Friday, 27 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto, Chapter 5

I wonder if at any point of this book I'll be able to type The Grim Grotto first time, instead of 'Grimm Grotoo' which I keep finding myself typing instead. I think by the end of The Slippery Slope I'd got over my habit of typing 'Slipper Sloope' so there's time yet!

This morning's chapter saw Klaus announcing that he thought he knew where the sugar bowl was. In this chapter we should find out just where he thinks they need to head next.

What Happens?

Klaus has realised that the sugar bowl must have ended up in the cave. Fiona realises that this cave must be the place where the Medusoid Mycelium grows, a highly poisonous and prolific fungi which is deadly within an hour of being consumed. Captain Widdershins sets the course and the children are send to bed, only to be woken a short time later as the submarine crashes again. They have arrived and Widdershins announces just how they are going to locate the sugar bowl.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter opens with an image of what I thought was a hole with snakes coming out of it, but then I spotted the eye and realised it's like Medusa's hair. They look like little corn snakes and are kind of cute, apart from the fact that they seem to be coming out of the top of some man's head. Does this guy have his hair styled to look like snakes or are they the real deal? I have no idea but hopefully we'll find out during the next 20-something pages.

Snicket opens the chapter with some suggestions of good conversation openers, ending with the statement that as they go, Klaus announcing that he knew where the sugar bowl was is one of the better ones. This got everyone talking at once and prompts Widdershins to promise Klaus he can marry Fiona and that if they can find her long-lost brother, they'll set Violet up with him as well.

It takes a moment to reel Widdershins back in after he gets sidetracked planning a double wedding. Dinner is served but Widdershins is still rambling so Klaus hasn't actually been able to tell him where the sugar bowl can be found. He mentions the fact that Widdershins had been talking about a philosopher and a cave which made Klaus realise that the oval on the map must be a cave.

Sunny's response to this is 'Absurdio' meaning 'Philosophers live at the tops of mountains or in ivory towers, not underneath the sea.' Hee. I refuse to discuss philosophy because I hated studying it at university. I swear we only passed that course because they couldn't fail us all!

Klaus believes that inside that cave they'll find the sugar bowl. Violet's missing Quigley since he would be the one to have around when you need help reading a map, especially as they're heading into 'uncharted waters', both literal and metaphorical. Widdershins is quick to tell them that the V.F.D. submarines have explored most of the seas, which confuses the Baudelaires since why would a Volunteer Fire Department need to hang out under water.

Turns out they did way more than just that. Widdershins was involved in 'Volunteer Fire Domestication' at Anwhistle Aquatics which had them training salmon to swim upstream to look out for forest fires. So that's why they do it! There's a mention of the Snicket siblings and something called 'the Snicket Snickersnee' and Cafe Salmonella stealing the fleet. It's all very bizarre.

We get a little bit more info on the Snicket trio; Kit Snicket (who helped build the Queequeg), Jacques Snicket (who investigated the Royal Gardens Fire) and the third one (whose name escapes Widdershins but who he knows had marmosets). Violet mentions the message they found addressed to Jacques but Widdershins tells them it couldn't possibly have been to Jacques because he's dead.

Sunny says 'Etartsigam' meaning 'The initials were J.S.'. Which prompts a discussion about what G.G. could stand for:

"Aye!" Captain Widdershins said. "Let's guess! Great Glen! Aye! Green Glade! Aye! Glamorous Glacier! Aye! Gleeful Gameroom! Aye! Glass Goulash! Aye! Gothic Government! Aye! Grandma's Gingivitis!" Aye! Girl-Getting-up-from-table! Aye!"

The latter is Fiona who has remembered something which might be useful. She has a book called Mushroom Minutiae which contains chapters such as:

"Chapter Thirty-Six, The Yeast of Beasts'. Chapter Thirty-Seven, Morel Behaviour in a Free Society. Chapter Thirty-Eight, Fungible Mold, Moldable Fungi. Chapter Thirty-Nine, Visitable Fungal Ditches. Chapter Forty, The Gorgonian Grotto..."

Okay, so maybe G.G. stands for Gorgonian Grotto. I was close.

The book's description of the Grotto is quite complicated but it's named after a Gorgon, hence the picture at the beginning of the chapter. The name is also a reference to the fact that some sort of poisonous fungi grows in the cave, the Medusoid Mycelium. And this leads to Fiona giving her new friends a lecture on the parts of a mushroom. This particular mushroom has bits that grow unseen until they just pop up wherever they've decided to grow. Oh and one spore can kill you within an hour, so if you inhale one, you're dead. Just as well the grotto is a quarantine for these spores.

Sunny's not sure about what a quarantine is, asking 'Quarwa?" so Fiona has to explain that, though we all know what that is so I'm not going to explain her answer here. All the same, it's pretty dangerous to go into the cave because if they bring back any spores with the sugar bowl it could be disastrous. The world is in enough trouble with the V.F.D. schism and all these random fires, who knows what might happen if mushroom spores got out!

And Widdershins isn't very reassuring here, reminding them all that there's a lot of bad things in the world. After all there used to be crews who wore other authors on their uniforms and now the Melville crew is all that survives. But they can't dwell on this, they can't hesitate at all, remember!

For now they're all to go to bed so that they're well-rested for the mission:

It is one of life's bitterest truths that bedtime so often arrives just when things are really getting interesting.

This is also frequently true. But it's been such a busy day that the children fall asleep pretty quickly and sleep soundly until they crash into something again.

Turns out that they're inside the cave now but the submarine can't get in any further, so this is where they children will come in.

One of them will have to go and retrieve the sugar bowl.

This isn't going to end well, is it?

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