Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

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A Tall Ship Tale — Interlude: One Hull Of A Lady

Category: alt.callahans, Puns, Rated G

By Bill Wright. The originator of the Tall Ship series, Paul de Anguera, places this interlude between #41 and #42. The Series will continue.


H.M.S. Legume is a well-seasoned ship with considerable flora clinging below the waterline (as her name implies). She has accumulated a certain amount of fauna as well.

Please meet one of the fauna — Linda, the marine sea snail.

The biologists among you may wonder that Linda is attached to the bottom of a ship. A sea snail’s normal habitat is rocky coast, just beyond the surf zone, and they don’t tolerate drastic changes in water temperature or low oxygenation. The H.M.S. Legume has explored many bodies of water where such conditions prevail.

But there is an explanation. A certain sea snail, whose name was Harvey, was taken captive many years ago by a mad scientist who lived on Krakatoa, east of Java. (This was before Earth’s magnetic poles traded places, and Krakatoa became west of Java.) The mad scientist reasoned that since Harvey, who was truly a fine specimen among marine sea snails, had extraordinary huge neurons, he ought to be much smarter than the average sea snail. With a few neurological enhancements, Harvey could be elevated to the intelligence of a human being.

Or — and this thought thrilled the mad scientist to the very core of his being — Harvey might become more intelligent than a human being, in which case the mad scientist could steal Harvey’s brain and transplant it into his own skull and, thereby, become a greater scientist than he already perceived himself to be! What a shame that such genius was lost to history.

The experiment was a grand success, and soon after, the mad scientist used his new found intelligence to discover that Krakatoa was about to erupt, He made this discovery only minutes before the eruption. Having no time to build a ship, the poor fellow plunged into the ocean and attempted to swim to safety. But it was too late.

However, as all of us at Callahans (Usenet: alt.callahans patrons) know, backups are indispensable. The mad scientist had cloned a backup of Harvey, whom he named Linda — which was reasonable because sea snails are hermaphrodites, and he (the scientist) didn’t much like rabbits anyway. By a happenstance of fate, Linda survived. Soon thereafter, H.M.S. Legume sailed past and Linda hitched a ride. (Yes, I know what some of you are saying. Krakatoa erupted in 1883, and H.M.S. Legume predates this by several hundred years. The explanation is simple. The shift of magnetic poles caused a time warp which human scientists have never discovered.)

Unhappily Linda does not deign to talk with mere humans. What could we learn from her? I can’t imagine (being a mere human). But I do know one thing about Linda, Based on magnetic resonance measurements that I was able to make of Linda’s brain when I time-traveled back to the days of H.M.S. Legume –this is Callahan’s, after all, and I carried my NMR machine with me during a scuba dive…. someday I may explain why I did this, but not today….

….anyway, I was able to record a conversation that Linda had with a passing octopus named Steven.

“Hi, Linda, what’s good to eat?”

“Just about everything, Steven, so long as I’m patient. This old tub has taken me just about everywhere. There are some things above the water that I will never taste. A lot of stuff drops or washes into the ocean eventually, but by the time it reaches me, it’s chemical composition is considerably altered, and given the chaotic nature of Nature, I find it impossible, even with my great intellect, to reconstruct the original composition. In fact, recently I’ve begun to wonder about the original composition of the universe before the Large Explosion….”

“Okay, okay. You’re too smart for me, Linda. So what have you been doing lately?”

“I’ve been listening to the humans in this ship for a few years now. Sometime soon, perhaps after they kill each other, as they seem inclined to do, I’ll drop off and find something else of interest. Right now, they are spinning threads of questionable meaning — ‘yarns’, they call them — most of which are non sequiturs. They seem to take pleasure in nonsensical sentences, and they award ‘pun-ishments’ when someone tells a ‘good one’ which violates as many rules of syntax and grammar and meaning as possible. I guess this is a symptom of human deficiency. Logic is not one of their strong points.”

“So that’s all? You’re just sitting here and listening to ignorant savages?”

“Not quite, Steven. As we circumnavigate the planet, I’m spinning a ‘yarn’ of sorts myself. Eventually I’m going to crawl up on deck and leave it for the humans. I hate to admit this, Steven, but I have developed a certain fondness for these bumbling beings. I’ve decided to make them a gift that obeys the illogic that they seem to prefer.”

“You mean, a pun?”

“Yes, though it will be a physical pun, not a yarn of words. I’m not sure that they will understand it. It will be an interesting test of their intelligence.”

“So what are you building, Linda?”

“I’m extruding silk fibers — I learned this trick from a silkworm who was being carried across the ocean when the ship foundered and sank, and the silkworm used her last bit of strength to explain the technique to me as she drifted past. As I extrude the fibers, I am spinning them into a thread and winding it into a ball. Then I will cover the surface of the ball with bits of shell and seaweed and algae and powdered coral, such that it becomes a mapÑ humans call it a ‘globe’ — of the Earth’s surface. Of course, you and I wouldn’t call it a map because it doesn’t reveal the important parts of the Earth, which are below water, and humans have little concept of the paucity of their own environment, and they have no concept of the richness of….”

“Okay, Linda, okay. So what will you do with this map?”

“I am inventing and inscribing ‘puns’ on every inch of the fiber.”

“Why?”

“I am being very careful to keep the thread’s diameter constant according to the specifications of the National Silkworm Institute.”

“So?”

“Steven, you are so dumb! You ought to be named Six, or maybe even Five. Isn’t it obvious? I’ve chosen to use the diameter that NSI designates as #8D. ”

“Linda, I think that your mind is slipping a little bit. Perhaps you are receiving insufficient mental stimulation as you hang here from this… vessel? Perhaps you’ve been subjected to too many human ‘puns’?”

“I’m as alert and as intellectually acute as ever, Steven.”

“No, Linda. In fact, I think your behavior is somewhat dazed.”

“OF COURSE IT IS! Do you realize how many logically flawed statements I’ve had to concoct in order to inscribe every inch of this thread with ‘puns’? Any intelligence less than mine would have crumbled under the strain, not just become dazed. But this ‘pun’ of a map will be the finest work that human aficionados of the genre of puns have ever witnessed, don’t you think?”

“I’m sorry, Linda. I don’t understand.”

“I’VE GONE AND WOUND THE WORLD IN A DAZE OF 8D PUNS!”

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