24 August 2009

He loves them, yeah, yeah, yeah!

The Beatles may have sung, "I am the Walrus," in 1967 but now Sir Paul McCartney's got a solo act with a different mammal: a squirrel.

"High in the Clouds," the ex-Beatle's book for kids about a squirrel's search for a safe haven for critters, is taking a high leap onto movie screens. Wirral the squirrel, driven out of the only home he has known in the woods, goes in search of the fabled sanctuary, Animalia.

The songwriter who rocked the music scene through the 1960s and beyond is supposedly set to pen some of the soundtrack as well, as his popular book gets transformed into an animated action story.

Even without the McCartney songs, the book and forthcoming movie have already proven to be an anthem for animal-lovers around the globe: It's a simple little story about friendship and the right to feel safe in one's own home. That's no magical mystery tour. It's the right of wildlife everywhere.

Come to think of it, people too.

17 August 2009

This squirrel's da Bomb!

Goodwill ambassadors come in all shapes, sizes and yes, even species. And right now, a Canadian ground squirrel is proving to be the world's most effective diplomat, simply because he inserted himself into a now-notorious-on-the-Net photograph of a couple vacationing in Banff.

He upstages the happy, smiling husband and wife, and serves as a cheeky, toothy face of cheer and good will as he hogs the most in-focus portion of what is obviously a self-timed, carefully framed shot. Click here and you can see it.

Who can resist a squirrel with such an ego? He is a paparazzo's dream come true.

Now, of course, the PhotoShop jockeys of the world are going crazy with his image - taking the rambunctious rodent who crashed the vacation portrait and deliberately, digitally inserting him into photos. Through the magic of software, he is keeping company with everyone from politicians to scantily clad folks of dubious repute. It's called PhotoBombing! (Which brings us to Lesson #1: Never judge a squirrel by the company he keeps, particularly if he has been PhotoShopped!)

As the world embraces - and then replicates - his image, this little squirrel imparts humor and creativity, and has become a symbol of graceful adaptability, whether he is with royalty or roustabouts.

A small squirrel from Banff is taking over the world, one photo at a time. Put the squirrels in charge, I say, and let's keep the focus on them - with or without a digital camera.

09 August 2009

Power (outage) to the squirrels

The recent news reports read as if they might be part of some beastly crime wave:

In Walla Walla, Wash., a gnawing squirrel causes a power outage to 29 homes.

In Carbon County, Pa., a squirrel is blamed for a similar deprivation of electricity to that community.

And in Dayton, Ohio, a squirrel knocks out a transformer, wiping out utility service to a nearby Kmart and causing the store's evacuation.

When the stories come in clusters like this, as they often do, newscasters often feel obligated to nervously make jokes about "suicidal squirrels" or bushytail gang warfare.

But there's nothing funny about the loss of animal life - which is serious enough to those of us who care about the critters and their unnecessary deaths.
In this case, there is also a loss of power to people who might have a vital need for it, folks who may be disabled, elderly or just not able to function well at home with an interruption of service.

Even if utility companies don't seem to care whether gnawing animals electrocute themselves unwittingly on their power lines, they need to take another look at why all these squirrels, and perhaps other creatures, are dying. Whether they care for animals or not, they need to safeguard transformers and power lines better because electricity is the lifeblood of their customers too.

Now that's what you call real squirrel power!