Cat-A-Palooza

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Yes. I went. To Cats.

I really enjoyed myself. I was expecting campy badness to the nth degree. I got a big screen attempt at an overly musical musical that does not boast any sort of coherent or linear story. This film is based on theAndrew Lloyd Weber musical—which is people dressed up like cats writhing and singing for two hours. Sure, there’s something about picking a cat to go to the Heavyside Layer. Where that cat gets a new life—this reads strangely like death. It’s a weird two hour long cat sacrifice? How Egyptian.

Cats is based on the T.S. Eliot poem—Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

The current movie has been directed by Tobe Hooper. It features Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Francesca Hayward, Ray Winstone, Rebel Wilson, etc, etc. A big cast.

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Dame Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy

I had the theatre to myself. Score! They didn’t turn the overhead light off. Bummer. Did I bother to get up and go inform someone of this? No. I was also in the tiniest theatre. There’s ups, there’s downs, there’s can’t be bothered to get up once the magic starts.

So, our movie opens on a woman throwing away a cat in a bag. No kidding. The cat gets out of the bag. We’re in some litter-strewn dumping ground for unwanted felines. Oh dear, oh what the…!

These freaky human-cat experiments, escaped from the Island of Dr. Moreau, spy on this unseen as yet kitty.

Oh my! It’s the WIDE-EYED INGENUE, Victoria. She knows nothing of this new alley cat/feral cat colony she’s lucked into. And she’s a slinky little thing who can ballet her way around several giant set pieces.

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Francesca Hayward as Victoria

Then I start to notice that the ears and tails are, um, moving. Moving. But the cats have human faces. With whiskers. And human eyes.

Nightmares to follow.

But after ten minutes…Nope! Never. I never got used to the cat characteristics mixing so badly with the human ones. That was. No. Nope. I’ve heard the team behind this movie sent in new, improved movie magic cuts to fix the CGI mistakes that made it into the theatrical release. Wish I’d seen that earlier version…yes, I do.

That horrific cockroach/mouse fiasco. I totally agree here. It was horrific to watch mice with children’s faces…ugh. To watch a human-cat hybrid popping dancing cockroaches into her strange whiskered mouth. Surely someone in editing went—what the actual fuck is this? Followed by– cutting room floor time, y’all!

Surely someone did that. A lot. Who thought this looked okay? Who??

But—the cast of this gave it their all. Nobody phoned it in that I could tell. When it got to someone presenting their particular cat, it was great fun. Some were more fun than others. I loved the train one. That kitty can dance!

I am a huge fan of tap. Love the sound, love the precision and mastery that goes into a great tap routine. Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, just bliss for me. No, they were not in this movie. If you don’t know either of those names, then hey, you have some great discoveries ahead of you. Oh yes. You do.

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James Cordon as Bustaphor Jones. Notice the giant set piece. Naked cats versus dressed cats. 

The thief cats, eh, it was all right. Judi Dench as [Mama Cat] Old Deuteronomy– loved her and her singing fit her character. Gus the Theatre Cat, played by Gandalf, was sad and dignified, with a weird fluffy tail but his cat grafting seemed to fit him better than others.

Now, I wanted to be charmed by the Memories cat, played by a truly awesome power singer who made Dreamgirls a must-see. Jennifer Hudson dressed as some sort of bag lady meets Nora Desmond—baggy overcoat over sparkly yet grimy duds. Um. Okay. Why does a cat need clothes…as some of the cats had clothes, some did not; it seemed the main characters had clothes, the ensemble did not.

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Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella. Hayward in ballet pose. 

Some sort of overall arc got attempted here with Grizabella/Jennifer Hudson. The wide-eyed ingénue cat, Victoria, grew to like her and drew her into the performance space inside an abandoned movie house. The other cats, who had to be Jellicle cats, had to audition. Audition to be chosen to die/get a new life/change/move on.

Jellicle cats never got explained and I didn’t really care what that was. It seemed a special club made up of cats hungering to find a new life off the streets. Almost a cult of cats that other cats would have to be asked to join. It seemed Judi Dench’s cat got to control all this.

Back to Memory. The song. Who has not sung this song for an audition or for a gigantic Chinese audience? Raise your hand! Yes, I sang this for a giant audience of mostly Chinese people at the school I worked at. Yes, I managed to hit that big note. I also got to sing this with a student who had a lovely voice. Who wanted us to dress like cats. I said no to that. Memories…!

Grizabella belts out the last few verses of the most famous and infamous song ever to burst from Broadway.

And oh yes, she hit that glory note. She hit it to make Betty Buckley and ever other diva who just stood there on a stage and sang that to the heavens proud as punch. Boom. But this moment seemed contrived and false.

As for every minute up until now, most of the other cats hate this cat with an unfathomable passion. Though we do get Victoria singing the Beautiful Ghosts song as Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronmy watches, Victoria singing it to the disgraced cat who lives by herself in the wastelands. That was rather heartbreaking and rang very true. The performer did not have the voice Hudson has, but she brought a tear to my eye.

Yes, I sat by myself in an empty movie house room, with tears on my cheeks. I have surely hit all the sad spinster bingo card squares by now and then some. Sigh.

What cat gets to go to the Heavyside Layer? That was the story. Victoria allows the other cats to explain everything and then burst into song, do high kicks and back arches. She’s a plot device far more than a character.

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Idris Elba as Macavity. Or the Cheshire Cat? Or…?

Ah, the villain of the piece–the very sexy cat-slinky and funky fake green eyed Idris Elba. No other cat had weird fake eyes. If they did, I did not notice. No weird unblinking neon eye lenses slapped in actors eyes that I noted except Elba.

Not even Taylor Swift, who I thought did a great job with her one big number. Well done, madam! Kind of a big band standards stripper music showstopper attempt where she shimmied and strutted in high heels cause…cats wear heels but no other cats had heels on so…yep.

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Yes, that is Taylor Swift, showing up for one song and one song only. 

This bad kitty, Macavity, magicked [?] the other contenders to leave only himself to be picked. So he slunk around, acting all slinky, basically and yes, it was sexy as hell. Then he took off that pimp-ish fur coat and it was…what…what is that? It would be like Darth Vader stripping down to his undies. You’d not be delightfully scared of a baddie standing there in tighty whities. You’d be noticing the train tracks when Darth Vader turned around. Or that hey, it’s just some guy. No big deal.

Macavity and that coat was his look. Stripping that coat off destroyed that aura of menace and charm.

He’s supposed to be a ginger cat, according to the song lyrics we just freaking heard and he’s…kinda dark brown with fixed green eyes. Change the lyrics, dears.

But the movie needs something to play against so we’re not just waiting for the Next Big Song and Dance medley. Otherwise, there’s no tension. None.

Elba as the bad kitty provides some sort of urgency and, um, tension. Though why he’d wish a new life when he seems to relish creeping around being all scary. And he has magic powers. But he has to wait to be picked…yeah, don’t think about the non-plot, do not think about how there’s no actual plot to this thing. Let that go, let that go!

The pacing seemed okay. The first bit of the movie seemed to drag but then it found some sort of strange forward momentum. That’s as close as I can get to…yeah.

Now, I’ve seen Cats on stage. I know there’s no real story there. It’s just a collection of songs, with great dance bits, then the big wallop songs of Act II that do not let up; it’s over. The movie pretty much followed that, sort of.

I’d have ended it with the rewarded cat sailing off to that reward instead of where it did.

I’d have not done that CGI cat-human hybrid shit. Jesus Christ! Help! It never got charming…or forgettable. That suspension of disbelief just refused to stretch that far. I found myself watching the swiveling CGI ears far more than whatever the actors were doing. Maybe Cats the musical is just not adaptable, at this moment, to film.

Did they not learn from the Halle Berry Catwoman mess? Which, yes, I liked. But I can well understand why it tanked. It was over the top absurd, sure, but Berry tried to morph into someone’s idea of a cat. Someone who’s never been around cats. A dog person’s idea of a cat. Okay!

Anyway, thanks for reading my few scattered impressions of a movie I have been dying to see cause it looked like something the SyFy channel put out as a dare. I had a good time, I had the theatre to myself. I could laugh and cry and fart to my heart’s content.

Happy New Year. Go see something silly and fun. Hug your cat. That’s all I got.

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Yes, that is a real cat. My kitty taking a break in her fave box. 

Merry

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from Anne. T. Donahue

I was doing okay. Pretty good mood. Made cookies. Posted something on a social media site. A happy holidays greeting. Crickets. Does no one wish me a happy holiday anything? Like. Ever? Mood evaporated quicker than belief in love. I know I am not lovable but come on.

Mustn’t dwell on that, right? That’s the message here? Must realize there’s more to blah blah than blah blah? Yep. I have a cat now. That must balance out the notion that I don’t matter at all to anyone ever and never will.

Hello, depression, my old friend, you’ve come to haunt my head again…

I notice my Christmas cheer is non-existent. Raised a Lutheran, so it’s Christmas time to me this time of the year. Oh sure, had the whole nine yards. Two days of food and family, trees and presents. And at times, church. Depending on where we lived or how close we were to the one set of very Lutheran grandparents. Christmas Eve services are when they sing the Christmas carols, by the way. All the verses! I might not like Christmas that much but dang, I sure do like belting out the carols.

I have been listening to various Christmas albums as I work on a screenplay about necrophilia. Yes, you read that correctly.

Annie Lennox, surprisingly, has a gorgeous one out. I had no idea she’d done a holiday album. A Christmas Cornucopia. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is my fave cut from that. Also one of my fave carols. O Holy Night as well ranks as one of my fave carols—the melody just thrills. Hearing a great singer belt that out…dang-a-lang-a-ding-dong.

I just wish to avoid relatives and all that. I have no wish to force myself to be social or friendly or just sit there like a loveless lump stuffing my face with food and drink so I don’t start screaming. I am rather done with humanity at this point. I guess they are done with me as well.

If I go by my social media posts. Which you shouldn’t, I’ve read.

I just meant this to be a breezy little holiday screed. The best of intentions, eh?

Happy holidays, however you celebrate or don’t.

Shivering

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Hey, can I chew on that electrical cord? Can I?? Can I??

Happy December. I wrote the following ‘a while back’ when I lived in Maryland. Pre- 9/11. The kitten has been up since two thirty. So, too, have I. 

 

SHIVERING

Shivering, I am always cold
or always hot,
sometimes mildly comfortable for a few hours.
I like how socks look on my feet.
As if my feet were small, delicate and fashionable.
However, they are wide, callused and stubby,
but they get me around.
Which is what feet are supposed to do.
Poor feet, I am always losing my socks.
Sometimes they don’t match, sometimes they have holes,
sometimes they’re new socks.
Will I be old someday, still looking for a matching pair
of foot coverings?
Wandering about in some room that no longer exists,
looking underneath imaginary chairs for my socks?
Calling out, as if they will answer.
I’m cold.
Come do your job.
I’m shivering.
Naughty socks, to hide that way
from an old insane lady.

Micro

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A sunset in Eastern Oregon

A few micro fiction attempts of mine. 

 

SUGAR AND FIRE

Is there is anything as sugar-sweet as first love? Maybe an actual slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting comes close. I, at fifty-four, had finally succumbed. Oh, the resistance to the universe itself! My avoidance of others, my shyness a shadowy wall others seldom wished to try and climb. She takes my hand. We watch the world burn together. The delight in her eyes beneath the sorrow we both manufacture. Our honey laughter as we nod solemnly. The delight we succumb to as we sink to the oily dirt to couple like snakes in a famous garden. We drown in sugar and fire.

 

VENEER

Lulu opened the box marked Veneer. The curled up skeleton of her father’s cat. The claw marks on the thick cardboard. But Veneer had not been a young strong cat when put into the cardboard tomb. “I killed my cat for your mother,” Kaleb said. Lulu folded the leaves back into place, traced the old duct tape remnants. “She asked me to prove if I loved her. What can I do, I asked. What can I do? Your mother held Veneer in her arms. She held him out to me, my trusting little Veneer. Always such a small cat. Kill him for my sake. I want to be your goddess. I command you to kill him. For my sake. So I did, Lu. I did. A box, some duct tape. Quiet then the stink. Then just quiet.”
“Love is bigger than cats,” Lulu replied. “My new stepfather doesn’t get that.”

 

DRUNKEN BEES

Bloom hated her name. She had a tattoo of the devil on her arm to remind her she was not some flower or houseplant. Be nice, her nice mother counseled without an ounce of pity. One day, as stories often start, Bloom noticed a tree. A little plum tree with white-petaled glories full of drunken bees having orgies and feasts. Her fingers ran along the back of a bee, but it melted away to the next blossom’s well. I wish to be the bee, not the flower, Bloom decided. She cut off her princess long hair, she wandered the world looking for herself. Time passed with enjoyment, with sorrow; she tasted almond candies in Marseille, she slapped a bear in Canada. I am Bloom blooming, she often said, then got it written on the back of her latest lover. On her deathbed, she held out her hand. Bring me a plum tree full of drunken bees. I want to start this all over again. Her fingers ran over the air. I wrote my name in the skin of this world. I wrote my name.

Murder Mittens

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Murder mittens always an option. 

The kitten plays. She’s lively, endearing, clearly on stimulants such as crack or triple expressos. Her broken jaw has not held her up much. The stitches were removed, the vet declared Jaws doing well. It’s her nickname. Jaws. Probably, eventually, her name. She enjoys attacking the dog’s tails. We have three dogs, all with long wavy tempting tails. Jaws stalks each one, sneaks up on it, does the wrap all four paws around tail, kick with rhythmic precision until whatever dog has been enduring this decides enough is enough. Jaws like to hide beneath the loveseat, bat at the nearest dog waiting for food to fall into his or her mouth from the indulgent humans nearby.

The kitten also wakes up in the middle of the night. Wet cat nose. Murder mittens about my foot. Plaintive meows. Are you up yet, giant inept cat? I read where cats regard humans as other giant ‘very bad at being cats’ cat. It’s why they bring us gifts of dead mice or a dead bird, often not so dead. Our pet cats are trying to feed us.

So, the state of American politics at present. I feel like pouring a giant glass of whiskey, with some Coke thrown in it, and watching it all burn to the ground. Maybe that would finally satisfy everyone. We can all enjoy the flames, roast some marshmallows, blame it all on the DNC, Nancy Pelosi, millennials and those who lack civility.

People will vote straight R because the ‘other side’ uses curse words. Okay, sure.

I also notice that the Dems do not play offense. Ever. It’s always a bewildered ‘here are the facts, why don’t you get it?’ blinky sort of ingrained trained door mat niceness.

As the Republican PR propaganda machine churns out 24/7, every minute, whatever reality they wish pushed and believed.

Ukraine interfered in our elections in 2016! Investigate the Bidens! Hillary sold uranium! The polls are rising in favor of Trump!

And so many more, over and over and over, repeated, over and over and over, repeated, over and over and over. Relentless.

There does not seem to be a counter to that, other than a timid ‘that’s not true, here’s the truth, m’kay, you guys.’ Any actual fiery response or push back seemingly gets shot down. By the other Democrats.

Calm down. Calm down, be polite, don’t upset the apple cart, take the high road.

Until that one actually fighting back gets silenced or even shoved out. It doesn’t seem a coincidence that the fighters and loud mouths all seem absent, missing or gone altogether. Or those speaking out don’t get supported or defended that much as the right, with a gleeful savagery, goes after that person with lies, more lies and damn lies. Hello, AOC.

Adam Schiff practically has to be a robot, speaking without much passion or anger. Pelosi has to remain preternaturally calm in the face of rabid hyenas snapping their foamy jaws in her face.

Any show of anger or outrage from the left gets met with how nuts they are, how ANGRY all the time, how they hate America and Americans, how…oh sure. Until the Dems get so trained to be calm apologists you tend to…ignore whatever they might say. Which is the whole fucking point of training them so.

And I find myself wishing a Dem would snap, and just go to town on the R’s. That other Dems start repeating talking points in counter to the talking points we always hear–

That Dems are weak on family values. That Dems are into spending. That Dems are blah blah blah.

Boil down a few very simple talking points that counter the message that Dems are unAmerican fringe weirdos intent on turning everyone gay after handing out free abortions to middle schoolers.

Dems fix the economy after Republicans wreck it. Dems stand for human rights when Republicans don’t. Dems want immigration reformed, not some free for all whoever wants to enter can bullshit. That fucking wall needs to be shoved up the nearest MAGA asshole sans lubricant. Protect the environment. Wrecking the land, water and air will not make America great. It will just make America uninhabitable.

Just some thoughts.

The kitten has slipped off somewhere. She likes to look out the windows. I need to get her fixed before she can return outside a bit. I have made myself her caretaker and servant. I have no wish to lose her as she seeks out mates or take care of more cats as she churns out unwanted kittens.

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Brigit and the new fast-moving not-mouse having a bit of a snuggle. 

Broken Jaw

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The Halloween Kitten. That’s the cut she has over her eye, healing up now. I don’t know how she got so hurt. Or how she survived coyotes and owls on her own. Three pounds of determined kitty.

Howdy. So a stray kitten showed up the day before Halloween. She is about a month and a half old, a tabby-calico-ginger short coat and the sweetest personality. Just purrs! Very clingy and needy, wants to be held. She seems more like a puppy than a kitten. 

So. She has a gash that’s mostly healed atop her little head. And there seems to be something truly funky about her mouth. Her lower jaw seems split. A birth defect? Or it’s, gulp, broken. She also has diarrhea.  I mean DIARRHEA. There’s a bit of pus or matter about her nose and at times seem in her mouth, so I rinsed her mouth out with a mild saline solution– warm water and salt. 

Long story short, with gory details left out about constant kitten watery glops of liquid poo…took her to the vet today as the diarrhea is not clearing up. I’ve had her on rice and watered down wet cat food for days, no milk, lots of water to keep her hydrated. 

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Here you can see her coloring a bit as well as the big healing gash by her ear and the cut over her eye, also healing up.

The vet takes one look at her, announces broken jaw. We can perform surgery, wire her jaw shut, or you can have her put down. As just leaving her to sink or swim would mean she’d have trouble eating the rest of her life, as well as other major problems. The kitten, just called Kitty as I’ve had her maybe four days, looks up at me, freaked out a bit about being in a new place but otherwise wanting to explore the exam room. See things and sniff and find out what’s what. She’s lively, eyes clear, exuding energy and will.

This is not a terminally ill kitten that’s suffering…except for the diarrhea. Her little bottom is quite sore. I put salve on it. 

Do I coldly have the vet end her life or…deplete my tiny store of cash? 

Yeah, I opt for the surgery. 

So, I set up a GoFundMe. It’s set at 300 bucks or so. I expect nothing to come of it but people over on FB did ask if I was taking donations. I am, frankly. For that little three pound bag of gingery bones, you bet your bottom I’ll pass the hat. 

gofundme.com/f/crystal039s-broken-jaw

 

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An actual cat nap. That’s the stuffed bunny I got from a local thrift store.

 

note– this is hard for me to do. But. I can ask for help for a cat. She’s worth it. Thank you all even for reading this. 

note 2– so, Crystal, possibly Lola [name? neither seems quite right…] is back home and miserable. Might need a cone.  Ever tried to get meds in a cat that’s had jaw surgery? Fun! But hey, I have a cat now. 

 

Human Clay Pot

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Brigit and Jake enjoying the newly shorn corn field

HUMAN CLAY POT

I want someone to tell me the truth.
That judgment that I should give up
and turn back from this road.
That the sky holds no wonders or joys
for my consumption,
that grace will not better me
into some sort of badly mended
maniacally grinning
human pot of perfect clay.
That the wind does not know my name,
that the birds get eaten
by stray cats
indifferent to hope and struggle.
That nothing good will arrive
like a warm pie from
the oven of the heavens.
Tell me the truth so I can rest.
So I can stop hoping.
Goddamn it, hope
cut me into a thousand pieces.
And I have nothing remaining
but a bitter cup of dust
to sustain me now.

 

note– written last year or maybe this year. All the days seem the same day anymore.