Friday, March 31, 2017

How Do You Role Play "Silent Running"?

In a very special edition of The Slumgullion, Jeff and Scott are joined by Sleepy Hollow Executive Producer/Showrunner Albert Kim. They talk about the show in general, last week's episode in particular, and tonight's finale in vague, teasing terms. They also talk a surprising amount about 70's sci fi.

[Cross-posted from The Slumgullion]

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Happy Birthday, MaryC! As Seen on TV!

By Bill S.

Well, it's once again to wish the happiest of birthday to World O'Crap's very own MaryC. That means it's time to do a little birthday shopping, and so I've decided to look through a couple catalogues to find that very special gift. First, let's flip the the pages of the ever reliable Carol Wright Gifts!

Give yourself a perfect trim every time you comb your hair! Unique comb has built-in razor that trims your hair automatically according to length--short or long.
Thank you for explaining what the hair length options were.
"Save money on Expensive Haircuts"
Yeah, and with the money you save, you'll be able to buy bandages you'll need from cutting your scalp every time you try to comb your hair.
Enjoy heightened sensual pleasure this powerful Butterfly Kiss personal massager. It features three speeds, and an--
Holy crap! THAT'S what a butterfly kiss is? Maybe DJs should stop cuing up that Bob Carlisle song  at weddings during the father-daughter spotlight dance then!
LONG-REACH COMFORT WIPE Why pay $39.99? Ours only $9.99
If you have trouble with personal hygiene, this long-reach comfort wipe is the answer. Its soft, flexible head grips toilet paper or pre-moistened wipes securely, while its ergonomic design reaches where you can't. After wiping, simply press the release button for fast, sanitary disposal.
I did not make that up. This is an actual thing that exists. I cannot imagine how using it could make the task it's designed for easier. It looks like a prop you'd find in an Adam Sandler movie. No, worse, a Rob Schneider movie. I'm not sure who'd need this. I'm not sure I want to meet that person.

[Scott adds:  On the other hand, over 5,600 people have liked this post-poop tool on Facebook. Can you be the first of your friends, or is it already too late? (And by "too late," I mean "for us, as a species".)]

Last year I came across another catalogue for gift ideas, called "Things You Never Knew Existed"

Let's see what they have--
300 years? Are they predicting 60 years into the future?
An intimate look at the death row inmates, from last wishes and words to the clothes they wore to their deaths. Heavily illustrated with rare pictures of the condemned criminals, their executioners, the official instruments used to carry out the sentences and in many cases, the actual executions.
So, light bedtime reading then?
TALKING CHATIMAL MONKEY-Funny Monkey Repeats What You Say $29.98
Cheeky little monkey knows how to get the laughs! Press his hand and talk to him--when the red light goes off, he repeats what you say in a silly high-pitched voice while bobbing his head.
Get it now, before Donald Trump appoints it to a cabinet position. Assuming he hasn't already.
Whoops! Guess they forgot they weren't behind closed doors! Plant this very cheeky couple in a special spot in your yard...and wait for the roars of laughter!
And wait and wait and wait...and hope your neighbor's kids don't see this grotesque thing when they arrive home from school.
If you're so messed up you can't remember what day of the week it is, forget the clock and call AA.

Made of pliable vinyl composite, this woodland spirit molds to the trunk of your favorite tree, blending right in.
 "How'd you like it if somebody picked your apples?"

That is the creepiest damn thing I've ever seen.

CROWN OF THORNS T-SHIRT (LG, XL) $19.98, (2X) $21.98
Striking image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns is so realistically printed that it has a 3D-like quality!
I take back what I just said. THIS is the creepiest thing I've ever seen. Especially since it looks more like the Medusa than Jesus.

Sometimes, the best way to communicate is with your hands. This useful guide explains how to make 50 highly offensive gestures from all over the world, including how to: curse a perfect stranger; express explicit sexual interest; defame a friend's mother; and call someone stupid, crazy or ugly.
Ah, so it's educational! Well, I don't think we need to look any further!

Happy Birthday MaryC!

[From Scott: I don't have any lizard photos on hand, but here's Shadow smirking in a way that makes me wonder what I'm going to find in my shoe...]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Logan is an Hairy Man, and Xavier is a Smooth Man

New Slumgullion! Yes, it's time for our so-late-nobody-gives-a-damn-about-the-spoilers-anymore review of Logan. We drop all pretense of format and genre ecumenism, and plunge in-depth to this, the meatiest, the bloodiest, and most albino-y of the Marvel movies.

This episode, Scott and Jeff are joined by the New Movie Crew (John Szura, Blanche Ramirez, and smutty book author Indy McDaniel). But first, Jeff and Mary do that weird thing where they pretend they're characters from Happy Days and chat about the TV show Bones, which I'm happy to say is coming to the end of its run soon, because I never have a clue what they're talking about (who the hell are "Buck and Wanda"?).

Stick around after the closing theme to hear Mary's take on the movie. She generally shies away from films with violence and gore, so she probably hated Logan, right? Or did she...?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lust and Rockets: Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)

By Hank Parmer

A Futurama Entertainment Corporation presentation. (Approved by the Space Pope)

Directed by: Robert Gaffney
Story by: George Garrett

As the movie opens, cool, haughty Princess Marcuzan, and her mutated asthma hound toady, Dr. Nadir (which is stunningly apt, as regards both his performance and this point in the actor's career) are cruising through the ionosphere, doing their cosmic thing.

 "And I am getting a spot, right here..."

You can instantly tell this princess is the real deal. Not merely from her imperious manner, and her regal Egyptian-style headdress, but also because she rigidly eschews contractions in her dialog.

Dr. Nadir excitedly informs the princess that the mysterious planet below is the source of the radio signals they've been tracking. She has him move their spaceship in for a closer look. After a quick scan, Dr. Nadir declares the planet suitable to sustain their form of life. The princess decides to land and check it out. For some reason -- and it's definitely not because it saves the production a major outlay on bald wigs and pointy ears, okay? -- even though she's just been told the air down there should be fine, she orders the landing party to wear pressure suits and helmets. Just like every other member of the crew we see in this spaceship's control room, except for herself and the doctor, is already wearing.

Ha! Dr. Nadir announces there's a missile attack -- and it may be aimed at us!

Cutaway to stock footage, first of a Saturn rocket lifting off, then a brief clip filmed by a rearward-pointing camera on a V-2 as it arrows into the clear desert skies above White Sands. If you've seen any Grade-Z space epics from the drive-in era, you'll be all too familiar with this sequence.

The princess orders the doctor to destroy the missile. (Just to be on the safe side, you understand.) Dr. Nadir eagerly seizes on this opportunity to whip out his favorite catchphrase. Rapidly reeling off some coordinates to a crewman, he concludes with: "Focus force fields! And now ... MAXIMUM ENERGY!"

The rocket instantly morphs into an Atlas booster, which then blows up real good, to much eeeevil cackling from our gnomish, pointy-eared doctor.

Fun facts: The actor who portrays Dr. Nadir, Lou Cutell, appeared in no less than three movies with "Frankenstein" in the title during his long career -- this one, Young Frankenstein and Frankenstein General Hospital. (Didn't Roy Thinnes have a cameo in that one, as the creature's gall bladder?) Princess Marcuzan, incidentally, is played by June, 1959's Playmate of the Month, Marilyn Hanold. Her other challenging roles to date have included that of a cannibalistic Venusian Amazon in the Three Stooges short Spaceship Sappy, and a minor part in the horror "classic" The Brain That Wouldn't Die. And yet, she gets top billing in this one.

Cocoa Beach, Florida: The score swings into a jazzy secret agent theme featuring twangy bass guitar, bongos and saxophones, while the audience gets a nice, long drive-by gander at the rocket garden in front of Patrick Air Force Base. Cut to the back of a strictly-observing-the-posted-speed-limit Lincoln Continental, where we meet our earthly protagonist, two-fisted scientist Dr. Adam Steele. Played, in his first motion picture appearance, by prolific Broadway, film and TV actor James Karen. Crammed into the back seat with him are his (colleague? secretary?) and love interest, Karen Grant, as well as Gen. Bowers and Col. Frank Saunders -- who throughout this scene stares stonily ahead. I think he's had it up to here with the never-ending Kentucky Fried Chicken jokes.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spam as a 2nd Language

From the ol' mailbag:
SCOTT! Why is "fisting" seen as taboo?
I'm glad you asked. At its best, the hand -- along with its handmaidens, the fingers -- is capable of great beauty and subtlety, realizing the mind's loftiest ambitions and producing art, music, and the vast, enduring monuments of industrial and scientific progress, while the fist is regarded as the hand's dumber, drunker, more violent brother. Think of it as the Billy Carter, or Randy Quaid of the body.  You may love the fist -- and in turn be loved by it, forcefully and greasily -- but you'd just as soon it not put in an appearance at Thanksgiving.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Givers Must Take It

Discovering the remains of The Giving Tree in a bare, ghostly forest, Donald Trump, Jr. pauses to lift a cheek and fart on the loser stump.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Rather than getting drunk, the traditional American method of honoring the founder of Christianity in Ireland, let's put down the bottle, pick up the remote, and watch a crappy movie. At least then you'll have a reason to get drunk.

Leprechaun (1993)
Written and Directed by Mark Jones

A limousine pulls up to a rustic cottage and an Irishman climbs out. At least, we assume he's Irish, because he's stinking drunk and speaks in a brogue so thick it can't be natural, and was probably produced in post-production by a team of Foley artists who soaked a Cranberries CD in Bushmills and strained it through a cable knit sweater. He's also apparently a criminal, because he tells his long-suffering wife that he captured a leprechaun (that's false imprisonment -- a misdemeanor in California, where the film was shot), made the wee person reveal where his gold was hidden (criminal coercion-- usually a Class A misdemeanor, but in this case used in furtherance of larceny, so the DA will probably bump it up to a Class D felony) and stole it (this can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, as the law does not specify the monetary value of a pot of gold. However, California considers it grand theft if "domestic fowls, avocados, olives, or other farm crops are taken of a value exceeding two hundred fifty dollars." So I'm going to recommend this guy plead out.

Drunk Irishman smuggled the gold from Ireland to Saugus, California in his mother's urn, which was brilliant, because ashes and gold coins are both unusually heavy, and cremains also make a merry jingling sound when you shake them. Unfortunately, the Leprechaun stowed away in his suitcase and got through customs, presumably by impersonating one of Jeff Dunham's ugly ventriloquist figures. He pops out of the Samsonite and Long-Suffering Wife promptly falls down the basement stairs and breaks her neck.

But Drunk Irishman brandishes a four-leaf clover, which apparently works on leprechauns like a crucifix, and seals him up in a crate, which apparently works on leprechauns like a crate. Then he has a stroke.

10 Years Later. Jennifer Aniston arrives to spend the summer with her Dad, who is apparently a professional Billy Ray Cyrus impersonator. Jennifer complains that she doesn't like being in New Mexico, but Dad reminds her that it's actually North Dakota, hinting that she's a professional idiot. She's also a whiny little brat from Los Angeles who hates the tumbledown cottage, bitches about the lack of cable, objects to the free-roaming tarantulas, and isn't thrilled about the musty scent of dwarf in the basement.

Jennifer dials her early 90s cellular telephone, but before she can make a reservation at the local hotel, she bumps into the local hunk, Nathan, who gets her feminist dander up by chortling at her distaste for tarantulas and pointing out that no man fears a house! (Except William Katt in House.)

Naturally, the hunk's insults have a profound effect on Jennifer and she immediately decides to stay in the filthy, spider-infested murder house, because horny.

"It's hard to tell from this angle, but you look like you might have a penis somewhere on your person..."

Nathan's ten year old brother Alex arrives in a truck with his large, dumb friend who's like Lennie from Of Mice and Men, if Lennie had spent less time dreaming about rabbits and more time talking crap about magic and alien abductions. Nathan, Alex, and Lennie are all here to paint the picket fence, having been hired by Jennifer's dad, or maybe just talked into it by Tom Sawyer.

Jennifer decides to stand up for Girl Power and Third Wave Feminism and rebuke Nathan's sexism by bringing him a nice cool drink. Because horny. He repays her kindness by tossing a dusty canvas sack on her head, then suggesting they break open the crate containing the imprisoned Leprechaun for no apparent reason except he's also stupid. I dread to think of the child these two idiots would produce, but since they both have amazingly bouncy, shiny, Pert Plus-quality hair, I'm sure their progeny could get a job as a TV evangelist, or successfully run for Congressman from New Mexico even though he's really in North Dakota.

Nathan and Jennifer’s efforts to unleash hell are stymied in the nick of time when Lennie has a slip and fall mishap while painting and accidentally joins the Blue Man Group. But then, after washing all the paint off himself in seconds, perhaps by using one of those turpentine-based shampoo and conditioners, Lennie frees the Leprechaun. A rainbow suddenly appears in the sky, and Lennie and Alex follow it to the Leprechaun's gold, where the two immediately start re-enacting the last act of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. But don't get your hopes up they're going to kill each other, because Alex decides to use all the gold to pay for a brain operation that will make Lennie smart, just like in Flowers for Algernon, proving that Alex only seems rude and self-centered, and that deep down he's really the stupidest person in this movie.

The Leprechaun crawls under Nathan's truck and sensually caresses Jennifer's shins, then gives her a nasty scratch. Dad instantly deduces it was a cat, maybe a rabid one, and sticks his arm into a hollow log to catch it; instead sustaining a bloody Leprechaun bite. Okay, I may have been hasty about deciding who's the stupidest character here, because at this point, it's anybody's game.

The gang drives Dad to the hospital in town, with the Leprechaun in hot pursuit on a tricycle. Alex and Lennie give one of the gold pieces to a coin dealer to study. After they leave, the Leprechaun leaps out of the dealer's safe, advises him that "it's not nice to steal from leprechauns" seizes the gold coin, then gives him a nasty bite on the upper thigh. This is not strictly legal, because under California law, a peace officer may impound stolen property, "except coins, monetized bullion, or commercial grade ingots in the possession of a pawnbroker, or coin dealer." So the Leprechaun is clearly a bad cop, a loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules. Joe Friday would never have taken the coin; he would have followed LAPD procedure and merely bit the guy's thigh.

Back at the house, the kitchen has been torn apart: cabinets and drawers have been ripped open, food has been strewn all over the floor, and Jennifer's shoes have been polished and neatly arranged on the table, so Nathan figures it was a bear.

Jennifer, Alex, and Lennie cower inside while Nathan goes outside with a flashlight to find the ursine foot fetishist, but he trips and falls in a bear trap. It's ironic, but he shouldn't have fingered a bear for the kitchen B&E, because those bastards always get even.

Nathan blasts the Leprechaun with a shotgun, and they try to escape in his truck, but in accordance with the California State Penal Code, Section 2467, the gun doesn't kill the monster and the truck won’t start.

Things haven gotten desperate. Nathan's laid up with a leg injury and the others are stupid, so now it's up to Jennifer. She retrieves the gold from its hiding place and turns it over to the Leprechaun. But there's one piece missing, because Lennie swallowed it. So now they must fight for their lives against the murderous and immortal creature while waiting for Lennie's bowels to move. Nathan repeatedly shoots the Leprechaun, even though he's immune to bullets because hey -- it's something to do. Meanwhile the Leprechaun, equally bored, tries to liven things up by sticking a disembodied hand out of a drawer and fondling Nathan's balls. It's not scary or funny, but if you've ever wondered what it's like to watch a Japanese-style molestation porn video starring Thing from The Addams Family...

Our gang drives out to the nursing home where the Drunk Irishman has been ever since he had his stroke in the first scene. Jennifer finds him hanging upside down in the elevator like a bloody side of beef, but he's still full of helpful exposition, and explains that you can only kill a Leprechaun with a freshly plucked four-leaf clover.

Jennifer, Nathan, and Lennie pick through a clover patch, but Jennifer has lost her faith in magic, or something. Lennie tells her she has to believe, she just has to! Jennifer agrees, and promptly finds a four-leaf clover. Which is a relief, because while the action sequences haven’t exactly bowled me over, it turns out they're better than watching the main characters weeding.

Alex uses a slingshot to shoot the clover into the Leprechaun's mouth, which makes the monster get gross and gooey, and then fall into the well. And just to make sure the local water table is thoroughly poisoned, Nathan pours in a 5-gallon can of gasoline and lights it on fire, blowing up the well. But the Leprechaun's voice rises from the smoldering depths to assure us that while he's been killed fair and square, he will be back, in Leprechaun 2, Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Leprechaun in the Hood, Leprechaun: Back to tha Hood, and Leprechaun: Origins. Jennifer Aniston, on the other hand, had to spend the next ten years of her life explaining her haircut and listening to Matthew Perry uttering words in a wry tone of voice.

So what have we learned from this film? Mostly that Law & Order's opening credits didn't tell us the whole story, and that any future series in the franchise should begin with these words: "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by three separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders; and the Leprechauns, who harass the future sitcom stars and punish drunken Irish stereotypes for gold theft and excessive brogueing. These are their stories."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Bill S! The Minx! And Fearguth!

It's Big Birthday Day here at World O' Crap. Partly because I'm running late -- Fearguth's natal anniversary was yesterday, for which I deeply apologize. I mean, I don't apologize for his birthday being yesterday; I have no control over his parents' sex drive, but I'm sorry for failing to get a post up in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, Mary and I tried to remove our old, dead, CRT-technology TV from the bedroom on Sunday, and in the 15 years it sat on the dresser, it's gotten much, much heavier. Or I've gotten much, much weaker. And frailer. While Fearguth, who is a bona fide senior citizen, has only gotten stronger, feasting on dub step, and the life force of the young people drawn to it. Will the police stop him? No, how can they?! Clearly Fearguth's otherworldly hunger requires a supernatural expert, a Van Helsing, or a John Constantine, to stop his reign of terror, but it's his birthday, so instead of driving a stake through his heart and burying his decapitated body at a crossroads at midnight, let's just serve him some sheet cake.

But that was yesterday. Today is the dual overhead birthday of our friend Nadine (AKA The Minx), and World O' Crap staff writer, Bill S. (who is legally referred to, on his birthday, as Bill S!).

Nadine, as you may know, suffers from the rare neurological disorder, Stiff Person's Syndrome. Last year she was forced to ask for help as she faced a new round of treatment, and this year she asked me to thank everyone who pitched in last year, because as W'OC Chief Medical Officer Dr. BDH said, "When World O' Crap calls for help, we Crappers must respond."

You guys are the best.

But on to the birthday celebration. Nadine emailed to request a "great cheesecake shot with as much naughtiness as possible," which I was only too happy to supply. Unfortunately, when I searched for "glamour shot", this is one of the first things that popped up:

Handy Glamor seems like a contradiction in terms, but I guess it's okay if you're talking about a glamorous salad. So which shall we have for our party this year? Melon Boat Salad? Sounds like a rejected first draft of a Harry Belafonte song. Frozen Party Salad? That's got kind of Donner Party sound to it and frankly looks like a cross section of a white person's thigh. Or perhaps Confetti Salad, which tastes like crap, but can be used -- under the right mystical circumstances -- to summon Rip Taylor.

Whatever. I Googled onward and came up with what I think is a decent response to Nadine's request: Anna May Wong, the first Asian-American sex symbol...

Meanwhile, Bill S! requested Stephen Amell, of Arrow fame, who apparently showed up at John Barrowman's recent birthday party and taunted the former Captain Jack with his perfect abs...

And of course, no World O' Crap natal celebration would be complete without a...

Sexy Birthday Lizard!

So there you go. I've taking a Vicodin and going to bed. But before I nod off, please join me in wishing Bill S!, The Minx, and Fearguth a very happy birthday.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Between Meals Mini-sode

It's a new Fun Size Slumgullion!

In a heaping helping of happiness, Jeff and Scott interrupt their regular podcasting schedule to bring you this special minisode.

Jeff has seen Beauty and the Beast, Scott has seen the musical Finding Neverland, and both of them have seen Get Out.

It's short, but pungent, with praise and bitchiness a'plenty.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The Golden Bough Edition

SCOTT: Hey kitties. What's going on?

MOONDOGGIE: I don't know these "kitties" of whom you speak. I am Moondocrates, the Felinotaur.

SCOTT: Really. What's a Felinotaur?

MOONDOGGIE: A mythical beast with the upper body of a cat, and the lower body of another cat.

SHADOW: He said I can be the ass.

MOONDOGGIE: Shhh! I have been charged by Zeus with guarding the Seven Golden Treats.

SCOTT: How's that going?

MOONDOGGIE: Pretty good.

SCOTT: So where are they?

MOONDOGGIE: I ate 'em.

SCOTT: Uh-huh.

MOONDOGGIE: It was just a temp job anyway.

SCOTT: No more Heroes & Icons Channel for you guys.

MOONDOGGIE: Okay. It's exhausting being mythical anyway...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Final Exit

Paul Ryan said "We are doing an act of mercy by repealing [Obamacare]."

Mr. Speaker, I got my start in advertising, and while I'm no Don Draper, I can't help feeling -- politics aside, and speaking purely from a salesmanship perspective -- that your product may be in trouble if you've begun promoting it with quotes from Dr. Kevorkian.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Farewell to Fred

By Hank Parmer

I first met Fred, the Maine Coon cat, a couple of weeks after his family moved in across the alley.

Something in the bushes by our shed caught my eye, as I exited from my car on that bright, early autumn afternoon. With his "classic" tabby markings in shades of ash, Fred blended in with the hatchwork of light and shadow under the honeysuckle so flawlessly that it took me a moment to realize I was being intensely scrutinized by a pair of yellow eyes, belonging to a fairly large and strikingly handsome cat. I said "Hello", to which he responded with neither an "Eek! I've been seen! Run away!" nor a "Feed me, long-lost buddy!" glomming-on, only a complacent narrowing of his eyes. He obviously felt he belonged there. So I said "See you later" and went inside.

We became better acquainted over the next few weeks, as he'd supervise us while we were doing yardwork, or join us while we were sitting on the porch. He may have nominally resided with the family across the alley, but they weren't really cat people. I think it was more at their six-year-old's insistence that they'd taken Fred in a couple of years previously, when he was a kitten. (And a devastatingly cute one, I'll wager.) But he was full-grown now, and they were clearly more attached to their two dogs. While Fred, even though we hadn't been feeding him, preferred to hang out around our place.

Sometime in that period, Fred made up his mind to check out our house. We had two indoor cats then: Puck, the elderly Turkish Van, and Smudge, the fierce little salt-and-pepper calico who at that time was about five or six.

Whether it was jealousy or simply calico cantankerousness, she absolutely detested this newcomer from the first. To the end of her days, she mercilessly bullied him -- a diminutive seven-pound termagant who took a fiendish pleasure in tormenting this big, amiable fuzzball. Her favorite trick was to run up to him while he was sleeping, hiss, smack him on the nose and then stalk away, leaving him blinking groggily, with this "WTF is her problem?" expression.

Puck, on the other hand, immediately took to this inquisitive stranger. Which was only to be expected, for he'd had always been a serenely amicable little cuss. He was about 16 years of age then, our benevolent feline overlord, who ruled the roost through the sheer force of his adorableness. As you can see, the two quickly formed a mutual admiration and snuggling society.

I often wished the two could have spent more time together. Fred's fondness for the old man must have outweighed Smudge's hostility, because he soon became accustomed to banging on our door to let us know he'd dropped by for a visit. If we didn't hear him the first time, he'd bang the door with increasing emphasis until one of us let him in.

Eventually I was able to talk to Fred's people about having him vaccinated for rabies and feline leukemia, and started on heartworm preventative. (We lost a cat to feline leukemia long ago, before it was generally known there was such a thing, and by this point -- as I'm sure you'll have guessed -- we'd grown fond of the furry goof.) I offered to take him to the vet and pay for his vaccinations. Fortunately, they were okay with that. I'd have done it anyway, without their permission, but still ....

To make a long story short, when the family left a few months later, they asked if we'd like to keep him. Although this was only acknowledging what was by then a fait accompli, we still appreciated the gesture: So many assholes seem to think nothing of moving away and leaving an inconvenient pet behind to fend for themselves. Thus Fred officially took up residence at our home for wayward pets. We kept the name their boy had bestowed upon him. Somehow, it seemed to suit him.

Fred remained an indoor/outdoor cat for the next twelve years. This wasn't so much our choice as due to the fact that by the time he joined our household he was thoroughly set in his free-roaming ways. Whenever we had to keep him inside against his will, let's just say he made our lives ... difficult.

He spent the major portion of his time outside, particularly after Puck passed on about three years later. He'd come inside to eat, for some attention or to crash out, and to avoid the worst of the heat and cold -- although sometimes he stayed out all night even when the temperatures dipped into the lower teens.

Though it was a constant worry for us, in all that time he managed to avoid being hit by a car or carried off by a coyote -- not uncommon fates in our neighborhood. Ironically, what finally did him in made those other alternatives in retrospect seem far kinder.

So what words come to mind, when trying to describe Fred's personality? Well, "solidity", for one. If your household has been graced with an example of his breed, you'll know what I mean. Although he wasn't one of those monster Maine Coons, at between 17 and 18 pounds he was nonetheless a substantial presence. He was a low-slung beast, built like a tank, with the broadest chest I've ever seen in a house cat. When he'd conclude his regal progress across the yard with a sudden burst of speed as he galloped up our front steps, it wasn't with that typical feline bounding lope, but a motion more like a dry-land version of the breast stroke.

Maine Coon cats are sometimes described as "vertically challenged" and Fred was no exception. He was very much a ground dweller. Although once, while we were outside seeing off some visiting friends, he must have overheard us remarking to them that he wasn't a climber. Of course Fred had to give us that day's lesson in Cat Zen by immediately scooting over to a tree and swarming up it like a champion lumberjack scaling a mighty Scots Pine. But for that one instance, though, I never saw him up in a tree, or for that matter, anywhere which would have required much of a leap or a climb to reach.

He was a quiet cat, except on those occasions when he felt it necessary to make his extreme displeasure at being kept inside known to us. Despite his friendly and curious nature, Fred was fortunately never a lap kitty. His thing was to park himself on the flat wooden arm of my mission-style recliner to demand a neck, chin, ears and chest scratch. (His deep, resonant purr always reminded me of Baby, the eponymous leopard in Howard Hawk's screwball comedy.) That arm of my chair also doubled as a convenient ledge on which he could stretch out and do his "boneless filet of kitty" act. He was big enough to cover it completely, with his chin and a paw or two dangling off the edge.

When he wasn't in one of those gracefully flung poses at which he so excelled, catching up on his beauty sleep, Fred had an immense sense of his own dignity, as you could see from my post here riffing on his reaction to the big (for these parts, anyway) snow back in the winter of 2016. Which made his kittenish moods all the more hilarious. There are few things as endearingly comical as the sight of a big, fuzzy, roly-poly cat gleefully wrestling with a little catnip mouse, pausing occasionally to glance your way, to make sure you're watching. It's one of the many things that I miss about him more than I can possibly tell.

The end began in late June of last year. Fred would occasionally absent himself for a day or two, even three days, so at first we weren't too concerned about him. After he'd disappeared for five days straight, though, we were getting a bit frantic and about to start posting "Lost" signs and checking with the shelter, when to our great relief he showed up that evening. He ate a few bites of his food -- and vanished again. Joan then had a hunch, and walked over to the apartment complex at the head of our street. It turned out that some of the tenants had been feeding him because they thought he was a stray. A stray, mind you, who was wearing a new flea collar, and had a collar with a rabies vaccination tag and a name tag with our phone number.

Fred allowed her to carry him home, which in itself was a major tell he wasn't feeling up to snuff: His typical reaction to being picked up and held was to wriggle and kick like a fractious toddler. He'd lost weight, too. Ominously, among other problems, he'd picked up an intestinal parasite which the vet informed us normally only affects kittens, before their immune systems are up to speed. We were able to cure him of the parasites, though, and he began to fill out again.

As you might guess, Fred wasn't at all pleased about having to be confined indoors. Every morning I went through this routine with him where he would sit beside me on the arm of my chair and stare out the window, complaining loudly and bitterly, because I just couldn't seem to get it through my thick human skull that he should be let out nowwww! We could tell he still wasn't up to his usual self, though, because he was neither as vehement or persistent about it as he normally would have been. Still, it tore at my heart to keep the big guy cooped up.

In early August, Fred began sneezing frequently, and we noticed a slight swelling between his nose and his right eye. At first the vet thought it might be a type of fungal infection, which would have been easily treatable. But the tests showed it wasn't. It was cancer. There was simply no way we could afford to consult a veterinary oncologist, much less pay for the surgery and then the chemotherapy. Especially since by that point we were already into our own vet for almost a grand from the tests and treatments he'd needed earlier in the summer, including a teeth cleaning which also involved a couple of extractions.

(Fortunately, we are blessed with a veterinarian who'll let us pay them off over time when we run up a big bill, and they won't even charge interest. Of course, it didn't hurt that Fred was one of their favorite patients.)

I'll spare you the details of the next few months, as the cancer grew and that disastrous year dragged to its close. Just that it made a sad, horrible time exponentially more awful. It seemed a particularly cruel thing to happen to such a handsome creature.

If you've ever dealt with a pet's terminal illness you'll know what I mean when I say one of the worst parts of it is determining when it's time to end it. Fred was the one who let us know the unavoidable had come when he stopped eating. Nothing we tried could tempt him, and we weren't about to let him starve himself to death.

Fred took his last trip to the vet in the grey, chill afternoon, on Friday the 13th of January. That morning, I sat on the floor beside him, because by this point he was growing weaker and could no longer hop up onto the arm of the recliner. He leaned his chest against my leg and rested his chin on my thigh, while I petted him for so long that afterwards my arm was sore for a couple of days. Clearly, he was ready for this to be over.

The knowledge that fourteen years is a pretty good run for a cat, particularly an outdoor cat, is a small comfort. It's been over a month-and-a-half since we took him on that final journey, and months since he was last allowed outside. Yet even now, whenever the north wind rattles the screen door in back, I still find myself thinking I should drop what I'm doing and go let the big guy in. He had me just that well-trained.

Goldurn Kidney Thieves!

There's a new Slumgullion out. Jeff and Mary chat about Bones. Scott reports from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiere in Hollywood, and Jeff is scared straight by Jean-Claude Van Damme's relentlessly naked ass in Pound of Flesh (2015). Check it out:

Friday, March 3, 2017

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The "Cover Me! I'm Goin' In!" Edition

MOONDOGGIE: Now you stand guard while I clean my butt.

MOONDOGGIE: Watch carefully, all right? You watching? 'Cause I'm really diving in!
SHADOW: Okay. (PAUSE) Is it okay if he watches too?


MOONDOGGIE:Well...Heh! This is...awkward.
SHADOW: He's also taking pictures. Is that okay?
MOONDOGGIE: You're fired.