Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rock-a-Bye Kitty

Denise and I returned home last Sunday night to find a void where before there had been black. We'd been gone little more than 24 hours, yet in that time our household feline population had somehow dropped from two to one. It was kind of like one of those locked-room mysteries, except this was an entire house, and there wasn't a dead body.1

At first, we assumed Calypso (a.k.a. Callie) was merely asleep somewhere, but as the hours passed with nary a meow, we began to worry. The friend who had stopped by to feed/walk the dog said she hadn't seen Callie at all on her second visit, but was certain she hadn't gotten out. We ramped up our search.

I looked everywhere for her. And I mean everywhere. I searched under couches, behind bookcases, in box springs, between the DVD and Blu-ray players, in the crisper drawer of the fridge, and even inside the dog.2 By the end of the first day, we'd determined there was nowhere she could be hiding or trapped in the house. We now assumed Callie had slipped out, despite our friend's assurances to the contrary, and we moved our search outdoors.

As an indoor-only cat, Callie didn't wear a collar, and we knew few would be able to distinguish her from the couple stray black cats in our area. Still, we asked the neighbors to keep an eye out for her, and circled the block calling her name. We looked under decks, in bushes, and up trees. Food left by the back door was eaten, but always at times when squirrels were running rampant in the yard.

Callie was a cautious cat who rarely sought attention from anyone other than us, so after three days passed with no sign of her, I gave up hope that we'd ever see her again. I could tell you exactly where Waldo was,3 or Carmen Sandiego,4 but not my sweet black cat who liked to leave us offerings of socks and dish towels. She had become Schrödinger's cat, both dead and alive at the same time, since we had no idea which she was.5

So imagine my surprise when our savior came to us in the form of an annoyingly yippy toy poodle with a small bladder. (Go ahead; imagine. I'll wait.) At 4:00am and in the pouring rain, he spotted Callie 20+ ft up a tree at the far end of our neighbor's yard. Luckily, the neighbors had a 24-ft ladder, so I ventured up to retrieve a scared, soaked Callie. Four attempts and two gouges in my arm later, I secured her against me and she purred and licked my shoulder as we descended. And like that, our four-day ordeal was over. Our family was whole once again.

I guess the moral of the story is: Don't trust eyewitness testimony.6

Welcome home, Callie.7

1 The body showed up three days later. And don't worry; it wasn't the cat.
2 Okay, so I didn't actually look inside the dog. But still. Everywhere.
3 In the kitchen with Dinah.
4 In the study with a candlestick.
5 Which is rather fitting, considering our younger cat is named Schrödinger, and he owns her.
6 That, or: If you own a cat, make sure you also own a 24-ft ladder.
7 Oh yeah, you're probably wondering about that body I mentioned in the first footnote, huh? Well, the day before Callie appeared in the black of night, a mouse forced open the panel around a set of electrical outlets and entered our home. Moments later, despite its alternative method of entry, it was as dead as a dormouse. (Schrödinger is claiming self defense.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

10 Top 10s for 10/10

Last year when I put together my 10 Top 10s for 10/10/10, including the popular Top 10 Common Household Items You Can Use to Repel an Attack By Ninjas, people thought me mad. Little has changed.

  1. Use a decoy. Stuffing a pillow under the covers usually works for lowly peasants, but for the princess a pea under a couple dozen comforters should do the trick.
  2. Get a dog.1
  3. Make a sign saying, "Sorry, but the princess is in another castle."
  4. A tiger riding atop a bear riding atop a Tyrannosaurus Rex, hurled at the dragon by Chuck Norris.
  5. Film the dragon's attempt. It'll return to its lair only to find it has captured the princess's stunt double.
  6. Befriend the dragon. Start by inviting it to a barbecue, so it'll warm up to you. You can have toasted S'moors.2
  7. Kill off the princess's family. That way, she'll become queen; queens aren't nearly as tasty.
  8. Admonish it. ("No! Bad dragon!")
  9. Guard the princess with a hobbit, a leprechaun, the tooth fairy, and the Easter Bunny. They're just as real as the dragon is.
  10. A moat. With sharks. Attach friggin' lasers to their heads. Why are we still talking about this!?3

1 As anyone familiar with the Chinese zodiac can tell you, dogs and dragons are incompatible.
2 Spanish Moors.
3 By the way, here's how to defend yourself against sharks with friggin' lasers attached to their heads.

  1. A flagon of dragons
  2. A scintilla of chinchillas
  3. A hodgepodge of hedgehogs
  4. A platitude of platypi
  5. A quandary of quail
  6. A circus of pythons
  7. A baudelaire of polar bears
  8. A smattering of gnus
  9. A yes of deer
  10. A mukluk of ducks

  1. Duck
  2. Duck
  3. Duck
  4. Duck
  5. Duck
  6. Duck
  7. Duck
  8. Duck
  9. Excuse me, Creepy Gas Station Attendant Guy, but how do we get back to the highway?
  10. Goose!

  1. People are so lazy they replace you with "u" even when they're working with a full keyboard.
  2. You is both singular and plural, so I can't always tell which one is meant (unless I'm in Brooklyn, where the plural is always "yous")
  3. You rhymes with lieu, mu, new, ooh, poo, queue, sue, & to, but not thou.
  4. You (yes, you!) never read my blog posts when I'm nearby, so I miss all your laughter, your groans, your thinly veiled threats...
Um... yeah... that's all I've got. I thought this would be an easy topic, and I'd quickly churn out ten fantastic--wait, I think I've got a solution! I can't believe I'm already doing #1 on this list, but:

Top 10 Things I Hates About U

  1. U has such a great rapport with Q. All Q & I have is a nice qi. (Although, if they swap places, they look pretty smart.)
  2. I always owes U, never the other way around.
  3. I wants to keep things straight and true, but U turns things around on him.
  4. I is often stuck standing alone, yet U is usually surrounded by other letters. (Prior to this lists's #1, brought on by — of course — the iTouch, iPhone, iPad, etc.)
  5. U (Uranium) is always gloating about its half-life, which makes I (Iodine) want to dye.
  6. Sometimes I just wants to wear a muumuu like U, but is forced to fit into a bikini.

At Little City Pizza (Simsbury, CT), the tables display an assortment of random comic book panels.
  5. koff a-huk
  7. PAFT
  8. SNAKT
  9. PLT
  10. WHUG!

  1. Groverfield
  2. The Bert Locker
  3. Weekend at Ernie's
  4. Gone Baby Gonzo
  5. Conan the Fozzie Bearian
  6. I Am Sam Eagle
  7. Zootlander
  8. Sesame St. Elmo's Fire
  9. Dr. Strangepork, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Link Hogthrob
  10. How to Lose Guy Smiley in 10 Days

  1. "Oh no, not ewe again!"
  2. "Hey, my mane man. You're one hep cat."
  3. "I'm not gonna eat you."
    "Yeah right. You're lion."
  4. "You're riding that thing as you flee the authorities?"
    "Yes, I'm on the lamb."
  5. "Yeah, I used to follow Mary around, but you know how things go..."
    "Restraining order?"
    "What can I say? I've been a baaaaad boy."
  6. "You can't pull the wool over my eyes. I've been sheared."
  7. "My fleece was white as snow. But then I pissed off that bastard Jason and his Argonauts."
  8. "I don't steal wool."
  9. "King of the Jungle, you say?"
    "It's good to be the King."
    "Well I didn't vote for you."
  10. "I like ewe, alot."

  1. Top Secret! - the Val Kilmer classic
  2. Big Top Pee-wee - I prefer his Playhouse
  3. The Four Tops - I couldn't help myself (sugar pie honey bunch)
  4. Top dog - that'd be the one humping the underdog
  5. Top hat - I wear mine on the Boardwalk
  6. Topol - he fiddles on roof tops
  7. Roof tops - where to get the good kind of shingles
  8. Stove Top stuffing - prepared on counter tops
  9. Counter tops - where I cut the tops off carrots
  10. Carrot Top - yes, Carrot Top tops Top Gun

  1. Past pluperfect tense.
  2. You're an idiot. You've gotten it all wrong.
  3. Oh, really? Well, then why don't you enlighten me?
  4. It's tens, not tense. You need to be more attentive.
  5. I don't have to listen to this. Back off.
  6. Are you threatening me? I'll knock you into next week.
  7. Ooh, I'm frightened.
  8. You should be. I intend to break your face.
  9. You keep your dirty tentacles off me, or I'll—
  10. Ooh, look! A kitten!

Traditionally, blue laws were created to stymie activities that were deemed offensive to religious principles. Most have since been repealed, but some remain on the books today. Blüe laws, on the other hand, are fictional, since nothing with an ümlaüt actually exists.4
  1. (Columbus, OH) In years when a dog is mayor, the town clerk must be either a cat or a badger.
  2. (Plymouth, MA) After 9 pm on Mondays, it is illegal to sing or hum any song by ABBA.
  3. (Placerville, CO) It is illegal to own more than one purple umbrella.
  4. (Alpharetta, GA) You are allowed to punch your in-laws in the face if there is a full moon.
  5. (Reno, NV) When juggling more than three chickens, at least one must be a rooster.
  6. (Gary, IN) It is illegal to cry over spilt milk unless Oreos were also spilt.
  7. (Eden, NY) Every citizen is required to name their first-born child Adam, irrespective of the gender.
  8. (Enid, OK) You may not ride an armadillo through the city's center unless you are wearing high heels, earmuffs, and a cape.
  9. (Roseau, MN) It is illegal to store a banana in a gun holster, even if the banana is loaded.
  10. (Austin, TX) Walruses are not allowed to enter any place of worship without wearing pants.
4 You are so naïve.

And that'll do it for me. Now if you don't mind, I have a princess to save, so I must be off.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Once Upon a Tuba

Long before I started spinning yarns, I was pretty handy with a pencil. Graphite was my weapon of choice for any art assignment that didn't specify a medium. That is, until one fateful day... which really wasn't all that fateful. Sorry to mislead you like that.

'Twas my freshman year of college, six years before I first started writing fiction, and three years before I was rejected from a short story writing course because I was an art major.1 The professor spread out about 100 postcards on the floor and had each of us choose three to combine into a drawing.

One caught my eye right away: a work by my favorite artist, René Magritte.2 I snatched it up and scanned the rest of the cards as my choices quickly dwindled. In the end I snagged a Picasso collage I'd never seen before and a photo of a desert landscape to round out my triumvirate of awesome.

I knew I couldn't resort to my usual grayscale pencil drawing, not with a desert sunset involved, so for the first time ever I ventured into the realm of chalk pastels. I merged Magritte's tuba, suitcase, and cloth-ed woman with a Picasso moth and set them against the desert backdrop. The result:

I'd hoped to come up with some clever way to tie this all back to story writing, but since a picture is worth 1,000 words and this one comprises three pictures, I'm already way past my quota. Instead, I'll just leave you with this:

More art should have tubas in it.

1 That's a half-truth. I wasn't rejected for being an art major. I was rejected for not being an English major. It's probably just as well, since my other courses only afforded me 17 seconds of spare time that semester. (Seventeen seconds? / I can't write a tale that fast. / Maybe a haiku...)
2 Ceci n'est pas une apostille.