Archive for the ‘Caveman’ Category

According to Monroe County Animal Shelter records, the Goth Cat Triana was born on the autumn equinox, September 22 2016, although her Official First Birthday will be celebrated October 1.  However she was willing to pose for an informal picture earlier Friday evening.

Here she is in one of her favorite spots for early evening relaxation, between the Computer Cave’s two online computers (the offline computer, on which most original story composition is done, is in a separate room, although she has a spot next to it which she uses too, as well as a comfortable daybed which she shares with dictionaries and other reference materials).  One can see part of the keyboard for the desktop machine to the right, with the laptop (on which this blog is being written) catercornered to the left.  Also to right, behind the keyboard is a telephone (both computers have dial-up connections) with an answering machine just to left of it.

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I say crummiest because the subtle observer may note the disk in the picture is white whereas the point of a solar eclipse is that the disk should be black.  Shadowed by the moon, remember?  But here’s a weird thing, a photo in today’s local paper, via the South Bend Tribune, via Eddyville Illinois also shows a white-disked sun at totality (section 1, page 5), though the picture was set to show an observer in the foreground, the sun itself just a background detail.  So for the picture here, let’s cut it some slack, it was taken by the infamous $4.95 on Ebay camera (including shipping, see February 5), one which’s settings are completely automatic, not controllable by human hands or minds — and hence likely to take its hints from the foreground — although acquitting itself reasonably well on pictures of Morro Castle, etc., in Puerto Rico last month as well as of the Goth Cat Triana for which it was bought.  Also a friend with presumably more sophisticated equipment (in the world of fine optical instruments you can’t go much below $4.95 on Ebay), taking pictures of the partial eclipse locally, complained they all came out with the crescent sun looking “fatter” than it actually was.

My theory is that the sun, even with the moon blocking it, is so bright that the unsophisticated camera, lacking screening or special adjustments, exaggerates the extent of the white (becomes “overloaded” in a sense), encroaching into the adjacent sky in the case of my friend, or filling in the handy black disk in the center when it came to mine.  And anyhow it still shows the corona, which in some ways is the interesting part, so maybe it’s not the crummiest picture this year after all.

Since the path of totality was not that far from where I live (what my friend saw at its peak was 95 percent, even if her pictures made it look less), I was able to go on a charter bus trip to an area just outside of Hopkinsville Kentucky.  For a few observations:  the eeriest part was a little before totality, when the sky began dimming but in an odd over-all way, not in the east first as one might see before sunset.  I didn’t see moving shadows on the ground (from mountains on the moon as the sun became entirely blocked), but another person who’d spread out a white sheet saw them there — present, he said, but extremely subtle.  One man had six huskies on the site who were well-behaved and extremely quiet even through totality, but just after the sun “came back” started barking, as if to say “never do that again.”  Also while we didn’t hear birds or insects go quiet, possibly because with so many people on the site, the wildlife was frightened to silence anyway, but just after the dogs we heard loud cicada-like insect sounds all around us for several seconds.  Also, while NASA observers were, I believe, in Hopkinsville proper, we did have some TV people on our site, plus others with picture-taking equipment of much more sophistication than mine (for which see the second picture here, taken a little bit before totality but with the overall dimming beginning to be seen — this was at 1:10 or so p.m. local time on what otherwise had been a bright sunny summer afternoon [totality began at 1:24 p.m. CDT and lasted two minutes and forty seconds]; the buses parked just beyond them, incidentally, are two of the charters from Indiana that I had come with).

I also had some delicious barbecue from a food truck parked in our area, the grounds of the Casey Jones Distillery, that on non-eclipse days produces several boutique corn whiskeys — including, for the occasion, a special Eclipse “Moonshine.”

And for the first picture, the possibly still-crummiest eclipse picture for the year, it does have one special thing going for it.  It’s the picture that’s (Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!) mine.

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 storytriaba2b4001) “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).

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Yes, I know they’re crappy, but (a) I’m new at this, (b) I’m using a camera that cost $4.95 on eBay, (c) in most cases she’s a moving target.  (But otherwise, enjoy!)

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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 triana1the 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.

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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 martyrs_2of 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.”




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