Thursday, June 7, 2012

...Or Maybe It Doesn't

It's rare to find someone who is right as often as I am who is also willing to admit when he's wrong. Around two weeks ago I wrote a post titled Life Does Imitate Art! that told the amazing story of Bill Wisth, a real-life Homer Simpson and heroic consumer rights crusader.  I claimed that his tale provided concrete evidence that, as the title of the post implied, life imitates art.  Here we are a few weeks later, and a recent story is forcing me to admit that I was all wrong--apparently death occasionally imitates art, too.

The source of all of my embarrassment comes down to one simple word: Orville.  That name conjures a wide range of images --some might think of Orville Wright, one of the first-in-flight brothers from North Carolina.  Others might think of the common noun form of the word orville, which refers to the rare but extremely uncomfortable front-wedgie.  And many probably picture an old man with bad teeth and a strange obsession with popcorn when they hear the name Orville:

But I'm not talking about any of those.  My mishap comes from a previously unknown cat named Orville.  Losing a pet is never easy, and people deal with the deaths of their furry little friends in different ways.  Some of the more traditional options include cremation, pet cemeteries, or in the case of pet fish, a dignified burial at sea by route of toilet.  A Dutch man named Bart Jansen chose a less traditional path toward honoring the loss of his cat Orville, who fell victim to the wheels of a passing car.

After Orville's journey to that majestic litter box in the sky, Jansen bought himself some thinking time by preserving his beloved cat in the freezer, Ted Williams style.  After six months, Jansen made up his mind and took Orville out of the freezer and directly to a taxidermist.  But he didn't merely have Orville stuffed; after preserving his little friend, he also outfitted the corpse with propellers for paws and a small engine in his body. Just like that, Orvillecopter was born:

Best of all, Orvillecopter is fully functional and able to fly with the birds--an accomplishment, Jansen claims, is "the greatest goal a cat could ever reach!"  Animal rights groups had a field day with Orvillecopter when Jansen posted a video of the inaugural flight on Youtube:

Jansen, an artist, added fuel to the fires of criticism when he displayed Orvillecopter at a recent Amsterdam art festival called KunstRai Art Fair.  Animal protesters covered the outside of the convention center with anti-Orville graffiti, and an animal rights-based political party (believe it or not, there is a political party based on an animal rights platform in the Netherlands) vowed to send letters of disapproval to the convention center and the art fair organizers.

Personally, I don't understand the fuss.  Robocop was a wildly popular movie in the late 1980s, and the hero of the film was a murdered police officer who was brought back to life as a half-man, half-machine crime-fighter.  If Jansen uses Orvillecopter's powers for the betterment of society, this is nothing more than a low-budget, real-life version of a sci-fi classic!  I may have only been three years old when Robocop hit the theaters, but I don't seem to recall human rights activists--or local policemen--picketing theaters at the time.

The only downside to the story is that I'm forced to eat my words.  To say that death imitates art is a major understatement in this case; here, death is art.  It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong, and wrong I was.  Let's just hope the idiots at PETA can admit they were off-base in their outrage and get to working on actual animal rights violations.  I don't find Orvillecopter the least bit disrespectful to animals.  When my time comes, I would consider it a great honor to be outfitted with an engine and propellers and start flying the friendly skies.

Here's a link to Orville's amazing story:,0,6797956.story

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