Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Tale Of Two Grouches

It Was The Grouchiest Of Times, It Was The Grumpiest Of Times
Edmonton (CP).  A cat lover’s convention in the capital of Alberta saw an unlikely meeting of two grouches this weekend. Tardar Sauce, the famously sour looking cat that has caught the adoration of millions across the internet with her frown and an endless series of memes, was appearing at the convention with her staff at her beck and call. The cat has become beloved for the characteristic grumpy expression she seems to always have, though her staff remarked to reporters that Tardar Sauce is in fact quite affectionate. Tabatha Bundesen, who is responsible for fulfilling Tardar Sauce and her brother Pokey’s every whim and wish, recently had Tardar Sauce up at the SXSW festival, and this time, the famous grumpy cat turned up at the Divinity of Cats weekend convention and seminar series.
Tardar Sauce was the object of much attention throughout, and true to form, seemed to roll her eyes at the reporters and members of the public. Her sullen expression never seemed to change, as if, in this reporter’s opinion, she was thinking, “I hate every single one of you, and I hope you die.” Perhaps this reporter has been looking at one too many Grumpy Cat memes.
Unfortunately, members of Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight somehow got word of the convention, and turned up. They found their way to Tardar Sauce, who was in the midst of being cooed over by members of the public, folks remarking on just how cute she is in person. “Grumpy Cat!” one barked, an overly cheerful reporter new to the Entertainment Tonight team. “Dusty Jones, Entertainment Tonight. Just want to say what a privilege it is to talk to you today, and ask a big question. Are you in any way related to Jeremy Renner?”

Tardar Sauce stared at the reporter, as if sizing him up as a potential alternative to a mouse. She glared at him in a way that would make someone of greater intelligence decide to back off and walk away.
However, entertainment reporters are not known for intelligence. Jones pressed on. “Any chance you’ll co-star with Will Smith’s kids in a remake of Sabrina The Teenage Witch? Word has it Will and Jada want Jaden and Willow to star in a remake....”
Tardar Sauce rolled her eyes. If this reporter could see into the mind of a superior being like a cat, he would have to conclude the cat was thinking of having Jones taken out by a hit-cat.
Suddenly there was a stir in the crowd. Legendary RCMP Inspector Lars Ulrich, who had recently foiled a plot to steal Nutella in Germany, was back in Canada, and walking through the convention. This surprised reporters; none of us knew he liked cats. He was in uniform though, and he might well have been passing through on business.
Later, serious reporters discovered he was in the city to meet with superiors, and was merely passing through the conference centre on his way out. That didn’t stop the entertainment reporters from calling out his name. “Lars! Lars! How about a pic with the world’s most famous grumpy cat?”

Inspector Ulrich found himself seemingly pushed by a crowd towards the area where Tardar Sauce was sitting in her basket... and where the entertainment reporters were waiting. Flashbulbs went off as the Inspector in his working uniform stood near the cat. Both grouches looked at each other... and it was as if two like minds met. They looked back at the reporters with the same expression of sheer disdain.
“Lars! Lars!” Jones bellowed. “Tell me, now that you’re here, is there any chance that Metallica would like to have Grumpy Cat appear in a video?”
Ulrich sighed, rolling his eyes. “First of all... why would anyone subject a cat to the awful screeching noise of heavy metal? They have delicate ears, after all.” He fixed his glare, a terrible and vengeful look in the expression, squarely on Jones. “And second.... I am not that Lars Ulrich, you bloody nitwit!”
Jones stared at the Inspector. “Really? Because the information I have...”
Jones never got to finish his sentence. The Inspector decked him squarely across the jaw, sending him falling. He gave the crew from Access Hollywood and Jones’ own crew a good glare, and the look in his eyes was enough to send them fleeing through the crowd.
Then the most astonishing thing happened. Tardar Sauce rose from her basket, just within reach of the Inspector, rubbed her head against his arm, and started purring. Bundesen was flabbergasted. “She’s never done that with someone she just met.”
Ulrich looked down at the cat and shrugged. “Next time you can claw their faces.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Abolition: Five Faces Of Freedom

“A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people.” ~ Frederick Douglass
“The compact which exists between the North and the South is a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” ~ William Lloyd Garrison
“I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.” ~ John Brown
“I appeal to you, my friends, as mothers: are you willing to enslave your children? You stare back with horror and indignation at such questions. But why, if slavery is not wrong to those upon whom it is impressed?” ~ Angelina Grimke
“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
“A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it.” ~ Frederick Douglass
“I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard.” ~ William Lloyd Garrison

A few weeks ago, I watched The Abolitionists, a PBS documentary on the abolition of slavery movement in America during the decades before the Civil War. The documentary mixed together the traditional tools of the format- narration, commentary by historians, period photos and pictures, and location footage- with the use of actors playing parts, and all in all, the combination was effective and insightful. It told the story through the point of view of five individuals whose lives intersected, whose contributions to the cause varied. They were seen as radicals and troublemakers by some; liberators and prophets by others. They, and those who were in the movement, were people of fierce principle, and extraordinary courage. Four of them were well known to me.
Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the eloquent speaker, the most influential African-American of the century. William Lloyd Garrison, the ardent abolitionist who sought for decades to persuade society that the institution of slavery was wrong. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the book that fuelled the cause. And John Brown, the militant abolitionist who went to war in the West against the institution of slavery years before the Civil War, and more than any other individual brought about the War itself by unleashing his raid on Harper’s Ferry.
Frederick Douglass

William Lloyd Garrison

The fifth was someone not known to me. Angelina Grimke was an abolitionist with a peculiar background. Born and raised in a wealthy, prominent Southern family, she grew up with slaves around her... and yet something about the institution and the idea of slavery offended her. She believed it to be wrong, spoke out publicly against it, and would end up estranged from some of her family and social circles. She spent much of her adult life in the North, involved in the Abolitionist and suffrage movements with her husband until she largely withdrew from public life out of exhaustion. I suspect that this is why, unlike the other more familiar names, I didn’t know about her. As abolition drove events forward towards the war, Grimke herself was mostly absent from the proceedings.

Angelina Grimke

John Brown

Harriet Beecher Stowe
I’ve had an idea for a one-off book for years, something in between what I usually write, and perhaps that’s why her story seemed to resonate: she had something in common with the character who would be at the heart of it. A Southern man, raised in a wealthy family in Virginia, uneasy with the concept of slavery so close at hand, goes to West Point to the military academy for his education in the late 1850s. There he’s exposed to the abolitionist movement for the first time, giving voice to his doubts. He undertakes a decision to steal away as many of the slaves on his family property as he can, and when it’s finished, his brothers and father vow that no matter how long it takes, they’ll have their revenge on him for the betrayal, a course that takes them all into the war itself.
Still, it’s a tall order. With some books, you have to be from the area in question to do justice to the story. Can a Canadian who hasn’t lived in the South, let alone been there since childhood, properly tell that kind of story?
How familiar are you with the abolitionist movement in America? Have you seen that documentary, by chance? And had you heard of Angelina Grimke?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Vampire Sex, Harperland, And Sleazy Weasels

"You can prove anything with statistics. For example, I could tell you that the next election will be rigged in our favour by a margin of two to one in seats in the House. I say that, because I already know we're rigging the election." ~Stephen Harper

A few days ago, I started looking at the statistics of my blog. Where my readers are viewing this nonsense (yes, it's nonsense) from, what sort of search terms they use, the whole nine yards (ten yards on Canadian playing fields). Mostly it's limited to the top few in a given week, month, or all time (I wish I could get my hands on the complete list of search terms).

As is expected, Americans outnumber the second placer in any given time period, usually by two to one. Such as the case when I had a peek at the listings, both in the last few days and over the long term; here are some of the biggest readerships of my blog by country:

United States, Germany, Russia, Poland, Canada (hey! Where are my fellow Canucks?), France, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Turkey, Australia,  Netherlands, and Thailand.

I imagine Thailand might be the reason I get a lot of spam in my spam folders. And who in Turkey or the Ukraine is looking in on this? Germany got a big spike last week; it must be the Nutella blog I did a few days ago. Where typically my blogs might get a hundred views a piece, the Nutella blog spiked up to 900 in the last few days, and Germany was holding second place in the country listings for last week. Maybe it was my remark in that blog about Germans getting angry. Maybe it was taking a shot at David Hasselhoff, who for some bizarre reason is as close as you get to sainthood in Germany.

Maybe Angela Merkel is mad at me. Angela, can I call you Angela? No? Okay, Chancellor, can we talk, just you and I, and my blog readers? I get why you might be a bit annoyed. I'd be annoyed too if I had to put up with the prospect of that Italian sleazeball Berlusconi ever attaining any position of political power again too. Anyway, no hard feelings about the Germans getting angry remark, right? Right?

Though tell me... just why is it Germans are so fascinated by that Hasselhoff dimwit? Come on, Chancellor. We all know he's a dimwit. It's not as if it's a secret.

That leads us to the other matter. The search terms which actually lead to my blog. If you're familiar with GK Adams' blog, she occasionally lists those search terms (and trust me, they can get really weird). The first two from my results aren't surprising. The blog title and A Day In The Life Of A Cat are consistent in being at the top of the heap. My disdain for the uberpartisan zealot currently occupying the Prime Minister's Office (hi, Stevie!) here is well known, so it's not particularly a surprise that his name would turn up in such a list. Some of the others, however... are a bit eyebrow raising. Here are some of the current listings:

William Kendall speak of the devil, A Day In The Life Of A Cat, Harperland, Devon Actress, Sleazy Weasel, Crazy Squirrel, Death, Vampire Sex, Amelia Earhart Diary, Funny Godzilla Pictures, Where's Waldo, Justin Bieber Parody, Spoiled Brat, Miss Piggy, Evil Fluffy, and Maple Leafs.

Hmmm... my calling Seth McFarlane a sleazy weasel really drew out that much of a response? I still stand by my statement, for the record. And did one Where's Waldo blog really draw that much attention? I'm surprised that Grumpy Mountie, Lars Ulrich, or Entertainment Reporters didn't lead more people here.

As to Vampire Sex.... I would think my firing shots across the bow at Twilight (Mr. Sparkles, Sullen Idiot, and Dog Boy more than have it coming, and you know they do) is pretty far removed from Vampire Sex. So how does that turn up among search results that lead to this blog?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

You Call That A Eulogy?

The great British comedian Rowan Atkinson put out a live special on video years ago, and it's still around as a DVD. One of the sketches he performed is the wedding from hell, viewable at that link. He plays three men who in their own ways wreck havoc with a man's wedding day: the minister, the best man, and the father of the bride. It's horrible but hilarious, and as such, it inspired the following from my devious mind... one of the least successful (and tactful) eulogies ever done. Enjoy!

“Thank you, Reverend McTavish, for that kind introduction, and before I begin, I might say that I wouldn’t want to play against you in a poker game. I’m astonished at how you’re managing to keep a straight face through all of this. You must let me know how it’s done sometime.
Well, hello, everyone. It’s very nice to see such a gathering on this sombre day when we gather together to remember the departed. When I first heard that Geoffrey was dead, I wondered if it might be a mistake or a miscommunication. Of all the people you expect to die early on in life, Geoffrey Buchanon was certainly not on those lists. I would have expected that chain smoking incompetent nitwit Bruce Palmer would meet an early end, personally. Oh, hello, Bruce! Didn’t see you there.
Those of us who knew Geoffrey will remember the man with the taste for the good life. Sometimes that taste for the good life could be best conveyed in a glass of fine brandy or the company of friends. Other times that could be expressed through one of his favourite activities. And so I find it ironic that one of his favourite activities led to his untimely death.
I was surprised to be asked by his wife Deirdre to give a eulogy. I mean, of course, Geoffrey and I read law together at Oxford, but we went our separate ways, only saw each other on occasion. Surely there was someone else more suited to give him a proper send off? Perhaps one of the people who were there with him when he left this life would have been more suitable. Though given the circumstances of how he went, I can see why Deirdre might have wanted someone else. Well, no bother.
Geoffrey was the sort of barrister who’d give the legal profession a bad name, as if we didn’t have a bad name as it was. He wasn’t above overcharging a client if he thought he could get away with it. He would find any nook or cranny in case law if it could work to his advantage, even if that meant throwing some poor chap under a bus, or stealing candy from a baby in a pram. Which, incidentally, he once did as a gag. That mother was not pleased at all. Geoffrey was the sort of fellow who’d sell his mother’s urn if he thought he could turn a profit. You can imagine the hostilities with the rest of his family when he did precisely that ten years ago.
You know, I rather thought that if Geoffrey were to go to the grave early, it might well have been in a, how do I say this? A delicate situation. Perhaps in the arms of his dear wife Deirdre, having a heart attack just at that proverbial happy moment. If you have to go, that’s a good way to meet your maker. Perhaps it might have been in the arms of one of his mistres... oops, forget I said that. Completely slipped my mind. I’m just saying that I would have expected that to be his fate. A good way to go. As opposed to the way he went.
When I think of Geoffrey, I always go back to those days in Oxford. There was this one occasion where the six of us went off to the Riviera on a spring break. We hit the bars, all the posh night spots. Chatted up the girls, brought them back to our rooms. One evening, there I was, having a lovely time between the sheets with a girl named Bianca. Or was it Camilla? Anyway, that’s not the point, and I suspect Reverend McTavish is a bit wary of my telling such stories at a funeral. She and I were having a lovely time getting to know each other in the best of ways, and all of a sudden there was this wailing scream out in the hall. It was this unearthly sort of scream of terror, nothing like I’d heard before.
I managed to get my trousers on, stepped out, and there was Geoffrey, running down the hall, panic on his face and a look of sheer horror in his eyes. He yelled at me at the top of his lungs. Michael! She was a guy!!! That’s what he said. You see, it turns out the girl he took up to his room had a little something extra, if you follow. Once he saw that, he cleared right out of there, poor sod. Deirdre, did he ever tell you that story?
Well, of course the rest of us never let him live that one down. For years on afterwards, we’d ask how Alexandra was doing. Or was that Alex? He’d have this look about him that made me think he wanted to strangle all of us.
Geoffrey was a man with a love for life. He loved his children, all seven of them. Even the ones you didn’t know about, Deirdre. Oh, wait. Was I supposed to say that out loud? Well, long story short, Geoffrey has five other kids with three other women. I see one of them here in the congregation this morning, but maybe it’s better that you get all that sorted out with her instead. I’ll let you guess who she is.
When we think about Geoffrey’s death, and about how manifestly unfair it seems that he’s left us so soon, we might feel it’s unjust. Geoffrey was doing what he loved to do. Parachuting with his skydiving club. It was something he did regularly through the year, something that he found pleasure in. Not quite as much pleasure as with one of his mistresses, or with that prostitute in Brazil, but I’d better not bring up that particular incident.
No, I’ll just say that we could have never seen what happened coming. Neither could Geoffrey. I wonder how he must have felt, knowing the parachute and the backup failed, plunging to earth, faster and faster. Did he have regrets? Did he pass out? Or was he conscious all the way down? Could he have known that his final point of impact would be in the backyard of a convent? Did he realize the amount of emotional trauma it would inflict on those nuns, having his inner organs splatter all over the tulip beds? How would he have felt about being peeled off the ground with spatulas?
Well, goodbye, Geoffrey. You never lost your zest for life. At least until you collided with the ground at God knows how fast a velocity. What a rotten way to go, old chap. You might well have been the sort of chap who, if you were drowning, we would have thrown you an anchor. You might have been a no good cheat, an incorrigible jackass, a womanizing oaf, and a backstabbing wanker, but you were our backstabbing wanker. Look at it this way. At least now that you’re dead, your wife and your mistresses won’t have a chance to kill you.”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Legends Of The Game

Imagine coming to a new city to play the game you know best. Imagine the hostility and distrust you get from teammates. Imagine the venom and outright hatred from the crowds in the stands. And imagine being told that you have to ignore that and not react, that it’s the only way to make things possible for others to follow in your footsteps. So it was for Jackie Robinson, the first black player to break through the colour barrier in major league baseball in 1947, signed into the Brooklyn Dodgers by executive Branch Rickey. The story has been told in film before, with Robinson playing himself. Now, going on near seven decades later, a new take on the story has arrived in theatres.
Every once in awhile, baseball finds its way into the movies, and when it’s done well, it’s an emotional powerhouse. Watch The Natural, for example, and you’re seeing this almost Messiah-like story of a player getting one more chance at glory. Kevin Costner has gone to the game on three occasions, each a success, each film different from the other. Bull Durham gives us a minor league player trying to fight his way through a season. Field of Dreams reminds us of the power of dreams however crazy they might seem, and reminds us of how profoundly something as simple as a game can have on us. And For Love Of The Game features a major league pitcher at the end of his career, trying to sort out where his life is going. All four of these films count as personal favourites, and capture the essence of the game.

We can add 42 to that list. It tells the story of Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) and Rickey (Harrison Ford), centred mostly on 1946 and 1947. Rickey, an executive with the Dodgers and already a legend in the game, is looking for an ideal candidate to break through the colour barrier that had kept black players out of the majors and in what had been called the Negro League. Robinson is one of those players, trying to get through a segregated world based on bigotry and clear dividing lines. It’s not just a matter of a personal principle for Rickey; he wants talented players on the team, and the colour of their skin doesn’t matter, just how well they can play. So it’s business and principle. Robinson gets signed up, and is told by Rickey that for this to work, for all of the other black players who will come after him, he will have to be stoic enough not to react to the jeers, the insults, the racist taunts that will surely come.

Robinson first spends a season in the affiliate team in Montreal, a dress rehearsal of sorts north of the border, until he is brought to Brooklyn for the 1947 season. He finds himself encountering distrust and prejudice from some of his fellow players, from the fans, and from opposing teams. The racism and bigotry is in full force, and the audience is saturated by the culture of the time. The story is in essence a portrait of this period in time, of Robinson’s moving forward in the face of adversity.
There aren’t really surprises in the film; the story is already well known, but it serves as a reminder of the time, of the intensity of injustice that segregation really was, and it also serves to subtly remind us of how much work is yet to be done. It’s a somber story at times, meant to leave us uncomfortable. The ugliness and poisonous quality of racism, the words and attitudes that go along with that, are on full display here, and they're supposed to make us uncomfortable.

The director, Brian Helgeland, also wrote the screenplay, and comes from that background; his signature work was in the film noir tribute L.A. Confidential, and he brings much of that strength here, with a rich attention to detail. He’s assembled a crew that covers each and every detail, giving us a look back in time, evoking the time- both the good and the bad of the time. And the camera work he oversees is exceptional, particularly in bringing us into the midst of the game. I did think the score, however, was overdone. Mark Isham seemed content to tug at the proverbial heartstrings and went a bit over the top; I’ll have to see how it plays isolated from the movie itself.

The cast itself do their work well. Christopher Meloni briefly plays the Dodgers manager, trying to navigate between this new direction for the team and the distrust of the other players. Nicole Beharie appears as Robinson's wife Rachel, and she gives a sympathetic, warm performance. Lucas Black appears as the Dodgers captain who is among the first to move past initial distrust of Robinson. Character actor John McGinley is the announcer Red Barber, a play by play man who gets some of the best lines in the film. And another character actor, Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Serenity), plays against type, as the racist manager of the Phillies, whose venomous taunts personify all of the bigotry of the era.

Boseman is a relative newcomer to the field, but that’s all right in this case. Looking at his resume, the only thing I’ve seen him in was an episode of Castle. Using a relative unknown is a wise decision; we don’t associate a well known actor, we’re just looking at the character. Boseman has the gravitas and weight, however, to play the role, conveying the courage, the restraint, and the inner strength of Robinson in the face of hostility. And he also has the body language and manner of a baseball player; a critical element in a film about the game. I look forward to seeing what Boseman does in the future.
Ford pretty much steals the film. He plays Rickey as gruff and scowling, a manager who wants a winning team, but is also fiercely principled. There’s a sense of respect between Rickey and Robinson playing out through the film. The real man came from a strong Methodist background, saw a chance to set things right in the game and went with it. At one point we learn more of the reasons for his point of view, of why he chose to break the colour barrier. It really humanizes the role. He has more than his share of one liners and life lessons, but he’s also a man who loves the game. It’s a terrific performance by Ford, even if it requires wearing body padding to give him the right look.

Robinson was a pioneer. In his wake, other black players would follow. Segregation of teams would gradually come to an end as more team managers realized how good the talent out there was. Segregation in the stands would very gradually follow. The Negro League would never be the same, eventually folding. And Robinson would take his place as a giant of the game, his talent and his courage adding to the legacy of the game. If 42 might be familiar to the audience, it’s still a worthy and emotionally uplifting film to take in, a strong character portrait and a look back in time to an era that had an ugly side... but also gave us an example of personal strength and fortitude.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Does Nutella Stay Fresh In A Post Apocalyptic World?

Before getting to today's mischief, some business to see to. On a frequent basis, my partner in crime Norma and I chatter away by email about ideas that might make for good blogs. There might not be enough material for a blog, though, but there's an alternative. The International Intruder started out as something of an inside joke years ago for Norma and fellow authors. She and I resurrected it over at Facebook. Some of these small ideas we get in mind make for good fake newspaper articles, so go on over, have a look, and click on like!

Now, as for other fake newspaper articles....

Thieves Make Brazen Heist of Delicious Sandwich Spread Before Getting Caught

Berlin (AP).  After the recent theft of five tons of Nutella in the German town of Bad Hersfeld in recent days, authorities knew they would have to move quickly to calm public fears of a shortage of the delicious food. A group of thieves stole the Nutella, valued at over $20 000 American, from a parked trailer several days ago. The spread, which is made by the Italian company Ferrero and beloved for its exquisite taste by millions all across the world, proved to be too tempting a target for thieves.
“I don’t know who thinks of it as a sandwich spread,” Ferrero spokesperson Anna Mastrionni told reporters from the company headquarters the day after the theft. “After all, it’s something you eat directly from the spoon. Nevertheless, let us reassure everyone that there will be no shortage of Nutella due to this unfortunate incident. We are taking steps to ensure that the supply is uninterrupted, and we have every confidence that the police will soon have the culprits in custody.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel looked grim later that day as she spoke to reporters. “This isn’t funny,” she remarked. “Give us back our Nutella! You don’t want to see a German get angry, do you?”

German authorities ran down every lead they could on the theft. Every theory was explored, from a black market Nutella ring to the notion of someone hosting a Boy Scout jamboree who was just too cheap to buy spreads for sandwiches and so decided to steal it instead. The theory was even suggested that a group of marijuana users wanted the Nutella to complete their brownies, cupcakes, and cheetos collection of munchies. The decision was made to call in for some outside help. From across the ocean, legendary RCMP Inspector Lars Ulrich arrived on a flight from Alberta.
Ulrich, the grouchy and yet heroic Mountie who has saved the world from a Muppet super-villain, and who once rescued the Stanley Cup from kidnappers, has a reputation for fearlessness and a loathing for entertainment reporters. Last year he investigated a similar theft involving maple syrup in Canada, and singlehandedly brought down the thieves. He was in the country before reporters even knew he was there, conferring with German police, looking at the evidence, following leads.
Within two days, Ulrich had determined the ultimate fate of the five tons of Nutella, leading German police to an isolated rural property in the northern reaches of Germany. There a standoff began, with what police described as an “end of the world” survivalist who had taken the Nutella to stock his underground bunker. Karl von Boch, described by neighbours as “disturbed” and “completely insane” held off police from his bunker entrance, swearing that he’d never let anyone take his Nutella from him.
While the police kept von Boch occupied, Ulrich apparently flanked the survivalist, taking him by surprise, disarming him, and knocking him out. He then singlehandedly went into the bunker, and, in the words of police spokespeople, forced the rest of von Boch’s inner circle to surrender. They did so without incident.
Reporters kept at a distance watched as von Boch was taken into custody. The survivalist was ranting about the “coming of the zombie plot bunnies” and the “Illuminati Sisterhood”. His five co-conspirators were taken into custody and booked without incident. The Nutella was removed with reverence and awe by police crime scene officers and carefully accounted for. Inspector Ulrich himself seemed to frown when he saw the reporters gathered at the road on his way out.

When asked how he persuaded the remaining members of the theft ring to surrender, Ulrich shrugged. “I glared at them. Apparently my glare makes people quake in fear. They all dropped their weapons without so much as a word. Now, if you’ll excuse me...”
“Lars! Lars! I’m Hans Olbricht, with TMZ Germany. If you’re here, is it true that Metallica is going to do a concert with David Hasselhoff?”
Ulrich stared at Olbricht for a long moment in a way that would have suggested he was calculating the amount of time needed to tie a noose around his neck. The real reporters on the site seemed to part in two, as if to give the Inspector a clear path to the entertainment reporter. Finally he spoke in a low, growling voice. “You know, I’ve never understood the German fascination with David Hasselhoff. The man is a complete horse’s ass.” Every German reporter in the crowd seemed to gasp in shock. “And by the way, you witless buffoon...I am not that Lars Ulrich!!!!”
Olbricht looked confused. Entertainment reporters always look like that. Finally he asked, “So is that a no to Metallica and Hasselhoff doing a duet of Helter Skelter?”
Inspector Ulrich charged the reporter, who started running for his life. When last seen, Ulrich was chasing him towards the North Sea. In the opinion of this reporter, Olbricht won’t be missed.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Day In The Life Of A Cat

7:55 AM. Awake. The staff appears to already be up and about. How did she get out of bed without my knowing? This is most perplexing.

8:00 AM. Have descended stairs, and have located staff having cup of coffee in kitchen. Staff, I don't know if I should be annoyed with you for not waking me. I am expecting some breakfast now that I'm awake. Scrambled eggs, some fried sausages, and fried potatoes would do swimmingly. Chop chop, get to it. I'll expect it within ten minutes.

8:05 AM. Staring out front window. It appears that spring has finally reared its head. More of the snow is melting. It can't happen soon enough for me.

8:10 AM. Staff calls me for breakfast. Staff, it would be much more fitting if you used the term, Your Royal Majesty when calling me.

8:11 AM. Walking into kitchen. Utterly dismayed by lack of scrambled eggs, sausage, and home fries. Instead I find field rations in my dish. Staff, this is not what we discussed. Am I going to have to go out and find myself a whole new staff?

8:15 AM. After much eye rolling, glaring, and reluctance, I have settled in to eat breakfast. Staff, you and I shall have words later, I can promise you that.

8:50 AM. The staff lets me out for a stroll. Peering off the terrace. What with all that snow melting, it looks wet.

I don't like wet.

8:55 AM. Off in the distance, I can hear barking. It must be that silly mutt. He does that a lot. 

After much reluctance, I step off the terrace. Must find a path that's relatively dry. Getting wet is certainly not on my agenda for today.

9:00 AM. Starting formal explorations, examining my property and its surroundings. Yes, spring has sprung. There's a warmth in the air... though no robins are kind enough to make themselves my early spring snack. More's the pity.

9:05 AM. Examining large pool of shallow meltwater. It might only be a half inch deep... but I certainly can't walk through that. I'll get my feet wet.

9:25 AM. Watching birds making a nest. Why can't you flying meals make a nest down here where I can more easily get at you? Birds? Birds?

Lousy flying meals. They don't even make things simple for me.

9:30 AM. Oh, wonderful. It's that stupid dog. And he's just covered in mud. He's absolutely filthy. What has he been rolling around in?

Rats. He's just seen me. He's coming this way.

Can't this mutt take a hint? I don't like dogs!

9:31 AM. The dog seems deliriously pleased with himself for fetching a big stick. The filthiness is even more apparent up close. You do realize, dog, that the human who for some reason puts up with you won't be pleased by that?

9:32 AM. Have had my fill of interacting with an annoying mutt for one day. Have delivered a clawed smack across his snout. Walking away in disdain. It is, after all, the feline way.

9:45 AM. On way home. Walking in the grass alongside road. Lost in thought.

At least until a truck passes by on the road... and splashes a poolful of water onto me.

Hey! That isn't funny! I'm drenched!

9:50 AM. Have put more distance away from myself and the road. Annoyed beyond all comprehension. Soaked completely, and plotting revenge against that truck driver. Unfortunately I have no idea who it was... but if I ever find out, I'll have them fitted for cement shoes.

Of course, I'll have to have a human do the grunt work. Somehow I suspect mixing cement might be beyond the physical capabilities of a cat.

10:05 AM. Home at last. The staff opens the door for me and looks astonished. Quiet, staff. I need a warm fireplace and an hour to get myself properly cleaned after that travesty. And I need you to have a truck driver rubbed out. Are you taking notes, by the way?

11:15 AM. Finally finished with the tediousness of a full clean up. Time for a nap. This just hasn't been my day...

1:30 PM. Waking up. Feeling somewhat more rested. Staff, how about a bite to eat?

1:35 PM. No sign of staff in house. Car gone outside. It's not a work day, right? She wouldn't have been here to let me back in. She must have gone out to run errands.

Without clearing it with me first. Oh, staff, you and I shall have words...

3:30 PM. Sound of a car arriving. Looking out front window. Ah, there's the staff. With some grocery bags. There had better be some exquisite tuna in there, staff.

3:31 PM. Staff comes inside with the first of the groceries. Now, staff, why didn't you tell  me you were going? I would have demanded some catnip on your shopping list, after all...

3:33 PM. Staff outside getting another load of groceries. Sniffing around in the bags on the table. Not getting any sense of tuna.

4:10 PM. Staff has packed away all of the groceries. Much to my dismay, she brought more field rations. Staff, I have told you many times, I do not care for field rations.

7:15 PM. Staff having dinner. She has made up for her breakfast serving of giving me field rations by giving me cubes of lamb for dinner. Much better, staff. Now, if you can give me lamb for breakfast too, I'd be even more pleased with you.

10:50 PM. Staff bawling her eyes out watching the end of a movie. Bedtime soon, no doubt. Staff, as I have expressed to you many, many times, these Nicholas Sparks adaptations are just like the books: sentimental nonsense that just tugs at the heartstrings and are little more than variations on the same theme.

Next time we watch something different. Like The Ghost And The Darkness. I like that movie. Even though I'd prefer an alternate ending where the lions kill both Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas.