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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taking Sides

In a contest between a lion and a gazelle, I root for the gazelle. The gazelle looks so good running that it would be a shame to waste all that gracefulness by turning it into lunch. Likewise, in the match between lion and zebra, I root for the maligned zebra. It’s not that I don’t like lions per se, but in this case they aren’t picking on someone their own strength or speed. And further on to lion vs. wildebeest, I side with the wildebeest because the wildebeest has the disadvantage of no claws and an older transmission. Again, the lions aren’t playing fair.

In spider vs. fly, I go with the spider. After building such an elaborate web, they ought to get something out of the deal. See, maybe if lions set traps like that, I could respect them more. But lions just laze around most of the time yawning and stretching. They’re the overpaid professional athletes among the beasts. I suspect they got their vaunted king of the jungle status through purely tyrannical methods, not due to any public veneration.

In cat vs. mouse, I go with the cat, because domesticated cats are one of our few natural allies in the animal world, even if they could be spies, which is for another discussion. What’s apparent is they treat us passively, and they have yet to have their day in court. Add to that the fact that mice are simply up to no good, the cat is doing us a nice favor by eliminating them.

In cat vs. bird, I generally go with the bird, because birds are good singers. For the ones who can’t carry a tune, like a crow, the cat can have at them. I’m sorry, but going “caw-caw-caw!” isn’t singing. You probably weren’t aware that birds had their own version of rappers, but check them for chain necklaces next time.

In bear vs. salmon, I go with the bear, because I admire its tenacity in this situation, and salmon aren’t necessarily that easy to catch. On the salmon’s part, jumping out of the water is frankly just being cocky and setting yourself up for disaster. It’s hard to feel sorry for a species that doesn’t stay within its own natural habitat, that being, uh… what is it again? Oh yeah… water! Note to salmon: You were born to swim. Yes, your Shamu impression, while quite laudable, is highly inadvisable out in the wild. When your paying audience is the bear family, take a tip and stay in the pool.

Cougar vs. rabbit — in the snow, no less. You’ve seen it thirty-seven times during childhood in educational videos from thirty-seven different angles. As public sensitivity waned, eventually we were subjected to seeing a fate considerably less subtle than the distant Bambi gunfire, which allowed us the final perspective from the one being pursued. Yes, the cougar is starving, and it is extremely cold out. Although isn’t that the same reason that the rabbit should eat the cougar? I go with the rabbit here in an upset.

In cobra vs. mongoose, you’ve got to admire anything that’s crazy enough to take on a cobra. The cobra is trying to invoke fear in everyone by deforming its features and painting eyes on its head. So derivative, you cobras. Clear preference for the mongoose.

In wolves vs. anything else, I’d go with anything else. Wolves are dastardly scoundrels, they gang up on things, and then run away if confronted by an equal opponent. And notice how their heads hang down like they think they’re low riders. Give them points for effort, but the choreography is all off. If they were on The Forest’s Got Talent, they’d be summarily booed off the stage.

In hyenas vs. anything, it’s the same deal as with wolves. I’d always vote against hyenas, the quintessential wimps. They couldn’t be uglier if you painted them ugly. In the unlikely event of hyenas facing wolves, I’d want both sides to die from a heart attack. Neither side could rightly win such a confrontation. But at least I would let lions gladly beat either one of them, if only by default.

In cheetah vs. anything else, I’d have to go with the cheetah. They’re not arrogant like lions or tigers (or bears, oh my!). And cheetahs put on a good show for your money. Those 65-mph bursts make for great theater. The only exception where I would not be rooting for a cheetah would be against a starfish. Starfish are my friends. They have nuance to spare, and they’re never in a hurry. Starfish don’t look like they’re moving, yet in high-speed film, they chase after their unsuspecting prey quite methodically, and then otherwise keep to themselves and just hang out. And they’re very decorative. How many animals can say that? So what’s not to like?

Now if lions could go from zero to 65 in 4.8 seconds like the cheetah, then we could talk. But you don’t build up your racing skills lounging around in the brush like a hedonist. I’m thinking lions received their name precisely because they’re always lyin’ around. I mean, if the moniker fits, use it.

In horse vs. penguin, I gotta side with the horse here. The penguin is way out of its element trying to confront the equine family. On the flipside, several penguins postured at the track in racing regalia for the Kentucky Derby would be a sight well worth the price of admission. Yes, horses are gallant, while penguins are pleasantly wonky. Still, that’s not enough. Penguins for the loss…

In ants vs. grasshopper, I’d have to go with the ants. It’s not as if it’s a hundred hyenas picking on a humpback whale or something. Besides, hyenas would never have the requisite chutzpah to even imagine doing that. Ants, however, aren’t intimidated by a bug fifty times their own size. They back up their talk with results and build hills wherever they darn well please.

In elephant vs. scorpion, I think I’d be taking — oops… um, never mind. What’s the next one? Clean-up on aisle four…

In oyster vs. clam, I like the oyster. But then depending on the day, I might be inclined to go with the clam, it all depends. I could easily be talked out of my opinion. This one’s always befuddled me.

In planarian vs. paramecium, I’d definitely be rooting for the planarian, no hesitation. Even though underappreciated among the many micro-organisms, the planaria’s fortitude isn’t lost on me. Planaria are very flexible, reproducing by cutting themselves in two. They can do family planning on a daily basis. But, oh, talk about the headaches in re-zoning their political voting districts…

And here’s another thing… When they say the lamb will lie down with the lion, that’s because that’s what the lion is usually doing on any given afternoon. They don’t say the mountain goat will soar to new heights with the lion, because the lion’s too busy flossing with a blade of grass to be ascending anything higher than a bluff.

In Sumo wrestler vs. gorilla, I’d be pulling for the Sumo wrestler. It takes a great deal of courage to wear a diaper into the ring, and even more self-discipline to do it with a straight face. And while the gorilla is perfectly suited for the three-point stance, that’s not enough to sway me in the other direction.

In chinchilla vs. marmot, my sentiments would tend to lean toward the marmot. Chinchillas move around too fast and give me the willies anyway. If they did it with some form of panache, that would be another thing, but they act like they’ve popped one too many pep pills, and it makes me nervous. I couldn’t in good conscience root for something that makes me nervous.

Starfish vs. snail, for the ultimate duel. Land ho, ye mighty starfish! Chase down thy honorable foe and bring back yer righteous bounty… All hail the inimitable starfish, the pinnacle of all creatures above and below the earth, great and small. I have no compunction in rooting against the snail here. All I know is their S-car better go, or they’re gonna be the main course.

And finally, in shark vs. porcupine… imagine if you will, a dimension of sight and sound… where after all is said and done, we can chow down on shishkabobbed shark meat.


Jeff Crandall said...

I was content to enjoy another RR post when a loose-lipped caption turned this into some sort of homework assignment. “Who are you gonna root for?” it asks innocently.
I trust you are grading on a curve and you will note that I did, indeed, show my work.
In a contest between a lion and a gazelle – I go with lion. You gotta give him props for getting of the proverbial Serengeti couch.
In spider vs. fly. Easy, I go with fly. I like anything that does something so well it is named after it. Plus, big points for flying in the first place.
In cat vs. mouse. Cat, for sure. Terrible thing to be as allergic as I am, though. Who knows, I may be more allergic to mice…
In cat vs. bird. Bird. The whole flight thing. I really want to fly. Maybe I’m jealous of birds and their flight. Is it too late to change my vote?
In bear vs. salmon. Bear. Who ever heard of a salmon-skin rug?
Cougar vs. rabbit. I must recuse myself from this as I have a son who attends BYU and our high school rival was the Jackrabbits. I can’t be held responsible for determining the correct answer.
In cobra vs. mongoose. I’ve seen video. No need to root for the cobra.
In wolves vs. anything else. The notion that there are a bunch of cross-dressing wolves (in sheep’s clothing) fooling onlookers into believing that they are really sheep impresses me. Wolves get the nod.
In hyenas vs. anything. Hate hyenas. I decline to root FOR anything, though, as it is too broad so I will root AGAINST hyenas.
In cheetah vs. anything else. Cheetah. However, why, why, why do we ALWAYS see them in slow motion? Sure, they’re majestic but you don’t get the feel of the raw speed.
In horse vs. penguin. I’m going for horse. Would have been penguin until recently but every other animated movie in the past 6 years has had a penguin, group of penguins, or references to penguins. Enough.
In ants vs. grasshopper. I root for ants but they don’t know it because they are too busy bowing to and carrying out the wishes of the queen. Queen say die? Grasshopper die.
In elephant vs. scorpion. I root for Elephant – however I must give props to the scorpion – no cooler looking creature.
In oyster vs. clam. Blah! Whichever gives my wife pearls.
In planarian vs. paramecium. Aren’t they cell mates? Ha! You see, I diverted your attention so as not to have to answer that one.
In Sumo wrestler vs. gorilla. Sumo guy. My favorite move is when a Sumo wrestler salts the arena before he eats it, er, um, wrestles in it.
In chinchilla vs. marmot. I root for the marmot but I get to keep the fur when he wins.
Starfish vs. snail. Don’t care. But PLEASE let it be in time-laps. Please, please.
Shark vs. porcupine. While the thought of sharky hors d' oeuvres is tantalizing, I root for the shark – that’s how I roll.

Anonymous said...

This was hilarious. I cannot watch nature shows because I get too invested in sides. So, I've had similar thoughts although not as imaginative as yours, as usual-- what's new. Shishkabobbed shark meat? Your brain is a playground. It's about time you believed in yourself and put together a book-type thing and sent it to publishers.

Or, just do computer troubleshooting forever while sitting on a Japanese degree. Whatever.

(Chicken. Bok bok.)

Rusty Southwick said...

Good reasons, Byte. You are indeed in luck, because I am grading on a Polynomial lemniscate curve, which bodes well for you. "Does something so well it is named after it." Gotta love that! And "aren't they cell mates?" I'm dying here! This makes for a scintillating companion piece, like side-by-side on the coffee table. Am I the yin and you the yang, or is it the other way around?

Anon, you nailed that one. I'm starting to wonder if subconsciously I'm trying to elicit the type of motivation I have difficulty generating myself. If I can't believe on my own accord, I'll build up a cadre of believers. But whatever the process is, it is working. And I likewise have a difficult time trying to watch nature shows passively... At any rate, your prodding is panacea for both cattle and my prattle alike. If and when there is copy, you undoubtedly get the first.

Jeff Crandall said...

Oh to be placed on the coffee table next to you - a place of honor!


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