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New emdashes feature: Eustace Google

Filed under: Eustace Google

In which I google things so you don’t have to, at least the things I think are worth pursuing into spyberspace. From last week (there’s a new issue, yes, but I was just in Canada, where they just barely got 7/25): who hasn’t been amazed, haunted, grossed out, and delighted by John Colapinto’s “Bloodsuckers”? Superb piece. It just, I don’t know, latches onto you and doesn’t let go. Anyway, I bet you were wondering some things, because I certainly was, and the info. superh. is eager as ever to help. (No guarantees on the absolute fact-checkability of the links! But what’s the risk, really, compared with wading into a pond hoping something bloodthirsty will saw into your legs?)

To get started, buy mad genius Roy T. Sawyer’s Leech Biology and Behaviour (464 pp., 50 quid) on Amazon UK. Then visit the company he founded at Biopharm (“The Biting Edge of Science”).

Colapinto says Sawyer’s office is reached “through a large room lined with glass-fronted cases containing leech and bloodletting paraphernalia: antique leech jars, lancets, fleams, scarificators, cupping devices, bleeding bowls, and barber poles. (Nineteenth-century ‘barber-surgeons’ not only cut hair but also bled patients; thus the red-and-white striped poles outside barbershops, which represent blood and bandages.)”

Sawyer also has a poster for that 1960 classic, The Leech Woman (“User Comments: Could Have Been Better,” IMDb). Also above.

“According to Sawyer, the earliest references to medicinal leeching appear in ancient Sanscrit writings by the Indian physicians Caraka and Sushruta, who recommended that leeches be applied to snakebites and boils…”

Here’s 19th-century leech overzealot François Joseph Victor Broussais (hyphenated in this source). Freshen up your French!

What in the world is foam fractionation?

To get your giant leeches into a groovy mood, play some Brahms.

Back in ‘02, “Leech Rattle,” “No Pulp Leech,” “Leech Loom,” “Sharp Leech,” “No Pulp Leech,” and “Primrose Leech Coasters” were on a list of Ten Thousand Statistically Grammar-Average Fake Band Names. Somehow I think the latter would have the most luck in these non sequitur times. Though “Leech Loom” has great possibilities. (I also like “Pea Who,” from the same list.)

Not mentioned in Colapinto’s article, leech tour de force Stand By Me. Incidentally, Attack of the Giant Leeches came out in 1959; as you already know, The Leech Woman was 1960. And Stand By Me takes place in 1959. Leech Girl, 1969. Could leeches be another metaphor for the Red Menace? Here’s a synopsis of Attack of the Giant Leeches:

Giant creatures that look something like a cross between a leech and and an octopus, minus the arms, rise out of the Florida swamps to grab a snack. Steve, the good looking game warden, begins an investigation after people begin dissappearing and strange tales of some kind of bizarre creature in the swamps begin to go around the nearby swamp community. The local sheriff doesn’t believe any of it and will have no part in the investigation, which leaves Steve, his girlfriend Nan and her father Doc to investigate it on their own. The movie has a sub-plot as well. Dave, the fat general store owner has a beautiful young wife named Liz who also happens to be a complete shrew, and an unfaithful one at that. She has an affair with Cal and when Dave finds out, bad things happen.

Leeches! is a more recent addition to the canon. Although a former doctor, classy Irishman Richard Leech has nothing whatsoever to do with anaesthetic fangs or cauliflower-ear drainage.

Is Gerald Scarfe’s full-page, giddily gruesome drawing (note the dire progress chart and the worrying prescription tablet) scientifically accurate? You be the judge: here’s a Hirudo medicinalis in the flesh. Your flesh? My flesh? Try not to lose a finger. Also, try not to be this Hong Kong hiker, who has a gross story to tell. “According to the article, doctors only managed to remove the stubborn bloodsucker with forceps after applying anaesthesia to the woman’s nose. ‘Direct removal of a live leech might be difficult because of its powerful attachment to the mucosa and its slimy and mobile body,’ the [medical] journal said.”

I was already thinking about various terrible situations after finishing the Colapinto piece, so here are two guides to teaching leeches who’s boss should you find them on your person. From the second: “NOTE: It is generally not advised to attempt removing a leech by burning with a cigarette; applying mosquito repellent, shampoo, or salt; or pulling at the leech. This can result the leech regurgitating into the wound and causing infection much worse than the leech bite itself.” Eeeeeg.

If there’s something you’d like Eustace Googled, send ‘er on in; no job too small.

Update: Here’s At the Leech Farm With Larry Leech, courtesy of Worm World: “Gotta help some human with blood trouble!”

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