Sunday, August 19, 2007

If I Could Google the Animals

Oh, it’s easy to hate nature. Contrary to what the idyllically-inclined will tell you, it has inflicted death and disease on us since time immemorial — and, as I write this, is sending a massive hurricane toward Jamaica, where I happily vacationed just last month (at the wedding of a Ms. Gray — little realizing that another friend, Keisha-Gaye, was there at the same time for a different wedding, while the same weekend Gore, at his LiveEarth rock concerts, was in effect urging the world to pay less attention to the likes of Gray and Gaye and more to Gaia [AND NOTE: I’LL BE AWAY FOR A COUPLE MORE WEDDINGS AUG. 22-26, SO DON’T BE SURPRISED IF I’M OUTTA TOUCH THEN]). Hurricanes won’t make you averse to nature, of course, if, like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his ilk, you essentially believe that all bad weather is nowadays caused not by nature but by George Bush’s hatred of black people.

But for the record, despite nature’s cruelty, I really do love animals — even if I frequently eat them and passively support processing them in factories, as I found myself discussing in an e-mail exchange with my friend Chris Nugent last week. He, like a few other friends of mine, has, with admirable self-restraint, decided to avoid eating the output of factory farming — and without obnoxiously imposing such restraints on other (often hungrier) people (for an analysis of more obnoxious manifestations of the anti-industrial-agriculture impulse, though, see this past week’s swell five-part series by Thomas R. DeGregori on the blog I edit at work, — since some arguments against industrial agriculture make a lot less sense than others).

So, as a celebration of nature — for all its faults — here’s a list of some of my favorite recent wacky animal video clips and articles, ranked in order of increasing entertainment value as judged by me (this is a much easier way of celebrating nature than becoming an anarcho-primitivist — and anyway, if I did that, as the documentary Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa suggests, I might have to face marauding, thieving bands of desert-dwelling vegans — goddam vegans!):

20. Cat named Oscar, says a Brown prof, predicts deaths in nursing home (not through any psychic powers, presumably, since none have ever been demonstrated to exist, but perhaps from noticing changes in people’s odor or behavior — so remember, if your cat is reluctant to leave your room, it may mean you have the death-stink).

19. Absurdly fat cat with diabetes. I am reminded of a couple I knew, Andy and Kantha, whose cat Buddy ate another cat’s pituitary medicine and grew to weigh some twenty-five pounds before, years later, dieting back down to normal dimensions — I’d been sure he wasn’t long for this world.

18. World’s most juvenile website likens this cat to David Bowie because of his different-colored eyes (though, for the record, Bowie simply has one pupil permanently dilated, not two different eye colors).

17. Mitt Romney takes heat on various sites (including that of another of my non-factory-farm-inclined friends — this one, too, a libertarian, contrary to what I’d expect of the organicy people) for having once driven for hours with his dog caged atop his car instead of riding cozily inside, a story that outraged some but mainly caused me to think, “Hey, Romney’s competent at dog-cage-building — good for him!”

(This isn’t the strangest thing about Romney, by the way — that has to be his claim that L. Ron Hubbard’s mammoth sci-fi epic Battlefield Earth is his favorite novel — though a friend of mine, I think it was Jonathan Leaf, suggested that Romney may have picked a novel by the founder of Scientology just in order to remind voters that there are religions weirder than Mormonism. On the other hand, with Tom Cruise supposedly being considered for the role of Capt. Pike, captain of the Enterprise prior to Kirk, in next year’s new-fangled Star Trek movie, Romney could just be one more pawn in the imminent Scientology conquest of the culture. Hubbard and Roddenberry were friends, you know — and Hubbard also helped inspire Est, which has since turned into the cultish Landmark Forum self-help group [which in turn helped inspire the Matrix movies, Fight Club, and], and Hubbard was also friends with the inventor of rocket fuel, who was a Satanist, so it’s all connected, man, but let’s get back to the animals.)

16. Cats manifest a strange, repetitive and apparently somewhat common — “pattycake”-like pawing behavior with each other (best with the annoying music track off).

15. Dentist gets sued for giving employee/patient temporary boar tusks while she’s sedated.

14. Dramatic Chipmunk (a video snippet, with new music, of a moment from a Japanese TV show featuring kids learning about what appears to me to be a prairie dog rather than an actual chipmunk — and I thank the site PiecesOfFlair for pointing this one out, most of the other items on this list having simply been found perusing YouTube and Drudge).

13. Falcor the Urinator (this clip presumes as a prerequisite a familiarity with Strong Bad and his song about the dragon Trogdor the Burninator, and if for some reason you’re not familiar with Strong Bad and his friends, you could certainly be putting your time to better use than you are by reading my blog).

(Note: Jill “Red Stapler” Friedman reacted to the Falcor clip by saying that it was as if, by parodying Strong Bad, the clip had destroyed part of her childhood — Strong Bad? Childhood? How quickly am I aging? What year is this? I’m still mentally getting used to this whole “grunge” phenomenon, never mind long-running Web toons. [See correction in first Comment, below.])

12. Kitten vs. husky — an interesting reminder that animals instinctively go just so far and no further when sparring.

11. Lamb born with seven legs in New Zealand. This one ranks high in entertainment value only because it reminds me of Homer Simpson singing about “Spider-Pig” and of portentous H.P. Lovecraft monsters (and Spider-Pig in turn reminds me that I hold the heretical view that the Ramones’ best song was their last — their own cover of the Spider-Man themesong [what could be more Queens, NY than this band/hero combo?]).

10. And on another less-than-cute note, it’s: shark vs. octopus!

9. Not to be outdone: tiger vs. python!! One of the most amazing things I’ve seen, period.

8. The liger! (They do exist, as do tions — which is so freaking cool that I feel cheated that the whole world didn’t get a heads-up memo about these hybrid big, big cats at some point.)

7. The headline that may long stand as the world’s best: “Man Pummels ‘Vampire’ Peacock” (pointed out to me by the aforementioned Chris Nugent).

6. Evidence woodchucks prefer cheese wedges to Jagermeister, unlike frat guys.

5. This one requires more patience — eight minutes’ worth — but if it’s a battle between lions and water buffalo that you crave, with a shocking crocodile cameo and a couple plot twists, this is the big one. A reminder, too, that if we weren’t killing and eating the animals, they’d spend all day remorselessly murdering each other, which is why I can’t bring myself to worry too much about them.

4. Alternative rockers TV on the Radio with their werewolf song, “Wolf Like Me.”

3. Late last year, after decades of anticipation, footage of a live giant squid, angry and red like some god-monster from Mars (or from the same nether-dimension that spawned the seven-legged lamb in item #11).

2. Wacky cat antics (best watched with annoying soundtrack off) and a rapid montage of still more amazing cat antics (again, best without sound — what is it about cat montages and annoying music?). Too lazy to find the one that features a startled bear being chased by a cat, but that’s cool too.

1. And probably the cutest thing of which I am aware: kitten in tissue box.

[UPDATE: Oh, and I almost forgot three even-better classics: cats boxing, cat piano-playing, and cat unwisely but adorably taunting much larger cat (who looks like departed Seavey family cat Oscar, by the way -- not the same Oscar who predicts nursing home deaths).]

Some barely-related parting thoughts:

•As a bonus for those who can’t believe I like animals but don’t take much interest in kids, a link to the raising-kids-oriented, which I’ve plugged once before (and is written by a friend of mine who ghosted some Sweet Valley High novel material, so she knows kids, especially teenage twin kids where one is good the other mischievous but both supercute — and now my Webmaster, Michel Evanchik, who complained about me recommending a memoir that he likened to “Sweet Valley High for degenerates” will be really appalled because now I’m recommending an actual Sweet Valley High writer).

•And on another semi-anti-kid note, the photos accompanying this British story about abortion strike me as oddly hip for the topic, regardless of where one comes down on the whole issue morally.

•By the way, here’s a story about a situation that evolutionary psychologists might consider a parent’s worst nightmare (self-interested evolutionary-calculus-wise): a paternity uncertainty case that can’t easily be resolved by DNA testing because the two potential fathers in the love triangle are twin brothers).

•And speaking of evolutionary psychologists, it was an e.p. grad student, Diana Fleischman, who was the lady noted in the comments of a previous post as the person who suggested I watch Brokeback Mountain — and her doing so has inspired a rant by my Webmaster, on his own blog, against being subjected to gayness in the cinema. Michel’s opinions are, as anyone who knows him would attest, not my responsibility but may at least amuse you, perhaps even more than the pattycake cats, if such a thing is possible.

•One last cat note: my friend Jamie Foehl now lives in North Carolina, basically happy but occasionally bored, and she decided to cope with the slow times through volunteerism on behalf of animals but was surprised when local authorities told her that what they really needed was someone to go out at night in the woods laying traps for feral cats so they could be spayed and neutered (speaking of which: congrats to libertarian Drew Carey for getting Bob Barker’s old Price Is Right gig there has to be some way to turn that show into a free-market economics lesson). So Jamie found herself putting cages with sardines in them out in the woods, assisted by an elderly cat-lady, late on a Saturday night. She says that in the morning, they’d caught exactly one cat. “Those feral cats are wily,” comments my friend Scott Nybakken.

P.S. And finally, here’s one for all the lovers of spontaneously-generated silicon-based lifeforms out there, you know who you are.


Red Stapler said...

Now now!

My “that destroyed my childhood” comment was in reference to The Neverending Story, not a webtoon that appeared during my college years!

I’m young, but I ain’t THAT young!

Todd Seavey said...

Sorry about that. As compensation, here’s a clip of a huge snake vomiting up a hippopotamus (and let me add that if I ever start a techno band — which would probably please the idiot living in the apartment directly above me — I will call it Hypnopotamus and its symbol will be a hippo head with a big spinning hypno-disc behind it):

Meredith said...

The “dramatic chipmunk” may actually be a groundhog.

Todd Seavey said...

As noted above, it certainly appears more likely to be a prairie dog — a creature to whom the term “groundhog” is sometimes overbroadly applied — than a chipmunk, but it is certainly not a groundhog in the more narrow sense of the term, reserved for Punxsutawney Phil and his burly, almost badger-like relatives, also known as woodchucks — as in the Jagermeister video above and this informative Canadian video:

The 1900 book _Squirrels and Other Fur-Bearers_ by John Burroughs, by the way, contains this partly insulting yet almost Shakespearean passage in the chapter on “The Woodchuck”:

“In form and movement the woodchuck is not captivating. His body is heavy and flabby. Indeed, such a flaccid, fluid, pouchy carcass I have never before seen. It has absolutely no muscular tension or rigidity, but is as baggy and shaky as a skin filled with water. The legs of the woodchuck are short and stout, and made for digging rather than running. The latter operation he performs by short leaps, his belly scarcely clearing the ground. For a short distance he can make very good time, but he seldom trusts himself far from his hole, and, when surprised in that predicament, makes little effort to escape, but, grating his teeth, looks danger squarely in the face…Dig one out during hibernation (Audubon did so), and you find it a mere inanimate ball, that suffers itself to be moved and rolled about without showing signs of wakening. But bring it by the fire, and it presently unrolls and opens its eyes, and crawls feebly about, and if left to itself will seek some dark hole or corner, roll itself up again, and resume its former condition.”

Diana said...

It’s a tigon not a tion. The liger actually looks rather chubby and lazy, not liek the killing machine that nat’l geographic has it pegged as. Genomic imprinting might be why it’s so big and I had a big description of how right here until IE crashed. Here’s the wiki anyways

BJ Keifer said...

AWWW…sorry you lost your original stuffed woodchuck… my husband and I have had a pair of puppet groundhogs since the day we met… and we keep a myspace with our travel photos with them. As we recover pics from our old computers, we will add more

Todd Seavey said...

Hey, thanks.