It seems to have become part of my routine to give my own personal Mardi Gras wrap-up. My attempt to learn lessons from last year's Mardi Gras failed but it was still my best Mardi Gras yet! This being my 10th Mardi Gras in a row, I should explain why I keep coming back year after year. Lupie said it best, on a natural high at the after-party: We get to feel like rock stars, just for one night. That's what I come back for every year. Where else can a humble*
rat like me experience huge crowds cheering us as we go past?
The furry float itself went off without a hitch (there were some last-minute dramas with the float but those got resolved before we started marching). I planned to march on foot this year, as sort of a tribute to Rattus's first Mardi Gras when he was only a partial and we all had to do it on foot, and I followed through. (Thanks to Dustan for getting my new external foot paws done at such short notice.) Doing the parade on foot makes it feel much more personal and immediate, and I was able to surprise some of the audience by handing out impromptu hugs and high-fives. It also meant I featured prominently in Channel 10's news coverage of the event. I've said before I do it for the crowd, not for the media, but it is a nice bonus. I was especially chuffed because this was Rattus's 10th and he deserved something special to mark it. I felt like I was entering an altered state of mind towards the end but I knew I was committed because there's no question of climbing onto the float once the parade has started (it's a safety issue).
But what are the lessons I failed to learn? I thought getting a room near the end of the parade route would make it easier but that back-fired. My unfamiliarity with Sydney (even with Google Maps, it's very confusing) meant I ended up still being around 3km away from the end of the parade route, and so far away from the start that the only way to get there was by bus. I ended up with a large entourage and organising furries is like herding epileptic cats. By the time we were all ready and waiting at the bus stop, it took several buses before there was one empty enough to take us and then it was a slow creep through traffic to get to Hyde Park (anyone would think there was some big event on!). To my great shame, Dustan had to wait for us so we could all get into the locked off staging area. Afterwards it was a trudge back to the room. I think I was better off with the room I had last year, though at least this way we didn't have to navigate our way around the Mardi Gras crowds.
While I was thrilled to get a photo of Rattus with Scurrow and to fan-boy him, I was deeply disappointed not to get a photo of all three rodents together (except in Logan Husky’s group photo of course). I didn’t think it was my place to be ordering fursuiters about so I let the opportunity pass. Maybe I should have been more bossy? I’m sure the furries thought me adequately bossy when I was trying to get them to Hyde Park!
I was telling myself that this was my last one, that I don't have to keep coming. But why should I stop? I am still having a great time and (as I proved this year) I am still up to the physical challenge of marching. I just need to get over my superstition that if I miss a year I won't go again. Who knows? Maybe in 2025 I could celebrate Rattus's 20th anniversary? I think I will need to ride on the float for that one.*
(Yes, I'm self aware enough to know I have a huge vain streak, in common with all rats and fursuiters. I was using the word "humble" ironically.)
Here is Channel 10's news coverage, saved for posterity (or at least until Google takes it down) and accessible to non-Australians.
All packed and ready for my next great adventure: Rattus's 10th anniversary of doing Mardi Gras! When I say take 10 I mean it. Rattus did his first Mardi Gras in 2005
, before he was even a full suit, and he has done every year since, even the year when there unfortunately wasn't a furry float. Being his 10th makes it something special for the both of us, and I want to honour it by marching on foot again this year, sort of as a tribute to the first year.
Neil Gaiman is a writer of excellent and discriminating taste. He likes rats. Most of his books have at least one rat in them. I am presently reading his latest collection of short stories, "Trigger Warnings". I haven't encountered any rats yet, but I fully expect I will. Which brings me to this image. I won it in the art auction at Further Confusion 2007. I just had to get it because I am a rat that loves kangaroos. I asked the artist, G T Skunkrat, for the story behind this piece and he said there wasn't any. It's a fine piece, but that's where he fell down, according to Neil Gaiman, who had this choice piece of advice for artists: "Be amiable but enigmatic, and when people ask for the story behind the painting, say, "My lips are sealed." But for god's sake, imply there is
one. It's the story they're buying." Of course, I'd already bought it by then so it didn't matter, and I still have it celebrate my longstanding love of kangaroos.
I thought this being the start of the Lunar New Year, this might be apposite. I mentioned on G+ that I didn't do anything special for the last Year of the Rat, but that's not really true. At Further Confusion 2008 I had the most singular honour of heading up the fursuit parade. Madius had organised a banner celebrating the Year of the Rat which was due to start soon and was very topical for FC that year, whose theme was the Fur East. It seemed the FC parade organisers agreed. I had humbly agreed to take one end of the banner and soon after the parade organisers caught wind of the plan and called for us to come to the front of the parade. I would not have given up my half of the banner for anything at that point! I often say I am proud to be a rat, but I don't think I have ever been prouder than I was on that day. I don't know what I will do for 2020, but it is hard to think how I will top that.
Congratulations to sheep and goats, and to all the animals of the Zodiac. There are only 12 of us, so we are all very special. (With a special nod to cats, who only narrowly missed out.)
At last, I have photos up!Here is the full album on Flickr.
Photos taken by White Paw on my crappy camera from the Rodent Room Party Dittman and I organised at MFF 2014.
It might sound silly, but I was so excited to be around so many rodents, especially ones I hadn't met in the flesh/fur before I was almost hyperventilating! Thanks to everyone who showed up for making it such an awesome event!
I tried out Google Radio on their 30 day free trial and found I really like it, but I also came to realise I can't afford to spend $12 a month on a luxury. I looked at the alternatives and decided to try out Pandora. Somebody had already registered an account on it using my email address, but it turns out it was easy to take it back by changing the password. It looks like whoever they were had abandoned the account some months ago anyway. At least their musical taste wasn't limited to the top 40. So if somebody called kangaroos06 had previously insulted you on Pandora, please be assured the rebranded Marko Rat is not like that. ;)
I am pretty pleased with Pandora so far. Its ability to pick musical sounds based on a band seems pretty good. I accept the price of a "free" service is advertising, but so far there hasn't been much. There seems to be no advertising when listening to music on the web interface and I've only heard one advert in the audio stream. There seems to be a lot of advertising on the Android app, but that will mostly be in the car when I can't look at it.
Fri, Jan. 2nd, 2015, 06:12 pm
Why I am a rat
@WhitePaw80 (on Twitter) asked: what draws you to being a rat? That question is far too involved to answer in 140 characters, so I will make a brave (foolhardy? vain?) attempt at doing so here.
Even though I'll be lampooned for it by the "new" furries, I truly believe the rat chose me, not the other way around. The more I reflect on it, the more honoured I feel by that choice. (For full disclosure, I should admit that Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
and Roland Rat
were very big with me during my formative years, but that could just be the chicken and egg debate in fur.) It makes perfect sense: Who would want to be a rat? Rats are small, insignificant and reviled by Western culture. A rat acquaintance told me he was attracted to rats by their status as an iconoclast, but I don't think I ever sought out controversy intentionally. As far back as I can remember, long before I discovered the furry fandom (and, yes, probably even before NIMH
and Roland Rat
) I was attracted to rats. I thought they were cute (in spite of Western conditioning) and admired them for their intelligence and belligerent determination to live (here I owe a debt to a Christian TV preacher, one of my earliest memories relating to rats, who told the story of the family who tried to kill a rat that just wouldn't die). Which brings me to another early influence when it comes to rats: My father. He taught me to respect rats. He made a humane live rat trap, and I saw a rat escape from it once, by squeezing through a hole the size of its head. It gave me the willies at the time, but it showed me how determined rats are to live. He also told me a story (which I strongly suspect to be apocryphal) of how rats steal chicken eggs: One lies on its back and holds the egg with all four legs while the other drags his friend by the tail.
So the short answer is that I don't know. I could have just said that, but I wanted to be more honest than that, and to also lay out the early influences as I saw them.