Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Kitty Ears & Furnishings

Goodness knows I have my fair share of cat ear headbands, but what about real cat ears? No, I don't collect those, but I am fascinated by them.


My friends Kevin and Emily have gorgeous cats with amazing ear hair. Cat ear hair is called "ear furnishings" by cat fanciers. It insulates their ears from dirt, bugs, and direct sound and I wanted to feature their kitties in this blog.

They say cats have 32 muscles in each ear so they can ignore you. The truth is, sure they can ignore you, but can also rotate their outer ears aka pinna 180 degrees to pinpoint where a certain sound comes from! They can turn independently from each other, and when they move they can increase their hearing range. Their hearing is even better than dogs hearing and they can detect low and high pitch sounds just one tenth of a tone apart. This allows them to figure out how big or small their prey is or hear predators coming after them.


Kurt & Space Ghost ignoring you.

They have little slits at the base of their pinna, called Henry's pockets, but no one has figured out what they are for.


Space Ghost and Stormaggedon. You can kind of see Space Ghost's ear pocket on the left.


Their ears are critical in balance. They have fluid in their ears and tiny hairs that tell your cats brain which way they are moving. It's how they always land on their feet. 


Space Ghost landing on his feet.

They show emotion through ear placement. 


Space Ghost and Kurt showing interest in what you have to say because their ears are facing you.

Finally, unless your cat has a ear problem don't try to clean them, they are self cleaning and sensitive.

Interesting fact...65-85% of white cats with blue eyes are born deaf and it's caused by a mutation in the ear. Scottish Fold and American Curl have funny shaped ears and those are caused by a mutation in their genes.

What do your cats ears look like? You can read more about cat body parts in my other blogs: Kitty Noses and Kitty Jellybeans.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Black Craft March 2018 Mystery Box

I heard that Black Craft Cult was selling Mystery Boxes. I received one of their sweatshirts for Christmas and I really like the print so I thought I'd take a chance on their March Mystery Box. I knew it would have 1 duffel bag, 2 limited edition T shirts, 1 baseball style T, and 2 gift-y items. This is where wearing the same size as your husband comes in handy, if I didn't like the Ts I could give them to him, but I love everything in this box. He'll have to steal the Ts away! Here's what it contained...



Medium size, thick nice quality duffel bag. 


Two Ts.


Baseball style T.


Bat Koozie and Wolfman water bottle.

Overall I'd say this box was worth it for $60. I can't wait to wear the Ts. I think the water bottle will get the most use. Thanks Black Craft Cult!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tea Blending Class

I know this isn't related to cats or horror movies, but you know my love of tea from the Brutaliteas Blog. Well I heard about a tea blending class from my friend Andrea. It's where you learn about dried plants and what they can add to your life. At the end of class you make your own tea blend. Afterall, tea is the oldest medicine! I was in 100% and it was informative and educational, and not at all hippy-drippy like I presumed it might be. Honestly, I'm mainly writing this as a reference for myself to use in the future.

This workshop was organized by Reciprocal Roots and The School House Wellness Center which is located in an old single room school house on the outskirts of town. The building was welcoming and bright and they teach yoga, meditation, and tai chi among other things.


Andrea outside The School House Wellness Center.



Inside the center.

Kristin Grohman from Reciprocal Roots taught the class. She's a trained herbalist, mainly focusing on plants as medicine. She brought eight different dried plants to talk about and explained the properties of each, but not before asking, "What was your first plant experience?" Mine was plucking dandelions and popping their "heads" off ~ morbid, I know. It's probably why I have a hard time growing anything, the earth is punishing me. But she also spoke about how plants or their scent remind you of certain people. My grandmother will always be sunflowers or tomato plants, and the smell of hyacinths will always remind me of Easter. So there really is a connection to the energy of plants and people.


The dried plants she choose for the class all have a purpose. My interpretation is a very condensed synopsis of each one.



Ginkgo - It's the oldest tree because of it's resilience. It even survived the bombing of Hiroshima. It's used for memory, nerve damage, and tinnitus.

Rose Petals -  Signifies love for ourselves and others, it's good for your heart and very floral.

Chamomile - It's powerful and has different properties depending on how you brew it. As a cold tea it's a good digestive and as a hot tea it has a calming affect.

Oats - It's good for adrenal fatigue, and the nervous system or if you feel tired all the time.

Nettle - Natural source of energy, it protects and strengthens.

Pomegranate - Can be used as protection, especially for women and children.

Meadowsweet - It's floral and can have the same affect as aspirin.

Then Kristin paused and saved the best for last, her plant ally Tulsi aka Holy Basil. Yes, it's true you can have a plant ally! It's really about what the flower represents to you. It's like your flower best friend. Mine used to be daisies, but I'm pretty sure it's lavender now. I asked her about switching plant allies, and like friends, they can change over time. (Side note: I've gone to the NEOB Lavender Festival two years in a row and it was the highlight of my whole year! I plan to go this year too.)

Tulsi - It's a sacred plant used to center and balance and it opens your heart.

So now it was time to blend our teas...


I choose oats as my base, because as my husband Andrew would say, "Julie Ann hasn't slept in years." I have a hard time unwinding and staying asleep, so I think this was a good choice, I added a little of the rose petals because everyone including me needs to love myself and others more, and finally a little tulsi. Again I need to open my heart and find my center because I'm constantly going and going and going and forgetting to stop and smell the lavender.


Me at the Lavender Festival 2017. My personal heaven.

This class reminded me that it's about the intention you put into everything around you, including tea. Are you feeling thirsty? I know I am, that means it's tea time!



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Missing Hans & Keeping a Tidy Cat



A while back my Ginger would compulsively clean herself to the point of licking a hair-less patch on her side that turned into a sore. Licking up to 50% a day is normal for a cat, but if it gets out of control they will get bald patches. Cats will compulsively lick because it releases endorphins that feel good, but in her case it caused self mutilation. It was a stress induced behavior triggered by a third cat in the household that she wasn't particularly fond of. His name was Hans Hoffman Kitty. He was beautiful and he and Vicktor together were my Halloween Cats, both orange and black respectively. Ginger didn't want any part of being near Hans. We even did the slow introduction period. She "tolerated" Hans, and as a result would stress out about him. Long story short, we had to return Hans to the shelter for other reasons, and she stopped licking a bald patch in her fur. (Please note: I take comfort in knowing that he was adopted the next day. I try not to think about it, as it still makes me upset. Someday I'll write about it, but I can't at this point.)


My Halloween Cats, Hans & Vicktor.


Ginger "tolerating" Hans.


Hans Hoffman aka Mr. Velvet Ears. I'll always miss you.

Now I know keeping Ginger's whites bright white is a lot of work. She always seems to be cleaning, but it's not as bad as it was when we had Hans. What can you do if your cat is an OCD cleaner? First your vet will have to rule out a skin disease, i.e. fungus, bacteria, allergy, rash. Next try to reduce environmental stress. Regulate their schedule and eliminate anything that's unpredictable. You can try interactive play therapy with them, leave an unwashed sweatshirt for the nervous cat to lay on, or spray Feliway around the house. If it's really bad your vet might prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, but make sure you're not reinforcing the OCD licking.


My Ginger and her bright whites.

What if it's just the opposite and your cat doesn't clean themselves? They may have never learned it from their mother because they were taken from her too soon, or the momma cat never learned.

What if they can't clean themselves? Sometimes it's an underlying health issue when they can't clean or it might simply be old age. They might have painful joints and can't move like they used to, or they might be overweight and can't reach certain spots. Long haired breeds especially need extra help in keeping their fur smooth and tangle free.

Tips to help your kitty:

→ You can brush your cat. If it's a long haired beauty try to brush daily. Brushing is good bonding for you and your cat too.

→ If they are really dirty or flea ridden, you can bathe your cat, just be sure the temp is comfortable and you don't get water in their face or ears, you can clean those areas with a damp washcloth. There's also  cat cleaning wipes and sprays, to help you if you can't bathe your cat. (These shortcuts are especially helpful if your cat has to wear a cone for any reason.)


I included this picture because it makes me laugh.

→ Make sure ears and eyes are clean. If you have a long haired cat you can carefully try to trim the hair around their eyes to prevent infections. Also you can trim around their butt if prone to poo hangers-on.

→ You can try cleaning your cat's teeth, but I know from experience my cats won't let me anywhere near their teeth. Don't give up, you can get special teeth cleaning treats.

→ Trim their claws, or have your vet do it.

If they don't clean AND you don't clean they can suffer from numerous problems including parasites, infections and ear mites. Plus it helps prevent hairballs if you brush them every so often ~ long hair cat or not. I hope this helps you have a Tidy Cat!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Movie: The Terrifier (2017)

Let me tell you something...clowns are not my cup of tea. I don't hate them, but I never really liked them either. I always feel like they are hiding something. So naturally, going to see The Terrifier, a movie about a predatory and demonic silent clown at my favorite haunt, The Screening Room sounded like fun! Andrew (my hubs) and I met a few friends out. I warned them beforehand that I laugh at inappropriate things and to my surprise they do too! Yay! I have friends that share my same sense of gory humor!

The Terrifier was again brought to The Screening Room by the Buffalo, NY contingent of Dread Central. (You can read my review of The Lodgers movie that they brought to Buffalo here.) I'm happy that there's a venue and audience to support limited release underground horror movies in my city. I can't wait too see what movie will be next!

What I didn't know is that Art the Clown ~ potential horror icon ~  has been in other movies ~ news to me! This sinister madman, had his debut in two short films, the 9th Circle (2008) and The Terrifier (2011) and his first full length feature is All Hallow's Eve (2013) ~ a Halloween slasher anthology. (I'll have to check that out, knowing my love of Halloween movies.) There was an All Hallows Eve 2 (2015), but no Art the Clown *insert sad clown face* Who needs to see that one if there's no creepy clown?!


***SPOILERS AHEAD...SORT OF***

The movie starts out with an interview from the faceless massacre survivor. Ok, so this tells us there is a "final girl", but she's much more erratic than any final girl we've seen before. I won't tell you why.

Now we backtrack to Halloween night when two girls, Tara and Dawn, are leaving a bar drunk, so they stop for pizza. Art the Clown begins to follow them in his passively creepy and mime-like way with his garbage bag arsenal slung over his shoulder. He gets kicked out of the pizzeria, slashes the tires on the girls car, and kills the workers at the pizza joint. Tara calls her sister, Victoria, for a ride, but in the meantime Tara has to pee and goes into the building they are stuck parked in front of to find a bathroom. The building is vacant because it's being bombed for rats...except it's not vacant, there's a loony woman living in the basement that talks to a baby doll and Art makes a killing room within it's walls.

Eventually Dawn, Tara, Victoria, Exterminator 1 & 2, and baby doll lady are locked in this building and victims of Art the Clown. There is plenty of gore, most of it is shown close up and bloody. There's one kill that's pretty brutal, and I've seen it written about as "misogynistic", but I think Art does it because he's a deranged psycho. You'll know it when you see it. Maybe that's why his name is Art, his kills are done ART-fully. (Bahahaha pun intended.) The ending has a tiny plot twist. I won't tell you who the lone survivor is or what happens to Art.

Some things I didn't like, is that you can tell it was filmed in parts, so the acting fluctuates throughout. Also if you are going to hit a psycho over the head in self defense, don't just hit him once, keep hitting him, don't wait for him to get up, attack him when he's down, and if possible always chop their heads off. Phew, ok that's the final girl in me talking. Sorry I got sidetracked...now the bonuses...

A couple things I really enjoyed about The Terrifier are the two main gals are dressed for Halloween, one is a "Sexy" skeleton and she could be a double for young Neve Campbell, and one is a "Sexy" SCARECROW! You can read about my love of scarecrows here. Hell, maybe someday I'll be a Sexy Scarecrow for Halloween!


Next there's a real life kitty in the movie. He's friends with the loony lady that talks to a doll, and he doesn't die! Yay! A cat in a movie that doesn't die. (It's becoming a rare occurrence. I wrote about it in my The Shape of Water review.) In the end credits you'll find out his name is Scorsese. Adorbs!
 
The music paired nicely with the scenes, built on the suspense, and added to the atmosphere, especially when the main character is a silent clown! You can buy the soundtrack that was scored by Marilyn Manson guitarist Paul Wiley here.


Art's pantomime reminds me of The Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. His exaggerated blackened smile is the same too. My love for Buffy is strong, so it was the first thing I noticed.


Art the Clown & a scalpel.


The Gentlemen & a scalpel.

Art the Clown is NO Pennywise or Twisty, if anything he gives off some Silence of the Lambs and Jigsaw vibes.  I actually laughed more at this movie than any comedy I've seen and really that's what clowns are supposed to do, make you laugh! In my mind he makes me LIKE CLOWNS EVEN MORE. There I said it. You betcha there will likely be a sequel. I give it four and a half out of five clown horn honks (say that fast).


Here's the trailer...







Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Black Panther Facts

I went to see Black Panther last week. Yes I'm into superheros along with horror. Why choose just one genre? Don't get me started on the DC vs Marvel debate though, I like ALL superheros. That's what happens when you grow up in the 1970s watching Wonder Woman on TV.

While I left the movie with more questions than answers, the styling and costumes were beautiful. Erik Killmonger (the rival panther) had a textured costume that was black but had the spots to resemble a leopard. I knew black panthers had spots, they are just black on black and hard to see. (Kind of like how all cats are tabbys.)


Erik Killmonger Black Panther costume. You can see that cat fur pattern, even though it's textured.



A real black panther with beautiful detailed spots.

The movie got me thinking about our large wild cats and specifically...panthers. Anyone that knows me, knows I don't know my animals ~ I grew up in the city. I know cats, dogs, and fish and that's about it. I camped maybe once and it was a horrible experience. I'm not what you would call "outdoor-sy". The closest thing I get to loving the outdoors is sitting on a patio sipping a mai-tai.

So I decided to put together some panther facts, afterall they are the cousins of our domestic cats right? Goodness knows, I didn't know half this stuff, so maybe you may learn something along with me...


~ The word "panther" refers to three kinds of cat: Cougar, Jaguar, and Leopard.

~ Melanism is the dark color pigmentation that causes the fur to be black. Albinism is the opposite and can be found in snow leopards.

~ They are less fertile than other large cats and more aggressive.

~ They are great swimmers and strong tree climbers. They often hunt from trees.

~ They can leap 20 feet.

~ They have excellent hearing and eyesight.

~ Their color, naturally camouflages them at night, so they can hunt.

~ They can adapt to different climates, that's why they have survived even though their habitats are getting destroyed.


Does your black cat think he's a black panther? 

Monday, March 5, 2018

MacNeil Creeper Crate

It's no surprise I like The Exorcist. I dressed up as Regan MacNeil for Halloween in 2013. After seeing the pictures of me as Regan a friend of mine said, "You look like you smell." what a compliment! When I heard Creeper Crate was doing a MacNeil box, I think ~ if I remember correctly ~ I squealed. I had to have it.....yesterday. I unboxed it the day it came in the mail and I can't wait to share it's innards with you!


Included in the box...


is a cameo from Vicktor (you can hear his cat collar bell throughout), a surprise about our next Creeper Crate unboxing, and if you watch the whole thing there's outtakes at the end. (Also Jamie if you're reading this, include a themed box cutter, so I can get my box open faster. lol.)


1. "Exorcism in Progress" Doorknob Sign by Creeper Crate. This is going to live on my hubby's bathroom door, since it doesn't have a lock. lol.


2. The "Power of Pear Compels You" Bubble Bath Slime from Dearg Due Bath & Body. I've never had bubble bath slime before, let alone Dragonfruit and Pear scented. It smells so fresh!


3. "Exorcist" Loose Eyeshadow by Black Beauty Cosmetics. I'm still learning with loose shadow, but this COLOR! Puke green is my fav next to bright orange. It matches my sweater too.


4. Unholy Body Spray by Dearg Due. Yummy. Smells like Sweet Pea.


5. Captain Howdy Plachette Enamel Pin from Demonic Pinfestation. How fun is this?!


6. Pazuzu Ouija Board by Creeper Crate. This is rests in my Halloween room. Subtle but creepy nonetheless.


This box has been Vicktor Frankenstein approved.


I'm honored to announce that even though I didn't order the next Tim Curry themed Creeper Crate, my friend Jodee Bowie WON IT! We'll be doing a video with her for the next Creeper Crate unboxing, so stay tuned! I have to go now and order the Puzzlebox (Hellraiser) Creeper Crate. Until next time!

A look at some past Creeper Crate unboxing with Fluffy:

Overlook Creeper Crate

Trick r' Treat Creeper Crate

Coven Creeper Crate

Slasher Creeper Crate

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Eau de Cat (Cat Musk)

I got cat-chatting with a friend of mine about her handsome kitty. She said her cat gives off a "musky" smell. My Vicktor Frankenstein smells so good I wish I could bottle up his scent and wear it like a purrfume. (I'm not joking.) Ginger on the other hand usually smells like book dust or farts or like she has poop stuck to her butt. It's very rare she has a poop hanger-on though. So what's the deal with our smelly cats?


Domestic cats don't give off a scent as much as bigger wild cats, but as their caregiver we do notice their particular odor over time. They produce pheromones, just like people, and when you pick out a cat you can be attracted to them by their scent! Biologically you are attracted to people that smell the opposite of you ~ for better breeding. As a result, your offspring will have both traits to ward off disease and infection. We can pick cats that complement us too!

So it makes scents (pun intended) that you connect a warm fuzzy feeling to your cat's smell. Their fragrance can be very pleasant to us since scent is connected to our emotions which then triggers a nurturing instinct.


Domestic cats have 9 main glands and some of them produce different smells. A light fruity smell from your cat comes from the sebaceous or inter digital glands ~ this same compound can be found in black currants! A nutty scent or spice scent comes from pinna gland on the cats head behind their ears. Earthy or grass smells come from the pheromones mandibular gland beneath their chin. When you pet your cat in these areas, you stimulate production of these oils. Cat scent can depend on what they eat, how often they groom, sometimes even their breed. This is also a way for them to mark you too. They are tricky that way.


Just like you enjoy their aroma, they have strong kitty noses and reciprocate the sentiment. I'll tell you a trick, that if you have a nervous cat, leave a pair of your PJs or a soft sweater for your cat to lay on when you are not home or go out of town, or even in their cat carrier when you take them to the vet. They can find comfort in whiffing and laying on it because it smells like their human. It's not unusual to like the way your cat smells and them to like you too.


Want to smell like a kitten? You can! There's a Kitten Fur Fragrance.

Want to feel like you're kissing a kitten's nose every time you put on lip gloss? You can! (If you live in Japan) Kitten Lip Gloss

But I have to go now, and huff my Vicktor's fluff.