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Squid #483
(published April 22, 2010)
Ask the Giant Squid: Suffer Thee The Little Octopus
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Friend Architeuthis dux, (may I call you Archie for short?)

I am rather curious of your outlook on the population explosion of Humboldt squid in the waters off of Southern California. Are these squid just the forerunners of the Cephalopod Empire, or are they attempting a rival takeover, daring to challenge the deeper dwelling squid?

Also, how are squid relations with octopi, and what is the Oklahoma Octopus? Is there a freshwater cephalopod stalking the lakes of Oklahoma, are people just crazy, or are they somehow mistaking some other creature as an octopus?

Thank you for your time, and perhaps chat with your scientists about moving from Ohio [Editor's Note: Our offices are currently in Detroit, MI—which also lacks winning teams] and come to Pittsburgh, where at least we have a Superbowl winning football team to our name.

Kim, Ninja of Glomp
Dwelling in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native to Southern California

My Dearest Kimzie-Bimzie Coco-Pops, Glomp Warrioress, Pittsburger, Californicatrix, and Friendly Interlocutor of the Week,

My, do we not have the vast and unseemly panoply of questions? Much like and unto the crowds of Humboldt squids who take it upon themselves to choke and batter the waters of Southern California.

But, let me take the final part first, and address the matter of the Oklahoma octopuses (not "octopi," my dear; never "octopi") and their impact on squid-octopus relations, which are strained, at best.

I believe that even among the truly uninformed—such as humans, humans living in America, or humans who enjoy the "reality" "TV"—it is no secret that octopuses are far from the finest parents: They devour their young, or let them stay out to all hours, or fail to ask how it is that an adolescent can afford a fine automobile and gymnasium membership and very expensive apparel despite lacking any apparent employ. Octopuses regularly spend the grocery money on pro-wrestling tickets, which they then wager away on NASCAR events, which they attend while they should ought to be driving their offspring to the soccer practice or rushing to a job interview. They squander college savings on groceries, then squander the groceries on scratch-and-lose lottery tickets, then squander any possible winnings on works and chemicals for the cooking of the crystalline methamphetamine, and then use those to clean their swimming pools, rather than for cooking of the meths. The life of an octopus—almost invariably pregnant as a teen and unwed as an adult—is a shambles more pitiful than comic (although much of their ignorant japery is, indeed, farcically delightful).

So, in a grand gesture several decades past, squid—the magnanimous Big Brothers of the Sea—took it upon themselves (ourselves) to dissolve these dysfunctional broken homes and, for a small and reasonable fee, place these young and impressionable octopoda—who had, after all, not asked to be born into such squalor and serial stupidity—with fine foster and adoptive parents. These fosterfolk were mostly well-meaning Americans of the middle-South: Tennesseans, Kentuckians, an occasional West- or Prime-Virginito, and quite a many Oklahomoes. Sadly, as it turned out, Ameri-Humans—despite their kind, delicious hearts and best intentions—are also terrible parents. And easily distracted. Just a few brief weeks after receiving their foster-cephalopods, scads and scores of fosterfolk—their time now consumed with choosing a flat-panel plasma television, unlocking achievements upon their Xboxen, or twittering their facetubes via YouBook over an iPad—double-freezer-baggéd their belovéd adopted sons and daughters, hastily scrawled excuses on the outside of the bags, and posted them back to their native waters (or the nearest adjacent seaward bodies). Many Oklahomoes, lacking proper postage, deposited their young in Lake Thunderbird, where these delinquent octopodal youth reinforced each others anti-social tendencies, drug-habits, and musical tastes, until the lot of them had drifted back to their inborn genetic delinquency. In point of fact, the very best and most well-meaning of these never-do-well octo-orphans comprise the Oklahoma Octopoda—most of them are currently self-underemployed in mobile methamphetamine production, recidivism being the very nature of Nature.

To be perfectly frank, in my opinion, In the end it became apparent that we had blamed the parents, when really it was the offspring at fault. Octopuses, as a class, simply make very terrible children. No one, truly, is to blame. This is just evolution's fickle fingers, once again throttling out another ill-conceived species. It is a grim mechanism, but not one with which we might profitably bicker.

As for your mid-most question: California's Humboldt squid, I have been made to understand that they have simply been overstimulated by the last several years of relentlessly expert marketing and technologies crafted in Cupertino; the Humboldts have, in fact, become so accustomed to being driven to a frothing frenzy—first by the iPhone, then the iPod Touch, and now this infernal and delightful iPad—that they regularly litter the beaches, strangled by the horrible dry Upspace air as they fruitlessly struggle to reach the San Diego/La Jolla Apple Store. They are the incorrigible fan-boys and Jobs-apologists of the order Teuthida. It is, to be sure, almost a textbook-excerpt of the timeless observations of Mr. Charles Mackay in his Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (whose 1841 first print run, incidentally, footnoted a then-current Humboldt squid mania for watertight pocket chronographs—why this was cut from later editions remains a mystery to me, although it is possibly owing to the fact that two of Mackay's children were killed and eaten in 1845; at that time the crime was attributed to a pair of immigrant Humboldt squid then employed in the mines of Lancastershire, although later investigation revealed the real culprits to be an undocumented Italian worker and three members of the House of Lords—predictably.)

In any event, these Apple-product-inspired beachings are a sad and preventable display; please do your part to pettition Mr. Jobs' Apple Business Machines and Associated Concerns, Ltd., to finally open a store location at the bottom of the deep blue sea, or at least nearer the shore.

I Remain,
Your Giant Squid

Post-Scriptorum: In answer to your primary question: No, under no circumstance may you call me "Archie."

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