|TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: Keep your friends close,|
your anemones closer.
Here’s something I just learned.
When a giant red sea cucumber -- one of the 450-odd creatures that make their home in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Aquarium in downtown Toronto -- feels threatened, it frightens off its predator by ejecting a portion of its gut out through its anus. And I totally get that. When I'm scared who knows what might happen?
But that’s not my point.
My point is, that giant red sea cucumber factoid is just one of the countless important things I learned this past Friday evening, when my wife Helena and I visited Ripley’s aquarium for its monthly Friday Jazz Night.
You heard right. Twelve Fridays a year, the aquarium features live jazz, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Visitors can wander among more than 16,000 marine critters sipping wine or beer; specifically, Lagoon Lager, listening to live jazz.
It’s even more fun than it sounds. It's like you're dancing with the fishies!
| GREAT CORRY RIFFS:|
Horn player and singer
And you want to talk educational?
The red sea cucumber intel was just a tiny sample of all the stuff we learned. Here's six more take-home gems.
6. English is weird. Not only did we see several rock bass and striped bass, I saw a bass clarinet. Bass and bass. What are ESL learners supposed to do with a situation like that? I'm sure glad I was born knowing the language and didn't have to, like, learn it.
5. The bass clarinettist was one of the Sonny Balcones, the jazz combo that outshone even the most Finding Nemo-ish creatures at the aquarium Friday. I'd say the Sonny Balcones were worth the price of admission. At centre stage: A laughing trumpet-playing lead singer named Corry Ouellette. When we first got there, Ouellette wore a long silvery sequined dress that looked like it could have made from the same sparkly stuff the school of shimmer fish in the tank directly over Ouellette's head were wearing. For the second set, Ouellette changed into a flappers-style mini -- get it? flapper? oh never mind -- and her third-set look was long, slinky and if you really used your imagination could be seen as mermaidy. The Sonny Balcones not only took the gig seriously, they had serious fun and even had people up dancing. Imagine! At the aquarium! The Sonny Balcones: Two fins up! Four starfish out of four! Catch them if you can. Tell me to stop making fish puns!
|NASTY OVERBITE: Nothing|
preps you for being under a shark.
4. The glimmering fishes wearing the same look as Ouellette? They're "alewives". Why isn’t the person who named these fish famous? Another winner? Hands down the biggest fattest laziest and by my reckoning the contentedist critter in the place -- an underwater Jabba The Hut--is the Potato Grouper.
3. Speaking of inventive, I’d love to have been at the meeting where somebody came up with the idea of mixing live jazz with live fish. It's like pineapple on pizza. Who would have thought it would work? At Ripley's Friday, everybody in the joint was laughing and joking. It was a fish party.
2. Walking under a two-metre long shark with its teeth bared is simply not an activity that human brains have evolved to handle with ease. It didn't matter that we were safely separated from the sharks by what I'm sure was thick plexiglass, it felt just a tad unnerving; very easy in fact to identify with that giant red sea cucumber we discussed back up there at the beginning of the story.
1. Finally, Jazz at the Aquarium would be a marvelous first date. Unless you're a sea cucumber.