Who's asking: Gary Fleder, Santa Monica, CA
Gary saw an article in the New York Times that made passing reference to the fact that rats are ticklish, so he asks: is this true? Tell me more!
And I'd just like to offer this question as an example of the peculiar dynamics of a long friendship. Gary knows how much I hate rats. He knows this. Spiders, snakes, other bugs don't bother me ... rats bother me. A lot.
Still, because we are friends, I looked this up. Sure enough, rats are ticklish. Rats make high-pitched chirping whistles when their bellies are tickled, similar to the sounds they make when they're playing with each other. Rat laughter is ultrasonic, and inaudible to human ears. Young rats laugh more than adults do.
It's one more characteristic that rats share with humans. Rats are also, according to scientists, curious, affectionate, sensual, liable to addictions and capable of solving fairly complex problems.
All these things may be true, but I still don't want one at my cocktail party.
Five Random Songs
"Ascension Day," Elvis Costello & Alvin Toussaint. From The River in Reverse, the album they made in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
"Ballerina," Van Morrison. From Astral Weeks, a song that seems to recreate the feeling of intoxication. I'm serious -- put it on, close your eyes and turn to the music. It's the same as a shot of whiskey.
"Rub Me Raw," Warren Zevon. From The Wind, his last album; this song makes it clear exactly what a nasty son-of-a-bitch the man could be, no matter how talented, no matter how sad his premature death.
"Shy Boy," Katie Melua. The latest addition to my music collection, courtesy of the aforementioned Mr. Fleder. Impossible to describe; I could say she sounds like a funkier Eva Cassidy or a poppier Madeleine Peyroux, but neither would do her justice. She sounds great.
"Moonlight," Bob Dylan. A warm and friendly torch song that owes a lot to the standard "That Lucky Old Sun." I love the brush work on the drums on this cut.