Friday, February 25, 2011

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Our last foster cat, Wednesday, was of slight build and timid but loving disposition. And while she craved the attention of the humans in the household, she shriveled, hid and snarled at the canine members. Her demeanor at adoption events was similar to a convict awaiting execution, and at one event she did so poorly the volunteers covered her cage with a towel because she hissed at anyone who looked in her direction.

Not exactly the type of behavior one hopes their foster cat displays in public. It kind of puts a damper on the whole "Looking for a cute, cuddly kitty to adopt" thing.

Eventually Wednesday found a new home with a person who was dogless, and we went about our busy schedules in December and January. During dinner at Fudruckers the other night I received a text from the director of the No More Homeless Pets in Utah foster cat program. She advised me that there was a cat available to foster that loved dogs. Was I interested?

We discussed it during our meal and decided that yes, indeed we could manage another foster now that things had settled down and I arranged to collect the cat the next morning.

I picked up a female tabby named Zita who was very friendly and only cried once on the way home in the crate. After our arrival I put her in the "panic room."

We have a special room in the house where we store an old waterbed and keep the foster cats. This is for their own protection. It's a room with a baby gate in the doorway that allows the cat easy access to its food and water but limits the presence of dogs who only want to maraud and pillage, gobbling down the cat food, then raping and disemboweling the cat toys. I'm not going into detail about what atrocities they manage with the litter box, but bobbing for apples comes to mind.

So the gate is up to allow the cat to dive into the room when taking cover is the best course of action. And with the waterbed, and a few other things we have stored in the room, it's easy to lose track of a kitty because there are fabulous little nooks and crannies for a cat to hide in, on, and under. When we foster a cat we're required make the cat wear a break-away cat collar with an I.D. tag on it. Last time I had Wednesday's name engraved on it and the person who adopted her kept the collar. This time I got a generic tag that says, "Foster Cat; Scan my tag" engraved on a purple heart and attached to a pink collar. A pink collar with a bell. Those little tiny bells that they put on cat collars to warn birds that a cat is about to turn them into a McNugget.

And therein lies the amusement. Because while I was attaching the I.D. tag to the collar, and Zita was tucked safely away in the cat room, the two dogs, hearing the bell tinkle, went apeshit looking for a cat in the kitchen. Because of the bell.

Anyway, for your consideration, Zita, a spayed female tabby approximately two years old, is available. Look for her at an adoption event soon!

(I'll put up a link as soon as NMHPU adds her to Petfinder.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Life, The Universe, and BYU

I attended the 29th annual Life, The Universe, and Everything conference at Brigham Young University last week. It's geared towards Science Fiction and Fantasy writers, but as those non-romance writers who have attended some of the Utah RWA chapter's events can attest, there are many things a writer can learn that are valid across the genre board. Plus it was only an hour from my house and a paltry $20. So, what's not to like.

Some of the workshops were geared towards beginners. (What's a query letter? What does an agent do?) I have no problems with sitting in on beginner workshops because it gives me a chance to rest my brain. While my brain is in neutral I watch cartoons in my head, which is my happy place. Since I had my netbook and internet access, when I got bored of my head-cartoon re-runs I watched some You Tube videos. One of my favorites is about a Mini Horse named Cupcake. I love the song that goes with the video.

(Warning: catchy song that will give you an earworm and also make you want to run to the bakery and get a dozen cupcakes. And adopt a miniature horse. Do not do either on the spur of the moment! Both options have consequences.)

Cupcake The Herdmaster

I also admit to searching eBay for a Hari-Kari swords during one of my darker, more bored to death moments. But my compatriots lured me away from ritual suicide with the promise of wine at the end of the tunnel.

I also skipped some of the presentations because I'm not religious in any way, shape or form and do not figure much religion into my writing. A class on Mormons and the Paranormal or Using the Scriptures as a Basis for Fiction are too chocked full of potential triggers for me to spiral down into paroxysm of donkey-like braying that it is best for all involved if I abstain.

I was intrigued to find out that the presenters had to sign a contract with a non-swearing clause. I would have liked to have taken a look at such a contract; are the naughty words spelled out or only alluded to? It is three strikes you're out kind of thing or can you get a do-over? And does it count if you either apologize or say, "Oops!" after murmuring the offending word? Also, while Damn and Hell are specific (you wouldn’t "Sentence someone to heck for all eternity" as it's weak and confusing) should you get nailed for spirit as opposed to letter? Substituting "Fricking" still gets the initial idea across, although to me it's lame. And while no one dropped the "F-Bomb" the term "F-Bomb" was used. Since people can simultaneously translate "F-Bomb" or "F-Word" into its actual form, are you really accomplishing anything? Plus, it's all subjective anyway. What one person finds offensive another might find wry.

During one workshop about villains I discovered that the instructor had no idea who Hannibal Lecter was, which to me was appalling. I regret missing the lecture titled Zombies! but I had by that time behaved myself well enough during some most of the classes that I had earned several glasses of wine and wanted to reap my rewards. But my most favorite class was titled Lessons on Story from "The Hunger Games" which I enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately the presenter had only read the first book so he could not comment on my question about the love triangle conflict.

BYU, for those who are college geography impaired, is in Provo, Utah. People who live in Provo call Salt Lake City "Sin City". You don't even want to know what they call Las Vegas. When my friend and I stopped for breakfast at Village Inn the waitress asked if we wanted to start off with water, juice or hot chocolate. I had to ask for coffee, and then I had to wait for them to brew it. There was also a woman participant in the conference who brought her infant into Every. Single. Class. Many of which we had together. And her infant never failed to fuss and cry. In one class I heard a woman comment to a man sitting next to her that, "People don’t mind at all, this is Utah." This made me realize she was sitting behind me. I got up and moved. And her answer for every time the baby squawked was to pop the tot onto her breast for a meal.

No wonder we have an obesity problem in America.

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*Cupcake is a member of BlueStar Equiculture You should go to their website and read all about the great work they do.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Spiderman, Organ Failure, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

I know, it makes no sense. Allow me to explain:

The Sundance Film Festival arrived and departed Utah last month. As usual the festival was accompanied by a plethora of fun filled and feckless moments;

Tina, Dena and Slave Driver stood first in line for the Awards party, trying to get in early by using lines like, "We're with the band," and "We're Elmo's stylists…" And while none of the falsehoods worked, we did enjoy making the uber-trendy fellow behind us mutter, "They're sucking out all of my energy," accompanied by an eye roll and a heavy sigh. Which just goes to show you that many moms consider themselves successful if they can not only embarrass/annoy their own child, but can accomplish the same feat with someone else's offspring. Truly, it separates the amateurs from the professionals.

There were some wonderful films. At least that's what I heard. I only saw three, (Being Elmo; Submarine; Buck) one of which I was not a fan (Note to the distributers of "Submarine": while I'm sure based on the fact that the Joe Dunthorne book was popular it seemed like a good idea to turn it into a movie, may I suggest avoiding marketing this film to parents. "Why?" ask the savvy Free Marketeers. "Because," responds Slave Driver, "as the parent of a teenager, I can get all the drama and angst I want at home. For free."

And while I loved both "Being Elmo" and "Buck", many times for me the "real" entertainment is out in the lobby of the theater, not inside where the screen is.

For example, the first Sunday of the evening tends to be pretty tame at our humble Salt Lake venue. After all, most of the beautiful people are in Park City attending premiers, parties, and collecting as much swag as they can pile onto their publicists. Several of us were standing around, waiting for Alexi to introduce our last show of the evening, when in through the doors walked three scruffy looking young guys. After tilting my head and squinting real hard, I realized one of them was Tobey McGuire. They asked if they could still get into the film, Like Crazy, (which eventually won an award.) Luckily for them, it was Sunday night in Salt Lake, the film had not generated a ton of buzz yet, and the house had not achieved critical mass. Miguel grabbed some tickets for them while I escorted the trio to available seats and Alexi made her way to the stage and introduced the film. It was fun having a "name" in the house, and without any of the hoopla and posturing normally associated with arriving celebrity.

On the other hand, the closer we get to the end of the festival, the more intense and downright crazy-ass people become. For example, on the following Sunday, while the theaters in Park City play a lot of the award winners along with a few random screenings of festival fare, the Rose Wagner is the only other venue still showing films in the valley, besides the Sundance Resort, which is way the heck up in Provo Canyon. So where do you think all the local pass holders go? Yeah, that's right, they come to the Rose. Which is great. I mean, we love our regular, loyal, treat them like family, local pass holders. And as hard as it is for you to believe, I am actually being sincere. I get hugs from my regulars. However, the sheer number of locals that decide to show up at our theater the last day plays havoc with the ticketing system and throws all the computer generated models out the window. And what that means is:

The theater gets filled really fast and even if you arrive on time and you have a ticket, you still may not get in.

Which makes people really cranky. As you can imagine.

So on this particular day, for a movie called "Win, Win" starring Paul Giamatti, we turned a few folks away. Although unhappy, most of them were very gracious about it, having played the Sundance Shuffle before. Except for one guy. Claiming, loudly, to be a "Film Critic", he insisted that he was to be allowed to see the movie because he was a major asshat and was full of himself had interviewed Paul Giamatti. Alexi spent a long time with him, being very respectful, repeating over and over that since there was no place for him to sit, he would not be allowed into the theater. The gist of his reply was 1) he was a film critic 2) who had interviewed Paul Giamatti 3) from a foreign country 4) so we MUST LET HIM INTO THE THEATER, NOW, to see this film because 5) he had interviewed Paul Giamatti, and we had not. Plus he claimed to know the festival manager, which makes us shrug, because we too know the festival manager, and he does not make us tremble.

While listening to him rant at Alexi, I realized that the foreign country he hailed from was "Douchebagestan."* Knowing the only way to extract her from the situation, short of chewing her arm off and dragging her away, was to advise the Foreign Film Critique/ Paul Giamatti Interviewer point blank, that there was no seat available for him (I had already checked) and Alexi was done wasting spending her time explaining this to him because I needed her elsewhere.

Later, during an exchange in which I attempted to be nice (don’t snicker, I can fake it when I need to) the Film Critic proceeded to tell me that he would make sure that I would never work in the movie industry again (an industry I hadn’t realized I was employed in, being that I volunteer for the festival once a year and drive horse drawn carriage the remained of the time) and, after offering to have the sheriff escort him off the premise if he wished to make trouble, he countered with sending the Royal Canadian Mounted Police my way to arrest me.

I honestly had no idea the RCMP had jurisdiction in Utah. It just goes to prove that you can learn something new every day.

And last but not least, on the same evening, one of the other managers had to turn another patron away for a showing of a different film. Upon being advised that they were unable to attend the film, this patron told the other manager that they were in charge of the organ transplant department at a local university (I'm not telling you which one; it has a medical school, and their mascot's names rhymes with "fruits") and the manager better hope for the rest of his life that he never needed and organ transplant, because he would be denied. ** Hippocratic oath be damned!

Sigh…and eye roll.

So, I'm sure the title of this blog makes sense to you now.
I have to go, I need to hide from the Mounties while I look for a new kidney on eBay. It never hurts to hedge your bets.

*Not a real country. And although he threatened me with the RCMP I know he cannot be Canadian because all the Canadians I know are very nice. With the exception of one. But she doesn't count because I think of her more as a "Bitch" then as a "Canadian."

**Ironically, the manager who was threatened with Organ Transplant Black-Listing works for the medical school at the same university in another department. The entire exchange was witnessed by yet another university employee, and both of them planned on notifying the head of the Ethics department. Of course that doesn’t compare to being on the RCMP "Most Wanted" list…

If you've purchased my short story, "Splitting the Difference," THANK YOU! And please feel free to go back to Amazon and review it.