Wednesday, January 28, 2015

That Creeping Doubt

"That Creeping Doubt" by T.K. Wade (As told by Petalweight the bard.)

Through the dark fog that life so callously forces upon me, I perceive a dark dread amongst some who cross my ever changing path. No monster known to us threatens their life, but only that their own fears sours their countenance. “Fear of what?” you ask Petalweight. Aye! But this is a fear that one’s life shall not amount to more than spilt salt and so scattered carelessly by a stray wind!

It is a creeping doubt that plagues these rodents from morn until dusk, and it leads to sorrows untold. Indeed, untold, for they are kept away from the surface for a time. The spirit reeks of fetid decay, and there are those that may sense it, but the true horror is that of the sufferer. A dreadful life, he leads. He walks the common path of life–day by day, action by action–never missing a moment of routine. It is dull. It is plain. It is nothing. But you must understand, my dear listeners, that he desires a greater deal than he is obtaining. Would that you might help him, do ye think that he would be saved?! Listen on.

This rodent–vexed by his inability to gain a birthright that seemingly should be his to take–slowly drops into the realm of madness. Could you reckon him just so if you had seen him? Likely not! But perhaps you see that shift in his eyes, that sudden change of demeanor, that odd… little… tic. It is a tic born of grief. The man swiftly losing his mind, for he does not believe in anything henceforth.

Listeners, this tale is a possibility, but nay, it is not an absolute. A man who has no hope shall contend with such things in his own way. But there are those souls who shall release their minds for happier dreams in order to avoid a bleak reality. As for me, I shall not succumb! I am Petalweight, and I have chosen my path without any hope at all! Were there not those who would see me dead?! Tell me what such creeping doubt should do to others, but not to me!

I have faced such horrors and–by Mersis–survived them! I have seen the mediocre and have not witnessed their failings to be my own! I have traveled from city to city and sang to you all because it is what I love! For these reasons, I am great!

But as for the man whose mind is all but gone, it was he who let his soul slip. It is his eternal failing, but I cannot help but look at him… and wonder. I wonder what would have been, if the great Petalweight had been there to speak before the end. To those of you who still have the capacity for belief, these are the words of Petalweight, and within these words, may there be the inspiration that you seek!

-Glossary-

Rodents: In Petalweight's world, all people are rodents. He, personally, is a jerboa.

Mersis: The goddess of mercy and compassion.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rodent Spotlight: Gopher

Now, here is a very common rodent in fiction. The gopher will always be noted as the farmer's worst nightmare. I remember seeing many cartoons while growing up portraying these tunneling miscreants as the main antagonists. The general idea of a good, solid gopher cartoon is that the rodents will set up a system of tunnels directly underneath the rows of planted vegetables, and then they can easily pull them out from below. This food is then eaten rather gluttonously because that is simply what a good gopher does.

The farmer is not commonly the foil for the gophers, but it is often the farmer's lackey or pet that takes the brunt of the humiliation. For example, the farm may belong to Mickey Mouse; however, it is Pluto that must fend off the gophers. Of course, failure means that Pluto could be either punished or seen as the culprit in the first place. Maybe, the dog had a sudden fit of vegetarianism.

You may find this interesting, but the common cartoon portrayal of the gopher is not really all that different than the real creature. The rodents will actually create extensive tunnels underneath rows of crops and pull them under for their own food supply. The reason for the striking similarity is likely because people knew a lot more about farming in those days--being that they were simpler times. And when you got a real rodent doing something so horrible, you absolutely must make an antagonist of them in popular fiction.

Although history has seen many generic examples of these tunneling villains, you may remember a certain duo by the name of Mac and Tosh from their series of Looney Tunes. These gophers did nothing dissimilar than any other gopher, but it as how positively fruity they were about it that made them so popular. They were always super polite to each other--constantly insisting that each other should proceed first. It was like watching thieves with their pinkies up. These cartoons were incredibly cute. My favorite of them was actually when they showed up as alien gophers on an episode of Duck Dodgers where they forgot all about what they were doing because of a sudden tickle fight between themselves. It was positively delightful.

Another well-known gopher--this one not really all that villainous--is the rodent known as Samuel J. Gopher from the Disney series of Winnie the Pooh cartoons. This gopher attempts to insert himself into the story to either give the silly animals some wise gopher advise or to help them in some way with his unique gopher abilities. Apparently, this character was not in the original books written by A.A. Milne, and Samuel J. Gopher confirms this in the cartoon by claiming he is, indeed, not at all from those books. I thought this to be a very clever way to introduce an original Disney character to the series, and I have always liked him.

Gophers are one of those rodents that simply are begging to be written about. They come across to me as very dutiful thieves. Thieving is their main way of thriving, and they are fairly organized in the ways they accomplish the task. They do not live in large groups but seem to function well in ones and twos. They make wonderful nemeses for farmers, and when they have the gift of speech, it makes the experience all the more fun. It's okay to feel sorry for the poor hard-working farmers, but there's nothing wrong with enjoying a fun villain either; and where gophers are concerned, there is a whole lot of fun to be had.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can leave a comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Tah! Tah!



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rodent Spotlight: Gerbil

Sometimes, I have a bit of trouble finding fictional references for some of the less mainstream examples of rodents. Gerbils certainly fall into that category, and I haven't the foggiest idea why. They are a popular pet, for goodness sakes! I do have one in particular I can mention, however.

I have been referencing "The Welkin Weasels" books in the last couple of blogs because they tended to give fairly good examples of some of the lesser known rodents. There was a fun character within "Windjammer Run" who was a gerbil named Narky. He was quite the troublemaker as well!

Narky was also both a coward and a malingerer. That is to say that he would often pretend to be very ill in order to get out of doing work. I must admit that there is something remarkably cute about something tiny causing everyone a headache. Even though the character is out rightly annoying, something about it keeps your attention!

Now, in real life, gerbils are actually frail, little creatures who need special attention so that they will remain healthy. They are also very social and friendly to big humans like you and me. However, I can't help but imagine if the greatest villain on earth was something as small as a gerbil. Let's call the little guy Meanstreak.

You see, Meanstreak was like any other gerbil--living a life of comfort and pampering... or WAS he?! In reality, the whole thing was a fa├žade! He was actually an evil genius planning some pretty mischievous thing the world over. Don't believe it's possible?

Well, Meanstreak actually had a secret laboratory under his cage where he would invent terrible devices, hack bank accounts, and post disreputable remarks about hamsters on Twitter. Even when Interpol went looking for him, they never quite suspected that it was a gerbil doing all that mischief-- even WITH a name like Meanstreak.

I suppose in the end, every villain is found out sooner or later. Even the rodent world has their own James Bond. It was probably a rat by the name of Johnny Teeth. It wasn't hard for Johnny to find Meanstreak since the gerbil had almost exclusively hired women to be his hentchies. You know how rats are with women. I suppose the little guy just wanted to feel loved.

Now, I want you to ask yourself something. If you uncovered that all these dastardly deeds were committed by a cute and frail, little squirt, would you exact righteous vengeance... or just give him a loving cuddle? I, for one, love the idea of keeping an cute, evil pet; although, it might be best to sleep at night with one eye open.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you enjoyed it, leave me a comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Mwahaha!



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rodent Spotlight: Lemming

Behold! The lemming! A rodent that is famed across the world for such a distasteful act as mass suicide! Indeed, this is quite the peculiar perception, but the lemming has been painted as a chronic depressive since as far back as the 1500s. This is, of course, a total misconception.

Now, where it is true that lemmings will march in mass formation to their deaths, it is not entirely why they are doing it. You see, lemmings are migratory rodents that have this tenancy to move from one place to another as nature compels them to do so. Nature does not, however, tell them that they must leap from the nearest cliff to a very dire end. No, death is often a sad happenstance of the migratory process.

As it turns out, crossing a rushing stream of water while being a tiny, little rodent is a much harder proposition than at first conceived on paper. I am quite sure these little guys planned it out well enough, but sometimes the best laid plans of lemmings and men often go astray. Some make it, however, and go on to live happy, fulfilling lives that extend as far as he is able to survive. What a shame they have not evolved to the point where they can develop a good, sturdy set of water-wings.

Despite the reputation of the lemmings being a complete sham, they still are commonly equated with mass suicide in fiction as well as everyday banter. A group of people following a madman or a cult might be equated to lemmings. They are, after all, following a group mentality to an assuredly dire fate.

In the 1991 video game "Lemmings," players had the arduous task of saving the lives of the poor creatures who were happy to walk off the edge of a cliff unimpeded. In this case, these creatures were not so much called to death--as is commonly depicted--but rather just entirely stupid.

I was happy to see a lemming character within "The Welkin Weasels" book series. He was a musician by trade. Poor thing was content to bring the house down on top of him as he played his final tune. Beautifully told if not somewhat morbid.

As for myself, I feel that the suicidal stereotype is unfair to the little rodent; however, it is what it is. In my own fiction, I would make them out to be a creature driven by the fickle hands of nature. They are driven onward to do terrible things, and only they must attempt to rise above such forces. I am not a fan of pointless existences. There must be a way to break free of such things, and I shall always show such attributes in my writings. But in the end, there is no denying that the lemming will be forever remembered as one who willingly marched forth into the hands of death itself. If only they had a boat!

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, you can leave a comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Farewell!



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Rodent Spotlight: Vole

As humans, we often take time for granted. We are born into this world and fully expect many thousands of days ahead of us where we can accomplish many things. This is not the case for the lowly vole. Although some species of this rodent can last a few years, the majority of them have a lifespan that last from three to six months. During this time, they must do what they can to live a life worth living.

I suppose I can find passion in things where most people would turn a blind eye. I imagined myself as one of these little creatures and saw a very rushed existence. A cute girl vole would be nice. Chances are that she would be about as hurried for a relationship as I would be. Being that--at this point--I am already counting the days, I have thoroughly prepared my bucket list, and on the top of it is that I must do something to make a difference. My girlfriend felt the same way so we tried to put our little vole heads together.

In the Welkin Weasel book series by Garry Kilworth, Voles were commonly used like cattle for their meat and milk. My vole girlfriend--who has just now chosen the name Cherry for herself after her favorite fruit--thinks that this is not the correct way to go about things. Although milk is a popular commodity, we still have our dignity--as Cherry put it. I take her opinion very highly as most vole husbands are quite loyal to their mates.

We tried a bit of acting, but people always complained that there wasn't really a market for thirteen second plays. This was a bit of a downer since we already had produced ten children which each married and produced ten children of their own. It's a big family now, and we all have to do what we can to support each other--loyalty and all that.

And now that my life is almost over, I look back on it and try to think if me and Cherry accomplished anything worth mentioning. We had so little time to do everything on the list, and I'm fairly certain only one thing got checked off. I found a wife who truly loves me, and I stuck by her for the whole of the ninety days that we were together. Our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, and so-forth have all moved on and are doing what they can to fill the world with their mirth. It may not have been a long life, but me and Cherry are fairly certain that it was a worthwhile one. We are happy voles and are quite ready to move on.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below, or you can leave me an email at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. So long.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rodent Spotlight: Rat (Redux)

Rats have always been filed under "Detestable Vermin" since the beginning of time. The reasons should be obvious. Think about where we always find them: a trashcan, a swamp, the sewer, and even a dump. They live in all the places that humans don't really want to deal with, yet they seem perfectly pleased to be there.

Our dark perception of the rodent has since led us to generally categorize them as villains in fiction. It is a common occurrence that I very much agree with. I like rats as villains. Here is a creature that loves everything rotten and disgusting about the world. Why wouldn't we expect them to be against us?

Now, where I understand that all species of rodents can be portrayed as good or evil in their own way, I believe I covered that well enough in my first rat blog. So I am going to focus on the evil of rats this time. Try not to get too uncomfortable; although, it should come with the territory.

In the movie "The Tale of Despereaux" (2008) rats were most certainly the villains of the story. Yes, there was ONE--kind of, sorta of--good rat, but it was very clear that the world was filled with a majority of nasty ones. Quite a daunting little army to overcome. The problem with rats is that they eat anything--even each other when given the opportunity. Can you imagine being a tiny, little mouse trying to sneak past all those savage creatures? It also did not help that their great rat leader was one of the smart ones!

My absolute favorite animated film was called "The Mouse and his Child." (1977) It is based on a novel by Russell Hoban. I have completely reviewed them both, and I must say that they do well to capture the society of ratkind within fiction. I was happily disgusted to see the main antagonist, Manny Rat, feeding off the corpses of fallen soldiers in a recent shrew war. The movie and book showed rats to be party animals with absolutely no shame. They ate anything, drank anything, and played in garbage to their heart's content. And as we have come to expect, they were really quite evil.

In my former rat spotlight, I mentioned a movie called "Heidi's Song." (1982) Well, I'm mentioning it again because it really is quite relevant. You see, I read the actual book "Heidi" by Johanna Spyri, There are no rats in that book; although, the girl was somewhat concerned about running into them. In the animated film, Paramount Pictures decided to go ahead and give the girl to the evil rats lurking around in the cellar. Their leader--voiced by none other than Sammy Davis Jr.--did this amazing song and dance routine that was all about how evil rats were. I still love that scene more than anything else in that movie.

In my own fiction, I have ventured into the realm of evil concerning rats. My very first novel (currently unpublished) was called "Rat," and it was about a very evil example of the rodent named Cornelius Wolfington the Third. Greatly inspired by "The Mouse and his Child," I likewise portrayed the rats as party animals but also included their more vicious side.

Lately, I have been working on a new breed of evil rat which I have simply called the "Voodoo Rat." It is a major work in progress, and I have yet to write any story for them. But you may be sure that they will be very dark and mischievous creatures when they are complete.

So there you have it: some marvelous examples of dark and terrifying rats! I don't believe this trend will ever end, and why should it? Nothing makes a story more interesting than a vile villain for the reader to despise, and the rat fits the bill in many ways. I am sure we will see more of those guys crawling out of the sewers to wreak havoc on our peaceful civilization for many generations to come.

Thank you for reading my blog! If you enjoyed it, please comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Hisssssss!



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Spotlight: Mouse (Redux)

When I began this spotlight series, I started off not really knowing how I wanted to present it. After doing two of them--those being the ones for mice and rats--I lost interest in it for nearly an entire year. Now that the drive for it has returned with great vigor, I feel the need to double back to the one that started it all--the mouse.

Mice are well-known for being very tiny, but for some reason, we have always portrayed them as being very courageous. It defies nature in most ways. Real mice are very cowardly, and will not dare to stand up to a larger animal--especially a predator. Fiction has traditionally dictated the opposing viewpoint. Let's have a look at some of them.

"No fear! No retreat!" Sounds like the battle cry of a brave knight who is facing unspeakable odds. In actuality, this courageous shout came from none other than Reepicheep the mouse--as seen in "The Chronicles of Narnia." Despite the fact that this mouse was armed to fight, there really should be no reason why he should be considered a remarkable combatant, but through raw courage and his own unique deftness, he was able to best even the largest foe. The most interesting thing is that we expect him to be brave, when logic would dictate otherwise.

I am an avid reader of the comic book series called "Mouse Guard." In this universe, mice really are like mice should be; however, there are an elite order of them that courageously defy their nature in order to protect the weak. Now, isn't that interesting? These mice choose to be more than they are naturally for the greater good. It seems to me that we could learn from these little guys. I understand we all have talents and skills, but far more credit should go to those who use them to help others for its own sake.

I would be remiss if I did not mention "Red Wall" which contains all kinds of mouse-like bravery. That is a popular one too. Most of my friends speak well of it, and what I have seen of it is very satisfying. It never hurts to pit a mouse against an evil rat.

Speaking of evil rats, there were plenty to do battle with in "The Tale of Despereaux." I saw the movie and was rather impressed by its message. In many ways, it was a mousy take on Don Quixote. In this case, the mouse defied his cowardly brethren for the sake of courage and honor. Very inspiring--if not sometimes a little weird.

Mice also have a cuter side to them which is also depicted heavily in fiction. Stewart Little is a prime example. I--for one--love the idea of being friends with a talking mouse. In Canada, there was a fun cartoon show called "Eckhart" about a little mouse trying to get along with his friends. I loved it. Christmas is no stranger to mice, and I likely have seen every single mouse-related special to date; however, my favorite will always be "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" (1974) which focused almost entirely on the "mouse" from the poem.

Really, I could keep this up for another hour, but I am going long as it is. Needless to say, mice are everywhere, and they are dearly loved and appreciated by the masses. In my own personal fiction, I have written of mice many times. In my published story "The Imaginist," the main protagonist had a mouse companion by the name of Montague. He was a little mouse with a monocle who was rather fussy and arrogant. Despite his failings, he always seemed to steal the hearts of the readers.

In my unpublished universe of "Tooth and Tail," I portray mice as the ruling class. They also make for very brave knights in the military. The king is even a mouse! Mice really are my favorite rodent which is likely why I always seem to give them some level of authority.

In my "Fairyland" universe, I portray the rodent as more timid-natured; although, I believe they could be riled up to fight. I gave them a city called Mousania, and every year they have a march called the Annual Mousania Squeak Street Parade! Can you think of anything better than to watch a bunch of mice have a parade? I sure cant!

In closing, mice are just squeaking awesome! They have somehow captured our very hearts, and we just cannot get enough of them. The little guys really do well in showing us that we can be better than we think. Sometimes, we all can feel small. The world is a big place, and it is easy to feel unimportant. But whenever we see a mouse raise a sewing needle into the air and cry out for battle, we should take note of it and understand that in reality, we really can be great. We must only try to accomplish the goal with brave and willing hearts.

Thank you for reading this blog. If you liked it, you can leave a comment below, or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. Ta ta for now!