June 5th, 2012

Nutmeg & Dala

We all know that blogs were created so people could talk about their cats. If you have a blog, you are legally obligated to talk about cats at regular intervals or else. A quick search says I’ve mentioned cats 65 times on this blog over the years, but that’s not nearly enough and the blog police have sent me a warning.  So you’re getting a cat post today.

Nutmeg (l) & Dala (r)

Dala, whose full name is “Queen Amidala Curlytoes,” is 14 this year. I don’t know her exact birthday, but she was a year old when I got her in September 1999, so I’m guessing she was born in August of 1998. She is the nicest cat I have ever known – to humans, anyway.  She purrs if you even look at her. She loves to cuddle and sit on your lap, especially if you happen to be my wife.  See, I’ve known this cat for 13 years and she’s always loved me, but when I got married two years ago, all of a sudden I’m not as awesome as I was. Now she’ll only get up from her nap and go to the door if it’s my wife coming home. Me? Meh. “Seen it.”  She’s still nice to me, but she’s not as forcibly wonderful to me as she is to some people (my wife).

A little over a year ago, I took Dala to the vet for the first time in a long time. She was throwing up very regularly, for a while it was even once a day, and she was very thin. The vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, but gave her a steroid shot and put her on some special food and it worked!  For a few months. Then she started back in with the throwing up. And you know, no matter how much you work with a cat to get them to throw up on the linoleum, they won’t listen to you. Often it seems like they miss the linoleum by two inches or less just to mess with you. Carpet must be a better target, I guess.

Took her back to the vet, another shot. Worked for a couple of months again. This time the vet started throwing around words like “leukemia” and “untreatable,” but also used the words “not sure” and “more tests.” Dear vets: do not use the words “leukemia” and “untreatable” if you’re still “not sure.” Thank you.

This time they gave her another shot, but also gave her a pill “in case there are worms we haven’t found.” A few weeks later, I had to give her one more pill. Ever given a pill to a cat? Try it some time. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger a 12-pound animal is than you. It took two of us, but we finally got her to eat it.  That was before the new year. I’m happy to say that not only has she not been throwing up, she’s also put on (a lot of!) weight. She sleeps a lot, but there are moments when she’s ripping around the house and playing where you’d swear she was a kitten. She even chases her tail, the only cat I’ve ever known personally that does that. It’s funny, though, that after she runs around, she is completely conked out for a couple of hours. I understand getting older, Dala!

Then there’s Nutmeg. Nutmeg doesn’t like anybody but me. She has had several different permutations of a full name, but no middle name has stuck for long. I still think of her as “Nutmeg Tsunami,” but that’s because if I had known how she was going to turn out, I would have named her “Tsunami” and called her “Nami” for short. Also, SoBe made a beverage called Tsunami that was Creamsicle-flavored, and was orange-white like Nutmeg is.

Anyway, Nutmeg doesn’t like anybody else. She’ll tolerate my wife most times, but more in a “putting up with” way than anything else. Anyone else that has ever tried to pet her or even move within two feet of her generally gets hissed at, and since her breath is terrible, it’s a two-fer. The real shame of it is she has some of the softest fur of any cat ever, so it’s a shame no one else can pet her.

Nutmeg is turning 10 in August, technically a “senior cat.” She’s been on diet food for as long as Dala has been on her special food, since we have to feed them separately. Nutmeg has not lost any weight at all, a fact you might be able to discern from the picture above. I’ve had her since she was four weeks old and I love her dearly, in all of her crabbiness and misanthropy.

These two might as well be named Yin and Yang. They have squabbles almost daily, but they also take a lot of naps together and groom each other. In a lot of ways, I feel they represent both sides of me – I’m generally nice to people and I genuinely like a lot of people, but I also tend towards crabbiness and will avoid meeting new people if there’s a legitimate out for me.

May 22nd, 2012

Ranking Bad Hair Day

This album was released on March 12, 1996. If I’m remembering correctly, this was the year I was working full-time at Walmart, in the electronics department. If so, this would be the first Weird Al album I bought on the day of its release.  I don’t think I’ve missed a day of release since.

Normally I’d put this next to the song it’s about, but this is kind of a big deal and I want to highlight it.  The song “Amish Paradise” on this album is a spoof of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” a song featured on the soundtrack of Dangerous Minds. Al, as is his wont, sought permission from the artist before doing it, and was told by his record label that permission had been granted – Al even spoofed Coolio’s hair on the cover of this album.  At the Grammys, Coolio said he had never given permission and was mad that Al had used his song. Al wrote a letter of apology to Coolio but never heard back from him.  It was a bigger flap than it sounds like here, but it ends up okay.  At the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, Coolio came over to Al and they made up. The funniest part to me is… when’s the last time you thought or heard about Coolio?  I wonder just how many acts Al has parodied that he has outlasted, career-wise. I’m guessing a lot.

12. Cavity Search – A song about dentists, parodying a U2 song. This song has two strikes against it for me: I’m not a huge fan of dentists and I’m not a huge fan of the original song.

11. I’m So Sick of You – Another relationship song, but this one seems more mean-spirited than usual.

10. I Remember Larry – He reminisces about an old friend that used to play practical jokes on everyone all the time. Like, all the time. Enough so that in the end he and his friends take Larry out to the woods and leave him in a shallow grave. This song would fit in the “dark humor” category, by the way. And while I certainly don’t condone kidnapping and murder, I also think that people who play practical jokes deserve some sort of special punishment, so… yeah.

9. Everything You Know Is Wrong – This song is a puzzle. On the one hand, it’s sort of a typical “nonsense” song, stringing together Golden Grahams, wolverines, Jamie Farr, aliens, and papercuts.  On the other hand, the chorus has a philosophy to it that’s easy to miss in the ridiculousness of the verses:

And everything you thought was just so
Important doesn’t matter
Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along

There are two things there – the idea that the stuff we think is important isn’t, and the follow-up that we should take things as they come (“forget the words and sing along”). Maybe I’m reading into it too much, but that’s a little deeper than I’m expecting out of a Weird Al song.

8. Phony Calls – A song about prank phone calls, with a special guest appearances by one of Bart Simpson’s many prank calls to Moe. The song is a parody of TLC’s “Waterfalls.”

7. Syndicated Inc. – A spoof of “Misery” by Soul Asylum, one of many songs I’ve come to enjoy after hearing Al’s version first. This is another TV song.

6. The Alternative Polka – Songs by Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, The Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Green Day, and a few others.

5. Callin’ in Sick – I haven’t been tallying them, but Weird Al has many songs that have the number 27 in them. In this song about calling in sick to work in order to have a day off, Al says he “hits the snooze alarm for the 27th time.” I’ll let you figure out why I like this song.

4. The Night Santa Went Crazy- Another dark Christmas song. Santa snaps and goes on a killing spree at the North Pole. My favorite line is probably “He took a flamethrower and barbecued Vixen / And took a big bite and said, ‘It tastes just like chicken’.”

3. Gump – Movie in song form! Love these. This one takes “Lump” by The Presidents of the United States of America and turns it into a much better song, telling the story of “Forrest Gump.”

2. Amish Paradise – I love this song, one of Al’s most famous ones, except for one line. You’ll probably roll your eyes at me, but if you know me, I also think you’ll understand. The song is about Amish life (“raise a barn on Monday, soon I’ll raise [another]”), and at one point, the main character goes into town and a local boy kicks him in the butt. The main character says “I just smiled at him and I turned the other cheek” (ha ha) “I really don’t mind, in fact, I wish him well / I’ll be laughing my head off when he’s burning in hell.” Here’s my problem: no one who truly believes in a literal hell would ever laugh at the idea of someone having to spend eternity there. If you find a Christian/Amish/Whatever that would laugh at that, you’ve met a Christian/Amish/Whatever that has a completely wrong outlook on a lot of things.

Sorry. A little more serious than this write-ups tend to be, but that’s always bugged me about that song, enough that I don’t sing that line when I sing along to the song.

1. Since You’ve Been Gone – Another relationship song in a doo-wop style that is just fantastic. He talks about just how awful he’s feeling since his girl left him – horrible, horrible stuff. And at the end, he says he feels “almost as bad as I did when you were still here.” Ya burnt!

Only four albums left!

May 16th, 2012

All Good Things…

I finished watching Star Trek: The Next Generation today. I know I’ve been talking a lot about it lately, and it’s because I’ve been making my way through it.  I did it kind of weirdly, though. See, back when I started it last year, I started midway through Season 2 because I was pretty sure I had seen all of them up to that point.  So I went on from Season 2 through Season 7, and it just got better and better. Well… okay, the 7th season isn’t the best, but I do love the last episode. Let me know what you’ve thought of it at https://Kokorugs.com.

I got sad when I realized I was about to watch the last episode of Season 7, “All Good Things…,” because I was going to miss these characters.  I had already decided I was going to go back and watch the first episode again (“Encounter at Farpoint“), just to see the full circle. I remembered taping that first episode when it originally aired – my parents allowed it as I had become a pretty big Star Trek fan by then. It was all so … strange, seeing these people do stuff like Kirk, Spock, and McCoy had, but in this weird-looking new ship. Going back to that first episode after watching the whole series was almost as strange.  The characters grew so much in their seven seasons. Captain Picard was kind of a jerk starting off, Worf growled a lot, and Data wasn’t really anything.  Riker showed flashes of Future-Riker, but not much.

While I watched that first episode, I took a look at descriptions for the rest of the season, and I figured out that there were a lot of them I hadn’t seen. I wanna be the the very best, like no one ever was and catch all the episodes, so I kept going. Let me tell you: it was kind of rough. I knew where the characters ended up, but it was hard seeing them like this!  I mean, Geordi wasn’t even the Chief Engineer!  (I had completely forgotten that he wasn’t always.) Things started to get better in the second season, and after that, it really got fantastic.  I still prefer Original Recipe Trek, but Next Gen got great.

Anyway, tonight I got back around to where I had started, so I’m officially done. I didn’t realize it until I finished the episode and looked at the description for the next one, though, so I wasn’t prepared for it. It hit me again, that sadness. I spent a lot of time with these people, you know? And now they won’t be around any more. I know that’s a ridiculous thing to say about a television show, but it really did hit me like the loss of a friend.

And now, because I’m really into lists these days, here are my thoughts on the main characters (based on the whole series):

Captain Jean-Luc Picard – I think I’m on the Picard side of the the “Kirk or Picard?” debate. Kirk was great and everything, but he was always being either a jerk or really close to a jerk. Picard turned into this wonderful multifaceted character, wise but human. Patrick Stewart did a fantastic job portraying Picard, and in lesser hands I don’t think it would have gone so well.

Commander William T. Riker – He’s the closest thing we have to a Kirk on the Enterprise D. In command (when he’s supposed to be), but happy to be working with Picard as his superior. He’s funny but firm, quick to action, and a good balance for Picard.

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge – Poor Geordi. He was always the most easily frustrated character, most likely because he was used to being able to figure things out. Engineering never helped his love life, though.

Lieutenant Worf – Second-funniest guy on the ship. You have to feel bad for him, though, too, because nobody ever took his advice. Seeing a Klingon on the Enterprise was a big shock to us Original Trek fans. They were always the ultimate bad guys.

Counselor Deanna Troi – Marina Sirtis is reportedly one of the nicest people ever, but I did not care for this character at all. “Captain, that guy on the screen? The one with the frown and who is yelling? I sense he is angry.” Bah.

Lt. Commander Data – My favorite character. He’s the most Spock-like character, if we’re going to compare to TOS, and Spock was my favorite on that one. He gets the best journey, even if some of the “Data gets possessed/rewritten/rebooted” episodes were not that great.

Doctor Beverly Crusher – The ship’s mom, and the first redhead I ever had a crush on.

Wesley Crusher – Back in the day, I disliked the Wesley character just as much as everyone else. It’s funny, though, watching it now I really liked him. Part of that is because I’ve read Wil Wheaton’s stories on what it was like for him back then, but part of it is just that I liked him this time around. I was honestly bummed when he left the ship.

Lieutenant Tasha Yar – Man, I loved Yar. I thought she was awesome, and I thought it was great how much butt she kicked/wanted to kick. Stupid Tar Monster. She got brought back in a few future episode, to great effect, and I was happy about that.

Guinan – Meh. Not a necessary character, really, but I didn’t dislike her. Probably my favorite of Whoopi Goldberg’s work?

Doctor Pulaski – Not a fan. I know some of you out there really liked her, but I liked Dr. Crusher too much to ever be okay with her getting replaced. The 2nd season is hard for me to watch for this reason, and I was super glad she was gone by Season 3.

After I finished the last episode and realized there weren’t any more, I removed it from my queue and added Deep Space 9. I’ve only seen maybe three episodes of this, so while I sorta know what goes on with it, I really don’t know much. I started watching the first episode a little, just to see, and it was a strange mix a familiarity and newness. Captain Picard showed up, and there was Miles O’Brien, but that’s about the end of the familiar.

I got excited, though, looking forward to meeting these new people and seeing how things went for them. And, hey, Worf shows up later, so that’ll be cool.