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What Can Be Said About Scrat

Posted Saturday, April 29, 2006 by Gerald Vreeland
Categories: Popular Culture  

As you know, “Ice Age 2: The Meltdown” is in the theaters.  What you may not know is that yours truly is an unrepentant fan of the bug-eyed saber-toothed squirrel, Scrat.  And so, I would like to write something of a Theology of Scrat.  It may appear as merely slapstick comedy to you; but for those of us initiated into the deep esoteric Gnostic wisdom of Scrat, there is quite a bit of heady philosophy – well, alright, that’s somewhat overstated.  But be that as it may, I’d like to become a Scratologian and write Scratology (not to be confused with scatology – a messier word that doesn’t seem to be nearly so alarming to my spellchecker!).  In addition, I would like to write Scratographically (not to be confused with what I have elsewhere referred to as scatography – or the writing technique of those ideational scatologians).  And so this is the maiden voyage of the good ship Scratology.  Let’s start Scrat-Light. . . . 

What Can Be Said About Scrat On The Subject Of Leadership? 


Scrat should be held up as the paragon of modern (and not so modern) leadership:

1.         Scrat has singleness of focus (the acorn);

2.         Scrat is able to generate incredible energy in the pursuit of the quest (the acorn); and

3.         Scrat is undaunted by the time required (millennia, really) in energetic pursuit of the

            quest (the acorn), etc.  Would that we were all possessed of such like virtues! 


The Burger King promo includes what they call “Silly Scrat” (about three inches tall with a facial expression, alas, also almost like that of yours truly), When I got mine I paid good money for it!  Special thanks goes to a friend who patronized Burger King and got a “Silly Scrat” (toy about four inches tall – tail makes him chatter and his mouth move) for me.  You may become acquainted with him at any point in the day.  He will be taking appointments from the top of my computer monitor. 


What Can Be Said About Ice Age 2: The Meltdown? 


I noticed that Matt Wanniski (linked in worldnetdaily.com) panned it.  Of course it would be panned by anybody that took themselves too seriously.  As I’ve said to everybody: “The story does not get in the way of the slapstick!”  It is a cartoon, for heaven’s sake; what do you want, “Gone With The Wind”?  And so . . .


. . . Four thumbs up! 

In Hebrew, the same word is used for thumbs and big toes . . . they differentiate by saying “of the hand” or “of the foot” (e.g., Judges 1:6). 


Two thumbs (etc.!) up for Ice Age 2.  Saw it on the Saturday night after it opened with my wife (no, I rarely go to movies at prime viewing time . . . I rarely go to movies, period.).  I didn’t even notice all the screaming brats.  Then I took my wife and the kids (and daughter’s boyfriend) the following Monday.  The universe would be a better place in which to reside were Hollywood to produce more such like features. . . . 


What makes it work?  One word: Timing!  That is the key to any slapstick presentation. 


I would like to supply here what I call a Scratnecdote.  One of the chapters in my book on leadership, that will never see the light of day, is on what I call Athleticdotes – anecdotes that really don’t affect those who are not athletic and have no interest in professional athletics.  Scratnecdotes are, of course, not nearly so tedious. 


On the subject of timing, I am reminded of the time (Ice Age 2) when the glorious – and sometime nearly successful! – Scrat attempts to pole-vault across a chasm of ice to a pinnacle upon which the nut has, mayhap, come to rest.  We see him with pole in hand, taking position at the beginning of his runway.  He takes a deep breath; he closes his eyes dramatically and shivers – shaking off any misgivings he might have about the task ahead.  (We used to call it psyching ourselves into charging the bar. . . .)  With reckless self-abandon he charges the chasm.  With precision known only to successful pole-vaulters, he plants the pole.  The pole forms the power arch appropriately in order to carry its valiant payload to proper height and distance.  And for a moment we are led to believe that, once again, Scrat will be successful in apprehending the nut.  However, at the point of maximum extension, we see that our glorious Scrat has miscalculated by mere millimeters and we see him miss the pillar and cascade with the pole into the abyss.  Because we know there will be more of Scrat – as there was of his philosophical predecessor Wile-E-Coyote – we find it uproariously funny.  In the sequel, when Scrat is successful in apprehending the nut using the luge technique, we cheer (well, they did the two times I saw it in the theater – gotta love those middle-aged housewives. . .). 


And hence we see the Scratological principle that in all matters of faith and practice, timing is everything.  The larger picture?  Life is kind of slapstick at times, no? 


Sometimes the follower of Scrat must adopt the stance of Tough-Love.  In the next scene, Scrat uses a new technique – Bobsled or Luge – in his attempt to grab the nut on the way by.  He is successful; but he does not calculate well what happens after having acquired the nut.  And so he freefalls into the water.  We are met with an idyllic moment where he caresses the nut underwater – immediately prior to his being awakened to the reality of being surrounded by a school of hungry piranha.  So, squirrel-like, he first attempts to run away.  He jumps out of the water and hops from frenzied fish to frenzied fish in a frenetic attempt to get back to solid ice.  When he does, one of the fish jumps out and grabs the nut – up to Scrat’s shoulder!  At this point we hear the gong and Scrat adopts the almond eyes and, as my kids say, “goes Ninja.”  He grabs a hapless fish by the tail and uses it for a club on the other fish.  With the vanquished laying all over the ice flow, the poor sap that still has the nut tries to flop back to the water.  Scrat stomps on his stomach and out pops the nut.  With a triumphant and regal air, Scrat walks off hold the nut and his chin high, having simultaneously achieved a great personal victory and having become the spiritual grandfather of Scrat-quon-do. 


The moral of the story is that sometimes you have to be tough to get to those you love. 


What can be said about my identification with Scrat? 


If I were a high energy person, I would be exactly like Scrat.

Scrat is on a lifelong quest for the nut. 

1.         I have a lifelong quest for something other than a nut. 

2.         I have been referred to as a nut on a lifelong quest. 


On a sliding scale of value in lifelong quests, I should think that pursuit of the nut ranks somewhat behind world peace and lassoing rogue nations.  However, like my own personal quest – paling in significance to that of Scrat! – we might think of Scrat’s quest as relatively minor – but we all identify with it and to some degree sympathize with Scrat both in his failures and his persistence. 


Scrat is tireless in his pursuit. 


Scrat is undaunted in his pursuit. 


Scrat does not take his personal injuries too seriously.  He recovers and moves on. . . . 


Scrat knows no fear . . . except losing the nut! 


If you were to ask Scrat, “How many nuts is enough?”  Like Rockefeller, he would answer, “Just one nut more!” 


In fact, this is the theme of the short feature “Gone Nutty.”  He pounds one more nut into his hollow stump and the whole thing circles the drain and runs him in a nut-flashflood over the cliff where he freefalls for about a mile or so – culminating in an impact that separates the continents. 


Scrat is creative and resourceful.  When he is a freefall for miles with thousands of nuts, he ignores the potentiality of the sudden stop at the end of the fall and rounds up all the nuts (but one!) into a ball of freefalling nuts.  When they all finally hit the ground, Scrat is impaled by the last fiery and meteoric nut – but he still is pleased with it . . . until it blows away in ash. . . . 


What Can Be Said About Scrat In View Of His Mortality? 


We call this division of Scratology, Escratology or the study of Squirrel End Times.  Our text is, of course, Hebrews 9:27 wherein, and with apologies to the author for a “free” translation,” we are told that “in as much as it is appointed for squirrels once to die and then comes judgement. . . .”  However, we know from the society of X-Game flatliners that dieing more than once is possible.  So it is, apparently, with Scrat.  In the current episode, Scrat falls to his apparent doom when he splits the glacier allowing the water to escape and saving all of animal-kind.  We meet Scrat as he is plying the clouds approaching the golden gates of Squirrel glory.  The gates swing open and he enters a cloud-field of acorns serenaded by a choir of extinct dodo birds.  He picks them up and we are greeted with idyllic scenes of him romancing his acorns.  It does make us think of what heaven might be to us, no?  Be that as it may, he then sees the “Golden Acorn” and approaches with appropriate reverential awe.  As he is about to touch it, the wind picks up and he is never able to quite reach it.  He is blown back across the cloud-field and through the golden gates that slam shut behind him.  As the clouds part, we see Scrat in the customary freefall back to terra really firma.  Our next scene is from the vantage of Scrat opening his eyes and realizing that he has just been CPRed back to this life by Sid.  At this point, Scrat again goes Ninja and beats the tar out of Sid for bringing him back as the curtain falls on the final scene of Ice Age 2. 


What can we learn from this?  Probably not a lot; but, how about that things are only over when the curtain falls?  I learned this a lot younger in life when a friend of mine related to me the story of his grandfather’s resuscitation.  It seems that Grandfather had died of a heart attack and the good Code Team had “brought him back” – er, at several levels.  When the doctor amiably greeted grandfather at the regaining of consciousness, he was met with something of an odd response: Grandfather grabbed Doctor by the lapels, got in his face and with an unworldly intensity said: “I was this close to the gates and you brought me back.”  Like Ace Age 2, it ain’t over until the curtain call. 


Another thing we might want to consider is asking the question: “What would heaven be for me.”  Other things receive more press than heaven in the Bible and so sometimes we must have some rather involved inferences as to what heaven will be like.  I’m a piano player, not to be confused with a musician – way too formal! – and if there’s music there, I’m okay with whatever else comes along.  But, what is the golden nut?  I think rather than what we do, or whoever else we see, or reunion with the long lost beloved ones, the golden acorn is the golden lion, the glorious Christ Himself.  Looking forward to that time. . . . 


Next time? 


The Darker Side of Scrat. 

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