Hard-hitting, clear-headed reviews of cats. Also, cat-related news.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cat Four, Huge as Hell

I stumbled over this NYT article today while taking a break from writing up a new short story. Goosebumps books were some of the first I owned, and certainly the first I collected, a longass time ago, in the third grade. They accumulated on the bookshelf above my bed and in my locker at school. They were the kind of dorky commodity that both entertained and could actually get you social credit. I remember an argument between me and another kid, a somewhat popular kid, regarding who owned the most individual copies. At the time it seemed that this was actually worth arguing about.

Last October, while visiting my parents' house, I climbed stairs to my old bedroom and dug out all my old Goosebumps books. The covers were gaudier than I remembered, the books themselves were thinner, and when I cracked a few I realized that the stories were much goofier. As girlfriend Sarah Rodenberg points out, "Only RL Stine can make a story about an evil sponge and have people buy it."

(I think she may be out of touch with the realities of publishing.)

I drove the books back to my apartment, and when I got home, I sat around with a beer trying to put them into order. They stacked up, kids' novels with gremlins and grinning wooden dummes on their fronts, and I was astounded and a little ashamed to have an almost unbroken run of the first 35 books. I tucked them into a cardboard box and donated them to a benefit auction for the literary journal Flyway, of which I am the fiction edtior. The goal was to raise enough money to finance our next issue, and we raised more than three thousand dollars. My Goosebumps novels pulled in fifteen bucks.


. . .

Sarah says, "Welcome to Camp Nightmare was my favorite. You think it's all normal and then you realize that THEY ARE ON ANOTHER PLANET. At the very end. Out of nowhere and for no reason."

Whatever your feelings about the Goosebumps series, you can probably at least agree that RL Stine is one strange-looking man.

. . .

I have no idea what this is about, but I'm impressed that somebody bothered making it.

. . .

After a nearly year-long hiatus, I am coming back to review Cat Four, Mulder.

Huge as hell!

Notice the goatee.

Watch for an update after this weekend.

Monday, March 24, 2008

That cat has let himself go.

And yes, I walked away from this blog last May and expected never to return. Really my enthusiasm petered out. This isn't true, but it may as well be: in the night a great black cat appeared in my dream and told me I'd reviewed every cat in this town worth seeing.

But a strange event occurred. Yesterday I visited my hometown for Easter. This isn't something I would regularly do, but it's been a while since I've been home, so I drove hours to get there. I spent the entirety of Saturday night playing video games with old friends and eating regrettable gas station food.

Every time I go home I have to be reminded that there are no late-night pizza or burrito stores.

The best you can do for food in my hometown after eleven pm is to buy a packet of roasted peanuts of, if you're feeling self-destructive, one of the prepackaged and chilled hamburgers.

Anyway: Sunday after lunch, my mother drove me to a care center to visit my grandmother. She was asleep but we woke her up. There was another woman in the room, curled up in her cot, and I felt bad for her but we spoke in quiet tones and leaned close when we opened our mouths. I sat on my grandmothers' bed and we talked about all the ham the care center serves. A few minutes in, I looked out the window and saw her old house across the street. I imagine it's coincidence that her room looks out onto her old house.

"Sometimes it's kind of sad," she said.

"I bet it is," I said, and felt bad.

Anyway: as we left we walked through a common room where people sat in wheelchairs around tables and birds talked in a six-foot cage in the corner. A white-haired woman sat at a table with a Scrabble board in front of her. She got our attention and said to me, "Aren't you that cat man?"

"Well," I said. I wasn't sure what to say next. She waited so I said, "I do, yes, yeah, I like cats."

She said something like this: I have a picture of a little black-and-white cat that looks like a raccoon. I'd like to show it to you at a later date.

As we left, my mother said, "I have no idea what that was about."


Today I happened to encounter Cat One, Rufus. He lived in a new smaller apartment with a better furniture arrangement and Modest Mouse coming out of speakers next to a window. He was fat. Fatter than hell. That cat has put on some weight. I attempted to shame him with straight talk but he had none of it and kept eating his dry cat food. Writing this I feel like an ass but that cat has let himself go.