Monday, November 17, 2014

Why pat the cat? Graham is currently sitting on my lap and I am stroking his fur, mumbling the usual stupid comments regarding how soft and pretty he is. It occurred to me how much I enjoy patting him – but why?

Obviously there is the sensory pleasure: the feel of his fur on my fingertips. I like stroking the velvety short fur on his face and on his paws. I like how warm his ears feel because of how close to the surface the blood vessels run. The fur on his back is relatively coarse, but on his neck, shoulders, chest and belly it is luxuriously long and soft. 

And on his back legs the fur is thick and dense – I have thought of it as 'rabbit-like fur' ever since reading that description on the Wikipedia page for Ragamuffin cats, which is illustrated with a photo of a cat that I fancy looks quite like Graham. 

And I sometimes like to fantasise that Graham is a pedigree Ragamuffin who was somehow misidentified as 'domestic medium hair' at the pound. It is my sad version of a Cinderella fantasy – the idea that Graham is special and only I, his fairy godmother, can recognise it.

I also like the comforting warmth and weight of Graham lying on me, and the soothing feeling of stroking Graham when I feel distraught or stressed, even though he seems to recognise when I most need to pat him and deliberately refuses to let me. There are few rejections as devastating as when you go to pat a cat and the cat slinks really low to the ground to avoid your touch.

But what struck me as particularly perverse and anthropomorphic is that I get pleasure from the idea that Graham enjoys my patting. I like it when I stroke under his chin and he lifts it up. I like the way he closes his eyes when I stroke his head and ears. I like it when he purrs, or when he snuggles against me.

But ultimately the patting is for me and not for Graham. I like running his puffy tail through my hand, which I can tell Graham doesn't like because the tail starts lashing and he sometimes tucks it away. But I still like patting his tail.

Who knows what Graham thinks? Who knows if he is happy with his life in my house, and with me as his owner? I mean, he miaows at and hangs around me in a way he doesn't with my housemate, and he will leap onto my lap, but who knows if that is only because he's identified me as the main food source, the one to ingratiate himself to?

Sometimes I look at him, hoping for some sign of intelligence or daemon-like connection, and he just stares dully and vaguely belligerently back.

He is just an animal. But what an animal! What a puff! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stephen King's The Sit. So last night and this morning I watched the 1994 miniseries of Stephen King's The Stand, all six hours of it. (It's available in full on YouTube.) It's pretty clunky stuff. I frequently got impatient at how drawn-out some of the scenes felt, and there was lots of didactic soundtrack music (twangy sinister country guitar; syrupy strings over 'emotional' scenes; most risibly, Fran Goldsmith (Molly Ringwald) somehow has an old 7-inch of Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over' in her garage).

Also, I found the post 'poc scenes with gross dead bodies everywhere and mayhem in the streets to be my favourite, possibly from this year's intense binge of The Walking Dead. The scene in which Stu escapes from the medical facility struck me as so similar to the scene from The Walking Dead in which Rick escapes from the hospital – even down to the stairwell. (I can't remember Danny Boyle lingering over the scene in which Cillian Murphy's Jim escapes from the hospital in 28 Days Later. – for me that film is much more about Jim wandering around an eerily deserted London.)

Most of the acting was pretty broad and wooden, although Gary Sinise was pretty natural as Stuart Redman. Still, there was a certain Forrest Gumpness about the bit where quote-unquote "retarded" Tom Cullen (Bill Fagerbakke) helps Stu when his leg is broken. I also liked Miguel Ferrer as Lloyd Henreid, who is probably the most decent of Randall Flagg's henchmen, but ironically only discovers his best self after agreeing to serve evil. Ferrer brings a great intertextual henchmanly sliminess from having played Bob Morton in RoboCop.

Hey, have Ed Harris and Matt Frewer ever been cast as brothers? I think they should be.

I also quite liked Adam Storke who plays Larry Underwood, who reminded me uncannily of a cross between Andrew McCarthy and Jimmy Fallon.

Ruby Dee, who just died earlier this year (and whose longtime husband Ossie Davis is also in The Stand as the Judge), was 72 when she played the 106-year-old Mother Abagail, and her ageing makeup is pretty shonky. (Even in 2010, at 88, she looked younger!)

Oh, also, Laura San Giacomo as the traumatised 'just fucked Satan' Nadine Cross reminded me of another woman raped in an arranged marriage…

Bless executive producer Stephen King himself, who insisted on copious screen time as Captain Obvious – some random who was seemingly only there to comment ingenuously at various key moments. And at the end we get a hero reel of all the good guys who died along the way.

But having read the book earlier this year (here's my review on Goodreads), I can also appreciate King's choices in cutting the fat from the book and trimming characters and plotlines. I think it works pretty well, although of course some questions about why the characters act the way they do could have been raised by the lack of backstory here. One of the things I've always liked in King's novels is that people are never 'just' good or bad, but are moulded by their backgrounds, and he has sympathy for the psyches of even the meanest villains.

That said, I thought Randall Flagg could totally have been more evil. I think after Matthew McConaughey's turn in 'Killer Joe' a lot of people have wanted to see him as Flagg, although the creepiness that the Devil was a countercultural hippie is sort of lost here, as is the atmosphere of coldness and dread that he creates (which is really only evoked in dream sequences).

At this point, the remake has secured The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone, plus Nat Wolff, who played the blind destructive hipster in that movie. To me he seems the obvious choice to play Nick Andros and quite possibly he could not do worse than Rob Lowe.

The new iteration will benefit from two recent cinema trends – massive 3-hour mainstream epics and splitting one story over two films. King recently said it could go either way. Another thing the new iteration will probably include is much more of the book's sex and violence. I found the miniseries oddly prim in cutting away from those things, especially the gore that we're now so used to in mainstream cinema. I mean, I recently saw Fury, which shows Brad Pitt stabbing a Nazi through the eye in the opening minutes.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Next week on Crazy Cat ConvosHaving read an article on cat communication, MEL decides to 'slow blink' at GRAHAM.

GRAHAM slow-blinks back.

MEL tries again in case this was a random occurrence, like the time she clicked her fingers and he leapt onto the footpath couch.

GRAHAM slow-blinks back again.

MEL: It works, puff! It works!

GRAHAM: *purrs*

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Next week on Crazy Cat Convos: Preppiness pays off for our heroes!

MEL (unpacking groceries): I'm glad I wore boat shoes today, puffy Graham. It's the right weather for them!

View on Instagram

GRAHAM: *intense purring*

MEL: These aren't cat groceries, Graham!

GRAHAM: (urgently) Miaow!

MEL takes her damp boat shoes off. GRAHAM excitedly paws at the laces.

MEL: Stop it Graham! What is it with you and shoelaces? They're not mousey tails! (thoughtful pause) Actually, they are the closest thing to mousey tails, really.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

External brain: 1. Internal brain: 0. I was racking my brain trying to remember the name (now very un-PC) for people with iodine deficiency.

"Moron," my brain kept saying.
"No brain, that isn't it."
"Just relax, don't think so hard. I know you know this. It'll float up soon…"
"Moron! Moron moron!"

I gave up and used my external brain. The word I was looking for is cretin.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fifteen sounds. My Facebook friend Tom (or, more precisely, his mate) came up with this meme. I love this and am stealing it.

Instead of 15 books or albums or films that are important, 15 sounds. Not to say the other things are unimportant, but sound makes me think about the enjoyable moments of life in more granular detail. These will change with time, but right now, I pick…

1. A cat purring
2. A distant train horn
3. Ocean waves on a beach
4. The glug-glug of the first wine from a bottle
5. Footsteps on a hard floor such as marble
6. Rain on a tin roof (in fact, rain on any surface)
7. That ethereal ping when a basketball is bounced
8. The rustle of leaves in a breeze
9. A bubbling creek or fountain
10. The deliberate, mechanical whirr of a CD or DVD tray opening and closing
11. Hair clippers buzzing through hair ("neeeeeee-ow")
12. A car reversing at high speed going "Rrr-rr-rrr-rr"
13. The swishing sound of a heavy silk skirt or dress
14. Corduroy pants when you're walking: "vhip-vhip-vhip"
15. Magpie calls (terrifying birds, lovely song – it says 'morning' to me)

A close 16th: the sound of a cricket ball being batted: "pok". If nothing else this is a great exercise in onomatopoeia.

Two of my favourite sounds are happening right now as Graham purrs on my lap and rain falls on the roof.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Next week on Crazy Cat Convos: THE HORROR, THE HORROR.

It's always bad news when MEL catches GRAHAM trotting purposefully into the house, and then trotting back out again a few seconds later. MEL gets up from her desk to see GRAHAM standing in the middle of the living room rug with a large MOUSE in his mouth. MEL leaps from her chair.

MEL: No mouse in the house! No mouse in the house!

GRAHAM: *obediently turns tail and trots outside with his mouse*

The MOUSE skitters back inside and hides behind GRAHAM's litter tray.


MEL pushes the litter tray aside. The MOUSE is cowering, breathing heavily, intestines poking from a large wound in its side.


GRAHAM: *nonchalant miaow*

MEL moves the litter tray so the MOUSE has nowhere to hide. Maybe GRAHAM will now take it outside. Instead, he flops down to watch the MOUSE cower in the corner, smearing blood over the wall.




MEL picks mouse up by the tail (which is poking out from the magazine) and puts it in the compost bin.

GRAHAM sits stupidly on the bathroom scales observing MEL get the mouse out by the tail. He currently weighs 5.7kg.

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