Adventure cat has left the building.

So, 16 years ago, some friends of ours found a mother cat and her kittens hiding under their front porch. They offered us first dibs, and we took home two sisters. Names? The first thing that popped into my head was George and Gracie, named after the famed Burns and Allen comedy troupe of long ago. So George and Gracie they became. Gracie was the more shy of the two, ready to run at loud noises. But George wanted to get into everything. A couple times during their kittenhood, we were sure George had gotten outside, only to find her stuck in some impossible to get to corner behind the washing machine. So George became Adventure Cat, along with a few other nicknames (Doodle Dumbkins. Georgus Pussycattus, and baloney belly were a few.) She settled down (somewhat) as she grew older, but was always a spirited cat. A couple of months ago, she suddenly decided to revisit some of the habits of her youth, such as sharpening her claws on my right sneaker (it was always the right sneaker.)Looking back on that now, I wonder if that was my cat’s attempt to get back to “normal” even though she wasn’t feeling up to snuff.

George soon started to decline. She lost a lot of weight and stopped grooming herself. Eating and sleeping were her only activities. And she started having fits, lying on her side with her paws waving wildly (our vet said it was called “paddling.”) She had had a small fit a couple weeks back, after which she could not walk for a few minutes. This was on a weekend, so Barbara and I decided to wait and see if it happened again, which it did two weeks later. And this fit was far more violent than the first.

So to the vets we go, and find that George has lost an additional pound in the six weeks since we took her in for her physical. The vet ran some tests, looked at George’s history, and said the fits were most likely a symptom of cancer. So now our poor cat, who doesn’t much seem to be enjoying life anymore, is going to have ever-more-frequent fits. We talked to the vet at length and decided it was time to put her to sleep.

I cried. Barbara cried. We held little George (and she had become smaller in her illness), wrapped in a towel. The vets had given her a sedative, and she looked as peaceful as we had seen her in months. The vet gave her the final injection, and she was gone.

It is amazing how attached one gets to ones’ animals. George had a pretty comfortable life, until the end. And I’ve got one final story to tell.

George was a self-centered cat, with this odd streak of oblivious behavior. We live in an older wood-frame house, and we get mice from time to time. Gracie is the mouser in the house. The poor rodents never stand a chance. Gracie had gotten the mouse out from behind the piano, and the rodent fled in terror, directly across George’s front paws. George did not even look down at the mouse crossing her path. She was interested in more important things, like dinner.

So goodbye to Georgus Pussycatus. Having her as a part of our lives really was an adventure.

Ouch!

Just about a week ago. I got out of the passenger side of my car, standing much too quickly.  I passed out, collapsing in the middle of an intersection on Massachusetts Avenue (the major artery that cuts through Boston and burbs north and south.) Not that I remember any of this. I woke up in an ambulance just before arriving at the hospital, where I spent the next two days taking numerous tests to check my physical stamina (primarily my heart.)  My injuries were not major.  I got a gash on the back of my head and I bruised my rib cage.  Falling when I was unconscious limited the damage, methinks. I now need to get fitted with a portable heart monitor, which I get to wear for three weeks, and I’m forbidden to either drive or climb ladders (!) until we figure out what is going on.

Through the wonders of cellphones, my wife took a picture of my head gash, which I now get to share with all of you.

Anyway, if I take a bit longer to get back to folks, this may be why. I’ll post more as I figure things out.20180427_161639

Podcast news!

Thanks to David Barr Kirtley and the fine folks at the WIRED magazine website, I have just talked for over an hour about all things “me.”  Well, really, mostly writing things.  They’ve now posted the podcast “Geeks Guide to the Galaxy Episode 303”  which can be found behind a paywall on the Wired website, OR absolutely free on Youtube!  So go on over there – I’ll attempt to post a link, but you can also find it by heading over to Youtube and typing in “Craig Shaw Gardner interview.”  So come on over to find out things about Ebenezum, the Cineverse, Batman and all my other books.  And other stuff, like my secret pact with Terry Pratchett!

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Boskone!

perf6.140x9.210.inddI’ll be there Saturday and Sunday.  My Saturday schedule begins with a panel at 1 pm.The Fantasy Survival Guide about the do’s and don’ts of epic quests and dangerous beasties.  That’s followed by an autograph session at 2 and a KaffeeKlatsch at 6 (come ask me embarrassing questions!)

Sunday, I’m on a Horror and Humor panel (I write both. )  This panel gets extra points since it features not only me but one of my good pals, James A. Moore.  Come to one thing, come to everything.  I promise to be as entertaining as possible.

And speaking of humor and horror, I will now once again roll out a cover from my latest series Temporary Magic.  Vampires, ghosts, Yeti, mysterious swamis, a werevole and a pooka named Bob the horse, all mingling in all three books.  I’ll have the first two books at the con if anyone is interested.

So, I’m actually showing up at Arisia!

That’s Arisia in downtown Boston, currently running through this coming Monday.

I’ll be on two panels.  One about Image comics on Saturday at 10 am.  The second is all about writing series fiction, and takes place at 3 pm on Sunday.  If you’re coming to the convention, stop on by.

I’m also pretty sure my new books will be for sale in the dealer’s room.  So that’s twice as many reasons to come to the convention!perf6.140x9.210.indd

 

Through a Lenzi, darkly

I have an abiding love for Italian exploitation cinema.  From the moment when I was about 12 and turned on the TV to see Steve Reeves destroying  a temple in HERCULES, I was hooked.  I watched heaven knows how many “Sons of Hercules” movies as a teen  (Sample dialogue exchange:  “I am Machiste!”  “Say, doesn’t that mean ‘Born out of rock?'”) The late sixties found me discovering Spaghetti Westerns. The late seventies (and the wonders of Necon) saw me embracing the horror films of Argento and Fulci. The DVD revolution of the eighties and nineties got me watching giallos, murder mysteries usually involving a black-gloved killer.

All these genres overlapped in popularity, muscle man films giving way to westerns, which then faded as the mystery/horror films took hold.  The next genre to gain popularity was the “police action thriller,” the Italian answer to DIRTY HARRY and DEATH WISH. I’ve seen far fewer of these films (maybe 10 or 11) than the earlier genres, but I’m always up for something new.

This led to a night when I was home alone, browsing Amazon Prime, and discovered THE CYNIC, THE RAT, AND THE FIST.

Now this is a movie.  Not necessarily a good movie,  but a film that is wildly entertaining.  It starts Mauricio Merli, who was in a bunch of these things, and who also manages to out-cool Clint Eastwood (no easy feat.) Merli plays a former police captain turned thriller writer, but he still has a way with his guns and his fists..  And the actual police let him get away with just about anything.

The bad guys are Thomas Milian, playing one of those handsome psycho killer parts he was so good at, and John Saxon, who basically plays John Saxon, but an evil John Saxon!

The plot is incoherent, even though it had Ernesto Gastaldi, one of the best of the Italian giallo screenwriters, as co-author of the script. The movie jumps from one action set-piece to the next, with plenty of macho posturing alongside the shooting of guns and flashing of fists. And it has a really cool jazz score, which helps the film a lot. The film is directed by Umberto Lenzi, a fellow who made just about every genre imaginable (including spy thrillers.  How could I forget about spy thrillers?) and directs this movie at about 90 miles an hour. Parts of this film made no sense at all, but I wasn’t bored for an instant.

I discovered immediately after watching this film that I had another unwatched Umberto Lenzi movie in my collection, a giallo/mystery called SPASMO. A movie called SPASMO? How could I watch anything else?

This film shares the not-quite-coherent qualities of CYNIC, but in SPASMO, they fit perfectly with the plot.: Two adult brothers, one very successful, the other “troubled,” have something not-quite right in their past. And as should be a surprise to no one who watches these things, people start dying in various violent and colorful ways. Except, as people die, the film reveals that most of them were hiding their true identities! And did I mention that the movie is told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator?

Because of (or perhaps despite) all this, the movie comes together at the end and actually makes sense, after a fashion.  Which is all I could possibly ask from an Umberto Lenzi film.

I was going to add a poster from one of these fine films, but my google link is acting peculiar, so instead, here’s another look at the wonderful cover to my latest, which is almost ready for purchase.  Any day now, I swear.21056100_10150878937509995_61386956196135995_o

A little late to the party

My computer was screwed up for the better part of a week, and I had a couple of other commitments besides (the Merrimack Valley Halloween Signing being one of them) but I am back at last!  And I’m doing another special event.  I’m appearing at the Maynard Public Library  with Paul Tremblay, Christopher Golden, Hillary Monahan and K.L. Pereira.  That’s a lively group of writers, and I suspect this will be a lot of fun.  It’s all happening on Tuesday, November 7 at 7pm.  Hope to see some of you there!perf6.140x9.210.indd