Thursday, January 28, 2021

There's Just Something About A Snow Day

The weather forecast made it sound iffy, but I walked into the home office this morning to find Christine peeking out the blinds. I thought she might have heard something like a dog howl, but she quickly announced we had snow and some of it was sticking. 

We have quite a bit in the vicinity of ye olde town home apartments this morning. 

Not an unpleasant way to begin the day.  

Sidney Williams in the snow

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Zoë Moonshadow (Feline) Settles In

It's been a while since we've had a new cat in the household. As I've mentioned in one spot or another, Oliver Littlechap's death in 2019 ended a feline era stretching back to 1997 when Christine and I adopted Daisy and her brother, Cleo.

All of our cats lived out their lives with us, and in later years, they craved warm laps and companionship. Mostly warm laps. 

Zoë Moonshadow is about five and still has those bursts of energy that send her streaking across the living room up the stairs, around the second floor and back again in a heartbeat, with a thunder of footfalls that sound like a herd of wildebeest. She sits on laps but briefly before she's off on other business.

She's settling in with us and seems to like us. There is a bit of unwinding yet to do, though. One two many strokes of her head and coat results in a warning bite. Not too hard, but not a play bite either.

The humane society noted she'd been terrified of large dogs in her second household. Christine likens her situation now to PTSD. I've noticed Zoë's muscles tense as she cocks an ear to an unrecognized sound, as if a dog's approach might be imminent. 

Daisy never knew that kind of fear, but she had her own agenda early on, cuddling was a small part of it. You took affection when it came your way and let her move on when she announced the time for new business.

I'm reminded now of that time. 

I suspect in time we'll get longer, lazy lap sits, but there's no need to rush that. We can spend time in play and hijinks.

Christine read somewhere that Russian Blues like feathered toys, so we grabbed a card of those when we bought her a bed and scratching post. They proved so popular they quickly disappeared. Tucked away in a summer shoe or some other hiding place found and forgotten. 

I bought a few more and a feathered toy on a stick that proves a joy. She chases, nabs if lobbed in the air and if a toy misbehaves enough it gets a pummeling with the hind feet.

In the absence of toys, she likes to hop on the bed and paw wrinkles in the blanket. They seem alive to her and in needed of subduing. 

 "I'm so glad we got her," Christine said one Saturday morning as wrinkles were trapped beneath paws. 

I was reminded that cat ownership often involves sharing the world as much as immediate bonding, watching habits and instincts at work. Coping with a fearful moment if a dog strays too close to a window. Supplying food of course. Seeking to mute some instincts, of course.

With the world made small by pandemic, limited to the walls of home more than ever, having a friend sharing the space expands the universe. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Biblioholic's Bookshelf - Dark of the Moon by Dan Ross

A gothic by Dan Ross aka WED Ross who wrote many Dark Shadows novels under the name Marilyn Ross. This one's copyright 1969.

Dark of the Moon back cover

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Truman Then and Now

I was fortunate enough to cover David McCullough discussing his Truman bio once upon a time. 

As research, McCullough went to the location of President Harry Truman's vice presidential office where he received the news of FDR's death. 

When that word came, Truman ran to the Oval Office. 

McCullough, along with a couple of Capitol Police officers, ran the same route Truman would have followed. He noted Truman would have run, I believe, along Statuary Hall.

There he would have caught a sense of history and the weight of what had just been placed upon him as he glimpsed those historic figures in blurring past in his peripheral view. 

A New York Times correspondent in commentary Dec. 20 observed that the usually jovial and backslappingJoe Biden was showing signs of grim sobriety, no doubt contemplating what he faces.

I guess it's no surprise that amid pics of family, now President Joseph Biden has chosen statues of historic figures and other important leaders to decorate his Oval Office. The decorating indicates thoughts of more than self but more importantly of taking the job seriously and with the resolve to serve.

It has to be daunting and awesome. There will be stumbles, setbacks and battles. I'm an optimist but no Pollyanna, but I can't help but feel and think we're better off this moment than we were a week ago. 

My cat Zoë meets Bernie

Zoë meets Bernie Sanders


Friday, January 22, 2021

It Was Still There

I know a lot of people cried on Wednesday. I was teary-eyed pretty much from the time the band tuned up until the ceremony wound down on Inauguration Day, but when Lady Gaga sang the national anthem and hit "our flag was still there," a great torrent of tears spilled down my face. 

It was, honestly, the best rendition of the hard-to-perform song I've ever heard, delivered with just the right nuances. 

I noted the moment on Facebook because I guess I felt the unexpected relief so many have spoken of. It was a rush, a knee-weakening feeling, an exhale. Everyone's called it an exhale too, so nothing profound there, but it fits.

Sometimes I fail to note to myself how stress is affecting me, a remnant of "be a man" admonitions from my old man, I guess. He was stoic in the face of pain and adversity. I inherited some of that, though it's tempered by my mother's emotional traits. 

But those words and the way Lady Gaga delivered them and really the whole song began to unwind the coil of tension that had wound tighter and tighter as the events of Jan. 6 unfolded.

We've never seen the flag or the capitol threatened in that way, and though they're symbols, they're powerful symbols and they matter. The flag's been co-opted in many cases, but it is our flag, not just the flag of those shrillest "patriots" who cloak themselves in it. 

It is our flag, and it was threatened. They tried to replace it with Trump flags. 

They tried to replace it with Trump flags.

They tried to replace it with Trump flags.

Trump flags.

But they failed, and the assault on democracy abetted by the worst of our leaders, the most cynical, leading blind followers, failed. 

They failed, and amid all the tumult and the horror and the death, we got an inauguration and a reminder of who we are. When Vice President Dan Quayle walked in I cried too. First of the high office holders, a member of the opposing party, representative of an administration with a leader who's passed on. President and Mrs. George W. Bush followed then the other ex-presidents. It was an important show of who we are, a democracy with procedures and symbolic gestures, the true patriot's dream.

And she nailed it all in that lyric. All had been threatened, all that we took for granted for so long, all that had been routine, pedestrian, everything was revealed to be so fragile. 

But it was still there, still in place, ragged around the edges, perhaps, strained, still imperiled, but still there. 

And maybe for a little longer. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Biblioholic's Bookshelf - Death Cuts the Deck by Robert L. Fish

Robert L. Fish is probably best known for his Sherlock Holmes parodies featuring Schlock Homes of Bagel Street. Ebook editions of many of the tales are available.

As Robert L. Pike, Fish penned the novel Mute Witness which became the police thriller classic Bullit with Steve McQueen. 

This one's a cozy mystery set on a cruise ship, so deck has an extra meaning. It's from 1971, published by Ace Star. 

Death Cuts the Deck by Robert L. Fish

Death Cuts the Deck


Monday, January 11, 2021

Biblioholic's Bookshelf - Devil Day - basis for the film Madhouse

I'm a big fan of the Vincent Price vehicle Madhouse (1974), in which he plays a horror star whose return sparks a series of murders. To me, it along with Theatre of Blood from United Artists, are interesting, seventies tales of horror and revenge that showcase Price in diverse roles. Madhouse was his final excursion with American International Pictures, however, ending an era. 

The film's based on the British novel Devilday. Editions with Price on the cover exist, but this is the British edition from Sphere that's dated September 1970. The ACE edition with the same cover is listing for $768 on Amazon right now, with $3.99 shipping, so I'm glad I got it when I did. 


Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Home For the Holidays - Mining Moments

 The holidays seem vast and brief at the same time. I always feel a little tinge of something when I'm putting away Christmas decorations.

I open a box to put something back and find an item I tucked away in November when I took everything else out. And it hits me that the time has passed quickly, as all time does. It immediately feels as if it was long ago the boxes were put back in storage and as if it was seconds.

I had a nice holiday season with my wife Christine, and it did stretch a bit in spite of the flash feeling. I watched a lot of movies, of course. We're working to stay safe and sane.

Happiest Season on Hulu caught my interest early on because it was not just another Christmas movie. It's LGBT-themed and semi-autobiographical for writer-director Clea DuVall, and I thought it was fun and equally poignant in its exploration of people finding their true selves while coping with family pressures.

Christine and I watched and liked The Queen's Gambit together,  at the same time everyone was. "You always have liked smart girls," Christine reminded me. 

I got on a Bond kick later in the season. Friends were rewatching and a common podcast led to several concurrent purchases of the Nobody Does it Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond. 

Several Christmases ago, a lot of Christmases actually, I got boxed sets of the films up through the Pierce Brosnans. (Later, as they came out, I got Blu-Rays of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.) During the holiday break that first year of ownership, I rewatched most of the flicks starting with Dr. No and enjoyed the disc extras with each.

That was long enough ago, the new viewing experience was fresh.  

Doing that again was a different but fun experience, and afforded a bit of "where was I when" thinking. The first ever Bond on my radar was On Her Majesty's Secret Service

My mom got her hair done in a hair salon across from the theater in the little town where I grew up. One of the younger stylists mentioned the film and that a new star was taking over. I remember looking out the window at the poster of George Lazenby on skis. Didn't  actually see a Bond other than the David Niven Casino Royale until Man With the Golden Gun, though I recall ads for Diamonds are Forever and Live and Let Die. I can't recall ads for You Only Lives Twice, but it open roughly the same time as The Dirty Dozen, for which I saw ads on TV and in magazines. I went to see that with my dad and my uncle. My uncle feared I wouldn't sit still for a feature film, but I did, half of it on the upper edge of a theater seat because my weight didn't push the folding cushion down. 

SEE ALSO: The Red Cardigan

Back to Now
In the mix this season, I kept up with The Mandalorian though there were still a few spoilers in spite of everything. You can't watch fast enough. When I saw You-Know-Who's Instagram post of himself going Shhhh, I knew what that had to mean. Clearly, as I just noted, you gotta watch it when it drops. 

I fit in a Christmas Day showing of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim as well, the classic 1951 rendering that holds up so well. It was a nice alternative to Bells of St. Mary's or It's A Wonderful Life, both of which I love but also have memorized.

We got enough cold in Williamsburg for it to feel like the holidays, though it deterred walking a bit too, which Christine and I enjoy.

Christine and I fit in a few walks to look at decorations in spite of the cold, and we got to see the Saturn/Jupiter alignment, though with streetlights and surprisingly busy sidewalks, we didn't get quite the view we were hoping for. Part of the time I thought it might be distant radio towers we were seeing before deciding that had to be the view. So it goes.

We adopted our new friend Zoë right before the holidays as well, so part of the time we enjoyed the journey of her feeling more and more at home. I put Band Aids on a few bites and scratches as she was getting comfortable. 

I also spent a good bit of time shaking out shoes and looking under furniture for feather-tailed toys she enjoyed but had a tendency to lose. 

Nothing profound here, just a few notes so that I'll remember later, because with my friend Lee's death, I've realized how much days can blur together and how hard it can be to mine moments from memory. 

Once that wasn't as hard, but there were fewer years to look back on. Now there are more with more thoughts crowding the attic.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Biblioholic's Bookshelf - The Butterfly Revolution by William Butler

I suppose The Butterfly Revolution by William Butler fits best into a sub-genre somewhere along side something like Glendon Swarthout's Bless the Beasts and Children and maybe even Lord of the Flies. The cover blurb suggests that as you can see. You can also read a brief review here

The book focuses on an uprising at a summer camp and the establishment of a new, brutal order by the victorious young revolutionaries. It's copyright 1961.

It's not a slasher film, though the marketing and poster for the loose movie adaptation, Summer Camp Nightmare (1987) channels that vibe at least at a glance. 

The big name in the cast is Chuck Connors as the camp director with Melissa Reeves of Days of Our Lives in a supporting role. 

This Ballantine edition is from December, 1973, the 11th printing. Butler's other books include The House at Akiya and The Experiment. 

SEE ALSO: Biblioholic's Bookshelf- The Scarf by Robert Bloch

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