Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pet Issue!

I had the pleasure of being featured in Rocket Magazine's Pet Issue. With the encouragement of some friends ~ on a whim ~ I submitted some old photos we shot for Cats Like Us with my two cats, and they chose to print them!!! It was unexpected, and I'm flattered. These pictures make me miss my short orange hair.



Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Movie: The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

I kept hearing about this Disney movie that was creepy and made a huge impression on some of my friends when they were kids ~ it's The Watcher in the Woods (1980) based on Florence Engel Randalls 1976 book of the same name. I had never watched it and decided to check it out one rainy afternoon. It was better than I expected.


***Warning Spoilers Ahead***

The story follows an American family that moves to the British country side in a big old manor house with a guest house on the grounds. The original owner, Mrs. Aylwood, is played by Bette Davis and she continues to live in the guest house observing the family with her penetrating eyes/ resting bitch face/ I-made-a-poop-in-my-pants-face. (She burrows into your soul with those eyes.) As one of her later roles, she's perfect because you can't tell if she's a good or bad character.



The Curtis family has two daughters and the oldest, Jan, bears a resemblance to the daughter of Mrs. Aylwood ~ Karen, that vanished mysteriously many years ago. Jan immediately senses supernatural activity in the woods surrounding the house. The youngest daughter Ellie hears things and starts going into trance-like states. She gets possessed by a spirit, but it's not really clear if the spirit is Karen. Both see and hear premonitions that save them from harmful situations.


With the encouragement from these weird events and her friend Mike, Jan begins digging into the mystery surrounding Karen's disappearance. Her visions of overlapping circles, light up triangles, and a blindfolded girl in mirrors lead her to the people that were there with Karen the night she disappeared ~ her friend Mike's mom, a local aristocrat, and a recluse that lives in the woods. Slowly it's revealed that the night Karen disappeared they were playing a initiation game in an abandoned church during a lunar eclipse and thunderstorm. The thunder hit the bell tower of the church knocking the bell down to where Karen was standing. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up getting trapped in another dimension for all these years. There's occult overtones, but toned for a Disney audience.





Side note: All the light up triangles are very contemporary in movies. Check out my reviews of Neon Demon and The Void to see what I mean.

Another aside...Mike played by Benedict Taylor totally looks like Evan Peters from American Horror Story.



The recluse that was there the night Karen vanished has a black cat. The cat attacked Jan until it realizes that she's not a bad person and it purrs. Super cute kitty. Moody like my Vicktor.



During a sun eclipse they reenact the ceremony with support from Jan. Ellie seemingly possessed, explains what happened that night ~ Karen disappeared and this alien(?) spirit was stuck on earth living in the woods. In a nutshell, they switched places. Then the spirit leaves Ellie and goes back to where ever it came from in a beam of light and Karen reappears. There's no details as to where she was or how it happened. The ending seems a little rushed. After looking it up, there were several alternative endings. I watched the two that were on the DVD. Both involve an alien being the watcher that takes Jan to their planet and Jan comes back with Karen. This was said to be too "dark" for Disney because of the big scary creature and the allusion to the occult. In any event, the ending they decided to go with seems out of place. Most of the movie is explained and clear, but this ending is vague. Who is the Watcher? It is never revealed. Otherworldly alien perhaps? We don't know. They should have went with either of the alternative endings. Both had a good reveal sequence for the time and explain who the watcher is.


Trailer...


The remake aired Oct 2017, and I'm told it's much darker. Do I need to see it? Meh. I think the 1980 version would have been scary to see for it's time. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give this movie 3.5 light up triangle visions. It's still pretty dark for Disney and I was impressed.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Vertex Late Riser's Garage Sale ~ Spring 2018 Edition


This past weekend I was in Syracuse for a fun Cats Like Us sponsored event, The Weekender, and driving home we decided to stop in Rochester, NY for the Vertex Garage Sale. I've blogged about it before, so I'll keep this brief. If you get a chance to go, do it! It has everything us creepy people like in one place, plus the venue is Vertex (a goth club with several floors), the bar is open, they serve BBQ, and there's a curated goth club music set to put you in the mood. I never leave empty handed and this time picked up some Rocky Horror Picture Show Bday gifts for my friend Jodee and a necklace for myself. (If you don't remember, Jodee and I did the Tim Curry unboxing together.) I'm told there will be one in the beginning of October, I'll keep you posted when I hear more!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cat Tales

This past winter we friended a stray cat that was hanging out on our back deck. It's a little brown tabby that seems very friendly. We felt bad since it was so cold outside and we started to feed her. She has come by every morning for several months, she even hangs out with us when we're working outside. She's friendly and talkative, so I named her "Mia Meow". I don't know who she belongs to or what her story is, but we do know she had kittens. We couldn't find them. We also know that there's something wrong with her tail. I think the end is broken since it just kind of flops around, she can't hold it upright. Something like that is bound to happen, if not worse for outdoor cats. (I wrote about the dangers of caring for an outdoor cat.) Her tail got me thinking about cat tails.


Mia Meow standing guard over our back deck.

(Yes, we use litter pails for our vegetable garden. 
They aren't pretty but they work and you can move them if you need to.)



Mia Meow.

So what exactly do cat tails do? For starters, cat tails have up to 23 vertebre surrounded by muscles and nerves. It's how they can make it move in so many different positions.

 It helps with balance. When you see a cat walking across a narrow beam, their tail acts a a counterweight. That's also a factor in how they land on their feet.

The tail ~ especially in house cats ~ helps them communicate. Depending on the shape or how they move it, they are communicating with you. 

~A straight up tail means they are happy, when it's shaped like a question mark it means they are extra happy. 

~When they get a "puff" tail it means the total opposite of happy. They are threatened and angry and trying to make themselves look as big as possible.

~When you pet a cat and it starts swishing it's tail it means, I don't want you to pet me anymore. You can expect them to swat at you if you keep petting them.

~ When they whip their tail back and forth is might be accompanied with a growl. It means they are agitated and hunting their prey, so stay out of the way.

Tail injuries can affect the hind legs, bladder, intestines and cause chronic pain. It can give them the inability to walk, hold their tail upright, and incontinence. NEVER YANK ON A CAT'S TAIL, you can cause permanent damage.

Manx cats are born without tails, so it's possible for them to live without one!

I'm going to end this blog with a short tale about a short tail. About 5 years ago ~ to the day ~ I was sitting reading in bed on a Saturday afternoon after work and my cat Vicktor jumped on the bed. He made a sound I had never heard come from him before and blood started spurting from the tip of his tail ~ it was like a sprinkler. I jumped up out of bed and threw him in the bathroom and closed the door, ran outside and grabbed Andrew, my husband, who was mowing the lawn, grabbed Vicktor's cat carrier with spraying Vicktor in it and off the the emergency vet we went. It was scary. You could see bone at the end of his tail and it was bleeding all over.

The vet asked us if we had a rocker, if it got caught in a door hinge, and all the questions accusing us of animal abuse. We got defensive and scared that they were not going to give Vicktor back to us. They ended up having to remove 2 inches from the tip of his tail and to this day we have no idea how it happened, but it was the scariest cat emergency visit we ever had. It makes me very upset just thinking about it.


Vicktor has always been a little chubby and a little off balance, but he ended up adjusting to having a shorter tail. He definitely used up one of his nine lives that day. I'm so happy that he was able to recover without a hitch.


He head butts me even when I don't have makeup on. I'm glad he's still with us. Moral of the story ~ tails are important for cats. You might not be able to completely cat proof your house, but if you know something is wrong be a good pet owner and take them to the vet.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Witches of New York

I'm on a witch reading kick lately and a friend recommended The Witches of New York by Ami McKay. Compared to my last witch read, The Hollow Girl, this one was much more light ~ not as horror focused ~ and ends on a very positive high note.


The book has a nice combination of things I'm interested in: the turn of the century, feminism, tea, witchcraft, fantasy, and running a small business. The story focuses on three women that run a tea / herbal remedy shop in New York City at the turn of the century. One of them is very young and just starting out on her own in the big city. You really get a sense of all the things they encounter along the way including resistance from the local church group, support from other like minded women, business owners, and men, and the challenges of being a reserved woman during that time period. It's intermingled with magic, turn of the century spiritualism, romance, and drama.

My only complaint was that one of the characters didn't get his due. It's not nearly close to being a revenge book, like The Hollow Girl is, but the ending is satisfying nonetheless.

It also helps that the author, Ami McKay, is related to Mary Parker, one of the "witches" that was hung at Gallow's Hill in Salem during the witch craze.

Do you have any witch book recommendations?


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Skitt(en)ish Car Ride Cat

In my articles I often say that you should take your cat to the vet at least once a year, or if you think they are sick or acting out of character. But what if your cat is SKITTISH and FREAKS when you try to put them in the car? Here are some tips on riding in the car with cats.

Put your cat in a carrier while in the car for the safety of them, you, and other people. If they aren't secured in a carrier they could get jolted, tossed, hide under the brake pedal, or jump out of the window. Plus it's a huge distraction while driving! Duh.


Your cat should have an ID collar or microchip before you take them outside. If they are normally indoor cats they could get scared and make a break for it.

Make sure you have the right cat carrier. They have lots of varieties that are hard or soft, the kind you decide on just depends on the type of cat you have. It should be large enough for them to lay down, turn around, and stand in. It should be well ventilated too. If you are going on a long car ride make sure it's big enough for food and water and possibly a litter box. Disposable litter trays are perfect for long car rides because you can just toss them.

You want to make sure the door to the carrier has a good latch. If the top snaps on you want to make sure it can't get loose under any circumstance. My vet told us the story of a cat owner that was in the parking lot of the clinic, he put the cat carrier down while he went to close the car door and the cat got out an ran into the street, so make sure the hard top lids are attached with twist ties or zip ties as an extra precaution.


We have this carrier for Vicktor since he's a bigger cat. We've added extra zip ties for safety.

The carrier itself should be as pleasant as possible. If I know my cats have a vet visit, I take their carriers out about a week beforehand and make sure they are clean. You can leave the door open for the cats to explore them. I line the bottom with an old sweater, PJ bottoms or their favorite blanket to make it smell familiar. You can throw in a favorite toy or add some Feliway spray to calm their nerves too.

Once they are in the carrier, place them in the car and sit with them in the driveway for a few minutes, then go back inside and reward them with a treat so they can associate it with a positive experience. Make sure to seat belt the carrier into the car too. If possible try to place them where they can see you.  Don't forget to talk to them. Remind them you are there. Slowly extend the time in the drive way, eventually working your way to driving around the block. Always reward them with a treat afterwards. Eventually you can make the trips longer.


If that doesn't work you can talk to your vet about getting a sedative or see if they make house calls. You wouldn't want to be woken up from a nap only to be forced into a box and taken to a strange place where they poke and prod you, why would your cat? Hopefully these tips will help.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mr. Price & Our Date

If you know me personally, you know I haven't slept in years. Sleep is not my friend and I have a hard time getting zzzzzs. The other night I was up at 2:30 am and I got to thinking about my first horror crush...Vincent Price. I already wrote about my first girl crush Elvira. I guess this means I've always had creepy tendencies. I'm a creeper.


I was introduced to Vincent Price through my gram. I lived with her growing up and weekends were our time to watch movies. Fridays and Saturdays were filled with horror, and Sundays were for musicals. She loved musicals especially the ones based around wartime. I can't tell you how many times I saw Follow the Fleet or Stage Door Canteen and she sang along to all of the songs. As a result I watched lots and I mean lots of AMC when it was still old movies from the 1930s - 60s, not the aberration it is today. (Sorry Walking Dead fans, I'm over zombies.) While gram reminisced with her musicals I was only just beginning to explore the atmospheric horror created by the Edgar Allan Poe stories Roger Corman produced starring Vincent Price... House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven etc...I loved them all.


I'm a serial killer.

But what else was I watching? My Friday nights were for Friday the Thirteenth: The Series and USA Up All Night, which I watched on Saturday nights too or sometimes MonsterVision or USA Saturday Nightmares. I guess my not being able to sleep started at a young age. I remember days my mom would ask me what time did you go to bed last night, and I would mumble, "I don't know, 4:30?" I was impressionable and loved every minute of the old horror, camp, and sci-fi movies. I really grew up on them, found comfort in them, and they always made me feel that being an outcast is ok (I'm not going to say "was" because I'm still an outcast). My friends would make fun of me because I would rather spend Halloween watching House of Wax with Vincent Price than terrorize our neighborhood.


I lived for Friday the Thirteenth: The Series.

I have many fond memories of Vincent Price from when I was a kid. I'd be remiss if I left out his well loved appearance on The Muppet Show. Two things I absolutely love, and this really shows that Mr. Price doesn't take himself too seriously. Handsome AND a sense of humor is a WINNING combination. (If you were wondering, Kermit is my favorite muppet, he's a leader that keeps the motley crue of random fuzzies organized and on task.)



This is a Kermit/ Paleman Pin I bought myself for my Bday last year.

Then I heard my friends were scared of a voice in Michael Jackson's song Thriller ~ I didn't know what they were talking about. What voice in Thriller could have scared my young friends so much? Finally I made the connection, it was Vincent Price!


I remember seeing Vincent Price on TV and ~ it wasn't an old movie station ~ it was on one of the USA horror shows! The movie was Bloodbath at the House of Death from 1984. It's a terrible movie and a spoof of his better works from the 50s and 60s. At this point he was older but there was still an air of mystery about him. Honestly he's probably the best actor in the whole movie, aside from the ghost. I was about 9 or 10 when I saw it. I thought to myself why is he in this movie? He's SO above it.



When people ask if you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, I always will hope for a date with the late great Vincent Price. (He died Oct 25, 1993 from lung cancer). He's handsome, elegant, interesting ~ he brought class to horror. He has always intrigued me.

We would have so much to talk about and I know the dinner would be delicious because he wrote several cookbooks with his second wife, so his standards would be high. I have a copy of one of the original ones. Most of them have been reissued with a retrospective by his daughter Victoria. He even co-hosted a cooking show called The Taste of China in the late 80s and was a guest on Wolfgang Puck's TV show. We could talk about food, because I like to eat.


The Price cookbook in my collection.



Charming illustrations from the cookbook.

That brings me to his interest in art. Vincent studied Art History at Yale, and I have a Masters Degree in Modern Art History. It's like were were meant to be on a date! He was an avid art collector and donated 90 pieces of art to the East Los Angeles College which was the first art collection used for teaching owned by a community college in the US! Eventually they amassed 2000 pieces and more from the Price Family and named it the Vincent Price Art Museum. He also worked with Sears (yes, that Sears) from 1962 to 1971 selecting famous artworks to be made into prints and sold though their distribution. He felt that art should be seen by everyone to enjoy. I agree Mr. Price. You can see more about that collaboration here: Vincent Price and the Sears Art Collection.

Then over dessert, we could talk about all the cats that have starred with him. They always look so at ease ~ I trust the judgment of cats more than people, because cats are very judge-y.




Joyce Jameson, Peter Lorre, and Vincent Price audition cats for Tales of Terror (1962). You can tell by this picture that Vincent Price loves cats.



or that time he was in an ad for Smirnoff Vodka with a black cat...


Vincent Price has always been a levitating ghost floating in and out of my life. He truly shapes my world ~ even today. Dear readers I hope this has given you some insight to him and that you love him as much as I do. I'm determined to meet him someday. I will end with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe, The Premature Burial :

"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. 
Who shall say where ones ends, and the other begins?" 






Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Drooling Cats

One thing I never thought cats did so much is drool ~ Ginger drools a lot, while Vicktor drools when he's happy. What causes it and what can you do about it?


Ginger's giant saliva bomb.

First of all, if you notice your cat drooling out of the blue, take them to the vet. When we took Ginger to the vet for her drooling problem, we found out that she had some tooth decay and needed teeth removed. You can check to see if your kitty has tooth decay by looking at the color of their teeth. Are they gray or brown? Can you see yellow tartar? Are the gums red? Are they bleeding or swollen? If so, they have tooth decay, goodness knows you can't rely on bad breath as an identifier. They may even have mouth ulcers or tumors. You can get their teeth professionally cleaned and try to brush them regularly yourself. Wet food is more likely to cause problems because it sticks to their teeth. You can always switch between wet food and dry food (if they let you), or Greenies for cleaning.

Even more important, make sure they didn't swallow something they shouldn't have, or ate string, floss, hair ties, long grass, or thread that could have wrapped around their tongue! In this case the foreign object could be stuck, they might not be able to swallow or have throat inflammation.

Poisonous Plants can be a huge problem. If they ingest a plant that's dangerous seek medical attention asap.

Heatstroke can cause your cat to drool. It's especially worse for flat faced cats like Persians. Make sure there's enough water at all times, especially when it's hot outside. How much is enough? You can read about it in Kitty Hydration Station.

Cat drool only going to the vet? Motion Sickness while riding in a car can cause your cat to get upset, and make it start panting. Slowly get the cat used to riding in a car by putting them in a carrier in the car and not driving anywhere. The anxiety should decrease once they get more comfortable and less fearful.

Liver and kidney disease can cause your cats to drool along with Upper Respiratory Infections or Oral Cancer, but with regular vet check ups they should be able to diagnose any of these problems.

Finally, on a happy note, some cats drool when they are extremely relaxed and being cuddled. This is an indication of a happy cat. The positive bonding and stimulation may even cause them to purr. Vicktor only recently started purring when I pet him. I think he finally likes me after ten years. I like to call this "Cool Drool", even though it still smells like rotting Doritos.



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Hollow Girl

I like reading Young Adult books because they are usually short. I don't have a lot of time to commit to reading, but I want to continue to read new things. Lately I've taken up an interest in reading about witches. I picked up The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan from the library. It came out last year. It's the first book in a long time that I stayed up to read because I wanted to find out what happens to the characters.


Without giving much away, it's a satisfying revenge tale about a girl named Bethan that is an apprentice to a healer in a clan of Welsh Romanies. She leads a very modest lifestyle until one day she and her friend from town are assaulted by a group of boys from her clan. Only then does she learn how powerful her blood magic skills are. Parts of the book can be uncomfortable to read, but the author does include an introduction with a warning. Although it's set in a different time, her thoughts and fears are significant to things happening in the world today. In the end it's about relationships, priorities, and what you are willing to do for others. I highly recommend it and I think it would make an amazing horror movie.

Bonus: There's a seven foot tall scarecrow that plays an important role in the book. And if you've been following my blog, you know how much I love scarecrows.