Tuesday, January 06, 2009

First Day of Monsters

Copy-Paste of class notes:

What is a monster? On the first day of the first Monsters Class in 2004, I asked the students to describe a monster. Here are the words they used:

There is a terrific scene in Finding Nemo in which Dory and Marlin swim into the dark deep sea in search of a diver’s mask. They see a mysterious light that attracts them and almost get eaten by a deep sea anglerfish. How many of the characteristics cited above do you see in the anglerfish pictured below?

I also asked them to name something that really gave them the creeps. Here are their responses to that question:

Okay, Copy-Paste done.

After the class discussion about things that generally creep us out, I went home and watched a few episodes of Planet Earth. And you know what? Nature is very, very creepy. Especially when you're watching out for it.

While in Vallarta in October, my mom found out that stepping on sea urchins is not a good idea. Their spines are poisonous, so it hurts like hell. They're also brittle, so trying to pull them out usually just makes them snap off inside your foot. Then, even better! The tip starts to curl like a fish hook, so it will gradually push itself deeper into your skin while resisting, very painfully, any attempts to pull it out with tweezers. Usually people have to go in for a minor surgery to get them removed safely. And they tend to get infected.
But not only that! They have TEETH! The damn things come in swarms that can level an entire kelp forest in a day. Their five teeth grow constantly, so they're always sharp and ready to gnaw.
And starfish! They climb on top of their victims (sand dollar, smaller starfish, whatever) then suck the juicy bits out and move on, leaving only the creatures' bones behind.
Damn, nature. The whole barracuda thing already had me afraid of snorkeling, but now I think I'm done with all open-water activities. (Except surfing. And only on beaches that are known for not having jelly fish.)

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