Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Poor Old George

He’s been gone for days at a time, many times before now; but this time it’s been longer and it feels different somehow. I am afraid that my last remaining outside feral cat, old Georgie, is gone for good.

He was not of the Old House or part of that history. Of the two remaining outdoorsy, feral cats that I somehow managed to successfully transplant here in town, only Tiger Whitestockings really took to it and settled in here at her new home. She even attracted a new boyfriend who hung around her most times: and that was George.

At first, George and I did not get on all that well. At least part of the reason that he hung around was for the good food I was giving to Tiger Whitestockings. I didn’t mind him eating it, but still and all I had to chase him away at mealtimes because I wanted Tiger Whitestockings to get her fill, and I knew that wouldn’t happen if he came up to the plate. George was a champion eater. He wouldn’t have left Tiger Whitestockings anything, which says something about males in their feral state.

So when Tiger Whitestockings disappeared after three years’ time, George and I were not exactly on chummy terms. I stopped putting out any kind of fresh food; still and all I had a lot of leftovers from my inside guys and I continued to put that stuff out. I knew George would Hoover it up, and he did. 

And I harbored no ill will towards him: the only reason I chased him had been for Tiger Whitestockings’ sake. With her gone, there was no reason why George and I could not be friends. 

It too some doing, some coaxing, and some patience, but in the end my superhero Mutant Power, which is the same thing as my Native American name, which is “Makes Friends With Animals,” won out. George and I became fast friends. It seemed to me that he started coming as much for the petting and the attention as for the food. Within reasonable limitations, he even let me pick him up and scratch his tummy. 

I really got to like George. He’d come in the morning for breakfast, then hang out and sun himself on my deck for the day, and then after dinner he’s wander off to whatever sheltering place he called home. I never learned where that was, except that it wasn’t anywhere on my property.

He was an Old Warrior who had seen better days. But he was too stupid to give up fighting, and over time the fights took bigger tolls on his condition. No more would he get healed up from one bad fight but then he’d show up on my doorstep dazed and blinking and covered in fresh, deep scratches. 

He stayed with me for two summers and at least two winters. During the summers he would lose a lot of weight, and then during the winter he’d bulk up to twice the size. Last year, before the snow began to fly, I tried to bring him inside. I used my entry hall / laundry room as a test stage. He would have had every comfort, but he couldn’t stand it — being indoors drove him buggy right away, and the truth is that he was such a grumbly, fighty guy that I worried how he would interact with my inside quats. 

It often happens that feral cats disappear in the Spring. My theory is they have had to struggle to survive through winter, then Spring comes and they start to feel strong again, they start to feel their oats again, and they want to look around and do some things that they haven’t been able to do all winter… and so they wander off and they never come back. 

The last I saw George was days and days ago. He was marching off in a direction that I had never seen him head before, down through the neighbor’s property towards the river. I thought this rather a bad idea for him at the time, as I am sure there are wild animals down there. But he was already too far away, and anyhow he was never the sort of quat to take advice from humans, he was his own Quat and there would be no stopping him from having his own way.

And I fear now that he picked one fight too many, and with the wrong sort of animal. It’s been more than a week, and that’s never happened before. George would definitely have wanted a good meal by now, and would have been back by now, if he could. 

This marks the first time in something like thirty years that I have not had any outside quats that relied on me to think about them. At one point, out at the Old House, we had in excess of thirty of them. Now all done. Another milestone going by. There’ve been too many milestones lately.

I’m still putting the food out every day. Sometimes the neighbor quats come and clean it up, sometimes not. When they don’t, I just chuck the remains out into the middle of my driveway. It’s always gone by morning. 

— Frede.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Don't Leave Home Without Them!

Do you ever get stuck in a conversation,
and not know what to say?

Fear not!

Just pull out your...
And now for something completely different:
a thoughtful and whimsical deck merging popular
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Thirty-four cards to make you think and make you smile.

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Sample Cards

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Click on any of the images to enlarge.

WISE SAYINGS: A Deck Wisdom & Wit © and ™ Duck Soup Productions 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Something In The Air

The first day of Spring, the REAL first day of Spring — not the one that the calendars specify — is the one where you can finally open all the windows in your place and LEAVE them open for a few hours… the day when all the stale air of winter is flushed out of the system, the day when you can sit in your comfortable place, and close your eyes, and feel Spring herself wash over you.

That day was yesterday. As you get past fifty and the milestones become more and more painful to mark — for at a certain point they begin to mark off far more losses than beginnings — each “first day of Spring” seems more precious than the one before it, and the sense of overwhelming relief at having made it, once again, through the Dark Time, comes with an edge of unavoidable sadness.

So I was in a wistful mood already this morning when a distressing email came through from my Dad. “Things are not  going too well here. I am declining despite everyone's efforts.”

At least a part of why this is so frustrating is that I don’t know whether or not I can believe him, or how far I can believe him. My Dad has been “crying wolf” for some time now on the subject of his own Old Age, even to the point of an email sent more than a year ago in which he declared, flat-out, and I quote, “I am dying!”

Four months later, he visited me and was in great health. My house is full of stairs, and he not only handled them beautifully, but seemed to thrive on it. The actual traveling part was considerably easier for him than for his wife who is at least fifteen years his junior. He was fine; he was great. Old, yes. Not the man that he once was, but doing terrifically well for someone in his late eighties, and in no way on Death’s Doorstep.

So what am I to believe in what he tells me? When I talk to him on the phone, he sounds as strong as ever; but that could be as unreliable as his sense of Personal Melodrama (something I inherited from him).

All of this weighed me down this morning. Whether he exaggerates or not, the fact remains that every single one of us on this earth, no matter our age or health, is five minutes away from Death. Whether you’re eighteen or eighty, if you leave the house at the wrong time or even just start down the back stairs with your weight on the wrong foot, it could be all over for you in nothing flat.

Thinking about my Dad’s old age invariably leads to thinking about the dismal prospect of my own. With Dad gone, I will have only my two surviving pussyquats and a small handful of old friends who see each other on fewer and sadder occasions every year. As an aging Gomez, finding my Morticia at this time of my life seems increasingly unlikely. So I only have to outlive my beloved little Honey pussyquat. When she’s gone… well, first I will have to decide whether I am going to somehow survive that blow and move on, or simply drink myself to death in my current home, surrounded by memories.

I have thought: I could sell everything and move to Europe… live out my declining years in a little town in Scotland or Wales. I have also thought: I could sell the house and some of what’s in it, and move out to the Southwest, where I would never be troubled by Winter again. 

But then I start wandering the house, looking at the past laid out before me. I start to ask, what would I sell, what could I sell, to make a move like that practical. And I know what I have known all my life, that things are not just things as some people would have it. Things contain memories. Things contain your life. Things have power. To divest myself of my surroundings would be like hacking off aspects of myself, parts of my life, and tossing them in the dustbin.

Then I realized, or remembered, or something, this: my Dad and his wife have moved several times since they were my age. My grandparents on my mother’s side moved at least once in their sixties. Here’s the thing that I think made it possible: they all knew where they were going before they had to close out and make the final decisions on what they were leaving behind. 

This seems a very valuable bit of advice: know what’s ahead before you cut off what’s behind. 

Right now, all I’ve got is questions; and even the information I have about the present seems unreliable. What I know is this: Spring is here. The windows are open. The air in the house is fresh and clean and cool. Enjoy it: because it won’t last.

— Frede.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An Open Letter to Zack Snyder

Dear Zack Snyder;

From the first one of your god-awful movies that I ever saw (which was Sucker Punch), I have known you to possess all the brains of a tapeworm and the talent to match. In fact, Sucker Punch left no doubt but that you're a pervert in the bargain. 

You've been given control of a very large playground, and instead of creating something that large numbers of people would want to play on, you filled it with bricks and broken glass and torn-up concrete and lead pipes and dope dealers.

You've taken some of America's most time-honored characters and turned them into the playground bullies to do your dirty work for you: the work of darkening our Pop Culture to a point where it's blacker than horror stories used to be. Your vision of popular culture is stained with blood and spit and semen. 

You, sir, are a wanker who has been given the opportunity of a lifetime, only to soil it with nighttime emissions. 

You claim to be a "comic book guy," but you're not. It's very evident that your knowledge of the medium doesn't go any further back than about 1990 -- which is when comics were getting so bad and so stupid that I had to stop reading them. 

Have you ever read a single word that Stan Lee wrote? I doubt it -- because comics in Lee's era required readers to have a few brain cells to rub together.

I only wish I could say these things to your employers in such a way that they would finally come to their senses and stop hiring you. I can only hope that the box-office take on your grotty little movie and on that of your next no-doubt equally egregious DC project falls through the floor. Perhaps then they will listen.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Apocalypse Just About Any Time Now

I say again: I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. I see very little difference between her and Donald Trump: both are tools of the one percent.

Here's the thing about Hillary Clinton supporters: many of them seem to be one-issue voters in the sense that all they care about is that they want a woman president. These same supporters are very quick to play the sexist card and try to paint all of us opposing her as being misogynists. This is nothing more than a political tactic of tryinig to misrepresent the opposition.

I think a woman president would be smashing, but not if it's Hillary Clinton. If Elizabeth Warren was running, I would back HER 100 percent. I've said this many times, I will say it again: HILLARY CLINTON IS NOT A LIBERAL. She is, at best, an Eisenhower Republican. She is part and parcel of the one percent and she will do absolutely everything to sustain the status quo.

The status quo is not good enough. We are too close to the edge of disaster. Just "holding the ground we are standing on" will not save us. We need someone who will actively pull us back from the brink of destruction. 

The only scenario that I can see which would make me vote for Hillary Clinton is if Ted Cruz got the Republican nomination. He is actually worse than Trump, though most seem to be fixated on Trump as the greater evil... whereas, I repeat, there would actually be very little difference between a Trump presidency and a Clinton one.

-- Frede.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Wispy Paisley Skies

I’m still not certain if The Cloud Atlas is a classic on the scale of something Kubrick would attempt, or merely a novelty item that’s found a way to repackage Hollywood philosophy, splitting it up so that it doesn’t seem, at first blush, to be so soft-headed. But I can tell you this: I didn’t fall asleep on a single one of its one hundred and seventy-two minutes, the way that I have nodded off this winter on what has felt like an endless parade of standardized reconstituted George Lucas pap adventure regurgitations. 

It tried my patience at first: a little too gaudy and showy and stream-of-consciousness for its own good. It does seem like five movies for the price of one, and perhaps it kept me awake by dint of simple leapfrogging: if you don’t like one story, just wait a couple of minutes and another one will show up. When you’re not wondering just what in the heck is going on, the picture keeps you on your toes guessing which actor is behind the piles of prosthetic make-up. Tom Hanks and Halle Berry get the most roles, but it seems to me that Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant had the most fun. Jim Broadbent is about the only one who mostly gets to keep his real face throughout the runtime, and this makes sense: why would you cover up a great face like that?

The film uses the technique of multiple connected stories to deliver a message of human connectedness: and I suppose one of redemption, as the Tom Hanks characters ultimately seem to evolve from the most objectionable and bad-behaving of types to a better class of man who ultimately turns his back, literally, on his Inner Demons. 

There’s no denying that it’s an exceedingly flashy and exciting piece of movie-making: but is it saying something profound, or simply holding hands with itself and singing “Kumbaya?” I’ve only just seen the picture, and I suspect my feelings towards it will evolve with time — much like the parade of characters that the picture uses to carry the standard of human experience.

— Frede

Friday, March 18, 2016

For Whom the Clock Ticks

Nearly every frame of Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is bursting with inventiveness and visual delight, infused with a Steampunk-Gothic sensibility; but if ever there was a movie doomed to struggle to find an audience, this is it. Renamed from the novel that it’s based upon, The Boy With The Cuckoo-Clock Heart, the picture seems to have, at least in this country, been marketed squarely at a family audience. Audience, meet our marketing “expert,” Miss Guided: because in no way is this a cheery cozy little family movie, unless we mean The Addams Family, who would chortle through the opening scenes as a baby is swiftly yanked out of its mother’s womb, then thrown into a table vise and cut open so that its frozen, dead heart can be replaced with a cuckoo clock. However, even the Addamses would be likely to squirm over the wispy, thin-as-air Love Story that barely sustains the rest of the movie: think of trying to inflate an inner tube with a hand air pump, and you’ll get a good idea of how the thing is shaped. 

It’s not helped by the songs, if you can call them that, made up as they are of tunes that meander haplessly and lyrics that awkwardly explain the plot and don’t even rhyme. Almost the first words in the movie are the main character “singing” about the circumstances of his birth, and it wasn’t more than a couple of lines before I was thinking “Oh stop it, just stop it!” I can’t help but feel that Jack would have been better served by the eerie song-workings of Emilie Autumn; as it was, when the movie drew to a close the refrain stuck in my head was not anything from the film, but the methodical clanking and clunking of Ms. Autumn’s “Four O’Clock.”

But Oh My Goodness, it is gorgeous. In a way, it would make a better picture book than it does a movie, because while the imagery is nothing short of astonishing, nothing holds still long enough for you to get a really good look at it. I don’t have much desire to sit through the whole movie again anytime soon, but I would definitely go back and just freeze-frame some of the sequences. There are supporting characters with xylophones on their backs, others with wings, others who are all head and no body. There are vistas that unfold like the pages of a pop-up book. There are trains with accordion cars that expand and contract as they flow over the rails. There are lovingly re-imagined Georges Melies movies within the movie; there’s a girl that sprouts nettles and the fantastical carnival town in which she lives.

What it doesn’t have is enough meat on its lovely bones. “Don’t fall in love,” the boy’s adopted mother warns him — if you do, your cuckoo-clock heart will explode and you will die.

So what’s the first thing the boy does? Right, of course. He falls in love and dies with love’s first kiss. End of movie. It’s a lovely concept, but Chuck Jones would have done it in seven minutes.

— Freder

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Appropriate THIS....

Oh - dang. I can't use this picture. That would be "Cultural Appropriation."
"Listen very carefully. I will say this only once."


is, by its very nature,

a vast stewing pot meant to feed the world.


brings something to the pot and puts it in;


takes something out.


"Cultural Appropriation"

is nothing more than the latest rallying cry of the braindead 

-- the latest line of

intellectual masturbation

intended to draw boundaries around the way people express themselves, to make rules and to create limitations about the things that are "acceptable" to those braindead few.
At its worst, "Cultural Appropriation" is a kind of Hitlerian call to "Racial Purity" where no one can adopt any style or thought that in any way derives from another's perspective.

Yeah, we all know how well THAT line of thinking works.

"Cultural Appropriation" is the biggest line of Divisionist, Touchy-Feely Bullshit that's been foisted on us in a long time.

Without "Cultural Appropriation" not a single one of us would be listening to Rock music today.

Without "Cultural Appropriation," the USA would have NO CULTURE AT ALL. America is a BASTARD NATION. Its culture is made up of one hundred percent stolen elements -- stolen from African Americans, stolen from Native Americans, stolen from the Jews, stolen from the Italians, stolen from the Spaniards, and even stolen from Great Britain. Take away "Cultural Appropriation" and America's got squat.

But you know what? It's all right. Because that's what Culture is.

Without "Cultural Appropriation" 


Everyone learns and draws on what has been put out there before us. This is the nature of art and of life itself. So please, Just Stop It. Take your White Guilt and your guilt-driven False Outrage and your guilt-driven attempts to squelch free expression and deal with it in on your own, in private, where it ought to be dealt with. 

Don't drag your personal prejudices out into the world and use them to try to restrict and encage artists -- all of whom are better people than YOU are, because even the WORST artist is trying to bring something POSITIVE into the world. 

-- Oops, waitaminnit, I can't say that, it's "Cultural Appropriation."
You can criticize Bad Art for lots of reasons, including Soft Thinking, but "Cultural Appropriation" is not a valid criticism of ANY god damn thing.

-- Frede
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