Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lactose Intolerants Unite!


It's no surprise to my friends that I'm writing this article. I've been lactose intolerant since I was about 12 years old. I started noticing that ice cream and milk would cause my stomach to cramp up like no other pain I've ever had before (and ladies, even my period cramps were NEVER as bad as dairy cramps. That's saying a lot.) When I would eat ice cream it felt like it was carving a hole in my stomach. It would take days to recover. Now I can eat a little cheese here and there but that's about it. I've learned to cut out ice cream, yogurt, milkshakes etc. Boy do I miss mint chocolate chip ice cream. I've never found a suitable replacement. :( BUT what I DID learn in my dairy research is that I'm more like a kitty than I thought!

In cartoons cats are always shown with a saucer of milk or cream, but in reality most cats are lactose intolerant! It's more common than you think. Sure they'll drink it, but just because they like it, doesn't mean it likes them.


Let me explain, to digest their mother's milk sugar or lactose, kittens need the enzyme lactase. As babies we have this ~ and kittens do too. As we get older, lactase production slows down, and just like people, kittens can become lactose intolerant. Don't worry though, cats can live completely healthy lives without milk. You can find milk replacements for cats, just like people they make soy products or lactose-free treats, but it's really unnecessary. They need water more than milk.


When a lactose intolerant kitten drinks milk, you'll know it. Within 12 hours it will show signs that it can't be absorbed. Just like a horror movie it will either throw up or have loose diarrhea. So please think before you give your kitty milk. And remind them that they are not alone, I'm more than willing to cuddle with them and explain why they are feeling sick. :)


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Movie: The Craft (1996)

Before American Horror Story: Coven, The Witch, or Lords of Salem, there was a stylish teen witch movie called The Craft. The portrayal of witches always showed them as old and/ or goofy and/or set in the past. Dare I say, when The Craft came out in 1996, it was NONE of these things AND it shaped a generation!


I saw The Craft at the movies and was immediately enchanted ~ No, seriously! I could relate to these girls on many levels. At it's most basic, it's about a natural witch that moves to Los Angeles with her family and starts at a new school, only to be welcomed by a coven that's on a power trip. I went to a Catholic High School, was an outcast, and listened to goth music. I could be them...or I am one of them? I can't be the only one that felt this way, so let's chat about what makes The Craft a movie with staying power.

Nancy outside of school in her lace and velvet layers.

 Me in 1996, outside of school in my lace and velvet layers, (and trendy lunchbox purse.)

If you were wondering, going to a Catholic School is NOT how it's pictured in the movie. (They should have consulted with me. For a better take on Catholic High Schools, watch Donnie Darko. Lol.) Why are the Catholic Schools in movies or on TV always co-ed? Mine was an all girls school, and NO I'm not repressed. The only difference was I had to wear a uniform everyday. It consisted of a button down shirt ~ no polos allowed, a color coded name tag (the color represented what grade you were in), a kilt pin, a kilt and NO sneakers unless you're in gym class. The kilt had to come down to the floor if you knelt - otherwise it was grounds for detention. Most of the girls rolled them up at the waist to make them shorter. These four girls from The Craft would have spent most of their days in detention for dress code violations!  That being said, let's talk about the fashion in the movie, since the 1990s are back. Is it wrong I love the over the knee socks, chunky shoes, layered lace skirts, crushed velvet, granny boots, and layered chokers/ necklaces? In my mind these are fashion essentials that never are out of style! Or just goth wardrobe staples?

  "We are the weirdos, mister."

One of the most quoted lines from The Craft is "We are the weirdos mister." You can find it on T shirts, pins, posters, and coffee mugs. It's true, the four girls in the coven are outcasts, but I wouldn't call them "weirdos". Rochelle is black at a mostly white school and is discriminated against, Bonnie has scars on most of her body (I always wondered how she got them), Sarah is new to the school and tried to commit suicide because of the natural witch hallucinations she has, and Nancy is poor, and she lives with abusive alcoholic parents. I want to know how she could afford to go to a Catholic school? My family has always been middle class, but attending a Catholic School is expensive. I was on the work/ study program and cleaned classrooms after school to get a discount on my tuition. Sure I got made fun of, but I didn't care. The teachers loved me.

 Invoking the spirit.

The Craft showed teen witches doing rites based on real Wiccan rituals. The producers consulted with witches to make the scenes accurate. I thought this was impressive, and from what I've read, after seeing this movie, people did try to invoke Manon ~ only thing is, he was made up for the movie! That's how real it seemed! Usually when rituals are in movies, they are either not shown or are just sing songy rhyming and lots of blood.


Siouxsie and The Banshees is on the soundtrack, and it doesn't get more Queen of Goth than that. (Yes, I know they are on The Showgirls soundtrack too, but this is definitely a better fit.)

Drag Queen Poster

There's a rumor going around that they are making a sequel to The Craft. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet, but why not? There is a musical version and a drag queen version, so I guess The Craft isn't going away any time soon. And really being a "witch" is a way of life, not just a movie, so Remember the Rule of Three and Blessed Be.

Watch the trailer from 1996 here...














Monday, May 22, 2017

Snooty Cat Fancy vs. Catster

On a whim, Andrew my husband, picked up Catster Magazine for me because he knows I'm a crazy cat lady and this cover of the May/ June 2017 made him think of me.


I saw it and said, "Oh, no, a lame cat magazine." I always hated Cat Fancy Magazine for it's focus on breeders, professional cat shows, and the importance of purebred breeds. It was the one thing that turned me off years ago to cat magazines...they can be snooty. Well to my surprise, Catster is informative and focuses on adoptions AND...wait for it... it used to be the snooty CAT FANCY MAGAZINE! In 2014, Cat Fancy realized they needed to update their focus because of the proliferation of cats everywhere online ~ they had to appeal to all cat lovers, not just breeders ~ now they are Catster.

The first thing I was impressed by was that they talk about REAL fur parent issues like keeping your house clean with a cat. There's several good articles on ~ believe it or not ~ cat butts and all the things you're afraid to ask, what it's like adopting a kitty with special needs, cat art exhibitions, and the fights over declawing. (You can read my declawing blog here.) Yay for useful information!

On the downside, they still have a section in the back called "Breeders Club" where you can email or go to websites to adopt a certain kind of cat. Well, I guess it's not necessarily a "downside", but I was a little disappointed when I saw it. To me this is a little creepy. It reminds me of the classifieds at the back of a free news weekly where you can arrange a meet-up to get a"sensual massage". I'm all for mixed breed cats, purebred cats, and adopting locally, BUT the cats should pick you, not the other way around. I wish they had a listing in the back of the magazine for shelters in each state, or something like, "...say you saw this article in Catster and at any of these participating shelters they will waive the adoption fee." Or something for the mixed breed cats. Anyway, I'm glad that people are adopting ALL cats and that Cat Fancy Magazine solved their identity crisis for the better.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Movie: The Girl With All the Gifts (2016)

I first heard of The Girl With All the Gifts a few months back when it was featured on the cover of Rue Morgue Magazine. Like many people I AM SICK OF ZOMBIES. Stupid zombies everywhere from movies, to books, to comics, ugh you can't escape them ~ literally. BUT this movie intrigued me and had a different take on the genre.
***Warning: Semi-Spoiler***

Without giving too much away, the basic premise is that there is a fungal outbreak that has caused people to turn into zombies. In the movie they are called "hungries". We meet a young girl named Melanie that is in a military-type holding facility. She along with a bunch of other kids, are restrained in wheelchairs and taken to a classroom. Unlike the other kids Melanie is smart, inquisitive, and greets all the adults with a matter-of-fact kindness. She thinks for herself and we come to find out that this restrained life is all she knows.

Already I like that the kids aren't so innocent. They turn into flesh eaters when they smell humans. (Side note: If you like kid zombies check out the movie Cooties. It's more of a black comedy. Worth the watch. The Girl With All the Gifts is much more serious ~ but good, in a different way.)

This military complex is gated, but surrounded by hungries that are fast, strong, and break down fences to eat people. The zombies break in and Melanie, her teacher, a doctor, the Sargent and a few military guys escape through the woods and eventually to an abandoned city. The city is the epi-center for the hungries. The movie gets a little slow here, but there's a plot twist ending that makes it worth it.

Caution: In the very beginning of the movie she keeps a picture of a black and white kitty on her wall, so in my head I thought ~ great she loves cats! Alas, she ends up eating a black cat to survive. Thank goodness they don't show her killing it. I'd be a wreck. I love horror movies, but messing with a cat is a different story!

Here's the trailer...

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Cat By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

So you take home a new cat or a kitten and the first thing people ask is, "What's it's name?"


Kittens are the easiest to name because they don't have a name yet. You can pick anything!

What if you get a cat from a shelter and it's name is stupid and you can't live with it? For example, we adopted Ginger and Vicktor at the same time and they were both about three years old. Our Vicktor Frankenstein's name was Skoal. I'm guessing because he's black like Skoal tobacco? It's was a terrible name and we knew it needed to be changed. But to what? We always loved the name Vincent. So we tried Vincent, but after a few days, he really wasn't a Vincent, but more of a Vicktor. Yes, Vicktor Frankenstein that's it! The older the cat is, the harder it is to change their name, three years wasn't too bad.

Some things to consider when naming your cats:

1. Is it a boy or a girl? Do you want to name it according it it's gender?

2. Do you want to name it because of it's markings or color?

3. Do you want to name it after a favorite food, car, gemstone, or character from books or movies etc?

4. Ok, you've picked a name, consider the history of the name. (i.e. Hitler. Do you want to have to explain this to everyone?)

5. Does it's personality fit the name?

It's very important to reinforce the new name. Be sure to pet your kitty and say it's name so it can get used to the sound ~ not that it will always respond, but it least it will know when you're talking about it. You can say it's name and give it a treat too. Associate the name with good things.


If your new kitty is having a hard time with it's new name, you can combine it with the old one to start. Our Vicktor would be "SkoalVicktor", then after a few weeks, just "Vicktor".

Next get it a name tag even if it's an indoor cat, it might get out. Try to get a breakaway cat collar if you can. They are safer, so if your cat gets caught around the neck on something it won't get strangled. Now go on loving your newly named kitty!






Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It's Garage Sale Time...ALTERNATIVE Garage Sale

It's said that Buffalo, NY is great because it's in the middle of a bunch of cities. We are close to Toronto, Cleveland, Syracuse and more ~ which means as a business owner I get to meet lots of cool people from places near and far. A while ago a customer came into my shop from Rochester, NY. We got to chatting and found we share similar interests in tiki culture, horror movie monsters, and goth music. He runs a gothic garage sale a few times a year and invited my husband and I to stop by. Well this past weekend was the first time we could go.
We drove an hour east to Rochester, NY and our first stop was The Record Archive. If you're into records, they have a ton. It's actually quite intimidating. If you're not into records they have T-shirts, kitschy gift items, a few vintage clothes, and even a little night club attached to the back of the building. Well worth the trip alone.


Next we grabbed a bite to eat at the Genesee Brewhouse. I'm not super into craft beer, but I know what I like. A go-to for me is Genesee Cream Ale. (Please don't judge. lol.) I opted for a new beer that just came out called Orange Honey Cream Ale. Yum. It's my new fav.



Finally we ended up at the Vertex Late Risers Alternative and Gothic Garage Sale. The sale takes place in the local goth bar, the Vertex. It's a great venue with three floors and exactly what you would expect at a "gothic" garage sale, a little vintage, some handmade jewelry, candles, and artwork, and lots of goth clothes, shoes, and everything creepy. I picked up a hand printed T shirt with original artwork on it (of a cat, duh) and a vintage black Japanese cat. I have a small collection of them. BONUS ~ the bar was open, the music was on, and they were serving BBQ!


What's cool is this is something that brings the local alternative community together, sure you can go to the club, but in this environment you don't have to yell over loud music and you can mix and mingle over a Frankenstein painting or chat about the pros of platform shoes and it's not pretentious or judge-y. If you're in the area, I recommend it. I'm really looking forward to the next one! Do you have a similar alternative garage sale near by?


Monday, May 8, 2017

PEF: Pet Emergency Fun-draiser

I'm an animal advoCATe - not just for cats though, but ALL pets. Here's yet another way to support animals, it's called the Pet Emergency Fund. It was created in Western New York to provide medical care to animals that have owners in need. It's funded completely by charitable contributions! The money is then divided by the vets as they see fit, so you have to be a responsible pet owner that is attentive to your pets needs and takes them in for check ups.


There's a variety of ways to donate, and you can see the list on their website.

Another fun way to donate that's a win-win for YOU is to purchase something from my store Cats Like Us on Saturday, June 17, 2017. You can purchase in store OR on-line and 15% of your purchase will go directly to the Pet Emergency Fund. We even have an "Everyday is Halloween" collection for us creepies. You can read about my store's event page here.

If you have ever experienced a pet emergency, you know how expensive an unexpected ailment can be. Please consider donating. Thank you for your support!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Movie: The Void (2016)

A couple nights ago we went to see The Void as a limited engagement at the North Park Theatre in Buffalo. I tried not to read too many reviews, but it kept popping up that this is a throwback to the 1980s and produced by the people that made The Witch (2015).  I loved The Witch, so I went in  to see this movie really excited and hopeful. I really thought it was going to be about aliens, a contagion, or zombies. Well, it was none of those things!

***Warning: Spoilers***

Let's see where do I begin? Here's a summary of the memorable parts.

It starts out strong with terrified couple being chased out of an isolated farm house by two men. They shoot the girl once and burn her. (I guess they wanted to save bullets or wanted her to suffer because I would have shot her until she was dead, THEN burn her. Meanies.) At this point, I'm thinking something contagious if they have to burn the body. The guy -James, gets away covered in blood and is found on the roadside by a cop named Dan Carter.

Dan picks James up and takes him to a hospital in the middle of nowhere. The hospital is incredibly short staffed because they had a fire in the basement and are in the process of moving everything over to a new one. (Wouldn't you just move everything over to the fully staffed hospital asap and close the other?)

There's a doctor - Dr. Powell, two nurses - Bev and Allison, a useless intern - Kim, one patient and a grandfather with his pregnant granddaughter in the waiting room, now James too. We find out Allison and Dan are married, but estranged because of the death of their baby.

Shortly after you see Bev stab the one lowly patient in the eye with scissors and she starts peeling off the skin on her face while Dan watches in shock - and then finally shoots her. (Why did she do that? Why did it take him so long to shoot?) He has a seizure that includes a vision of skies and tentacles. Weird.

State Trooper Mitchell arrives at the hospital, after coming from the shot up farm house. We find out, the two guys with guns at the beginning of the movie, are father and son. They come to the hospital to go after James. They want him dead. (because he's contagious? Why are they killing people all willy-nilly?)

Dan is trying to reach out and call or contact someone with his police car radio.  He goes outside and is attacked by a white hooded figure in what looks like a kind of hazmat suit. Then the white figures come out of nowhere and multiply just standing outside the hospital presumably to keep everyone inside. There's 1, then 2, then 20, 50 etc. This scene is very reminiscent of classic Night of the Living Dead (1968) where the living dead are coming slowly towards the house. (Is this movie about zombies?)


Night of the Living Dead.



The Void disciples.

We find out Bev was absorbed by a monster that looks like a giant black slimy bug, think The Fly (1986 version)-ish mashed up with Cthulhu. The Bev creature morphs, until Dan, the father and son shoot this humanoid as it's tentacles go through Mitchell's eyes. (Ok, I'm still thinking contagious alien, hence hazmat suits?)


The Fly.


Cthulhu Image from http://www.lovecraft-stories.com/wiki/cthulhu

Dan and the father find Polaroids on Dr. Powell's desk, that connect the doctor and James to the hooded figures. They are lead to the basement.

Long story short, Dr. Powell's daughter dies and he tries to find a way to get her back. The doctor is a cult leader and the hooded figures are his disciples. He drums up an ancient cult in the basement of the hospital that believes that the body doesn't die but travels through a portal to a different dimension. (Possibly to hell? To an alien planet?) He experiments on people in the basement, giving them everlasting life as animated corpse abominations. The room the experiments are kept, is a form of hell, that are woken by Dan, the father, son, and James. (Very much like the nurses in Silent Hill (2006).)

The doctor captures Allison, drags her to the basement, and turns her into one of the tentacled creatures, not before peeling his own skin off. Dan sees her and has a vision of what it was like when they were together, but then sees what she has become and chops her up. (It seems like they were looking for the doctor and Allison forever in the basement. That basement must be GIANT!)


Poor Allison is turned into a monster.

The pregnant girl in the waiting room is carrying the doctor's baby and will be his dead daughters rebirth, only it's a giant slimy tentacled Cthulhu bug too.

The skinless doc - think Frank Cotton from Hellraiser (1987) (Why didn't he turn into a slimy bug to?) stands in front of a light up triangle doorway on the wall and begins his ritual to bring his daughter back. A couple disciples are present from outside (but where are the 50? They're going to be late to the party!) He offers Dan the option of being reunited with his wife if he just gives in. Dan ends up grabbing the Frank Cotton wanna-be and tackles him through the triangle portal. (Is it an astral gate? ala OA (2016) style?)


Frank Cotton.


OA.

There is a happy ending though, you see a black pyramid on the other side of the portal and Dan and Allison are reunited standing together holding hands. (Is the black pyramid built by the Egyptians? Did they create the cult?) The useless intern Kim and the son are the only survivors in the hospital. (Why did the least likable characters survive?)


Black pyramid.

My final words on it....SURPRISE it's an ancient cult movie with slimy tentacles everywhere. The practical effects make it very 80s, but there's LOTS of other visuals that say otherwise, I just highlighted a few. The thing that kept me interested was wondering, will they explain what is going on?

I'd say paws up for the visuals, paws down on the storytelling. Paws up on the actors, paws down on trying to jam too much into the movie. 3 out of 5.

Here's the trailer, see what you think.




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mourning Your Beloved Cat

In the past month, three of my friends beloved cats have died. Just like the passing of a person, everyone will mourn differently. Some cats are sick for a long time and go back and forth with illness, some cats get sick and pass overnight, and some are just elderly and know their time is near. Often people feel guilty they didn't see how sick their cat was, or they feel guilty they had to euthanize their cat. It's ok, as long as you did the best you could. You and your cat had meaningful years together, NEVER forget that!

It's important to honor your kitty's memory because they ARE your family and it will help the healing process.
Unlike the Ancient Egyptians, that would mourn their cat by shaving off their eyebrows, there are other ways to cope...

1. Cry. It's ok to cry. No one can judge you for your feelings, they are yours and yours alone.

2. Take time to mourn and be alone. I know that when Vicktor Frankenstein or Miss Ginger Rogers pass, I may have to close my store for a few days. They are both about 13, so it really makes me nervous when they act out of the ordinary.

3. Make an album of your kitty, or write down special memories, personality traits or what you will miss the most. The memories are yours to treasure and an album is a reminder of their spirit.

4. Talk to an empathetic friend that has experienced pet loss, or someone that loved your pets as much as you, or even just an animal lover. There are also pet loss groups to work through your grief. (Here's a couple resources: rainbowbridge.com or  pet-loss.net)

5. Remember the day that your cat died and make it a ritual. It can be as simple as lighting a candle in their memory.

6. Plant a tree or garden as a living memorial.

7. Donate to a shelter in their name. (Our local SPCA Serving Erie County has a Honor & Memorial Giving page on their website.)

8. Adopt. This won't work for everyone because some people need time to grieve before they can adopt again, others have multiple cats and can cope by spending time with the cats they still have, and sometimes you can fill the hole in your heart by replacing your kitty. Consider a shelter pet, or an older cat that needs the love you can give them at the end of their life.

9. I'm not much for poems, but the Rainbow Bridge poem may help you. Think about being reunited with your cat.

Remember all the good times you had with your cat, and take comfort in knowing that you made their last days the best you could ~ Because just like people, everyday is a gift.