An entertaining photo that’s been floating around the Internet for some time:


In speech, the intended parsing

(1) [ Alaskan cod ] [ pieces ]

is indistinguishable from the humorous parsing

(2) { Alaskan ] [ codpieces ]

In writing, the conventional spelling distinguishes the two and enforces parsing (1). But if you’re not aware of the item of apparel the codpiece (more on that to come), or if the possibility of an ambiguity hadn’t occurred to you, you might be tempted to the spelling codpieces instead of cod pieces.

This has happened at least once beyond #1. Here’s a list of ingredients for fish stew on the Chickenfoot Soup blog on 2/28/13:

Clam juice, clams, Alaskan codpieces, white wine, saffron, mild Rotel Tomatoes & green chiles

Hat tip. To Chris Hansen on Facebook, who found #1 in a Style Invitational contest — more on which below.

Codpieces. My posting of 4/17/11, “Bulges”, has a section on codpieces. The codpiece is cousin to the jockstrap, the thong, and pouch-enhancing underwear — all clothing focusing on a man’s package (and so related to the lack of underwear in the practice of freeballing, aka going commando, which encourages the development of visible packages: moose knuckles).

There are historical codpieces, and then there are modern codpieces, favored by performers who want to exaggerate and promote their packages, thrust them in their audiences’ faces. The singer Adam Lambert in my “Bulges” posting, and many others. I’ll illustrate with three of these, starting with one my readers might not be familiar with:


This is the bodybuilder and heavy-metallist Jon Miki Thor, as seen in a cheesy low-budget cult classic flick. From Wikipedia:

Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (also known as The Edge of Hell) is a 1987 direct-to-video Canadian horror film directed by John Fasano, and stars heavy metal musician Jon Mikl Thor, Jillian Peri, and Teresa Simpson.

On to Alice Cooper, known for performing in a bright red codpiece with a death’s head on it:


And of course to Gene Simmons of KISS:


Not just codpieces, but Alaskan codpieces, and wild ones at that. I’m entertained by the idea of Alaskan codpieces: what would set them apart from the codpieces of the lower 48 (not to mention Hawaii)? Perhaps the Northern Lights play over them; that would make a nice show

Then there’s wild added to the mix. With the parsing in (1), wild could in principle be understood as modifying pieces ((1a) ‘wild pieces of Alaskan cod’) or Alaskan cod ((1b) ‘pieces of Alaskan cod that is wild, pieces of wild cod from Alaska’ — the intended reading in #1) or even Alaska ((1c) ‘pieces of cod from wild Alaska’).

On top of this, there are several senses of wild that might apply in one or the other of these cases. From NOAD2:

(of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated [the intended sense in #1]

(of scenery or a region) desolate-looking: the wild coastline of Cape Wrath

uncontrolled or unrestrained [or extravagant, outrageous, eccentric , or unusual]

With the parsing in (2), wild could modify Alaskan codpieces — the codpieces are wild, presumably in the third sense above (Gene Simmons’s codpiece in #5 is certainly wild in this sense) — or Alaska (codpieces from the boonies of Alaska, not from settled Alaskan places like Anchorage, or from crazy, hippy Alaska).

The Style Invitational. From Wikipedia:

The Style Invitational, or Invite, is a long-running humor contest that ran first in the Style section of the Sunday Washington Post before moving to Saturday’s Style and later returning to the Sunday paper. Started in 1993, it has run weekly, except for a hiatus in late 1999. In that time, it has had two head judges who select winning entries: “The Czar” and “The Empress.” The Czar, who was anonymous, abdicated in late 2003, leaving the contest in the hands of his former associate, The Empress, copy editor Patricia (Pat) Myers. The humor ranges from an intellectual vein to a less mature style, and frequently touches on sophisticated political or historical allusions.

In searching for the contest that was the source of #1, I came across a recent (November 5th) contest (#1148), where Pat Myers wrote:

The Donald should have
A far more fitting nickname. .
Like J. Lo’s slick name,
It should right out at you jump!
Hey, then: How about T. Rump?

Last fall we introduced a brand-new form of poetry — or at least we declared it so in Week 1095, since that was easier than getting complaints that we didn’t do the old form correctly. Whatever, it’s a variation on the ancient Japanese poetry called tanka, which are, roughly, 31-syllable poems in five lines; they begin with 5-7-5, as haiku do, then have two more lines of seven syllables each. However, notes Wikipedia, “traditionally tanka had no concept of rhyme.” And traditionally The Style Invitational has a big fat concept of rhyme. We like it. Hence the TankaWanka. This week: Write a TankaWanka about something that’s been in the news lately. The poem must consist of five lines of 5, 7, 5, 7 and 7 syllables in that order. And it must include at least one rhyme [The example above has two.]

Wonderful! A new poetic form to play with.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: