Because last night I found myself watching (horror of horrors) Ghost Whisperer starring the queen of insipidity herself, Jennifer Love Hewitt. (Who, incidentally, is slated to star in a film called She Had Brains, a Body, and the Ability to Make Men Love Her, which is ironic in every way imaginable. The IMDb plot summary reads: “Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a young Odessa, Texas housewife and former homecoming queen who became one of the city’s most popular hookers until she, her bordello sisters and 68 prominent Odessa residents were arrested in a scandal that shook Texas.” I shall have to see this movie.) Back to CBS: I was so captivated by the sheer fact that I was home alone on a Friday night watching such dross that I couldn’t move, and proceeded to watch Close to Home, Numb3rs, and half the local 11 o’clock news before peeling my eyeballs off the television, to the immense relief of my poor, tortured brain.
Now, if I had cable, I could have watched National Geographic’s Dog Whisperer instead, which looks fascinating, and would have saved me the plunge into the greatest shame spiral any non-alcoholic Friday night has ever witnessed.
I had planned to get up early and work today, but I stayed up late into the night reading The Moor’s Last Sigh (fan-fucking-tastic), which cut into said plan. Now the least I can do as I caffeinate my way into the second half of this dreary Saturday is at least try to focus on something a bit more upbeat than my depressed sleeping patterns, my missing boyfriend, my mind-fucking job search, and the CBS Friday night lineup. Thus I give you the giant squid.
While in New York recently, I visited the American Museum of Natural History, which has been one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world since I was a little, little girl. They have, of course, added a big shiny new section with a planetarium and lots of physics-centered exhibitions since then, because Natural History (as my very educated little sister sillygirl84 explained with stunning erudition) in an archaic category that now contains all those embarrassing elements of 19th-century thought that could not migrate into the modern scientific categories of Biology and Organic Chemistry and such. So now the old section of the museum, with its uncanny dioramas of stuffed natural specimens, among which are scattered, without categorical distinction, models of things that for technical reason couldn’t be stuffed and mounted, like giant squids and Native Americans, is (despite the integration of video displays representing the “real” natural world) less an educational exhibition than a hallowed monument of an earlier moment of American scientific and historical culture that we prefer now to hold at a polite distance from the higher technologies of Enlightened Knowledge.
But in the corner of the Deep Sea room, there’s a menacing diorama of a giant squid attacking the head of a sperm whale. Walking through that dimly lit room from the upper level, down the stairs, under the suspended arch of blue whale, and across the quiet expanse of floor is so much like plunging into the briny deep that when you come face to face with this horrific spectacle, less Discovery Channel than Melville epic, it’s really freaking scary. By some trick of the light (I think), there appears to be no glass between you and the enormous, squid-entwined head of the whale, which produces a visceral thrill very different from the cinematic excitement of watching big animals on TV.
It’s so cool.
So here’s to the giant squid, which (as you may recall) was photographed alive for the first time just a few months ago. In honor of this glorious creature, I’d like to direct you to my new favorite procrastination outlet, Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k), which features a very informative Giant Squid FAQ, which are answered by none other than the great squid himself. In fact, through this site you too can approach the giant squid with any of your pressing questions, such as how to quit smoking, how a sperm whale manages to eat a giant squid, and the giant squid’s position in the perennial debate on boxers or briefs. Also, you can get instructions on how to knit a squid hat for baby. I invite any- and everyone to knit me squid hats for the new year.
Go visit Poor Mojo and have a merry, squiddy ol’ time.