Archive for the ‘mice love cheese’ Tag

Sam Bellamy the Pirate Mouse   4 comments

What happened on November 6 is this:

I hadn’t cleaned Sam’s cage in a week, so it was high time to do so. The first thing that I always do is move Sam to a small critter carrier so he can’t run away. He usually puts up a fight, since he hates getting picked up. But this time, I found him just lying next to his chew tunnel. He didn’t move when I touched him. And he felt cold. So I immediately called the exotic animal vet and set up an appointment for within the hour. I then gathered up Sam and left.

I knew Sam was still alive because I heard him move a little bit on the drive over. He shifted a little bit. My heart was pounding in my chest and I was stopping myself from crying. I kept saying things out loud to him about how it would be okay.

Last time I had arrived at the vet, Sonny and I had had to wait for about 20 minutes, even though I called them and made an appointment for ASAP, just like now. That hadn’t been weird. But this time, as soon as I walked in, they immediately took Sam to the back. The nurse at the front desk asked me twice if I wanted water. I was shown into an exam room as soon as they had one available. That, more than anything else, told me how close to the end of the line Sam was. I was asked again if I wanted water.

Pretty soon the doctor walked into the exam room. Sam had a tumor, a big one, and it was causing him a lot of pain, and they could treat it, but it would be painful to treat, and it might not really be effective. I nodded. I said that I thought that was what she would say. She asked how he had been acting the last few days. I said that I hadn’t really looked at him on November 5 — I had worked at Petsmart, then got sick and went straight to bed — but that on November 4, he had been crawling up and down the sides of his cage and demanding Cheerios as usual. I said that I had noticed that he looked a little bigger than usual but just figured that he was fat. The vet nodded and said that animals did a really good job of hiding weakness.

I agreed to euthanize Sam.

“Do you want to say goodbye to him?” she asked.

I said yes.

Sam was brought in on a heating pad. He was completely still. He looked terrible, especially since he was lying right-side up, showing his sewn-up eye. I wondered if the tumor had been the cause of his mysterious hair loss I had noticed a few months ago.

He was too far gone to stop me from finally touching his tiny baby paws and his cute ears. I ran my finger down the length of his tail. It didn’t flick like it normally did. He didn’t care what touched him. His spirit was already gone. That was when I started crying. I may have already been crying, but that was when I started crying hard.

After a while I calmed down and when the vet came back in, I said that it was time. I agreed to be there when they put him down.

Sam fought for a bit. But he lay there and slowly finished dying. I told him what a brave little pirate mouse he was. I told the vet how he lost his eye. I told the vet about how he fought Moby over Christmas.

Sam didn’t live for very long, but he had lived an exciting life anyway.

Posted November 20, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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no gods no masters   Leave a comment

no gods no masters

The guinea pigs on the sales floor of Petsmart have taken to knocking their hutch on its side. I have absolutely no idea why. I can only surmise that they’re just rebelling against the dictations of their human masters. Whenever I see that they’ve knocked over their hutch, I mutter, “Viva la revolucion” and set it back. I’ve named the guinea pigs Joan and Ida to acknowledge their revolutionary spirits.

One of the cashiers decided to watch me feed the reptiles and small animals instead of work for the last ten minutes of her shift. We chatted all friendly-like about bearded dragons, and then turned the corner to look at the rodents. Joan watched me as I approached the cages.

I looked into the guinea pig cage.

“Look at this,” I said. “Look at you!”

I unlocked the guinea pig cage and took out the bowl of guinea pig food. It was mostly full.

“Look at this,” I said. “What have you been eating this whole time? This is full of healthy and nutritious foods just for you and you refused to eat it! What have you been eating all day? Was it hay? I have a whole box of hay that I was going to give you two, but now I’m not sure.”

The cashier was giggling behind me.

“What do you have to say for yourself, young lady?” I asked.

Joan responded by biting the lip of the metal food bowl. The cashier and I cracked up.

joan

Posted November 2, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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Optimism comes from Latin “optimum: the best thing” so Is optimum sensum est.   1 comment

So on Saturday I came home crying from Starbucks. I had even spoken to HR about how overwhelmed I was feeling. And, to my humiliation, they clearly spoke to my supervisor about how I was feeling overwhelmed, and so he told me that I was doing okay and started saying more encouraging things? And then I was super humiliated? Because HR had done what HR is supposed to do? And then we had a rush and after the rush I went in the back and cried some more? And then I went home and James told me about how he went to Petsmart and there were puppies there? And then I cried because I didn’t see the puppies?

Then after a while I stopped crying and took a shower and James made dinner and everything was okay.


And we played Arabian Nights, one of my personal favorites.

Honestly that seems to have been the peak of my feeling awful. Hopefully. I worked Sunday and tonight as well and so far I’ve been doing okay. I’ve been learning recipes. I’ve gotten the hang of lattes now. I’m remembering the flavorings for different frappuccinos. Tonight, Makaela was in the back, doing dishes, and a woman walked up and ordered a Passion Tea Lemonade. I panicked. Then I took a deep breath and recited the name in my head — Passion Tea Lemonade — and realized what the recipe was. Passion Tea. Lemonade. Ice. Shake. Serve.

I’m still not very good at the job. A guy ordered a latte extra-hot and I forgot to make it extra-hot, so I had to remake it, and then nearly forgot to make the replacement extra-hot. I can’t really handle variations on the recipe yet. But, you know what? I’ve only had this job for two weeks. I think it’s okay that I’m not perfect. And I remembered tonight that this is all part of the plan. I don’t have that dream job yet. But I looked specifically for retail jobs that could cover my bills while I looked for my dream job.

I think I’m going to be okay. I think I’ve settled in enough; I think I can go out and start looking for new friends. New social opportunities. On Wednesday I’m going to go take an exercise class at the fitness center across the street. Then I’ll visit the local game store and see if there are any RPGs looking for players. I’ll start reading the GURPS manual and then find a pre-fab game online to run. I’m going to apply to volunteer at the Wake County Animal Shelter. There aren’t any historical sites in the immediate area, so I’ll cruise through a list of museums and see if there are any that are looking for volunteers.

I’ve become a crazy small pet lady. It’s time for me to branch out, learn new roads, meet new people (seriously, I only know one road here, because I live and work off of it).

This morning I managed to scoop up Sam without frightening him. His reaction was to start running all over me, exploring my arms and legs. I was able to pick him up again and hand him off to James. I’m taking it as a sign. I’ve grown up. I’ve moved beyond the bratty college student who can’t handle responsibility.

I’m feeling optimistic.

[I would have concluded with a picture of Sam but all the pictures I took were blurs]

Posted September 16, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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Optimism, or hamsters   Leave a comment

Voltaire’s Candide: or Optimism is a novel meant to snub noses at the idea of philosophical optimism, or the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds. After all, in this world, bad things happen to good people. The book is about a good, optimistic young man, to whom terrible things happen. He never loses his optimism. Or maybe he does, I don’t know. I’ve never actually read it.*

This is relevant because when I came in to open Petsmart this morning, the entire tank of large feeder fish was infested with some kind of scale disease, and about 60% of the fish were already dead. I spent an hour today pulling dead fish out from the feeder fish tanks. It was disgusting, it was depressing, and it got me behind on my opening tasks.

And yet this is the best of all possible worlds, is it not? If there were a worst world, those fish would still be alive, festering in pain with their scale disease. If this were a worst world, there would be no hamsters.


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Via tumblr

*Candide sits on my shelf, waiting for me to decide, on a whim, that I am a smart person who does smart person things like reading philosophical 19th-century literature for fun. Last time I did that, I only got about two-thirds of the way through The Scarlet Letter, which turned out to be a thoroughly dull book not worth reading. I don’t know why Scarlet Letter is so dull: it’s meant to imitate works from the turn of the 19th century. But I’ve read books from the turn of the 19th century, and, like, things happened and the plot moved forward and the writers didn’t try to hide what was happening behind terrible, terrible writing. I HATE SCARLET LETTER.

Posted September 11, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

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Two parts about animals bites   Leave a comment

Today was my second day at Petsmart (the first was yesterday, but it was spent on training videos and two hours at the cash register — nothing worth noting). All my coworkers have been very nice so far. I think I’ll like them. I worked an opening shift. I followed Josh around for 4 hours as he explained the process of changing out and cleaning food and water dishes, followed by new filters for the massive filtration system, then food for the fish.

And in case anyone is wondering, of course I’ve already picked out pets I want. On the top of my list is a Uromastyx:


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HELL YES I WANT A DINOSAUR.

Second on my list is an odd one. It’s a fancy rat — not so odd, I’ve had my eye on getting fancy rats for a while now. But. Well. This is going to sound odd.

In the back of the store, behind the EMPLOYEES ONLY door, there are two small rooms. One is a Quiet Room, and it’s specifically for new arrivals. The animals live there for a few days, just to get over the shock of movement and travel, before they go out onto the sales floor. The other room is a sick room, for animals that are either sick, pregnant, or have been injured. In this second room, there are currently two rats. One, sitting at eye-level, was bitten by a fellow rat. She will be going back on the sales floor soon. The other one sits on the bottom of the shelf, away from humans. This other rat bites. She doesn’t bite other rats. She bites humans.

All of the rodents are kept in plastic bins that you roll out of drawers that lock. They sit tight enough together that tiny crawly mice, gerbils, and hamsters can’t get out. For the most part, you can easily grab the edge of the tub and pull it out and see baby animals staring at you curiously.

But this rat.

She sees your feet approach, and she runs up to the edge of the tub.

She watches.

She waits.

If you stick your fingers over the edge of the bin — say, to open the drawer, in order to change out her water and food — she bites.


It’s hard to find a not-cute picture of a fancy rat. source

I completely forgot this fact when I reached for the drawer. They had me wash my hands twice and put anti-bacterial cream on the bite, and three bandaids, since I was going to be working with a lot of water. I pocketed two. The biggest bite mark is on my thumbnail, the side where her bigger teeth bit in. It’s going to take a few weeks for that to go away. The manager joked that I was officially a Petsmart employee now that I had been bitten by an animal.

Later on, I observed Josh open the drawer carefully and feed the rat an orange. She met him teeth-first. Except that now there was an orange in the way. She was being rewarded for biting the thing the first thing she saw.

“She’s not bad, after she tries to bite you. She only tries to bite you once,” Josh said. “I handled her for a little while a couple weeks ago, and she was fine.”

I could fix the biting, I thought. No I couldn’t. I don’t want to. I can’t take on another animal. But I could fix it. I’ve never had a rat. But that rat just needs to be put into a new environment and retrained. But I’m not the one to do it. But I could. If I tried. I would name her Tara and I wouldn’t give her any food or anything after I opened the cage. But I shouldn’t. I don’t want to.

But I do want to.
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I got crickets for Sonny and Slinky after I got off work, and then took the crickets straight home to feed dah boyz. Because that is my life now. I feed animals. I got out a 10-gallon tank, dumped the crickets into it, and then went to get Slinky from his tank (Slinky is James’ bearded dragon).


This unnecessary frogface of evil

I pushed back the locks and slid the tank forward, then reached into the tank to get Slinky. His mouth parted.

I frowned, suspicious, then reached further into the tank. His mouth opened further, and now his tongue was out.

Uh oh.

I put my fingers further into the tank, and now his tongue was all the way out. I withdrew my fingers — he pushed himself forward, reaching for my fingers. He thought my fingers were superworms. He wanted to eat my fingers. Well, I had already been bitten once by an animal today, there was no sense in getting bitten by another.

I went and got an actual superworm and tossed it into the tank. I placed it so that he would have to come closer to me, and then I could reach behind him and grab him while he ate the superworm.

He jumped as I put my hand inside and dropped the superworm. His eyes followed my hand as I pulled my hand out. He stared at my hands, resting against the glass. I pointed at the superworm, crawling away for dear life. “There! Get that one! There!” He jumped with every thrust of my finger, eyes staring, widely, madly at my fingers.

Frustrated, I went and got a tong — a human tong for human food. I picked up the superworm with the tong and thrust it in Slinky’s face. He was unmoved. I turned the tong to lift it out of the tank — and he saw my fingers, clutching the tongs, and jumped forward to get at them.

Oh for goodness sakes.

I got oven mitts from the pantry and lifted him up with both hands protected. He struggled, flapping all arms and his tail, trying to get a grip. I dropped him without pretense into the waiting 10-gallon tank and let him sort it out with real food.

Sonny, of course, behaved like a gentleman and I didn’t have a problem getting him in or out and he even finished up Slinky’s food once I realized Slinky wasn’t going to finish his crickets. Sonny is perfect. Sonny is wonderful. I love Sonny.


Sonny is entitled to everything he gets

Spoilers for the Secret of NIMH   1 comment

So on Thursday I headed back to the United States. I had asked the building manager/doorman/whatever he is to get a cab for me on Thursday morning at 9:00. At about 8:20 on Thursday, I walked out of the apartment building, intending to get some cash from the bank, for the taxi and the airport bag check-in. He was standing outside talking with some folks. When he saw me, he looked worried.

He asked me (in Italian) if I wanted that taxi for 9:00. I said, “Si, vado a uno banco.” (yes, I am going to the bank)

He looked confused.

I said, “É otto e venti. Vado uno banco.” (It’s 8:20. I’m going to the bank)

He turned to the couple he was talking to and said, “Parlete inglese?” (Do you guys speak English)

“No,” they said.

He turned back to me and said, “Taxi per le nove?” (Taxi for nine o’clock?)

“Si,” I said again. “Taxi per nove. É otto e venti. Vado uno banco.” (Yes, taxi for nine o’clock. It’s 8:20. I’m going to the bank.)

He turned to his friends and said something. Finally the man in the couple (in Italian) told me to be down here in half an hour. I said (in Italian) that I would be.

So I took a taxi to the airport, because it was a lot easier to deal with than hauling two suitcases and a full backpack around on public transportation during rush hour traffic. He dropped me off at Terminal Five. That was where all of the flights to the United States left from. But I had said specifically that I was going to Canada. I can only guess that since almost all of the flights to North America leave from Terminal Five, he thought Air Canada left from Terminal Five as well. But Air Canada was in Terminal Three, with all the European flights, for some reason.

So after some mild panicking and resentment on my part, I got on the airport shuttle and to Terminal Three. Everything else in the airport went without a hitch. In the airport, I sat and started The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time and sobbed several times. I sat in seat 38H in the very back of the plane, where I finished before the plane even took off. It’s not a difficult book to read. Except emotionally. I cried so many times.

Fortunately I was dry-eyed when a woman approached my seat and stared at me.

I looked up at her.

“Is this your seat?” she asked me.

“Yes,” I said.

She narrowed her eyes.

“What’s your seat number?” she asked.

“38H,” I said.

She muttered under her breath and walked away. When I saw her next, she was in seat 37G. I think she was originally supposed to sit in 38K, next to me, but for some reason didn’t want to sit next to me. I don’t know why. Maybe she wanted an aisle seat. Maybe she wanted to have two seats all to herself. When I recounted the story to my family later on, my uncle Steve pointed out that I would make a great seatmate because I’m small.

She wasn’t rude. When I remarked aloud to no one that the plane was a lot less full than I expected, she turned around and explained that the back of the plane on long flights was reserved for flight attendants, so they could have a place to nap on their breaks. So she didn’t hate me, at least.

Whatever the reason, no one ever came to sit in 38K, so I had two seats all to myself for nine hours. I stuck my backpack under 37K, so I was able to stretch my legs out as far as I want (and because I’m small, I had almost as much footroom as a tall person would have in First Class). I could use 38K as a place to set my books and my laptop, or another footrest if I wanted to sit sideways. I could use 38K’s interactive screen to show me the flight’s progress on the map, and my interactive screen to watch movies.

After The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-time, I needed to lightest movie imaginable to lift my mood. I ended up settling on Hotel Transylvania. It was a fun movie, exactly what I needed, but afterwards, I needed something a bit heavier to chew on. So I watched the 1993 version of Secret Garden. Then I tried to read another book, Green Rider, but I’ve read that book so often that I got bored and started skipping parts I knew already. Like, all of the opening scene, where the bad guy ruminates on history, and the heroine gets her mission from the dying Green Rider. I just skipped all of that premise-building. Then I got skipped the next chapter because I knew that too. I decided that since I had skipped three chapters, I should probably just not bother reading the book. Instead I watched The Secret of NIMH.

Although I grew up watching The Secret of NIMH, I hadn’t seen it in several years. I found myself enthralled in a way I hadn’t been as a child. When I was a little girl, I had loved the comical scenes — Jeremy the Crow being clumsy (‘scuse me, pardon me!), Auntie Shrew shrieking in self-aggrandizement, the children tying up Jeremy. I had hardly noticed the main character, Mrs. Brisby.

But now, as an adult, I was fascinated by her. She is a strong character — truly strong, I think. Not physically. Not in a 1990s I’m-a-woman-in-a-man’s-world type of strong female character. She had strong characterization. She had a true personality. I sat back and watched her, and I realized what this woman is:

This woman is Heart. Everything she does, she does from the heart. She is constantly battling her own fear and uncertainty in order to protect those she loves. She begins the story fearful of even visiting Mr. Ages, but she does it anyway. When the tractor begins the plowing early, she immediately runs to the danger without having any idea what she is going to do (another character, Auntie Shrew, manages to stop the tractor, and finds her frozen in fear, still clinging to the tractor). She just wants to save her family.

There are arc words attached to the amulet Mrs. Brisby is holding. They are “Courage of the Heart is very rare. The stone has a power when it’s there.” The actual words on the amulet are “you can unlock any door if you only have the key,” which is also important to note, but nowhere near as important as the words Nicodemus gives us (the “courage of the heart” quote).

After a long and dramatic scene in which the rats get caught up in internal politics, Mrs. Brisby’s house and children (and Auntie Shrew, never forget Auntie Shrew) begin sinking into the mud. The rats all struggle to get the house out of the mud — setting aside their dispute to focus on the task at hand. Justin and Mrs. Brisby are on the granite block of the house. The other rats are tossing rope to them, and they desperate tie the ropes around the block, so that the rats can pull the block to safety. But all the ropes keep breaking. The granite block sinks beneath the mud. Justin only barely manages to pull out a desperate, grieving Mrs. Brisby from the mud. But she is fighting. Her heart, broken, strong, her strength, her courage — even to the last, Mrs. Brisby is fighting to save her family.

And that is why the stone amulet works. Mrs. Brisby, heart personified, is courageous, selfless, but always courageous. The stone unleashes its power and saves the house and the children (including Timmy and Auntie Shrew).

This had always confused me as a child. Why should the stone amulet work, when Mrs. Brisby had been crying and not being courageous? Because Mrs. Brisby never gave up. No, not even when her children were sinking beneath the mud. She may have been crying. But she hadn’t given up, not really. Not ever.

The Mediocre Mouse Detective (ahaha I’m so clever)   4 comments

The Great Mouse Detective was released by Walt Disney Productions in 1986, a year before I was born. Fortunately my childhood was spent in the heyday of VHS, so before every movie I watched at home, I got to see this trailer. So growing up, I saw this trailer and thought that I wanted to see it. But I never have. For 25 (almost 26!) years now, I have been wanting to see this film, and I finally got a chance to watch it.

Here is what I learned: all the good parts of this movie are in this trailer. I had already seen the good parts. Over. And over. And over again.

Basil, the Sherlockian mouse, isn’t really a detective so much as a forensic scientist. Well, that didn’t really disappoint me. It was cute. They tried to make it cute. And…I think that’s where they failed? They tried so, so hard to make this a good movie, a movie anything other than mediocre.


“This is Art,” they 1980s animators are desperately trying to say. “Animation is good and can be taken seriously by anyone!” I’m not hating on the animation. Did you see that bit where they’re running from the giant wheel…bell…thing? It’s from that scene where Our Heroes are hunting for clues in the toy store. Certainly the issues aren’t with the animation — the animation is bouncy, fun, and tip-top. Characters are put in dynamic poses, always moving, always suited for their characters. The actors do a good job with the material they’re given. The problem, I think, is with the scriptwriters.


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Here are our Heroes. I normally start out by introducing these guys, don’t I? The movie is based on a children’s book series, Basil of Baker Street, which is about the Sherlock Holmes of Victorian London. In that vein, these characters fit the Sherlockian tropes just fine. Basil (Holmes), Olivia (client), and Dawson (Watson). Notice that Basil is long and lean, and leaning back on his knees, bent forward slightly, in a dynamic pose. You can almost imagine that he is shifting his weight back and forth, full of energy. Dawson, by contrast, is short and round. His stomach takes up most of his body. His limbs are shortened severely. He has hardly anything in the way of a snout, resembling more of a friendly, kindly human face. He has little in the way of body posture, and yet he oozes geniality. Olivia in the middle is the archetypal child character, a central character entirely to pull children into the movie (she spends much of the movie playing with a big friendly dog). She, too, has reduced mouse features; her eyes are even larger than the adult’s, and she’s in the middle of a turn. Clearly meant to be adorable. (By the way, Dawson for Watson? Really?)

Olivia’s father is kidnapped, and she wants Basil to help find her father. To make a long story short, this leads Basil and Dawson to uncover a plot where Professor Ratigan is going to replace the Queen of Mouse England with an automaton. And here’s my first issue: two-thirds of the movie is taken up with trying to hide this plot, as if this plot would be a shocking twist. And it kind of is, because the announcement of this plan is the first time we hear about the existence of Queen Mousetoria (yes, really). This can be pretty fitting. The audience’s surprise can match the character’s surprise, and help the audience feel more involved with the story.


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Actually my issue with the plot is this: that is not a big enough plot. The idea of the plot is well-executed, with the stealing of uniforms and the need for gears for an automaton. The foundation is there. The idea has just been done dozens of times before. And it’s done on such a small scale — Ratigan switches out two guards with his own. Only two! What happened to the other uniforms the weird bat-dude stole? You could say that the other guards were switched out, too, but how come we don’t see them when the guard turns on Ratigan? Certainly Ratigan would have been more impressive with an army of guards backing him up, rather than just looking like this:


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And just expecting everyone to just go by the Queen announcing that he’s in charge. Ratigan walks in with the authority of only a single person’s single statement, then announces that he will get rid of every old, sick, and child person in the country (“Item 96: A heavy tax shall be levied against all parasites and spongers, such as the elderly, the infirm, and especially little children”). Which doesn’t work: the crowd is ready to throttle him before Basil shows up to save the day.

Moriarty, Ratigan’s inspiration, is scary because he works behind the scenes, orchestrating small schemes to work out his larger, better scheme. There’s no series of small schemes leading to a bigger one. Olivia’s case leads straight to Ratigan, which leads straight to the Queen of Mouse England. The scale of Ratigan’s operations are more on par with a small-time thug.

I had hopes for this plan, I really did. The plot really takes off when Fidget the bat-minion:


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loses his errand list, revealing that Ratigan’s plan and also Ratigan’s location (through forensic magic).


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At first Ratigan intends to feed the bat to his cat as punishment for losing the list, but changes his mind when he realizes he can use this opportunity. The wording of this scene leads one to believe that he is going to trick Basil into somehow helping him take over England, but no. He instead locks Basil and Dawson into an easily-escapable death machine that takes a while to go off, then says “tootles!” and scoots out the door.


Seriously, Basil, you can just scootch your butt a bit and you’re free.
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So we wandered away from the plot for no reason other than to buy time for the whole of England to against Ratigan?

The whole villainous plot is thoroughly disappointing. The final climax, in the Tower of Big Ben, is fantastic and worth the price of a monthly subscription to Netflix Instant. The problem is, that scene has very little dialogue. It allows the animators to go nuts on the story-telling, really involving the audience as you become scared for the characters. Ratigan loses any resemblance to Moriarty and instead becomes a pseudo-Gaston.


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In that way, I can see how this movie helped spur the Animation Renaissance that has lead to the assortment of available features today. The animation did it though. Not the writing, not the characterization.


Let the art do the talking
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Posted December 31, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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