Archive for the ‘Caveman’ Category
The Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading & Open Mic” (cf. December 4, et al.) was not held last month on Sunday, January 1, since it was a holiday — meaning, among other things, that co-host and venue Boxcar Books wouldn’t be open — so this year’s “first First” was on Superbowl Sunday, February 5. The featured readers were Writers Guild founding member and chairperson emerita Patsy Rahn who, while primarily a poet, read a selection of essays and observations, followed by retired Indiana University Astronomy professor Richard H. Durisen with a science fiction short story having to do with transforming karma between two people, and why it might at some future time be both physically possible and confusing. With about nine people attending, a bit under par but also competing with a rare sunny and not-too-cold afternoon, I batted fourth in a field of six readers with a tale I’d postponed from 2016’s business meeting and Christmas party (see December 11), “The Christmas Cat,” a Victorian fantasy of Ebenezer Scrooge, kittens, and (as I put it in introducing the story) “intimations of gastric distress.”
Then of non-Christmas cats, Sunday evening I also took some more pictures of the goth cat Triana, star of yesterday’s photo feature — mostly during commercial breaks during the game. Quite the fourth quarter that! One of these actually turned out rather well, and so here it is. I especially like that the white blaze above her eyes appears with a little more prominence (that is, it can be seen in three of the shots posted yesterday but subdued enough that they look like they could be defects in the photos, while actually it’s a distinctive feature). However, since her eyes are closed in this one too (i.e., as well as the larger one just below), we will still have to wait before we can gaze into their gold/brown glory (and possibly for a long time since computer caves have naturally dim lighting, not to mention the quality of the camera).
So I’d spent a day at the Monroe County Animal Shelter perusing the pussycats. I had gone to check out a reputed tortoiseshell, but she proved not to be the glamour-puss she had been touted as (oh, all right. . . ). But, still, with Wednesday departed, as large as those pawprints may be to fill (cf. January 25), the computer cave did need a new cat. And so I forged on, looking at those in the rows of cages, then into the room they call the Cat Colony. . . .
Long story short, a new cat has arrived at the computer cave, the goth cat Triana. Her shelter name is (was) Lucy Lu (thus gaining her the ID when she went to the vet yesterday afternoon for additional shots, “The Cat Formerly Known as Lucy Lu”) — she’s a mostly black cat with a white chest and “socks,” short haired, occasional small white bits on an ankle or a knee, but with the black a deep, deep black and the white a snowy white white, giving the impression of what a cat might look like in a Chinese brush drawing. Very beautiful and, one of my criteria, very different from Wednesday (gray and fluffy) so I can keep Wednesday’s memory separate and not fall into trying to compare them. She’s only four months old (I expect I’ll advance her birthday a few days to October 1, so she’ll be an “October cat” presaging the fall and Halloween, just as Wednesday’s probably late-April birthday was moved to May Day, for International Labor Day as befit a proletariat in the mousing trade). Also she’s very lively, in fact at the shelter when I reached to pet the cat next to her she sank her little fangs in my hand, kitten talk for “pay attention to me instead, please” (I joked to the staff about her possibly having not completely teethed yet). She followed with the rubbing against me bit, purring very loudly, obviously having had her kitty basic training.
And, “dressed” mostly in black, she’s a goth girl cat, and thus the name I’ve given her, Triana, after the necromancer Dr. Byron Orpheus’s daughter in the VENTURE BROS. cartoon series. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of her for now (she was new enough to the animal shelter that they hadn’t taken any of her yet), so the picture here is that of her namesake, Triana Orpheus.
Twelve years is considered old age for house cats, even if many — especially if in an indoor environment — may continue to thrive considerably longer. But at about twelve they can become prey to various ailments associated mainly with elderly cats. Resident cave cat Wednesday had her twelfth birthday in May last year. Moreover, Wednesday had already had some bad luck with her health the year before, in 2015, which she took a number of medicines for as well as getting a high-powered flea collar (cf. “Wednesday’s New Clothes,” October 30 2015). But then last fall, for 2016, she had her checkup and this time tested as having hyperthyroidism, a definite “old cat” kind of metabolism disorder, and a serious one. So in late November she started a special diet to keep that in check, but last weekend she stopped eating altogether and, yesterday morning, went to the vet to have more tests. The new problem seemed to be kidney failure. Very serious. So she spent last night at the cat hospital having her system flushed out in hopes she’d be better this morning, be able to eat again — plus have more tests, but it didn’t look good.
Last night was strange in a very sad way. I found myself doing little things I really didn’t have to be doing, closing the front door quickly behind me when I got home. Looking around me before I set food out in the kitchen unguarded — things I do when there’s a cat in the house. Missing, when I got home, how Wednesday would sometimes run out to greet me. I did look in on her yesterday afternoon at the vet, though, and she didn’t even seem to recognize me then, granted she’d had a really rough morning. But then this morning the vet called to say, while they’d had a little hope the night before, her test results, if anything, were even worse now. Other aspects of her health were going down as well, she still wouldn’t eat, and her temperature had gotten dangerously low. So, long story short, after much discussion I came back in this afternoon for our final goodbyes, she responding to petting a little at the end, but otherwise still didn’t seem to know me. Then at about 4 p.m., there being nothing else to do, we had to let Wednesday go.
She was a good cat.
Once again it was time for the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “First Sunday Prose Reading and Open Mic,” presented in conjunction with Boxcar Books (cf. April 4, et al.), and as it happens the last such meeting prior to the Writers Guild’s summer hiatus. It won’t seem like that — the Last Sunday Poetry will still occur on May 29th, four weeks from now, but that’s how it works. And like last Last Sunday (see April 24), the house was packed on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with a larger than usual crowd.
This month’s featured writers portion began with Alisa Alering who read from a YA novel in progress, including monsters; followed by Amy L. Cornell who offered a poem in the voice of Dopey of the “Seven Dwarves” and two flash prose pieces, the latter depicting a poet who’s called on to write a poem about Finland to read at the White House (“What’s a rhyme for Helsinki?”); and Dr. DL Mabbott who read an excerpt from his novel WINGMAN JESUS (in which, however, Jesus is not the point-of-view player). This was followed by a relatively small contingent of walk-ons where I came second (of four) with a 650-word unpublished tale called “Matches” about a young man who has big dreams, and a vampire sister who’d once slept with Batman.
All in all today has been a lovely, lazy Sunday — but not too lazy! The writing life continues on also, with some poetry proofreading at the library before and after the First Sunday program, more on which later when it’s finished (with any luck, perhaps Monday or Tuesday).
Time again on a lovely near-summerlike Sunday afternoon for The Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Reading & Open Mic,” co-sponsored by and at the Monroe County Convention Center. Featured readers were Kentucky poet and teacher Kathleen Driskell, whose latest book is NEXT DOOR TO THE DEAD from the University Press of Kentucky; and local actress, prose writer, and poet Patsy Rahn, a founding member and one-time chairperson of the Writers Guild. Kathleen led off with several poems having to do with the fact she currently lives next to a graveyard, along with some others about Kentucky, and ending with a long and interesting speculative piece about an apparently middle-class housewife, ancient Egyptian mummy currently at the Kentucky Science Center. Patsy followed before a larger than average audience with poems about the Fourth of July and children, among other subjects, ending with a long poem about the beauty of landscapes in China. Then when it was open mike time with, as well, a larger than usual number of participants, I read five short, “light” pre-summer type pieces that shared the attribute of all having recently been rejected (but not to worry, several are already out again, testing the waters of new magazines), ending with one of a demon wife taking the expression “Shoemaker, Stick to your Last” a little more literally than usually expected.
For a second Sunday punch, this one comes courtesy of Mike Olson via Facebook’s ON THE EDGE CINEMA. Sometimes these lists end up here because I think they’re interesting in general, but sometimes because they’re something I want to save for myself too. This is one of the latter, films that probably won’t be to everyone’s taste — including some I’m not sure of myself; of those that I’ve seen some are hard to watch, but all are brilliant at least on some level. So herewith “New French Extremity/French Extreme Films List” on HORRORNEWS.NET, for which press here.
Easter brought the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic” for March, presented in conjunction with the Bloomington and Monroe County Convention Center. The featured poets were Jonathan Abraham Antelept, philosopher, poet, dreamer, and author of THE CRYSTAL IN THE BURNING GARDEN, who spoke about and read on topics related to resurrection, metamorphosis, change, rising, and overcoming; followed by Dr. Abegunde, who we’ve met before (cf. March 6, January 25, et al.), “an egungun (ancestral) priest in the Yoruba Orisa tradition, Reiki Master, and doula with a focus on the recovery of ancestral memory from the Earth and human body,” who read four poems on a recent trip she had taken to Sudan. While the overall turnout was good for a weekend when many would be home with their families, only three “old hands” read at the open mike session that followed, my presentation being in the middle with two recently or about-to-be published poems, both of which we’ve met before, “Plus-Size” (see February 28, et al.) and “On the Other Hand” (March 20, et al.).
But the headline event for the day for me was a new fiction sale, albeit a small one, for a story written last October called “Killer Kudzu.” It was a silly bit, perhaps, of science fiction/biological horror, but answered the call, at 1100 words, for short humor pieces from Yard Dog Press. The occasion is a second volume of FLUSH FICTION, the first published just ten years ago in April 2006 with a slightly shortened story of mine, “The Dragon Tattoo.” The idea was a volume of mostly amusing flash fiction suitable to keep in the bathroom for those in need of a brief sit-down and read. Volume 2, however, will be using slightly longer stories and with an eye for readings/performances at conventions on the editors/publishers’ circuit to help advertise the Yard Dog line (including, I might add, a five-volume series, BUBBAS OF THE APOCALYPSE, of which I have stories in the first four from 2001 to 2007, an oblique reference to which also appears below for March 17, et al., re. “Bubba Claus Conquers the Martians”). But also for its original purpose.
Back into the swing of things for spring with March’s First Sunday Prose Readings. Guest readers this time were Indiana University Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies visiting faculty member Abegunde with excerpts from a continuing “memory work,” a composition neither wholly fiction nor nonfiction; Lisa Kwong, an “AppalAsian poet in the Midwest” and MFA graduate currently teaching Asian American Studies and Freshman Composition, this month reading from new work in progress, mostly essays but also ending with two poems; and historical novelist Annette Oppenlander reading from her latest book, ESCAPE FROM THE PAST: THE KID, in which time-traveling gamer Max journeys to the wild west of 1881 New Mexico, rubbing elbows with, among others, the original Billy the Kid. When open mike time came, my offering was a 400-word piece as a sort of background on last month’s “A Saint Valentine’s Day Tale” (cf. February 7), recounting the arrival of the “casket girls” in New Orleans (in one sense covering much the same ground of my 2014 DAILY SCIENCE FICTION story “Casket Girls” — see April 17 2014, et al.) but adding the sense of irony to it that I then transferred to the character Claudette in last month’s offering. And one other thing, written for an exercise as a 500-word or less story containing the exact words “taxes,” “carpenter,” and “vinegar,” in this case ending up with the title “The Flavor of the Jest.”
It also brought some serious poetry too, but, yes, it was that time again for the Bloomington Writers Guild’s “Last Sunday Poetry Reading & Open Mic,” presented in conjunction with the Bloomington and Monroe County Convention Center. The featured poets were Hilda Davis, a graduate student in Indiana University’s Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies — and also a seasoned poetry slammer — and Jonathan Holland, a graduate of Ivy Tech as well as a student at Indiana University. Both presented rhythmic, sonorous works, both personal to them as well as connected to the world about them, ending up almost surprisingly complimenting each other. This was followed by the open mike session where I had the number four spot in a field of ten, about as many as I’ve seen read from the audience at these events. I read two poems, one about werewolves and loss of habitat originally published in STAR*LINE, “No One Wants to Run Through the Woods Naked Under a Full Moon Anymore” (see January 27 2012, July 11 2011), and the other as yet unpublished, “Don’t Always Believe Everything You Read,” in which a zombie explains why the New Hampshire motto Live Free or Die fails to reflect reality (“. . . being dead’s cheap enough — / but living free, sorry, / that’s bucks on the barrelhead . . . ”).
And came time Sunday for the Bloomington Writers Guild/Boxcar Books First Sunday Prose Reading, this month with featured writers Tony Brewer and Joan Hawkins and followed by the usual open mike session, but with a twist. Two writers — Shayne Laughter and . . . moi — would be allowed ten minutes each, rather than the usual three-to-five.
So it began with poet, sometime radio play and screenwriter, and Writers Guild Chairman Brewer demonstrating that he sometimes writes stories too with an allegory of death and the afterlife (and vultures), “The Trouble with Boys” of young lust and death, and handy hints on tanning one’s deer hide. The second of these also included an odd interruption, a noisy customer who dropped in to buy a book and, somehow in the course of the purchase, shared with all that he was a two-time rabies survivor. Tony took this well in stride, though, and ended by introducing Joan Hawkins, fedora crowned, who read a piece from a memoir-in-progress, TALES OF SCHOOL AND SUICIDE. This was about a marathon New Years Day poetry reading in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 2000s, the highlight of which was actress, director, and co-founder of The Living Theatre Judith Malina (1926-2015)* with a striking rendition of a scene from ANTIGONE.
Then we lesser lights had our time on the stage, starting with Shayne Laughter with the first part of a contemporary story-in-progress, “The Nature of the Beast,” related to her reading of the previous month of “Emmonsburg” (c.f. December 6), a story inspired by her grandfather’s writings about growing up in Indiana. This was followed by a refreshment break, and then my “longer” short reading of a tale of the just-past holidays, “The Christmas Rat,” originally published in the Winter 2007-8 DOORWAYS and reprinted in THE TEARS OF ISIS, including showing copies of the illustrations used with its first publication, followed in turn by several more readings, the last introduced by poet-essayist Antonia Matthews as being probably “more wholesome” than mine. (But then when I had finished my story, amongst the applause I thought I heard one person mention she was “glad Christmas is over” so, as I see it, I’d done my job. 😉 )
*Fun Fact: Though perhaps best known for her work with The Living Theatre, Judith Malina also appeared in several movies including, in the role of “Grandmama,” 1991’s THE ADDAMS FAMILY.