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March 12, 2007

Gom Soon, and Porco Bruno
Posted by Teresa at 10:30 AM *

Gom Soon (the name means “bear”) is a hamster living somewhere in Canada. Yesterday Kevin Maroney sent me a link to a video posted at Cute Overload. It didn’t identify her. I posted the link in the Particles list.

Later, a bit of poking around at YouTube turned up Gom Soon’s name plus the name of her owner, Shootoed; a longer version of the video, titled I Want These Cookies!!: The Director’s Cut; an earlier work, Breakfast with Gom Soon; and assorted snippets.

We love hamsters for their character and personality, not their brains.

I’ve been putting off posting this bit of news, but young Porco Bruno is no more, dead at just about one year old of what was probably lung cancer. It wasn’t a terribly painful death, just a much-regretted one. He died in my hands the night of February 25th. I posted a memorial for him here. Fare thee well, Hamster that Roared.

In the midst of death we are in life. We have a new guy, a cheerful little Syrian who looks like he started out brown-and-white but either got caught in an ashfall or has been experimenting with kabuki makeup. He has fine dark shading around his eyes, black stripes along his jowls, a symmetrical assortment of other soft gray spots, and an Ash Wednesday splotch on top of his head. We haven’t yet figured out his name.

Comments on Gom Soon, and Porco Bruno:
#1 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:03 PM:

Condolences for your loss.

#2 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:06 PM:

My sympathies for the deaprture of the engaging and endearing Porco Bruno from your lives. Even is as short a time as he had to work with, it's amazing how deeply they can dig into our hearts.

As for the new guy, given the Ash Wednesday marking, and the Syrian breed, may I point out Wikipedia's list of Syrian saints?

Given the cheerful disposition, John Chrysostom may not be the best choice, but there are others on the list.

#3 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:11 PM:

I'm so sorry for your loss, and wish you much happiness with the new guy.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:15 PM:

My condolences, Teresa.

As for the new baby, since he's grey, why not call him Gandalf? Or Fafhrd?

#5 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Condolences, Teresa.

(BTW, wouldn't Fafhrd be the hamster's companion?)

I'm sure the new hamster will let you know his name any minute now.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:23 PM:

He's not gray. He's slighty grayed out, and has various light gray to graphite gray markings.

It feels strange to have a normally behaved hamster.

#7 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:29 PM:

"Greyfir"?

Man, but they are so much a part of our lives...

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:32 PM:

A normally behaved hamster...

#9 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:38 PM:

I mean, could hamsters get megalomaniac tendencies like certain white mice did?

"Today the Nielsen Hayden abode, tomorrow the world!"

#10 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 01:42 PM:

I was going to mention Shaun the Sheep, but then you added the sad news about Porco Bruno.

Guy Kewney has some interesting commentary on what the BBC and YouTube are doing.

#11 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:25 PM:

My condolences, Teresa.

I checked out the list of Syrian saints, and I have to admit that Frumentious seems to be just begging to be applied to the right hamster.

#12 ::: CaseyL ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:26 PM:

I am so, so sorry. Your stories about him are fascinating. Tales of Porco, and the photos/stories on Cute Overload, have got me thinking about "hammies" as much more interesting critters than I thought they were.

#13 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:31 PM:

When I put the link up, I had only given the list a quick look, long enough to notice the Golden-tongued and also the various Simeon Stylites. But St. Raphael of Brooklyn is on the list as well.

#14 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 02:33 PM:

I think "he had a good life" is the best thing we can do for the various critters we take responsibility for bringing into our families. Quantity of life is always to be hoped for, but quality is better.

Not that this makes grief any easier, for wee silly roaring hamsters or anything else. Add my condolences to the rest.

#15 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Brooklyn has its own saint!! Yes, that Brooklyn. Who knew? St. Raphael of Brooklyn, how wonderful. Fidelio, thank you so much.

#16 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Re: naming

Chiana wouldn't be appropriate; is there a good male Nebari name?

#17 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:20 PM:

#15 Lizzy
I was highly entertained, myself. Note that he's an Orthodox saint.

#18 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:36 PM:

We are blesssed to have with us still, a guinea pig.

She is the last of what used to be a huge colony (the nature of guinea pigs is such we felt obliged to breed them).

But we moved, and when we moved we had divest ourselves of them. One of them is still with the friends who took her, and by happenstance we are sharing a house with them.

She is, though I forget her exact age, between five and six; which is ancient for a guinea pig. Still alert, and noisy; full of vigor and good cheer.

Having her to give weeds to from work in the yard is a wonderful thing.

#19 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:44 PM:

Sympathies.

#20 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 03:50 PM:

Aw, Teresa, I'm sorry about Porco Bruno. I loved your stories about him.

I had a hamster who also liked exploring bookshelves. She could push the smaller books out to make herself little niches behind. Any given session would usually end when she started chewing on a heavier book, presumably in order to make a tunnel in it.

P.

#21 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 04:06 PM:

I'm very sorry about Porco Bruno.

"Aureliano" might be an appropriate name for the new guy, given the permanent Ash Wednesday splotch; or would that be ill-omened?

#22 ::: RedMolly ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 04:07 PM:

I'm sorry to hear about Porco Bruno. He was a lucky little guy to be so loved.

And "Frumentious" is a tremendously wonderful name.

#23 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 04:11 PM:

I am sorry to hear about Porco Bruno. It's amazing how much personality per gram hamsters manage to pack in.

#24 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 05:18 PM:

Condolences for the loss of Porco Bruno. May his successor fill your days with as much personality and delight as he did.

#25 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Very sorry to hear about Porco Bruno. Good luck on finding an appropriate name for the new hamster-in-residence.

#26 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 05:58 PM:

Teresa,

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of Porco Bruno. It's very hard to lose an animal you've made a member of your family, and a part of your daily life.

#27 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 06:06 PM:

Oh no. My condolences.

#28 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Porco Bruno was a fine creature, and I'm glad I got to know him. Sleep well, roaring hamster.

I understand the new resident is also a vocalizer, and makes a chuff-chuff-chuff noise. Perhaps the name Isambard Kingdom Brunel would suit?

#29 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Very sorry for your loss—and ours, since PB was such a font of "weird hamster" stories.

#30 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 06:28 PM:

Aw, I'm sorry that Porco Bruno had such a short run. The idea of a hamster that roared was charming.

#31 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 07:50 PM:

Waaah. Now I want another one. (last one, Amber Hamster, lived in complete peril from the cats, Ajacat had her out of her habitat more often than I care to think about but managed not to kill her because Ajacat didn't have it in her. And Amber lived a very long time for a hamster.

Once I'm old and gray and don't want another pet with a potential to live nearly 20 years, AND attrition has taken the cats, maybe I'll have another hammie of my own. (I've got a feline right now, though she's dumb as a rock she is a killer with small furry things--she's my cat police.)

#32 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Very sorry to hear about Porco Bruno. If hamsters lived as long as they were loved, they'd be immortal. Even our cats missed Sam when he passed on.

#33 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Sorry to hear about Porco Bruno. Since the new guy has dark jowl stripes, he might be Arctonyx Collaris.

#34 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:06 PM:

It's so hard when we have little companions with shorter lives. I'm very sorry for you guys, and I hope the new hamster brings you joy.

BTW, the hamsterhouse domain won't come up for me.

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:17 PM:

Patrick says (with confidence) that the hamster's name is Hiro Frumentius.

#36 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 09:59 PM:

Oh, that's really too bad about PB.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't have the fortitude to have eensy pets. Saying goodbye so frequently would be very, very hard for me. Seventeen years (how long I had my cat who just died) is Not Long Enough for me.

Looking forward to new hamster stories -- they are so wonderfully expressive and cute, and I love to enjoy them vicariously.

#37 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:45 PM:

While you are figuring out the name, the New Guy is very likely figuring out exactly what sort of odd behavior will most amuse the Lady and Lord of the house. I'm sorry to hear about PB; he was a fine small fellow.

#38 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:51 PM:

T, so sorry for the loss of Porco Bruno!

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 10:51 PM:

My condolences, Teresa.

#40 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:16 PM:

Fidelio at 17: I do note that. One of my favorite writers on things spiritual is an Orthodox priest, John Garvey. Teresa, I'm sorry about PB. And Hiro Frumentius is a stupendous name.

#41 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:28 PM:

Lizzy, #40: Thank you!

#42 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2007, 11:34 PM:

that's a stupendous name! All creatures have their own way of naming themselves and it sounds as if Patrick has divined it.

We're guessing the next couple of kittens (well, when we start looking) and hoping they want to be named Sigfried and Yum!. If I get one that's a Queenly Cat that won't happen.

#43 ::: Torie ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:45 AM:

Oh no! I'm so sorry! He was lovely and I am glad to have known him. I hope you post pictures of the new one soon.

#44 ::: Nina Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:58 AM:

I'm so very sorry for your loss.

#45 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:24 AM:

How sad for you, the little guys make nests in our hearts and souls and we miss them so much when they are gone.

What a wonderful name for new generation. Congratulations on the new family member.

#46 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 02:13 AM:

Sorry to hear the sad news about Porco Bruno. I'm glad for his sake, though, you were able to be there to comfort him at the end.

But welcome to Hiro Frumentius! May he live long in your hearts and your hamster cage.

#47 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 04:14 AM:

I went and read your valedictory to Porco Bruno, and it was lovely. Ave atque vale.

#48 ::: Janet Kegg ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:08 AM:

My condolences on the demise of Porco Bruno. He was a lucky critter to have you as family.

Patrick says (with confidence) that the hamster's name is Hiro Frumentius.

Wonderful name.

#49 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Hiro Frumentius--he's Global Hamster!

#50 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:06 AM:

My sympathies too. Losing a pet is always so hard!

Last night, I think it was ABC news (national) that had a brief story about fortune-telling hamsters in India: the critter goes up to a pack of heavy looking (tarot?) cards, flings away several, then comes up with its choice. A quick Web search turned up fortune-telling *toy* hamsters, but not this story. Oh well.

#51 ::: retterson ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:16 AM:

Surely with an Ash Wednesday spot, you can't help but name him Marty Grah?

#52 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:20 PM:

JC @ 5... wouldn't Fafhrd be the hamster's companion?

Yes, but calling him the Grey Mouser conjures up images of an assassin of non-hamster rodents.

#53 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 12:28 PM:

A white rectangle glows in the dim backyard light: a business card. The intern snatches it from him on her next orbit, reads it. It says


HIRO FRUMENTIOUS

Last of the freelance hamsters
Greatest sword fighter in the world
Copyeditor, Tor Books
Specialising in cereal-related intel
(alfalfa, barley & wholewheat)


"Stupid name," she says, shoving the card into one of a hundred little pockets on her coverall.
"But you'll never forget it," Hiro says.
"If you're a hamster..."
"How come I'm delivering pizzas?"
"Right."
"Because I'm a freelance hamster."

#54 ::: L. S. Baird ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 01:51 PM:

He was a lucky hamster, to be so loved! I'm so sorry to hear it, though I'm glad there's a new, bright-eyed fuzzbit with a grand and exalted name: Hiro-sama!

We're rodentless for the first time in a long while, as we acquired an active (read: psychotic) kitten after the loss of our last dwarf hamster. After years of tiny squeaking wheels in the middle of the night, and that one year with eight gerbil babies, it's strange to have an empty spot on the mantle.

And the cats, for some reason, have no interest in sunflower seeds carefully hulled in advance.

#55 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 05:32 PM:

At #50, Faren Miller mentioned fortune-telling hamsters in India: the critter goes up to a pack of heavy looking (tarot?) cards, flings away several, then comes up with its choice.

There's video here, from Keith Olbermann's Oddball segment last night (Monday the 12th). It's a guinea pig, not a hamster, but it was still little and furry and cute. As opposed to the bit just afterward with rattlesnakes in Texas -- some folks might want to be forewarned of that! (It did occur to me to wonder if any of the kids shown in *that* segment are parselmouths.)

#56 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:00 PM:

Esther Friesner has oracular hamsters who appear at conventions to perform Cheeble-mancy.

#57 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:12 PM:

I LOVES Esther's hamsters. I've given much to the EMF that way. (I've also given much other ways but that's a good one).

#58 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 11:51 PM:

tiny squeaking wheels in the middle of the night

Vegetable oil is good for that; just apply to the center bar with a napkin, and you should have a nice silent wheel for at least a few weeks. (Do not use anything poisonous, because the beasties will lick it.)

#59 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 01:17 PM:

Very sorry to hear of your loss. I'm looking at my almost-17 cat Gypsy and worrying about how much longer he will last. It's hard when we lose them, but it was worth knowing them even when the time is short.

#60 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 02:26 PM:

Hamsters steal our hearts and stuff them in their cheek pouches. I'm so sorry for your loss.

#61 ::: platedlizard ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2007, 03:55 PM:

These funny little guys have a habit of wriggling their way into our hearts, don't they?

I'm waiting for my little one to go, he's about two and starting to lose his hair. I'm not sure I'll get another. He was a male returned to my pet store, which is a 'female' store, he'd been purchased at a 'male' store. Splitting the stores into male and female stores helps prevent unwanted pregnancies. I took him home because he was sooo cute, and had been there for awhile since we couldn't sell him due to him being male (I forget the reason why we couldn't just send him back to his store-of-origin). Supposedly he bit his first owner, which is odd because he's the sweetest thing ever. I'll be sorry to see him go.

#62 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 12:01 AM:

great pix there of the late lamented Porco Bruno and the new kid. I loves their little handses.

Then again, the hamster I had while I lived in Lawrence, KS disappeared unexpectedly (cage lid ajar), didn't turn up in apartment when we cleaned/cleared out. Disappeared the same time as ONE of Jim's high-top sneakers and a 10-inch chef's knife. We figured Ursula hamster decamped with a mobile home and protection...

#63 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 03:30 AM:

I'm sorry for your loss, Patrick and Teresa. But congratulations on the new arrival!

#64 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 07:32 AM:

More hamstery goodness in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2034072,00.html

#65 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 08:47 AM:

It's really spooky how one looks at the picture of the newbie and thinks, "Well, of course his name is Hiro Frumentius."

#66 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Today's Guardian on hamsters "Long dismissed as lumps of fluff that do nothing but sleep all day and fill their cheeks with food all night, hamsters, it seems, are staking a claim to be the indestructible daredevils of the animal world."

#67 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Hmmph. It ate my link again. That was
http://www.guardian.co.uk/animalrights/story/0,,2034346,00.html

#68 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:20 AM:

And now I see Eve had already posted it anyway. Sorry.

#69 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:35 AM:

I've always found graphite to be good for lubricating hamster wheels.

#70 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2007, 10:48 AM:

I was sorry to read of Porco Bruno's demise - belated condolences on your loss. Through your stories of him, he won so many hearts.

As for the new Hiro Frumentious, welcome!

I want a skein of the same self-striping yarn that the Great Knitter used in his creation -- what amazing patterns!

Harriet
(who first thought the Sidelight was titled
New Hampshire Hamsters Old and New, before
the, er, light broke)

#71 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2007, 03:45 AM:

Here's a BBC story of great relevance:

Trapped hamster saved by vacuum

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