Year of the Rat/Mouse 2020


This year, 2020, is the Year of the Metal Rat/Mouse. The Japanese and Chinese don’t differentiate between mouse or rat.  For the Japanese, the year started on 1 January, but lunar year starts on 25 January 2020 and ends 11 February 2021. The Chinese recognized five elements: wood, fire, earth metal and water.

In Chinese and Japanese, mouse and rat ( 鼠)are the same thing. For the Chinese zodiac sign, the symbol 子 is used. The rat/mouse 鼠 (nezumi in Japanese and shŭ in Chinese) is considered clever and thrifty.

The rat that first pops into my head is “Ratatouille” and the first mouse is, of course, Mickey Mouse. I’ve already bought a Steamboat Willie LEGO set.

When asked three questions,

  1. What are your favorite mouse/rat movies?
  2. What are your favorite mouse/rat related music?
  3. What are your favorite mouse/rat sayings? 

I got the following responses from fellow voices at RogerEbert.com writers:

OLIVIA COLLETE:

Hey friends,

My absolute favourite mouse story is “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. Words can’t appropriately convey my feelings about this graphic novel.

And here’s something that’s somewhat related to Mickey Mouse.
In Germany, there’s a theme park called Europa-Park, where each ride riffs on a European country. I used to go there at least once a year when I lived on the army base in Germany between 1977 and 1987. This was before Disneyland Paris was built. And since Disney didn’t have that kind of presence in Europe at the time, I always thought (though I can’t be sure) that this was the reason Europa-Park chose a mouse as its mascot. His name is Ed Euromaus, and though he’s grey, I recall (though I could be wrong) that he used to have black fur. Either way, Europa-Park used a mouse to market their theme park.
In any case, below is a video of Ed Euromaus travelling to London. I’m also including a video that approximates what at least one of the Europa-Park rides was like (replace the mechanical puppets with eerie Black Forest fairy tale figures). Enjoy!
Ed Euromaus visits London
Cheers,
O.
NELL MINOW:
What are your favorite mouse/rat movies?
Mickey Mouse!  Especially “Mickey and the Beanstalk” and “The Band Concert.
What are your favorite mouse/rat related music?
Only one I can think of is Ben, and I’m not wild about that one.
What are your favorite mouse/rat sayings?
When the cat’s asleep, the mice dance.

DONALD LIEBENSON:

If you’re talking Mouse/Rat music, homage must be paid to Mouse/Rat, featuring Andy Dwyer (aka Johnny Karate).
Here’s their story:

The best to one and all in the New Year

STEVE ERICKSON:

What are your favorite mouse/rat related music?

Steve Erickson is the MVP for music this year. I’ve added all his YouTube links below.

Happy New Year!

明けましておめでとう (akemashite omedetoo)

新年快樂 (Xīnnián kuàilè)

恭禧發財 (Gōng xǐ fācái)

Japanese sayings:

Fukuro no me wa ookiku temo nezumi hodo mienu: Although the owl has large eyes, he cannot see as well as a mouse meaning that bigger isn’t necessarily better.

Taizan meidoo-shite nezumi ippiki: Literally means: “A great mountain rumbles, but only a single mouse comes out.” Much ado about nothing.

Kyuuso neko wo kamu: Even a cornered mouse will bite a cat.

Toki ni aeba, nezumi mo tora to naru: When the time comes a rat/mouse becomes a tiger. The meaning is that one should be seizing opportunity at the right time.

Fukuro no naka no nezumi: A cornered rat/mouse with no means to escape

Kuni ni nusubito, ie ni nezumi: In every country robbers, in every house a mouse, meaning nowhere is perfect.

Ashita no koto wo iu to tenjoo no nezumi ga warau: If you talk about tomorrow, the rats in the rafters will laugh.

Chinese Phrases to Wish People Good Luck in the New Year

鼠年大吉 (Shǔ nián dàjí): Good fortune in the Year of the Rat.

鼠年錢粘 (Shǔ nián qián zhān): May you attract money in the Year of the Rat.

鼠年數金數不完 (Shǔ nián shù jīn shǔ bù wán): May you have uncountable riches in the Year of the Rat. The pun is in the two different shǔ–homophones with one meaning rat/mouse and the other count.

金鼠旺財,金鼠進寶 (Jīn shǔ wàng cái, jīn shǔ jìn bǎo): May you prosper in the Metal Rat year; May you enter riches. The word jīn is used to mean both metal and gold.

銀花萬簇迎金鼠 (Yín huā wàn cù yíng jīn shǔ): Ten thousand silver flowers bloom to welcome the Year of the Metal/Gold Rat/Mouse.

In the US, we love mice so much they are the beloved characters of several animated features.

  1. Mickey and Minnie Mouse: Mickey first appeared in 1928 in “Plane Crazy” before they made their official public appearance the same year in the short “Steamboat Willie.” In 1978, Mickey became the first cartoon character to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Minnie (full name Minerva) got her star in 2018. The 1932 animated short “Lend a Paw” won an Oscar. Mickey was the grand marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade in 2005. He was the second fictional character to receive this honor; Kermit the Frog was the first (1996).
  2. Mighty Mouse was originally named Super Mouse when he first appeared in 1942 as a parody of Superman. He was a character from the Terrytoons studio of 20th Century Fox. He was renamed Might Mouse for the 1944 “The Wreck of the Hesperus.” In the comic shorts, his Lois Lane was Pearl Pureheart and he often battles the cat Oil Can Harry.
  3. Pinky and the Brain first appeared in 1993 in the “Animaniacs,” produced by Warner Bros. Animation in collaboration with Steven Spielberg’s production company Amblin Television. Pinky and Brain are genetically enhanced mice living at the Acme Labs research facility. Brain is focused on taking over the world with the help of Pinky. The episodes often parody films or books.
  4. Speedy Gonzalez is a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies character. He is “the fastest mouse in all of Mexico” and was first introduced in 1953. Mel Blanc (1908-1989)  voiced this character until 1986. While there has been concern that this character might be offensive, the League of United Latin American Citizens called for his return, “Viva Speedy!
  5. Tom and Jerry were created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera in 1940. Tom is the cat. Jerry is the mouse. During the original run of Tom and Jerry, Hanna and Barbera produced over a hundred shorts fo MBM from 1940 to 1958 and won seven Academy Awards for Animated Short Film.

 

Animated Mice in Movies

  1. “Ain’t We Got Fun” (1937)
  2. “An American Tail” (1986)
    1. “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West” (1991)
    2. “An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island” (1989)
    3. “An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster” (1999)
  3. “Ben and Me” (1953)
  4. “Cat-Tails for Two” (1953): First appearance of Speedy Gonzalez
  5. “Cats and Bruises” (1965)
  6. “Cheese Chasers” (1951)
  7. “Chili Weather” (1953)
  8. “Cinderella” (1950)
  9. “The Country Cousin” (1936)
  10. “Dangerous When Wet” (1953)
  11. “The Devil and Daniel Mouse” (1978)
  12. “Dumbo” (1941)
  13. “Fantasia” (1940)
  14. “Fiesta Fiasco” (1967)
  15. “The Fifth-Column Mouse” (1943)
  16. “Flushed Away” (2006)
  17. “The Great Mouse Detective” (1986)
  18. “The Gruffalo” (2009)
  19. “A-Haunting We Will Go” (1966)
  20. “Here Today, Gone Tamale” (1959)
  21. “House Hunting Mice” (2013)
  22. “It Got Me Again!” (1932)
  23. “Crazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse Discuss the Letter ‘G'” (1916)
  24. “Go Away, Stowaway” (1967)
  25. “Little Red Rodent Hood” (1951)
  26. “Merlin the Magic Mouse” (1967)
  27. “Mice Follies” (1960)
  28. “Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers” (2004)
  29. “Mighty Mouse in the Great Space Chase” (1982)
  30. “The Mouse and His Child” (1967)
  31. “A Mouse Divided” (1953)
  32. “Mousehunt” (1997)
  33. “Mouse Menace” (1946)
  34. “The Mouse on the Mayflower” (1968)
  35. “A Mouse Tale” (2015)
  36. “Mouse Wreckers” (1949)
  37. “Mouse Warming” (1952)
  38. “Naughty But Mice” (1939)
  39. “Nutjob 2: Nutty by Nature (2017)
  40. “Nuts and Volts” (1964)
  41. “Pied Piper of Guadalupe” (1961)
  42. “Puss Gets the Boot” (1940)
  43. “The Rescuers” (1977)
  44. “The Rescuers Down Under” (1990)
  45. “Road to Andalay” (1964)
  46. “Rodent to Stardom” (1967)
  47. “The Secret of NIMH” (1982)
  48. “The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue” (1998)
  49. “Skyscraper Caper” (1968)
  50. “Sniffles and the Bookworm” (1939)
  51. “Sniffles Takes a Trip” (1940)
  52. “Snow Excuse” (1966)
  53. “Speedy Ghost to Town” (1967)
  54. “Speedy Gonzales” (1955)
  55. “The Spy Swatter” (1967)
  56. “Stuart Little” (1999)
  57. “Stuart Little 2” (2002)
  58. “Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild” (2005)
  59. “The Tale of Despereaux” (2008)
  60. “Tee for Two” (1945)
  61. “Three Blind Mouseketeers”
  62. “Tom and Jerry” (2020)
  63. “Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars” (2005)
  64. “Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers” (2006)
  65. “Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry” (2005)
  66. “Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring” (2002)
  67. “Tom and Jerry: The Movie” (1992)
  68. “Well Worn Daffy” (1965)
  69. “West of the Pesos” (1960)
  70. “The Wild Chase” (1965)

Movies with Rats

  1. “Ben” (1972)
  2. “Rat Film” (2016): Theo Anthony on rats and Baltimore.
  3. “Rats: Night of Terror” (1984)
  4. “Rats NYC” (2016): Documentary by Matt Spurlock.
  5. “Ratatouille” (2007)
  6. “Willard” (1971)
  7. “Willard” (2003)

You Dirty Rat (Rats of the Two-Legged Variety)

  1. “Beach Rats” (2017)
  2. “The Desert Rats” (1953)
  3. “Mall Rats” (1995)
  4. “Of Mice and Men” (1939, 1992, 2014)

Songs 

We all grew up with the horrific tale of “Three Blind Mice,” but in Japan, Three Blind Mice is the name of an award-winning jazz record label (It is also the name of a 1962 album by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers).   “Three Blind Mice” can also be the name of a 1938 romantic comedy with Loretta Young, Joel McCrea and David Niven or a 2003 crime thriller.

Most of us can come up with a love song from “Willard” if we’re looking for a rat-related song, but there’s also the song from “An American Tail.”

  1. “Somewhere Out There,” Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram
  2. “Ben” Michael Jackson

Ebert writer STEVE ERICKSON came up with the following:

“A Dead Mouse” Viktor Vaughn

“Ghost” from “Rats”

“Rats” by Sad Barrett

“Rat Trap” by the Boomtown Rats

“Return of the Rat” by Wipers

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