook flashed all manner of angry colors. As it broke the surface it blasted this rich brown ink everywhere and tried blasting us with water from its siphons. My pal gaffed it and we brought it on board. I got some more pictures and another of the crew came out and chopped the two long tentacles off to microwave as a snack (they were delicious). I'm generally more of a take-em-alive kind of guy, but I work on a fishing boat and I'd never get to inspect these things up close if someone wasn't catching them for food so I again made peace with my pangs of guilt and went back to geeking out about how cool they are (and snacking on their tentacles).

A few more pictures and I traded one slimy monster for another and went back to my movie. Which of course was awesome and the perfect way to round out my night. This would actually be the perfect night at sea, exactly the kind of thing I came out here for. I say 'would' because the creepy fake monster/creepy real monster synergy was book-ended by a Lifetime original movie starring Melissa Gilbert and the aforementioned Steven Segal movie, which would make it instead a typical night at sea.

(It is worth noting that during the Segal movie that had apparently been taped off TV, they kept showing commercials for Aliens III and one of the hillbilly characters in the movie was the same actor who had played Brett in Alien.)

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