Some like it hot

18 11 2013

Apparently Jasper thinks the capsaicin spray with which I doused the houseplant he liked to graze upon is akin to sriracha: it spices the plant up nicely.





Cats

9 08 2013

Because, yep, that’s what this post is about.

Ignore the cat hair on the ottoman---look at the pretty kitty instead!

Ignore the cat hair on the ottoman—look at the pretty kitty instead!

Kitty boy on the floor.

Kitty boy on the floor.

His preferred floor-space is actually the threshold of the bathroom:

009

Trickster, however, almost always prefer a higher plane:

Coolin' her armpit.

Coolin’ her armpit.

Another high spot:

Trickster looking down on us all.

Trickster looking down on us all.

That shelf, alas, is no more. It was a great place for Trickster to escape Jasper, but one day I came home and the wall brace had been torn out.

I think Jasper probably tried to leap up to it and the combination of his weight and the jump was too much for the bracket.

I may try to rig an alternative up for Trickster—she really does need a place to get away from Jasper-in-fightin’-mode—but in the meantime, she and the kitty boy are sharing (alternately) this:

013

017

Yes, I constructed a dresser from wine boxes—perfect for my (de-jewel-cased) cds. It used to sit in my living room, topped off by my mini-stereo, but as I was trying to free up space in the main room, I thought I’d see if it would work to put it in my bedroom.

It works, and the cats dig it.

Anwyay, it’s been awhile, and I didn’t want you to forget how gorgeous my kitties are.





Strange angels

17 07 2013

It happens about once a month.

Kitty boy changes where he sleeps at night: sometimes at the end of my bed, sometimes on the bedroom chair, sometimes on the small chest, and sometimes in the living room.

But with some regularity, in the middle of the night, Jasper will creep up on to my chest and purr and peep and squeak until I wake up enough to scritch him. And if the noises (or his weight or a misplaced paw) don’t do it, he’ll nudge around one of my hands until I bring it to his head, then he’ll settle in, a block of purring fur.

Okay, I don’t like being woken up, but he’s just so affectionate and. . . yeah, I’m a sucker, so yeah, he gets away with it.

Actually, the purring and blocking wouldn’t be so bad, but at some point he’ll get super affectionate and start to lick my chin or my neck, and I have to move my hand to deflect him—because I know that after the licks come the nips and then the chomps.

No, I can’t recall that Jasper—who I did once call the Vampire Kitty—ever has bitten my neck, but having had my toes be on the receiving end of the lick-nip-chomp routine, I ain’t taking any chances.

I don’t know what’s going on with him; it’s entirely possible he’s just being. . . cat.

Trickster, on the other hand, never bothers me in the middle of the night, but when the alarm goes off in the morning, or if she hears me stir, she’ll jump on to the bed or come up from the foot and sit, just sit, right next to me, waiting for me to wake enough to throw a pettin’ her way.

Of course, then she’s got this weird step-dance she goes through where she arches her back and circles around and smashes her head into my hand, to which I almost always respond, “weirdo”.

Whatever. Cat.

Cats.





Ain’t nobody’s business if I do

4 03 2013

Remember when I mentioned that this cat:

028

Was afraid of this cat bed?

014

Well, enough time tromping across one in order to chomp on Trickster. . .

001

. . . and he apparently determined that this particular cat bed won’t burn off his fur.

Thus:

004

Strange boy.





Come together

25 02 2013

This is as close as my critters get to cuddling:

012

Twenty minutes after I took this shot, Jasper leaned over and began licking Trickster. Which was, as ever, prelude to biting.

Oh well, they both seem to like me well enough.





All things weird and wonderful, 27

12 12 2012

This cat

028

is afraid of this.

014

I do not understand.

He clearly likes the soft:

005

But only the human bed. Not the cat bed.

Strange boy.





Talkin’ at the Texaco

9 12 2012

Quick (and not-so) hits:

I keep a list of books to find in the empty back pages of a 2009 pocket planner. The books aren’t listed in any particular order: I see a reference to (or given, perhaps by dmf) a possibility, and I scrawl it down. Since I do so much poking around The Strand, I look them up, find out where they’re located (Med Hist, Hist Gen, Amer, Pol, etc), and pen that in, boxing the location in different colors, to make it easier to see.

The fiction, however, I keep on separate pages. I go back and forth on fiction: sometime scooping up bunches, other times neglecting these books entirely.

I’m not quite sure why, but in the last few days it became very important to me to track down and list fiction.

There was, in particular, one book I wanted. I must have written it down, hadn’t I? No. In my 2012 Moleskine pocket planner? I found a number of others (The Age of Miracles, Brookland, Zone One, Forever) scrawled opposite a week in October, but not the one tickling me behind my ear.

It came out this past year, I thought. A story in which Saudi Arabia is the superpower, the US a backwater, Osama sulking in the background—something like that. The Stranger had written about it in the Slog awhile ago and, I thought, in the past few weeks, so I went to their Books section and clicked back into their archives. December, November, October. . . nothing.

Dammit.

What was the author’s name? Salim Ahmed? Salem Ahmad? Something like that. A search on Amazon brings me a number of nonfiction books, nothing close. To the Strand’s site, thinking it might be listed. . . somewhere. Found one that seemed interesting (Alif the Unseen), but not the tickler. Barnes & Noble—nothing.

Fuckit.

Back to the Stranger, back to Books, and a scroll back and back and back through the archives. I thought it might have been reviewed January, February, so set myself in, Trickster in my lap, for a slog, clicking on squinched entries to see if the book hid there, moving on, moving back.

K. Silem Mohammed! Was that it? It’s not that far (is it?) from Salim Ahmad?

No, Mohammed is a poet, not a novelist.

Back, back. Fran Lebowitz; Jan Berenstein, “Really Good Books About Lesbians”; Reverend America; David Foster Wallace; Katherine Boo; and. . . page 9, February 9, “The Reverse Jihad”: the book review of Mark Ruff’s The Mirage.

Mark Ruff?! Mark, not Salim? Ruff, not Ahmed?

Damn.

But I got it.

~~~~~

While scrolling back, I found this entry by Paul Constant, dated August 3, 2012, in which he writes

I know a lot of authors who get outraged over the consumer’s belief that they can decide what they pay for the piece of art that the author spent months—probably years—creating. They call it entitlement. (It’s not like the work is completely unavailable; Pogue could have bought a paperback for less than he spent for a pirated copy.) Many consumers believe that they should be able to access the work in whatever format they choose, and they believe that when they buy the work, they should be able to do whatever they want with it. (They accuse author’s estates and publishers of being greedy and out-of-touch.) I know the law says that there’s a right and a wrong here, but I also believe the law is hopelessly outdated when it comes to issues like this. I honestly don’t know what side I’m on, here.

I tend toward sympathy toward the authors (duh), but Constant pretty well sums up my own ambivalence.

~~~~~

I must have the only cat in the world who is afraid of cat beds.

*Jasper*

~~~~~

I’ve bitched about Rod Dreher before, will bitch about him again, and am bitching about him today.

Long ago (and far away) I read First Things, Christianity Today, and National Review Online with some regularity, partly to keep my secular-leftist self honest, partly to keep tabs. I fell out with both FT and NRO as they became less and less thoughtful, although I do read CT at least weekly, and have since added Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrock at Marginal Revolution to my teeth-grinding reading.

Still, I felt the need to keep up with some kind of thoughtful social conservative, and since I’d been reading Dreher from back in his BeliefNet days, I re-upped with him once he returned to blogging, this time at The American Conservative.

Dreher is thoughtful about a third of the time, and mildly-to-quite interesting about another third; that final third, however, is enough to make me reconsider reading him.

He writes well about himself and his own struggles, his family, and what he’s drawn to, but when writing “from the outside” of a phenomenon, he’s terrible: small-minded, close-minded, and mean. When he’s called out on his cruelty his defensiveness rises into bile, or when corrected on a crucial point or reminded of a double-standard, he’ll either double-down or ignore the commenter. When all else fails, he’ll bring out the sneering “you’re-making-too-much-of-this/can’t-you-people-take-a-joke” response.

All are on display in this post, ‘Buckwild’ and Self-Exploitation. The post for the most part is fine, but when he gets to the end, he pulls a classic Dreher move:

Nevertheless, to what extent does the framing of films like this, and the informed consent of its participants, ameliorate one’s moral squeamishness? Jersey Shore was about the sexy trashiness of working-class Italian-Americans from New Jersey. Buckwild is about the sexy trashiness of working-class Scots-Irish Americans from Appalachia. How would you feel if the next installment were about the sexy trashiness of working-class African-Americans from the south side of Chicago, or the sexy trashiness of working-class Hispanic-Americans from El Paso?

That last question is in and of itself is worth asking, but it’s a problem coming from Dreher because he loses his mind when he talks about race.

I don’t think Dreher hates black or brown people, and I have no reason to believe that he would be anything other than gracious to any black or brown person introduced to him. In short, I wouldn’t call him a racist.

And yet. And yet he has a hard time seeing that black people are a plural, not a singular, and he cannot seem to extend any sort of sympathy to those who would argue that racism is still a problem in this country, especially not to those who write from their own experiences.

Unless, of course, you’d count Steve Sailer. Sigh.

Anyway, read the comments, especially his response to those who bring up The Dukes of Hazzard and their car, the stars-and-bars sportin’, Dixie-horn-blarin’, General Lee, and the, um, particular cultural politics of that show.

Dreher’s not having it, not one bit of it.

Now, as I was re-reading the entry and the comments while writing this, I thought, this is hardly the worst of what he’s written—see George Zimmerman’s Bloody Nose, for example, in which his last line is Remind me, why, exactly, is George Zimmerman on trial?—but perhaps this is one of those cases where the more I read Rod on race, the less credit I’m willing to give him.

He used to go on rampages about those horrid gay activists with some regularity, but now, for the most part, he manages to confine himself to saving religion from queer marriage. He’s terrible when it comes to liberal Catholics, especially liberal nuns, and is a damned bully when it comes to trans folk (one faithful trans reader, also from his BeliefNet days, finally had enough and bowed out).

I guess this is all so enraging precisely because he has shown himself to be capable of reflection and reconsideration of what matters to him; that he is is not when it comes to that which matters to others betrays a deliberate meanness.

Perhaps that’s too harsh, perhaps there are simply limits to his reflectiveness, limits which he himself cannot recognize.

Given that I almost certainly have those same limits, albeit in different places, perhaps I have a third reason for reading him that I can add to the two above: as a reminder of the existence of my own blind spots, and that I need to look for what I cannot see.

~~~~~

End of the semester—naught but grading ahead.

Blogging will be more erratic than usual.





We might as well try (or not. . .)

19 09 2012

Posts in my head, not on the page—so I bring you instead pics of This Absurd Household.

Back in May I decided to experiment with growing basil, so I bought a few wee plants and rigged up a box planter (I stuck a tension rod in the window track, stuck the box on the ledge, then secured it with a bungi cord hooked to the rod):

A week or so after I set ’em up

That window faces west-south-west, but as its set back a bit I wasn’t sure it would get enough sun.

Here’s how they looked in early August:

Those little buggers were water fiends, taking up a soaking every other day, and not minding if they got rained on some more.

I didn’t take any pictures in September before I harvested most of the leaves, but they got bigger and bushier and leaned over the lip of the box toward the sun. I bought extra basil from the Bowling Green green-market in order to make pesto, but next year I might just plant a few extra and see if I have enough for my, what, 5 or 6 double-batches.

The plants still have quite a few leaves: Since I bought basil I only took the larger leaves to supplement the purchase, and the smaller leaves have since filled out nicely. I think I’m going to harvest the rest in the next week or so and try to freeze ’em.

Now, on to the critters.

This is what I awoke to one morning:

Wonder how this happened. . .

The ottoman should, obviously, be parked against the chair, the footstool under the chair, and that rug should, well, should not be visible from this angle.

The cats do enjoy skiing on that rug, and Trickster likes to hide herself behind the little moguls she creates after bunching it all up.

Speaking of the Tricky Girl, she’s a pretty, pretty kitty:

Everything here is mine

She looks quite elegant there, doesn’t she? Well, she also has a habit of slunking down:

She leans her head forward down; it would look like a hunch, except that she extends rather than scrunches her neck.

Anyway, she’s a gorgeous weirdo.

And the Kitty-boy, the most beautiful black cat in the world? (You might think your black cat is the most beautiful black cat in the world, but you would be wrong.)

Well, Jasper also has the BEST PROFILE IN THE WORLD—but he refuses to let me take a picture of it:

This is as close as I could get, and you can’t really see it.

You can, however, see his impressive claws. . .

. . . which, yes, I should cut more often, but I like how they look. (I know, I know: stupid human.)

That desk, by the way, is 42 inches across. Yes, Jasper is a big, big cat.

And how do the cats get along?

At least in this instance they’re not doing this at 3 in the morning. On top of me.

Anyway, back to words tomorrow.





I have heard a million tales; I have told a million more

9 03 2012

Been falling down on the blogging beat. . . and this post isn’t really going to rectify that.

Quick hits, nothing more.

~~~

Rush Limbaugh is boring. Bore bore bore boring.

I don’t care about his advertisers, I don’t care about a boycott, I don’t care if he disappears from the radio forever.

Yes, he was a total shit to Sandra Fluke, just as he was a total shit to Chelsea Clinton (and Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama and. . .) and if he doesn’t understand that women can actually enjoy sex then I can only say “ur doing it wrong!!!”

But he lacks anything other than bile and ego, and as I have my own bile and ego, I see no reason to indulge his particular brand of narcissistic nonsense.

~~~

I did coupla’ posts a while back deriding the concept of “free” (put in quotes because it was about a price point which wasn’t really zero, just offloaded on to someone else), but the notion has reemerged in another form, as a kind of justification for theft of copyrighted materials.

As someone who participated in the SOPA/PIPA protest, who believes that copyright laws are waaaay overdue for an overhaul, and who doesn’t pay for the third-party content (videos, photos) that I post, I am as much in the moral muck—if not in as quite as deep as some—as my fellow. . . thieves.

Still, I am unmoved by the argument made by some that the delay in release of DVDs or streaming of movies justifies piracy. “I’m not getting what I want as soon as I want it” is less about copyright overreach and more about selfishness.

Anyway, I’m not so much interested in filling out that argument than I am in tossing out the following stray bits:

One, is not the justification for “free” (in either form) some kind of end-state of a labor-dismissing form of capitalism? That is,  value was first removed from labor (in the forms of laborers) and relocated to the anarchic (if manipulated) realm of supply-and-demand; now value is being removed from the production process itself, such that the costs of production are irrelevant to those who demand the end product for “free”.

All that matters is the desire of the consumer, to the detriment of the processes and relationships which enable the desire to be fulfilled.

Two, is the academic publication model in any way relevant to this conversation? Professors produce content for “free” (journal articles, conference papers) or nearly “free” (books, book chapters) as a price of admission into the academic guild.

Produce a sufficient number of these “freebies” and one is granted tenure, which in turn allows one  to produce more such “freebies”.

(Yes, there are salaries and teaching commitments and of course the horrid practice of making authors pay for their own reprints, but I don’t know that any of those throws off the comparison.)

~~~

Pundits have nothing to offer people who pay attention.

There’s nothing Cokie Roberts or David Brooks or EJ Dionne has to say that anyone who hasn’t been paying long and sustained attention to politics couldn’t have said for themselves.

Now, I happen to have particular contempt for Cokie Roberts (god, her smugness!), and I may have suggested once or twenty times that all pundits be loaded on to a cruise ship, sent out to sea, and never allowed to dock anywhere ever again, but a decent pundit actually has something to offer someone who wants a quick hit of info on a topic about which she knows little.

But pundits talking to pundits about their punditry? Useless.

~~~

And because it’s been awhile, a coupla’ shots of the absurd household’s fuzzier denizens:

Catman! Catman! Catman! Nana nana nana nana CATMAN!

You have GOT to be kidding me.

Trouble, both of ’em.





Recovery cat

7 11 2011

My first thought was: floodpants!

But then I wondered if this wasn’t more wearing-gloves-with-jacket-sleeves-pushed-up.

(I woulda said “Michael Jackson”, but there was no white glove.)