Tag Archives: the gods

Potoo

Potoo

There’s considerable hubbub right now over what a weird word “hubbub” is. I mean, look at it. Hubbub. Hubbub. Hubbub.

There’s also been some talk about Jimmy Fallon taking over The Tonight Show this week from its previous host, a golem controlled by the sorcerer Jay Leno. Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon’s old gig will be handled starting next week by Seth, Egyptian god of storms, chaos, and weekend updates. We humans are not the only ones with late night entertainment. The premier late night program produced by and for animals is hosted by this week’s animal: the potoo.

potoo

Heeeeeere’s Potoo!

Special powers

As a nocturnal bird, the potoo was a natural fit for host of The Nightly Hour Starring Romeo Johanssen.[1] Its only real struggle early on was to fight off its natural instinct to camouflage itself to the set – especially its own desk.

The potoo’s band leader/sidekick/consummate hypeman the howler monkey is also on hand to laugh at things that exist. It has no sense of humor of its own ever since the accident, but it laughs on cue like nobody’s business. This is crucial to its effectiveness because…

Weaknesses

…the potoo’s jokes are terrible. Just terrible. It can make some funny faces, but you eventually get used to all of those if you watch the show much at all.

potoo

Seen it.

Which reminds me; its eyes are huge. It’s great for seeing in the dark, but they are huge targets. The potoo took a real beating in its Three Stooges tribute episode. Under doctor’s orders, it had to do the whole next night blindfolded and flew directly into a stand-up bass.

In the late ’80s, the network moved The Nightly Hour Starring Romeo Johanssen back forty minutes to give a fresh young talent the nightjar a spotlight. The potoo entered a deep depression when this happened. Despite the popularity of its host as a performer in other respects, the nightjar’s program, “Jar!”, crashed and burned in the ratings. Soon enough, the potoo was restored to prominence. Some suspected collusion, as ratings in the South American rain forest are just numbers that the howler monkey shouts at the top of its lungs each morning at ten.

Number of legs

Two, plus wings.

What if it fought a bear?

The potoo’s go-to move is to sit still and look like a branch. This has little effect as the bear has no moral nor nutritional qualms about eating a branch.

Is it noble?

No.

Final rating

In the words of the potoo, “Hey, remember Monica Lewinsky?” The howler monkey’s response to this was “Ohhhhh!” This happened in the year 2014 A.D.

 

5/10

 

 

[1]The potoo changed its stage name to something more “Hollywood” after it turned out there was already a potoo in the guild.

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Fruit fly

Fruit fly

I'm Morley Safer

TICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICK

And now, a few minutes with the friendly ghost of Andy Rooney.

Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

I’ve been asked to review an animal called the fruit fly. It’s also sometimes called the vinegar fly. I’m no chef, but I don’t think fruit and vinegar are interchangeable. Maybe Rachael Ray could explain that. At any rate, it certainly does like fruit. I visited a friend’s house and the peach tree in their backyard was surrounded by fruit flies.

It makes me wonder why we don’t have other kinds of flies for other kinds of food. I’d rather be a lasagna fly or an ice cream sundae fly, myself. I suppose it wouldn’t be as healthy, but I wouldn’t live long anyway.

Special powers

fruit eye

The fruit fly has complex, red eyes.

I don’t know why they need such complicated eyes. I had the same simple eyes all my life and I think I saw just fine. Maybe the fruit fly sees something I don’t know about. After all, I was never able to see the spirit world when I was alive.

Weaknesses

Speaking of alive, the fruit fly doesn’t live very long. Nowadays, I’m aware of the dense sheets of fruit fly ghosts people walk through and breathe in every day. I wonder how many fruit fly generations lived and died in the course of my life. Which reminds me, why are Heaven’s gates made of pearl? It seems like an arbitrary choice. The streets are made of gold here, which looks mighty impressive, but I don’t know what was wrong with concrete.

Number of legs

The fruit fly has six legs. And I thought I hated buying shoes. Why are feet the only thing we feel the need to measure in some kind of steel clamp? I can tell you now if Men’s Wearhouse used that technology for their fitting sessions, I wouldn’t be wearing the suit you see me in today.

Sexual desires

According to National Geographic News, as summarized by Wikipedia, “The female fruit fly prefers a shorter duration when it comes to sex. Males, on the other hand, prefer it to last longer.” You can judge for yourself if that matches up with your experience.

What if it fought a bear?

I don’t know what would happen if a fruit fly fought a bear, but I know that when I tried it my family was too distraught to admit my actual cause of death.

Is it noble?

I don’t understand the question.

Final rating

Scientists like to study the fruit fly because of some surprising similarities to humans, including what diseases it can get. When the world feels so divided, there’s something oddly comforting knowing that even someone as different as a fruit fly can have something in common with me.

But I don’t like sharing my peaches. That’s what led to the situation with the bear.

 

 

5.5/10

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Hero shrew

Hero shrew

If you didn’t know better (and you probably don’t), you might think this is just a normal shrew:

hero shrew

WRONG.

Wrong. This is the hero shrew. Non-hero shrews draw their inspiration from this noble beast, which is their protector and paragon of shrew virtues.[1]

Special powers

Well, it is a paragon of shrew virtues. When it has the strength of its convictions, it is as strong as ten shrews plus two.

The hero shrew’s signature power, though, is its unbelievably powerful spine with lots of large, thick vertebrae, all of them interlocking.

girl look at that spine

Check it out.

The hero shrew’s go-to move is letting much larger animals stand on it, only to shrug them off, tripping and confusing them. How can this be, when the shrew is so tiny? The hero shrew’s secret is that it is the Spinefreak.

Weaknesses

Weirdly, the hero shrew is allergic to kryptonite. It’s not from Krypton or anything – not any more than my cousin Randall is from Shrimpton. It’s just a coincidence.

Number of legs

Four.

Favorite video game

WWF WrestleMania 2000.

Sister species

There is a second sort of hero shrew, only recently discovered, first described last month. Its name is Thor’s hero shrew, named for the Norse god it serves. Much as Odin sends the raven to Midgard, Thor is assisted in this realm by Thor’s hero shrew. It has less lightning at its disposal than you might guess.

What if it fought a bear?

The bear can step on it all it wants, the hero shrew shall not be moved.

Is it noble?

Yes.

Final rating

It stands for what is good and just. It battles the agents of Loki and rock trolls of all kinds. It makes a mean panini. Is it too soon to say… best shrew ever?

 

 

10/10

 

 

 

[1]Good old-fashioned shrew values include honesty, courage, foraging, sharp teeth, and sharing.

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Cicada

Cicada

The dictionary[1] defines “sap sucker” as “a loser or whack brother.” One such whack brother is the cicada. It loves nothing more than to latch onto a tree and just suck the sap right out of it. Well, okay, it loves one thing more, and that’s the crispety crunch of its Butterfinger, but honestly it mostly just loves the sap content in that (42%).

Even more than its sapsucking, the cicada is famous for how it sleeps underground for years at a time. Hidden there in Subterranea, waiting. Waiting for its moment… to strike.

cicada close-up

Summer is coming.

A time after it does emerge, it “moults,” by which I mean a second cicada horrifyingly bursts through the exoskeleton, instantly killing its host.

cicada begets cicada

Nobody knows how the other one gets in there.

Special powers

The cicada is one of the loudest insects in existence. Almost as loud as the gong beetle and Asian jewel airhorn.[2] If a sufficient amount of cicadas gather together, they can drown out even the most dedicated lawnmower driver or vuvuzela player.

Not only is it loud like a percussionist, the cicada has the beat-keeping ability of one. It can keep time to the trickiest of time signatures, even the really obscure ones. There are certain time signatures not even known to human composers, who lack the patience and gift for hibernation necessary to play them. I’m talking about bars that take years to complete. This is why you’ll occasionally hear reference to “cicadian rhythms.”

Weaknesses

Sleeping below the earth for years at a time has its disadvantages. The cicada misses bunches of episodes of The Simpsons. On the off chance that someone does journey beneath the crust and pass the tests of the molemen, an enemy of the cicada may be able to kill it in its slumber. Also, there’s the bad dreams.

Number of legs

Six.

Known aliases

Australians identify the cicada’s various types with names such as “cherry nose, brown baker, red eye, green grocer, green Monday, yellow Monday, whisky drinker, double drummer, and black prince.” As we learned in the kangaroo review, Australians are given far too much opportunity to give animals names.

Varieties

There are a couple particularly notable types of cicada. The annual jar fly hides below the surface not for years, but mere months – much like Bane of the League of Shadows.

Baaane!

“I will show you where I have made my home while preparing to bring justice. Then I will break you.”

Also like Bane, the annual jar fly can be filled with green beans or moonshine.

On the extreme end of the spectrum is the pharaoh cicada, which went underground in ancient times. It can be identified by the trailing bandages and stench of dust and embalming fluid. It boasts a number of magical powers and serves only the storm god Set.

Horrifying Wikipedia quote

“Female cicadas are prized for being meatier.[6]

Enemies

Somewhat predictably, the cicada does not get along with the cicada killer. It’s not quite clear what started the feud, but some theorize it had to do with the cicada killer’s name. One must admit it’s in poor taste.

What if it fought a bear?

If it’s awake, it can maybe sing the bear into submission.

If it’s asleep, it will be at an extreme underdog.[3]

Is it noble?

No.

Final rating

Every summer or every 17 summers or once an age, the cicada awakens and sets about being just super-loud. Not to mention every cicada killing the one in front of (outside) it. It is an untrustworthy, treacherous creature in this regard, as well as in board games. It is loyal to at best Set, at worst nothing. That may work fine for Set, but it’s an annoyance for the rest of us. And the molemen have it even worse.

 

3.5/10

 

 

 

[1]The urban one of course. Do I look like I’m wearing suspenders to you? Okay, yes, I am. Good guess. But they’re not denim.

[2]Recently popular in hip-hop songs.

[3]Underbug.

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Meerkat

Meerkat Hey meerkat, are you busy or–

oops

Oh no it’s like that shot in The Shining

Oh. Oh I’ll come back later. In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and rate you. Special powers There are many fine tunnel-diggers in the world, but the meerkat is one of the best. Its tunnels are consistently some of the nicest and most extensive in their respective neighborhoods. It has long been believed that the meerkat is a sun angel, an emissary of heaven meant to protect humanity from the moon devil and his werewolf lieutenants. The meerkat has no fat, which makes it almost thin enough for fashion modeling. Weaknesses The meerkat has no fat, yet insists on wearing shorts in the winter out of some weird stubborn pride. The meerkat’s greatest weakness is for reality shows. It actively follows a variety of them, listed here:

  • Flavor of Love
  • Duck Dynasty
  • Amish Yakuza
  • Mennonite Posse
  • Pitbulls & Parolees
  • Real Housewives of Boca Raton
  • Real Tunnelwives of Molemanopolis, the Undercity
  • Pog Kings
  • Belding Management (about Dennis Haskins, Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell, becoming a landlord)
  • MANsplanations
  • Diner Lovin’
  • The Decisioning (contest judges’ chairs just spin and spin and spin)
  • Epileptic Caterers
  • The Real Teen Wolf
  • Felony Scavenger Hunt Miami
  • Bunk It or Junk It! (in which contestants are forced to either become roommates or watch a prized possession crushed by industrial machinery)
  • Loch Ness Spring Break
  • YOLO Academy
  • Duke of Versailles (David Siegel’s cousin Duke moves in with the family in the largest home in America, and has some crazy ideas on how to run it)
  • Grapes Ahoy (in which a woman tells a friend that their mutual friend is “overreacting” to something)
  • Mtn Dew Presents Constitutional Dewpublic
  • Stars in Danger: The High Dive
  • Val in the Family (Val Kilmer’s ex-wife lives her life)
  • Flip This Playground
  • America’s Next Great “Psych” Fan
  • LA Surgery Challenge: The Hamptons
  • Poor People Are Hilarious
  • Krill of the Hunt (centered on the humpback whale becoming a bounty hunter)
  • Spencer’s Den
  • Extreme Makeover: Chair Edition
  • How Loud Can This Musical Sting Be
  • We Three Ices (starring Ice T, Ice Cube & Vanilla Ice)
  • Salmon Bride
  • Living With Chuck (OJ Simpson’s former cellmate moves to the big city and tries to have it all while balancing his career and personal life)
  • Mr. Met: Making The Cut
  • Cupcake Assassin
  • Dance, Monkey (primates are trained to participate in dance competitions)
  • Celebrity Top Chef All-Stars
  • I Love Celebrity Top Chef All-Stars
  • Date Rape!
  • Ferrets of the Father (a priest trains ferrets to provide emotional support to the obese)
  • My Whipped Cream Masterpiece
  • Situational Awareness (The Situation’s shenanigans distract local business owners while undercover actors burn down their businesses as a prank)
  • Jenner Unleashed (Bruce Jenner reads snarky comments off cue cards about clips of the testimonies of victims of violent crime)
  • Frittata Palace
  • I Didn’t Know I Was 98% Tumor
  • Let’s Talk I Love Celebrity Top Chef All-Stars (I Love Celebrity Top Chef All-Stars recap show)
  • Flavor of Love Canada

A lot of people think that the meerkat stars in its own reality show, Meerkat Manor. However, this is a misconception. In fact, “Manor” is a soap opera in the style of Downton Abbey, which just happens to be filmed in mockumentary style. The producers claim that this is merely a device, and not meant to be taken as a literal part of the Meerkat Manor universe. Debate on the Meerkat Manor forums continue to rage. Number of legs Four. Wikipedia’s Talk Page, on Meerkat Manor “The people that filmed the show, were probably very good people.” Collective nouns A group of meerkats is known as a mob, gang, or klan. None of these terms are positive.

meerkat family photo

Dang it, Randy; you ruined another picture.

What if it fought a bear? Don’t be silly. All the cooking challenges in the world can’t prepare you for a bear fight. Is it noble? Moderately. Final rating The meerkat’s name comes from the Dutch for “more cat.” As in, “I’d like some more of that cat!” The Dutch have historically greatly enjoyed the cut of the meerkat’s jib. And I find it hard to disagree with them. It’s a pretty great animal all around, as long as you don’t have to share a television with it.     9/10

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Raven

Raven

It’s really true what they say: “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!” Mere days separate us from Super Bowl Sunday, which finds the San Franciscan Forty-and-Niners engaged in a contest of our American football against the Ravens of Baltimore.

It’s going to be a very interesting matchup, what with Sweet Jordie Gloomswell on the inactive list with a gluten allergy, Hellvaliant Hopkins coming back strong for the playoffs with his new cybernetic torso, and Lightning DeJosephh struggling to contain his powerful berserker rage. And of course all of that fails to mention the Harbaugh-on-Harbaugh violence. These brother-coaches, because of their close relation, are unable to detect the smell of each other’s blood, but each has unprecedented psychological insight into the other.[1]

I wanted to cover the mascot of one of these fine teams in this week’s rating. I lucked out because only one of them is an animal; the other refers to middle-aged people. So, choice made. Let’s talk raven.

raven

The only Cosby family member who can fly.

First things first, the raven is not the crow. It can’t be, because the crow is not an animal. It is a Brandon Lee movie.

Special powers

The raven is very smart and paranoid. It has been known to form false food caches purely to fool any observing spies. The raven is one of the corvids, those most intelligent and devious of birds – not that it’s a high bar to clear, but for real, corvids are creepy. A cloud of corvids descended upon the set of Hitchcock’s The Birds and shot nearly all the B-unit footage. It is believed, but unconfirmed that Daphne du Maurier, author of the short story on which the film was based, was herself a magpie.

Weaknesses

Despite having the power of speech, the raven is only able to say one word: “Paramore.”

Paramore by darkredbbb

They’re flattered but confused.

Nobody’s quite sure why this is so. Does the raven have an impediment? Or is it just a dick? THESE ARE THE GREAT MYSTERIES SCIENCE SEEKS TO SOLVE.

Number of legs

Two.

Professions

The raven pays the bills as an emissary of Odin the All-Father here in Midgard. Do you think Odin just really likes Hayley Williams? It makes as much sense as anything.

Odin of Asgard

“сαṉ ώε ρɾετεṉḋ τhατ αïɾρlαṉεṡ ïṉ τhε ṉïģhτ ṡќÿ αɾε ṡhøøτïṉģ ṡταɾṡ?”

The raven also dabbles in guarding the Tower of London. It’s said that if the raven ever dies, the crown will fall and England after it. However, this is just a silly superstition. Nothing matters less than the crown. If it did fall, literally nothing of importance would fall after. Except maybe the corgis. The corgis are important.

Diet

Primarily carrion and gorditas.

What if it fought a bear?

The raven represents the ruler of Asgard. The bear knows better than to screw with it.

Is it noble?

No.

Final rating

It’s really true what they say: “Hrafnar skulu þér á hám galga slíta sjónir ór.”[2]

Happy Super Bowl, everybody.

 

9/10

 

 

 

[1]Rex and Rob Ryan do not count because they are not two brothers, but in fact just one guy and one wig.

[2]“The ravens shall tear out your eyes in the high gallows.”

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Dog (part two)

Dog (part two)

PREVIOUSLY ON RATE EVERY ANIMAL

The dog doesn’t make a lick of sense… Double Dare hosted by Marc Summers… we have to find Habib Marwan… tossed salad and scrambled eggs… “I’ll break your legs!”… Is it noble?

WE NOW RETURN TO YOUR DOG REVIEW ALREADY IN PROGRESS…

Is it noble?

Yes.

Breeds

The dog is one of the most diverse of all animals. There are many, many breeds, and each of them is very distinct. Let me just run down some of the highlights.

St. Bernard

Saint Bernard: We begin with the Saint Bernard[1]. This dog specializes in rescuing mountain-climbers in the Alps and being an alcoholic. It’s rarely seen in public without a small flask of brandy around its neck. Notable Saint Bernards include Cujo the criminally insane and Ludwig van Beethoven, the composer.

Whippet: This breed was so loved by Devo co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh that he penned a song about it, titled “Jocko Homo.” It is best known today for its refrain “Are we not men? / No, we are beautiful dogs.”

Poodle: The poodle is banned from China for life.

Labradoodle: The labradoodle is a chimera. It pretends not to breathe fire, but it’s just an act to make humanity less uncomfortable with its existence.

Irish wolfhound

Irish wolfhound: If you see this huge breed in the wild, trace its steps back to the rainbow from which it originated and you will be granted a wish, as long as your wish falls within the category of “potatoes and potato-based products.”

Golden receiver: The breed of Air Bud and all Air Buddies, this dog is gifted with incredible athletic prowess. A loophole in the U.S. constitution allowed it to serve as the 35th vice president from 1949 to 1953.[2] “Air” Force One was named in its honor.

Boxer: It was just a nobody until it took a shot and challenged Apollo Creed.

Apollo Creed

A true American hero.

Doberman pinscher: This dog was developed by German scientists to be the ultimate “uberhund” or “super-dog,” so that no weaker dogs would dare challenge its iron-pawed rule.

Miniature pinscher: This small dog was developed by little German scientists to be the ultimate little “kleinuberhund” or “wee super-dog,” so that no weaker dogs (tiny category) would dare challenge its itty-bitty iron-pawed rule.

Newfoundland: A country.

Chihuahua: The chihuahua must weigh in at six pounds or less to meet its breed standards. However, it also craves the delicious “Mexican” delights peddled by Taco Bell every Fourthmeal, like clockwork. Like the work of a fat, Dorito-dust-covered clock. This inherent dichotomy leads to widespread bulimia among the chihuahua’s ranks.

Bloodhound: Taking the dog’s special power of keen sense of smell to new heights, the bloodhound can track the vaguest hint of a trail for miles. It also possesses deeper, subtler reserves of hate than any of its canine brothers.

kromfohrlander

Kromfohrländer: The canine harbinger of Ragnarök, the events which will kill the gods and drown the world in water.

Redbone coonhound: The greatest blues musician of all breeds, Redbone tragically died of a heroin overdose just four years and seventeen albums into its career.

Great Dane: The Great Dane is a massive beast of a dog. It counts among its number Marmaduke, who is literally a beast – of Hell; Astro and Scooby-Doo, the most eloquent of all dogs (not that that’s saying much); and Claire Danes, who – haunted by the ghost of her father the king – murdered Claudius.

Lesser Dane: Like the Great Dane, but less so.

Sucky Dane: A real bummer of a dog. A total schlemiel. Notable Sucky Danes include Marmaserf and Scooby-Poo.

bull terrier

Bull terrier: Though it was originally designed by H. R. Giger not to have any eyes at all, they were added to the bull terrier’s face when initial test screenings yielded questionnaires which frequently used the words “nightmare” and “hellborn.”

Lassie dog: The kind of dog Lassie is.

German Shepherd: The policeman of the dog world, and the police dog of man’s world. The German shepherd takes extremely well to advanced training in order to arrest suspects, search for drugs, defuse bombs, and test for semen at the crime scene. The only catch is that to instruct it, a trainer must learn a perhaps uncomfortable number of phrases from Mein Kampf.

Austrian Stockbroker: Kind of like the German shepherd, but less good with sheep and criminals and better with numbers. Arnold Schwarzenegger has owned three Austrian stockbrokers, each stronger than the last.

Papillon: Steve McQueen’s brain was cloned into a butterfly, and mankind mistook it for a dog.

bulldog

Bulldog: Completely separate from both the bull terrier, unrelated to the bull, and even distinct from the fidominotaur[3], the bulldog is just a stocky, wrinkly straight-up canine with a wicked underbite and a wickeder distrust of dental surgery. It snores.

Caucasian shepherd dog: A racist.

Pharaoh hound: The pharaoh hound can be recognized by the tattered ancient bandages trailing from it, its glowing yellow eyes, and the cortege of scarabs attending to it. Petting it is the Number 3 way of getting cursed in the world today.[4]

Dalmatian: Most firefighters won’t admit this if you ask them, but the dalmatian is the only one who knows how to drive the fire engine. Many departments keep an extra one on hand just to ride in the back so people won’t think to look for the one in the driver’s seat. But it’s there.

Weiner dog: The best dog of all, according to God’s message left on the golden plates found by Joseph Smith. Which, I mean, believe what you want, but come on. Better than the corgi?

Look at it.

Look at this mother f***er.

Final rating

Even with the extended length afforded me by this two-part extravaganza, I still haven’t had space to cover all the many facets of the dog. With this much diversity, there’s something for every one. It is truly a great animal, albeit kind of a clingy one.

 

 

9.5/10

 

 

 

[1]Disclaimer: Not an actual saint.

[2]It took the name Alben W. Barkley, but come on. “Barkley”?

[3]Half-bull, half-man, half-dog, all cop.

[4]Data from Nov. 2010- Nov. 2011.

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Conch

Conch

Almost everything we know about the mysterious conch – which isn’t much – comes from the obsessive efforts of one Friedrich Schnell. This German scientist dedicated all his energies toward studying the conch in order to sublimate his desire to have sex with a train. The first and most pressing question he needed to address was this: Is there anything in there?

conch

Is there?

It turns out what’s in there is a sea snail. This was a great disappointment to Schnell’s assistant, who had been hoping for gold. But yes, the conch is a snail, which means it is some kind of squishy thing that lives in a hard thing that it finds or maybe is part of its body or something. Look, I am not on trial in the court of Knowing How Snails Work here.

Special powers

If you – yes, even you – hold the conch up to your ear, you will hear it do an incredible impression of the ocean. It used to do several M*A*S*H characters too.

Weaknesses

The conch stopped doing the M*A*S*H impressions because all of its voices were based on the movie actors, and once the TV show had been out for a while, nobody really appreciated it any more.

Also, it is deep in debt to the wrong people. For a time, it worked as a boxer – even throwing a couple fights – to pay these criminals back. It was during this time it earned the nickname the “Florida fighting conch.”[1]

Number of legs

No one knows.

Instrument of the gods?

The conch has been said to be Triton’s trumpet, the divine horn of the preserver god Vishnu, and the cornet of Piggy, lord of all flies.[2]

Only the bit about it being the shankha is true. Triton actually preferred the street organ, and pigs can’t play wind instruments.

more organ for the grinding

Pictured: Triton, messenger of the sea.

What if it fought a bear?

It thought it told you people those days are behind it. (see Weaknesses)

Is it noble?

Moderately.

Final rating

The conch makes beautiful music for at least one deity. But when it’s not doing that, it’s just being a boring snail. Even Friedrich Schnell, who devoted his life to learning its secrets, lost interest before he discovered much. Unless all those sketches of tank engines toward the end of his notes are related to this animal somehow.

 

5/10

 

 

 

[1]The conch is not from Florida, but the ring announcer felt this sounded better.

[2]I am not on trial in the court of Having Read A Book here.

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Porcupine

Porcupine

The largest rodents in the world are as follows: the capybara, the beaver, the rat king, the porcupine, and Ratataskor the messenger squirrel who navigates the branches of Yggdrasil the world tree. Today I will be reviewing the porcupine.

Special powers

The porcupine is world-famous for its sharp quills. It’s often said that the porcupine can not fire its quills at long distances nor with laser-like accuracy. This is a well-crafted lie which the porcupine has happily perpetuated.

Everyone is so relieved to find out the porcupine isn’t a sharpshooter of stinging barbs that they ignore the fact that it can climb high into treetops where it can establish perfect sniper’s nests.

porcupine in tree

Think about it.

Weaknesses

When not shuffling improbably up trees, the porcupine moves awkwardly across the ground.

Number of legs

Four.

Petability

Zero, in both meanings of the word “pet.” Obviously the porcupine’s spines make it a rough animal to comfort, but it’s also true that no human has taken it on as a pet and not been found dead within six weeks. I’m not saying I can prove anything; I’m just saying what’s happened every time.

Wikipedia’s Talk Page Asks

The editors and readers of Wikipedia have sophisticated discussions concerning articles on their “talk” tabs. In this new section, I highlight a particularly deep question asked on such a talk page that we could all stand to contemplate. On the subject of the porcupine, Wikipedia’s Talk Page asks…

“how large is the porcupine butt???”

– Anonymous

Is it refined?

The porcupine is uncultured. A real bumpkin.

What if it fought a bear?

The bear would never see it before a quill ends up in its neck.

Is it noble?

Moderately.

Final rating

Every moment you spend in a forest is a moment the porcupine is letting you live. For its mercy, I thank it.


7/10

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Sparrow

Sparrow

“His eye is on the sparrow,” goes the old hymn. “His” of course refers to God. God is watching you, sparrow.

"I SEE YOU"

A little like this, but good instead of evil.

He’s watching you closely, and so am I. It’s the Holy Father’s place to judge, but it is my place to rate. So let’s get to it.

Special powers

The sparrow is a very standard issue bird. It doesn’t have much going for it specifically, but it does enjoy the privileges that all birds do. These include flight and an immunity to meteors.

“Whaaat!” you may scream indignantly. “Birds are immune to meteors? How do you figure?”

One answer is that I figure with a series of oversized wall-mounted abacuses, which I had installed in my home in order to spite Texas Instruments. We’ve since resolved our differences, but it seems a waste not to use the abacuses now that I have them.

Another answer has to do with the notion that the bird is the descendents of the dinosaur. As we all know, the dinosaur was wiped out by a meteor. Why? The dinosaur had constructed a giant gold ball of twine as a monument to its own greatness (as if naming itself things like “thunder-lizard” wasn’t self-aggrandizing enough). The hubris of the dinosaur was an abomination in God’s sight.*

If we apply the principles of natural selection and logic to this scenario, we can see that the bird must be descended from the survivors of this disaster, and that it must carry the gene for meteor-invulnerability. Q.E.D.

Weaknesses

The sparrow’s bones are completely hollow; there’s not even vanilla cream in there.

Number of legs

Two.

Musical inclination

The sparrow is one of a number of birds known for its appreciation for music, something sadly rare in the animal kingdom. The sparrow’s favorite artists are Dean Martin, doo-wop period Billy Joel, Phil Collins-era Genesis, and DANGERDOOM.

Is it a victim of ethnic cleansing?

Yes. In China’s Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the government instituted a campaign suggesting to the populace that, hey, maybe snap a few sparrow necks. The Four Pests Campaign targeted the sparrow, the rat, the fly, and the poodle.**

Four Pests Campaign Poster

At last, the David of human civilization stood up to the bullying Goliath of smallish songbirds.

Propaganda encouraged citizens to murder these four creatures on sight and present the scalps to government representatives in exchange for payment. This system, though abhorrent, did serve as a model for Western recycling practices.

What if it fought a bear?

This thing is immune to meteors. You think a bear is going to give it any trouble?

Is it noble?

Yes.

Final rating

I don’t totally trust birds, and this isn’t a particularly remarkable one.

However, I alluded earlier to the fact that I wish more animals appreciated music, so I have to give the sparrow points for its chirpy little ditties. This is the animal most likely to join me in a performance of The Longest Time, and I think that says something about it.

 

7/10

 

 

*The people of middle America have failed to learn the lessons of prehistory. The Great Plains is preserved only through their inability to build as grandly as the dinosaur.

**The poodle was not particularly pest-like, but Chairman Mao considered it to be inherently against everything he stood for. When the phrase “capitalist dog” is used, the poodle is understood to be the dog. Mao hated the poodle. Oh how he hated the poodle.

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