Sunday, November 27
Precipitation: Not today, Satan
Sunday, November 27
Precipitation: Not today, Satan
A Blacktip Island resident’s discovery Wednesday of what he claims to be the face of famed aquatic explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau on a piece of toast has divided the small Caribbean island’s population over the find’s significance and authenticity.
“Pulled my bread out of the broiler that morning, and there was ol’ Jack Cousteau staring back at me,” Antonio Fletcher said. “Knew it was a sign of something, but wasn’t sure what. Took a photo of it to show folks, then locked the bread away so no one’d mess with it. Or eat it. Got to be respectful with signs and omens.
“Don’t understand why folks’re so skeptical,” Fletcher said. “People find faces of Elvis and the Pope and Richard Nixon on their toast all the time. You just don’t hear about ‘em. Me, I think this’s a sign tourism’s gonna be booming again. Mister Scuba himself paid us a visit.”
Others saw more ominous tidings in the scorch marks.
“This sort of secular image isn’t something God would send,” Our Lady of Blacktip priest Audley Crossblesser said. “This isn’t a Virgin Mary-shaped Cheeto or anything like that. Non-religious signs from beyond the physical realm are inherently profane. Why Cousteau? Satan’s sent an image of someone we revere and trust to lead us all astray. Or Frenchify us.”
Others embraced the image.
“It’s a sign we should get back in a groove with the ocean, with nature,” divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Get away from that, our spirits shrivel. Jacques Yves’s reaching out, telling us we need to get our Zen back. What more perfect vehicle for that than a piece of toast?”
Island academics were dubious.
“It’s not a sign of anything—it doesn’t even look like Cousteau,” Tiperon University-Blacktip religious studies professor Stinky Bottoms said. “Frankly, we haven’t even seen the original object. ‘Tonio’s got it locked away, he says for safety. A photo of a random piece of toast has hoax written all over it. Until it can be independently, directly verified, I’m calling BS.
“Personally, I think he made it with a woodburning kit or some such thing,” Bottoms said. “For the attention, or whatever money he could get, or something like that. Hell, a few drinks and everything looks like it has a face on it. Just last week I had a burger that was the spitting image of Ethel Merman.”
Meanwhile, many island residents and guests have transformed Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort, where the toast is being kept in a reception lock box, into an impromptu shrine.
“This object, this talisman, belongs to all of us,” Leigh Shore said. “Divers are already visiting the resort, leaving flowers and conch shells and dive gear outside the entrance—Sandy won’t let them inside the lobby. It gives you chills, seeing the response. I think Cousteau’s sending us all good luck right now. I was lucky enough to pick up a great wrist-mount computer and mask when I was there.”
The Cousteau estate did not respond to repeated Blacktip Times inquiries.
Sunday, November 13
Blacktip Island locals and guests will celebrate the end of the 2022 hurricane season this weekend with the inaugural ‘Octo-berfest,’ an octopus-themed variation on traditional German fall festivals, at various sites across the small Caribbean island, organizers said.
“We got behind on planning our usual Oktoberfest and ran out of October,” festival chair Jay Valve said. “It seemed silly to have Oktoberfest in November, then Vera Cuda hit on the idea of celebrating octopi . . . octopuses . . . whatever . . . instead. They get so little appreciation, it’s about time they were fêted. And we spelled it with a ‘c’ to avoid confusion.
“We’ll have food tents and beer halls and dancing and all the other whatnot you’d expect at traditional Oktoberfest,” Valve said. “We’ll also have a cnidarian costume contest for the kids, an octopus search in the lagoon, and a midnight Cthulhu service for those who observe.”
As with Oktoberfest, the emphasis will be on local food and drink.
“We’ll have the chili cookoff and conch fritters, of course,” Chef Goldie Goby said. “But we’ll also have stalls with fresh-fried calamari and grilled octopus, in keeping with the tentacled theme. We’ll also have candy floss, and will auction off a Honduran rain slicker at the end.
“Bonefish Brew and Assmonkey Ale will be dueling each other for customers, as ever, but there’s also some exciting newcomers,” Goby said. “The monks up at St. Dervil’s will be serving their Iguana Mead, made with the help of the monastery’s rock iguanas. And in a last-minute, surprise entry, the Blacktip Island Literary Society will unveil its new Dickens’ Cider, brewed from local coconuts.”
Organizers stressed the cultural aspects of the fest.
“The focus here will be on local island culture and tradition,” Christina Mojarra said. “We’ll have an oompah band for polka dancing, as well as sing-alongs in German. The find-the-octopus snorkeling event will be at noon, and the evening festivities will kick off with the 1K dogpaddle race across Eagle Ray Cove from the ERC resort to the Sand Spit bar, with the loser buying the other swimmers drinks.”
Parents, meanwhile, scrambled to finish last-minute octopus and squid costumes for their children.
“They announced the festival theme, and costume contest, just last week,” Chrissy Graysby said. “The little ones are so excited, but it doesn’t give us much time to make costumes. There’s not a pool noodle to be found on the island, so many were snapped up for arms. And with eight arms per costume—10 for squid—well, that is a lot of arms to come up with last minute. I repurposed my dirndl as tentacles.”
Sunday, November 13
Precipitation: Not anytime soon
The discovery this week of Medieval-era Norse runes carved into coral on Blacktip Island’s Hammerhead Reef has historians and archeologists debating their authenticity, as well as the possibility Viking explorers could have visited the small Caribbean island in pre-Columbian times.
“A dive guest was the first to notice them,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “Came up yapping about somebody carved on the coral. With that graffitied-up coral in the South Pacific a while back, we quick-timed it down to see what was up and hopefully ID the yahoos who did it.
“I nearly spit my reg when we found these Lord of the Rings-looking letters chiseled into the coral head,” Kiick said. “We had no clue what they were, but we took pictures and researched them on the internet and VOILA! they turned out to be Viking.”
University experts confirmed those findings.
“They’re definitely Old Norse— Elder Futhark runes, to be precise,” Tiperon University-Blacktip linguistics chair Dr. Dunning von Kruger said. “There’s been a bit of degradation since they were carved, probably in the 12th Century, but they appear to claim the island for a King Hrothgar. We have no idea why they would inscribe that underwater. Our theory is they were worried about attacks from local mermen and wanted to get the local ocean gods on their side.”
Local historians are focused on further authentication.
“There’s always been rumors of Vikings landing on Blacktip,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Now we have proof. Dunning’s no Viking expert, but she did write that paper on Visigoths, so that’s close. Modern Blacktippers got their marauding mentality from those ancient Norsemen, and there are lots of blue-eyed folks on the island. We’re looking at island topography now to see where the most likely site is for finding a Viking longhouse.”
Some historians, however, disagreed.
“The idea of accepting this graffiti as a Viking relic with no other corroborating evidence is ridiculous,” TU-B archeology professor Fannie Bottoms said. “How—and why—would Vikings dive 30 feet deep on the reef and carve graffiti?
“I know a little Old Norse. It’s not an ancient land claim,” Bottoms said. “It reads, ‘Björn was here. ABBA forever.’ The most likely source is the roaring-drunk Swedish dive club staying at Blacktip Haven last year. I’m calling Occam’s Razor on this— what’s more likely, ancient runes or modern graffiti?”
One local dive operator is taking advantage of the find by expanding its educational offerings.
“We whipped up a specialty Viking Diver course overnight,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Reg Latner said. “It’s a four-dive course that focuses on Viking culture and history, how to read runes and how to protect artifacts like these.
“Guests’ll do their training dives in Viking gear, horned helmet and all,” Latner said. “We won’t have them carve stuff in coral, of course. We’ll have ‘em make inscriptions in the sand with lionfish spears, then move on to sword fighting and pillaging.”
Sunday, November 6, 2022
Precipitation: Take a rain jacket