Mice, fricking Mice. Rats.

Mickey mouse was a goddamn rat, and rats are now my enemy. Mice, rats, same difference. They have beady eyes, transmit hentavirus and bubonic plague, and eat up your provisions when you aren’t looking. Is it any surprise that the word Mouse goes back to mús, which in Sanskrit (and likely ancient Indo-Aryan before that) meant “thief” ?

My apartment is the top floor of an old Victorian mansion. Former servant quarters, it’s a rather quaint but spacious suite and I’m utterly in love with it however it has one problem – mice. This stately old brick dwelling has naturally seen them come and go over the years.

My landlady, who lives on the ground floor flat, is aware of them, which is why she has two delightfully quirky cats and occasionally offers them on loan to tenants. Having house-sat for her over the summer while she was in Europe I grew pretty fond of the critters.

In general I like critters. I do not, however, like mice.

After all, they leave poo where they eat. Yes, the cute furry little things shiten the premises and lack the sense, or anatomy, to avoid defecating where they eat. Because of this I’ve lost about 25 lbs of basmati rice, 5 lbs of flour, a pound or two of sugar, several bags of spices including half of pound of fennel they gorged themselves on, and a cartoon of Italian coffee samples, about 10 lbs worth, I requested as samples when I was considering importing a container for locale sale with some partners. That project didn’t get off the ground, but I still had some rather nice Coffee samples left over.

My fiance was not amused by them. She loves squirrels and chipmunks but loathes mice. My brother, whose room is privately located down a hall on the far end of the floor, has taken to making certain sardonic remarks about the situation.

I have some choices, poison, or glue traps. My darling shared with me some rather interesting little North African old wives tips back from where she’s from, little ways of baiting them with flour balls. But somehow, the merciful side of me feels bad killing them.

After browsing through some prissy worded humane society and PETA articles I think that I’m going to give live-capture traps a try. The glue traps appeal to the side of me that loathes them and wants to see them suffer… but my conscience won’t let me if there is another working solution. So, time to browse Amazon.com, and find a few.

My goal, order a few, test them, see which ones work optimally and stick with them. So far, digging around in reviews and recommendations, these are the three contenders:

Eaton, J. T. 421CL Multiple Catch Mouse trap – averages about 3.5 stars but with 248 reviews, 125 of which are 5 star, clearly these multiple mouse catchers are on to something.

Victor TIN CAT Live Mouse Trap M310 – This one looks almost identical to the Eaton above but is a bit pricier, and doesn’t have a glass viewing top. Also averages about 3.5 stars with 113 reviews, but 42 of them are 5 stars. Are they made in the same factory in China? Who knows, maybe this one is higher quality than the Eaton?

Havahart 1020 Live Animal Two-Door Mouse Cage Trap. It looks like sturdy galvanized Steel. Average a solid 4 star reviews, 276 reviews in total of which 194 are 5 stars. I think you can only catch one at a time in this one. I’ll soon find out.

So I will test them, and see which works best. I have enough mice for these traps to nicely go around. They have literally turned pounds of food in my pantry into thick crusty layers of caper sized mouse poop pellets, damnable little fur ball pests. Since I don’t fully have the heart to just crush the tiny little things I’ll probably drive them out to the suburbs somewhere and release them. Or a park, which would be more responsible of me.

In general forum advice seems to universally favor peanut butter as a bait. However mice by instinct favor grain, it’s hard wired in them, so I might use some of my fiance’s flour mixtures. Something I’ve picked up from a few commentators also is Wheat Germ. The little buggers literally left a black shite dust coating trying to get into a sealed glass jar of wheat germ I had lying on the back of a shelf, long forgotten, so there may be something there.

So, the three contenders are Havahart 1020, the Victor TIN CAT, and the Eaton, J. T. 421CL. I will, of course, announce the winning traps or any other ones I end up trying out.

Damnable rats ! Signs of the times, I tell you.

..sometimes nothing, can be a real cool hand

“sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand…”
“what we have here, is a failure to communicate..”
I was sitting in Sitwell’s Coffeehouse the other day,
Lisa Storie, the owner, installed a TV set a little while ago and permanently tuned it to American Movie Classics. I was initially a bit resistant to its presence, but the thing grew on me after a while. Its effect is subtle. Say, you’re sitting down, talking with a friend, or people watching, or reading; there is a TV set above, silently playing some old arcane movie from decades ago. It is mounted up, above a corner water cooler at a peculiar angle. Always on the peripheral edge of your perception, until you choose to acknowledge it.

In any case, while I was typing up a manuscript I noticed that Cool Hand Luke(1967) was playing. I never saw it before but the film was one of my fathers’ favorites. He was constantly talking about it. You can read about the plot at IMDb, the page for Cool Hand Luke (1967) is pretty interesting. In a way it seemed to sort of serve as a model of masculinity to him. Luke, played by Paul Newman, is a war hero, and inveterate small time crook, a “pretty evil feller”, the type of guy post-war that people begin to look at as scum, can’t find a place in society, turns to crime, a n’er do good type of guy, but not in a vicious way.

HE constantly bucks the authority of the frankly murderous, in a genteel way, good ol boy Warden over Luke’s chain gang. Luke’s insubordination is an expression of a male spirit that refuses to be broken. Luke is a bad guy, like everyone in the gang he’s a bit of a bastard but the viewer is left wondering whose crimes are worse, those of the criminals’, or those of their brutal overseers.

Watching it I quickly realized why the movie was my Dad’s favorite, and why he wanted me to watch the film. Luke was a man who took his cards in life, screwed up the hand he was dealt but it was a meagre hand in any case, he tried, he failed, he accepted it and his lot in life – BUT he refused to be cowed by it. From his standing up to the big syndicate man among the inmates, facing him down in a bare fist boxing match in which he’s beaten almost to death, to taking a dare to eat 50 eggs something “ain’t no many can do” to his daring escapes, his tongue in cheek sending the boys back a photo of him with two hot girls, to his rejection of their idolizing him and his final standdown in an abandoned church, Luke refused to let his spirit be broken. He refused to complain or bitch about his lot, he accepted his mistakes, and refused to ever back down, always wearing a smirk on his face.

Beyond the historical reminder, after all people today have no idea just how brutal chain gangs were. Local legend and talk is full of, in the deep south, accounts of many an unmarked grave, sometimes a mass grave, where a a prisoner or prisoners were more or less extra-judicially executed. Colored prisoners doubtless but also many a white one too. Chain Gang labor really was legal slavery, constitutionally approved. Its’ forgotten that technically the Constitution’s 13th Amendment ended private slavery and slave ownership, penal slavery for convicts technically isn’t unconstitutional… but beyond this Cool Hand Luke is relevant to modern viewers because of its central message; you can be an inveterate fuck-up, a loser, a bastard, a no account man, but you must always, always, be a stand up man. You can make mistakes, but don’t let your spirit get broken.