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Introducing Stella and Humphrey

June 14, 2010 9 comments

Dear Dr. Ichovitzsky:

I recently read your article, “The Sex Lives of Starfish,” and viewed the accompanying video with your photograph on its cover. I found it all most elucidating. I perfected my PHD thesis, “The Sex Life of Octopuses” (due to be published in the March edition of “Sealegs”) last night, and I must tell you that there are striking similarities between starfish and octopuses when it comes to the mating ritual; the only striking difference is (of course) the role reversal. As you discovered, it is the male starfish that gives birth, a breathtaking phenomenon, rare in nature.

When a male octopus is in heat, he wriggles his legs, just as a female starfish wriggles her points. By employing a marine audio laser, I was able to hear the subtle song of the male octopus in heat, as he wriggles his feet. Oddly enough, it sounds like a cross between Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and an obscure folk song by Bela Bartok that has never been published or performed. You can imagine: the song is riveting. It attracts all female octopuses within a radius of 31 miles. What happens next is truly esoteric. The female octopuses vie ferociously for first place with the male, forming a totally out of control football huddle. It’s exceedingly difficult to tell what’s actually going on without employing sea opera binoculars, which, as I’m sure you know, are very hard to find. I procured a pair and was thus able to discern a rhythmic flapping of a plenitude of legs all entwined. My audio laser registered a hissing whisper.

Eventually, the legs of the female octopuses form a tight sailors’ milleoctocross knot and when that occurs, the male octopus jumps onto the knot as if it were a trampoline. During the ensuing mating ritual, the male bounces on this knot at a rate of 53 bounces per second and the voices of the male octopus and the female octopuses crescendo to attain an almost inaudible high-pitched screech, similar in tonality to the death song of the Samoan conch (with which I am sure you’re familiar) but also reminiscent of the screech uttered by the male starfish.

This bouncing and screeching activity lasts for 3 to 346 seconds, depending on the age and physical endurance of the male octopus, who collapses and dies when he can no longer keep it up. At that point, the female octopuses sing a dirge remarkably similar to the 17th mournful aria sung by Isolde in that opera by Wagner.

At least half of the female octopuses give birth to baby octopuses (affectionately termed “little leggies”) within the following three days. This gestation period, is of course, identical to that of the male starfish.

I propose that we get together to discuss the ramifications of our research. Just let me know when and where and I will make myself entirely disposable. I understand that you have been studying the mating habits of the Fijian seaworm. What a fascinating project! You must tell me all about it. Incidentally, I’m 6’1,” with long red hair, green eyes, and well-developed mammary glands. Seriously, I’m kidding about the mammary glands.

Sincerely,
Stella Marinaro
(soon to be Dr. Stella Marinaro)

Advice from Topeka – by Carol Novack

May 20, 2010 3 comments

Advice from Topeka

by Carol Novack

(initial version published in Yankee Potroast)

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“Never trust nobody & you’ll live a long life.” — Alma Peatree Price

___________

A woman slips a note into a copy of the latest “Reader’s Digest” on sale at a shop at Dallas airport. The note says:  “Hi. I’m Muffy.  I’m young and gorgeous but lonely.  Please write to me!”  miffedmuffy23@hotmail.com.”  Edna Appleby finds the note and responds, as follows:

Dear Miss Muffy:

My name is Edna Appleby, from Topeka, Kansas.  My granddaughter, Dotty, bless her heart, gave me that Reader’s Digest with your note in it because she knows how much I love Reader’s Digest, dear. She herself never reads it because she’s a fashion designer in Los Angeles.  I’m much older than you, I suspect, and I’m very very concerned you might be slipping this contact information in other magazines and it will fall into the hands of a ax murderer, one with brains enough to figure out where you live.  And I know all about ax murderers because Elmo, my uncle by marriage to my sister who never had any sense was one.  He done killed six women in a farm outside of Topeka in the space of they say three minutes, including my sister and her bingo friends, because he was a very big horribly strong man with a vial temper and no control at all and ugly as a dungbeetle to boot. And they fried him, thank the Lord, so he’s been getting his just deserts for years.

Your a very lucky young lady, Miss Muffy. I just got this Web TV thing in the mail from my grandson Bobby  and my naybor’s son Billy teached me how to use it and I’m having so much fun.  Just imagine yesterday I found one of my elementry school classmates what lives in Baton Rouge and she writes me all about little Joey Figs, what used to be class clown, so she tells me all about how he’s been indicated for securities fraud.  You never can tell about people I always say which is what you should always be baring in mind, dear, because the world is full of all sorts of terrible people and I don’t know why but the Lord has a reason for everything.  Amen.

Now my husband, Willy, who passed away five summers ago, bless his heart, was a good man and he worked hard while the babies came bursting out of me like little popovers.  We fed those babies and I took a job in the tire factory and they all growed up in good health except for two who was still born.  And except for Elmo and my nasty drunk daddy, I can’t really say I got too many complaints about my life because I was very very careful to never get mixed up with dangerous mean fruitcakes so now I’m ripe as an apple what’s already fallen from a tree, but a little bored but don’t you be telling anyone that.

Maybe you’d like to corespond make a lonely old lady like me happy because the kids and the grandkids don’t write or visit much because their very busy and to tell the truth they try not to speak to me probably because I lost most of my hearing and had to get a hysterectemy, and then decided to go for a sex change, you know life is a bitch when your a woman.   Anyways, I look forward to finding out where you live and what you do and whatever else you want to tell me.

Sincerely,

Edna