Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

So it might have been more a celebration for Halloween, first published on FILMSCHOOLREJECTS.COM on October 18, but even if just for the first three-quarters of the year (January 2018 through September), Rob Hunter’s “The Best Horror Movies of 2018 So Far” offers goodies worth a look any time of the year. And,  especially, for Thanksgiving weekend if sometimes the football games don’t thrill enough.

Well, see for yourself by pressing here!

 

(Triana, on the other hand, thinks she’ll just eat and eat. . . .)

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Details, details.  It’s another “The Writing Life” adventure, a tiny one this time yet oh, so important.  It happens I needed to check a review of one of my books on Amazon and my eye happened to spot my biography on the site.  It was out of date — and had been so for at least about two years!  And so, set right again, the updated version now also includes an important name:  The Goth Cat Triana.  (Well, it’s important to her.)  It can now be checked out by clicking on the picture of TOMBS in the center column, along with the prose collections below it.

Well, yesterday probably as you read this, but October 29 is National Cat Day in the US “to bring awareness to the number of homeless cats,” as Triana herself was before I found her at the County Animal Shelter.  And what better way to combine that with a Monday Pre-Halloween movie than . . . well, as the Indiana University Cinema explains:  Making its U.S. debut at IU Cinema on the 80th anniversary of its original release in Japan, THE GHOST CAT AND THE MYSTERIOUS SHAMISEN is a rare surviving example of a pre-World War II Japanese horror film.  Suzuki Sumiko, Japan’s original horror star, plays a jealous stage actress who murders her romantic rival — and her lover’s cherished pet cat for good measure!  But her bloody past comes back to haunt her … literally.  In Japanese with English subtitles.  Yes, a cat horror movie!  And, one may add, Suzuki Sumiko is not your Western-style “Scream Queen” either, but more often played the monster itself or, in this case, the second best thing.

As to the monster itself, though, there is a Japanese tradition of the ghost cat that comes upon a murder victim and drinks its blood, becoming itself a kind of ghost-monster.  Here it has evolved a little, however, with Kuro the cat as a go-between in what becomes a love triangle.  Or maybe not — our shamisen player is already promised to Ms Sumiko’s character as he explains to the second woman, a samuri’s daughter — and too high-born to be a musician’s girlfriend anyway — who had found and returned his missing Kuro to him.  He does end up giving her his shamisen though just before his betrothed takes matters into her own blood-stained hands and, well, the ghosts of the cat and the rival combine.  And the shamisen thus becomes a cursed object being passed from person to person — assisted by visitations by the cat/woman ghost, depicted through a sort of kaleidoscopic effect — until it winds up in the hands of the dead woman’s little sister, while in the meantime the actress has dumped the musician, becoming instead the mistress of the local feudal lord.  And then it happens there’ll be a kabuki theatre performance where actress, musician, lord, little sister, and ghosts come together. . . .

But let us end now with a guest review, courtesy of IMDb, which I will agree with for the most part.  I will add via the IU Cinema docent, though, that only about four of these pre-war Japanese horror movies have survived in complete form (after 1940 the Japanese movie industry turned to propaganda films, and afterward “revenge” films were banned until the American occupation ended in the early 1950s) and the print we saw, while less than perfect, was probably the best now in existence.  Also the Japanese described such movies, including the 1930s Universal films (e.g., DRACULA,  FRANKENSTEIN, which were shown there too) with a word that means not so much “horror” as “weird.”

Charming movie which lets itself down with poor horror special effects
19 February 2012 | by oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx

Seijiro is a shamisen player for a kabuki troupe (a shamisen being a type of stringed instrument).  He is engaged to Mitsue, a sociopathic actress.  Seijiro’s kindly behaviour towards his cat seems to prove good karma when the cat (Kuro) brings home Okiyo, a kindly and beautiful lady from a higher caste, with whom he forms a friendship.  For this gesture the cat is murdered by Mitsue.  Movies with ghost cats are apparently a genre in Japan, the only one I had previously been aware of is Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko, but this is an early example.

A number of scenes feature subsequent hauntings by the cat’s ghost.  The special effects in these moments unfortunately come across as fairly ludicrous.  The ending of the movie revolves around a kabuki performance that’s fairly unintelligible to a modern audience and some frankly pretty unwatchable action/horror scenes.

All that said though, I felt that the movie was very beautiful at points and was rather elegantly framed and shot.  I think what I love about black and white cinema is busy frames full of detail, and the contrast of light and shadow in these busy frames.  This movie, especially in the first half, is quite voluptuous and ornate, and shows a very idealised form of Japanese life, it’s easy to sense that the Japanese are a people who turned living into an art form.

A very happy Fourth of July to all, on a sizzling, sunny, summer day!  On the menu tonight, “American Dream” ice cream, consisting of three broad stripes of strawberry, vanilla, and blueberry flavors.  Yum!

Triana looks forward to licking the bowl (maybe).

They’re coming to get us, these talented cats.  Beware, beware!  Or, now for something completely different — and if not beware just enjoy, courtesy of Gary Ogden on SHORTLIST.COM, “‘America’s Got Talent’ Just Gave Us the Greatest Cat Video of All Time.”  To quote from the blurb:  A cat doing tricks?  Well, now you’ve got our attention.  The reason for this is, that cats do whatever the hell they want and will not pander to your requests to perform.  Getting a cat to do something is extremely difficult, as anyone who has ever had to give their cat a pill can attest. 

However, it seems that some people have a knack with their cats. . .  To which I would add, half the fun’s watching the faces of the judges, or, to see for yourself, press here.

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.  Yes, the writer has come back from a visit to family, nieces and sister, in the Washington DC area to a computer cave much as it had been before.  No exciting new news, no exciting bad news, one rejection when the time came to check email, another story advanced to a publisher’s second round, but not yet (if ever to be) accepted.  And one comes home late:  It seems a thing, this current year of traveling adventures, that there will be a delay of some kind connected with airplanes.  Stokercon in Providence last month (see March 6) involved a flight cancellation, finding a new flight out of Boston, a $60-plus ride via Uber (still cheaper than an extra hotel night) and finally home only three hours late.  This time the plane left the gate on time, but an “issue” came up regarding equipment and back to the gate to replace a part.  But they did feed us snacks.  And then a new takeoff and home again, home again only two hours late.

So life in the computer cave resumes, a happy and healthy Triana welcoming me last night (now resting behind the couch, enjoying a little alone time).  This night’s supper cooking, and so it goes.

Yes, the Goth cat Triana will be in charge of the computer cave by herself for a few days.  It hasn’t been an overly exciting week newswise for writing in any event; editors, publishers, all may be getting a second wind for a possibly finally coming spring.  Things go like that sometimes.  So I may be away from the computer cave for a day or so, leaving Triana to take care of things here, albeit helped by a friend who’ll be stopping in now and then to make sure she gets her suppers on time.  You know how it is.  If something comes up I may be able to get in a post or two anyway, but possibly not (I’m getting my second wind as well).

So, if not before, see everyone next week.

It’s skinny and long (it’s a lot of poems) but here it is, the contents list for the current STAR*LINE (see March 29) with four, count ’em FOUR, poems by me.  Well, they’re very short poems (on a very long list) and spaced out through the issue, but see if you can find them all!  Hint:  The final two have VERY long titles, the fourth perhaps the longest of all (but the first two are shorter).

Departments

Dragons & Rayguns • Vince Gotera
President’s Message • Bryan Thao Worra
From the Small Press • Herb Kauderer
Stealth SF * Flying Blind * Denise Dumars
XenoPoetry: Japanese Scifaiku and Tanka • Shouko Izuo (translated by Natsumi Ando)

Poetry

[spewing] • Roxanne Barbour
[spray of rocks] • Roxanne Barbour
Workshop Exercise 21/08/2337: My Earliest Memories • David Jalajel
UFO • David Barber
[multiple moons] • David J Kelly
[life sentence] • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
[their drone ship came to Earth] • Lauren McBride
The Fallen Angel’s Ace of Wands • Mindy Watson
Why aliens shun India • Arjun Rajendran
[huckster moon] • Greer Woodward
Never Trust a Vampiress • James Dorr
[that] • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
It’s Universal • Marsheila Rockwell
Transported by Song • Herb Kauderer
[easy mole removal?] • F. J. Bergmann
A Cinephile Steps On-Screen • Alberto Sveum
Symbiosis • Chris Galford
[Striped gaiters, breather] • Denise Dumars
Stone Clutched to Chest • Laura Madeline Wiseman & Andrea Blythe
The Holy Firmament of Venus • Mary Soon Lee
Measure • Banks Miller
[alien worm—] • Susan Burch
Widening Gyroscope • F. J. Bergmann
[rising] • Roxanne Barbour
Cost-Benefits Analysis of Being a Zombie • James Reinebold
Till Death Do Us Part • Kathleen A. Lawrence
[a GoFundMe account] • Beth Cato
If Only I Could Sleep • G. O. Clark
Hermes • Jonel Abellanosa
Friends of Traitors • Matthew Wilson
[bottle trees on Mars] • Sandra J. Lindow
When Semi-Benevolent Aliens Conquer Earth • R. Mac Jones
Cosmic Roshambo • John Richard Trtek
[we’re leaving] • Robin Wyatt Dunn
Oh No She Didn’t? • James Dorr
[revealing] • Roxanne Barbour
Archaeopteryx • Robert Borski
[Terrans scooping gravel] • Lauren McBride
Wolf Moon • Susan McLean
[FTL propulsion achieved] • Lauren McBride & Jacob McBride
[cosmology] • Katrina Archer
Flight of Fantasy • crystalwizard
[no need] • Susan Burch
[we buried] • ayaz daryl nielsen
alien sea beams • David J Kelly
A Leaf Fairy Feels Under-Appreciated • Sharon Cote
The Return • Ken Poyner
The Cold Spot • Kimberly Nugent
From the Zombie Hunters Field Guide: Tracking the Zombie • James Dorr
[summer waits for him] • Holly Lyn Walrath
[vampire job fair] • William Landis
Data Value • Patricia Gomes
[close encounter] • Susan Burch
[Irresistible panhandling] • F. J. Bergmann
From Antartican Vibranium Tankas • Eileen R. Tabios
Ghazal • Joshua Gage
Elixir Stores Open for Business! • Ronald A. Busse
[the sound of black holes] • Alzo David-West
Lost in the House of Hair • John W. Sexton
[end of the road] • Greg Schwartz
The Music of the Spheres • Mikal Trimm
Come Embrace Space • Lauren McBride
E pur si muove • Deborah L. Davitt
[nothing’s so beautiful] • Alzo David-West
[red shift] • David J Kelly
[alien pool shark] • F. J. Bergmann
Second Life • Davian Aw
[eruption] • Roxanne Barbour
[for sale: sweet cottage] • F. J. Bergmann
Illiteracy • Scott E. Green & Herb Kauderer
[outside the greenhouse] • Greg Schwartz
The Young Transylvanian’s Guide to Dating: Taking Your Date Home • James Dorr
[alien teenagers] • Susan Burch
[prohibited] • Roxanne Barbour
The Ghost Diet • Robert Borski
Everything started with the Big Bang, they say • Juanjo Bazán
[held to my ear] • F. J. Bergmann
Red in the Morning • James B. Nicola
[the prospect recedes] • David C. Kopaska-Merkel
[heat death of a universe] • F. J. Bergmann
Missouri City, Texas, in a Far Tomorrow • José Chapa
Intruders • Cindy O’Quinn
[Looking at each star] • William Landis
The Plague • Matthew Wilson
Mermaid Warrior • Darrell Lindsey
[star party] • Lauren McBride
[Stiff with chill] • Denise Dumars
Exfil • WC Roberts
[class four body dies] • Holly Lyn Walrath
[guys on a float trip] • William Landis
Shapeshifter Taxonomy • A. C. Spahn

Illustrations

Low Rounders • Denny E. Marshall
First Time on a Swing • Christina Sng
Squirm • Denny E. Marshall

And then a second very short item, the Goth cat Triana had her annual checkup yesterday at an all new vet’s, a bit closer than the one she went to last year, and (the triaba2b4001question local people who know her all asked) she conducted herself like a perfect, if apprehensive, lady.  Or more to the point, she didn’t bite either the vet or his assistant!  GOOD Triana.  (There had been some discussion when I had first gotten her of giving her a name with vampiric connotations, but the decision had been that that might be too much of a red flag — cf. February 12 2017.)  And, pending test results on certain, er, organic samples, her health is good.

Well, with one possible exception to the last, something I’d sort of noted myself as I took her in her carrier to the vet.  She may be getting a tiny bit chubby.

“Writers & The Animals They Love” is the overarching theme of Heather Baker Weidner’s a bit off the beaten track PENS, PAWS, AND CLAWS blog, on which books take a back seat to the Goth Cat Triana.  Well, not entirely, TOMBS:  A CHRONICLE OF LATTER-DAY TIMES OF EARTH and THE TEARS OF ISIS do still get considerable mention, but their pictures are displayed well below that of you know who.  And subjects covered include not just such standards as the difference between horror and dark fantasy, but also the use of pets in stories and favorite movies/books with animals in them.  Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves” would be an example of the latter, while, in general, for a slightly different take on the usual “author interview” of yours truly, be welcome to press here.

Ms. Weidner also mentions that her readers like to leave comments, so feel free to join them with your own.  I’ll make an effort to stop by to answer them two or three times later today, before getting ready to leave for StokerCon Thursday morning.

Triana looks forward to the New Year




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