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Lyle Zapato

Why There Are No Tree Octopuses On Okinawa

Lyle Zapato | 2011-05-15.6920 LMT | Cephalopods | Sasquatch Issues | Art | Nature

Unlike here in Cascadia where octopuses live in the trees and are preyed upon by Sasquatch, on Okinawa, hominoids are arboreal and fear octopuses.

Three scared Kijimuna in banyan trees, menacing octopus in water below.

The above painting by Matthew Meyer -- part of his A-Yokai-A-Day series that you can buy as a print -- depicts Kijimuna in trees fearful of an octopus threatening to climb up after them.

Kijimuna (キジムナー) are a species of arboreal island hominoids native to Okinawa. Their diminutive size compared to Sasquatch, Yeti, etc. is probably a result of insular dwarfism and their partial baldness a likely adaptation to the subtropical climate. They live mostly in banyan trees, but will venture onto the ground to go fishing or interact with Humans. Human-Kijimuna relations have been strained in the past due to arson and flatulence. Human Okinawans often accuse Kijimuna of mischievousness, but this is probably Human chauvinism; we rarely get to hear the Kijimuna viewpoint in Okinawan media. (For more on Kijimuna, see Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai's Kijimuna page or the Japanese Wikipedia.)

But what's the deal with the octopus? In his blog post about his painting, Meyer partially explains:

One final fact of note about kijimuna — they loathe octopuses! I am so far unable to discover why they hate them so much, but the lowly octopus is the one thing they cannot stand. Kijimuna will avoid them at all costs, so keeping octopuses around is a fairly foolproof way for humans to avoid potential kijimuna-related troubles.

I think Meyer has inadvertently shown in his painting the reason for octopusophobia among Kijimuna: a dispute over territory and resources.

As I have noted before (see: "The Ara-Eaters: Tree Octopuses Of Polynesia" and "Nicharongorong: Tree Octopuses of Micronesia"), octopuses in the South Pacific are drawn to trees, and many have adopted arboreal or semi-arboreal lifestyles. On Okinawa, this arboreal niche has already been occupied by the Kijimuna, denying octopuses there the "green embrace" they so desire.

Octopuses are persistent and determined creatures. They would simply not abide not being able to tentaculate through the banyans, nibbling on the figs. (Athenæus in his Deipnosophistae relates that besides olive trees Mediterranean octopuses [polypus] "have also been discovered clinging to such fig-trees as grow near the seashore, and eating the figs, as Clearchus tells us, in his treatise on those Animals which live in the Water." [Source.] Presumably Pacific octopuses would likewise be fond of banyan figs.) Octopuses are also greedy (a trait noted in Japanese culture -- see: Kure Kure Takora), so sharing the trees is not an option.

Kijimuna, hanging as they are in the way of the octopuses' sense of Arboreal Manifest Destiny, would surely attract octopodous belligerence. It's not unreasonable to assume that centuries, perhaps millennia, of stealthy attacks and attempted incursions into their trees would have instilled in the Kijimuna a healthy, and justified, paranoia about octopuses.

Lyle Zapato

How To Hypnotize An Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2011-05-06.8839 LMT | Cephalopods | Mind Control | Defensive Techniques | Nature

A while back I posted a book excerpt explaining how to defend oneself against a charging land octopus. It advised throttling them at the neck. But it turns out there's a more effective, and less violent, method to deal with belligerent octopuses: hypnotism.

Hypnotized octopus in hand.
Fig. 1: The proper Danilewskian method for
hypnotizing small to medium sized octopuses.

Read more...

Lyle Zapato

Kure Kure Takora (Gimme Gimme Octopus)

Lyle Zapato | 2011-05-03.7630 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment

Besides 17th century poetry, here's further evidence of the general awareness of tree octopuses in Japanese culture:

Kure Kure Takora (クレクレタコラ or "Gimme Gimme Octopus" in English) is a Japanese kids' show that ran from 1973-4, centering around the bizarre, greedy exploits of Kure Kure Takora, a tree octopus who wants all that he sees (hence the "gimme gimme").

As you can see in the episode below, he likes to sleep on the limb of his tree, where he has a telescope that he uses to survey the forest for things to steal. Only in this episode, everyone is giving him everything he wants! Is it all a dream...?

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Lyle Zapato

A Tree Octopus Renku

Lyle Zapato | 2011-04-21.0388 LMT | Cephalopods | Art
松に藤蛸木にのぼるけしきあり

This is a renku (precursor to the haiku) by 17th century samurai poet Nishiyama Sōin, noted for his free-wheeling zaniness. My translation:

wisteria on pine --
a tree octopus climbs
there's a spectacle!

The second line would probably be more literally translated as "an octopus climbing a tree", but that wouldn't fit the renku form in English, so I chose the more economical "tree octopus". I haven't yet found any reports of actual tree octopuses in Japan, but Sōin's imagery -- intended as it was to appeal to common folk -- hints at a general awareness in contemporary Japan of some octopuses' love of trees.

Lyle Zapato

A Stroll On The Beach With One's Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2011-04-08.8465 LMT | Cephalopods

Octopus and man strolling on beach

A man takes his North Pacific Giant Octopus for a walk along the shore in this illustration from Elements of Zoölogy (1884) by Charles Frederick Holder & Joseph Bassett Holder, published by D. Appleton & Co. (who seem to have a fondness for land octopuses).

Lyle Zapato

"In The Lair Of The Space Monsters"

Lyle Zapato | 2011-03-28.7910 LMT | Cephalopods | Sasquatch Issues | Hollow Earth | Entertainment

What do you get if you cross a Sasquatch with a Tree Octopus? Perhaps something like this:

Octopus-man holding human aloft by the top of his head using a tentacle

This illustration is from the short story "In The Lair Of The Space Monsters" by Frank Belknap Long, published in the pulp magazine Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror #6 (Dec. 1932). (The first three pages of the story, including the illustration, are missing from the linked Google Books preview.)

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Lyle Zapato

Ontogeny Recapitulates Polydactyly

Lyle Zapato | 2011-03-17.0610 LMT | Polydactylism | Fashion

Dactyl Fractal Consciousness awakens in Claire Watson, maker of art gloves. It's only a second-order handlebrot, probably due to her inability to stitch smaller parts. Once Watson's inevitable physical recapitulation manifests, she will have no trouble with ultrafine stitching using her many, many tiny fingers.

But that will be nothing compared to what is to come, as Dactyl Fractal Consciousness ushers in a new evolutionary epoch -- one in which our descendants, Homo teradactylus, will be able alter materials at the atomic level using only their hands. Perhaps they will even be able to poke and fiddle with the fabric of the Universe itself.

Lyle Zapato

The TRUTH About The Tree Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2011-02-10.8908 LMT | Cephalopods | General Paranoia | Sasquatch Issues | Technology

The Mainstream Media wants you to ignore the Internet and listen only to their lies. That's why they want you to believe absurdities like that tree octopuses don't exist or that Belgium does. And who is behind all this? Bill Gates and the moneyed pharmocrats. Judy101101 -- who apparently has melded with the Internet to become one continuous YouTube monologue -- explains:

Meanwhile, METAtropolis: CASCADIA continues to prove itself a prophetic work as Erin of Snarke pleads with the august body of Science to invent a tree octopus that she can have as a pet:

Rest assured, Erin, that ZPi's Sasquatch biotechnicians are hard at work reverse engineering the tree octopus genome so we can not only provide Sasquatch and the international hominoid market with ample, uninterrupted, ethically-neutral supplies of vat-grown tree-octopus meat, but also the Human market with the cutest, most telomere-stable tree-octopus clones science can abomineer. (Unfortunately we've had a few setbacks since Sasquatch hair keeps getting in the Petri dishes, contaminating the results, and our focus-grouping showed no market interest for howling, hairy tree-megapuses.)

Lyle Zapato

Review: METAtropolis: CASCADIA

Lyle Zapato | 2011-02-09.5489 LMT | Cascadia | Cephalopods | Entertainment | Anarchy

METAtropolis: CASCADIA (2010) is an audiobook collection of six related stories set in Cascadia in the 2070s. The stories are: "The Bull Dancers" by Jay Lake, "Water to Wine" by Mary Robinette Kowal, "Byways" by Tobias S. Buckell, "The Confessor" by Elizabeth Bear, "Deodand" by Karl Schroeder, and "A Symmetry of Serpents and Doves" by Ken Scholes. Each is read by a different Star Trek actor. Run time is almost 13 ABT hours.

It's a sequel to the original METAtropolis (2008) which worldbuilt around the post-industrial, post-national collapse of the early 21st century. That collection included the story "In the Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake that introduced the setting of Cascadiopolis, an experimental green city hidden in the forests of Mt. Hood, Oregon (it's available for free).

CASCADIA picks up that story 40 years later in the opening "The Bull Dancers" (read by René Auberjonois), which explores the conspiracy behind the city's destruction by orbital missiles; the true identity of the mysterious Tyger Tyger and his connection to an ancient Minoan secret society; and how Cascadiopolis' daughter cities have, despite or perhaps because of the missile attack, gone on to thrive -- rewilding the land and building a new eco-anarchist way of life. This serves as an intro to greater Cascadia, as the following stories portray a changed and changing region in slow recovery.

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Lyle Zapato

Coiffure Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2011-01-26.7860 LMT | Retro | Cephalopods | Fashion

Mr. Punch's Designs After Nature. Great sensation for the aquarium -- Coiffure Octopus.

From the April 19, 1873 issue of Punch.

As innocent this may seem, the fashion of wearing one's hair in the form of an octopus -- popular among the London elite of the 1870s -- would later develop into the wide-spread use of taxidermied octopuses as decoration for hats, that would in turn lead to excessive poaching of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, helping to bring about that species' endangerment.