My mailer makes quotes and responses different colors.
Here's hoping yours does the same:

On 6/3/07 2:32 AM, Steven Rose, Jr. wrote:

> Steven Rose, Jr.
> I thought I was heading towards hell as I continued to
> sink below the surface of the Mediterranean. My
> colleague Dr. Gloria Diakoumopoulos along with three
> marine biologists had plunged from the deck of the
> Artemis into the water ahead of me. Even though I had
> never expected myself to say this, I felt even more alone
> than I had when my fiancé Vanessa broke up with me. She
> was one reason why I chose to take that expedition into
> the watery Hades. Another reason was that, being an
> archaeologist of mythology, I was willing to face even
> the darkest, most remote depths of the sea to search for
> a creature believed to be the inspiration for many of the
> mythical monsters of the world. I was willing to do
> this especially because I knew I would be facing that
> area of the Mediterranean Sea, known as the Hellenic
> Trough, with Dr. Diakoumopoulos. I was willing, even if
> I had never been scuba diving before. Even if such an
> area is said, by some, to be the Old World’s “Bermuda
> Triangle”. I have always been passionate of monsters of
> mythology. When I was a kid, I always made sure I watched
> all the Harrihausen movies and read all the _Classic_
> _Illustrated_ reprint comic books that retold many of the
> ancient myths involving monsters such as Cyclops, the
> Hydra and Cerberus the watch dog of Hades. So when Dr.
> Diakoumopoulos called me late one morning asking me if I
> wanted to do the assignment with her I could not pass up
> her offer. I admit, however, that at first I was barely
> listening. I was lying on my couch proofreading a letter
> that I was writing to Vanessa. I was hoping the letter
> would clarify to Vanessa that my new archaeological
> career would not keep me away from her like she said it
> had. However, there was little chance of it clarifying
> anything because at that time I could not write or think
> clearly. I was still sinking in my despair over the
> break-up which had occurred only a week ago from then.
> However, once Dr. Diakoumopoulos mentioned that some deep
> sea divers of her country, Greece, claimed to have
> sighted what looked like a specimen of a breed of giant
> squid and that she believed it to have a close connection
> to many of mythology’s monsters, I dropped the letter
> and listened. She said that she and many of her
> colleagues at the University of Athens believed this
> creature’s species to be the “seed” for some of the most
> well known creatures of mythology such as Hydra, Medusa,
> the Kraken and even the Seven Headed Beast of the
> Apocalypse. I asked her, out of curiosity, “This all
> sounds /great/, Victoria, but what makes all of you think
> such a creature inspired belief in these monsters?”

I hadn't read more than a couple of sentences before I began
paging down to see how looooong this paragraph was. The
first sentence is good at grabbing attention -- but perhaps
it works too hard at it. The reader should be saying,
"that's interesting" rather than "that got my attention".

Also, the attention-grabber, "hell", should be in the
emphatic position: As I sank, I thought I was headed for
hell. (Or one could put "hell" into a short, separate
sentence, then wax poetic about the Mediterranean.)

Putting "I continued" into the very first sentence may be
taking in media res a bit too far.

The sharp change of tone in the second sentence clearly
signals: "Okay, now that I have your attention, I'm going
to embark on a ten-page infodump."

(There's a tendency to widen "infodump" to include
informative exposition. I continue to reserve "infodump"
for the kind of exposition that makes the reader feel as
though a bucket of data has been emptied over his head.
Note that most of the dumped data goes everywhere *except*
into the head!)

"My colleague and three" or "my colleague and three other" would read smoother than "my colleague along with". If you want "along with" in order to place the emphasis on "my colleague", the "along with" phrase should be set off with commas.

Oops, it's bing-bing, bing. I'll read the rest of the paragraph after church. (Long after, as napping and pizza and the after-supper walk will occupy me until 6:30 or 7:00)

> The phone was silent for several seconds. Finally,
> sounding stunned, she said, “Harry, you are a
> /professional /scholar now; you need to pay attention to
> the news a lot more. Don’t you know what’s been happening
> to ships in that part of the Mediterranean for the past
> month?” I told her I did not, because I rarely ever
> watch, read, or even listen to the news. I am a fanatic
> of mythology. I will only read or watch _anything_ that
> I know ahead of time has to do with the subject whether
> it’s in a book, journal, popular magazine, film or
> television documentary. I am not being sarcastic: I will
> even watch tabloid news show episodes that deal with
> some aspect of mythology. I do not read, watch or listen
> to regular news because too much of it is about _today_,
> in which society today does not emphasize mythology
> enough. Dr. Diakoumopoulos filled me in, saying, “That
> part of the Mediterranean has had the disappearance of
> several ships within only the past three months! The
> divers came across an underwater graveyard of, not only
> these ships, not only ships of early modern history, but
> also artifacts that date back to the ancient periods!
> These artifacts _may_/ /give us a connection between that
> creature and the many creatures of mythology!” I did
> not even consider the danger of the situation. I told
> her I would be in Athens in three days. Now I admit, it
> was not _only_ the search for that creature that made me
> go on that expedition. What made me go was the search for
> that creature _with_ Dr. Diakoumopoulos. She _was_ old
> enough to be my mom. She was 38; I was only 24. But I
> needed to meet some more women because I no longer had
> Vanessa and most of my friends in both undergrad and
> graduate school had been older professors. I had worked
> on both my Bachelors and Ph.D. at the same university
> where my father was the advisor of the school of
> business’s corporate management program. He was a devout
> workaholic and was always asking my professors about my
> work. Therefore my education gave me little time for a
> social life. So Dr. Diakoumopoulos was the /youngest/
> female professor I knew. She was also the nicest and
> most beautiful woman I knew after Vanessa, since she was
> the only other one closest to my age who I was familiar
> with.
> I felt even more attracted to Dr. Diakoumopoulos just
> before we had dove from the deck of the Artemis. However,
> I have recently come to realize that this attraction was
> a much more carnal one. As I have already said, I had
> never been scuba diving before. So she helped me pull my
> wet suit on, and as she did, her long, slim fingers and
> long nails stroked the exposed parts of my nearly
> hairless body. I missed so much Vanessa touching me in
> such a way that I was perfectly OK with the doctor doing
> it. I had to tell Dr. Diakoumopoulos right then and
> there, “You know, Victoria, you’re so much more helpful
> than my ex ever was.” She said, jokingly, “You _really_
> are upset with her, aren’t you?” I assured her, “You
> really are. And you know so much more than her.” She
> said, again jokingly, “Of course I do; she’s still an
> undergrad.”
> I was beginning to feel annoyed. She was not
> understanding what I was trying to tell her. “What I
> mean is, Victoria, you know so much more about the
> ancient world than _anybody_ I’ve known. I never knew
> how connected ancient mythology really is to biological
> study until I did the internship under you last year.” I
> did like her for these reasons, but they were secondary
> to her physical beauty, a beauty that I could only see
> after losing a girl who I had thought was the best who
> ever existed. However, all Dr. Diakoumopoulos gave me in
> response to my comment was a simple “thank you,” with
> hardly even a smile. She was not impressed. However, I
> encouraged myself thinking that there was still the
> creature. I thought to myself that if I could sight it
> before anyone else, get a picture of it, or perhaps even
> shoot it with the tranquil rifle, that _would_ impress
> her. She had already been impressed with my work while I
> was an intern under her during my graduating year. That
> is the reason why she had offered me to go on this
> expedition. But even if I was not the one to first sight
> the creature, there was still the possibility of valuable
> artifacts at the bottom of the ocean. Such artifacts
> would make at least a minimal significant contribution to
> archaeology and/or history. Like so many of us
> archaeologists, she was impressed with even the least
> significant excavations. But whatever would happen,
> there would still be my account of the expedition that I
> had planned to write and have published. However, that
> did not fall through as planned either. (I’ll get to
> that part in a while.) I complimented Dr.
> Diakoumopoulous saying, “You never gave up on your goals
> of going into archaeology like Vanessa did. She’s not
> even an archaeology major anymore; she changed to
> corporate advertising. I wonder, so many times, if that
> was the reason why she left me. Corporatism is concerned
> too much with /today/.” #
> After I finally reached the ocean floor and met up with
> Dr. Diakoumopoulos and the three marine biologists, we
> all paddled our flippered feet through the dark watery
> night. It was not long before the beams of our
> flashlights cleared away the darkness as though it was a
> mist, revealing the underwater graveyard of towering,
> leviathanic sea vessels. While the three biologists foot
> paddled off into their own direction in search of the
> creature, Dr. Diakoumopoulos and I swam toward a plot of
> scattered and partially buried artifacts of the Ancient
> Greek world. Here we were hoping to find a sign of the
> creature, a depiction by ancient man’s imagination.
> However, it can be said that such a sign found /us/. As
> we were thrusting our feet over the sea floor toward a
> large clay water vessel, I felt myself step on something
> hard and massive. Suddenly an ugly old woman, mouth
> gapping in a mute scream and hair disheveled, popped up
> directly in front of us nearly striking her head into my
> face. But within those few seconds, as Dr.
> Diakoumopoulos and I thrust ourselves backward, I could
> make out that the hair was a head of snakes! Their
> mouths gaped ready to strike. Yet, none of them moved.
> In fact, the woman stood perfectly still, staring us
> right in the eyes. Perseus’s gorgon, Medusa; a
> sculpture. She was corroded and pale blue. For a split
> second I had thought that I had discovered the “squid” we
> were looking for; I had thought that the centuries old
> theory of the gorgon being a mythical creature would no
> longer hold. Dr. Diakoumopoulos and I buried the
> statue’s feet in several pounds of sand so it could stay
> upright. This would make it easier for us to find when
> we would be ready to raise it up to the boat.
> At several other sites of the underwater graveyard, we
> found many other ancient artificial offspring of the
> ancestors of the actual creature. After discovering more
> of Medusa’s images on mostly shields and breast plates,
> we also discovered Hydra in miniature statue form as well
> as on shields and marble slabs. At a plot that we made
> out to have been the site of a Viking ship (the ship
> having been completely decomposed with age with the
> exception of the dragon’s head) we found several brass
> keys and gold brooches both carved with images of the
> kraken. Most of the artifacts were discovered by Dr.
> Diakoumopoulos. This was beginning to worry me because I
> did not think my own discoveries on that site were going
> to impress her. They were a few meaningless “pennies”
> compared to her large loot of “golden” treasure. This
> was even beginning to make me fear that my career was in
> jeopardy; I was not finding many more artifacts than I
> had been when I was an intern. So I could at least catch
> up with the level of Dr. Diakoumopolos’s discoveries, I
> swam off on my own to a more isolated area of the ship
> graveyard. In this area, I discovered, at a site
> apparently having once been that of an early Roman
> Christian vessel, marble and metallic reliefs of the
> Seven Headed Beast of the Apocalypse. It was when I was
> bearing away one of these reliefs to the Medusa statue
> (where we had been piling our treasure) that I first
> noticed what I thought was my flashlight having faded
> out. However, when I aimed it at myself there was plenty
> of light beaming from it. Yet, it had suddenly grown
> much darker around me. Then I heard the loud trumpet
> moaning coming from directly above. Thinking that it was
> a whale, I flashed my head and light upwards. But
> instead I saw a long black, massive serpentine thing
> swinging down towards me. As it did, the front end of it
> rolled out from underneath like the way an octopus’s
> tentacle does. In doing this, the thing revealed, what
> looked to be, a long fang extending from a red oral
> cavity. I aimed my tranquilizing rifle at it and began
> pulling back the trigger until I saw the actual face of
> that thing. The face was actually not where that oral
> cavity was. The serpentine thing was only one of, what
> must have been, hundreds of appendages in which each also
> had that same uni-fanged cavity, all of them either
> swaying or wavering at me. They all extended out from
> around the actual face of the creature. Immediately on
> seeing that face, I dropped the rifle and darted back up
> toward the surface.
> However, it was not the face itself that made me dart
> off. There was no way it could have been. At that time,
> I was still deeply in love with Vanessa, and I admit, it
> was due to the beauty in her face. She had nice rounded
> blue eyes, thick pomegranate red lips, and a warm,
> Italian olive complexion. The creature’s face looked a
> _lot_ like Vanessa’s. The only exception was that the
> aquatic animal’s face was a bone white and the eyes had
> no pupils yet they were that same flaming blue that
> seemed to burn right into your soul. So it was not the
> face of that creature that caused me to drop the gun and
> dart off. The fact that Vanessa no longer appeared to be
> human is what made me flee. #
> After I crashed out from the surface of the water and was
> raised up to the deck of the Artemis in the life boat,
> an older British scientist asked me where Dr.
> Diakoumopoulos and the others were. As I had been
> desperately climbing toward the surface of that eternal
> dark night liquid, I could have sworn that Dr.
> Diakoumopoulos’s arms were slithering around my legs in
> an attempt to pull me back down to study that creature.
> Being my more experienced colleague, she probably wanted
> the creature even more than I had. However, when I
> tottered around towards the starboard side of the boat
> (the side that I had been pulled back onto) panting in an
> attempt to catch my breath, I stared for several seconds
> expecting to see the other divers rising back up from the
> surface. All I saw was the blue, infinite seascape. For
> the moment, I felt the resentment of not only a lost
> opportunity to study the creature, but also of the
> failure to study it /with/ Dr. Diakoumopoulos. The
> British scientist demanded I tell him what had happened
> below the surface. I answered, still panting, “I think I
> saw the creature.” He said, “Did you get a picture of
> it?” It was not until then that I realized another lost
> opportunity. It was not until then that I remembered the
> orders for all of us to snap a picture of the creature
> immediately upon sighting it. It was not until then that
> I remembered my task to please Dr. Diakoumopoulos with
> such a valuable discovery. It was also not until then
> that I remembered the whole scientific committee of the
> University of Athens declaring their faith in and
> dependence on myself and the rest of the expedition to
> obtain any and all evidence that we could of this
> creature. Evidence that I had _assured_ the committee
> that they would get if I were to come across it. I felt
> myself sinking into abysmal despair. Passing up a chance
> to obtain such valuable evidence meant a very bad stain
> on my credibility as an archaeologist. The British
> scientist barked in condemnation, “Dr. Lopes, /did/ you
> or anybody get a picture of the creature?” I realized
> that he had been asking me that question several more
> times after the first time; I was too stunned and too
> deep in thought, trying to come up with an excuse of why
> I hadn’t taken a picture, to give him an immediate
> response. I answered, faintly, “Yes.” But that was only
> half true. I _did_ get a picture of that creature. A
> picture I will never be able to get out of my head.
> Suddenly one of the other scientists shouted out to the
> British one, “Professor Wilson, come look!” Some sailors
> were lowering a life boat containing two other sailors.
> I heard screams of disgust, which were quickly halted by
> some female scientists they were coming from as they
> clamped their hands over their mouths in shock. I was
> too stunned over my own situation to walk over to the
> boat’s rail that the female scientists along with
> everyone else were leaning over. So I sat down on a coil
> of thick rope, face in between my knees. After several
> minutes, I finally managed to turn my head toward the
> life boat as it rose back up. I was relieved to see Dr.
> Diakoumopouolos and the three marine biologists in it.
> They looked fine. So I was confused about why everybody
> was in an uproar. Until some of the crew and some of the
> other scientists pulled off the four divers’ masks. The
> divers’ faces were completely white, even Dr.
> Diakoumopoulos’s for having had a Mediterranean brown
> complexion. Also the divers were frozen in their
> expressions and poses. The women who were screaming
> earlier must have seen them float back up to the surface
> before being pulled onto the life boat. The expedition
> medic checked the divers’ pulses. Dr. Diakoumopolos and
> the three marine biologists were declared dead. #
> We could not say for sure what killed them. I was the
> only survivor of us five divers and saw nothing of what
> had happened to the other four. But after the medic had
> climbed up from below deck where she had further examined
> the bodies, she told us that there was a smoothly
> punctured, approximately one fourth of an inch deep wound
> on each and that, apparently, the blood had been drained
> from all the bodies. It was then that I realized what
> those red oral cavities on the creature’s tentacles were.
> They were suckers, much like those of a squid’s or
> octopus’s only each one had an opening in its center that
> sucked in the blood from its prey. That was the purpose
> of the long fang that extended out of each of those oral
> cavities: to make a puncture in order to suck in the
> blood. I also remembered seeing a much larger sucker,
> about half the size of myself, on the lower portion of
> the creature’s looming face. It was also a bright red
> like those on the tentacles and also contained a cavity
> like them. However, no fang extended from that one, and
> so it must have either been strictly a respiratory organ
> _or_ perhaps it was used for sucking in smaller creatures
> and/or plant-life. This along with the flaming, pale
> blue eyes was what made the creature’s face resemble
> Vanessa’s. I was still in love with her so much that it
> was impossible to escape her even by plunging into one of
> the deepest parts of the ocean. # As I said, neglecting
> to snap my camera on or to tranquilize the creature would
> leave a bad stain on my archaeological career. And so
> it did. After I got over my break-up with Vanessa, my
> colleagues from the University of Athens banning me from
> all future expeditions for not getting evidence of that
> creature, and the death of Dr. Diakoumopoulos, I finally
> managed to write and have published my own mythological
> study based on my discovery. Dr. Diakoumopoulos’s death
> was the easiest of the three tragedies to get over. I
> realized that I had been in love with her only because
> she was the woman who I was most familiar with and
> closest to in age after Vanessa. Even though my book
> actually made the “Best Sellers” list, it did not fall
> through as planned (as I mentioned early). You will not
> find it in the mythology section. Every bookstore I have
> walked into so far, even the independent ones, has had
> it shelved under “Strange Phenomena”.

Joy Beeson -- Writers' Exchange (local weather)
west of Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.A.