Short Fiction

Week 368: Adventures With Wildlife and Top Do-Overs on My Unsteady Jukebox

I love wild animals yet I know that some cannot love me back because I am human. Them’s the breaks. Still, I do my best to be friendly to the peripheral critters who hang around my hometown in abundance. Yet no matter how much I try to ingratiate myself to the wild things, some refuse to look past my status as a human being.

Fortunately, no majority of any wild species finds me disdainful, only a few devout misanthropes and the occasional bad apple. To be fair, I would say that a higher percentage of people find me objectionable than do, say, Voles. But, sadly, there have been exceptions to the tranquility.

In the past I have been dive bombed by Crows for daring to pass within thirty feet below their nests; shamefully scolded by various Squirrels for running out of sunflower seeds, and one time four young Raccoons found it amusing to bar my exit from the laundry room in the courtyard of my building– Juvenile delinquent Raccoons, smiling hoodlums that I named Pesci, Rickman, Van Cleef and Misty (I have bad luck with persons named Misty). They come around for shakedown Cheetos about once a week.

Just the other day I had my most harrowing wildlife experience. I was on a short “nature trail” (which is never farther than a hundred feet from an ever-expanding housing development) when I came face to face with a Deer. We were both on the trail, headed in opposite directions.

Deer are common around the edges of my town. In springtime, you usually see Moms teaching the kids where the easiest rose bushes are to hit and run. And at the start of November (which, not coincidentally, kicks off hunting season) you see them all over because they somehow have learned that hunting is illegal within city limits.

I’m not an expert on Deer. But a lack of horns (or antlers or whatever the hell they are called) and her size, somewhere between a Great Dane and a Donkey, inferred a doe. I’ve read somewhere that you risk being charged by wildlife if you stare the forest beast in the eye. Everything from a Butterfly on up to a Grizzly will interpret that as an aggressive action. Normally, Deer avoid humans on sight. But this one just stood there, about five feet from me, for maybe three seconds, that played out like as many days. I remembered the eye thing and looked down. I heard her snort with mocking glee, and I looked up and glimpsed her loping effortlessly off into the brush. Her insolent attitude toward me suggested that her name was also Misty.

My experience has made me philosophical about the human condition. Maybe the critters are smarter than us. You don’t see a Squirrel ever painting herself into a verbal corner, utterly clueless as to how to segue to the introduction of weekly stories, do you?

Still, it certainly was a human being we saw, and plenty, in the great Tom Sheehan‘s latest appearance The Thursday Night Woman, which led the week off. A lesser hand would have made a salacious, possibly even dirty mess out of this. But Tom’s honesty and craft carry the day. Last time out, I mentioned that Tom will have something featured in every weekly wrap at least well into the summer–and he has labored on that streak since.

Yours Truly made the show on Tuesday. You don’t have to be high to get something from PDQ Pilsner Playhouse Proudly Presents, but it helps.

TL Tomljanovic appeared a second time on Wednesday with Black and White Christmas. The wonderful little observations, the controlled tone and the way this piece moves make this a story that needn’t be read during the yuletide to appreciate. I particularly admire the setting. I felt as though I was there in the car, trying to get warm.

Thursday welcomed Cy Hill with his site debut The Cartoon. The map says I live twelve miles west of where this tale takes place. Cy describes Seattle’s Pike Place Farmers Market exquisitely. Despite the name of the place it is as bohemian as you’d want it. And Cy’s tale of artistic “capture” has wonderful flow and an understated complexity.

Todd Mercer closed the week Friday with his third story with us, Van Damned. It too deals with capture, but of a much different flavor. I for one enjoyed the matter of fact tone of the MC as he engaged in far from matter of fact activities. The funny thing is, I have no doubt that the situation presented is commonplace in certain parts of the world.

Let’s have a hand for, well at least four of this week’s writers (Tuesday appears to have passed out). And if you haven’t read these, please do. And maybe even leave an encouraging word here and there if so moved.

This week’s big finish features nine of my favorite remade songs and the remaking performer (the original artist in parentheses, just like this set). The final slot is left open for the audience. Contemptuous (or otherwise) Wildlife are welcomed to join the conversation

  • Sound of Silence-Disturbed (Simon and Garfunkle)
  • Heat Wave-Linda Ronstadt ( Martha and the Vandellas)
  • Mr. Postman-Carpenters (The Marvelettes via Beatles)
  • Lollipop-Bad Manners (The Chordettes via Hugh Cron)
  • The Man Who Sold the World-Nirvana (David Bowie)
  • Hallelujah-Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen)
  • My Sweet Lord-George Harrison (first done, according to civil court, as He’s So Fine by The Chiffons)
  • Hurt-Johnny Cash (Nine Inch Nails)
  • Rocket Man-William Shatner (Elton John)


12 thoughts on “Week 368: Adventures With Wildlife and Top Do-Overs on My Unsteady Jukebox”

  1. Great post Leila. A squirrel can be a scary thing when one is devoid of treats I’ve found. I honestly don’t think I can beat The Sound of Silence as an outstanding remake. I have watched the video dozens of times and yet still it moves me. Hurt just makes me very sad. I guess if I was threatened by an angry squirrel I could plump for It Aint Me Babe by Mr Cash as a sort of apology for the Hurt comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you!

    There’s nothing more aggressive than a Squirrel who expects a hand out. Agreed. I can think of remakes close to the quality of Sound of Silence but none better.



  3. I had similar stare downs with a coyote and a black snake. Shatner also covered Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Best listened to with fingers in ears. Stevie Wonder did an excellent cover of We Can Work It Out. Best listened to with ears wide open. Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha! A Snake? Oh no no. That’s grounds for running away shrieking. I am for Snake’s rights (give them the vote for all I care) but anything larger than little garden snakes intimidate me. I saw a rattlesnake in eastern Washington from a sealed van at least a hundred feet while doing sixty in the other direction and it was still a bit too close for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Really like Leila’s competitions. There’s been some great Bob Dylan covers – Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower, The Byrds’ Mr Tambourine Man, etc. But I’d like to offer Joe Cocker’s With a Little Help From My Friends

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My king of remakes (old guy version) Elvis Presley (Promised Land, Lawdy Miss Clawdy, Rconsider Baby). Reviled today as cultural appropriation. If so only Scots can play golf, Algonquin (sp) can play Lacrosse, Ray Charles is guilty of singing southern white music. If you are good at it, go for it.
    Wildlife –
    Recent squirrel with styrofoam coffee cup in mouth. Caffeine explains being squirelly?
    Small rodent mostly ignoring us while we work in a park.
    Two pileated woodpeckers doing their Woody Woodpecker imitation on snags fifteen feet apart.
    Coyote stalking a blase pheasant that only flew as far away as necessary.

    Nature is grand, but sometimes in gets in the way of the view.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Leila,
    There have been some cracking suggestions regarding covers.
    I agree that ‘The Disturbed’ is as good as it gets. I’ve thought of a few.
    But first I’d like to say I love wildlife – It’s just a shame that some of them are delicious – And that is all their fault!
    Shatner is a genius! He made over-acting an art! And in the clip he even over-smokes!!!
    …I had to cut this short as I nearly added in the really bad as being that bad they were brilliant. (The Krankies ‘Rocket Man’ is spectacularly horrifically bad!!)

    And here’s the list – Apologies if I’ve got the originals wrong

    Slade – Born To Be Wild (Steppenwolf)
    Echo And The Bunnymen – People Are Strange (Doors)
    Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 You (Prince)
    Guns And Roses – Live And Let Die (Wings)
    Dr Feelgood – See You Later Alligator (Bill Hailey)
    Lulu – The Man Who Sold The World (Bowie)
    Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes (Bowie)
    Freddie Mercury – The Great Pretender (The Platters)
    The Clash – I Fought The Law (Bobby Fuller Four)
    Matt Monro – Yesterday (Beetles)
    Def Leopard – Action (Sweet)
    Motorhead – Louie, Louie (The Kingsmen)
    Divine – Walk Like A Man (Franky Valley)
    Gerry And The Pacemakers – You’ll Never Walk Alone (Someone fae Carousel)
    Thin Lizzy – Whiskey In The Jar (God knows who did it originally?? Davey Arthur?? The Wolftones?? Probably some wee random guy in a pub)

    Excellent post and roundup!!!


    1. Thank you, Doug

      Elvis always a good choice. Only meatheads cut culture so fine. I label myself human. Anyone who tries to adds to that is making needless noise.
      I don’t know about Squirrels and coffee, but I recently saw a Raccoon licking the inside of a discarded Starbucks cup. He already was showing signs of addiction.



    2. Excellent list! Better than mine. I almost put Whiskey in the Jar in, but I couldn’t locate the oldest version. The Dubliners claim one from 1967, but the tune feels a lot older. Thin Lizzy did it best, but Metallica has a fine version as well
      I never heard of the Lulu version of the Bowie song till you mentioned it. I’ve been meaning to check that out. I will do so now.


  8. Hi Leila,
    Just listening to my playlist.
    I can’t believe I forgot about Bowie’s version of ‘Friday On My Mind’ originally done by ‘The Easybeats’!


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