News & Blog

New Kitty!

I never thought we would be a two cat household, but this is Olympia, the cat we’re adopting soon. She’s about 6 or 7 years old, and was rescued from a bingo hall in the Bronx. During her years of living on the street, she gave birth to several litters of kittens, but she’s since been spayed, has had all her shots, is FeLV/FIV negative, etc. However, she suffered from a severe and untreated inner ear infection that was so bad part of the bone and drum had to be surgically removed. Now she walks off-balance with a right head tilt. We’re told she’s litter box-trained, has no problem eating, and is not aggressive. She tolerates touch but is generally afraid of people at the moment.

Her rescuers have had a hard time finding a forever home for her because she’s older and has special needs and, frankly, will probably never be a lap cat. Apparently, she’s been living in a crate for the past three months while she’s waiting to find a home, which means even though she’s not a stray anymore, her quality of life is still compromised. When we heard about her, our hearts went out to her and we gave it some serious thought before deciding to adopt her.

I don’t know how our already-here cat, Galapagos, who is roughly the same age as Olympia, will react to suddenly having to share her kingdom with another cat after so many years of being queen of all she surveys. She did live with other cats as a kitten, but that was a long time ago now. She’s a sweet cat most of the time, but she can be grumpy and prickly, too, in that cat way where if you don’t pet her right or hold your lap properly so she can sit in it she’ll scratch your face off. When I moved in with my wife, Galapagos and I engaged in a territorial battle that lasted a few months. She’s come to accept me now and attacks me a lot less. Will she eventually come to accept a second cat? I hope so. All we can do is introduce them to each other slowly and hope for the best. If it doesn’t work out, the rescuers said we could return Olympia to them after a trial month. I hope we won’t have to.

Any advice from cat owners who have introduced additional cats to their household would be much appreciated. The same with any advice you may have on good cat trees for small apartments. I think Galapagos is going to need something she can sit on top of and definitively call her own.

Straubathon: lost boy lost girl

The Straubathon continues! And now, after having read Peter Straub’s 2003 novel lost boy lost girl, I’m only ten years behind instead of twenty!

lost boy lost girl returns us to the vibrant world of Tim Underhill, a recurring character from Straub’s Blue Rose trilogy whom we haven’t seen since 1993’s The Throat. Also on hand, albeit in only a too-small number of scenes, is Tim’s good friend, and the hero of Straub’s 1990 novel Mystery, Tom Pasmore (also last seen in The Throat). In fact, the town of Millhaven rears its head once more, too, as do the great and terrible Beldame Oriental movie palace, 55 Grand Street, and Maggie Lah, all of which for this reader makes the novel a bit like revisiting family. (Seriously, the only thing missing from making this a direct sequel to the Blue Rose trilogy is the Green Woman tavern.)

Revisiting family is exactly what Tim Underhill is doing as the novel starts, though for a terrible reason. His beloved sister-in-law Nancy has done the unthinkable and committed suicide, leaving behind her fragile teenage son Mark and stubborn husband Philip, Tim’s brother. After the funeral,Tim’s nephew Mark disappears, and everyone is worried that a recently active pedophile murderer has kidnapped and killed him. But as Straub rewinds the clock to show us what really transpired between the funeral and the disappearance–a literary sleight of hand he performs numerous times over the course of the novel–it becomes clear there’s something more supernatural at work. Mark has become obsessed with an old, deserted house in his neighborhood, a house filled with secret passages and terrible secrets. Secrets that hit too close to home, and may have had something to do with Nancy’s suicide.

This is the first time I’ve read anything featuring Tim Underhill that wasn’t written in the first person, and for a while I felt unexpectedly detached from the narrative because of it. I’ve lived in Underhill’s head through hundreds of pages of novels and stories like “The Ghost Village,” and to suddenly be outside of him was jarring. I got over that quickly, thanks to the quality of Straub’s prose and the frequent use of chunks of Underhill’s personal journal, which are written in the first person. But this is a novel of floating POVs, and so it can’t be told only through Underhill’s eyes. Still, the sidelining of Underhill in order to focus on Mark and his friend Jimbo instead for the first two thirds of the book made the novel feel strangely insubstantial. Part of this may be because I’m used to Straub novels running something like 500 pages, where clues are doled out slowly over time as we become fully immersed in the world of his characters. Comparatively, lost boy lost girl feels condensed. Not a bad thing, but not the immersive experience I’ve come to expect.

Ah, but then we come to the last third of the novel, and without mincing words, it is utterly transcendent. You can feel the author wrestling with the concept of mortality right there on the page and discovering that what waits for us on the other side isn’t so much terrible and scary as beautiful, peaceful, loving, and fulfilling. Beauty, from the smell of fresh baked cookies to the glow of young love, is the staple of the beyond, and though the children of the title may be gone, they are not truly, in any sense, lost. Closing the book after the sublime last line, which stands as a perfect monument to the novel’s tender heart, I could do nothing but smile and bask in its ultimate benevolence.

On Monsters and BDSM

Some time ago, the website sent me and several other authors a long list of questions about the horror genre, the results of which have been slowly doled out over time on their site under the ostensibly unironic heading “Panel of Experts.” (Ha!) Recently, two more topics with answers from yours truly were posted:

What is my favorite monster? Were they to ask me this question now instead of years ago, my answer would probably be different. I might reply that my favorite monster is the unknowable, the unseeable, the incomprehensible. But I still like the monster I wrote about, too, because when it comes to monsters I’m still a nine-year-old kid inside.

The second topic was about, um, BDSM themes in horror. Namely, is a storyline more or less frightening when BDSM themes are included, like in Hellraiser or Ichi the Killer? (Hey, I didn’t come up with the questions!) I think just about everyone else’s answer was better than mine, since mine essentially boils down to “neither.”

But anyway, that’s me, the expert on monsters and BDSM! Time to call the History Channel and pitch this as their next Halloween special!

Apparently “Once Upon a Time” Is Still On The Air

Regular readers of this blog know I stopped watching ABC’s Once Upon a Time because it exceeded the bounds of the ridiculous, even for a story about fairy tale characters living in small town Maine with no memory of being talking crickets and whatnot. I enjoyed the first few episodes, but then it became dully repetitive and the characters stopped doing things I cared about. Now I just read io9’s deliciously snarky recaps to see what hilariously awful thing I missed this week, and how it inevitably ties in to the concept of true love, which is either a transforming force for good, or, when denied, turns you evil. (Or at least Grumpy.)

Seriously, there should be a drinking game attached to this show. Every time a character whines about true love, you take a shot. By which I mean a bullet. In the face. Oh, sweet release!