Animal news: “A wandering meatloaf I, a thing of rock-hard teeth…” what?

If, like me, you’ve never heard of the gunboot chiton (it’s a mollusk), welcome to the world of weird critters.

Which reminds me of Richard Strauss’s opera, “Die ägyptische Helen,” (in English, “The Egyptian Helen,” that is, Helen of Troy. Since the libretto is not what anyone would call factual, I have no idea why Helen wound up in Egypt). Strauss and his great, if occasionally impenetrably elliptical librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, introduced us to an on-stage character with a contralto voice who was…a gigantic clam, or some other kind of mollusk. (What the thing looks like on stage depends entirely upon the imagination of the production’s designer.)

The more euphemistic description of this creature is “an omniscient sea-shell.” Okay. In the Wikipedia entry for the opera, there is a note, as follows: “It remains the only major opera in the repertory with a role for an omniscient sea-shell.

My addendum note: I’ve never heard of a minor opera in the repertory with a singing omniscient sea-shell.

P.S. Less odd but oddly coincidental, a few days ago I decided that my next cuisine venture would be meatloaf. I make a pretty good one. And I’m going out now to buy the ingredients.

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