…is flipping through your Instapaper account and finding a great big New Yorker story about hunting giant squid. Honestly, there’s nothing that embodies awesome quite like the giant squid (as long as you include the colossal squid within that category; I’d be hard pressed to say whether colossal or giant is the better type of squid).

Colossal squid in New Zealand, from 2003 BBC article (click to go there)

Anyway, what’s strange about reading this epic tale is how much it reminds me of Orchid Fever, the article that became the book that became Adaptation, still one of the contenders for my favourite film ever.* There’s a bit in the squid article where the writer describes getting into a van with an eccentric squid hunter who talks a lot and seems kind of lost in a world of his own. You can almost feel the writer thinking: “Is this guy my John Laroche?” – especially when the following happens:

While I was looking at it, he grabbed one of my bags and hurried to his truck, which, as soon as he opened the driver’s door, exhaled a strange, pungent odor.

Now… I’ve just run a little search on Orchid Fever, and I find no mention of anything strange about the van or truck that Laroche drives. But in Adaptation, there’s a brilliant scene that takes place at Susan Orlean’s apartment in New York. She and her partner – another upper-middle-class academic type – have another couple over for dinner and she is regaling them with hilarious tales of Laroche’s behaviour. The partner asks her to tell them about his van, and she says she will but she has to run to the bathroom first, so he mustn’t tell the guests about the van before she comes back. Of course, as she leaves the room he starts in with “So. The van…” and further merriment ensues. As we follow Orlean out of the room and into her wistful reminiscing, we hear her partner begin to describe the strange smell of this illustrious vehicle.

All in all, the squid article doesn’t quite hit the heights of Orchid Fever (whose opening lines alone make it pretty hard to beat: “John Laroche is a tall guy, skinny as a stick, pale-eyed, slouch-shouldered, and sharply handsome, in spite of the fact that he is missing all his front teeth.”), but it’s quite a fun read.

*Along with Aliens, Grosse Point Blank and, well, I’m not sure; I don’t actually have a list of my favourite films, but I guess these three would be on it if it existed.

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