TONI ASKS ME on occasion, “Why don’t you do Caturday posts any more?” That’s not so. I just haven’t done one in a long while. Doesn’t mean I’ve stopped. But I do feel guilty about the lapse. So, herewith, Earnie, from the other evening.

Earnie on my desk

11/11, 11:11


Let’s Get This Straight

THE FIRST AMENDMENT is a limit on the power of Congress – and only Congress. That’s what the phrase, “Congress shall make no law…” Means. At the Federal level, sole legislative authority is given to Congress. And, under the doctrine of supremacy, (the Constitution says right on the box, Supreme Law of the Land, so that fits), on matters which the Constitution touches (and ONLY those matters), Congress is the supreme nation legislature. So what a state legislature legislates touching religion, assembly, association, the press and speech, and to petition the government is automatically null and void.

Now, it has not always been so. In fact some states early on had established religions, that being a right reserved to the states and the people, albeit forbidden the federal government.

The First Amendment forbids Congress (and thus any other legislature) to make any law respecting freedom of association. This means, directly, that the so-called “public accommodation” provisions of 1960s-vintage “civil rights” legislation, not having repealed those provisions of the Bill of Rights, are flatly unconstitutional. Any claims on the basis of public accommodation and the forbidding of discrimination in the provision of those goods and services on sundry bases are therefor — according to Supreme Court opinions and rulings — null and void.

Now, a lot of people are het up in a lot of who-struck-John on the subject of the shooting range owner who, exercising her First Amendment right of Free Association, (Not that the First Amendment grants the right — that’s an ontological impossibility — but that it recognizes and aims to secure the extant right as a proper function of government.), has chosen to refuse service to Moslems. Leaving aside the impossibility of enforcing such a rule, one cannot reasonably deny that she has that right. And, as legislating in the matter is forbidden to Congress, the matter is — by law — exclusively private.

Many of the more-reasoned arguments among the het up folk go like: “Be careful what powers you give the government; you may not like what use the government gets up to with its powers down the road.” And I do not argue the fundamental fact. It is true. Government should never be given power the people don’t desperately need it to have.


In this case, that boat sailed — about fifty years ago, when statists in power in Washington decided that the people would rather give up the freedom of association than face long, hot summers of violent protests and rioting on into the foreseeable future. And the statists in power knuckled under to extortionate thugs. Some of whom still ply their trade today — ::coughJesseJacksonAlSharptonLouisFarrakhan::cough::

[Insert Ben Franklin’s quote on the subject and conclude with the “And they shall have neither.”]

I won’t presume to speak for others and argue, “Nobody’s arguing for government action to deny freedom of religion to Moslems.” That’s pointless, and not credible. I haven’t seen any serious arguments to that effect, but neither can I guarantee nobody’s made them. What I AM saying is that — for myself — I am arguing that in broad general, Americans need to stop turning to Washington for the solution to every problem and work things out for ourselves. If Moslems present a clear and present danger to America and Americans, We the People need to recognize that fact and behave accordingly, whether or not our government acknowledges our wishes.

As I have said in response to news reports on the shooting range owner’s actions, I believe her actions should be universal. Not that our government — or any government — should restrict religious freedom, but that We the People should, in exercising our right to freely association with whom we see fit, should refuse to associate with Moslems.

I do not know how this will work. But my statement of principle goes thus; I recognize that you, as a Moslem, have found in Islam some semblance of inner peace and order, and have accepted the need for you to submit to God. However, I do not believe in the divine origin of the creed of Islam, and find its tenets abhorrent. The history of the faith tells me that it is not a religion as I see it (we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one), but a toxic political ideology which has, in the person of its strongest adherents, declared war on my nation, people, family, and self. This is an intolerable situation and I will not tolerate it. So long as you practice Islam, I shall not associated with you, in community, worship, or business. Should you wish my association, you must abjure Islam and all who practice it. You cannot gull me with protestations of moderation, there can be no such thing. By the tenets of your own faith, if you depart one iota from its tenets, you are apostate and marked for death. I can only trust you if you leave the faith. Granted that also marks you as apostate, so I cannot see a happy solution for you.

You can say, “Well, then, why should I wish to associate with you?” I do not have an answer. I only know I don’t wish to associate with YOU.

Oderint dum Metuant

ON THIS DAY OF MEMORIAL, when so many sentiments will be expressed, the only appropriate sentiment is:

Never Forgive
Never Forget.

Never Forget, Never Forgive

Oderint dum metuant.

Listen to the second Toby Keith song, “I’m an American Soldier,” too.


9-11_tower collapse_100915_97351_iwlwa11


Boobie Libre

national_go-topless_dayIT’S NATIONAL GO TOPLESS DAY (wish they’d announce these things in advance). Of course, da Doll is an ardent supporter, as much as I love to dress … as I say, at liberty. And, but of course, there is also the discussion of Minoan Tits between Drummond and Olivia Wilson in The High T Shebang. (Which can be bought by clicking the Amazon link at far right.) Meantime, a little demonstration.

As I Have Predicted

SNIPPETING OF work-in-progress, working title Discovery will commence tomorrow, (Saturday, June 7). It is also planned that said snippets will be promulgated at Good Reads and any other appropriate venues. Those additional site will be announced here, on Facebook, and at my author’s blog.

Planned Actions Being Taken

SOME TIME AGO I mentioned that I had plans for my Web presence — that I wanted to soft-pedal the politics to some extent, and to put up more about my art and writing on my author’s blog.

I’m getting started with a post this morning requesting some input from readers — if the blog has any. Please to go and participate if you’re of so a mind.

Quote of the Day

“It is impossible to understand the politics of the Left without grasping that it is all about deniable intimidation.”

–Richard Fernandez

(H/T: Instapundit)

A Curiosity


Quote of the Day

In whose judgment is a free trade a failure?

Harry Binswanger

The notion of “market failure” is a contradiction in terms. The “market” is an abstraction. The concrete reality is individuals freely trading goods and services. What would it mean for such free trade to “fail”? By what standard? In whose judgment? “Failure”–for whom? These are the unasked questions. They can’t be asked, because the answers would be the refutation of the doctrine of “market failure.

Texas Rockabillies

Know how to put on a show.

Skinny little dude about 63 playing a crappy old guitar (might as well have been a Winston your grandpa bought at the five and dime for ten bucks.) With an 18 year-old kid playing standup bass, a black dude on drums, and some Australian guy playing Strat- and Telecasters through a Fender Twin amp and a couple of background singers ROCKED the house with tunes you know from Emylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, and Juice Newton (and more I probably never heard of — the guy is country royalty)

Highlight of the show, maybe was when the band persuaded the audience to sing along with Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Ya hadda been there. But how do you top that? Easy: blow the roof off with a loud, raucous rendition of “Whole Lotta Shakin’.”

500 Days

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER Laurent Fabius blathers that there are fewer than 500 days to “climate chaos.” French? Who cares?

If, come September 25, 2015, it doesn’t happen, will they…


Quote of the Day

THESE PEOPLE (THE RINO ESTABLISHMENT) never stand on principle, except during campaigns, when they don’t mean it. And when it comes time to govern, then they jettison it. — Mark Levin

As I’ve said many times before: principle is pragmatic.

And Still It’s Worth Noting

THAT AT LEAST some trace amount of the half-hearted defense of the Not-So-Sterling Donald was the fact that his accuser recorded his utterances without his permission. And it is a worthy defense, albeit misplaced. We have a presumption of privacy in our “houses, persons, papers, and effects” which, by the law shall remain uninfringed. But, also which by the law, not only the government may infringe. (That means everybody.)

And, one might be forgiven for assuming that those campaigning for public office should be held to a higher standard, nest paw?

But a recent round of advertisements “and I approve this message” from Mitch McConnell assert beginning, middle, and end that their contents were drawn from “undercover news report” and “hidden camera footage” …

I.E., without Matt Bevin’s knowledge or permission.


It seems to me that such turpitude (Mitch, not Matt) ought to be immediately disqualifying. But there’s no truth in political advertising and, were Bevin to complain, it would be dismissed as whining by his opponents, but, still, has not McConnell broken the law? What penalty shall attend upon this breach?

Yet Another Outbreak of Lawlessness Within the Government

OPERATION CHOKE POINT a filthy, despicable initiative of the regime is stealing the bank accounts of employees in a legal industry which is also (by the way, did I also mention) A FIRST-AMENDMENT-PROTECTED ONE. No matter how you approach this, it should generate shoot-on-sight orders for Eric Holder, his deputies, and any agent attempting to enforce these orders.

Not Entirely Comfortable With

ALL THE VITUPERATION and denigration surrounding Sterling Donald. It seems untoward to hear a fellow citizen described as a mutant piece of shit. Or a despicable piece of human debris. I don’t like it.

Still and all, I can’t disagree with St. Ann’s take on the matter.

I had listened to roughly eight hours of commentary on Donald Sterling and the ugly remarks he made in conversations secretly tape-recorded by his girlfriend, before I heard anyone mention a wife.


Says more about the media than about Sterling that it took all day for the media to get around to MENTIONING that fact.

Yay! Beyonce! She SASS seh!

DA DOLL IS A BIG FAN of Beyonce. And proud to welcome the diva to the ranks of the unpantsed. Us grrls do the no-pants thing a LOT better ‘n Robb Allen.

Tell ‘im da Doll said so.

I Bet You

NOBODY IN THE LEGACY partisan press will have the balls to lay the blame for this where blame is due — on the progressivist movement in general and the Democrat party in particular (and more recently, on the Barack Obama administration and the Pelosi /Ried axis in the the Congress — as operating since 2007).

Almost Famous

I TURN 60 THIS YEAR. As does one of my school friends, who still plays out and was once called “The best rhythm guitarist in Cincinnati.” Both of us have been in the music business since our teens. But, At least, he gets his face in front of audiences weekly. Me, I’m better known – albeit worldwide — in the production office than onstage (I suppose “pretty well” is better than “not at all”). And the closest I’ve come to playing guitar is shaking Justin Hayward’s hand in 2009. But I’m guessing Pete would probably agree at least part way in my assessment that, at least on the basis of popular music, American culture — the part of our national life that is seen and heard worldwide — is by and large a Black culture. I argue it’s undeniable, when you consider how much of the American self-identity is rooted in Jazz and Rock and Roll, and how pervasive and influential the black influence has been in both. In the beginning Rock and Roll was black music. And, post-Elvis, rock music worldwide owes an unescapable debt to the blues and gospel, a point well-made in the Oscar-winning documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom.

It occurs to me, listening to this cut by Tears for Fears, (hearing the number as recorded at Knebworth sometime in the early ’90s, I fell in love with Oleta Adams), that one reason why the black female voice is so well-loved, both by audiences and leading artists who hire the support of “colored girl” background artists, is that most of these singers shape their voices more fully and with greater power than a lot of white girl singers, with their little-girl voices (e.g.: Britney Spears) and, as a result, they sound more grown-up, with a greater ability to move the listener and to stand up to a male voice. Consider Lisa Fisher versus Mick Jagger on “Gimme Shelter.”

Considerations I had, among others, while watching 20 Feet From Stardom over the weekend (Thank you, Netflix.)

More Statistics

AS MARK TWAIN said*, “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” We have in the day’s news an example of the latter. The radio news headlines assert that the IPCC report claims that “a rise in temperatures of two degrees” could result in “Old Testament disaster, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!” Notice they’re not claiming to predict that will happen, but that it could. Well, Mr. Mayor, Kate Upton could walk up to me, press those magnificent mammaries against me, suck my face — with tongue, and beg me to do her right there on the spot. But the likelihood of it is slim.

And, it’s only fair that the total temperature change since the end of the Little Ice Age (q.v.), has been less than two degrees. In 200+ years. So, is it realistic to expect that, going into a solar minimum, with dropping temperatures for the last fifteen years that there will ever be an increase in global temperatures as great as two degrees?

*Of course he did. I read it on the Internet. And they can’t put anything on the Internet if it’s not true. I read that on the Internet.

It’s Earnie’s Birthday

earnie_lr-couch_1_bday_140330TODAY IS EARNIE’S OFFICIAL birthday. He’s three. No longer a kitten — by some distance. His actual date of birth might or might not be a mystery.

…Sung to the tune of:

Dear Waxman/Whitehouse

ACCORDING TO THE LETTER quoted in its entirety in this post at PowerLine, the two of you (and/or your staffs) appear to be laboring under some sort of a misapprehension when you write:

We believe that Congress and the public have a right to know when individuals funding political ads and attempting to influence government decisions have a financial stake in the outcome. We certainly believe it would be wrong for any company to mislead Congress and the public by falsely describing its economic stake in legislation.

You may believe what you like, but it is not so — not by half. Congress has no rights. Period. Congress has powers and subsequent authority granted by the People through the Constitution and delegated to it by the States. As a body, Congress has no rights. Rights inhere only to individual persons. Nor is ANYONE blessed by our Creator with the right to know the private business of any other citizen.

Consider yourself spanked.

Oh, and by the way: (In case Koch Industries neglects this proper, fitting, and appropriate response.)


St Ann Is Back in My Good Graces

FOR HER EVISCERATION of Obamacare in this week’s column. In passing, she asserts “Screw you, Mickey Kaus,” (Who, she writes, is a principal cheerleader for Obamacare — but, more likely, the IDEA of universal, government-paid medical cost-shifting.)

Which brings me to mind the appropriate response to that Rhode Island State Senator (Why should I trouble myself to remember his name?) whose terminal arrogance entitles him to denigrate, vitiate, and generally ignore the Second Amendment to the Federal Constitution. GO FUCK YOURSELF.

Actually, that is growing in my mind to THE appropriate response to leftist importunings.


Can’t block the signal, Mal

ROY EDROSO is a closed-minded, bigoted left-wing extremist tool.

Pass it on.

Mama Taught Me Well Never To

HIT A WOMAN (still, observe how the grievance feminists don’t disagree), but sometimes I think somebody needs to discipline St. Ann. Look on it as part of her trials.

This week, her column evinces an astringent support for abortion.

I also think all Republican candidates should be trained with shock collars and cattle prods to automatically respond, upon hearing some combination of the words “abortion,” “rape” and “incest”: “Yes, of course there should be exceptions in the case of rape or incest, and I also support giving rapists the death penalty, unlike my Democratic opponent, who wants to give rapists the right to vote. Now, back to what I was saying about Obamacare …”

Look: if it’s human and alive, it’s a human life. Zygote, blastula, fetus, infant, child, adult. Killing it is murder. And, given that the right to life is first and foremost in the list of inalienable rights endowed upon us by our creator, and that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,” the abrogation of the right to life of 55 million children under the 40-year regime of Roe v Wade is one of the greatest evils ever encompassed by government. The Holocaust pales by comparison. The butcher’s bill of international communism is the only greater evil I know of. Truckling with supporters of this abomination is not a worthy stance on principle. “It’s purest evil, I agree, but we can’t win elections if we stand on this principle.” Is just as bad as [sgtschultz]”I vas chust followink ort-ders.”[/sgtschultz]. Or worse.

So: at the risk of sounding like a true believer (what’s wrong with being true to your beliefs? Is it better to be false to them?), I also think that Republican pundits who truckle with abortion advocates to win power should be trained with constant bitch-slaps until they FUCKING GET IT.

That is all.

Big Surprise

THE WHOLE 97% claim never was credible in the first place.

And another thing: even if it were (fat chance), it’s irrelevant, because as Mommy told us:


Thanks to Ev Mickey on Facebook.

And the John

THROWS FUCKWADS OF CASH in the air and the whores line up and jump for it.

The Witless Witterings of Witlings

ON THE SUBJECT OF RUSSIA’S annexation of the Ukraine (as though it were a city gobbling up unincorporated property on the edge of town), wonder (idiotically) how or why Putin would diminish the impact of his Olympics in Sochi by associating this naked aggression on his part (disregarding the “coup d’etat” pretext – whence derives the authority or sovereignty for Russia to enforce this imagined law?) with the games. The more obvious (as, Our Curmudgeon constantly reinforces — the root in Latin means “overlooked”) association is with the eviscerating by the odious and despicable Chuck Hagel (When do we get to bitch slap anyone who points to the R behind the name as evidence that he’s one of Us in the Right?) of America’s military power.

Which could, and perhaps should (perhaps not, deponent sayeth not) act as a counter-balance to Russian imperial ambitions.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc?

How Shameless and (Yes) Un-American

IS IT THAT A MEMBER of the United States House of Representatives behaves before open microphones like a petulant and boorish demagogue?

You Know, I Have Read

THE ENTIRE TEXT OF the Constitution many times — even memorized certain parts of it.

Nowhere therein have I found a clause stating “except when the state determines that the people have overreached.”

Quote of the Day

The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

—Annie Dillard

This is in keeping with my belief that non-profit and not-for-profit are some of the filthiest concepts in human history. You have to increase your inheritance or you waste it away. Take the Parable of the Talents.

I’m Not Given to Displays of Attention-

GETTING BEHAVIOR. My style is more wallflower than Venus fly trap. But I am painfully aware of the need to put myself out there, if I’m going to sell books. I habitually assert that I’m far more happy making things than I am selling them. And, if I have to be selling, I’d rather it be something I made. But I need to find sources of reinforcement. This book and its companion volume are on my Amazon wish list fer sher. I’m a firm believer in Show-your-work. I see the existence of this work as being permission to share with my readers all the need stuff I discover along the way to telling Dolly’s stories. I’ve just started using the robber-bird/pack rat software, Evernote, and I expect that I’ll be blogging research and process a lot more. Possibly more over at my writer’s blog — (which serves the purpose this blog was originally intended to serve) than here.

In a Republic, Anyone Who Calls Himself

A DEMOCRAT STARTS OUT acting in bad faith. Why? Because the choice of ideologies indicates an intent to subvert the country’s governing charter. That is treason, in fact, if not in law. The link is to a story summing up the perfidy of those democrats as exercised in the year just passed. Yes, I am one of those paranoid libertarians.

As we put it, if you’re not paranoid, you haven’t been paying attention.

Anybody Know This One?

SOME TIME AGO, I recall reading a fascinating article about a German aristocrat who was personally instrumental in a movement to realize a vision of empire that would have split Eurasia between Germany and Japan, starting back in the early years of the 20th Century. As I remember the story, he was in Japan either just before or during or just after WWI and met and developed a relationship with young militarists — possibly including Tojo and company. He was a national socialist, and was a foundational figure in the Nazi party and its rise to power in the ’30s. He remained high in the Nazi power structure through most of WWII and became disillusioned with Hitler late in the war. Unfortunately, I seem to have mislaid the saved file/link. Can anybody put a name to this description? Tam?

The Caturday Post

It’s been a long time since I did one of these for real. The one from a couple of weeks ago was — despite its length — somewhat of a fake-out. With little real content to convey, I have to fall back on pictures. I had long been unhappy with what I was getting out of the CoolPix. The inability to shoot in low light (why have a CCD that’s unable to better the response curve of film?) coupled with the shutter delay (press button, wait for picture to be snapped) made photographing cats impossible. you either got a brown-gray blur every time, or a flat, washed-out picture of a cat squinting against the flash. Then I got this new camera phone — a Nokia Lumia 1020, if you must know, with the ability to shoot, without flash, at iso ratings up to 4,000 — two stops beyond pushed Tri-X. Or pushed Ektachrome. and all out of the possible range of Kodachrome. Allofasudden, I’m able to get gorgeous shots in afternoon light in our bedroom with the curtains drawn. Saturated color. A play of light way too subtle for the CoolPix. And a zoom ability (at 41Mpx, it doesn’t matter whether it’s optical or digital; whether you’re actually zooming or just blowing up and cropping a smaller area of the image field. Like this one. I’m standing eight feet away from Loki — he’s lying on pillows at the head of the bed; I’m standing at the foot of the bed. I “zoomed” in on him by pinching my fingers together against the screen of my phone. Magic elf box, indeed!

loki reclines 140214

Toni said, “He looks so tiny, there.” We always knew he was going to be petite.
So… This is me grabbing the wheel from Dolly to write a major post-of-the-day.

CATS ARE TERRIBLE, DEADLY TO a writer’s momentum. For one thing they’re heat-seekers. They like to be where it’s warm: your lap. Your computer. Your bed (with you in it). In front of a space heater. In the sun, where it pours through a window or a storm door.

And they sleep 20 hours a day. In piles. Most cat lovers know the story of the one-sleeved Mandarin and his attitude toward disturbing sleeping cats. I’d wager most of us agree with One-Sleeve’s take on the subject.

Catpile starring Loki, Rommie, and Siamon.

This morning, when I was supposed to be done with breakfast and having put a load of laundry in the washer, (I meant to do my work today.), Earnie gave out with his usual Mrrraou! and came up on my chest and curled up to nap.

WP_20140113_20_50_07_Pro (2)

I have to put together tax data for the danegeld. And I wanted to get some serious wordage in on the current WiP, which I still intend to do this weekend. Meantime, here’s another of Loki, settling in for an afternoon nap.


Like Candy

These badges were praised by all and sundry and so popular that, we were told, the band were giving them away “like candy.” Lagniappes during a Mardi Gras parade. We did a replacement order and redesign, which — shown here — became our favorite design of the year.

Once Again, Carrying on a Long Tradition

WE HAVE NEGLECTED TO prepare a post wishing Dolly a Happy Birthday.

Congratulations, Birthday Girl!

Quote of the Day

The other eye-popper here is that indie authors are outselling the Big Five. That’s the entire Big Five. Combined. Indie and small-press books account for half of the e-book sales in the most popular and bestselling genres on Amazon.

Joe Konrath

Wellesley-ites Wimp Out

SEEMS TO ME THAT somebody needs to grow a pair.

Sack up, ladies! You betray your sex with this wilting-flower routine.

Today’s Bible Text

IS FROM THE BOOK of Psalms. Turn in your Bibles, please, to Psalm 94, verses 20-23.

20 Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law,
Have fellowship with You?
21 They gather together against the life of the righteous,
And condemn innocent blood.
22 But the LORD has been my defense,
And my God the rock of my refuge.
23 He has brought on them their own iniquity,
And shall cut them off in their own wickedness;
The LORD our God shall cut them off.

Note to Nokia and AT&T

YOUR ADVERTISING AGENCY is wasting your money by tracking me and pushing ads for your phones on me. I already have the phone. We already use the service. It was a recent upgrade. I don’t need to be urged to get a new one. The ads will only serve to piss me off by reminding me how egregiously you’re invading my privacy and make me LESS likely to buy your products NEXT time.

This is BAD News?

BEING AS HOW we here at BTB consider employer-paid health coverage and the market distortions induced by the jiggering of the tax code for the encouragement of it to be an abominable perversion of free markets, we have trouble seeing this next as a BAD thing.

“As a result of the ACA, between 6 million and 7 million fewer people will have employment-based insurance coverage each year from 2016 through 2024 than would be the case in the absence of the ACA.” — The CBO

It’s A Dirty Damned Shame

THAT THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS of the Obamacare rollout have been so ineptly screwed up. It’s allowing Democrats and others to elide the central fact that the arrogant imposition of the program on the people is wrong in the first place and that fact alone ought to be dispositive.

A Joke

LOOK DOWN YOUR SHIRT and count to ten.


Really? Most people only have two.

Dolly, you do have a low sense of humor.

Really? I’m just the mailman.


You write ’em; I deliver ’em

Lemme Get This Straight

SO THE RACE HUSTLERS AND poverty pimps object to gentrification because … They want their people to live in rat-infested slums the gentrification would replace?


Ooooh. Kaaayyy.

Quote of the Day

The idea that a first floor classroom filled with children, with no lock on the door and no reasonable means of defense are simply supposed to wait for death to arrive is barbaric and sadistic.


So, Phil…

PHILLIP OF PUNXATAWNEY predicts (this Sunday passed) six more weeks of winter.

Let’s take a look at the calendar. From February 2, go forward six weeks. And you find yourself at… The first day of Spring!

Quelle surprise.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as a tautology.

I Seem to Recall

THAT A GI 1911 used to be called (colloquially) a Government Model.

The Cats of Casa d’Alger

emilyonfancropWHEN TONI AND I first set up housekeeping, we had between us three cats. I was owned by a dainty tricolor lady — a tortie — named Mnarra. (That’s how she said it. My last adolescent girlfriend called her “That little creep,” and so her use-name was Creep.) Toni had a pair of fine gentlemen — a black shorthair named Smokey, who — as legend has it — saved her life when her apartment caught fire one night. He woke her up. — and a Russian Blue named Lester Pedunk.

The first loss came when Smokey developed kidney issues. It’s possible (he was an outside cat — no keeping him in; he was capable of opening a heavy, sliding glass patio door and jumping down one storey to ground) that he got hold of some antifreeze. No knowing. But it was a hard loss — broke Toni’s heart. We had to have him put down. The vet said he would have had a hard, hard death, lingering in great suffering as his organs shut down.

Looked in the paper and came across a guy who had a litter and was willing to part with some. And Smokey’s successor was Bandit — a gray-and-white moose with a Maine Coon-like coat. He came home with us in the pocket of my army-surplus field jacket. He and Creep developed a relationship of spare tolerance. When we moved to The Lane in ’85, he, Creep, and Lester all went out more-or-less on-demand. They all came when called, thank God. But Bandit had a practice of perching outside the kitchen window on the side stair where he could peer in the window and be seen. We kept and keep a roll of paper towels on a metal spindle just where it’s reflected in the window glass and you could be fooled into thinking he was at the window, wanting to come in, when it was just the paper towels.

At the time, Toni worked downtown and drove, while I worked downtown and rode the bus. One morning, she had headed out and I was eating breakfast when I heard a panic-stricken call from the front door and ran to find Toni standing there, horrified. Creep, she said, was lying, dead, on the Parkway that runs behind the house. I raced out and down there and scooped up the still form from the pavement and carried her into the back yard. We had just had a sassafras tree cut down and I buried her amid the rotting roots of it. Many tears shed that day.

Then it becomes a little blurry for me. I’m sure Toni could correct the sequence here. I’m pretty sure that thenext cat in the seniority was Annie — a black shorthair who was skinny as a rail until she died. Thus the name: Annie Rexic. Then, in quick succession: Max (named after a character Glenn Close played in the movie Maxie), a ginger tabby, Alex a gray tabby, Finnegan a gray tabby longhair (who did a very good impression of a dustmop when given a half a Valium once), and Charlie (Finnegan’s sister). Somehow, I remember that Max and Alex were left in a box on our front porch (or a neighbor’s — I’m not clear on the details), and that, when Toni called me at work to ask “Can I keep her?” my response was the canonical “Is she cute?” which has subsequently become our primary selection criterion for kittens.

Then, all too quickly, Lester, the much-beloved Russian Blue made a dash across the Parkway and lost a race with some asshole coming up the hill at 15-25MPH over the limit. He managed to make it to the sidewalk, but no farther and we found him there.

Fast forward a year or three (remembering that all of the cats in this period were permitted to go outside, but were kept indoors at night, when cat-killing racoons are about). Max got out or went out but didn’t come back in and didn’t respond when called. So she was posted as MIA (Missing In Action) for the time being.

Toni haunted the county ASPCA animal shelter, looking to find Max if she’d been picked up by animal control officers or had been brought in by a kindly citizen. She didn’t meet with success. But she did meet a fine young fellow, a white-and-gray short-hair in an isolation-ward cage where she had to pass by to check the runs. (She was such a fixture there that the staff gave her the run of the place.) He would reach out paw to catch at her arm in supplication in a manner that we took to calling Aggressively Friendly. She never did find Max, but she did feel it incumbent upon her to reward the little guy’s assertiveness, so she adopted him and brought him home.

When he got to Casa d’Alger and was given free rein to explore as he listed, he immediately made himself at home and free of the place. When Toni requested suggestions for name, I put in, “Jake,” because everything was just jake with him. And that was his name.

Then, some time later (might have been a week or a month; I’m not sure), Toni was lying in bed and got taken with a sneezing fit. Once it died off, she could hear an inquiring note in a “Meow” from under the neighbor’s porch and went to investigate.

Max. She’d been outside all that time. Scrawny and skittish as hell, she was dehydrated and had sniffles, but was otherwise little worse for the wear.

So, at that time, we were owned by Bandit, Annie, Alex, Charlie, Max, Finnegan, and Jake, and the number of “our” cats were seven. And, for a time, that was the most.

Then Finnegan had to be put down and Charlie went to live on a farm as a barn cat (if I’m not mistaken) and we inherited Emily, a tortie (Top, Right, click to embiggen), who resembled Creep only in the Little Half-face markings, but without the nasty tortie temper. She was, however, The Cat Who Walked by Herself and didn’t really get along too well with the others. This seems to be a characteristic of tri-color females; they want to be the queen of the clowder and don’t suffer usurpers-of-the-throne too damned gladly.

Emily is also the first of our cats of whom I have more than a handful of digital pictures — albeit scanned prints. Yes, I have a lot of shots of Murphy, Kane, and Indo, but most of those are genuine digital-camera shots. Emily’s pix all started on film, though I have a painting of Em done by Toni’s friend Taylor Johannigman.

Right about this time, Number One Daughter moved out, taking with her Number One Grandson and Alex. In one of the apartment complexes where she lived over the next couple of years, she (or somebody in her household) heard a plaintive meow coming from a dumpster and discovered at the other end of the cry a kitten wrapped in plastic and duct tape and abandoned there — presumably to die. At around the same or similar time, she (or householder) also found another in similar straits and of like provenance. She could not, however, keep them without breaking her lease, so they came to live with us — Kane and Indo. And the number of our cats became Nine (9), and our house was no larger, though our hearts were fuller.


As you can see, Kane (Center, above) might have been related on the distaff side to a flame-point Siamese, and he had brilliant, Tyndall blue eyes, (so we called him, variously, Old Blue Eyes, and Francis Albert Kane). Indo most certainly had, as an outfreyn relation, a walking haystack, as you can tell. Both of them were good ol’ boys, phlegmatic in temperament, gentle, and loving.

Murph’s pic is there because of his resemblance to Bandit. Bandit was with us from the early-to-late-mid ’80s until sometime around 1990. He lived with us in our apartment atop the West Tower of the Forum, where, I came to say of him (and cats in general) that there is something in a cat which cannot abide a closed door. He never tried to escape down the hall, but whenever there was activity around the hall door of our apartment, he would crowd the hinge side of it and meow most piteously into the crack. Never did seem to figure out that the OTHER side was the one that opened.

At the time that Bandit lived with us, WKRP In Cincinnati was either in first runs or saturation-level strip syndication and Toni and I watched it regularly. (Yes, I remember seeing the Turkey Drop episode when it first ran.) I took to calling Bandit “Little Guy” after the relationship between Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump) and Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner). Another thing he did was to, whenever I sat down to put my shoes on, he would come running and flop down on his side on the floor in front of me for a belly-rub. Never did figure out the connection between belly rubs and shoes-putting-on in his mind or how it formed, but there it is.

Bandit lived with us until, as I say, sometime around 1990. It was a Saturday night when I responded to a panicky call from Toni. She was lying on the bed reading. Bandit was on the windowsill by the head of the bed, panting — obviously in distress. His gums were pale, and his pulse rapid. We took him to the emergency veterinary hospital, where they put him in an oxygen tent and took X-rays. The diagnosis was that he had an enlarged heart, which was preventing him from getting oxygen. It was a long and fraught night. We struggled with the decision to end his life. (I pray you never have to go through that on behalf of a relative. It’s one of many reasons I’m dead set against euthenasia for humans.) I held him while the vet stuck the needle in and watched the light go out of his eyes. We buried him, in a teary-eyed non-ceremony, in our back yard.

Very shortly thereafter, a box of kittens was discovered by the local constabulary of the town near the Animal Hospital North, where Toni was working at the time. Two of them were stumpy-tailed. Not quite Manx, but related to them. One was a white-and-gray, Maine-Coon-coated fellow, whom I named Murphy Gray. That’s him above.

DSCN1749Then… Oh, how does this go, now? I think Belle was next. Black longhair. Street cat, tough and all BTDT, but still a real lover. She had been living rough in a vacant lot out back of Daughter’s town house in the hood. Weather was turning cold and she was observed (if I recall correctly) out in the rain and brought inside. And, of course, the household was too crowded (3-4 cats and 2-3 dogs, as well as two girl-children, a teenaged boy and a couch potato, as well as single-mom head-of-household), so cat could not stay, no matter how dire her straits. She got taken to the Animal Clinic, which Toni runs (the doctors own it and see patients there, but she runs it; just ask her clientele), and went through the usual quarantine procedure to make sure she didn’t have some disease that would run through our house like a wildfire. I met her there and, after getting spayed, she came home to live with us. She’s the queen of the house — the senior cat, now, although Earnie (no respector of personages, he) keeps trying to dominate her, with no regard for her irascible temper. (When Oliver was young and squeakier than he is now, she would body slam him against the lower kitchen cabinets when, at feeding time, she found his metrosexuality TOO tedious to bear.)

Her coat has gotten longer than thicker than it is in that pic. At the time that was taken, she’d been living — as I say — rough, and I don’t doubt having her coat trimmed for her by her environment and poor nutrition.

Shortly thereafter, Toni knocked on the door one day and handed me a longhaired tortie kitten. On seeing her, I exclaimed, “Fizzgig!” thinking of the pet animal in Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal. So that became her sietch name. But the name she was given was Rommie, after Lexa Doig’s character, Andromeda Ascendant in Gene Rodenberry’s Andromeda.

Rommie was a chest kitty. Like Earnie did after her, she came home to live with us and curled up on my chest, purred, and went to sleep. And she stayed there most of the time she lived with us. The unfortunate and sad part was that she died of FIP (I think) at under a year.

At the same time, Toni conceived a desire to have a Siamese. (Don’t ask me; I just nod and say, “Yes, Dear.” They call that being supportive.) The one whom we acquired (or who acquired us) was a blue point little guy, whom she called Simon (which I spell — being a pun-lover as I am) Siamon. If you’re on Faceplant, that’s him on my masthead shot. If you’re not, here it is. I call it Red, White, and Blue Point.ripsia_redwhiteandbluepoint_0109 Siamon was a world-champion napper exceptionally gentle and laid-back. If you love cats, and you get one like that, be suspicious. We soon discovered the reason for it was that Siamon also had a heart condition and had to be low-key because he couldn’t muster enough energy. Sadly, we lost him all too soon. It was a one-two kick to the heart, First Rommie, then Siamon: Gone — pooft!

And, very shortly thereafter, we lost Kitty Kane. His cause was kidney failure. That again.

And, then, in quick succession, Indo and Murph, both of whom were getting on in age, passed. This picture is evocative of our mood at the time.murphandindotwilight

Then Loki. I kinda forget the circumstances of it, except that he was a rescue kitty. We adopted him from creche. When he came to us, his coat was almost entirely white, with whispy tufts at ears and between his toes. Only an “M” mark on the top of his head, the backs of his ears, and the top of his tail were marked. His back has darkened since, but then, he might as well have been all-white. And his paws… You know you can tell a kitten or a puppy is going to be big by how outsized his paws are? Well, Loki’s were small and dainty, hinting that he’d be a little cat when he grew up. So, of course, he HAD to be named for a Frost Giant — Loki, the Norse trickster god. Which also proved apposite, because, as a kitten, he was the King of Getting Inta Shit. And falling on his ass behind it. He still hasn’t learned the difference between objects and surfaces, and always expects the former to provide the same footing and security as the latter. Which, of course, never works.loki_with_dovetail_jig_080620

From the first night he lived with us, he’s slept on the bed. That first night, he clambered up and demanded rubs and scritches in his own particular croak. Since then, he follows a ritual. He hangs out in the office until he hears the lid of my laptop close and sees me dim the overheads. He hops down from his perch and trots around to stand beside me and croak urgently until I stand up and head for the bedroom. There, in the dark, he leads me along the foot of the bed, then flops over in the door to the half-bath. Then he gets up and runs along my side of the bed, jumps up on my nightstand (blocking the clock, so I can’t see the numbers), and climbs on the bed. He usually walks across Toni, who, if she’s awake, complains of it. Then, he meows at me until I get in and get settled, then he climbs onto a pillow and hangs out there, waiting for me to rub his head. He’s done that every night he’s been here since we got him.


oliver_aqua_catpile_041109Somewhere in here came Ollie — the original delta kitty He not only would never be an alpha cat, he would never develop the aspiration to become one. I think he was supposed to be a palliative for the loss of Kane. He’s a big, white, Japanese anime cat with a silly grin and fat cheeks. He also squeaks. In fact, his squeak, when he was young, was so annoying that Belle — the original basement cat if there ever was one — would body-slam him against the kitchen cabinets at feeding time she found his squeaky meow SO annoying. Or, at least, that’s what I imagine her motives to be. Oliver has learned to be very skittish around me and windows from the time I accidentally closed his tail in a window and cut off about an inch of the tip. He’s recovered physically, but will be in therapy for life, I suspect.

Next, Toni got her Siamese up to here. Got a set of triplets — a brother and two sisters. And they could do the Peggy Lee tune from Lady and the Tramp cold justice. They’re friendly enough to humans, but they’ll turn on another cat… Their names are Sky (the male, a seal point), Aqua (senior female, also a seal point) and Jazz (junior female, a lilac point). Jazz has bunny fur and was the first and principle ringleader in the Let’s Torment Karma club. All three of them are beefy sorts. Sky is kinda down-to-earth, wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly, goodoleboy.aqua_sky_jazz_frontwindowsill_1_091010 Here they are in svelte-er days on the front windowsill in the study.

Then, we got Karma, a sweet little calico (which, according to lore, ought to be a contradiction in terms), who is the typical middle child. She ought to have the seniority to buck the Triplets, but she tends to go all “Mom! She’s TOUCHING me!” and scream like a squirrel in a caged death match with a weasel whenever Jane or the Triplets jump her in the utility room. She spends her entire time on the windowsill in there and will ONLY come down when one of us humans walks into the kitchen. Here she is doing her famous Heisenberg’s Cat routine.


And then we got another set of three. Now, on acquiring the Triplets, we were up to Seven (7) cats. Then Toni brought home two kittens, a brother and sister, we now call Chester and Jane, though Chester was earlier called Elwood.chester_onthestool_110702jane_cat_tree_110617When she was a kitten, Jane had a regal reserve, which made her full name — Lady Jane Grey — seem more apposite. Now, she’s just that bloody usurper. She is the current ringleader in the Let’s Torment Poor Karma club.

And, tagging along — we weren’t going to keep him; he was being transported to Number One Daughter — was this funny little tuxedo kitten, with a pointy face and a bowlegged build, like a Boston Terrier. He climbed up on my chest and went to sleep and there was NO WAY you could have pried him out of here. At first, his name was Benjamin Butt-in-face, because he looked like a little old man, not a cute kitten. But, eventually, we realized he was aspie-earnest and SO serious all the time. So Toni called him Ernest, which would have fit with Hemmingway, but I pushed the “literary cat” another step and called him Earnest, because he realized the Importance of Being…

Anyway, he’s my buddy, Earnie. Earnie talks back to me. He’s got a teenager’s bad attitude. At the same time, he’s sweet and kind. He’s the only one of our other cats who gets along with Karma. At the same time, he’s always trying dominance games with Belle, who fights with him tooth and claw. (Neither one of them has taken wounds from it.)earnie_windowsill_look-up_110809

Anyway, now our household includes Belle, Loki, Oliver, Aqua, Sky, Jazz, Karma, Chester, Jane, Earnie. And the number of our cats is Ten (10). Believe it or not.