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Sometimes Messages From God Are Quite Obvious October 27, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats.
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Screengrabbed this from my facebook feed just now.

I think the Jungian synchronicity is clear.  I still love the furry little demons and always will, but I know the score…

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Exactly August 22, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats, Television.
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To quote Sgt. Nick Yemana, “Very well put.”

Morning Mood July 24, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats, General.
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Meh.

The world is out to get me, as usual.

For Those Wonderful Kitties Who Had A Good Week July 8, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats.
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In case you missed the good news

Been There June 16, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats.
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… and I miss it. Wanna go back.

The High Point Of My Day June 2, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats, Writing.
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I’m still used to waking up early, and got up without an alarm by 7am today, so I figured I’d make the most of it and troll a bunch of yardsales in my area.

Came up empty on the sales – a nice Starter NY Yankees jacket was the find, but it was a tad too big on me – but at one sale, the family’s Siamese cat wandered among the meager offerings and allowed me some serious pettin’ time.

They told me he loves everyone and loves when they have yardsales, and that was certainly the case. He made sure I took care of every important face petting spot, and then even flipped over on his back for me to give him a belly rub. He was a total attention whore to be sure, but I didn’t want to leave him alone.

I miss my Siamese kitty. So I went to the WHORE DOWN THE STREET for some ACTION.

They told me they found him as a kitten, abandoned in a box at the park down the hill.

So all at the same time, I thought about how some people are total scum and deserve to die, while other people are just plain wonderful.

So, kitty time and no new crap for the packrat pile.

The rest of Saturday will be writing character backstory biographies for Wagstaff 3 so that I can maintain motive continuity later on. Well, that’s how I do it anyway. I can’t speak for other mystery writers.

Chester Gould supposedly dug fake graves in his backyard for the characters he killed off in “Dick Tracy.” I’d love to be THAT crazy, but digging up my yard is too much work, and it’s gonna hit 100 today, looks like.

Indoors. A/C a’runnin’. Yankees then Stanley Cup Game 3. Sounds like a plan.

The only reason to go back out would be to pet the cat again.

 

 

Saturday Roundup: Patriots Draft Picks, Cat Petting And A Book Safari April 28, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art, Books, Cats, Football.
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Today I went on a quest for cheap furniture – combing through a bunch of thrift stores in search of a replacement comfy corner chair for my classroom, as the old one is on its last legs, literally. Came up empty there, but found a couple of good books as long as I was there.

One looks like a nice true narrative of a major art forgery scandal called Provenance, about a forger & conman who managed to get the forgeries into collections and museums all over Europe where they remain to this day.

If forgeries sell tickets, they’ll say on the walls. It’s not like the public can ever tell the difference.

I read a lot of books on art forgery and theft rings while working out story elements for Wagstaff & Meatballs, and I continue to enjoy reading about the topic.

I also picked up a copy of The Truth Will Out: Unmasking The Real Shakespeare, a 2005 book that put forth a Shakesperean authorship theory I’m not as familiar with, making the case for Sir Henry Neville as the actual author of the plays & poems. CONFESSION: I am a confirmed skeptic as to the accepted idea that the Stratford actor Shakepeare wrote all that material, and I lean towards the Oxfordian theories. I think there’s a much stronger case to be made against Shakespeare than any positive case can be made for the different supposed authors, but I’m open to reading anything as well researched as this thing seems to be from my first skims. And it was only a buck!

And a brief Wagstaffesque synchronicity moment: As I browsed the racks of books coming up empty, some old dude who looked WAY too much like Scott Adams of “Dilbert” fame browsed the shelves over my shoulder, and he carried a couple of big volumes he’d scooped up. One of ’em was some enormous compendium all about Shakespeare performances in America. I always get annoyed every time I see other people holding onto books I didn’t get a crack at whenever I’m at some thrift store or library sale or whatever, and I thought to myself how it’d be cool if I found another Shakespeare book, especially on the author conspiracy theory.

Before I left the store, I figured I’d check the unsorted new-old-junk racks they’d just wheeled out…. and that’s where I found The Truth Will Out book.

On top of that? The Shakespeare authorship mischigoss is one of the elements in the third Wagstaff book I’m currently writing.

So I guess it immediately goes to the top of my reading list.

I got rewarded for visiting the thrift store in the same shopping center as a pet supply place with a big black store cat who I like to visit and pet whenever I’m jonesin’ for kitty. He’s easily found napping on one of his many dedicated cat trees around the store. Today I learned his name – Carlos the cat. I already knew he preferred chin rubs to damn near everything else. I didn’t disappoint him.

Then I came home and reviewed the rest of the Patriots draft picks in the final rounds today. It looks like they plugged all the position holes left by departing players. They scored a couple of cornerbacks who might replace Malcolm Butler. They got a wide receiver whose physicality and stats suggest a replacement for Danny Amendola, both in the slot and in punt returns. They picked up a couple of linebackers who will hopefully make good pass rushers, something they need badly. And, they did indeed draft a quarterback, Danny Etling out of LSU, a kid who doesn’t turn the ball over but clearly needs a lot of work. Can THE SYSTEM that made Cassell and Garroppolo into NFL quarterbacks work its magic on this kid? I certainly hope so, but who knows?

My realistic & cynical heart tells me that the Pats will be in a bad place psychologically next year. Losing the Superbowl despite what the offense accomplished and the controversy around the benching of Butler will hang over the psyche of the team akin to how the Seahawks were dogged by “Why didn’t we just run it into the end zone?” and how the Falcons were dogged by “Why didn’t we run down the clock and kick a field goal?” when they respectively blew both of their Superbowls against the Pats. Now it’s the Pats turn, I fear, and some of the stuff said by departing players about the overall not-fun and overly-regimented atmosphere within the team culture only bolsters my feelings. It all has that win-the-division-by-default but then go out in the first round as the third seed vibe. You heard it here first, sports fans. And I hope I’m wrong.

Now I’m throwing a soup & potstickers light dinner together and watching the Yankees pounding the Angels, at least so far. THIS IS THE YEAR!

New theory: Aaron Judge wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays. I’ll get back to you on my research.

 

Journeying Through Some Old Mystery/Horror Comics, Part 1 April 8, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art, Books, Cats.
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I recently bought a boatload of old 1960s-1970s Gold Key horror/mystery comic book scans from this guy’s online store, and have been plowing through them.

It’s been a lot of childhood nostalgia, as well as a lot of memory-poking of old stories and the actual old comic books I’ve got boxed up & totally unorganized (perhaps a summer project might be going through them all & fixing that). The actual copies of these things are pretty tough to find and aren’t too cheap, so the digitized deal is quite the good one, if you enjoy this sort of crap.

And I certainly do!

I started out reading the complete run of the Dark Shadows series, all 35 of ’em. I have one actual issue of the thing, bought by my mom since we were both fans of the actual show at the time, and it disappointed both of us.

And in reading the rest, the reasons for that disappointment so many years ago still stand – while the Gold Key DS series reproduces a few of the characters from the show & utilizes vampire/werewolf/witchcraft plotlines, it doesn’t have the tone of the show at all. The art is also poor – the only character who looks like her TV counterpart is Joan Bennett’s Elizabeth. Barnabas the vampire is the main character & hero of the thing, but Julia’s role from the TV show is reduced to nothing, and Angelique only turns up a few times to torment him as a ghost. And they don’t look anything like Grayson Hall and Lara Parker, nor does Barnabas look like Jonathan Frid.

Later comic book versions of the thing I perused on Amazon are far truer to the look & feel of the 1966 TV series, and anything beats the forced campiness of the Tim Burton movie. I trudged through them, a couple of the stories weren’t too bad, but overall, weak tea.

Then I started on two different comics I had a few issues of back in the day – The Twilight Zone and Ripley’s True Ghost Stories. Both of these titles began in the early 1960s and ended around 1980 or so.

The T-Zones have a wider range of stories, from offbeat scifi to eerie revenge tales, similar to the TV show. A comic Rod Serling serves as narrator, and while the art is generic, there are clear attempts by the artists to crib the look of some characters from familiar faces of TV actors who you’d expect to turn up on the show. While many of the stories are formulaic and hit a real dead spot in the mid 1970s before recovering somewhat before the title ended, a lot of them are pretty good. Much like the show, you can categorize the stories into various sub-genres: someone changes identity (either via clothes, bodies, faces, masks, etc) and things go right or more often wrong; someone gets wishes granted and things go wrong; someone enters the past/alternate dimension/reality and must escape;weird unreal stuff happens to someone ordinary and then we find out we’re not in an ordinary world, a la “Eye of the Beholder,” etc.

The Ripley’s stories are all along similar lines – someone in the present or the past comes across some place that’s haunted, some local or creepy caretaker tells them the sad story of some wrongful death that resulted in the ghost, and they either GTFO or find a way to put the spirit to rest. The best of these are either the creepiest, such as one tale of a voodoo shaman with a sugar cane harvesting zombie army who try to dig their way back into their own graves, or ones where the “believe it or not” aspect is most likely true – like the story of two graverobbers who accidentally revive the “corpse” whose jewels they try to steal – a young woman who then returns home after being mistaken for dead and several years later gives birth to Sir Walter Scott.

I’m moving through the Grimm’s Ghost Stories series and the Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery ones now, more on those later. In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite stories from the collection so far… read it & you’ll see why I’ve always liked it.  It’s written (uncredited) by the legendary comic writer Len Wein. Link to PDF: A Thing About Cats

This Photo Sums Up How My Day Is Going March 23, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats, General.
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My Sunday As An Addict March 18, 2018

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cats, Writing.
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Since I lost my cat last June, I often have cat withdrawal and start jonesin’ big time for some cat petting and general must-pamper-kitty urges.

Get another cat, you say? Well, maybe, right before my long Summer vacation, perhaps. But part of me also enjoys not having the responsibility of taking care of the cat, having to be back home for wet food feeding at certain times, or a repeat of taking care of a sick cat, constantly. It was a lot of stress.

So, instead of remarrying, I found a local brothel.

A nearby pet supply place, where I used to buy cat litter, has a big fluffy black cat living in the store. You can usually find him sleeping on various cat trees, or just wandering around.

A branch of my bank and a Goodwill occupy other spots in the same shopping center, so whenever I have the slightest reason to go there, I make a point of going into the pet supply place and spending some quality time petting the black cat.

Today he was sleeping. Woke up for a second, I petted him, and he just went back to sleep. I never want to disturb a cat’s sleep, so I wandered around the store to see if he’d wake up in a few, but no dice.

Sigh. I left.

Then since it finally stopped raining, I went for a nice long walk to think about/work out some ideas kicking around in my head & notebooks for Wagstaff 3. I get my best ideas on these multi-mile walks through the neighborhood, and it’s a no-shit-sherlock that the exercise is good for me. Get them triglycerides down AND figure out how to make my usual layer upon layer of idiotic pop culture plot actually turn out to make sense.

And as I walked by a house, I saw a little brown tiger cat!

Perhaps this was my KARMIC MAKEUP for not being able to pet the black one.

After all, I usually never see cats outside in my neighborhood. I actually don’t WANT to, since I live in an area where coyotes freely roam after-hours, and any cat left outdoors most often winds up listed as missing on Nextdoor or on posted flyers, and it’s more than obvious that Wile E. Cat-eating-fucker had a big dinner.

I called to the brown tiger cat. He took notice, but was skittish.

I knelt down to make myself less threatening, and called him over.

He trotted right over to me. Started to lean forward to smell my hand, and then suddenly changed his mind. Ran back towards the SUV in the driveway, then turned back to check on me.

I called him over again and made purring sounds.

He thought about it a moment, and then trotted back to his original spot, watching me.

Calling him over again didn’t work. He got bored and went into his backyard.

Nobody loves me.

I think I’ll jot down some after-walk notes about the book and drown my sorrows in some pasta & wine for dinner.

Pasta ALWAYS loves me.