Monday, January 24, 2011

Fantastic Mr. Bird.

For Christmas Liam got a box set of Roald Dahl chapter books that we've been making our way through three chapters before bed at a time. Some have been hits - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was particularly enjoyable (as was the Johnny Depp movie that followed), while others have been misses - we read three chapters of The Twits before Liam declared it "way too nasty" and tossed it into the donate pile.

Since watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory after reading the book was such a thrill (and doubly fun with Liam learning about different versions of stories at Encore!), we were eager to finish Fantastic Mr. Fox so we could watch Wes Anderson's movie version. Here's the trailer if you're so inclined:

The movie was...fantastic. Really. Laugh out loud enjoyable. And family friendly. I love that! I honestly don't know why we hadn't seen it before this weekend. I LOVE Wes Anderson and oftentimes wish I lived in his imagination or on one of his quirky movie sets. This movie, even though it's animated, is no exception. It's pure Wes Anderson and doesn't disappoint on any level. In fact, Liam and I just may watch it again after quiet time.

One of the themes running through the movie was particularly poignant for our family this weekend. The movie is obviously personified (another one of Liam's Encore subjects - score!) yet Mr. Fox is clearly torn between who he is (a husband, a father, a newspaper man, a former whack bat champion...) and who he really is (a wild animal).

(Sorry about the commercial but I really like this clip.)

The reason this hit home for us is because our cat, Mr. Bird, passed away this weekend. Okay, he didn't just pass away. He was viciously attacked and killed by a pit bull and died a horrific and untimely death. (Forgive me for being dramatic - it hasn't quite sunken in yet.) It happened in the middle of the night but Bill witnessed the tail end of the attack (I was nursing Finn, we heard a sound, he went to investigate - with nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist - and saw the dog shaking the living cuss out of Mr. Bird). He somehow made the dog drop our cat (really scary now that a Google search on pit bulls brought up endless information about the dogs mauling and killing not just other animals but people, too) and scared him off when he came back for more. He scooped up Mr. Bird who was bleeding profusely and barely breathing and brought him into the house briefly before rushing him off to the emergency vet. Once there, it became clear that there was little that could be done. His front arms were visibly broken, the severe bite had caused internal bleeding, and his eyes were moving in a way that indicated brain trauma. We were asleep at 4 am; by 5:00, Bill was home from the vet and Mr. Bird was dead.

I'm not saying this to get all soap boxey about pit bulls running loose in residential neighborhoods (we'll let animal control handle that...), but just to say that for the enormous personality that Mr. Bird had, it's surprising and sad that he had to die like a wild animal (especially since he weighed 17 pounds...and the dog that killed him was not very big).

Mr. Bird was funny. (Slithering under the covers of a made bed on a cold day, "nursing" on our old dog Chelsea...)

Bossy. (He meowed like he was telling you what to do. When he was my sister's cat (long story...), he came home one day covered in poop. While she bathed him he stared her in the eyes meowing like he was lecturing her for letting such a thing happen to him.)

And bad. (He peed in the shower at least a few times a week and chased his own mother around the house hissing at her.)

He was a lover. (If you didn't mind getting completely covered in cat hair and really petted him, he would stare into your eyes and purr in a very...romantic way, he also had a "thing" for stuffed animals and Snuggies...)

And a fighter. (At least he looked good doing it!)

He loved to eat. (The first time we fed him cat food he spread his tiny arms out as wide as he could to block his brothers and sisters from getting to the food and hissed at them if they tried to sneak a bite (he nursed like this, too). This is how he ate his entire life and probably explains how he went from being the runt of the litter to such a huge man cat.)

Drink. (Mostly from the bathtub faucet although any dripping source he could force you to turn on would do the trick.)

And be merry. (Despite the fact that he always needed something, he seemed pretty doggone happy most of the time.)

He was a cat, yes, but more than that he was Mr. Bird. And even though his death was pure wild animal craziness, it's his personified version that we'll always remember.

We'll miss you, Birdie.
(May 2001* - January 23, 2011)

*Even though he was born under our bed, we never could remember his birth date...


Delaney Mae said...

Oh, that's terribly sad. I'm so sorry. I was all excited to post about how much we LOVED Fantastic Mr. Fox (just watched it for the first time over Christmas, just enthralling!) and then kept reading and my heart is sad for your family.

No Mommy Brain said...

wasn't it the most wonderful movie? one of my all time favorites for sure. thanks for your thoughts about mr. bird. :)