Microlife Stew Report
It’s already Halloween in a little jar on my dining room table.
Earlier this week I started breeding tiny monsters in earnest so that I’d have plenty of protist-porn to watch through my two microscopes. I have a jelly jar full of stomach-turning life that I started with muddy water and a few rotting leaves from a puddle at the park. I added some scum-water from the terrarium of Wei’s pet newt and some dirt from the flowerbed. This admixture has been left in the sun on the porch every day.
It is now ROILING with monsters. The monster population is several times as dense as it was two days ago, and there’s more variety as well. They range from hideous pulsing things without faces to beautiful flowery things without faces.
I was hoping for more things with faces, like water fleas, planarian worms, etc. I plan to scrape up some moss and see if I can find water bears, aka Tardigrades, because those really are hideous little monsters with horrible faces and a disgusting way of moving.
It seems that the smaller these creatures are, the faster they move. When I first looked through the microscope I thought I couldn’t see anything. Then it sunk in that the generalized blur I was seeing was in fact zillions of teentsy-tiny, very fast-moving critters — bacteria, probably.
I still have had no luck in catching any of them having sex by splitting in twain. When I was about 12, I had one of those lucky moments — when I gazed through my Gilbert toy microscope at some gutter water, the very first thing I saw was an amoeba in the process of mitosis. That set my little heart all a-flutter! I have yet to replicate that experience. But then, some of these entities are so miniscule and so fast that they might be self-fucking and giving birth to themselves right in front of me, and I wouldn’t know it. That’s one reason I am going to start hunting slightly larger monsters.
Last time it seemed that every sample I examined had a huge squirming wormish thing in it. For some reason I have not seen many in this batch. Maybe because I’ve been looking at water instead of dirt.
Wei was griping about some spiky little seeds that get on her clothes from the neighbor’s bushes. I inspected some of those spiky seeds through the stereomicroscope, and up close they look like Klingon weapons, with nasty-looking rows of teeny hooks. God made those things just so. They use us for sex… they cling to us (and any other animals) so that we carry them far and wide. Exploitative little bastards. And they aren’t even animals. They have no eyes, no ears, not even a mouth or anus. All animals, from water bears up to us, are basically torus-shaped. “Donuts.” There’s a hole in the middle that goes all the way through. Plants don’t have that hole. My wife is the plant-lover of the family. She can identify almost any tree or flower. I am the zoologist. I am only interested in things that have that hole through the middle and can move around in the world. Dinosaurs, bugs, goats, live nude girls, etc. As far as I’m concerned, plants are for eating or making into clothes. Boring, at least compared to animals.
Some of the little monsters that I’ve been breeding are technically animals, but lack that hole through the middle because they merely absorb the food. But there’s still a vacuole. That’s a little like a mouth. And they shit, after a fashion. They don’t have much of an anus but they do excrete. They don’t really have faces, but some have an eyespot or two and are definitely light-sensitive, and they will sure jump back if something pokes at them. And they HUNT. They are always doing that. In some cases they just randomly thrash about until something falls into their food-hole, but that’s still hunting.
After Wei peered through the microscope tonight and saw that soup of monsters, she said, “This makes me want to never drink or eat anything, ever again.” I suggested that she examine some Cleveland city tap-water and see if she could see any animalcules in there — I don’t think she would — but she is afraid to.
I should go fetch a jar of Lake Erie water next time we’re near the shore and see what kind of awful mutated things are in there. I know that’s where our drinking water comes from, but it’s filtered as hell, and anything that gets through, I’m already immune to.
In fact I have made a habit while traveling to drink the local tap water just to dare anything to make me sick, and also to reboot my immune system, such as it is. I remember one time when I was in NYC. Rev. Bleepo told me way too late that I shouldn’t drink Brooklyn water. Didn’t hurt me a bit. Bring ’em on, I say. I ain’t scared of no amoebas. The worst thing they’ll do is make me painfully shit water for a week like that one time in Italy. Fucking god damned Roman amoebas.
I will leave you with this sexy passage from Wikipedia about Planaria:
“Planaria are hermaphrodites, possessing both testicles and ovaries. Thus, one of their gametes will combine with the gamete of another planarian. This type of gamete fusion is sexual reproduction because it involves the formation and fusion of gametes. In asexual reproduction, the planarian detaches its tail end and each half regrows the lost parts by regeneration, allowing neoblasts (adult stem cells) to divide and differentiate. However, several problems can occur with this, so this does not happen often. Instead, in sexual reproduction, each planarian transports its excretion to the other planarian, giving and receiving sperm. Eggs develop inside the body and are shed in capsules. Weeks later, the eggs hatch and grow into adults. Sexual reproduction is desirable because it enhances the survival of the species by increasing the level of genetic diversity.”
REPRODUCTION CYCLE AMONG LOWER LIFE FORMS UNDER THE ROCKS OF MARS
It’s a short educational film I made in 1976 somewhat in the manner of the educational films I saw in elementary school (which were made in the 1950s). Most of my friends call it “that claymation porn film.”
Rev. Ivan Stang, born Douglass St. Clair Smith August 21, 1953 in Washington, D.C., raised in Fort Worth, Texas, and attended the St. Mark’s School of Texas. He is best known as the author and publisher of the first screed of the Church of the SubGenius. He is credited with founding the Church with friend Philo Drummond in 1979, though Stang himself denies this and claims the organization was founded in 1953 by J. R. “Bob” Dobbs. Since the publication of the first SubGenius pamphlet in 1980, Stang has embarked on a worldwide crusade (spanning at least three continents) to promote the Church. In May 2006 he finished writing, editing and designing a new SubGenius book for Thunder’s Mouth Press, The SubGenius Psychlopaedia of Slack: The Bobliographon.