If you missed the AcroCats, YOU MISSED OUT!!!

AcroCats and Rock Cats!I just don’t know how to describe the amazing talents of the AcroCats.  It…it was as if a big jar of awesome spilled all over a sparkly purple stage filled with incredible cats.  It was…it was perfectly imperfect, because after all, we were watching cats performing, and they are CATS.  It was incredibly surprising because…because the show did not devolve into a chaotic pandemonium of cats fleeing into the audience and causing a massive storm of attacks on ankles and allergic outbreaks…no no no!  These cats, THESE cats, were simply mindblowing.

And not just cats, but a chicken (named Cluck Norris), groundhog and three rats all BROUGHT IT!  All the animals were clicker-trained using positive reinforcement, which led me to two conclusions: 1) HOLY SHIT YOU CAN TRAIN CATS, and 2) WHY DO MY CATS SUCK SO MUCH???  Seriously.  They don’t do anything except know when to come running when I open up a can of anything.  The AcroCats performed all sorts of tricks, leaping through hoops, jumping obstacles, BOWLING, running around in a non-random order, and jeeze – they even ran INTO their individual crates when a whistle sounded.  My cats, on the other hand, sleep, eat, dirty their litter boxes at an alarming rate, and require a front-end loader to get them into their travel crates.  The AcroCats and Rock Cats:  play actual musical instruments, recognize visual commands, and don’t necessarily seek to cause panic and alarm (except for Tuna, who possibly has plans for world domination, but I’m not sure).  My cats:  play with the horizontal blinds in our bedroom at 2 in the morning, decide that demons are chasing them in the wee hours of the night, and are plotting a biological attack on the world starting with me by weakening my immune system to the point of giving me crippling allergies to these sneaky, plotting kitties.  I’M ON TO YOU, THOUGH!!!  I will not succumb to your evil plotting!

Anyway…how about some pictures of the show?  It was magical, and I hope that you get the opportunity to see them some day.  Go to www.CircusCats.com to learn more, and see if the AcroCats and Rock Cats are coming to a theater near you!!!  Grab yo’ cat ears and yo’ cat leggings and yo’ cat shirts and see these amazing kitties…it’s totally worth it!!!

This just happened.  Gritty Cat meets the Rock Cats!

This just happened. Gritty Cat meets the Rock Cats!

Related Posts:  At Least I’m Not Allergic to Lucky Charms, Bu bu bum! Bu bu bum! Bu bu bu bum…CAT SHOW!!!, Cats cats cats cats cats!

Writing 101: Keyboard Diarrhea turns into Discourse about Social Media Needs of Pirates

Today is June 2, 2014.  This is the first day of WordPress Blogging University’s Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit.  The course has daily assignments every weekday in the month of June, and I have decided to take part in this course / challenge / masochistic experiment, since I haven’t had a whole lot going on since the A to Z Blogging Challenge concluded at the end of April.  Today’s assignment for Day 1:  free-write a stream of consciousness for 20 minutes.  And of course, every assignment also comes with a twist: today’s is to actually publish the results of the 20 minutes of free-writing (lucky you!!!).

So, here is today’s keyboard diarrhea.  I generally feel like blogging can be a very narcissistic activity (as I’ve said before), and I worry about turning readers off with an “all about me” attitude.  But, I guess you’re here for a reason (or not here, in which case you’re not reading this so I don’t even need to worry about it), and I’m going to assume that you’re being entertained on some level.  But is it my purpose in writing here to entertain you?  Well, I guess it is!  At least partially, I think.  Crap. 14:18 to go.

I’m writing during my lunch break today, which is something I try not to do, because I can get wrapped up in the details and minutia of writing a perfect post that is perfectly formatted with perfectly appropriate pictures.  But today, since I’m limited to 20 minutes (now 13:12), I feel like I really can take advantage of my lunch break.

This is what I look like today.

This is what I look like today.

And speaking of work, this morning someone that I encountered laughed as we were passing and asked me if I am a pirate today.  Well, of course I am!  My answer:  yep, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.  But I was thinking about it – was the question based solely on the fact that I’m wearing a bandana on my head today?  It’s not like I’m wearing an eye patch (although that would really help to solidify the pirate look).  I am, however, constantly muttering “argh” under my breath and attempting to pillage the office supply room.  So maybe the question was based more on the general vibe I’m giving off?  I don’t know.  At one point, I took a quiz that revealed my pirate name as “Iron Mary Flint”, which I rather enjoyed and altered to “Iron Marci Flint”.  And, I do respect “Talk Like a Pirate Day“, although I really suck at talking like a pirate, aside from the aforementioned much-practiced “argh” phrase.  And, living in the Portland area suits me, I suppose, because they are very pro-pirate here, even having a Pirate Festival once a year on the muddy banks of the Willamette River (although I just saw that it’s not happening this year…whaaaa???).  I don’t have a parrot, but my mom has a severe macaw…does that count?  Shit, I really don’t think I’d make a very good pirate after all, but it is a tempting career choice should I decide to switch things up in a few years (I have to get my grad school debt paid off first, though).

How much can a girl type in 20 minutes?  That depends.  I type pretty fast, up to 80 words per minute when I’m really moving along.  I’m pretty accurate, too.  Not sure that’s a skill that would really be needed on a pirate ship, but perhaps in these modern times it could be an asset?  I’m pretty good at the social media thing, too.  Like maybe my band of pirates could have their own Facebook page and Twitter account I could manage.  The job interview would go something like this:

First Mate Pirate In Charge Of Hiring (that’s his title): “So, you call yourself Iron Marci, and you’re applying for the social media manager pirate position?”

Me: “Aye, that be correct, mate.”  (See, I really suck at the pirate talk thing, but I bet I could get better if immersed in a pirate environment.)

First Mate Pirate In Charge Of Hiring: “Ok, well, in 140 characters or less, tell me why you would be the best bilge-rat for the job, or else you’re going to take a long walk off this here short plank.”

Me: “What do you do with a #DrunkenSailor? Find out as I #SetSail on the #LadySpank with @CapnTooth’s crew and 14 #BarrelsOfRum #PegLegsAreHot

First Mate Pirate In Charge Of Hiring: “Yer hired, missy!  Now go swab the deck, and make sure you Instagram that shit!”

Time’s up – see you tomorrow! (And yes, I cheated a little bit, going back after my 20 minutes were up to add links and the picture.  Sorry.)

Sketchy at best…a true story of intrigue and mystery, and it’s just across my street!

And now for a little bit of audience participation.  I need your help, dear readers, in providing me with a key component of a story I’m trying to unfold.  A mystery, an intrigue.  A true story (up until this point), and when finished, a potentially entirely true story but likely only partially true story, depending upon the accuracy with which you are able to use the clues I’m going to give you to provide me with the missing piece of this tale.  Are you ready?

Meet my neighbors across the street (or at least take a look at their house):

The House Across the Street, aka the House of Mysteries!

The House Across the Street, aka the House of Mysteries!

Let me set the stage:  we live on a normal street, in a normal neighborhood.  Our houses are all ranch-style, built in the 1950s (when people evidently didn’t need any closets or counter space).  Our houses are fairly nice – kept up, yards managed, pleasant.  Except for the house across the street.  Note the following:

  • Blinds drawn on all windows all of the time
  • Front porch light left on all of the time
  • Front yard consists of gravel, which also serves as a driveway to a gravel parking lot in the back (where the back yard should be)
  • Crumbling paint job and general shoddy appearance
  • Yellow sign and stickers in all windows advertising the security company that protects this gem of a home from potential robberies
Who remembers Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched?

Who remembers Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched?

I’ve lived across the street from this house for over three years now, and about a year ago came to the conclusion that this house is some sort of business.  Two or three cars arrive every morning at about the time I leave for work; I usually see one normal-looking, middle-aged woman (the same woman, daily) park on the street and enter the home in the back entrance.  Occasionally, an unmarked white van (it looks like a utility type van, not a passenger van) will park in the driveway or go around back.  For the past year, I’ve been trying to figure out what type of business this could possibly be.  Are they making or packaging meth?  Is this some sort of prostitution ring?  Are they breeding small monkeys for circuses and fairs and shuttling them in and out of the house with the vans?  I don’t see a lot of strange men visiting, nor do I detect any odd fumes wafting through our neighborhood, so I think that rules out the first two possibilities.  But the third???  Hmmm…

Last week, as I was backing out of my driveway and the woman I usually see was locking up her car at the start of our day, I seized my golden opportunity to get more information.  I rolled down my window.  “Excuse me…hello?”  The woman looked up at me and smiled.  “Hi!  Just curious, but what type of business is this?”  She paused, and said, “oh, it’s a tax business.”  I wrinkled my nose, puzzled and disappointed.  “Oh, ok…thanks.”  I drove away.

Wait a minute, LIES, all LIES!!!  When I got to work, the first thing I did was search for “tax business” in the vicinity of my address.  It took a little digging around, but a business did pop up – Jackson Hewitt.  But since when does a Jackson Hewitt tax service look like THIS???  I’m thinking it’s got to be a front.  I, for one, would not be surprised at all if there were indeed small primates being bred in that house!

neighbor_catHere’s where YOU come in.  Tell me, WHAT KIND OF OPERATION IS GOING ON IN THIS HOUSE???  Leave your ideas and thoughts in a comment, and I will try to incorporate the winning idea (or ideas, or maybe even all of them) in a short story or poem or diorama or some other medium of my choosing.  What do you think is happening here?  Should I be scared?  Are they missing some key permits?  Are they underground because they can’t meet some sort of compliance or regulation?  Are they building something?  Are they harboring space aliens?  Are they under quarantine for an infectious disease and the women who visit daily are there to feed the infected???  What do you think?  LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW, PLEASE, and I’ll choose the winner(s) at the end of June!  Good luck – I can’t wait to find out what my neighbors are up to!

**UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE**  This morning, I saw the other woman (who, incidentally, always arrives in a newer model black Mustang, so I assume there’s money actually involved in this business) enter the house with a small bouquet of flowers.  Who are the flowers for?  Is it the birthday of the lady that I talked to?  Or maybe they are for one of the lepers that they must have impounded in their basement?  And YES, THEY HAVE A BASEMENT.

Ladies I Love: W is for the Side-Splitting Women of Saturday Night Live!

I can’t believe that April is coming to an end, and we’re rounding the final corner of the A to Z Challenge.  We’ve still got a few letters to go though, so I thought that for W, I would write about some of my most favorite Ladies I Love, the hilarious Women of Saturday Night Live (SNL)!  As I went through the entire cast history of SNL, I began to get a little overwhelmed at the thought of writing this post.  There have been a lot of female SNL cast members, and I love almost all of them.  So I decided that I would pick my top five (all pictures are from NBC) and go from there…and that was incredibly difficult in itself!

Gilda Radner - Roseanne RoseannadannaAs a member of the original cast, Gilda Radner is first on my list.  She was with SNL from 1975 – 1980, and won an Emmy for her performances in 1977.  Her most iconic characters were Roseanne Roseannadanna (a loudmouthed and crude consumer-affairs reporter) and Baba Wawa (a parody of Barbara Walters), but she also had other amazing characters up her sleeve.  Gilda Radner suffered from bulimia during her stint on the show, and eventually succumbed to ovarian cancer in 1989, with her husband (Gene Wilder) at her side.

Molly Shannon - Mary Katherine GallagherMolly Shannon appeared on SNL from 1995 to 2001.  I LOVE Molly Shannon because she was absolutely fearless when it came to throwing herself into her humor (quite literally).  She had several characters that performed physical comedy, such as Catholic school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher, who would trip over folding chairs during her talent show auditions, and 50-year-0ld Sally O’Malley who wore extremely tight and high-riding red pants and liked to kick, stretch, and kick!

Kristen Wiig - Fake Tanning MomOne of my more recent favorite SNL actors is Kristen Wiig.  She was with the show from 2005 – 2012, and also used physical humor in her sketches, doing a lot of dancing and singing in awkward ways.  My favorite characters of hers were the Target Lady, Dooneese Maharelle (the deformed singer with tiny hands on the Lawrence Welk Show), and Triangle Sally (who, uh, played the triangle).  Kristen Wiig is a very versatile actor and had many other recurring characters on SNL and there were so many to love!  I was sad to see her leave the show, but she’s had a rather successful career in movies since then.

Amy Poehler Rap with Sarah PalinI’ll bet you can guess who my next two favorite SNL actors are…and you’re right!  First is Amy Poehler, who worked on SNL from 2001 through 2008.  She was promoted from “featured player” to full cast member mid-way through her first season, an accomplishment shared by only her and Eddie Murphy!  She had a recurring role as Hillary Clinton, but also did several hysterical impressions of people like Michael Jackson and Kim Jong Il.  She, along with Tina Fey (more in a sec!) made up the first women-only pair to host Weekend Update.  Amy Poehler went on to star in several movies as well as her own show, Parks and Recreation (which I love dearly).  Also close to my heart is her project “Smart Girls at the Party“, which is a social-media based program that aims to encourage girls to be themselves, think for themselves and be confident.  Amy Poehler is not only funny as hell, but she’s a great role model for our girls!

Tina Fey as Sarah PalinFinally, it’s my very favorite SNL actor (just by a hair!), Tina Fey.  Tina Fey was on SNL from 1997 – 2006.  Aside from her doppelganger depiction of Sarah Palin, Tina Fey hosted Weekend Update (first with Jimmy Fallon, and then with Amy Poehler).  And, oh yeah, did I mention that she was the FIRST FEMALE HEAD WRITER AT SNL???  Well, I just did.  Bam.  Tina Fey also went on to make movies and write and star in her own show, 30 Rock (which I also loved very much).  AND, in 2013 and 2014, she and Amy Poehler also co-hosted the 70th and 71st Golden Globe Awards and totally rocked it.  She even wrote her memoirs in a best-selling book called Bossy Pants, and jeez – is there anything this woman can’t do???

We Killed by Yael KohenCan you believe that people have said that women aren’t funny?  Yes, and these people are even other comedians who have even worked with funny women (btw, I’m giving John Belushi, Jerry Lewis and Chevy Chase the stink-eye right now).  I know a lot of people who would disagree with these opinions…and in fact, there’s a GREAT podcast about the subject on Stuff Mom Never Told You that you can listen to here.  And, you can read the book “We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy” by Yael Kohen.  I’m sad that there are too many fantastically funny women who have performed on SNL to write about, but this post has already gone too long.  If you’ve made it to the end, congratulations and thank you!  To make it worth your while, share with me your favorite funny women – who makes you laugh your head off, from SNL or elsewhere?

Ladies I Love: H is for Hanna Hart of “My Drunk Kitchen” (Uurrp!)

Hanna HartDo you like eating?  Do you like drinking?  And most importantly, do you like puns?  If you like all of these things, you’ll definitely want to get to know today’s H-related A to Z Challenge Lady I Love, Hanna Hart.  I discovered Hanna’s YouTube channel through an article in BUST magazine, right when her “My Drunk Kitchen” sketches hit the scene.  She’s done a TON of episodes at this point, but I contend that some of her best work is featured in her earlier pieces.  She’s got quite a collection of recipes recorded by now, so if you’re interested in learning how to cook mac’n cheese or tacos or toad in a hole or smores while drunk, be sure to invest a few moments to get some pro-tips from Hanna.

Actually, Hanna Hart (nicknamed Harto) is quite an accomplished comedian, and is very smart (she graduated from Berkeley with two degrees – English literature and Japanese).  Her short films are peppered with puns and quick word association jokes, and she’s an amazing comedic writer.  Take a look at this wiki page to learn more about her life, travels and other projects!

And after all that, I know you’re all hungry for a little taste of Harto, so here’s one of my favorite episodes (“Not Easy, Bake Oven”) where Hanna attempts to bake cookies.  A word of warning – the language she uses is quite salty, so if you’re not a fan of expletives (yay, swear words!  All the cussing!), you might want to watch this on mute.  But that probably wouldn’t be quite as funny.  Just saying.  Enjoy anyway!

Ladies I Love: G is for Grumpy Cat! Meow!

Today we have another non-human A to Z Challenge Ladies I Love-themed post for the letter G.  Let us return to the year 2012.  April 4, 2012, to be exact.  Events that occurred on this day in the little town of Morristown, Arizona, resulted in the world being forever changed: a little bit furrier, a little bit cuter, and a whole lot grumpier.  On April 4, 2012, Tardar Sauce (a.k.a. Grumpy Cat) and her brother, Pokey, were born.

Tardar and Pokey

Original Grumpy Cat photo that swept the world up in a fit of crabbiness!

The original grumpy cat photo that unleashed unprecedented crabbiness into the world!

According to Grumpy Cat’s head minion (and yes, Grumpy Cat *is* a female), Tabatha Bundesen, Tardar’s features are permanently grumpified as a result of feline dwarfism, which has also left her back legs somewhat out of proportion to the rest of her body.  But her vet has given her a clean bill of health, and Tardar has the green light to spread curmudgeonly crankiness to her heart’s content.  But truth be told, as grumpy as Tardar Sauce looks, she’s actually the more friendly of the two, with Pokey being the grouchier of the siblings.

The Grumpy Cat phenomenon all started when Tabatha’s brother uploaded an excessively grumpy photo of Tardar Sauce to Reddit (back in September of 2012), and the world has reveled in the glow of a cat that is both adorably cute and excessively grumpy ever since.  Some of Grumpy Cat’s favorite phrases, built into popular memes that have circled the Interwebs thousands of times over, include “…it was awful”, “…I hate it”, and the classic “NO.”  Grumpy has an official website (The Daily Grump, where you can purchase Grumpy Cat Odor Eliminator and Grumppuccino), a Grumpy Book, and more awards than you can shake a stick at, including the Lifetime Achievement Award that she received at the 2013 Friskies.  And she deserves it – with a face like hers, she’s impossible to ignore, especially when she’s throwing insults around like nobody’s business!  Here are some of my favorites:

And speaking of Friskies, Tardar Sauce has done several commercials with Friskies in the “Will Kitty Play With It?” series!  They are grumpy and adorable!  But, in honor of Tardar’s second birthday (she’s entering the Terrible Two’s, everyone!!!), here’s a special Friskies birthday video (no, I’m not a sales rep for Friskies…they just do great Grumpy Cat videos!).  Long live Grumpy Cat!!!

Alone in a Room Full of *GULP* Dog People

This past weekend I started on my path to doing pet therapy work on a volunteer basis.  This means that I took an all-day class on the human component of a therapy animal team.  The class is offered by Pet Partners and is the first step in becoming registered to do animal therapy with your pet – you know, visiting people in hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, schools, prisons, and other places where people can benefit from having a visit from animals.  I’m SOOOO looking forward to being a part of this!

But did you know that the vast majority of therapy animals are dogs???  The course instructor had never taught anyone who wanted to use their cat as a therapy animal, but Pet Partners certainly supports it.  To the instructor’s credit, he did his best to answer my cat questions and even invited me to attend a cat evaluation the next day, which was also very informative.

Please don’t get me wrong – I really do like dogs, but obviously I am a cat person.  And I like dog people too, but obviously, I am a cat person.  I was a little nervous about being trapped with hanging out with a bunch of dog people for the entire day, but they really were friendly and nice, just as I expected them to be; I just didn’t know how much I would have in common with them.  And to be fair, cat people can be kind of weird, too.  But man, they sure do get passionate about various breeds and talking about the differences between all the various types of doggies!  This made me think, just as there are personality differences between breeds, surely there are personality differences between dog people and cat people.  So I did a little investigating.  And here’s what I found:

JESS3 Mindjet Dichotomy Cat and Dog People

Interesting, yes?  And for those of you who want a little more detail, I found these stats from DeathandTaxesMag.com:

DeathandTaxesMag.com
I don’t know how true these figures are, but they sound about right to me.  Perhaps this can be best illustrated by the following video, which has been floating around for a while, but I love it:

Hmmmm…on second thought, perhaps using cats as therapy animals might be a bit more challenging than I was expecting.  So, if you have any hints or advice for me, feel free to let me know.  Anyone?  Anyone???