Saturday, June 12, 2004

Pat had to work today, so we didn't get to work out until his lunch break. One of the advantages to working out at sunrise on Saturdays is that you're usually the only people at the gym that early. The other advantage is that it's harder to get motivated when you've had a good long lay in your bed, a hefty breakfast, and about an hour's worth of video games before you work out.
We also took the nieces to the church parking lot to ride their bikes. Moriah is riding a two wheeler with very little help (hasn't quite mastered stopping and getting off the bike yet though.) Today Pat tried to teach Faith to ride a two wheeler. Faith learned twice as fast but was twice as scared as Moriah had been. Abi and Lily just kind of ran around and drank all of the water.
I went for an hour long walk. Mom called because she'd just been to a memorial service for the 29 year old son of a friend of her's. Mom's been terribly lonely since I moved up here.
We went to a barbeque this evening. I dared Pat and we both learned something. Remember how jumping down a Slip 'N Slide used to hurt when you were a kid? Well, turns out it hurts a lot more when you're an adult. We learned that and then that it hurts more when you try and do barrel rolls and even more when you try and slide with a three year old on your back. Also that after the sun goes down, clothes don't dry.
Not that I'm complaining in any way. It was a blast. A really fun evening

Friday, June 11, 2004

1) I had two books to mail out today and I walked down to the post office to find the great metal doors closed. I stood and looked at it for a few minutes to see if it would make any more sense if I looked at it for a few minutes. Then somebody came by and said that Arnold gave the state employees the day off because it's National "Let's All Bury Reagan, Eh What?" Day. I didn't tell the guy that postal employees are federal employees because it didn't really matter.
As for me and my house, we will listen to Ray Charles all day.

2) Yesterday I saw a quail in the church parking lot. It wasn't doing the silly quail walk. It was just standing there with the silly quail feather coming out of its forehead. I'd only ever seen a real quail on a dinner plate before. They're really neat birds.

3) Film review time.

DELICATESSEN

Many films have tackled the subject of cannibalism in a comedic format. There was Motel Hell, Cannibal: the Musical, uh... The Diego Rivera Follies.

Okay let's start over.

When first I was in high school I also found my first real crush. It was a girl named Kristen. But she was engaged and she was a Senior when I was a Freshman. She moved to New York after she graduated and we wrote for a few years after. I don't know where she is anymore.
She got me into Tom Waits, the Coen Brothers, and Franz Kafka. She was super cool. But she also told me about Delicatessen and I only just now got around to watching it.
Don't get me wrong, there are some really great scenes in the film. And great performances all around. One of the best scenes in the film is where the butcher almost convinces himself that he's not evil.
When I got the film I read the back cover of the box. Someone on the back said that it was influenced by Tex Avery and Terry Gilliam. There's a thin line between homage and not having an original idea. And I think Delicatessen dances that line for about two hours.
It's as though the cinematographer had to watch Terry Gilliam's Brazil before filming each day. The exterior models, Les Troglodistes, the close ups, the lighting, and the general tone.
I don't know where they got Tex Avery. I guess they had to have "a cross between" somebody and somebody else on the box.
The script gets sloppy at places, especially in the third act. What happens in the fight over Aurore is left hanging (as it were.)
It's not a bad film. It's got some really neat parts to it and the cast really pull it together. This is a fine example of the pre-production team dropping the ball. I would recommend it, but I would add that there are many films that one should see first. For example:


THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE

Cartoons take the visual medium to a heightened level and it's heartening to see somebody telling a good story with almost no dialogue. It's also great to see something visually stunning in subtle ways and in ways we've never seen before. Scratchy Aristocats style animation drawn over CGI. Brilliant.
The music is well made and discordant. I also like how everyone I've shown it to didn't know if they should be offended or not at how everyone in what seemed to be America were morbidly obese.
The Triplets of Belleville is a film that was in the periphery of the year of Finding Nemo. Folks in the know should take pains to ammend this.

And there's one more film review to come but I liked it a lot, need more time to digest, and am a little burnt out after a long blog.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I don't go to parties. People who know me know that and most who know me well don't even ask. And I don't mean just parties like where there's loud music, intoxicants and people acting in ways they never would if they weren't in a house full of loud music and intoxicants. I don't even go to parties with cake and fruit punch.
There are several reasons and my policy served me well at Chapman. I think I avoided a good deal of silly drama by avoiding all parties. Also armored myself from many friends, but that's neither here nor there.
One of the main reasons I'd give was that I don't do well in a room of more than five people. I used to say that when there are more than five people, the people stop acting like they normally do. Which is true but the real reason is that I get shy and much more interested in listening and observing when there are more people.
But the real reason, and the reason I'm commenting on it tonight, is that a good deal of my teenage years was motivated by peer pressure, lonliness and desperation. I went to a lot of parties and tried to go to many more. But people... Well, I don't know if they didn't really like me or if I was just too shy and taciturn to really merit their attention. But when I think back on my teenage years, a good deal of it consisted of one of two things. Standing on the curb outside my house waiting for somebody who was supposed to pick me up (and more often than not never ended up showing up) or, in the later part of those years, me driving around alone looking for a group of people who don't seem to be where I was told to find them. That happened to me again tonight.
A friend had a birthday party (more the cake and fruit punch kind) and I have no idea where anybody lives, what their cars look like, or how to contact them. I tried getting help from my brother over the phone, but he was going to bed and didn't really want to be bothered. So, I drove around Chico looking for three different houses where the party could have been. I found one and the party wasn't there. I thought I found the second one but could have been wrong and either way nothing was going on there. And the third house I couldn't find. I drove around late at night listening to music, looking, and trying really really hard not to look at all of this as a metaphor.

I failed at that too

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

My Day In Redding
By Paul Mathers

I'd told people I was going to Redding today to get inventory. I do that often and sometimes I even go through with it. I decided that after the kitten madness, the losing of my temper over the weekend over the kitten madness, and the tension over the big secret, it might be good to take a day and leave Chico. Go somewhere I'd never been before.
I set out around 10 after cleaning and returning the steel trap to the tack and feed and then monkeying around for a while looking for music for the drive, eating, getting distracted.
The drive to Redding is gorgeous. Lots of trees, farms, fruit stands, speed traps, cows, a nice view of Mount Lassen (which I'm told is an active volcano.)
Nissa called when I was driving. She told me she's in San Francisco and she thought of me this morning because she'd seen Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. She was just telling me about something that King Friday the XIII had said when my phone cut her off. I was in Dairyville and there's no reception there. I didn't hear back from her and didn't call her back.
I didn't like Redding. It was like Chico without all of the things that make Chico cool and pleasant.
I almost went to Turtle Bay, which is a nature reserve where I guess they have turtles and other animals. It's also Pig Latin for "Bturtle."
I ended up with about twenty books. The town is really difficult to navigate. It's all one way streets and they don't alternate directions consecutively. In fact they seem to switch directions chaoticly. The vistor's bureau gave me a map to the library which, besides not telling you that many of the streets were one way, also had several mistakes on it. Much of what was on the map was not how the streets were at all. Perhaps the cartographer was too much of an idealist.
After all of that I decided to go home and promptly got myself lost and tacked about thirty minutes on my drive.
But it's okay. I got a lot of books. Also I saw horses on my way back.
And that was how I spent my day in Redding

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Oops. Scratch that. It's raining right now.
So here's how the story seems to end.
Last night at about 11, the kitten above started meowing in quick succession. Almost like a beat. I figured it'd get tired eventually and I shouldn't be a softie and go open the door. If it got tired enough it might go eat the food in the trap.
Long about 1:30 in the morning I finally fell asleep on a pad near the door with toilet paper jammed in each ear. The kitten was still meowing loud, but I fell asleep somewhere there in the wee small hours.
This morning I woke up when my brother stopped in around 8. I was going to help out at the Jesus Center, but before I got in the murdervan I noticed something that answered a lot of questions. It was dead silent above me this morning and as I was leaving I noticed that the cardboard box I'd set in front of the weak spot in the garage had been moved just a little bit. Just enough for a kitten to crawl through. So kitten wasn't yelling because it was trapped, it was yelling because it was the only one in there or because it just darn well felt like yelling. It could come and go as it pleased. I put a large piece of wood in front of the hole and went on my merry old way.
Not a sound from there all day today and no sounds yet this evening. I've kept the trap for one more night just in case, but I really think there's nothing alive in there. Everyone else is happy and back slapping because the problem seems to be solved. I have to say I'm relieved too, but I'm still listening for that other shoe. It's amazing how not knowing what you're doing can blow huge holes in your optimism.
This afternoon I went to get a cake at the ice cream shop because it's Pat and Andi's eighth wedding anniversary today. I got one of those monsterous cakes of so many chocolates of increasing darkness to the point where the middle layer sucks all the light from the room where you're trying to eat it.
Tonight... Oh, with all this kitten nonsense I've forgotten to warn you that there's news on the way. It's a secret, but it's going to change all of our lives up here starting mid-next week. I can't say any more right now because it's a secret. But I should probably at least mention that that's been part of the tension here 'bouts over the last week. So stay tuned for that.
Anyway, tonight Pat told our parents the news. He also told Dad that he thinks Dad should quit his job and move up here because he thinks Dad will one day regret having wasted so much time chasing a pension instead of enjoying his life. I knew Mom and Dad wouldn't really listen to that, but I'm glad Pat said it.
What else? Oh, I have a new favorite movie. There'll be two reviews coming. I've scrapped the ones I was working on before because I decided I didn't really want to review them.
Oh, and we almost had a thunderstorm. It came right by us and made some nice booms, but then went away just when it was getting interesting. Too bad. A little rain might be nice right now

Monday, June 07, 2004

Oh, and lesson #4 for everyone:

SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR DAD-GUMMED CATS!
It gets even stranger.
First, let me say that all of this weirds me out. I did kind of feel like there was something wicked about all of this getting the cats out of the garage business, but I couldn't put my finger on what was wicked about it. Well, except for the many many people who mentioned killing the kittens. Killing things because they inconvenience you seems pretty danged wicked.
So this morning I went to rent a small game trap from the tack and feed (tack is the term for the proper things that one usually puts upon a horse. And, no, that doesn't mean you can buy a human butt at a tack and feed store.) I bought cat food and set the trap at a feather light touch. And then I spent the rest of the day waiting (kind of impatiently because I'm renting the trap and it costs $2 a day.)
Finally it sprung at around 3:30. I opened the garage door and was surprised to find one kitten in the trap and two kittens outside of the trap trying to figure out what just happened. The kittens were surprised by me.
Before we go on, let's do a little math to show why I was surprised. We started out with three kittens and a momma cat in the garage. Pat and I got two kittens out when momma was away and then we thought we sealed the garage, assuming the third kitten was missing or dead or we'd just made him up in the first place.
There are four kittens out under the shed and their momma is Poster Nutbag, who I've been having meaningful talks with lately.
So there was a surplus of two kittens. Two more kittens in there this afternoon than there should have been. How they got in there could be anything from there being more than we'd thought to a trick done with mirrors to there being many entrances we'd missed and there really wasn't any kitten trapped in there at any point.
So, I let the kitten out who was in the trap. I thought that kitten must have been in there for a while and probably trapped because it was half feral. So I was utterly baffled until I took out my recycled trash this afternoon and Poster Nutbag was out there with one of her kittens which I would swear was one of the two kittens who I'd surprised in the garage. That kitten was batting at a piece of rubber that was eroded, but used to be the part of the garage door that keeps the garage from slamming into the concrete everytime you shut it. It looked to me that if you shoved down the eroded side there was just enough space for a small kitten to crawl through.
I don't know why I set a box in front of it really. I guess I feel that if I catch the two or more kittens who are now trapped in there and leave them out, then they suddenly won't be smarter than me anymore and won't be able to find a way back into the garage. Maybe I just want to use my trap some more because I paid for it for the night either way.
Maybe I am obsessing way too much over these kittens and I should get out some in the next two days. Maybe I should stop caring so much about getting them out of there alive and just assume that they'll do okay on their own.
But I've come to a few conclusions.
1) Stray cats in semi-rural areas are screwy. One shouldn't try and keep them around. They breed way more than they have any right to. Almost as much as humans.
2) Stray cats are also very clever, much more savage than domestic cats, and much more self reliant than... Well than I am, that's for sure.
3) I need a hobby.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

I could update on the huge donation I helped move for the Jesus Center. It was from a closed down rehab/convelescent home that looked like a horror film waiting to happen. Seriously, it was creepy walking around there, pulling out shelves and walking through those empty halls. Great stuff.
I could also tell about the home school graduation for all the home school kids in Butte County. One of the stranger ceremonies I've seen in a life of strange ceremonies.
But I won't. I won't because my mind is on one thing. My mind is befuddled. Befuddled because it can't remember why it ever romanticized stray cats. Yes, gentle reader, I've learned a valuable life lesson about the difference between the city and the country and they difference between living in a city house and living in a converted garage in the country.
We got most of the kittens out from above my ceiling. All but one. And one kitten trapped in there alone is much louder than a family of cats free to come and go as they please.
I've been feeding the kitten like royalty. I've also spent four hours today sitting far away from a plate of cat food while holding a string that ran to a pole that held up a box over the cat food. I learned that a wild kitten will not come to the front of the garage to eat cat food when the garage door is open. So, tomorrow I'm investing in a good trap. Like the kind hunters use. It might seem like a lot of money for a poor man to spend to get a kitten out of the garage. But right now it seems like a bargain at any price.
Plus I'm convinced that this might come up again. We're a mere four months from possum season.
I figure I'll leave the cat food in the trap in the garage for the kitten to spring at its leisure. Then I'll take it open the garage, move it five feet outside the garage, close the garage door, and no more kittens (we boarded up the hole they'd used to come in when we assumed all of the kittens were out.)
There's a little bit of madness in me right now. I haven't slept properly in two days now. I'm getting that feeling of the obsessed cartoon character who keeps failing in humorously painful ways. Like that great film about enlightenment called MouseHunt.