- Ross and Demelza
Since 1995, when my new kitten TZ (short for Twilight Zone) came with me to Auburn University at the beginning of my doctoral work, pets have been a part of my life, to the point where I have trouble conceiving of a daily routine in which no animal plays a part. Few things make me smile as readily as watching cats and dogs at play, and few things rouse me to fury as quickly as stories about animal abuse. Never in my life has that been truer than now.
Back in March, the last of my three “Auburn cats,” Gandalf, succumbed to heart failure at the age of sixteen. For the first time in over twenty years, I didn’t have a beautiful cat to climb up on my lap whenever I stretched out with a book. My husband and I agreed we should fill the gap by adopting a pair of kittens, but we made up our minds to wait until July. In the meantime, we had our sweet Winnie Dog. I can’t quite put Winnie into words. Here’s her picture.
Then, at the very end of June, the worst happened. Winnie, too, we lost to old age and declining health. For a couple of weeks we were without a pet, with memories of Winnie and Gandalf haunting every corner of our empty house. Those memories are with us to stay, and we’ll carry them with us even when we move to a new house where they’ve never lived.
Yet we proceeded with our original plan, and on July 3 we went to the Hall County, GA Animal Shelter to pick out two kittens, a boy and a girl. Matt was the first to notice a black-and-white pair housed in the same cage. This housing indicated they were litter mates, so they would already be used to each other. We took them out of their cage and into the “play room” where we could set them down and watch them entertain themselves (and us) with a set of toys. An hour later, they came home with us. We named them Ross and Demelza, after characters from PBS’s adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark series. Ross’s nose is the whiter one.
Ross (l), Demelza (r), with their daddy.
Since then we’ve been getting used to them, and they’ve been getting used to us. They’ve curled up to snooze on our shoulders, chest, and lap, in between periods of chasing each other around the room at Mach 2 and engaging in toothy-clawy wrestling matches and scaling the heights of their scratching-post tower. With their energy and curiosity, they make the whole house a happier place. We still miss our Winnie Dog, and still wonder how she would have reacted to them; I like to think she would have looked on their antics with Maggie Smith-like bemusement. But it’s hard not to smile when we look at them and imagine them growing into cathood under our eyes.
2. YouTube commentary on SFF: Book reviews and trope analysis.
Much of what you find on YouTube, just like any Internet site, is garbage, but it can also be a repository of riches of many kinds. Here are a couple of finds I’ve enjoyed recently:
The Authentic Observer takes on Cassandra Clare’s incredibly popular Shadowhunters series, in ways that remind me a bit of Mark Twain’s classic take-down, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses.”
Jenna Moreci shares her views on the Ten Worst Fantasy Tropes, and she doesn’t mince words.
3. A Song in the Dark
Even though I’m a fiction addict — perhaps because I’m a fiction addict — I venture into nonfiction territory from time to time, not least because some tiny seedling I find in a true story might take root and grow into an idea for a fantasy. Plus, uncovering information about something you love is always a treat, and one thing I love, almost if not quite as much as I love fantasy fiction, is “classic Hollywood,” the works and the history of cinema from its inception through the early 1960s. Any study of the films of this time period will attract my attention, whether it’s voice artist Mel Blanc’s charming autobiography That’s Not All, Folks! or Richard Barrios’ examination of the earliest musicals both good and bad, A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film. Just how did the Hollywood musical evolve and manage to survive near-extinction? Barrios shows us, with an ample helping of detail spiced with dry wit.
4. Season 2 of GLOW, on Netflix
My only problem is that Matt and I binged this one way too fast. Not our fault, really; we couldn’t help ourselves. But now we have to wait a whole year for more. I can remember a time, not that long ago, when I thought a show subtitled “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” had no business being any good. Yet what other show presents us with such a diverse array of female characters, all funny, all flawed, all working their hearts out? The closest the show has to a central protagonist, Ruth (Allison Brie), is so wonderfully real, with her problems and her perseverance, that she’s become one of my favorite characters on television. GLOW joins Brooklyn Nine-Nine on my short list of Shows Everyone Should Be Watching.
(And speaking of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Matt and I are forever grateful to NBC for renewing the show for a sixth season. Alas, we have to wait until mid-season to catch up with Jake, Amy, Gina, Rosa, Boyle, Terry, and Captain Holt. But their story will continue as there’s still one good season left…)