Monday, December 24, 2007

Post Rodent Resolution

As 2007 draws to a close, I realize just how many rodent works I still need to read/watch/comment upon (from The Mouse and the Motorcycle and Stuart Little to the wonders of prairie dog tourism and hero rats). As I try to catch-up with rodent stuff, it is time to be thinking about the theme for 2008.

Sparkling Wine, Pink and Rodents have been very successful resolutions. Fruit and spices much less so (although we did drink some awful cordials for each). So, the basic requirements of the year's big resolution (I do have more mundane resolutions such as reading books and exercising) are that it must be something that I can share with the Mister and friends (no resolving to lower my cholesterol), something that can be spread out over the whole year and done in small increments (no resolving to go to Fiji) and something fun.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tears for a spider

The 2006 movie version of Charlotte's Web is not as good as the book. This should be no surprise, as movie versions of beloved books are never as good as the books*, but it still saddened me as the Mister and I watched the movie last night. Unlike the horrible Secret of NIMH, which utterly ruined the Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, the recent version of Charlotte's Web is true to the plot. Charlotte's Web, however, is a quiet magical story. Quiet magic doesn't translate to feature films well, and adding "action" sequences with Templeton, the rat, and celebrity voices (Julia Roberts, you have a very nice voice, but I'm sorry, you're not Charlotte) doesn't do it.

While Templeton's role in the story is comic relief, his development of compassion is one of the great transformations of the book. They tried to force this in the movie, but it didn't work and I ended up just feeling sorry for the poor rat, whose book character is one of my all time favorite rodent side-kicks.

Despite numerous problems, I'm glad we watched Charlotte's Web. I am prone to crying at no provocation these days (see reason in ROUS post), but would have wept profusely at the end of the story regardless. It's not Charlotte's death that usually gets me, it's Wilbur's abandonment by her children and then, when it looks like a few are going to stay and be friends, E.B. White goes and points out how none could possibly replace Charlotte (the movie thankfully leaves out that tear-jerking line, but I know the book well enough to know that it accompanies the "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." line that was included).

I'm pretty sure I didn't think the book was terribly sad as a child, but as a teenager and later, the truth that friends come and go but are irreplaceable has struck me as incredibly sad.

Summary Recommendation: Read the fabulous book. Skip the movie. Babe is a better pig movie. Ratatouille a better rat movie.

* The movie Joy Luck Club truly enhanced Amy Tan's book I adored. The BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, most of the Harry Potter movies and The Lord of the Rings all do honor to the great books they are made from, if, of course, not as great.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ROUSs for sad nights

The Mister and I watched The Princess Bride last night. While it is not fully a rodent movie, the rodent parts, while not large, are critical. The fire swamp would not be nearly so horrible without the ROUSs (Rodents Of Unusual Size), the movie would not be nearly as campy without a human in a giant rat suit fighting Wesley, and Buttercup would not be nearly as annoying a heroine if she would have just bashed the ROUS herself. Altogether, the ROUSs* add a great deal.

The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favorite movies and the one to which I know almost every line. Its not a great movie by any account, but I love it. Sometimes one needs funny comfortable movies. Last night was one such night in our house. Our much anticipated reason for not drinking is no more and will not be arriving in July. We found out she/he wasn't alive on Thursday and I had surgery yesterday. It's devastating and horrible (and I'm not intending to make light of it by talking about it in a rodent movie post, but I don't want to talk about it at all, yet think that my friends need to know) but there really isn't anything to be done except grade the finals and curl up with the Mister and watch silly movies.

What are your favorite rodent minor characters? ROUS in Princess Bride? Templeton in Charlotte's Web? The beaver in Lady and the Tramp?

I haven't fully inspected the Rodents of Unusual Sweetness webpage, but I am terribly amused just by the link to "What to expect when your rat is expecting"

The ROUS T-shirt pictured above is available from

*How does one properly make a plural of an anacronym that ends with S?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hard Times for the Groundhog

Our local marmot seems to hole up in the banks of a closeby creek. The site has tall vegetation for hiding, good access to chestnuts and cool shade for hot days. The big drawback, of course, is that once every so often (twice since we've lived here), the creek entirely fills it's banks. When it happened in April, we just assumed the marmot scurried to higher ground (Although, as our entire neightborhood is in the floodplain of the river through town, I'm not exactly sure how high the marmot could make it without crossing the highway.) When the floodwaters were rising yesterday, however, I was worried about our groundhog because he should have been hibernating. I suppose we'll just have to wait until March to see how he's fared.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bye, Beaver

After the first substantive rain of the fall season (late October, on a day I took my ecology class on an all day field trip, pictured below), progress on the beaver lodge stalled. The Mister and I were unsure if the beavers decided that the water levels vacillated too much, or if they had just moved to slower waters. We haven't seen either since.
We cannot be sure, then, that the gigantanormous 50 pound beaver recently trapped out of the our river was one of "our" beavers, but I suspect it was. The on-line version of the local paper seems to be a month behind, so you might want to check here in a few weeks to see a grainy image of a large animal you'll recognize as a beaver only from its feet.