Monthly Archives: July 2015

Blacktip Literati Retool Island’s Literary Festival

Blacktip Island Literary Festival organizers are urging attendees to read books, not fling them, at this year’s event.

Blacktip Island Literary Festival organizers are urging attendees to read books, not fling them, at this year’s event.

Writers, poets and playwrights will converge on Blacktip Island’s Heritage House Saturday for what organizers hope will be a violence-free second annual Blacktip Island Literary Festival.

“We’ve doubled our presence and are confident there’ll be none of the mayhem of last year’s litfest,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “If the narrative does go off course, the two of us will step in and edit the event.”

Festival participants say outside influences caused the ruckus at last year’s event, sponsored by the Tiperon Writers’ Interdisciplinary Trust and Flor de Caña rum.

“It was the free rum the sponsors doled out that caused the problems,” playwright Jerrod Ephesians said. “People blamed Antonio Fletcher and his pornographic alexandrines, but ‘Tonio was just the catalyst. Well, him and the Baptist Women’s League.

“Between the overturned scooters, the flung hardbound books and the dozen people in the medical clinic, though, it gave the local literary scene a black eye,” Ephesians said. “We’re asking participants and spectators to be on their best behavior this weekend.”

Some auteurs, however, scoffed at that request.

“Can’t no one promise restraint,” poet Antonio Fletcher said. “We’re artists, you know. We’re spontaneous, howling that eternal ‘yes’ at the moon. That’s creativity.”

Festival officials are confident new safeguards will ensure a peaceful festival.

“We’ve a more-structured agenda to emphasize love of literature, writing and reading over hooliganism,” event organizer Doris Blenny said. “We’ll administer breathalyzer tests before each writing workshop, panel discussion and author reading to maintain the festival’s intellectual focus. We’re only allowing paperback books in the venue, as well.

“We’ll have workshops on ‘Using Verbs in Every Sentence’ and ‘How To Write As Concisely As Humanly Possible to Avoid Any Unnecessarily-Wordy Verbiage In Your Prose and Poetry,’” Blenny said. “Panel discussions will include ‘Was Shakespeare Really Jane Austen?’ and ‘Plot: What Is It Good For?’

“To keep order, we’ve also moved the readings to first thing Saturday so people won’t be so sauced,” Blenny said. “Dermott Bottoms’ll kick things off performing his one-act play, Letters From Heineken.”

The festival’s high point will be Saturday evening’s cocktail mixer, featuring a free drink to any attendees who can recite the first paragraph of Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand Of Darkness. There will also be a belching Derek Walcott’s Omeros contest, with the winner receiving a mini-keg of Guinness stout.

All-writer air band The Smirking Metaphors will provide live music.

“We invited a bunch of literary agents and publishers, too,” Blenny said, “but none of them responded. I think they just want to attend incognito, in case things get hairy again.”

Participants are cautiously optimistic.

“It’s an artistic community,” Ephesians said. “Blacktippers love their literature. But we enjoy drinking rum and fighting, too. It’s a delicate balance.”

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Blacktip Island Divers Brace For Dockside Security Screenings

Skerritt Security scanning devices line the Eagle Ray Divers dock Friday, ready for scuba divers. Similar scanners have been installed at all Blacktip Island scuba resorts.

Skerritt Security scanning devices line the Eagle Ray Divers dock Friday, ready for scuba divers. Similar scanners have been installed at all Blacktip Island scuba resorts.

Beginning today, Blacktip Island scuba divers will undergo multiple security screenings before boarding dive boats due to threats made against the Caribbean island’s reefs.

“We got credible intel about attacks on the underwater environment,” Public Safety director Ferris Skerritt said. “These attacks are aimed at destroying Blacktip’s tourism industry and could result in the death of recreational divers, as well as untold fish and coral heads.

“We’ve called for, and received, the government’s full support in combating this threat,” Skerritt said.

The Tiperon Islands government has contracted security measures to Skerritt Security.

Local dive professionals dispute the threat’s seriousness.

“One out of context remark, and Barney Fife breaks out the prods and rubber gloves,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “It’s like last year’s War on Terriers fiasco, where ol’ Ferris rounded up all the island dogs for questioning. On the government dime, of course.”

Island business owners defend the screenings.

“The hell we’re not threatened! By eco-terrorists!” Eagle Ray Divers owner Rich Skerritt said. “A nutcase on one of our boats said, clear as day, he was gonna blow up fish. Then his accomplice referenced an ‘ayatollah.’ That’s a threat, context be damned.”

Witnesses disagreed.

“The dude said, ‘That blowfish was the bomb,’” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Alison Diesel said. “Then his drunk buddy slurred, ‘I, uh, told you so.’ People on Blacktip don’t make bombs, we get bombed.”

Security experts, however, are taking no chances.

“Each resort now has explosive trace detectors and millimeter wave scanners at the top of their docks,” Ferris Skerritt said. “Then X-ray backscatter machines and hands-on security personnel at each boat. You wont be able to sniff the reef without a thorough going over.”

The measures already have scuba diving guests complaining of overzealous screeners.

“Those chuckleheads groped me places I didn’t know I had,” scuba guest Bubba Gadgette said. “Two of ‘em. Four times! I mean, what could I possibly hide in my Speedo? Now, I enjoyed it and all, but they confiscated my booties for no reason.”

Officials dismissed the complaints.

“Of course it’s intrusive. And expensive,” Ferris Skeritt said. “We can’t take any chances. And the program’s an unqualified success: we’ve had zero attacks since we installed our system.

“We’re also looking at ways to protect the island’s reefs from lone-wolf shore divers,” Skerritt said. “No telling what some radicalized Cousteau-wannabe’s capable of. By God, we’ll scan them on the beaches and frisk them on the ironshore if need be. Cost be damned.”

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Divemasters Build Green Scooters From Repurposed Refuse

Roughed-out wheels and scuba cylinders for Re-Cycle scooters sit ready at a Blacktip Island workshop Thursday.

Roughed-out wheels and scuba cylinders for Re-Cycle scooters sit ready at a Blacktip Island workshop Thursday.

A pair of Blacktip Island divemasters have built a working prototype motor scooter made of repurposed items from the island’s garbage dump in an effort to reduce environmental damage on the small Caribbean island.

The scooter features wooden wheels made from downed power poles, a body fashioned from a condemned scuba cylinder and is fueled by biodiesel salvaged from island restaurant deep fryers.

“On a little island, sustainability’s the elephant in the booby pond,” Eagle Ray Cove divemaster and scooter co-creator Gage Hoase said. “The dump’s a ticking time bomb. So are all the cars burning fossil fuels and leaking motor oil.

“We’re killing two birds with one gadget here,” Hoase said. “There’s all kinds of good stuff in the dump, and every one of these scooters on the road means one less car.”

“We’re calling it The Re-Cycle,” Club Scuba Doo dive operations manager and co-creator Finn Kiick said. “The engine’s totally hermetic and powered by a perpetual motion hydraulic pump. Just push off, and vroom! Away you go. We wanted to name it The Flintstone, but the Hanna-Barbera suits tore us a new one over that.

“Each bike’ll be unique, depending on what people throw away,” Kiick said. “If a load of lawn furniture gets chucked, well, the next cycle’ll be a recumbent number and look like a chaise lounge. The beauty’s each one’ll be a document of what it was like to be alive on Blacktip at that certain time and place.”

Critics, however, have waxed less poetic.

“They’re not putting that junk on the public road,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “There’s no vehicle I.D. number, no way to register it, no way to insure it. And it’s not safe. People try to ride that thing, they’ll fill up the clinic before the day’s out.”

Other critics focused on the vehicle’s potential economic impact.

“Some rolling garbage dump that don’t use gas won’t help the island economy,” Skerritt Fuel president Ferris Skerritt said. “Getting by on a shoestring like some folks are, this thing could sink us all.”

Hoase and Kiick were quick to disagree.

“These bikes’ll sell like crazy,” Hoase said. “How can that be bad for the economy? And the rental market’s unmined gold for the taking.”

Kiick was more philosophical.

“Blacktip’s a chill tropical island. Who doesn’t want to come ride a scooter on a tropical island where no one has to know about it? And if the Re-Cycle falls apart, well, we’ve sped up the composting process, then, haven’t we?”

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Blacktip Islanders The Focus Of Psychological Study

Psychologists will descend on Blacktip Island to study the widespread abnormal behavior of its population.

Psychologists will descend on Blacktip Island to study the widespread abnormal behavior of its population.

Blacktip Island and its residents will be the subject of a large-scale abnormal psychology study, the Island Psychology Association announced Thursday.

“We couldn’t create this kind of control group if we tried,” IPA president Elysia Fromm said. “You read about populations like this, but you never expect to actually find one. It’s like The Lord of the Flies, only scarier.

“The percentage of the general population with personality disorders and psychoses is six to eight percent,” Fromm said. “On Blacktip, it’s close to 90 percent. You’d think there’s an industrial-strength crazy magnet buried in the center of the island. It’s good they’re all on one isolated island, for them and the rest of the world.”

The study was prompted by an article, published earlier this year in the American Psychiatric Journal, that focused on several Blacktip Island residents.

“A shrink on holiday caught one of ‘Tonio Fletcher’s rants about how he’s Fletcher Christian reincarnated,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “Then she saw James Conlee do a karaoke duet of “Summer Nights” with a barracuda he caught. Next thing you know, we got pointy-head psychobabblers spying on us, talking about us.”

IPA researchers will set up observation blinds in bars and other public places. Psychologists will also disguise themselves as divemasters and construction workers to intermingle with the island population.

“It’s old school nature versus nurture stuff,” lead researcher Graysby Jung said. “Are residents mentally unstable when they arrive? Does island life lead to instability? Or do the subjects come here with mild mental disorders that get worse with after exposure to the local populace?”

Local mental health experts are unimpressed with the proposed study.

“It’s a small island. Normal people don’t move here,” said Tiperon University-Blacktip’s psychology department chair Sigmund Skinner. “Blacktippers don’t suffer from insanity. We quite enjoy it.”

Island officials went a step further.

“We’re a welcoming people,” Cobia said. “In the real world they lock you up for being bat shit, but on Blacktip you’re one of the gang. If you can’t handle crazy, get off the island.

“Now, all these headshrinkers sneaking around only make things worse. They got folks jumpy, not trusting each other more than usual,” Cobia said. “And I don’t care what that squinty-eyed boat driver says. I’m not schizophrenic. And neither am I.”

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Singing Coral Heads Discovered on Blacktip Island

Blue chromis school above a stand of Blacktip Island’s singing staghorn coral on Jawfish Reef. (Photo courtesy Amanda Meyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Blue chromis school around a stand of Blacktip Island’s singing staghorn coral on Jawfish Reef. (Photo courtesy Amanda Meyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Blacktip Island researchers this week documented coral heads on the Caribbean island’s Jawfish Reef interacting with other corals via harmonic resonance.

“There’d been tall tales from scuba divers about singing coral,” Tiperon University-Blacktip professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “On a hunch, we installed one of our new Broadband Datalogging Sound/Vibe Monitoring arrays on the reef. The BDSM tests showed the staghorn polyps flagellate to create high-frequency vibrations.

“It’s more of a high-pitched hum than actual melody,” Mojarra said. “Like Tuvan throat singing, but in the 16740 hertz range. Near as we can tell, that lets polyps communicate coral-to-coral. It also explains why more people hear the tones as the staghorn recovers from near extinction.”

The discovery settles a debate that’s raged among Blacktip’s divers for years.

“There’s always that annoying whine at Jawfish” Eagle Ray Divers divemaster Marina DeLow said. “Like The Chipmunks singing ‘Good Vibrations.’ I chalked it up to doubling up on Sudafed, or vodka hangovers. Now we know better.”

Some experts, however, dispute the finding.

“This is textbook wish fulfillment, fueled by alcohol and who knows what else,” Island Psychological Association president Sigmund Skinner said. “Every scuba hippy wants to anthropomorphize the reef. They want to believe coral flagellates to communicate, and hey! What do you know? They discover coral flagellates. And sings while it does it!”

Local business owners, however, embraced the discovery.

“If coral can communicate with other coral, it stands to reason it can communicate with other organisms, even humans” said Elena Havens, owner of the Blacktip Haven resort. “Elephants communicate over vast distances with ultra-low frequency sounds. This is really no different.

“We’ve started underwater meditation sessions on the reef,” Havens said. “The effects have been stunning. It’s like our guests have become one big polyp colony.”

Researchers, meanwhile, are scrambling to catalogue the coral sounds.

“Ernesto brought us in to decipher the individual tones and tone combinations,” TU-B linguistics department chair Porgy Chomsky said. “We’re testing whether this is simply a species-specific vocabulary, or if we’re dealing with a pancorallic semiotic. It’s potentially ground breaking. Staghorn coral’s the Chatty Kathy of the reef.”

TU-B’s Mojarra concurred.

“If these harmonics are fueling coral growth, it could be key to restoring coral populations worldwide,” Mojarra said. “We have plans to regenerate individual coral heads with recorded music. And a crack team of marine geologists is working up plans for underwater coral topiary.”


Filed under Caribbean, Scuba Diving