Checking in: Sci Fi

Sister Julie, a cosplayer as Cara Dune, and me. Do you see The Child?

I’ve had a wealth of sci fi experiences — both viewing experiences, and “live” ones — in the past month or so, and yet I haven’t posted about a one of them. So herewith, in no particular order, is a brief assessment of the standouts:

  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — Don’t think I’ve ever written about video games, because I don’t play them. But I will watch when my husband gets into a new game, because I like the narrative / storytelling aspect. Thus, I’m familiar with the storylines of Assassin’s Creed, and Red Dead Redemption. Jedi: Fallen Order is my hands-down favorite, most likely because I’m already very well-versed in the story milieu. But who can argue details when the m.c.’s droid is as cute as BD-1!
  • Speaking of cute — yes, I’ve watched The Mandalorian, and I’ve seen “the child” (aka Baby Yoda). It took me a little while to warm up to the show, but I feel like I was pretty into it by episode 6. (It didn’t hurt that Clancy Brown, one of my favorite actors, had a role in that one). And I was satisfied with how season 1 wrapped up.
  • Speaking of satisfactory conclusions — I thought Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stuck the landing. (One of the first reviews I heard, before I’d even seen the movie, used that phrase to describe the movie — “it sticks the landing.” Upon seeing it, I found it apt.) I didn’t love it, but I thought it was enjoyable, and I thought it made better use of its wonderful actors than the previous two movies. But the story wasn’t awe-inspiring. I’ve heard some awe-inspiring theories, one being that “Skywalker” isn’t just a family name. It’s a new brand of force-wielder, the yin-yang duality of Jedi and Sith together, embodied in the character of Rey. It would have been a great movie if I’d walked away with that conclusion proven by the story itself, rather than having a fan explain it to me the next day.
  • Someone who didn’t need to explain himself: Cary Elwes at Wizard World New Orleans, our annual comic con. I saw him in an on-stage interview, and he was a delightful story-teller. Most of his stories were from the set of The Princess Bride, but he’s had a long career, and he had some other gems to tell — from the first time he met Mel Brooks, to a prank the Duffer Brothers played on him on the set of Stranger Things. He was warm, authentic, and able to playfully engage with fans of all stripes. My admiration for this actor has definitely gone up a notch.

Here are a few more pictures from Wizard World, to wrap this up. Bye-bye, have fun storming the castle!

Niece Cece was Kayley from Quest for Camelot, and Niece Nicole was an absolutely brilliant Twister.

 

Nutria: R.O.U.S.

City Park Nutria
Two juvenile nutria near the Big Lake in New Orleans City Park, July 20, 2019

Don’t think I’ve written about nutria before. Since I spotted two little ones this past weekend, it feels like an appropriate time to feature this long-time denizen of Louisiana.

While nutria have been around here for at least a century, they’re considered an invasive species. They were brought here from South America when the fur trade was still a thing. And, well, nutria don’t just thrive in our swampy, overgrown, landscape — they dominate it.

They look like small beavers when fully-grown. Some things I just learned: the nutria’s genus is “Myocastor,” derived from the ancient Greek words for a mouse or rat, and a beaver. Which is pretty fitting, since their tails are skinny and rat-like. And they have very prominent front teeth, like a beaver. Another thing: their teeth are orange. Really. Apparently because their tooth enamel has iron in it.

I had thought the orange, or rusty, teeth, were unique to the nutria. But the Internet tells me beavers have orange teeth, too, for the same reason.

You learn something new every day.

So, the tail is not the only way they differ from beavers. The biggest problem — unlike beavers, nutria are not industrious — they’re ravenous. Couple that with their prolific breeding habits, and you can imagine the threat they pose to our levees, drainage canals, wetlands. . .

While I like to think that an army of Westleys go out at night to take on these rodents of unusual size, there is in reality something called the CNCP to combat the R.O.U.S. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ “Coastwide Nutria Control Program” offers a bounty on nutria tail from November to March every year.

Nutria being fair game would explain a comment I received from a passerby, as I stopped to photograph the young rodents. He said, “breakfast.” I wasn’t sure if he meant the nutria were having breakfast, or the nutria would make a nice breakfast. He paused his run long enough to tell me that he once tried nutria tacos at a local high school’s annual “Beast Feast.” He said they did not taste like chicken, and the tacos were actually quite tasty.

I figure the two nutria I saw have about four months to enjoy before they get a price on their heads (or tails). Seems like there’s a lesson — or a story — in there somewhere.

They appeared to be eating when I happened upon them. They seemed unfazed by my presence.