Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two Cat Reports in One (6/21 & 6/28-17)

So, I wrote up my cat report last week but then got busy and didn't post it. So here it is, followed by this week's week-in-cats. --JDR

[WEDN. JUNE 21st]
Just three cats this morning: AVERY and MINERVA (Harvey) and TABITHA. They pretty much got along (not without some hissing when they felt it called for), even when two cats wound up in the same cage from time to time. All had used their litter boxes, but none was interested in a spoonful of wet. One did lick a little of the sauce off, but that was it.

To my surprise, Minerva came right out. I’d brought in a box for cats to jump in and a little bag of catnip to sniff, which she discovered while I was still cleaning and seemed to thoroughly approve of.  Also to my surprise she scratched at the door wanting to go for a walk. And once out she did a lot of walking, down past the fish tanks and right up to the front door. When picked up and carried away to a different spot, she worked her way around to the door from a different direction, and then did it yet again. She clearly has her mental map of the store and knows where she wants to go (out). It was a long walk and she did really well on it.

Avery was a little shy about walking until I took her over to the training room, where she prowled about with great satisfaction, purring when I talked to her (she likes the sound of her name). She behaved very differently when in the inner or outer room (friendly, relaxed) vs. when in her cage (tended to swat at hand reaching towards her). I stayed an extra half-hour because she had a visitor who came down from Lynnwood to spend some time with her. 

Tabitha doesn’t like walks. She’ll let herself be carried all around, but after a while the mewing starts and it’s time to come back in. She likes to do her exploring in the cat-room, and loves pouncing games. A guy met her during her walk who had a lot of questions about her and took her picture before he left. Think he’s interested but is about to go on a trip to Hawaii; we might see him again when he’s back if Tabitha is still with us then. 

On the whole, a fairly quiet morning in the cat room.


health concerns: Avery got in various dirt boxes several times and dug around but only did any business once or twice.
Minerva/Harvey does have a little trouble jumping up and seems to favor her back legs. But she had no problem walking. Moving her to the bottom row was a good idea.

—John R.




[WEDN. JUNE 28th]
Back on my normal (11-to-1) routine today, last week having been the last for me taking the (9-to-11) morning cleaning shift, and so had lots of time to socialize the cats.  When I got there Emma and Lisa already had them out and well taken care of, so I plunged right in with TABITHA. She did the same anxious mew mew mew as last week for about half of the walking time, then she got distracted and interested, and forgot to mew while she did some exploring. I took her down to the training room at the far end of the store and she relaxed in there, treating it kind of like a big, big cage.

AVERY was reluctant to let me put the leash on; once out I took her straight to the training room, where she relaxed and did a lot of prancing about, rubbing legs, and asking to be petted. When it was time to leave the room she navigated her way back to the cat room without any trouble, so looks like her mental map now includes pretty much the whole store.

As for CHESTER, what a beautiful, friendly, charismatic cat. Quite the charmer. Hard to believe someone would give him up for adoption; don’t think it’ll be long before he’s in a new home. He’s clearly been out on a leash before and did really well. He’s the kind of cat who walks up to people and asks for attention, which they were happy to give him. Oddly enough, when towards the end of my shift I decided to give him a second short walk, he kicked up a terrible fuss at the idea of having the leash on again so I gave up the idea.  

Avery went into her cage after her walk and pretty much stayed there, hissing and swatting at my occasional offers to pet her — she’s clearly adjusting to her plans to become boss-cat of the room having collapsed with the arrival of Chester. Think she’ll settle down over the next few days.  Tabitha (‘Queen of all String Games’) demanded games, and Chester wanted to join in. She’s perfectly okay with getting close to him, but he’s wary of letting her close and sometimes hisses her back. I brought in a paper bag, which they all ignored. By contrast, the cat-nip spray was a big hit (except with Avery, who thought it might be a spray-the-cat water-bottle). Both Tabitha and Chester loved the string game and the mouse-on-a-stick game (I left that behind as a gift). In addition, Chester showed great enthusiasm for the feather-duster. In short, both cats got to exercise their inner predator without anyone getting hurt.

Speaking of which, I feel bad for Minerva. AND the person she bit. Twice!  She had been so much better last week getting out and about on the leash that I hoped she was opening up. It’s hard to be a senior cat in a cage. Hope she does better at the next cat-room.

And while it’s too bad not to get to meet Kit/Luna — never seen whiskers that long on a cat before — I’m glad she got re-united with her owner so quickly. Can we have the whole story on that someday?

no health issues,  but happy to report a donation from a PetsMart customer; I pinned this to the calendar.

And that’s it for another week.

—John R. 









UPDATE Wednesday evening
I just have to add that upon returning home I found our cat FEANOR thinking he was due a walk himself, so I obliged. He doesn't go far these days, just around the back porch and into the side yard, but he enjoys smelling outdoors things,  watching birds or bunnies, and eating some grass. It was his day for seeing other animals up close -- first our next-door neighbor's dog Sidney (whom he knows pretty well, they having stared at each other a lot from our respective balconies) and then The Grey Cat, a neighborhood cat who seems fascinated with Feanor and comes up and watches him sometimes when he's out. This time he got to within about a cat's length of him whereupon Feanor mewed a time or two. Then they went their separate ways. Hastur, meanwhile, was upstairs on the desk in a box; she only ever wants to go out when it's getting dark (which is a bad time for me).




Monday, June 26, 2017

Facts That Aren't (Dorothy Sayers)

So, Thursday Janice and I headed up to Seattle to see a play at the Taproot Theater. It's been so long since we've been there that the theater we'd gone to last time (where we saw SEVEN KEYS TO BALDPATE) has since burned down and they've shifted to a new location (v. nice).

This time we had come to see BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON, having heard it recommended by friend Jeff (http://grubbstreet.blogspot.com/2017/06/serious-wimsey.html). We enjoyed the play -- they didn't quite nail it, but it was good fun nonetheless. But my scholar's soul can't let pass one error in the program book.

In the director's notes (page A2 in the program book), he says 

"Sayers intrigued me -- and as a member of The Inklings
she was surrounded by a cadre of writers like C. S. Lewis 
and J. R. R. Tolkien. Clearly she ran with very smart people"

--the last bit ('very smart people') is true enough, but the part about being an Inkling isn't. In the words of C. S. Lewis, cofounder (w. Tolkien) of the group, "She never met our own club [The Inklings] . . . and probably never knew of its existence" (THE INKLINGS, p. 189). 

All in all, though, an enjoyable evening. I'd gladly go there again. And it got Janice and myself thinking back over the Petherbridge adaptations in the 80s -- is it really that many years ago? -- and the Carmichael ones a decade or so before that. Seeing how many classic mysteries and series have been remade in recent years, I'm surprised these haven't been redone. One can hope . . .

--JDR
current reading: THREE HEARTS & THREE LIONS (just finished) by Poul Anderson. #II.3380.
ANATHEMATA (read aloud) by David Jones.

my favorite Sayers mystery: STRONG POISON. runner up: prob. NINE TAILORS (despite the silly method-of-murder)


Friday, June 16, 2017

Warnie Trashes Mrs. Moore

So, the most recent volume of THE JOURNAL OF INKLINGS STUDIES has arrived, and as always there's at least one piece to which my eye is immediately drawn -- in this case, Don King's piece on a previously unknown (to me, at least) little work by Warnie Lewis, longtime Inkling and C. S. Lewis's older brother: MENS HUMANA (or 'Kilns Table Talk').

It's long been known that Warnie, who lived with his brother and CSL's common law wife, Janie Moore, despised the latter. It's also well-known that Warnie and CSL kept a collection of things their father said* that made him look stupid** -- a prime example being their claim that he believed the ancient Babylonians were Japanese, due to his inability to understand the difference between the words "Sumerian" and "Samurai".

Now, in addition to the 100 sayings that make Albert Lewis look bad, we have seventy-two that make Mrs. Moore look bad. Except we don't: in this case we don't get the whole of MENS HUMANA but excerpts, most of them summarized rather than quoted directly.

As for the individual items, they're a mixed lot. Just as many of the sayings in PUDAITA PIE sound like jokes that flopped, some of the MENS HUMANA sound like misunderstandings, whereas a few are truly bizarre, such as this exchange:

JKM (shouting from hall): 'Warnie!'
WHL (leaves study and appears): 'Well?'
JKM: 'What's the time?'
WHL: '6.45'
JKM: 'Oh rubbish! It's 6.40'
WHL (nettled): 'Well why ask me?'
JKM: Because I thought you'd tell me right'
   (entry # LIX, p. 113-114)


Oddly enough, editor King pretty much accepts Warnie's point of view as his own-- that Moore was a horrible woman: conceited, mean-spirited, snobbish, self-righteous, and petty, as well as "dogmatic, contentious, and irascible". He also conflates the Janie Moore who was suffering from dementia (probably Alzheimer's) in the final four years of her life with the person CSL fell in love with; much of CSL's comments when she was in her final decline sound v. familiar to anyone who's been a caregiver.

All in all, a curious and disturbing piece.

--John R.


*PUDAITA PIE, published the year before last in the journal VII (volume 32, p. 59-67)

**which he wasn't: not only did he have two brilliant sons but seems to have been a voracious reader and was well-known as a sharp-witted Belfast lawyer.

New Arrivals

So, new glasses.

These'll take some getting used to.

--JDR.

current reading: THE GHOST IN THE CORNER (the new book from Lord Dunsany).

The Cat Report (W.6/14-17)


Great news that Mr. BOSCO found a new home. He was a charismatic fellow and I have no doubt he’s already won the hearts of his new people.

That left us with four cats in the cat-room: AVERYMINERVATONKS, and TABITHA

Everyone came out right away except Minerva, who enjoyed games (laser pointer) and petting in her cage. She’ll let you know if she wants you to stop, with a slap if needed to drive home the message. At one point we had quite a ruckus when Tonks jumped into Minerva’s cage, who proceeded to give her the what-for. There was much hissing and much swatting but after Tonks had gotten back out of there she didn’t have a scratch on her — it was intense but unarmed, so to speak. Minerva is the only one who didn’t get a walk -- even though I got her out enjoying herself on one of the cat-stands at one point, she was back in the cage when walk-time came around and I thought digging her out of the cage a second time wd just rile her up and start off the walk on a sour note. I’ll have to remember to start with her next time.

Avery was moody, although I think glad to be back in the big cage now that Bosco's adoption had freed that up again. She spent most of the morning in the outer room, keeping an eye on the other cats and occasionally joining in a game. She had a good walk over in the training room, purring all the time. Her fur’s finally grown out, just a beautiful as expected. Think maybe she needs more one-on-one attention.

Tabitha was charming. She came out right away and curled up on the bench, purring whenever anyone gave her some attention. I can finally tell her from Minerva! (Minerva has an all-black nose). She enjoyed games, but she’s a lazy predator and wants to swat at things that come in range, not to have to chase after it or leave her comfy spot. She had a short walk, mostly a carry, which I cut short after she started mewing. She was happiest when someone sat beside her.

Tonks was adorable. Into everything: wanting to climb in every cabinet, play with every toy, ride on your shoulder, and see if whatever you’re doing is a good game. She had a good walk, especially when she discovered the end-cap with catnip toys: she thought it was a great idea to have them all at her level where she cd sniff each in turn. She wanted to play with everybody, but nobody wanted to play with her except me. What a great little cat.


In the still-new-at-the-Cleaner-thing department: I forgot to check off the boxes on the clipboard. Sorry about that.

health concerns: none, but I did notice that (1) none of the cats ate their wet catfood and (2) they all love to sneak into each other’s cages and use other cats’ sandboxes.

—John R.


UPDATE (Friday morning)
And yesterday comes the news that little TONKS got herself adopted and by last night was settling in, already making herself v. much at home. A happy ending. Here's a picture to remember her by:






Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Very Short Gnomish Glossary (non-Tolkien)

So, Tolkien's GNOMISH LEXICON is well-known,* and the Sindarin deriving from it is one of the world's most famous invented languages. Recently I became aware that there was a second gnomish language, this one poorly attested (in fact, we only know two words from it).


I am speaking of course of the once-popular book GNOMES by Wil Huygen (text) and Rien Poortvliet (art), which had a vogue in the late '70s (and was much imitated) but is now I think pretty much forgotten.

I recently tracked down a copy and reread it for the first time in many years, as part of a larger discussion (still ongoing) I've been having with some friends about the origins of gnomes as a player-character race in D&D. It does not stand up well, but I was bemused to find that it does give a little 'Gnomish' in passing.

The first occasion is when we are told about mid-book (GNOMES having no pagination) that the Gnomes' word for 'goodnight' is slitzweitz.

The second occasion comes about a third of the way from the end, on a full page with the header 'Language':

Among themselves gnomes speak their own language. 
But since we come in contact only with solitary gnomes, 
we never hear it. (They can become very difficult 
if asked about their language.) It is certain, however,
that animals understand it. "Goodnight" is slitzweitz
and "thank you" is te diews. We did not progress much
beyond these few words mainly because the gnomes
master man's languages perfectly. And if they cannot
place a word, they immediately ask its meaning. 
Their written language is the ancient runic script.

Beneath this is a picture of a gnome saying "Slitzweitz" = Goodbye
--a slightly different gloss from goodnight but no doubt close enough.

And that's it: I don't know if they made up more words in 'Gnomish' in the books that followed (only the first few of which I read, and that long ago -- definitely a case of diminished returns) but I thought it worth sharing that they at least made the effort. Though I suspect they were inspired more by Richard Adam's WATERSHIP DOWN than JRRT.

--John R.
current reading: PRESIDENT FU MANCHU by Sax Rohmer (1936)**

*among Tolkien scholars, anyway.
**which I bought way back when working on the PULP CTHULHU project but have never read till now.




Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thoughts While Sorting Gaming Magazines

So, I've been having another go at sorting out the few to keep from among the many to get rid of from among the boxes of gaming magazines. I used to be an avid reader of such magazines, back when there were such things as rpg magazines, before I distanced myself from the industry after I left Wizards for the third and final time. It's been interesting revisiting that lost time when rpg magazines stalked the earth, reading reviews of then-new releases, some of which are now revered as classics, others long since forgotten.

Looking back over the array of rpg journals -- some of which had long runs, others here and gone -- it amazes me just how many journals there were. Each major (and many minor) rpg companies had their own magazine. DRAGON MAGAZINE was always the dominant one: it had an extraordinarily long run and for much of its run was by far the best journal out there, the standard against which all the others were (and shd be) judged.

But it wasn't just TSR's DRAGON* (and its later spin-off DUNGEON, not to mention the RPGA newsletter POLYHEDRON, both of whom had high-quality content, circulations, and longevity that most of DRAGON's rivals wd have envied). Chaosium had DIFFERENT WORLDS. Metagaming had SPACE GAMER. GDW had CHALLENGE. Steve Jackson Games had PYRAMID. Games Workshop had WHITE DWARF. Even Flying Buffalo's TUNNELS AND TROLLS had its own dedicated magazine, SORCERER'S APPRENTICE. There were some rpg magazines that grew into full-scale rpg companies, like WHITE WOLF (White Wolf) and SHADIS (Alderac) and KOBOLD QUARTERLY (Open Design). Sometimes a single game had a whole journal to itself, like MYTHUS MASTERS MAGAZINE, the short-lived MYTHUS newsletter.**


Have to give a special shout-out to a few though, any of which wd be worth revisiting in a post all its own: ARCANE (one of the finest rpg journals ever to see print), INTERACTIVE FANTASY (smart, thoughtful, always looking for boundaries to push, albeit a bit too self-important, prizing innovation above everything else), and THE GAMER (in which editor Scott Haring managed to produce the closest thing to a truly independent rpg magazine -- a feat all the more impressive considering some of the fractious talent he had as regular contributors).

And of course there are a few I simply have a personal fondness for, such as ADVENTURE GAMING (which successfully continued the DRAGON MAGAZINE experience for a time and, more importantly, provided a home for FINIEOUS FINGERS). And then there's GYGAX, the recent attempt to see if the old-school' revival cd carry over enough to support an old-style gaming magazine as well (the answer turns out to be no, not so much).

That said, if anyone out there wd like the first four issues of CASUS BELLI or an assortment of five random issues of SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, let me know and I'd be glad to see them off to a good home).

--John R.
current reading: the two adventures in the new 7th ed. C.o.C. core rulebook.



*of which I have a large, but unfortunately not-quite-complete, run.

**I played an inadvertent role in its demise, but that's a story for another time.