Tuesday 11 August 2020


Years ago, I subscribed to AWAD A Word a Day which is what it says on the tin. Feller called Anu Garg picks words, often in weekly themes, M-F and gives each an etymology, a usage sentence and an unrelated quote-of-the-day. I wouldn't pay for the service but it gives 2 minutes of Different each day, which is no harm. Anyway last week the word was Ithyphallic: adj: a) lewd/salacious b) priapic. In my rush to scan the day's incommming e-mails I misread it as Ichthyphallic [adj: fish penis like?]. 

I wondered about "Ichthyphallic": it seems a bit of a unicorn because fish don't have 'em. That hasn't stopped folks from the Arts Block using that word w.r.t. things that ain't fishes! Google finds "Melville's ichthyphallic god" a dense Lit.Crit essay about Moby "Not-a-fish" Dick: "
"Most critics of Moby-Dick, especially in recent decades, would agree that Melville's motives for writing it included powerfully subversive and iconoclastic feelings. There is broad agreement that Melville's discomfort with and alienation from the culture in which he found himself pervade his most memorable work. If Ishmael's need to go to sea . . .". But while we're dicking about on the Pequod, Chapter 95 The Cassock deals with using 3 feet of the skin of a whale penis as a protective apron. <blush> I don't where to look. I wrote quite enough about it back in 2013.

Google also delivers waggish tweets about "Thousands of 'Penis Fish' Washed Up on a California Beach" which is all about Urechis unicinctus an invertebrate [not-a-fish] annelid worm.  The Vice story features a picture showing an invertebrate holocaust as far as the eye can see from which I've clipped a small sample from the foreground [L]. The picture taker David Ford said “Those creatures are in a phylum all by themselves with three other things and have been on their own path of evolution for 400 or 500 million years,” But that's a bit of an exaggeration. Science agrees that Urechis unicinctus and other Echiura are "worms" in the Phylum Annelida. Actually they are Polychaetes, related to the common "fish-bait" lugworm Arenicola marina. Mr Ford was not without a leg to stand on when he claimed a special status for Echiura because, unlike regular Annelids, they are not segmented. They are just big pink blobby feeding sacs. But a 2009 analysis of their mitochondrial DNA plonked them firmly into the segmented worm phylum. Their unsegmented anatomy is a secondary adaptation to a sedentary life-style.
It is considered a chewy deli delicacy in Korea and other parts of coastal East Asia: Gaebul or Hǎi Cháng will deliver recipes.

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