Clash of the Titan

The Marshal has been annoyed with the neighbors lately. You see, Titanescu spends most of his evenings on the bed with us, and glares towards our front door whenever their baby can be heard or nails are hammered, like the other day.

Titanescu has paws of Russian bear
Titanescu has paws of Russian bear

He is generally cranky, and can go from 0 to Pissy in less than two seconds but he kept staring at the window with a look that said: “Твою мать!

And I made the mistake to reach out to pet him on the head.

It was like a scene from a bar fight: he spun round to stare at my outstretched hand with a pissed off look and smacked it with an audible “whap!”

Sounded like a handful of putty thrown hard against a wall, no sh*t. It echoed through the room.

Unfortunately for Rhuda-an, he was sitting on her chest as she started laughing.

When Titanescu gets mad, everyone needs to be real quiet for a while. Those guffaws pissed him off all the more and he snapped his jaws at her hand before rearing his head back, mouth wide open in the longest hiss I’ve heard since 1979, exhaling a cloud of fetid fish breath at her.
His lips curled, some spittle blew forth, some just dribbled out and it lasted so long he almost coughed at the end… Right in her face.

Because we couldn’t stop laughing uncontrollably, he jumped off and ambled into the kitchen with his weird walk, ankles together, feet kicking outward.

We followed him in there, but there’s one more thing about the old coot: when you piss him off, he shuns you. He turns his back to you and will ignore you completely. A little bit like this:

It took him maybe another 20 minutes to cool down enough that he could come back and be with us…

…and we love him.

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… And speaking of play…

I know we’re maybe supposed to talk to the cats about catnip… But it’s too much fun and they’re all having a good time. Jenny in particular, likes to chew on her toys. Especially after I place them in the catnip jar and shake it…

Chew, hug and toss ’em. This last time, of course, she farted when I reached down to pet her…

Gimme some...
Gimme some…
Mousy! I LOVE Mousy!
Mousy! I LOVE Mousy!
Om-nom-nom-nom
Om-nom-nom-nom
INTENSE NOM
INTENSE NOM
Annnd... Mellowing out....
Annnd… Mellowing out….

 

Everything is illuminated
Everything is illuminated


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Midnight Movie Madness: “Red Dog”

Red Dog” – (92 minutes, Australia, 2011 – PG)

I really want to like movies featuring animal protagonist(s), and I’ll often check out movie listings for older, newer as well as foreign films hoping to find a good one.

But my problem is the same as with Science-Fiction, especially space operas: they both tend to be formulaic and “anthropomorphize” their subject.

Which brings us to “Red Dog“, an Australian film based on actual events. The poster tag lines read: “sometimes you pick the dog. Sometimes the dog picks you”, and “he’s been everywhere, mate.”

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Goodbye winter: a cold retrospective pleading for color

Forty-three days until the beginning of Spring, we are ready to say goodbye to bad colds and high gas bills, aching bones and gray mornings. As Winter plays its last notes like water on metal…

Winter's notes
Winter’s notes

…  The Sun is barely warmer than the Moon.

Wintry morning
Wintry morning

Naked branches without color…

Naked tree
Naked tree

Damp earth holds on to bird tracks for warmth…

Leroy was here
Leroy was here

Yet, already the ice has begun to crack.

Cloud of ice breaks
Cloud of ice breaks

Give us a few months of color before we welcome Winter back, only to curse again.


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Moody Tuesday: silver skies and grey waters

Counting down to Halloween on this gloomy Tuesday morning, let’s stroll through Autumn, Ray Bradbury’s country.

I hope you’ll enjoy these photos as I do, taken between the beaches of San Francisco, Golden Gate Park and the Shoreline at Mountain View, CA.

“That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.”

― Ray Bradbury, The October Country

Gulls over Baker Beach

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Midnight Movie Madness: “The fall” (2006)

The fall” – (117 minutes, India/USA, 2006 – rated R)

In a Los Angeles hospital of the 1920s, a 5 year old Romanian girl named Alexandria (Cantinca Untaru) is recovering from a broken arm she suffered picking up oranges with her migrant workers parents. Relieving the monotony of long days in this adult world is her accidental meeting of another patient, Roy Walker (Lee Pace), a young movie stuntman.

"The fall" title
Opening title

Roy is bedridden after performing a stunt he intended to impress the film’s female lead. The opening sequence of “the fall“, a gorgeous black and white montage using Beethoven’s 7th symphony, reveals what happened after Roy plunged off a railroad bridge on horseback into the river below, killing his horse and wrenching his back.

The fall iron horse
… And the Iron Horse

As it turns out, Roy is not only just as bored as Alexandria, he is contemplating suicide, the hopeless romantic…

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Caturday: a tale of two kittehs. Or three.

All four of our kittoons here have needed a bit of socializing right from the start. It might seem that Maz Whang didn’t, but his universe was turned upside down when we adopted him, as he’d grown up a full year with Sphynx siblings, and a couple other cats and dog.

To be wrenched from his home was traumatic, and the poor beastie gacked and crapped all over himself in the cat carrier on the way to his new digs.

No camera! No camera!
No camera! No camera!

We had to stop, clean him up and comfort him as best we could before driving on.

Sphynxes are social, but on their own terms, which aren’t always easy to decipher. They really are driven by the two related needs of warmth and sustenance, with much playtime in between.

Just like you test the warmth of a baby bottle prior to feeding, you have to ensure your hands are warm enough before petting Maz or he’ll recoil and dart away in shock and horror. I call this “ghosting” because that’s what his reaction makes me think of. We’ve said he’s been very good for Tito (and vice versa), drawing Tito out of his ‘goth’ period following Boober’s passing.

Strangers at first
Strangers at first

Finally, Tito was able to chase and play to his heart’s content with the streaker, losing excess weight in the process, and bonding with, well, an alien. Even Miss Jenny finds Mazuzu irresistible: both want to nom on Maz, who’ll leap straight up a couple feet in the air and maybe growl if a tooth racks his spine. Mmmmh. Baby back ribs…

Love happens
Love happens

Given Tito and Jenny’s “affection” for shoes, I suspect they enjoy Maz’ gym locker smell when it’s time to give him a bath. That’s usually a signal for us to drag him into the tub, but then they love the new cat smell just as much and are all over him again.

Affection? They have it. Tito tricks us into feeding him and leaves the food for Maz, knowing the alien always needs more. Smart Tito…

Maz grooms both Tito and Jenny when he beds down with either in the basket atop the computer desk, later gacking hairballs and meowing his discontent, but what can you do..? Jenny also grooms both, focusing on Maz’ ears in particular, an unexpected boon for us since Maz and Q-tips don’t mix well.

The mutual grooming society in action
The mutual grooming society in action

One of the biggest changes is something Maz started and Jenny continues: helping Tito find his voice. Because he never was very vocal at all, this watchful little thing which grew into a big cat. He now trills and coos and meows, although always in the higher pitch of a kitten. And it may be early yet to tell, but I think Jenny’s going to be the same. They both will always sound like kittens.

Tito and Jenny
Tito and Jenny

This may sound like a sign of arrested development but I prefer to think of it as a display of happiness, along with Tito’s joy at being picked up and carried from room to room for a few minutes, purring and discovering a new perspective on his world with wide eyes, rubbing his chin on our cheek as we do so. And Jenny’s happiness at going to sleep hugging my hand to her head, like a pillow.

Our two little feral rescues no longer have to survive on mean streets, they only have to romp and warm each other and their “cousin” from outer space.

It's love
It’s love

Love is in the air and scarcely displaced by Maz and Jenny’s farts. It’s all good.


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No accounting for taste: some favorite movie themes and songs

This isn’t any kind of top 10 list, or “best of” by any means: the following clips are posted in no particular order, either.
Some are amusing, some evocative, maybe sad, but they have all stuck somewhere in my mind.

And this sample isn’t exhaustive: I left out Henry Mancini, Roque Banos and Bruno Coulais to name just a few.

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“The illusionist”: Tati nostalgia

“The illusionist” – (2010, UK/France, 80 minutes – rated PG)

Note: this review contains spoilers.
Adapted from an original script written by Jacques Tati in 1956, “the illusionist” retains all the charms from Sylvain Chomet’s previous animated film “the triplettes of Belleville”.

Watch the trailer here:

The illusionist” is a very different kind of film though, partly because it is semi-autobiographical, but mainly perhaps because of the controversy as to which of Tati’s daughters the script was dedicated. Tati had a daughter out of wedlock during WWII with an Austrian dancer named Herta Schiel. Pressured by his sister, Tati abandoned mother and child, and went on to start a family with Micheline Winter, with whom he had a second daughter, Sophie, and a son named Pierre.
Each side lays claim to Tati’s original intent. Did he write out of sorrow and guilt for abandoning Helga Marie, or regret at having missed much of Sophie’s childhood while on the road?

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“I saw the devil” – (2010, South Korea, 141 minutes – NR)

School bus driver Kyung-Chul (Min-Sik Choi) has a nice little toy affixed to the rear view mirror of his van: plastic angel wings which light up in cool blue. It’s cute looking and probably helps put the young women and girls he picks up at ease.
Yellow school van and little blue wings.

Choi as serial killer Kyung

But Kyung is a serial killer who brings his victims back to his lair to carve them up after raping them. He then provides a cannibalistic associate of his with their meat to consume.

Watch the trailer here:

One snowy night in the countryside, Kyung drives up to a station wagon stopped by the side of the road with a flat tire.

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