Monthly Archives: October 2015

Mutant Pumpkin Mishaps Mar Halloween Carving Contest

Genetically-modified pumpkins seized by the World Agency for Nuclear Regulation after multiple explosions at Blacktip Island’s Jack-Off pumpkin carving contest sent more than 10 people to the island clinic. (Photo by Lee Paxton)

Genetically-modified pumpkins seized by the World Agency for Nuclear Regulation after multiple explosions at Blacktip Island’s Jack-Off pumpkin carving contest sent more than 10 people to the island clinic. (Photo by Lee Paxton)

A series of carving mishaps at Blacktip Island’s 31st Annual Jack-Off pumpkin carving contest left 11 people injured at the island’s Heritage House Thursday evening. Event organizers blame genetically-modified pumpkins donated by Tiperon-University Blacktip.

“The TU-B horticulture and nuclear science departments developed these fast-growing, super-sized pumpkins they gave us to try,” Jack-Off organizer Jay valve said. “As soon as the first knife broke the skin of that first pumpkin, BLAM! We had pumpkin goo raining down in a 30-foot radius.

“Folks laughed at the first one, then two more pumpkins blew up,” Valve said. “When fifth one exploded, people finally put their knives down and backed away. I mean, those suckers went off like cans of pork-and-beans in a campfire.”

TU-B scientists were stunned by the events.

“None of our theoretical models indicated that kind of rapid increase in volume or release of energy,” TU-B nuclear science department chair Ernesto Mojarra said. “Our working hypothesis is these new third-generation pumpkins developed a thicker skin that trapped the quick-maturing internal elements under a much higher pressure.

“It retrospect, we should have anticipated some volatility issues,” Mojarra said. “Raising a seed to a Volkwagen-sized pumpkin the three days, there had to be a trade off.”

Onlookers and contestants, some as young as 10 years old, are still in shock.

“Little Jimmy Bottoms took a blast straight to his face,” carver Ginger Bass said. “They’re still picking seeds out of his forehead, and I’m still blind in the blue-green range.

“No one warned us these things were dangerous,” Bass said. “I mean, sure, they glowed in the dark, but it’s Halloween. We didn’t think anything of it. Now little Jimmy glows in the dark, too. Someone needs to be held accountable.”

The World Agency for Nuclear Regulation has cordoned off the Heritage House grounds, citing public safety concerns.

“That site is red hot,” agency spokesperson Clay Geiger said. “Whatever was done to those pumpkins, we’re getting pings as far away as Jamaica. There’s no way the researchers didn’t know their gourds were dangerous.”

TU-B officials bristled at the criticism.

“It’s slander, these rumors the university donated the gourds as part of some double-blind study,” Mojarra said. “It was an unfortunate accident. Period. People are overlooking the positive in all this.

“Blast victims are showing unexpected secondary healing for a wide range of symptoms,” Mojarra said. “The Bottoms boy’s hyperthyroidism is gone, and Rocky Shores regained complete use of his right hand. We can’t undo the damage these gourds caused, but our hope is, with the right marketing, they’ll be able to ease some of the world’s suffering.”

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Blacktip Island Players To Perform “Waiting For Cousteau”

Divemaster Alison Diesel rests recumbent as the Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser Aikoku Maru during the dress rehearsal for Doris Blenny’s absurdist scuba drama, “Waiting For Cousteau.” (Photo courtesy of Woodym555)

Divemaster Alison Diesel rests recumbent as the Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser Aikoku Maru during the dress rehearsal for Doris Blenny’s absurdist scuba drama, “Waiting For Cousteau.” (Photo courtesy of Woodym555)

Absurdist scuba drama comes to Blacktip Island’s underwater theater Saturday with the Blacktip Community Players’ Fall Extravaganza “Waiting For Cousteau,” commemorating marine explorer Jacques Cousteau’s famous 1971 expedition to Truk Lagoon.

The play, written by B.C.P. artistic director Doris Blenny, blends ‘The Lagoon of Lost Ships’ episode of “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” which documented the exploration of the World War II-era Imperial Japanese fleet sunk at the South Pacific atoll, with Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot.”

“That show hooked a generation of scuba divers,” Blenny said. “Beckett hooked a generation of theater-goers. Combined, the two speak to a certain je ne sais quoi of time and place that is Blacktip Island.”

In Blenny’s play, the crew of Calypso waits in Truk Lagoon for Jacques Cousteau to arrive. A succession of messengers tells them Cousteau is coming, but he never does. Crewmembers pass the time studying fish, debating whether they’re seeing the same fish or merely similar fish, and whether they’ve had that conversation before.

“It’s art copying life for most of Blacktip’s residents,” Blenny said. “And, frankly, some of the guests.”

The play will be staged in 20 feet of water off Diddley’s Landing public pier in a model of Cousteau’s famous exploration ship, Calypso. Local divemasters will play Cousteau’s crew as well as the Japanese wrecks.

“It’s an awesome acting exercise,” said divemaster Alison Diesel, who plays the sunken auxiliary cruiser Aikoku Maru. “Any schmuck can lay there and say she’s a shipwreck, but for this, you have to tell a destroyer from a minesweeper just by the set of the actor’s shoulders. In full scuba gear, mind you.”

“The depth of talent on display here is stunning,” Blenny said. “Gage Hoase does the narration in an absolutely spot-on Rod Serling. And his prologue in Cousteau’s voice is uncanny.”

“Aft-air many days in the lagoon the Crew of Calypso became very lonely,” Hoase said as Cousteau. “Some even grew quite friendly with the booby birds populating the island.”

“Of course, on Blacktip the guests usually become friendly with the dive staff,” Hoase added, dropping out of character. “But it amounts to the same thing.”

All performers will use Aqua Lung regulators in honor of Cousteau’s invention.

The performance will be streamed live to televisions in the Sand Spit bar as well as on the B.C.P. website.

The Sand Spit will feature specials on rum-and-bourbon Shipwreck cocktails, French wine and Japanese sake. Red knit watch caps will be available for purchase before and after the calypso dance contest.

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Blacktip Island Handyman Will Act As His Own Attorney

Local roustabout Dermott Bottoms will represent himself in criminal court Monday, marking the first time a Blacktip Island resident has exercised the little-known legal prerogative. (Court photo courtesy of Brian Turner)

Local roustabout Dermott Bottoms will represent himself in criminal court Monday, marking the first time a Blacktip Island resident has exercised the little-known legal prerogative. (Court photo courtesy of Brian Turner)

In a Blacktip Island first that experts say may set legal precedent, local jack of all trades Dermott Bottoms has opted to act as his own attorney for his public disturbance trial this coming Monday.

Bottoms was arrested last month for disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, offending the decency of a woman and littering.

“Don’t need no lawyers,” Bottoms said. “Can’t trust them. Except cousin Rocky, and he wouldn’t take the case.

“Mostly, he didn’t want to fly over from the big island, I think,” Bottoms said. “No matter. We’ll get to the bottom of things and the truth’ll set me free.”

Some locals have rallied to Bottoms’ cause.

“Technically, all those offenses are criminal, but this is Blacktip Island,” local Payne Hanover said. “Other places it’s drunk and disorderly. Here it’s just a normal Saturday night slamming too hard into Sunday morning.”

Authorities disagreed.

“Sunday morning Dermott slammed into the church doors, vomited in the aisle, dropped his trousers and passed out on one of the pews,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “There’s no shortage of witnesses. All four, five people there saw it.”

Island legal experts are dubious about Bottoms’ chances.

“It’s the first time anyone’s represented themselves,” court watchdog Wade Soote said. “The law does provide for it, but no one’s ever been damn fool enough to try it.

“But now here’s Dermott, the poster boy for ‘damn fool,’” Soote said. “My guess is he’s simply trying to dodge the legal fees. Dermott can’t even pay his bar tabs. All in all, it’ll be fun to watch.”

Other locals were more cynical of the island’s legal process.

“He’ll get off, no matter what he does in court,” the former Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “The judge is his aunt Copper. Those Bottoms stick together.

“My hope is the court insists Dermott make restitution,” Ephesians said. “The church doors need rehanging, the carpets need replacing, and the congregation, well, they’ll never be able to unsee Dermott’s butt.”

Despite the criticism, Bottoms is upbeat about his self defense.

“Gonna plead guilty and trust the mercy of the court,” Bottoms said. “Can’t let the trial go too long. Cousin Sandy needs me to do landscaping at his resort, you know. And Auntie Copper needs her pool cleaned.

“Church folks ought to be about forgiveness, anyway,” Bottoms said. “Then we wouldn’t have to bother with trials and judges and lawyers. They say if men were angels, we wouldn’t need government. Well, we’re all angels on Blacktip. A few of us’ve fallen a bit further than others, but we’re still angels.”

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Blacktip Island Braces For Columbus Day Festival

Blacktip Island resident Chrissy Graysby searches the beach for the remains of her papier-mâché caravel after last year’s Columbus Day boat race.

Blacktip Island resident Chrissy Graysby searches the beach for the remains of her papier-mâché caravel after last year’s Columbus Day boat race.

History will clash with genealogy Sunday at Blacktip Island’s Columbus Day Festival, commemorating deserters from Christopher Columbus’ fleet settling the Caribbean island in 1493.

“The Santa Maria stopped at Blacktip Island for reprovisioning,” island historian Smithson Altschul said. “Most of our locals trace their ancestry to a handful of malcontents who jumped ship and hid in the jungle until the boss sailed away.

“The place was uninhabited, so the sailors made themselves at home,” Altschul said. “Popular tradition has it that several of the deserters were suspiciously-proportioned cabin boys, but we have no hard evidence to support that. Other than population growth.”

The celebration is not without controversy.

“Columbus was a murderer who introduced disease, slavery and genocide to the Western Hemisphere,” local activist Harry Pickett said. “To celebrate the arrival of such a monster is a travesty, even if he is my uncle. And cousin.”

Event organizers brushed aside the criticism.

“There was no native population on Blacktip to murder or enslave,” Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Jay Valve said. “Columbus may have been a ruthless rotter and racist, but he’s also the one who brought our ancestors together. He’s family.”

Some locals say the celebration doesn’t go far enough.

“Columbus introduced self-reliance and individualism to a part of the world that was sparsely inhabited and underused,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “The best way to honor that legacy is with more development. More resorts. A big-ass cruise ship terminal. Really squeeze maximum usage out of the island.”

Organizers, however, are emphasizing the day’s activities.

“We’ll have something for everyone,” Valve said. “There’s a Prove The Earth Is Round calculus contest, an Italian sonnet slam, and snow globe carving.

“The full-scale papier-mâché caravel-building competition will go on most of the day,” Valve said. “Followed, of course, by the papier-mâché caravel race across Eagle Ray Sound. The last boat to turn completely to mush is the winner.”

Island residents are eager for the day’s festivities.

“Last year’s bluff-top blind man’s bluff was brilliant,” resident Chrissy Graysby said. “We spent the afternoon watching blindfolded drunks try to navigate their way off the bluff without falling over the edge. Dermott’s scars are pretty much healed now.”

Local historians say Columbus would be pleased with the celebration.

“Murder, rape and pillaging aside, Columbus truly is Blacktip Island’s spiritual father,” Altschul said. “He had no idea where he was going, once he got here he had no idea where he was and he called that a success. Anyone that clueless is a Blacktipper at heart.”

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Traffic Accidents Mount On Blacktip Island Reefs

Increased use of diver propulsion vehicles is causing traffic snarls on Blacktip Island dive sites. (photo courtesy of Matthew Hoelscher)

Increased use of diver propulsion vehicles is causing traffic snarls on Blacktip Island dive sites. (photo courtesy of Matthew Hoelscher)

Blacktip Island marine park officials are urging caution on the Caribbean island’s scuba dive sites after a spike in the number of accidents involving underwater diver propulsion vehicles.

“We’re victims of our own success,” said Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner. “We’re teaching so many D.P.V. classes, it seems like everyone’s using scooters now.

“We tell students slow and steady’s the way to go with the scooters, but our guests never listen,” Latner said. “We’re seeing single- and multi-vehicle wrecks underwater about every day.”

The scooters also have many of the island’s scuba divers upset.

“Bunch of knuckleheads racing around is what they are,” diver Georgie Passaic said. “It’s just ZOOM and you’re blindsided by bubble trails and flapping fins. There’s even traffic jams on some of the sites.”

Officials say the problem is made worse by divers coming to Blacktip Island from different parts of the world.

“The Americans circle coral heads clockwise, whilst the Brits circle anti-clockwise,” Marine Parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “And the Americans insist on using four-way stop right-of-way rules. The Brits use roundabout rules. The result is a right mess.”

Attempts to enforce underwater safety measures have been ineffective.

“The island constable’s jurisdiction ends at the shore,” Schrader said. “And we don’t have the personnel to patrol every dive site. We have plans for underwater traffic signals, but that’s a long way off.

“Meanwhile, the underwater wreckage is piling up,” Schrader said. “People just mash the accelerator and go. On some of the more popular reefs you can’t see the coral for the debris.”

Local dive professionals bristled at criticism they’re to blame for the situation.

“We crack down on scooter use, that takes beer from our mouths,” Club Scuba Doo dive operations manager Finn Kiick said. “People pay top dollar for D.P.V. courses and rental. We about went out of business last week when we banned scooters completely.”

Other industry insiders insist underwater scooters are here to stay.

“These D.P.V.s are a boon,” Eagle Ray Divers’ Latner said. “All the wrecked scooters out there mean we’re teaching more Wreck Diving courses, more Search and Recovery courses and more First Aid courses. We even have instructors working up Underwater Traffic Routing course outlines for NAUI, PADI and SSI.”

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