Friday, March 29, 2013

Off the Grid and Back Again

Sorry for the break in communications folks. Things got a little hairy last week as we flew to Lower Nouhidhannaka after hearing reports of a possible Fathom Lurker appearing in someone's net. False alarm unfortunately. Another "unfortunate" occurrence was the disappearance of one of the Hansen brothers from a local watering hole. We figured it might be some local pirates looking for a quick score with some ransom money but (after a week of searching, asking locals etc) we found the troublemaker shacked up with some 300 lb broad in a back-alley tenement. Apparently many of the locals had heard some strange noises during the evenings and we were able to triangulate the reports to locate the correct apartment. It wasn't a pretty sight and we've got the kid in some regular therapy sessions back on the mainland in Florida. We haven't had the heart to tell him that "he" was a "she" yet and may just keep that under our hats forever.

On the sunnier side of things, we learned of yet another "talent" that our little Runt had been hiding from us. In all my years on all the seas I've never seen anything quite like it. So, when he was just a sprout, I guess his old man took him to the Gulf a few times where our little runt would entertain himself by taking pokes at the local sea life while diving off his dad's fishing boat. By "pokes" I mean to say he'd punch the little fishies in the nose. I guess things escalated as he looked for tougher foes and in some time Runt's little sport of "Shark Boxing" was born.

Needless to say, I didn't believe a word of it. Shark Boxing? Ridiculous. Well, shiver me timbers if I ain't a fool. We set off the next day into the Atlantic near Key West and our rascal Runt showed us a thing our two. He'd shovel some chum in some fairly shallow waters, strap on a pair of gloves and in he'd go.

In nothing flat, he was batting the beasts left and right. I've always heard that a shark hates a right to the schnozola but I had no idea what a bunch of girly-sharks they were when faced with the pugilistic prowess of our tiny titan.

Before we knew it, the two remaining Hansen brothers wanted to get in on the action and Runt was showing them some moves. Good sense prevailed (on my part) though and I told the boys they could take some shots but it'd have to be from the deck. I'd already lost one of these characters to foolishness in the past week and couldn't afford to lose another. Who'd take the trash out? 

Here's a nice shot of Dave landing one right on the kisser of a real beauty! 

Safe travels!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Revisiting the Psychofish

I was going through some old things yesterday and came upon this old photo of my grandfather's art table. It was fun to see the old familiar table that he kept in the corner of his cabin once again, it's like an old friend.I thought the fact that it showed his original Psychofish painting in progress was doubly cool. We offer that fish on one of our beautiful t-shirts (in case you hadn't heard). You can get it HERE.

With as much traveling I do and with all the stuff that occurs in the field, I often forget the legacy of my Grandfather and the things he went through. Reading the story of the Psychofish brought back some memories, let me tell you. 
Here it is: 
"Well known to the fishermen of Mexiana Island on the East Coast of Brazil, the Psychofish has been creating havoc for centuries. These men who toil in the early darkness are likely to find their nets chewed to pieces or their bait bitten in half by this marauder of the sea. Known for random acts of violence and penchant for bloodlust, there have been accounts of whole schools of Psychofish devouring themselves at the slightest whim. Professor McGill kept a specimen in his personal collection for many years but eventually found the bills for counseling the fish too costly and eventually had it released it back into the wild."

Now, after reading this, I had vivid memories of my Grandfather's tank (it was enormous!) and, although I was very young, I think I remember the whole Psychofish episode. I can recall a "doctor-type" coming over once a week and sitting in a big chair at the corner of the tank with a pad of paper. The Psychofish would linger in that dark corner of the tank and, as he took notes, the "doctor" would speak softly to the fish. It was all very strange and I know it upset my Grandfather as he would roll his eyes and pace out of the room. As soon as the guy would leave, it wouldn't be long until the Psychofish was racing around like a maniac, snapping at the other fish. My Grandfather would lament the "wasted dough" he'd spent on a "Fish Quack" and get very upset. It wasn't long until the Psychofish was gone forever and peace was restored to the tank.

I've still got the original painting although it's in need of some serious restoration.

And...of course, you can get your hand on a gorgeous, screenprinted (in the USA!) shirt at our shop and...I almost forgot: Each shirt comes with the story of the fish (or lure) on it's accompanying hang-tag! Check 'em out!

Friday, March 15, 2013


The minute you step into the bush expecting nothing is the minute you end up with a whole lot of something. Never fails. 

A couple days ago, we set out into the woodlands of lower Iowa in search of the Big-Assed Buck, a legend among whitetail deer hunters in these parts. Petrus, Veronica and I were the original party but Attaway was getting stir-crazy and wanted to stretch his legs so we let him tag along. He's not much on the dry-land but he's earned his say and I throw him a bone now and then. Veronica was loaded with tranquilizer darts, I was packing most of the gear and Petrus had his camera gizmos up the wazoo, so we figured we were ready for anything. The heaviest thing I was lugging was Attaway's bottle of vodka. We were set up for a three day journey and were hopeful to get our eyes on the Buck. The weather was good and the terrain was pretty fair so we were making good headway. 

Around the time we stopped for lunch, we all started getting this creepy feeling that we were being watched. We'd see some movement here and there out of the corner's of our eyes, something low, moving fast, but couldn't ever get a good look. It was pretty sporadic anyway so we shrugged it off but I was keeping my eyes peeled as we made our way deeper into the wood. The Big-Assed Buck is supposed to be an impressive creature with a nice rack and a very distinctive back-end. I was looking for something big and white, sort of like a fat fratboy mooning you from a passing car full of drunken, privileged college brats. That's what I've heard anyway. There is also supposed to be a distinctive odor associated with this species so I was s whiffing the wind as well. Still, every so often, I'd catch movement off to our left and right. 

We had just topped a rise and were working our way down into a pretty valley when we came upon them. Giant Iowan Woodchucks. A whole village of them. We froze and they froze, a whole platoon of the three-foot-high critters moved in from our left and right. They'd been following us all along! I heard the bolt of Victoria's rifle being pulled back and the click of Petrus' camera when all hell broke loose. They charged us like a herd of buck-toothed fuzzy rhinos, their little jaws snapping open and shut, their lisped screams echoing through the woods.

Now, you're saying "Woodchucks?" and I'm answering you..."YES. Woodchucks." These babies aren't your run of the mill, Punxsutawney Phil, scared of their own shadow groundhoggers. No, these are the big-boys of the wood-piggy family and they are VERY territorial. We'd stepped into their woods and they were not happy about it. They had chucklings to care for and as far as they were concerned we were meat. High-stepping it with all we had, we ran through the brush in desperate search of a stream. The funny thing about these hell-rodents is that they'll do anything to avoid getting their feet wet and, if we could find a creek or something to cross, we might just save our hides. I was desperate and was grabbing my precious Little Bully's from my tackle and hurling them at the beasts, hoping to drive them back. Rounding a bend around a rock outcropping I saw it about thirty yards ahead! A small creek! Jumping with all of our might we cleared the thing and fell to our knees in exhaustion. We were safe!

That's when we heard Attaway scream. The old booze-hound had fallen behind and they had him! I frantically searched through my pack for a flash-bang grenade, figuring if I could lob one into the pack, we could get in there and get to Attaway. I found one! I pulled the pin and hucked that thing into the hog-swarm and it went off like a cannon. Petrus and I jumped the creek and ran into the smoke desperately looking for Attaway.

As the smoke cleared, there in the clearing lay his crumpled mass and he wasn't alone. The great silverback, king of the woodchucks, was standing over him. Defiant. As if to say,"These are the woods of the Great Woodchuck! Who are you to defile them??". Perus and I stopped dead. He snapped this last photo before the great beast shrugged it's shoulders and lumbered off back to its people.

Attaway was pretty scratched up but nothing a whole lot of vodka couldn't fix. We limped back into the woods, on the other side of the creek. We'll avoid that side for now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Braised Thugfish Ala Cookie

Petrus made a trip to the gulf the other day with Dafari and damned if that Golden Q-Tip didn't score big! As the evening approached he landed something big... a real fighter. Dafari said it "was as if a hundred camels had grabbed hold of his line and pulled toward the great canyon of Alfafa!". I guess that means "real hard-like". Anyway, Petrus held tight and worked that pole for a good three hours before the thing on the end showed it's ugly mug. A Thugfish! That's some real East-Texas Red Good Eatin' when it gets into Cookie's hands. The boys quickly threw the thing on ice once they'd capped it twice in the noggin with a .45 It's not easy to take one of these boys out. They didn't get the name Thugfish for nothing. 

Here's Cookie's Recipe: 

Braised Thugfish

Take one good-sized Thugfish and scale it. (Whack it on its head with a hammer before you try this, you don't want the thing waking up). You'll need to use a machete for this as the scales are rather tough, once you get to hacking at it from the right angle, things should go pretty smoothly for you. 

Now, using a chainsaw, cut the tail off 3 inches up from it's flare. Hit the thing over the head with a hammer once again (just to make sure) . Now stab it through its ugly heart with a heavy dagger. 

Lay the beast on it's back and, using a skillsaw, split its belly from stem to stern (wear goggles, the blood will leave burns on your bare skin) and reach into its body and scoop its stinking innards to the floor. Please make sure there are no dogs or cats around if you're fond of them (Poor little Petey...he was a good dog). Open a window. 

Now, chisel out the cheekmeat using a cold-hardened steel implement and set these aside. Grabbing a huge cleaver, come at the thing from a run from one end of the galley and lay into its head, just behind the gills with all you've got. If you sever the thing in one shot, you're lucky. Go have a smoke. 

Have a stiff drink before this next step. Stand the carcass up on its split belly and climb up on the table with it. Now, straddling the thing like a small horse (or whatever you're into), force your hands down on its spine like your some sort of psychopathic chiropractor, breaking its back and flattening the thing out. You should hear a loud snap and some gas escaping from it's blow valve under the tail. Hold your nose.. 

Now...get some good Manatee fat, the real rich kind, and put about a half cup in a heavy pan large enough for this monster and heat it until it's smoking. Lay your thugfish down and listen to it crackle. Turn it when its browned and brown the other side. Place the reserved cheeks on top. While it's browning, have another drink and find your East Indian Octopus Ink in the back of the fridge. You'll need a quarter cup of that along with some port wine and some finely sliced sea cucumbers, a clove of garlic, minced and some salt and pepper to taste. 

Pour this mixture over the Thugfish and cover. Simmer for 15 hours and serve with mashed Tongu Roots and red wine (lots of it).

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hooligan, The Heroic

In my early years as an explorer we were running on a pretty low budget, using all of our dough to buy biscuits and gas to get our tiny crew from point A to point B. The point of point B was that our landing would be as close as we could get to the region containing whatever we were after. If we'd heard some fantastic tale of a sea creature that could grow 4 heads and eat a school of giant Manta Rays, all the better: No Land Travel Necessary. We simply pulled the Frankie Anne up to the general coordinates and hopped in the damn water with the thing. Finding creatures like The Pickle-Tongued Fathom Lurker was a chore but only logistically. On the other hand, if it was a land-creature we were after (for example, The Leaping Hunchbacked Baboons of North Africa) then we needed to find a suitable land vehicle near the port. 

Finding a suitable vehicle sounds fairly easy but when it's the Iron-Horned, Locomotive Rhino you're'll want something with some backbone. Something solid. We were unable to find this when we went looking for the aforementioned Iron-Horned Locomotive Rhino and it was a real bummer, let me tell you. Come to think of it, I'll dedicate this post right now to the memory of Djaaku Kammata, our guide on that trip. The scrappy little fellow ran through the bush like a jack-rabbit full of espresso for a good five miles before being turned into a pasty, reddish-brown-orange marmalade by the great beast after it had knocked our Land Rover for a loop and into a ditch. We squatted in the bush and soiled our drawers, mouths wide and paralyzed at the spectacular and horrifying sight. I lived that moment over and over for years, and can't have anything on my toast to this day.

After that episode I swore to the crew that we'd get something better, something worthy of the McFinn name. Something no one else had. We docked in New York and set off for Detroit ion search of a legend: Paddy Coyne, a son of Irish immigrants famous for generations as carriage builders in the Old Country and the best innovators in the automobile frame industry for years in the Motor City. We hooked up with Paddy and told him what we were after. He took our request as a personal challenge and was gung-ho for it but warned us it would cost us more gold than the leprechaun king, Brian Connors himself had in his cache. In fact the cost was be steeper than the Louwellan Drop in the Marianas Trench. Well, assuring Paddy we could, we set out to raise some funds. Cookie auctioned off a few of his secret seafood techniques to high-dollar eateries in Baltimore and New York, Attaway took a gig guiding a convoy of fishing boats to the deadly, yet tuna-rich Banks of the Northern Fent and I... well let's just say I got lucky in Reno. We were a small crew but we had bankable skills. In a few months we had the cash and it was off to Paddy to see what he had for us. 

The Hooligan sat in a garage like a massive, intimidating beast. Strong as a tank and outfitted for the deepest hell-pits of the furthest jungles, this thing drove through the trees, not around them. It's 21 gears allowed for amazing climbing skills, it seated 6 comfortably in the front cabin and slept 7 in the back. Boxes for gear were located in every nook and cranny of it's steel hide and the rear held delicate instruments for analysis of our expedition's finds. There were stows for weapons and a fold-away galley for meals. It had observation ports on the top and could drive through an 8 foot river like it was the Lincoln Tunnel. We collectively pooped at Paddy's product, paid him profusely and packed inside for passage back to port. We retro-fitted the Frankie Anne III (once again) and allowed for her to carry the Hooligan with us wherever we went. We are forever grateful to the Great Paddy Coyne. 

The only drawbacks with this monster is the fear it strikes into folks who encounter it on the road and the lousy gas mileage it gets. Oh well, we'll crash through that wall when we need to.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Splitting Up and Goofing Off

We’re all back aboard the Frankie Anne II today and have been sharing stories about our wild trip and planning the next step in our journey. Runt has an amazing power to heal in nothing flat, it’s like he’s one big callous. It’s kinda gross, really. 

Victoria is energized, being an adrenaline junkie and Powell is back in his cabin working on a finished drawing of the Boar. I’m taking it easy and doing a little fishing in the Mississippi, trying out some of my favorite lures. People say I’m crazy to use these old-fashioned things but they’re like old friends to me. So what if my Little Bully would garner 1000 bucks on the market? There’s nothing like casting that big-old hunk of metal out into the unknown. They don’t make ‘em like they used to, nobody would even think of creating a lure capable of giving a channel cat a massive concussion nowadays. Too much heavy-metals. The Pink-Bearded Buzz Bomber still tears it up as well. It drives through the deep Mississippi water like a damned Japanese Zero on a Kamikaze mission. 

In the evenings we've been getting together and cracking a few cold ones, going through some of Powell’s old sketchbooks. There’s some crazy stuff in that guys head, good thing he can slap it on some paper and keep it from getting bottled up inside his bean. He’d go nuts-o for sure (it’s a fine line). 

We’re making plans for the next foray. I’d like to head up towards the North Woods and do some hunting and we’re trying to decide if we should take the boat up the Mississippi or go by way of land. I’m partial to the boat because The Hooligan (our old tried-and-true 4 wheeler) could use a little tender loving care and hell, you can’t fish from a car (technically you can, there are some crazy guys in New Zealand who go Wombat Fishing from their trucks using a grappling hook- it’s not pretty). So, we’ll kick some ideas around and figure this out…after another beer.