A Lot Of Calamari (No Matter How You Measure It)

May 5, 2008

Possessing what I would consider a healthy level of curiosity and interest in the world beyond my immediate surroundings, a perusal of news sites is a natural companion with coffee in the morning. Yesterday, alongside the headlines of the cyclone in Myanmar and the running of the Kentucky Derby, something else jostled for attention with my java – a giant squid.

Said squid was actually snatched from the sea a year ago by a New Zealand fishing boat – a story that I somehow missed at the time – and is back in the news because, following a year in deep freeze, scientists in New Zealand are now struggling with the best way to thaw the creature for study.

As my personal experience with thawing carcasses is limited to the annual Thanksgiving turkey, the difficulties in reverse cryogenics on an animal of this size were something I had never pondered. The entire tale of this creature provoked numerous questions the first one being who will keep the waters off Amity safe from giant squid now that Roy Scheider has passed away? The second one being why the hell has Roy Scheider made so many appearances in my entries?

Most pressing among my non-Roy Scheider related questions was exactly how big was this giant squid and how might it affect the price of calamari on the open market? The first article which I stumbled across left me unclear as the size of the squid was given in metric and because, as an American, we don’t do metric.

As a youngster, we were taught the metric system and told that, before we reached high school, metric would be the common standard of measure and it is – just not here, in the United States. The standard measure in yesterday’s Kentucky Derby is furlongs – very unmetric.

And, in an odd twist, of the three countries on the planet which don’t use the metric system, one of them (along with the US and Liberia) is currently in the headlines – Myanmar.

As for that squid, it weighed nearly one-thousand pounds.

Robyn Hitchcock – Victorian Squid
Of course, the one song I’d have with squid in the title would be by a man who has sung of balloon men, his wife and his dead wife, lightbulb heads, and fish.

Flick – Freezer Burnt
Paloma abhors freezer burn, possibly even more than Americans abhor the metric system.

Midnight Oil – Mountains Of Burma
I saw Midnight Oil on their Blue Sky Mining tour and the crowd in attendance was possibly the most diverse group I’ve ever seen at a show. The performance was shortly following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and, given the outspoken political nature of lead singer Peter Garrett, my friend and I expected an earful on the subject. Instead, his only comment regarding the subject was simply, “I hope you kids are ready for war.”

Hoi Polloi – Thaw
In yet another example of everything being connected, Hoi Polloi hails from New Zealand where, even as I write, a giant squid is being thawed.