What happens when you raise a batch of Sea Monkeys in a container of holy water, a container of water blessed by laymen and laywomen, a container of water taken from a casino's bar, and a container of Omaha tap water? You get...

The Scopes Sea Monkey Trial!

An Experiment running 40 Days, from April 2nd to May 18th, 2002.

(note: Catholic 40-day counts such as Lent do not count Sundays in the number)
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It started with a dream, then the dream turned into a sandwich and ate the left leg of Pablo Neruda, leaving only an idea behind. Vic Putz and Jo Carter told me this idea, that it was time to see if you can know the Will Of God through the growth of that ancient life form, the brine shrimp (AKA: Sea Monkeys).

So four on-sale Sea Monkey kits were purchased at a local Kay-Bee Toys and Hobbies, and four bowls of water were gathered:

  • First, a bowl of holy water was gathered by trusted Catholic friend, Nancy Chmiel. As it would be wrong to test stolen holy water, the water was obtained by truthfully telling the story of its use to a priest who willingly gave the water.
  • Second, a bowl of unholy water was covertly obtained from the bar in the Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa with help from travelling poet Sarah Mckinstry-Brown acting as a witness (and lookout).
  • Third, a bowl of water was blessed by Catholic laymen and laywomen with no priests present.
  • Fourth, I turned on my tap, filling a bowl with the milky sludge we Omahans call "Vintage MUD" (Metropolitan Utilities District, the fine folks who insist it's safe to drink, despite all appearances) to use as the Control solution.

And so begins the Trial:

April 2nd: Day 1, 11am.

Added the "Water Purifier" packet to each of the four aquariums. Stirred each for one minute.

April 3rd: Day 2, 7:30pm.

Added one "Instant Live Eggs" packet to each aquarium. The water in each tinged lightly green. 3 hours later, no life sighted. But the Tap Water container has a lot of tiny bubbles against the plastic casing which none of the others have.

April 4th: Day 3.

Life! All 4 aquariums have tiny mote-sized things swimming in them. It has begun....
Also today, Will Roberts wrote to inform me that he supposedly has a wife named Gwynnefere who came up with the Sea Monkey idea, and that the information passed to me by Jo and Vic came from her. I have been told by my legal staff not to say any more about the subject until the t-shirt rights get ironed out.

April 6th, Day 5.

There is a whole lot of life going on in each tank, with scads of the little white specks jerking around in their little dance. So far, there is no noticeable difference in the size or number. The only difference is that the Tap Water tank still has a lot of bubbles on the side of the tank, the Blessed tank has some bubbles, and neither the Holy nor the Unholy tanks have any bubbles whatsoever. I don't know what this means.

April 8th, Day 7.

Today was feeding day for the churning albino pinhead masses. All 4 tanks got a tiny blot of their green powdery food which they pretty much ignored as they did their jerky little monkey dance.

April 9th, Day 8.

All 4 tanks are thriving, though it seems the Tap Water tank is doing the best, with the most and the biggest monkeys so far. Even so, they don't look anything like the drawings in the comic book Sea Monkey ads with the 1950's-style family values family of blond haired monkey ladies and slightly beer gut monkey daddies... but I'll give em time to grow up... no need to rush 'em....

April 11th, Day 10.

Something's happened in the Casino Water (Evil) tank, a growth-spurt or something as there are suddenly tons of the little buggers and they're bigger than in the other tanks. I first noticed this at 1 this morning but figured that this only meant water from a casino's bar was more inducive to night life among the Sea Monkeys, that the others simply followed a more sedate and prayerful lifestyle, getting themselves tucked in earlier. But now (1pm) in the light of day, there are still far more of them partying in the Casino water. Does Evil pay off in the end, though, that's one of the questions this experiment has been set up to check.

April 13th, Day 12.

Well, this is unexpected. The Holy Water and the Blessed Water are lightly peppered with runty little white specks. The Evil Water? It's Vegas on a Saturday night in there, baby. They're big, they're many, and they are partying. The Tap Water has big shrimp, but not many. I'm starting to think I've been wasting my life by not going to the casino more often....

April 17th, Day 16.

In a wild turn of events, most of the Evil swimming Monkeys have disappeared, leaving a fair amount still there, but suddenly less than both the Blessed and the Holy Monkeys. What happened? The hell if I know. The Tap water tank continues holding steady with about 5 gargantuan pups in there, they don't have the numbers but they have the size advantage. Today was also feeding day with each tank given an equal scoop of nutritious green dust. Mmmm Mmmm good.

April 19th, Day 18

The Evil tank, once bustling as a whorehouse on Mardi Gras, is down to only one last monkey jumpin on the seabed. Folks, this is an honest experiment, I'm not faking these things, and I wish I knew what happened in there. Was it a war? A fight over a poker game? Or was it just that the Water of Iniquity is not a good place to raise young 'uns? I just don't know. Meanwhile, the Holy Water is continuing its population boom, looking just a squinch busier than the Blessed water. The Tap water only seems to have about 5 monkeys in it, but they are by far the biggest, beefiest brine shrimp on the whole shelf.

April 21st, Day 20

Things continue as they were, with all the larger Sea Monkeys in the Evil tank having disappeared, leaving about 3 pinhead-sized tiny suckers moving about. The leading tank is clearly the Holy Water tank, so for now I recommend you listen to the Pope and start going to Mass more often.

April 25th, Day 24

Feeding day, with little change: the Tap Water monkeys continue being the largest, while the Holy and the Blessed waters are dueling for the largest populations and the Evil Water continues to look unimpressive as if smoted by whatever Higher Powers smite Evil Sea Monkeys. One of the Tap Water monkeys has either discovered "The Codpiece" or is pregnant or deformed.

April 27th, Day 26

I just found out today that in a 40-day count, Catholics don't count Sundays. Thus Lent is actually 46 or 47 days long, in total. So the numbers on this experiment are off. So sue me. Bring on the excommunication, I dare ya. In any case, the Blessed and the Tap waters have pairs of monkeys publicly engaged in things which look quite private. The Holy water, naturally, has no such activity; and the Evil water looks, well, dead. What was once the livliest tank has been struck down just as efficiently as Gomorrah with whatever the aquatic equivalent to fire and brimstone is.

May 1st, Day 30

Man, that Omaha tap water... I am astounded (and perhaps disturbed) by the amount of sexual energy it seems to bring out in these sick little monkeys. They just keep going. And going. And going. Meanwhile, there's some similar activity in the Blessed water, though not nearly as much. And the Holy water has none that I've seen, though it's been suggested that they only do such things in the privacy of darkness. Evil continues to look bad, with just that one lone survivor galloping around and around.

May 5th, Day 34

Ding dong, I think the evil flying monkeys are dead! I haven't seen any signs of life over the past couple days. Meanwhile, all 3 others are doing well, leading virtuous lives undisturbed by the Wrath of God.

May 6th, Day 35

The other monkeys remain up to their monkey business. Still no signs of carnality in the Holy Water, whereas the Tap water continues their Marathon of Love. What they have going on in there is amazing, impressive, and admirable.

May 13th, Day 42 (or by the Catholic calendar: 35)

I was out of town a couple days, and what do I find on returning? The Tap Water monkeys are having sex, there's one tiny monkey alive in the Evil tank, the Blessed Water monkeys are many and are having sex, and the Holy Water monkeys are many and not having sex. Actually, it looked like a couple Holy Water swingers were going to get busy, but it looked odd, not the gentle glide of loving couples in the other tank, this one looked like a fight. Turns out, it was, as one sea monkey seems to have beat the brine out of another. Musta been a Philistine....

May 15th, Day 44 (or 37, not counting Sundays)

So with only a few days left, we're about at the point where we can start making wild assumptions and then, at cocktail parties, state authoritatively: "Well, studies have proven...." I'll save the in-depth analysis for the true end, but it looks safe to say that you'd do well to eschew evil (or, at least, when you're at a casino: don't drink the water (face it, the company guarantees you'll have life in each kit for two years, at this point the only tank which I could get my money back on is the tank of Evil)). Live a good life in a way in which you firmly believe, and you will prosper, though it may not always seem like it.

May 19th, the End

And so it comes to a close. There is no life in the Evil Tank, no sex in the Holy Tank, no shame in the Tap Water Tank, and no problems in the Blessed Tank. The largest populations are clearly even in the Holy and Blessed waters, though the Tap water did okay. And what have we learned? Apparently, that God dislikes evil, rewards good, and is fairly indifferent to indifference. None of this experiment was faked or made up, it's all a puzzling reality played out by these Sea Monkeys for us. So sleep well, people, stay away from evil, and be nice to God, okay?

May 20th, Epilogue

Now that it's all done, it's time to reconcile the monkeys... or let them duke it out for mastery of their universe. I'll be dumping the Evil Tank down the toilet, but not the other 3. I've placed all 3 tanks together in one large jar so that they might form a new society, perhaps working out their differences in ways which we could all learn from. One world, baby, one love!

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Last update: September 2nd, 2003