six (2006-2019)

Earlier this month, we put our kitty Six to sleep. She had tummy problems pretty much since the day we got her, and while we tried a few times to take her to the vet, she was so hostile they couldn't even take her temperature. It was a very gradual process ... she lived almost 13 years ... but Robin started noticing that she was getting worse, having trouble jumping on the couch, things like that.

She was probably the most bizarre cat we ever had, so as Robin pointed out, we have lots of memories of things that she did. She didn't take much to others ... our grandson calls her "The Bad Cat" ... but she loved us, and that's good enough.

Her sister Boomer and her arch enemy Starbuck are still around to fill our cat-related lives, which is good.

Image9   IMG_0493

creature feature saturday: the black cat (edgar g. ulmer, 1934)

Once again, as is often the case with these "Creature Features", the trivia behind the film is as interesting as what is on the screen. The difference here is that The Black Cat is actually a good movie.

I saw it when I was a kid, probably on our own local Creature Features show. All I remembered of it was that someone got skinned alive. Since that didn't happen until the last couple of minutes of the movie, I started wondering if I'd misremembered (I hadn't).

This was the first film to co-star Boris Karloff (here billed simply as "Karloff") and Bela Lugosi (they eventually made eight movies together). They are both good, if you like their acting ... Karloff is ominous but restrained, Lugosi is hammy. Lugosi is nominally the good guy here, as a doctor imprisoned during WWI (or something like that ... the movie isn't clear). Karloff did bad things during that war, and Lugosi has come to make him pay. (The actors' characters have names, but why bother with them? It's Karloff and Lugosi.) David Manners and Julie Bishop (billed as Jacqueline Wells) play American newlyweds, and are properly boring. Both lead actors have odd obsessions with Bishop's wife.

The movie is quite bizarre ... Kael accurately described it as a "nutty, nightmarish mélange of Black Masses and chess games, shadows and dungeons, Satanism and necrophilia." Karloff has a bunch of dead women hanging around in some form of suspended post-lifeness. One of them is Lugosi's former wife. Meanwhile, Karloff has married Bela's daughter.

Lugosi has a deadly fear of cats ... the first time he sees a black cat, he recoils, pulls a knife, and throws it at the cat, killing it instantly. This is about as close as the movie comes to explaining the title, which was used mostly so Universal could say it was "suggested by a story by Edgar Allan Poe" (the film has nothing to do with Poe's story).

It all sounds silly, and it is, but it gets out of the way in 65 minutes, the two leads are good, and everything is atmospheric in that Edgar G. Ulmer way. Ulmer made a gazillion movies, almost all of them Grade-Z pictures, almost all of them with enough recognizable Ulmer touches that he became a favorite of auteurist film critics. The Black Cat is one of his best, but it was also a curse for Ulmer. During the making of the film, he began an affair with a woman whose husband was the nephew of the studio head at Universal. There was a divorce, and a marriage ... Ulmer and his wife, Shirley, remained married until his death. But he was blackballed, and was resigned to miniscule budgets the rest of his career. His best film was Detour, sometimes called the greatest B-movie of all time. The Black Cat doesn't reach those heights, but it is several notches above the average Creature Feature. And the scene where Karloff gets skinned alive is quite remarkable. 7/10.


happy birthday, six and boomer

Sisters Boomer and Six are 11 years old today. They are Bengals, or at least Bengal mutts (the latter being my personal opinion). They are interesting cats ... Robin would get another Bengal in a second, while my experience with these two tells me I never want another. But as I say, they are interesting.

Here are a couple of photos:

Boomer and six

Boomer and six 2015

how smart are cats?

They are seemingly untrainable … you can get a dog to do anything, which isn’t true with cats (although Robin taught Six to play fetch). Does that mean cats are dumber than dogs, or does that mean dogs are dumber because they do stupid shit for people?

Many nights, Robin and I watch TV on the big screen in the attic. We’ll usually watch two episodes, but sometimes only one, or even occasionally three. Sometimes we start watching at 6:00, sometimes 7:00, sometimes even later.

When we watch, Starbuck and Six usually join us. Six doesn’t much like to be alone, so she usually follows us … Starbuck likes to sit on Robin’s lap.

Boomer rarely joins us. She spends much of her day sleeping on our bed, which she seems to consider her turf.

Now, I haven’t done a study, but anecdotally, the following seems to be true. When we are done watching for the night, Robin and I will chat for a bit, and then she’ll go downstairs while I watch the end of a ballgame or something. Given that we watch varying numbers of episodes, and that we start watching at varying times, there is no fixed schedule for when Robin will head downstairs. Last night it was around 9:00 … other times it’s closer to 10:00 … rarely, we’ll start early, watch one show, and be done around 8:00 or even earlier.

Here’s the thing. Robin and I both agree that Boomer seems to know when we are done watching. She comes upstairs about when the last episode is done and we’re chatting for a bit, as if to say, “OK, time to come downstairs, Robin!” I can understand why she does this … often, Robin will go to the bedroom and read, after we’ve watched TV, and Boomer likes to join her there. But I’ll be damned if I can figure out how she seems to know when it’s time to get Robin.

starbuck on shelf

sisters licking