Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: North American River Otter

How about those European otters? Remember how grumpy and unsociable they were? Well, you won't find any of that stuff in THIS blog! Yes, the North American river otter is 42 inches of fun and fancy free! That's right! This guy is way more playful that that "otter" one!

These guys really are really cute. As the name suggests, you find them entirely in North America. This includes Canada and the American state of Alaska. In the U.S., they are located closer to the east and west coasts. The middle is almost entire left out; however, a lot of American soil is still covered. We have enough of these guys to make us smile anyways. Canada really does win the award though. Up there, these cuties are everywhere sliding across ice like it's the best thing in the world!

The North American river otter--like most otters--love seafood. They hunt by sneaking and ambush tactics--much like felines. If the ambush fails, they are perfectly capable of giving chase. With as much energy as they have, often the prey will run out of breath and get caught. Sometimes several others will get in on the chase as well, and then it becomes a matter of sport. These otters are carnivores, and beyond seafood, they also eat any small animals they can catch and kill. They are also known to eat some species of birds, and they don't mind this even one bit.

Most musties are not known for good social interactions. The European otter was a good example of how we usually find these guys behaving. With the North American river otter, we find something that is "otterly" different! These musties tend to love each other's company and often with no exception. Even when it's mating season, it does not mean two males cannot enjoy each other's company. Perhaps, a contest of some sort would be in order. I wouldn't throw such a sport past them since they always seem to be playing at some game or another. The spirit of family and good will seems to always be present with these guys, and it is marvelously fun to watch them in action.

On the latter information, you must understand how positively rare it is for males to enjoy each other's company when it comes to female competition. The most common trend is for things to get violent. It feels like to me that these particular otters just like to have fun, play, and live a relaxing and lazy lifestyle. In a way, that is still very animalistic. I have a cat who spends her entire day eating and sleeping, and that is perfectly fine for her. The difference here is that otters enjoy a good play, and between the two, I would rather watch the otters. Few other things bring me such joy as seeing these little hams put on a performance for my viewing pleasure.

So, I think you get what I mean. These guys are a free spirit that cannot be suppressed in any way. They are the hippy, surfer dudes of the animal kingdom. In fiction, I see them in a similar light. The fact that they are river-bound, makes me think of a more tribal setup. I see them walking about their little village wearing trinkets around their necks and leafy loincloths between their legs. Everyone knows and likes everyone, and they spend their days playing in a river paradise.

I wrote an unpublished story called "Fairyland Detectives" with something similar. There was a little otter village called Conceitia where otters all played and would try to get visitors to watch them. They were very vain, and did not really care for visitors but for how much they could show off for them. I think that these otters very likely were of the North American variety--not the "otter" kinds.

What is not to love about this wonderful musty. They produce almost an escapist ideal. I have many times wished I could just join in on the fun and swim about in an otter paradise. That's why I love fiction. In a way, it allows me to do just that. Stay tuned for more otters in next week's blog, or else I'll be "otterly" devastated!

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Child and the Hyena

"The Child and the Hyena" A fable by T.K. Wade

A curious child separated from his father when he heard the cackling of a hyena in the distance, and when he did approach the beast, he asked, “Are you laughing at me?” To which the hyena replied with a sinister glare, “I do not laugh at you but for the folly of a father who does nothing to keep watch over his own child in such a dangerous place.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: European Otter

I hope--given the name of this species of otter--I don't need to explain where to find these guys on the planet. Well, maybe I do, because you would be surprised how the names of some species can be misleading. My friend Shawn O'Toole and I know this all too well. In this case, it is the truth, and you will never find a European otter in the Americas. But isn't that a shame? Don't we deserve love too? Can't there be an otter for everyone? I digress.

I read as many "ottercles" about these musties as I could. I was actually surprised to find a distinct lack of playfulness in these guys. That is not to say that they are not social, but they seem fairly persnickety about their territory. The territory thing is interesting though. The males don't really like each other. They are not allowed in each other territory without being driven out; however, male and female territories are allowed to overlap. Why not?! Seems like a good idea to me!

The European otter has a very interesting form. Their bodies are about 37 inches long, and appear to have very stout bodily structure. Their faces are broad and a little bit menacing looking. They also have a really long tail as otters go--sometimes up to 18 inches long. So clearly, the European otter is a big, big guy.

European otters actually prefer freshwater. but they can swim about in saltwater as well. Besides, there are lots of yummy fish in the sea. Sometimes, the ocean can be far nicer than some "otter" place. The only problem is that all that salt can really mess up their fur. Ultimately, they need to go find a freshwater source to clean themselves off. One more tidbit about their swimming habits is that the European otter is born with a condition called osteosclerosis, which basically means they have have an elevated bone density. This leads to reductions in buoyancy while swimming. It gives the phrase "sink or swim" new meaning, doesn't it?

I really do like how these guys look, but what the heck is with their eyes. They look like they are just so irritable. What made these cute guys so cynical? Must be all those Japanese stories about how they murder people. A lot of the playfulness that I have come to know in otters seems to be a little lost here.

I haven't seen any fiction for this specific breed, Their may be some to be found in Europe, but they haven't come across my desk. I do think that their personalities would be more sardonic since they do seem a bit grumpier than the "otter" ones. When I looked at them I saw visions of grumpy, old fishermen who don't deal with others well. Just a thought.

Anyways, I still have a few more otters to talk about. Stay tuned for the next blogs to hear more about the wonderful world of the otter! It "otter" be great!

Thanks for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it, you can comment below or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. I'm "otter" here!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Doing the Impossible

"Doing the Impossible" by T.K. Wade

To be human is to dream. A dream is a wonderful thing, but to obtain it is even better. How does one obtain a dream? I'll tell you. He dares against the impossible! Why is it impossible? I'll tell you. It is impossible because everyone says it is impossible. But like my friend Don White once said: these people gave up a long time ago.

Here is the truth. Every wonderful thing that has ever happened in history has always been called impossible beforehand. Every time the impossible was achieved, it was because someone dared to accomplish it. Doing so is not an easy thing, but there are some of us in this world who are willing to take actions which are not easy in order to obtain that wonderful impossibility.

I have gladly associated myself with fine fellows who have decided to do this. We have already met with varying degrees of success. People from everywhere have turned there heads to look at us. Some smile. Some scowl. Some have asked to join us. Whatever the case may be, we have done something to cause change in the world. We have dared to do the impossible.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: Otter

I am very happy that otters fall under the family mustelidae because I have always been a fan. That said, there are so many kinds of interesting otters that I have decided to write up a generalized blog about them followed by a more detailed breakdown of the various species. Another reason I am doing this is because otters--in general--have a very unusual reputation when compared to other musties. Although, each species may not share these qualities, the general view of them are the same.

So! What is an otter? An otter is a primarily aquatic musty which can be found in almost all places in the world--save the extreme arctic environments, the majority of Africa, and the whole of Australia. They are nearly always located near some source of water. A dry otter would be very sad indeed.

Otters are exceptionally built for swimming. They have slim bodies and webbed paws. They even have a peculiar fur arrangement that keeps them dry underwater. That's right, you heard me. They actually can go underwater, and when they come up, they're dry. It has to do with an outer layer of hairs--called "guard hairs"--that traps a layer of air in them keeping the otter nice and dry as they dart around underwater. Sorry, but that is about the coolest thing I have heard all year!

Although, this may not be any surprise, otters love seafood. Their diet mainly consists of fish, shellfish, frogs, and some crabs. They are very good at hunting these creatures. They are so good in fact that some might call it unfair. Otters have very sharp claws on those webbed feet as well as some surprisingly powerful jaws. Also, the fact that they are extremely agile underwater is another major advantage.

Now, where there are differences within the various breeds of otters, there is a perception about these guys that seem to hold up. Otters are wonderfully playful creatures. With few exceptions, they spend a good portion of their time swimming with each other or just floating around on their backs enjoying the sunshine. Imagine living in a swimming pool at a water park that never closes. That's how we see otters.

It also does not help that they are just so magically adorable. Just look at that face! It's so cute! I just want them hopping around me all day long! I have seen otters in a local aquarium, and it appeared to me that they WANTED to show off for me. They kept jumping into the water and kicking off from the glass from where I was standing. They repeated this over and over and seemed to be reveling in all the attention they were getting. Cute and lovable: that's what makes an otter wonderful!

I found some interesting points of fiction. All the most interesting stuff was Asian in origin. One common story within Japanese lore is that otters can transform into women or children to trick men into approaching them. Once lured into the trap, the otters kills the man, and it seems like it is purely for the fun of doing so. Another story spoke about otters who could possess human beings in order to sap out their souls; however, the bulk of the stories all have the otter given the gift of transformation. They are dangerously mischievous--even to the point of murder--similar to the kitsune and the tanuki. Korea had a slightly different take on the otter. Apparently. if you happen to see an otter, you will attract rain clouds for the rest of your life. I am sure that's what the creature is hoping for anyways.

On the 2008 television show "Penguins of Madagascar," there was a wonderful otter character named Marlene. She was voiced by the very talented actress Nicole Sullivan, and she really did wonders for making this a lovable character. She was cute, playful, and feminine in all the right ways. She was a little ditsy, but that just added to her charm. In a lot of ways, she was pitched as the more intelligent of the cast, and this was because most everyone else were stark, raving mad. While she may have been the more intelligent of the bunch, her playful otter spirit often overrode her better judgement. More often then not, she was a bit goofy.

I am happy to say that I have already written an otter story. My unpublished story called "An Otter Failure" was about an aquarium otter who falls in love with one of the visitors. She uses a magic trinket in an attempt to help him understand her feelings, but this ends up leading to a bit of hilarious chaos. I do plan on publishing it later on.

Without a doubt, otters wrote the book on cute. I remember when their pictures began surging on the internet. It was as if people were holding up signs that said "Otters are the new cats!" We can't seem to get enough of these musties. They are almost entirely unlike their musty brothers who are widely known for their devious ways; although, if you believe those Asian tales, you may suspect them of some form of treachery. I bid you all to stay tuned, for there will be plenty of more otter blogs to come. I hope you enjoy each one of them.

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

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Fox and the Wolf

"The Fox and the Wolf" A fable by T.K. Wade

A fox and a wolf had located a hen house at the same time and were unable to decide who would get the first catch. The fox thought of a way to settle the dispute and said, “I propose a fight. Whoever kills the other will take the hens for himself.” “That is acceptable for I can easily kill a fox,” replied the wolf. The fox then added, “I will need some time to ready myself. We shall meet here again tomorrow morning, and then we will fight.” The two parted ways, and on the first light of morning, the wolf returned. However he found no fox, and upon checking the hen house, there was not one morsel to be found.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: Wolverine

Okay! All you comic book fans, you came to the wrong blog! There was some confusion in the advertising office, and you all came here for the wrong reasons. Sorry about that. I'll file a complaint with the board. These things happen, you know. Oh, well.

Today, we will be learning about the wolverine. Yes, the actual musty. Whoa! Whoa! Don't come back in, guys! It's the animal! He's not even black and yellow! Wow, I need to fire my advertisers.

If you live in the more frigid environments located in the Northern Hemisphere, you may have a furry, little beast to contend with. Indeed, the wolverine--that's the animal!--is quite literally the largest and most ferocious musty in the whole world. By the numbers, this beast can be as long as 42 inches from head to tail. They can weigh up to 55 pounds. Some have described them as little bears. Their fur color and body shape should account for this.

Like many of the larger musties--such as badgers--wolverines are built for open combat. They can run fairly quickly, they have powerful claws and jaws for killing, and their pelt is remarkably tough. On that latter note, these guys really do have some striking natural armor. If you are planning on fighting a wolverine--and why would you want to?--this creature actually does have a fair advantage. You'll figure this out when the blade of your hunting knife pops right off of the handle.

This creature is so powerful, that it is known for killing and devouring creatures that are much larger than itself. Let's look at some of it's bigger prey: caribou, various types of deer, sheep, moose, elk. All of these creatures are at least two times the size of the wolverine. Interestingly, the wolverine only goes after bigger prey when it can't find anything else. He generally wants something easy to kill and eat--such an a small animal caught in a trap. How very unsportsmanlike!

Wolverines are mis-characterized as gluttons. They do have a tendency to be killing and eating machines. They are very vicious and tend to attack anything that moves; however, this has nothing to do with gluttony. It had more to do with the environment they live in. Polar regions are known for having food shortages--especially when you are a small carnivore. Even when your belly is full, who knows when another animal will cross your path. Best kill them when you see them, and eat it when you get hungry again. The whole place is a refrigerator anyways.

Wolverines don't appear in fiction very often. They are generally cast as nameless aggressors in fairy tales, and even not very often. The "spirit" of the wolverine--that is what he represents as an animal--is more often used in representations of certain human characters. In the 1984 film "Red Dawn," a group of high school students calling themselves the Wolverines attempted to resist a Soviet Union invasion of the USA. In my life, this was really the first time I had heard the term wolverine used in fiction, and as this movie was a very powerful depiction, it stuck in my mind. These kids were very aggressive and fierce, so the name was appropriate.

Well, I suppose the comic book fans can come back in if they want. Wolverine is a well-known Marvel character from the series "X-Men." Honestly, the guy does not really look anything like a wolverine, but the aggression is there as well as the claws. I personally think the name works. He ranks under the title "I would never want to fight that," which the animal also holds. Very cool character! Glad he's on our side!

I don't really have any wolverine characters, but their personality certainly is not in question. Check it out though: You can actually find these musties in many of the Nordic countries of Europe. I'm thinking Wolverine Vikings now! Can you even imagine what that would be like?! There would be no stopping them! This is why I love imagination: sometimes, things just work out in wonderful ways.

The wolverine is definitely a force to be reckoned with. They are brutish and desperate killers. They will spare nothing in their path--even the weak and helpless. And if they ever get ahold of a sailing vessel, it will be plundering time!

Thank you for reading this blog. If you enjoyed it--and I sure hope you did--you can comment below or you can email me at tooie@tooiekangaroo.com. SNIKT!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Maximus and the Pervert

"Maximus and the Pervert" A fable by T.K. Wade

A rat who followed Maximus encountered a beautiful woman in a busy street. Seeking his own indulgence, he stood in front of her and took hold of her supple breasts, which made him smile a great deal. No sooner than he had done this that the woman’s husband did catch him in the act and kill the rat where he stood. In his dying breaths, the rat asked his god, “I did as you told and indulged in my own lust, and you had me die of such an act?!” To which Maximus replied, “I deal not in death, but pleasure alone, and from the smile you bore, I can see that the act gave you the pleasure you did seek.”

-Author Notes-

This fable--like last week's--is set in a universe I created called "Tooth and Tail," where all the people of the world are rodents. It is similar in many ways to the world of ancient Greece, and the people worship many gods. The god mentioned in this fable is Maximus who is the god of lust, ravenous pleasure, selfish indulgence,  ect. ect. In Greek mythology, the closest god to Maximus would be Baccus.

Anyways, Maximus encourages all of his followers to do what he wishes. It is entirely a selfish way of life. But as Maximus explains at the end of the story, he does not deal in the death of mortals. That is the job of the god of death, Decessus. The fable demonstrates that even though Maximus promises great pleasure to his followers, ultimately, he cares nothing for their lives. He only desires their servitude.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mustelidae Spotlight: Badger

Yes! Believe it or not, badgers are apart of the wonderful world of mustelidae! If you don't know what a badger is, where have you been? These musties are all over the world! Well... maybe not everywhere. You won't find them in either South America or Australia, but if you are anywhere else, please watch where you are going. These guys don't like trespassers.

Although there are a number of different kinds of badgers, we generally imagine them with gray chubby bodies and interestingly placed white stripes that run vertical across their faces down to their necks. Although, the topmost line can sometimes run all the way down their backs depending on species. Their tails can be pretty long too--sometimes as long as 20 inches. That's no reason why you should step on it though. Really, why would you do that? Do you want to lose a foot?

Badgers are well known for being ill-tempered. In fact, we tend to use the word "badgered" when someone is being mistreated by some sort of brute. I love musties with reputations! It fits! Badgers don't like dealing with anybody that doesn't fit into their carefully planned life. Anybody who gets in the way of that will get acquainted with their teeth and claws.

If you have a lot of badgers in your area, that is actually a problem. You must understand that it isn't that these musties are looking for trouble. They just don't understand that not everybody means them harm. That said, if you invade their territory, you might be in for a fight. Badgers--especially when they are protecting children--will often fight to the death with trespassers, and they are very capable of doing this. If you were to send out a pack of dogs to kill a badger, the badger might just win the fight. They are very strong and have very tough skin that protects them from harmful bites. Additionally, these guys can run. Some can gallop up to a whopping 19 miles-per-hour. No, you aren't getting away.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that badgers can be domesticated. They actually become fairly docile, but I bet they could replace a guard dog if you wanted them to. Imagine trying to sneak into a stranger's house only to get a snarling badger in your face. Goodbye, face!

Alright! Time for fiction. In fiction, there are numerous badgers. I know everyone may think this is weird, but I have not actually read the Redwall books yet. Imagine that: a book about mice, and I skipped it. However, I have watched the animated cartoon series, and I remember liking this really fun female badger named Constance. She was a powerful and strong character whose temper often came in handy for the benefit of the other characters and a nuisance to the more villainous ones. I hear there are many other badger characters in the series as well.

Another story I only saw the movie for (what's wrong with me?) was "Fantastic Mr. Fox." The badger in this movie was named Clive and he was a lawyer. There is a pun in here somewhere. Ever wonder if he badgered his witnesses? I'd be insulted if he didn't!

In the Disney movie "Robin Hood," Friar Tuck was appointed the form of a badger. He even gets to lose his temper by the end of it; although, it just ends him up in jail. Unrealistic in my opinion. The badger should have won the fight.

Before I get ridiculed for never having read a badger book, I can proudly say that I have tackled at least two of them! "Sweet Briar Goes to Camp" by Karma Wilson! Okay, so this was an adorable children's book with pictures about a cute little badger girl who goes camping with all her animal friends, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a fun read! But wait... Now that I look at the book again, I think she's a skunk. Whoops. Forget the whole first part of this paragraph! I DID run into some badgers in the "Welkin Weasel" books by Gary Kilworth. Seriously, really badgers this time! They were very ill-tempered brutes who wanted to be left alone. At one point the main character, named Sylver the weasel, had to meet with one, and there was always the glaring possibility he was about to get eaten. In all instances, it is best to stay out of a badger's territory, even if he was friends with your dad--as was the case in this book.

In my "Adventures in Cottontail Pines" books, the town is actually protected by a badger guard. The reason for this is there is a very dangerous and evil wolf prowling about the outskirts looking for animals to eat. The wolf may be bigger and stronger than anyone in the town, but he is no match for a group of badgers. I think I got the idea of friendly badgers from the Redwall episodes I saw. I like them more as ill-tempered and tough good guys rather than cruel villains. What do you think?

There is no denying that badgers have a steep reputation for being quite "badgery." Their very names have become an adjective for bad behavior. But with all the badgers we have everywhere, it's a wonder we don't just ask them to go away. Well? Did you want to volunteer for the job? Didn't think so.

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