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Life (and death) with Squirrels part 2 and Greek Films

For those of you at home keeping score here is how it stands.
Matt 15
Squirrels 0

I never did go to Walmarts to buy that gun. I just could not see myself sitting in my lawn chair picking off squirrels one at a time as they hung upside down from my bird feeder. So instead I borrowed some have-a-heart traps and set them up by the feeders and filled them with peanuts. I was averaging one or two squirrels a day for about a week and when we hit 13 it seemed like we had wiped out the entire population in our neighborhood. I was taking them to my sister's farm where there was plenty for them to eat. A few squirrels won't make much of a dent when you are feeding several 600 pound pigs and my sister and her husband did not seem to mind. If they got too out of hand my nephews are avid hunters and they have eaten squirrel on occasion. They say it makes good stifado, much like people said about Andrea's rabbit. I really enjoyed waking up in the morning and finding a squirrel or two trapped, sometimes gnawing at the bars and other times just calmly eating the peanuts and waiting to see what happens next. They usually became less calm when they saw me and frantic when I picked up the cage and put it in the trunk of my car. But there is something that feels good about driving out to the country with a trunk full of squirrels to set free. When I got to the farm and opened the cage the squirrels would take off for the nearest tree and I would drive home with that feeling you get from a job well done.

But after awhile I became suspicious. There would be no squirrels around for a day or so and then suddenly there were two at the feeder. Is there a never-ending supply of squirrels in the trees around my house or are the ones I caught making their way back to their home? They say a squirrel can travel twenty miles to return to its nest and the farm is only about 8 miles which is nothing for a squirrel. So I took my cousin Craig's advice and started spray-painting their tails blue before I let them out of the cage. They actually looked pretty fashionable with their blue tails. I don't want to give the impression that I believe that one can improve upon the work of God, but in this case I may have done just that. But that is neither here nor there. The important thing is that I would be able to tell if the squirrels were returning, as well as guage the intelligence of a creature that would fall into the same trap two or three times.

Sadly there was one fatality. A squirrel that had disobeyed the unwritten law that all squirrels should be in their nests at nightfall to avoid nocturnal predators did some last minute snacking and was trapped all night. When I found him his teeth were barely chattering and hanging on to the bars of the cage roof where he had probably been chewing the entire night. I took him to my office and tried to thaw him out with the electric heater but in the end he did not survive. I was pretty distraught about it. I felt guilty. But as Andrea pointed out you have to break a few eggs to make a squirrel omelet. Well she did not actually say that but her point was that when you are trying to eradicate a colony of squirrels you have to expect some casualties. One out of fifteen is a perfectly acceptable fatality rate and I can't really be held responsible if a squirrel decided to break curfew. But I have to admit throwing him in the trash and then watching the garbagemen take him away seemed a lot easier than driving out to the farm and back every day.

On another subject....

You gotta see these Greek movies. If you are not familiar with Greek flim you may not like them. You may think they are poorly made, over dramatic, too artsy or pretentious. But if you have ever sat through a movie by Theo Angelopoulos these will be easy for you. The first is called From the Edge of the City by Constantine Giannaris which was made in 1998 and is about some young immigrant kids, ethnic Greeks from Russia, Albanians etc, who live in Ano Liossia and Menidi on the outskirts of Athens. It is an interesting look at youth and the underworld. Not for you 'Summer Lovers' or 'Shirley Valentine' types who don't want to know about the harsh realities of life in Greece. But for those of us who can take the darkness with the light it is an eye-opener. In the same vein and also by Giannaris is Hostage. This film is about a bus hijacking in northern Greece and focuses on contemporary Greek-Albanian relations among other issues. Both films star Stathis Papadopoulos who is terrific.

Kynodontas, Dogtooth by Giorgos LanthimosAlso on my must see list is one of the strangest films I have ever seen. It is called Kynodontas (Dogtooth) by Giorgos Lanthimos which I read somewhere is like Leave It To Beaver directed by David Lynch. It is about three young people, two sisters and a brother, brought up in isolation by parents who shelter them from everything. They live in a big modern house surrounded by high walls which they have never been outside of. They have no idea what exists beyond the walls because they have never seen a movie or a television show. (The television set is used only to watch the family's home videos.) Their questions are answered in a way that will keep them from being curious. They don't even know that a telephone is. (They think it is a salt shaker). Any word that comes from beyond their world is assigned a new meaning. So 'the sea' refers to a large armchair and 'zombies' are little yellow flowers. They are told that a cat killed their brother, who they have never seen, so they are terrified of cats. (It reminded me of the countless times I have seen a Greek mother or grandmother scream and snatch her child away before he could pet a cute little kitten or puppy, thus injecting into the child a fear of animals that may last a lifetime). It's pretty extreme stuff but if you want to understand the Greek family in a dark exaggerated way, rent this movie and stay with it even though you may feel compelled to turn it off. That being said this film is not for everybody. You may even get mad at me for recommending it. My first reaction when the film ended was "What the @#%$ was that?" By the next morning I felt like I got it. No parents could be this bad, but the parents in Dogtooth are following a self-centered path that may seem familiar to some of us. These kids are not being 'protected'. They are being groomed to take care of the parents when they are too old to take care of themselves. The kids don't have an alternative because beyond the family and the home there is nothing else.

By the way Dogtooth was nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Film, it won Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes, it won the Dublin Film Critics Award and several other awards, so this is not one of those under-the-radar films. You may wonder how it won those awards but after you find yourself thinking about the film for a few days you may understand.

I found all these films on Netflix.

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