Dome of Doom: No weapons, just some fierce dancing

Hey! Margo here. Quick reminder for Chicago-area readers: Come to the Odd-Fish fan art show and Dome of Doom battle-dance party hosted by James Kennedy and theater group Collaboraction – Saturday, April 17 at 437 N Wolcott. Get your tickets here! Use promo code 185 for $5 off.

James "Joust" Kennedy

But wait: Battle-dancing duelists get in FREE! Just register to fight by 4/15: Send your fighting-god name and picture (if possible) to That’s my kind of deal. In fact, dear readers: I, Margo, will be dance-fighting in the Dome of Doom! As which god, you ask? Not one as Björk-like as James (left), but it’ll be an equal mix of practicality, absurdity, mundanity, and ubiquity. A must-see – especially if you need lightly used onesies. (Now I’ve said too much.)

Now on to the giveaway results, from James Kennedy himself!

Thank you for all your fantastic entries! It was a tough decision.

Certainly I am intrigued by Amy’s “Sharlton,” a fish which can only mimic sounds it’s already heard. The Sharlton is, of course, well known in ichthyological circles; hence it is puzzling that Amy neglects to mention the Sharlton’s constant companion, a small parasite known as the Notlrahs, which can only emit sounds that it has never heard. Amy informs us that the Sharlton is a “combination cop/psychic fish,” but strangely, she neglects to tell us exactly how the Sharlton performs its police duties. Little-known fact: the Sharlton simply asks the Notlrahs to emit the sound of the true criminal’s confession (a sound that, of course, has never before been heard, and therefore is well within the competence of the Notlrahs) and then the Sharlton toddles off with this information and arrests the correct suspect. Sharltons and Notlrahs are often found in aquariums in police stations, though oddly, they are rarely used in detective work. “Takes the sport out of it,” is the touchy consensus.

Kelly Polark gives us the “Woo Hoo Kazoo,” which is a kazoo which shouts out “woo hoo!” or “you rock!” at public spectator events. Unfortunately, points must be taken off from Kelly’s entry, since she neglects to mention that the “Woo Hoo Kazoo” is bitingly sarcastic. Performers and athletes have wept unmanly tears.

Jennifer Hubbard tells us about a comfortingly bureaucratic musical instrument: a printer that emits different tones depending on the thickness of paper running through it. The notion of such an instrument fills me with nostalgia, for I grew up in the era of dot-matrix and daisy-wheel printers, whose relentless bangings and chatterings provided the soundtrack of many a lonely Friday night as I printed out, for the umpteenth time, my “magnum opus” (which was literally called Magnum Opus; a science-fiction alternate-history, a “what-if” scenario about how the world might be different if Tom Selleck of Magnum, P.I. played Opus the penguin in Bloom County, and the converse (i.e., a plump penguin played a private investigator in Hawaii in an CBS series from 1980-1988). Spoiler alert: the Germans would have won WWII. Think about it; it all hangs together. So, no thank you, Jennifer Hubbard, I believe in freedom and democracy.)

Livia Blackburne puts forth the compelling idea of a machine which reads human brain waves, then transmits them to a canary, who then sings the brain waves. Very charming; until you remember that canaries are sadistic busybodies, and will unerringly pick your most embarrassing brainwaves to sing, the ones that reveal your darkest and most shameful secrets, truths you’ve hidden even from yourself. The canary cannot sing human words, of course, but the structure of its brain-wave song will induce a congruent brain-wave in the minds of all who hear it, thus giving all hearers instant access to one’s most shocking, unspeakable scandals. This is especially excruciating if someone is forced to hear a canary sing one’s own brainwaves, for one is constantly reminded,

to the point of madness, of one’s worst moments, in a self-strengthening loop. Indeed, “locked in a room with a brain-wave canary” is the one torture so heinous that it has never been used in wartime, although it is amusing at parties.

Ruthanne wins an autographed paperback and soundtrack music mix!

Which brings us to the winner: Ruthanne’s “Zith-Dither.” No more perfectly self-defeating, and hence fittingly Oddfishian, instrument could be! Ruthanne treats us to a lovingly detailed discourse on the odd engineering details behind the instrument (“The length of the strings is inversely proportional to the width of the sounding board at any given spot”) which gives way to bureaucratic infighting (“the creators of this instrument couldn’t agree on what they wanted it to sound like, vacillating day in and day out”) and finally to ascends into sweet absurdity when the creators decide, as a kind of compromise, to make the “make the sounding board solid, so as not to allow for resonance.” And therefore, no sound at all. Genius! The instrument “may or may not be making music, but you will never know because the sounds it produces are so soft as to not be audible to the human ear.” This is the perfect instrument for my brother-in-law Chris. He is a gifted musician, but he also avers (to my constant irritation) that the anticipation of something, or the version of reality one cherishes in one’s imagination, is always superior to the disappointing reality. Here Chris can enjoy the best of both worlds: a musical instrument to play, but the freedom to imagine the music he’s playing is better than any possible real music — and the ironclad guarantee that he’ll never be disillusioned, and have to listen to the (theoretically) perfect music he’s playing. A triumph!

Therefore I choose Ruthanne’s “Zith-Dither” as the winner, though it was a hard-fought battle. Everyone contributed fantastic entries. Thank you, one and all!

– James

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