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Squid #438
(published June 11, 2009)
Ask the Giant Squid: A Rum Night on the Barbary Coast (Squidapalooza; part one of three)
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

It's me, again.

May I correct your previous questioner, if you won't? "You're," is the contracted form of, "you are." What he/she should have written was, "your," the possessive form of "you."

That settled, recently it was announced new words that were added to the Oxford dictionary. Well, Bunny, Daph and I think that, "squidapalooza," should have been included as a new word. Not long ago we participated in a grand squidapalooza ourselves! I squid you not!

So, don't you agree that "squidapalooza," should be included in the Oxford dictionary?


My Dearest Jose,

Frequently the questions and comments that reach us from our readers are edited for the most coveted of all qualities, "readability." Many petitioners are shy and skittish of punctuation, spellcheckers, or the most basic rules of grammatical combat. This task of "clean-up" is performed by my current lab director, Molly, as she is the only person in the office who holds a degree in the (mis-named) "Humanities."

We appreciate you bringing this grammatical error to our attention. The war of Your vs. You're vs. UR has been bloody and left many unsure of their footing. Rest assured that Molly's pay will be docked appropriately, and leeches immediately placed in her ears (editorial note: As of press time, Molly had declined to place the leeches in her ears, despite our repeated requests, prefixed with the "pretty please" and suffixed by "with the sugars atop.").

As for your neologistical question, I say this:

Many years ago, in the dusktime after the World War Deuce and afore World War: the Korean Edition, I spent a few scant years living in San Francisco, the Baghdad by the Bay. My irascible, criminal cousin—going by the name "Monster Abby" at the time—had a spare pressurized 2,000 gallon tank in his Barbary Coast apartment and I was between the jobs. The math was simple, as they say.

Now, it is time I admit to an earlier evasion on my part: When I first spoke of my time in San Francisco, I did indeed permit it to implied that I had only met the private eye, John Tichy, on that single occasion, during the matter of the Chuck Norrises, Cousin Albert's darkest hour (a notable distinction, in this case). I had actually, by that time, socialized with Tichy in public on several occasions—this was prior to us falling out concerning the extremely unpleasant taste of his dog, Biffles, and the fact that I had eaten such a dog prior to the appropriate course of the meal (or, perhaps, at all; my memory on this matter is foggy).

Tichy was a rounded potato-sack of a man, an ambulatory bundle of dirty laundry that took in liquors and tobacco and exhaled quips, jeers, and methane. The Third Great San Francisco Vigilance Society was in full bloom at the time, walking the fog-slicked streets with swagger sticks and sharpened tongues, and they frowned upon all manner of vice no matter how genteel or circumspect the consumers were. Regularly the Vigilance Societeers would crash upon a drinking establishment and lay about the customers with caffeine-fueled club blows. It was a dark time. A new Temperance fell upon that sin-soaked city and we were forced to meet for the whiskeys at my cousin's hidden speakeasy, Squidapalooza.

Yes, dear Jose, the word you so casually toss about like some spherical frisbee was also the name of the filthiest, most hidden public house in all of California. Secreted behind three locked and guarded doors in the labyrinths below Chinatown, the passwords of Squidapalooza were changed every four hours according to a permutational Thieves Math Cant; drinks were code-named for camouflage and served in pewter tankards. The location rotated in a widdershins pattern across nine different subterranean cells—while one cell was functioning as the speakeasy itself, the others were turned over to madmen, roustabouts, and junkies desperate for blood. Showing up at the incorrect door or speaking an out-of-date password could lead to sweaty-toothed madmen gumming your flesh from your face and attempting to either distill it or inject it, depending upon the miscreant. Subsequently, the bar was empty when Tichy and I arrived. Cousin Albert's security measures were too good, too clever by half, for those crinkled-livered men, gripped by their deleriums tremendous, in the alleys above.

John Tichy and I talked for hours, supping upon fine olives and dogflesh, sipping bathtub gin from tankards (Tichy) and tankard gin from bathtubs (myself). He told me of his cases, each more dangerous and outrageous than the previous: There was the "Case of the Man Who Was Too Tall," the "Case of the Woman From Mars," the "Case of the Missing Eye," the "Case of the Vagabond Vessel," the "Case of the One Guy; He Sorta Looked Like You. Good Guy, But—Wha's I Talkin' 'bout?"—on and on Tichy spun his tales. I interjected my own humble adventures where I could, but the talking was comfortable, not competitive. It was the conversation two equals have where both arrive with full lives and leave edified and excited, and in the interim the human equal yammers on about himself ceaselessly before vomiting into his own hat while the squid equal patiently nods of the headsack and opines that it "happens to the best of us."

After four hours, a new password was called out by my cousin, dutifully manning his empty bar, a white tuxedo stretched about the frame of his somewhat rattletrap supra-marine pressurized suit. And new patrons, a man and a woman dressed in alabaster robes, hoods obscuring their eyes, entered the establishment. They sat in a red velvet booth opposite Tichy and I, the light casting ominous shadows of their figures. The hooded couple requested menus in polite tones and puzzled over my cousin's quaint codes.

"What do you expect is in a 'Leaking Bilge Rat'?" The man asked, frowning in his hood.

"I dare say that the 'Peaches Found In An Unmarked Can By An Inquisitive Toddler' sounds divinely intriguing." The woman tapped an unpainted nail on the menu.

"Well, I believe I shall try the 'A Man And Woman Meet In A Bar, Have Sex, And Then Realize They Are Secretly Related, Causing Undo Family Stress And Necessitating A Move To Another Country Where Such Behavior Is Tolerated If Not Secretly Encouraged' but it is quite a mouthful." He paused. "I hope that one includes bourbon."

Tichy shook his clam-like head, mouthed the word "tourists" to me. He scratched his not-insignificant chin and said to me, conspiratorially, "Since you invited me out on this little excursion, I maybe have a business proposition for you. I've come upon recently—while working an entirely honest case—the whereabouts of a certain chapeau of peculiar value. This sombrero is unique and damn near priceless, but I have a fence lined up in high society who will pay millions for this little shohpka."


Tichy grinned and sipped from his pewter mug. "Because it's the lucky top hat of Emperor Norton, that's why."

"AHHHH," I dissembled comprehending Tichy's explanation, but was in good luck that I was not required to do so for long, when the hooded couple leapt to their feet, brandishing blades that had been—I surmised—secreted beneath their robes. "Tell us where it is!" they shouted at Tichy, "Or else!" And, evidently, in the spirit of clarifying what "else" might include, the robéd mistress ran her blade into a vulcanized coupling on my suit's carapace, bringing forth a deluge of my vital waters.

So, dear readers, you can see how at first the innocent mention of "squidapalooza" brings forth a current of memories most unpleasant: the first time I sipped gin; my irredeemable cousin; the detective, Tichy, whom I so fatally failed, time and again; and also the memory of being stabbed through by hooded assassins. But that, dears, is but the first layer of meaning the word conjures.

Until Next Time, I Remain,
The Giant Squid

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see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

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The Next Squid piece (from Issue #439):

Ask the Giant Squid: Emperor Norton's Hat! (Squidapalooza; part two of three)

The Last few Squid pieces (from Issues #437 thru #433):

Ask the Giant Squid: The Good and Honest General Motor

Ask The Giant Squid: The Ziggurat of the Devourer of the Dead (In the Shadow of the Canyon of Death; part four of four)

Ask The Giant Squid: In the Heart of the Heart of the Heart of Evil (In the Shadow of the Canyon of Death; part three of four)

Ask The Giant Squid: In Mexico, No One Can Hear You Scream (In the Shadow of the Canyon of Death; part two of four)

Ask The Giant Squid: On the Heels of Ambrose Bierce (In the Shadow of the Canyon of Death; part one of four)

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