Friday, September 15, 2006

My first steps toward becoming a crazy cat lady.

My roommate was gone for two weeks, and she took her cat with her. Everyone in the house has a significant other, so not having people around at night is fairly normal here. But when Audrey took Batshit Catshit with her on vacation, I was all alone in this house.

And houses, no matter how new and how nice, are fucking creepy without signs of life in them. I realized during these few nights I spent alone that I really need living things around me. As fucking weird as Zoey is, I need her in the house. Even when I was younger and my parents weren't home, I always had my dog.

So I got another cat.

That's putting it dramatically. We'd talked about getting another cat, hoping that a second cat would give Zoey some kind of stability. I wanted an older cat, one that would like to cuddle and be held. Basically, a cat that wasn't as wacky and unsociable as the creature I so lovingly call Batshit Catshit.

As fate had it, I did not fall in love with the big fat orange cat I had been eyeing at the Ojai shelter. And I drove to ASAP on Labor Day, knowing full well they would be closed, but secretly hoping that the county would be smart enough to know that when people who can afford pets don't have to work, being open would be a good idea. Later that afternoon my co-worker calls me and offers me a kitten that she and her husband had brought home. This little girl was 5 weeks old, and very small. But so adorable. So I brought her home.

Calliope's arrival in my home.

She is the sweetest cat in the world. She likes to spend hours snuggled against my chest.

Who doesn't want to snuggle on my chest?

Every morning before I go to work, we watch the news and she snuggles on my chest. When I get home from work, I watch Jeopardy and she snuggles on my chest. In between all her comfy snuggling, she can voraciously attack feather toys for hours at a time.

The face of pure evil.

Her sweetness and whimsy have given her the name Calliope, and I love her so much.
I always dreamed of a big orange cat named Geoffrey Chaucer, but I think that the Fates had Calliope in store for me. As my mom says, we were meant to be together.

Calliope checks produce for ripeness by batting at it.

We knew that introducing her to our Ninja Cat would be a challenge, as Zoey didn't really seem to enjoy many things in this world. But Zoey came back from her vacation a changed cat. She suddenly purrs. She meows. She actually lets people hold her and wants to be touched. She curls up by feet.

She and Calliope spent their first couple of days growling at each other. Calliope took to Zoey instantly. Zoey was really not having that at all. They hissed. They fought. But now, at the end of a week together, they love each other so much. They still play fight, and sometimes Zoey forgets that Calliope is very small, but they are the best of friends. I left them sleeping together on the couch this morning, and when I returned at 5, they were in the exact same place. Later, Calliope was biting Zoey's ear and scruffing her neck to get her big sister to wake up and play.

The babies: derranged but so, so playful.

So that is the story of our cats. They're both really wonderful creatures, even if I know they spend their days secretly plotting to kill us.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Maxim's makeover.

The white cover of the October 2006 issue of Maxim didn't throw me. They've done a white cover before. I was thrown by the fact that MTV V-Jay Vanessa Minnillo was on the cover. And she was very much on the cover in 2005. She, like the magazine, has also made a transformation. Her 2005 cover featured her as a naughty school girl. On this cover, she looks like an extra in a Bob Fosse musical. Oh, she had it comin'.

Vanessa's transformation seems to reflect the design change of the overall magazine.
When I open the magazine, I am struck by the white pages. Men's magazines don't traditionally use white as a background. Maxim, in the 5 years I've been reading it, has always had black pages. The table of contents pages have been streamlined, boxed and color-coded. The layout of the articles is much more striking and clean, less cluttered. The art is better.

Maxim's new Editor-in-Chief Jimmy Jellinek, who sports a pink checked shirt a la Marc Ecko in his headshot, seems to be taking the magazine in a bold new direction. Maxim is growing up, departing from the world of Stuff and its teenage/college boy allies and becoming more like GQ.

I can't argue that Maxim is growing up as its readership does. Men's magazines don't work like that. Maxim boys will always be Maxim boys, even in suits and ties and $100 glasses of Scotch. Part of me thinks that Maxim is trying to appeal to its female readership, come off as less chauvenistic, less filled with balls-out bro-dom (which, my feminist friends, is total irony in the first place.)But more than that, I think Maxim is trying to grow its readers up. It wants to be a magazine for young male professionals like GQ. It is aiming for a new readership, a readership of men who appreciate all kinds of beauty--good layout, nice graphic art, organization and the inherent beauty of Maxim's content: women.

Maxim, thank you for growing up. You've become more refined. Even your portraits of women in the magazine have become more refined. Next time I see you, I'll buy you a $50 glass of Scotch and we'll talk about how to give my publication that kind of redesign.

Cheers, boys.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Farewell, Steve Irwin.

You and I were not alike in any way. I have been known to say I hate nature, but being an animal loving vegetarian contradicts that statement. For me, the surest sign that I respect nature is that I stay the hell away from it.

You sir, you loved nature by getting in its face, and wrestling many freaky and deadly animals.

We're all sorry about that stingray barb, because you've given us so many years of entertainment on Animal Planet, and we had hoped you would continue to give us many more years of Crocodile Hunting fun.

But at least we all know you died doing something you loved. For the Crocodile Hunter to die any other way, such as passively in his sleep or an ironic traffic accident, would be unacceptable.

Cheers, mate. It's been a helluva good run.