Opie, 2002 – 2019

So…we had to say goodbye to Opie yesterday. I want to say something like “0/5 stars, would not recommend,” but…it was time. The last couple of weeks have been rough on him, and well…like I said, it was time.

Let’s back up. We first met Opie back in 2002 when a local pet store had a bunch of shelter cats for adoption. Chandra first saw Stuart, who was screaming for freedom. She immediately wanted to take hime home. At the same time, she also spotted a little orange kitten, and he joined the family, too. What we didn’t know at the time, was that Opie was harboring some tiny bacteria that would soon wreak havoc on his digestive system. This led to him losing a dangerous amount of weight, and multiple trips to the vet. I don’t remember the entire timeline, but it took a good while for someone to figure out what was going on with him. Even when he was sick though, he still wanted to tussle with Stuart, and would paw at the paintings of kittens on the wall of the vet’s examination room. As scary as this time was, this kind of behavior gave us confidence he would pull through.

At the time, I was working from home, so I kept him company and nursed him back to health. He had a tiny plastic container we converted to a litter box, which we kept just behind my office chair in the basement. I fed him Pedialyte, encouraged him to eat as much as possible, and held him on my lap while I worked. I also cleaned that litterbox immediately after he used it, because Oh My Dear God.

Eventually, he got better and I swear overnight went from being a scrawny little kitten to *bloomp* Opie of the gooshy belly. He never got heavy exactly, but after that he always had kind of the physique of an adorable orange couch potato.

Through this, Opie and I bonded pretty closely. He preferred my lap above all others, and at night slept snuggled up against me. He slept hard, too— especially for a cat. More than once I woke up in the middle of the night convinced I had squished him, and it took a thorough toe-tickling or full body jiggling to get him to respond. As a kitten, he also had a tendency to suckle my armpit, which is where I had to draw the line. As I told him repeatedly, “Opie, that’s weird.”

Not that I was the only one Opie was close to. He and Stuart got along famously, playing and snoozing together, though Opie was never quite as into rough-housing as his brother. Back in Georgia, at dinner time the two would tear through the house, and when Opie was done with the game he would barrel under a small cabinet that was barely big enough for him. This was his timeout spot, which Stuart amazingly respected. Even later in life, the two still got into wrestling matches, though nearly always at Stuart’s instigation. Opie still put up with it, but with more of an air of resignation than full participation. They slept together less as well, but under the right circumstances could still be found sharing my lap, or at least lying in close proximity to each other, and not always just to share body warmth.

And yes, Opie liked Chandra, too, aka “Food Lady.” Frankly, he liked pretty much everyone, although it took him a long time to warm up to strangers. Until recent years, it wasn’t uncommon when we had company for him to bury himself under the covers in the middle of the bed to make an Opie lump, and he wouldn’t come out until they were gone. Once he realized that everyone had scratchies for him, he became much more open to meeting people.

He was also king of the nicknames, going variously by Opie, Opus, Opus Maximus, Professor, Sunshine Boy, Bumper Boy, Freckle Nose, Opie Kenopie, etc.

A note on one of those– when Opie was in a good mood, or just making the rounds, he would bump up against everything in sight– walls, door frames, table legs, people legs, chair legs, people legs again. Sometimes he did this hard enough there would be an audible “thunk.” It was his way of telling you he was happy. One one occasion, he was sitting in a doorway, and for whatever reason, I threw up my hands in glee and shouted, “Opie!” He responded by thunking his shoulder into the doorframe.

Yeah, I’m gonna miss that cat.

I don’t have a lot of good photos, but here are a few of him lounging, snoozing, or asking politely if it is time for one or the other. The top photo is from a few years ago, but the rest are all from this summer.

Opie in sunbeam

Opie with Stuart

Opie laptime

Opie wanting laptime

A limerick

There once was a prez who was racist
And possibly, a rapist
His friends, pedophiles
His supporters, so vile
Thanks to Fox they haven’t the vaguest

Thank you, I’ll see myself out.

A handful of reviews

We just got back from a few days in NYC, and I figured I would share some quickie thoughts…

Our first day there we saw Puffs, which I would describe as kind of a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern take on the Harry Potter franchise. Sadly, this one didn’t do much for me, though there were others in the audience who seemed to be having a good time. I’ll admit I’m not a huge Potter-head, but I don’t think the problem was familiarity with the source material. I got the sense that the cast may have been doing the show for longer than is perhaps healthy— there was more “talking at” than “talking to,” and not much connection between characters that I could feel.

We saw a couple different things at the New York Musical Festival, starting with a talk about putting on a “spectacle”, followed by Illuminati Lizards from Outer Space and Buried. “Lizards” was as campy as you might expect from the name, and reasonably entertaining, if maybe a little…unfocused? I preferred “Buried,” about a pair of serial killers who fall in love. The one thing I would note is that it does that thing you sometimes get in indy comedies from the UK & Ireland, where it’s billed as a comedy but it drifts into more serious territory for healthy chunks of the production.

We only hit one museum this time around, The Museum of Arts and Design. They’ve currently got an exhibition called “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 1976-1986”. If you like posters, album covers, zines, etc from that era you’ll get a kick out of it. My only complaint was that there was no exhibition book to go with it.

We decided against the Jazz Museum in Harlem, but we did make it to Amy Ruth’s for soul food. I had “The Reggie Harris,” aka southern honey-dipped fried chicken. I would just call it “so good” and leave it at that, but I think this calls for a “y’all,” as in “so good, y’all.” (Am I doing that right?)

Oh, and the power went out across much of the city. It was nine PM before it hit us and we were already back in the hotel, so didn’t affect our stay much beyond prompting an early bedtime. We had to have just missed walking through a darkened Times Square, though.

The last show we saw was A Musical About Star Wars. After the disappointment of Puffs I was a little trepidatious, but it turned out to be really good! It was warm and funny, and had something more to say than “aren’t fans of Star Wars silly,” which is all I expected from it going in. Of the four shows we saw, this is the one that I would heartily recommend people go see— especially now, when the performers are the writers of the show.

Also, I give air conditioning an A+. We’re going to miss that this weekend.

Here’s where we are

Invest in Guillotine FuturesThis may be a little rambly.

Democratic leadership remains resistant to impeachment calls. This is despite all the corruption we’ve witnessed since day one of the Trump administration, not to mention everything documented by Robert Muller’s team in their Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. Even the complete stonewalling of the House in their efforts to exercise oversight doesn’t seem to be enough to budge them. 

And don’t get me started on the hour-long phone call Trump had with Putin on Friday. 

Then last night there was the report from the NY Times that Nancy Pelosi is expressing concern that Trump won’t leave office, even if he loses the 2020 election. This is the same concern that Michael Cohen voiced a while back, if you’ll recall. It sounds hyperbolic, but let’s be honest with ourselves here. Why wouldn’t he try that? He’s been getting away with violating laws and “norms” throughout his administration, and nothing has happened to him. All we get are timid sad faces from Republicans who otherwise are in lockstep with him, and Democrats like Pelosi who act like they’re afraid of their own shadow.

Seriously, go read that NY Times piece. Pelosi’s prescription to guard against what is literally an existential threat to the republic is to “stay mainstream.” What the ever-loving fuck. She is not laying the groundwork here for a fight to save America from a budding dictatorship. She is laying the groundwork to throw up her hands and say, “Well, I guess we didn’t communicate our policies well enough. Oopsie!”

So where does that leave us? We already have gerrymandering and the Electoral College to contend with, both things that work against the popular will of the people. If we toss out election results that the party in power doesn’t like, what are we left with? There’s a line in Parliament’s “Chocolate City” that goes “You don’t need the bullet if you’ve got the ballot.” We all need to keep in mind that the reverse is also true.

So to Nancy and Democrats, you need to impeach the mother forker already. Prove to us that you care about democracy and the rule of law as more than something you use as a line in your campaign fundraising emails.

Like the result of a rusty guillotine…

This is poorly executed, but I can at least move on now to other ideas.

Update!

He was missing a part, so I fixed it. Can you guess what it was? If you said, “his soul,” I’m sorry– that’s not it. “His sense of empathy!” I hear you cry. Well, no. He doesn’t have either of those, to be sure, but I wasn’t able to add them. As a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, there’s nothing I can do about him missing those. He’s accurately rendered as far as anything resembling compassion or self-awareness, too. No, I just forgot to draw his nose.

Nature Sounds

“Whabbuja!” Christine jumped off the log she was sitting on and slapped at herself furiously, jumping around like someone had jolted her with a cattle prod.

Nelson laughed. “What the heck is wrong with you?” he asked.

“A bug just landed on my arm!” She shivered again.

Nelson flicked on his flashlight and played it over his friend’s body, then on the ground around her. “Are you sure? I don’t see anything.”

“Yes, I’m sure! It probably flew away. Buh! Gross. I told you we should have brought one of those portable bug zappers.”

“Well, I’m glad we didn’t. Otherwise I would have missed the Great Phantom Bug Jig of the Year.”

Christine bent over to carefully inspect the log she had been on before sitting down again. “Oh, you’re funny. Are you sure this camping trip is really necessary? I’m getting really tired of feeling like I’m going to be someone’s lunch.”

Nelson nodded emphatically. “Yes, this is absolutely necessary. You heard the director. The key to understanding this character is to experience life as she did. That means we have to spend some number of days fending for ourselves, surviving the wilderness.”

“I hardly think a long weekend at the state park qualifies as ‘surviving the wilderness,’ Nelson.”

He shrugged. “Well, it’s only for community theater. There’s only so far I’m willing to go for our art.” He leaned sideways and pulled out a pair of arrows from a quiver next to him. “Are you ready?”

“Oh, hell yes.” She reached into the backpack next to her and pulled out a handful of marshmallows, raising them over her head. “Let’s get some s’mores all up in this beeyotch!”

They each took a pair of marshmallows, poked them onto their arrows and held them over the campfire. The fire popped and crackled happily. Christine shivered again. “You’re not about to do another jig and lose your marshmallows, are you?” asked Nelson.

“No, I’m just cold. You mind sharing that?”

Nelson lifted up one side of the wool blanket he was under. “No problem, there’s plenty of room. We can share body heat, too.”

They sat together for a few minutes, toasting marshmallows and crafting snacks. Their faces reflected the warmth of the fire, and they leaned together contentedly. As the fire slowly died down, the pops and cracks of the coals were slowly replaced by the burbling of a small brook behind them.

Suddenly, Christine scooted out from under the blanket. “Dang it!” she muttered as she started walking away.

“What’s your problem now?”

She waved back at him in annoyance. “I’ve been listening to that stupid water, and now I have to pee. I’ll be back!”

First Contact

Just wanted to try a quick exercise while I heat my cocoa.

The visitor crash landed its craft just outside of the city, and stumbled outside. It had seen the giant pyramid shaped building from orbit and assumed that was where it could find the planet’s high priestess. At least, that’s how it worked where it came from.

Unfortunately, in the rough landing, all the ground transports were broken. That meant it would have to walk. It was mid-morning, and the sun was already scorching its pale grey skin. The visitor tried to gauge how long it would take to get where it was going. By its calculations it would be maybe two hours? Maybe more? It decided to chance it, and headed towards the city.

It was more than two hours. By the time it reached the pyramid it had seen from the skies, the sun had turned its skin to a dry, cracked brown. It entered the building and scanned the area. The room it was in was filled with bipedal creatures mindlessly pulling levers in front of glowing screens. There was a sunken floor where other threw small cubes and occasionally cheered or threw up their appendages in dismay.

A creature approached it and said…well, something. The auto-translators would take more time to calibrate. It seemed friendly, though. Apparently sensing the visitor’s confusion, the creature escorted it to a wide desk. More words were exchanged, and they handed it a small plastic rectangle. The visitor looked at it in confusion. As the creatures continued to try and explain, the auto-translator pinged with a key phrase: Welcome to the Luxor. Your room is 536.