My Cat, Rocket

I sit here, trying, to no avail, to hold back the tears that are forcing their way out because my cat Rocket passed away today. I felt like writing this post would help me get through his passing a little easier and allow those who never got the chance to meet him to know a little bit about one of the best parts of my life.

He was just a few months short of turning twenty years old and while I know that’s a lot more time than many people get with their pets, it hasn’t made things any easier, possibly harder. I got him when I was about eight years old after our last cat had passed away. He was already a year old, but still fairly small. He had come from a shelter where he was loved dearly by the elderly ladies who rescued him, but had come from an abusive home before that. He was skittish to say the least. He was afraid of men so he latched onto my mom and sister immediately. I was pretty quiet so, while we weren’t best friends he came near me more often than my adult-sized (but animal loving) father and my younger brother who was nothing short of bonkers at the age of six. So while he wasn’t always quick to come up to me I loved him from the moment he was brought home. Also, it really only took him a few weeks to warm up to the whole family. He was a chocolate tabby so he had black, brown, and gray stripes. He was insanely playful and would fly around the house, his name fitting  him perfectly.

As he got older he became less zany and playful in that respect, but was still always willing to play with a toy or to track an intruding squirrel or rabbit from our bay windows. It was very funny watching him grow from a small young cat into a very large adult cat. He was very tall and got up to a hefty twenty pounds at his biggest. As I got older he was always by my side. He spent plenty of time with the rest of my family, especially my mom, his “rescuer,” but we were together any time I was home. He was exactly the kind of animal companion anyone could ever hope for. He was there to watch movies with me and he was there to sleep next to and he was there to have fun with and he was there when my heart was broken. He was always there. I really feel that today I have lost a best friend and it is absolutely one of the hardest days of my life. It doesn’t hurt any less than when I’ve lost any of my human family members or friends.

The funny thing about Rocket was that over the years the vets would continuously find strange medical issues with him, nothing life threatening or even terrible, just…odd. His front right paw was about 2 sizes bigger than the other three. He had a weird clump of stuff like fuzzes and fake plastic Christmas tree needles that just stayed in his stomach and never went anywhere (the vets thought it was hilarious that he would just eat stuff, be unable to fully digest it and nothing would hurt him). The only somewhat major issue he was a growth on his thyroid gland that my mom found, at least twelve years ago. We were terrified it was cancer or something else that would take him away from us. Nope. We gave him a pill for it most days for about ten years until the vet told us we didn’t have to anymore. It was a quite a bit of relief. So from there on we just kept an eye on him and took him to his regular checkups and everything was fine. No matter what popped up he bounced back and we just kept on loving him.

About three years ago he stopped eating on his own and he kept acting as if he were in pain. Well, being that he was about seventeen we figured he was going to pass away around then, but my mom decided that we would try spoon-feeding him to see if he improved and if not, well we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. So after about three days I guess he decided that he was tired of the spoon in his mouth and went right back to his normal routine. Eating and no more pain. The vet checked him out and everything went back to normal. About two years ago he started to do it again, and again, we got him to turn around, but I think this was mostly due to the fact that we rescued a very tiny black and white kitten, which we named Zoey. He started eating all of his food so there was no chance that she could go from her bowl to his and take any of it. I know it was him just being dominant, but even between their little cat-fights and whatever other issues two cats living together face, they got along and I truly believe that she helped keep him with us these last two years. Being that she’s a bit of a loner, I’m not sure how much his absence will effect her, but I’m keeping an eye out. I’m glad we have her to help us through this. She’s sitting in my lap cuddling with me as I write this.

So, about two weeks ago, he stopped eating on his own, so we figured that we’d just have to jump start his appetite again. This time it wasn’t working and now his back legs were starting to become very weak, but he was still able to do everything else on his own and we really thought he’d bounce back again, but not even appetite stimulant pills worked. Starting about two days ago it was clear that he was getting ready to go and pretty much stopped doing anything except lay down next to my mom on the couch. We gave him water and assumed that he was going to pass in the night, but he hung in until this afternoon. He’d look at whoever would come in the room and occasionally look for water and even wrap his paw around your finger, but we knew he was really just hanging on for us. So we said goodbye to him today and he passed away. I made a nice grave for him in our backyard under the Butterfly Bushes because he always loved staring at the butterflies and the bumblebees that flew around it all summer from our back porch.

I wish I could go on and on about so many of my wonderful memories of the last nineteen years, but it’s just too much. It’s a lifetime. I’m so grateful for all the time I got to have with him, and while I know I’m better for having had him in my family, I know it’s going to be very hard without him for a long time. I can barely remember a time in which he wasn’t in my life. He was a symbol of joy, hilarity, friendship and love. I’m going to love him and miss him for the rest of my life. There is a hole in my heart and it will take a long time for me, my family and close friends to heal.

The photo above is one taken by my sister for a calendar contest. It was a finalist and made it in as a part of a photo collage in the back of the calendar.

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Texas Chainsaw 3D

With the bluray/dvd being released this week I figured I’d post my review I posted on Facebook after going to the midnight premiere.

So I saw Texas Chainsaw 3D last night and I gotta say I was pretty impressed. It picks up literally at the end of the original 1974 film (they even rebuilt sets and used matching vehicles to make sure everything matched up exactly) and it goes along for a few scenes during that time and then jumps ahead a few decades to round out the story and bring it into modern day.

They really made some interesting choices with the plot, it had some good twists and turns that really made it unpredictable and went in a direction I know no one will see coming. It’s a fun horror ride, especially for big fans of the genre, casual viewers may not care for it’s subtleties, but will, I’m sure, enjoy the scenes of gore and sex. I really have to say for being a recent sequel of a classic film it actually had some decent writing. There were a few “eye-roll” moments and unfortunately 99% of the characters were unlikable. The writers even went out of their way to make 3 of the characters extra unlikable after they’ve already been established in the story. To me, a big part of what makes horror movies scary is the fact that you don’t want to see everyone slaughtered, you want some of the good guys to make it and it’s gut-wrenching to see them get killed, but for the most part in this film you really did not care who got it and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wanting them to get it gruesomely.

All in all I’d give it a solid B to B+ and it’s great to see the original series getting a breath of fresh air so we can all forget about the remake series. I’m excited to see this franchise move forward.

In the months since it’s release I feel this movie has gotten a bad rap from a lot of people. I still feel the same way about it as I did before: It’s a fun horror movie. Sure it’s flawed, but aren’t most? And there are a few things I would have done differently, but that’s ok too. Still a good popcorn flick. The other day I saw a guy online say that he didn’t want to watch this and if he were to watch people get chopped up he’d watch the Saw franchise because at least that had a plot. Sure it has a plot, it’s not terribly good, but it has one. As for Texas Chainsaw, it has a fairly interesting plot. And all the ways it ties into the original makes it even better. So that guy should actually watch a movie before passing judgement. Anyway, if you missed it in theaters I highly recommend giving it a chance at home. Definitely worth at least a rental. I apologize in advance if you don’t enjoy it.

Help Fund “Harbinger Down”!

This is absolutely one of the coolest movie projects I’ve seen in a long time and I really hope it gets funded. I have personally backed this film and I hope a lot of others do too. Please read the campaign article and watch the videos over at Kickstarter. I really can’t believe how awesome this looks. An effects driven creature feature that will have ABSOLUTELY NO digital effects of any kind. ONLY MAKE-UP AND ANIMATRONIC EFFECTS. If other films can get millions of dollars from fans I think this movie can reach it’s $350,000 goal in the next 24 days. Let’s make it happen!!!http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1117671683/harbinger-down-a-practical-creature-fx-film

harbinger-down-and-the-last-hurrah-of-practical-effects-snoutypig-003

Kiss of the Damned

Well I just sat down to watch Kiss of the Damned being that I heard fairly good things about it. Mostly B reviews, but some negative too. Still I was definitely interested enough to check out what was supposed to be a stylistic homage of the vampire films of the 1960’s-70’s. From the poster and the way it was being talked about I was expecting something like The Brides of Dracula or Dracula and Son, but what was presented was very different.

Directed by Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes (daughter of John Cassavetes) we get a pretty standard vampire movie.
We meet a lonely young man named Paolo played by Milo Ventimiglia who randomly meets a woman by the name of Djuna (JosĂ©phine de La Baume) one night while out drinking. She tries to resist his advances, but eventually gives in by bringing him back to her home. Soon after he decides he’s in love with her and needs to be with her and quickly after finding out she’s one of the undead he has her turn him while they’re screwing the night away. Yeah, he pretty much finds out vampires are real, nails one and becomes one all within about, I don’t know, an hour. All while not really showing too much emotion about it.

So we have vamp couple Djuna and Paolo running around killing deer and hanging with other vampires who don’t kill humans and it’s all very normal and doesn’t feel very damning at all. In fact everything seems just pleasant. We can live forever and drink animal blood and hey the military is even developing a synthetic plasma and we can drink that too! Yay! Well of course all that gets disrupted when Djuna’s sister Mimi, played seductively by Roxane Mesquida shows up and decides to bunk at their home for a week. There’s bloodshed and orgies and all the other things you’d expect to see in a modern vampire flick, but not too much in the way of that 70’s style I was promised. Though a few of those films are shown on televisions throughout the movie.

Basically this movie was a hodgepodge of things you’ve seen before: True Blood, Interview with a Vampire, Let the Right One In, etc., but never really does anything original. At all. In fact all the people online that seem to love it, just like it for the fact that the vampires are violent, it’s an independent film and “It’s not Twilight.” No it isn’t, but the set-up and love story are very similar anyway, just done a bit better. I’m also noticing the defensive “Well you just don’t get it” argument. No I got it, mostly because it’s a clone of many things I’ve “gotten” before. Supposedly it’s a tongue-in-cheek tribute to previous films, but it’s not done well.
I liked the way it was shot and lit very much and sets/locations were quite lovely, but again, nothing you haven’t seen before elsewhere. Also if the symbolism were any more obvious it’d look like a high school student wrote it. Djuna is blonde and blue-eyed and doesn’t kill humans. Mimi has black hair the dark red lips and screws and drains anyone in sight…

I definitely didn’t hate the movie, but it did move pretty slowy for a 95 min flick and I enjoy a lot of “slow burn” horror. Unfortunately it was a classic example of style over substance. I just didn’t care about the characters. The could’ve all died at the end and I probably would’ve just shrugged.

Aside from the cinematography I also enjoyed the soundtrack. It was a neat mix of electronica, techno, indie rock, German punk, industrial and classical. Each style used methodically and strategically throughout. I also dug the way the characters look when they “vamp out”. I also did like the cast. They all did exactly what they were supposed to. Any flaws were clearly from the direction and writing, not from the actors. All in all, it’s a cool movie to look at and was interesting from time to time, but really adds nothing to the vampire genre. It his a lot of marks along the way, but it never really hits the right one. Right now it’s available in a limited theater run, iTunes and various OnDemand services, but if you’re really interested in checking it out, maybe wait for Netflix or one of the movie channels to start running it.

C-

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X

Writer/Director Paul Bunnell presents his pet project. A truly mad concoction, blending 1950s juvenile delinquents, sci-fi melodrama, song-and-dance, and a touch of horror, into one ridiculous spectacle. The story involves Jonathan Xavier and his devoted misfit gang who, have been exiled to Earth from the far reaches of outer space. Johnny’s X-girlfriend Bliss has left him and stolen his Resurrection Suit, a cosmic, mind-bending uniform that gives the owner power over others.

Think The Rocky Horror Picture Show scrambled around with Plan 9 From Outer Space and you’re almost there.

As a fan of the goofy 50’s sci-fi flicks, I’m definitely interested, but I can’t say for certain it’ll actually be any good. I’ve read a few quick reviews ranging from absolute love to utter disgust. It should be noted that Johnny X is the lowest grossing movie of 2012. According to Box Office Mojo it only made $117 during its one week theatrical run and only made around $300 in it’s limited run. Now to be fair most of the screenings were done at film festivals and “pay what you want” shows so there was never much hope for it to rake in the dough, but perhaps the DVD/Bluray rental/purchase numbers will go up to pay off some of the $2 million budget…maybe…

I have to commend the guy for getting it made, and even including some well known faces in the cast.
Also check out the posters and website for the film, some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen in a while.
http://johnnyxmovie.com

Also an extra little fun fact: Paul Bunnell scrambled to purchase the remaining EASTMAN PLUS-X Negative Film 5231 from Kodak shortly after it had been discontinued, making this the last feature to be shot with their fine grain black and white stock, which makes for a beautiful presentation. I hope it was worth it. Definitely gonna review this one as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Relaxing

Sunday, being my only day off, usually consists of me cramming in a trip to the movies, errands, doing freelance design work, doing work for teaching, catching up on the DVR or my Netflix queue or whatever…
Possibly a nap gets thrown into the mix, but usually Sunday isn’t a day for rest, even if what I’m doing is fun or simple.

Today was an especially beautiful day. I decided to watch a movie I rented, but that would be all I’d do inside while the sun was shining. I picked up some sandwiches-to-go from a local place and spent the rest of the day with my girlfriend. Hanging out on the deck with our laptops was exactly the kind of 21st century chillaxin’ I needed. Unfortunately while I was able to hang out downloading music, surfing the web and playing Portal 2, she had to grade papers, write up lesson plans and do grad work. It was still way too nice out for her workload to ruin the mood. It was great just hanging outside, enjoying lunch, the weather and each others company. We completely lost track of time too. After about 4 hours we called it quits and decided to go inside. I did some reading and minimal (recreational) design work and just relaxed. I even tried to squeeze in an errand or two. A part of my brain trying to make me do something productive, but gladly, the girlfriend said no and we spent the evening being potatoes.

Sometimes I feel guilty for just sitting around doing nothing on Sundays, but then I remember I work 6 days a week and I realize I’m being dumb. I also realize that many people will not give a crap about anything I just posted. This usually doesn’t stop me from writing, but I’m also not doing this to bore anyone, so I apologize if I have done just that…oh wait, no I don’t. A new friend told me I should write this down anyway, being that I was feeling unfulfilled about not writing today and I do feel more complete. So glad I met them this week.

That’s about it. Beautiful day. Living in the hustle and bustle of the northeast can make it easy to forget to just chill out and enjoy each moment as it comes and NOT feel guilty about doing nothing. So when you get a chance, you should do just that. Relax and don’t have a care. It makes going to work on Monday a bit easier.