Tenticular Gesticulation

Being a blog about my inexplicable fascination with octopodes

NOTE: I am not a marine biologist, I am just an idiot with a blog

Entries for August 2015

Farewell, Wes Craven

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Late last night I heard the news that iconic horror movie director Wes Craven had passed away. In honor of a man who had a tremendous impact on me as a young horror fan, this morning I am sharing with you the same octopus video that Wes himself shared to his followers in this tweet last year:

Farewell, Wes Craven. You will forever be the octopus trapped in the jar of my brain, forever spinning, swirling, and grasping; forever unscrewing my brain-pan, and yet declining to leave once the way is open. You gave me some of my happiest nightmares.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

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When Matt Baker, presenter for the BBC show Big Blue Live, visits the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it means two things: 1) A great video that I have to share, and 2) A mandatory Beatles reference in my post title. (And not the obvious octopus reference, either!)

via Cult of Mac

The Great Escape

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There's no question who is the smartest person on this boat. HINT: It's not the guy who calls his wife fat.

The Elephant Walk

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I love this clip, I've seen several different versions. Here is one set to appropriate music:

When I first saw it, though, it reminded me of something I couldn't quite place.

Finally, after staring at it on and off for two days, I finally remembered where I had seen that octopodinal strut before -- from one of the Disney Sing-A-Long videos that my son Ben watches over and over again. (If you want to know more about Ben, autism, and Disney, you can check out my main blog over at Shmoolok.com.)

On the "Under the Sea" Sing-A-Long tape there is a cartoon that he absolutely loves that is done to the tune of "At the Codfish Ball", which was originally a Shirley Temple song from the 30's. The cartoon features pretty much every fish-related visual pun you can imagine, and at around the one minute and twenty second mark it features a parade of octopodes doing a classic elephant walk. I don't know if elephants even do that kind of thing in the real world, but it's a pretty common cartoon trope in any case. Over the past twenty years I have seent that cartoon umpteen-bajillion times (that's a technical term), owing to the mystical power of autism and hyper-focused repetition. I always took it as just a silly sight gag, which it definitley is, but check out the video below and then tell me if that dang amphioctopus marginatus at the start of this post isn't strutting in almost exactly the same way. The embed won't let me set a start point, so just skip ahead to 1:21 to see the cephalapod shuffle.

Octopuses Octopi Octopodes

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Why 'Octopodes' (ahk·TOP·uh·deez)?

First things first - if you run on down to your local aquarium, or go scuba diving in the right places, and you see several eight-legged cephalopods hanging out together, you would be perfectly correct to call them octopuses. As weird and incorrect as it may sound, that is indeed the commonly accepted and proper pluralization of octopus. Discregarding the root language, that pluralization follows normal English rules (for varying definitions of "normal", which have only a passing intersection with the English language.)

If, on the other hand, you decide to call them octopi, well, you're wrong. Seriously, you are just wrong. I mean, nobody is going to send you to prison or anything, but you are likely to be assaulted by any passing Grammar Nazi. What makes octopi so horribly wrong? It's because pluralising by changing 'us' to 'i' is a Latin grammatical rule, whereas octopus comes from a Greek root.

The scientific Latin term octopus was derived from Ancient Greek ὀκτώπους (oktōpous), which literally translates to "eight-foot" (ὀκτώ "eight" + πούς "foot").

- Source: Wikipedia (If I read it on the internet, it must be true.)

Because it comes from a Greek root, the grammatically proper way to pluralize octopus is octopodes. Being Greek, it is also not pronounced in three syllables like AHK·tuh·PŌDZ but rather in four syllables like ahk·TOP·uh·deez. (Speaking of Grammar Nazis, I am neither a grammarian nor an English teacher. Feel free to send me hate mail regarding my incorrect phonetic spellings. I'll ignore it, but by all means send it if it makes you feel better.)

I will readily admit that octopodes is not frequently used, and I may sound pretentious in preferring it over octopuses, but there you have it. To my ear it sounds so much more delightful and alien, as befits the weird and wonderful beings to which it applies.

Here's an editor from Merriam-Webster explaining the whole thing: