Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beatrix Potter

My blog post yesterday made me start to reminisce a little bit. Most people don’t know much about Beatrix Potter. Sure, they know about Peter Rabbit. Some people know about Mrs. Tiggy Winkle. But when I mention Hunca Munca or the roly-poly pudding, I get either blank stares or “should I be concerned about your mental health?” looks.

When I was very very young, I received the Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter, and for a long time, the tales were my bedtime story of choice.

Beatrix Potter’s life was actually kind of sad though. She grew up in the early 20th century, and did not have many friends outside of her family. She and her younger brother spent ages drawing pictures of the many animals her family kept as pets, as well as wildlife on the family estate.

She was well-educated and even had private art lessons, but most of her talent was developed by her own practice. Beatrix wanted to attend school at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, but she was rejected since she was a woman. She made observations about fungi that allowed her to be considered an expert mycologist (fungus studying person). She was still, however, not allowed to attend meetings of fungus societies because of her womanliness.

She began writing stories to accompany her illustrations of animals in a letter to one of her governess’s sons. This story was The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Soon, she became engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne. Unfortunately, he was not of high enough status to meet her parents’ approval (she was from a wealthy family). Still, against her parents’ wishes, she became engaged Norman, but he died before they could marry. After her death, her estate passed to the National Trust as she requested.

She wrote a total of 23 books for children. Wikipedia says that “part of their popularity was due to the quality of her illustrations: the animal characters are full of personality, but are deeply based in natural actions” and I agree. Thank you, Wikipedia, for putting it so eloquently.

Two favourites of mine were The Tale of Two Bad Mice and the Tale of Samuel Whiskers, or The Roly-Poly Pudding.

In the Tale of Two Bad Mice, Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb break into a doll’s house and try to eat their food. It’s a very nice dollhouse, so the food looks real but it’s all plastic! They try to break the food off the plates but it all shatters. They get very frustrated and mess up the rest of the house, throwing all of the dolls’ clothes out of the window to bring back to their nest. The dolls return to their house just as Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb are running away, but Hunca Munca returns later to clean the house.

The Roly-Poly Pudding features two rats named Samuel Whiskers and his wife Anna Maria. Tom Kitten doesn’t want to hide in the cupboard (because his mom’s friends are coming over), so he escapes up the chimney, but then gets lost in the attic (or somewhere in the very large house made for a family of cats). Unfortunately, the house is overrun with rats!! Samuel Whiskers and Anna Maria discover Tom and decide that he would make a lovely dumpling for Samuel’s supper.

Anna Maria ties him up and puts dough around him, but Samuel Whiskers complains that he is too dusty. They try to roll him out with a rolling pin, which is fortunate for Tom, because his mother heard the rolling sounds and called John Joiner, the carpenter. He pulls up the floorboards, the rats run away, and dusty, pastry-y Tom is rescued.

That's it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why You Shouldn't Own a Cat...

...unless you're prepared for the consequences.

In my attempt to blog more often, I'm going to include a post about the horrors of being a cat owner. Of course, I love my cat. But I'm sure this is a situation that every cat owner has dealt with at some point. And it has to do with these furry guys:

Also, to make this post more tolerable to the squeamish, I've chosen to include illustrations by Beatrix Potter from The Tale of Two Bad Mice and The Story of Miss Moppet. Please enjoy =)

Anyway, so I was asleep. Minding my own business. Dreaming about something. I know that I was dreaming because I distinctly remember my dream oddly turning into me writing something with a pencil that had very squeaky lead.

Suddenly, I realized that I was dreaming, but also awake (does that ever happen to you? I hope it does or else I sound crazy). Now, my brain somehow registered that squeaky pencils were not a normal nighttime sound.

I was instantly wide awake because I also noticed that Jack was on my bed. And he was making some very sporadic movements. My brain was able to piece these two facts together very quickly.

I turned on my light, and - of course - there was Jack on my bed with his present for me. A live mouse. That was squeaking (hence my awake-dream).

Of course, I screamed. My mom was instantly awake and when she heard the word 'mouse' made the wise decision to send my dad in to help. Jack, noticing that I was not pleased with his gift, dropped it and after regaining its senses, it scurried off the bed and under a piece of furniture. I believe this was the expression on Jack's face at the time:

The mouse got away but we eventually caught it. I remember getting very little sleep that night.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why I Couldn't Sleep Last Night...

So. Here follows the account of why I could not sleep last night.

It all started on Friday. Housemates and I decided to get drunk and watch An American Werewolf in London, because apparently that's a fun thing to do. It was.

The next day, we thought it would be very, very fun to watch an actually scary movie (AAWIL is more of a dark comedy/horror). We scoured the internet and asked many people their ideas for a scary movie to watch. In the end, we decided on Rec, the 2007 Spanish movie that was later adapted in America into the film Quarantine.

Basically, there's a journalist who decides to film a night with firefighters as part of a television program. They are called to an apartment building where a woman was screaming and can't get out of her apartment. They soon find this:

GAH!!! Oh but that is nothing compared to what follows. Anyway, turns out there's this virus that spreads via saliva. Very 28 Days Later. But scarier. The film itself is only an hour and fifteen minutes long, so once it gets going there's a lot of terror in a very small amount of time.

Also, I think this is the only movie where I have full-on screamed at a part. It may have been the fact that I was watching it with Housemates, so we were already being a little loud, but jeez. It gets scary.

So after that was over, we decided to go for a walk and see the beautiful bright moon and forget about zombies. It kind of worked. Ish.

After I got into bed and turned off my light, I thought that I would probably be okay. Those zombies were loud! I'd hear them coming from a mile away. We're on the ground floor! No [spoiler alert] attic doors in my room. But then...I remembered Slender Man.

If you don't want to end up like me last not watch this video. Anyway, I realized that I should have locked my door to avoid such a situation happening. Unfortunately, it was already 2am and I was sure Slender Man had already made it into my bedroom.

And so, my night was terrifying. That is my tale. =)

Monday, March 7, 2011


This is probably the cutest website I've seen in a while. Basically it posts pictures of animals born in zoos around the world.

The picture on the left is a Brazilian Ocelot kitten who was born in Connecticut in January. Too cute!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Zachary Levi at the Oscars

This Sunday evening, when the Oscars were going on, I heard my housemate (who had found a live broadcast online) yelling to me to come quickly to see something. Turned out, Zachary Levi was performing a song from Tangled (which I still haven't seen...)!

Initially I was worried that he wouldn't be very good and that I would be sad, but he did a pretty good job! I don't think he's got a solo career in singing ahead of him but he definitely pulled this off. Congrats to him!