Tuffy the brown feral cat

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All the feral cats at my campsite over the years have been either black, white, or gray.  With the exception of Tuffy, the one brown cat. Tuffy was from Moo Cat’s one-and-only litter. So I guess Moo Cat was dating outside of her tribe. . . A homeless friend of mine who camps on the other side of the Berkeley hills from me ended up adopting Tuffy. Where she lived happily for many years. Until my friend had to leave town for 6 months. Tuffy immediately marched back down to my campsite where I was laying in my sleeping bag, and climbed right on top of my chest. Instantly claiming the center of my campsite as her domain. Where she remained the dominant cat of the tribe (much to Moo Cat’s chagrin). Until my friend returned to his campsite. And Tuffy returned to her rightful owner where she happily lived out her remaining days.No automatic alt text available.
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“Don’t Forget About the Circle:” Further misadventures as a high school stoner

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I spent most of my senior year of high school, age 17, stoned out of my mind and fucking up left and right. A typical night in the life of youthful Ace Backwords:

One Friday night me and some of my high school pals — I think it was Debbie and Glenn — decided to drive up to Harriman State Park in upstate New York, and laze around at out favorite spot by the river in the woods getting drunk and stoned. So we all piled into my parent’s car — me behind the wheel — and off we went.

And of course we’re smoking plenty of weed as we’re driving along, making our way up to the Park. And needless to say my pal Debbie was the high school stoner chick of all time and always had the strongest weed. So we were all plenty stoned. And getting stonier by the mile.

When you get to the park entrance there’s a long two mile-long straight-away of a road before you get to this circle in the road where you can make different exits and drive off north, south, or east into the heart of this massive park. Of course it’s night and it’s dark and there are no lights except for my headlights. So, as I’m barreling down this straight-away and taking hits off the pipe and grooving to some righteous RocknRoll tunes on the FM dial, my friends periodically reminded me:

“Don’t forget about the circle.”

“I won’t forget about the circle,” I said.

After the third reminder — “Don’t forget about the circle” — I was starting to get annoyed.

“I WON’T forget about the circle!” I said indignantly. In fact they were starting to mess with my buzz with their incessant nagging. I took another hit off the pipe and tuned the radio dial to my favorite FM station.

Well sir. I forgot about the circle. Instead of veering right and following the circular path of the road I barreled straight ahead off the road at about 60 miles an hour and plowed right onto the grass field that was in the middle of the circle and in the process ripped off something from the bottom of my car — I think it might have been my muffler — before I finally managed to hit the breaks and come to a skidding stop in the middle of the grass field.

The three of us got out of the car and surveyed the damage. The car had sunk into the ground — like being stuck in a bog — where the bottom of the car was practically dragging on the ground.. After much difficulty I managed to back the car out of the grass field and back onto the road. But by that point various parts of the bottom of the car had been damaged and were actually scraping against the road and drawing sparks as I drove.

So here we are in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere — stoned — with a severely damaged car and at least 10 miles from the nearest anything. . .Well, somehow we managed to make it that 10 miles — me driving about 5 miles an hour, with this loud scraping noise from whatever it was that was scraping against the road, and sparks flying, and clouds of black smoke billowing out of the back of my car. Until we finally got to a payphone. Where I called my Dad who came and picked us up about two hours later and had the car towed to a gas station for repairs and drove me and my friends back home from what had been a rather dismal Friday night and one more night in the life of my rather dubious career that was my senior year of high school.

And “Don’t forget about the circle” became one of the many catch phrases that I would be remembered for by my high school stoner pals.

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May the least boring candidate win

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Boring or not boring. On a scale of 1-to-10 how would you rate the candidates on the bore-o-meter? . . . . Just look at those two faces. Trump has a wise-ass smirk on his face, he’s about to say something either incredibly stupid, vulgar, crazy, demented, insulting and/or outrageous. But not boring. . . Whereas Hillary’s face is expressing that she’s a kind, caring, bright, intelligent person who’s about to go into excruciating detail about some policy wonk regarding her proposed health-care plan or site some obscure statistics regarding the national deficit and how it pertains to the state of the economy. Or, in other words; BORING.

I predicted Trump was going to win the 2016 presidential election almost from the beginning. Even as all the experts were telling me I was wrong and that Hillary Clinton would win by a landslide. When people asked me why I was so sure Trump would win, I said: “I predict Trump will win because Hillary is so boring.”

Ha ha. How’s that for a sophisticated analysis of presidential politics.

But my premise really isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. When you look back at our previous presidential elections, the one common denominator is that the more boring candidate invariably lost. For example, check out this chart (Republicans on the left, Democrats on the right) with the more boring of the candidates duly noted:

2016  Trump – Hillary (boring)
2012  Romney (boring) – Obama
2008  McCain (boring) – Obama
2004  Bush – Kerry (boring)
2000  Bush – Gore (boring)
1996  Dole (boring) – Clinton
1992  Bush Sr. (boring) – Clinton
1988  Bush Sr. – Dukakis (boring)
1984  Reagan – Mondale (boring)
1980  Reagan – Carter (boring)
1976  Ford (boring) – Carter
1972  Nixon – McGovern (boring)
1968  Nixon – Humphrey (boring)
1964  Goldwater (boring) – Johnson
1960  Nixon (boring) – Kennedy

I rest my case.

Some people scoffed at the idea of Trump winning the presidency, claiming:  “How can a reality TV show star become president?” Which reminded me of something Ronald Reagan used to say when they asked him how an actor could become president. He said “I don’t see how you can be president WITHOUT being an actor.”

In fact the presidency is a 24-hour-a-day reality TV show. And considering we’re going to have to look at the guy’s face every day for the next 4 years, the LAST thing we want is somebody boring. And Trump may well be repulsive to many. But boring he is not.

David Letterman — who despised Trump — conceded he was a great for his show. “Trump is one of those guys that says whatever’s on his mind. That’s what makes him a great TV talk show guest.”

So may the least boring candidate win.

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National Feral Cat Day (October 16)

In honor of NATIONAL FERAL CAT DAY I thought I’d look back at some of my favorite feral cats, past and present, over the last 10 years.

Blondie was one of the first feral cats I hooked up with. She was already living in the bushes in the woods with two other kittens from that litter when I first showed up in 2007 (Mom had been hit by a car, so the kittens had been abandoned). Blondie was very regal and dainty. Very much the queen. She lived to be almost 10, and I never touched her or petted her once in all those years. Except for one time. I was lying on my back in my sleeping bag and out of the blue Blondie jumped up and laid down on my legs. She laid there for about 5 minutes. Like she was thinking “I ALWAYS wanted to try this.” Then jumped off and resumed her usual position sitting about 3 feet away along side me.

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Moo Cat was from Blondie’s first litter in 2008. High-strung, excitable, over-emotional, Moo Cat is the drama queen of the scene. And she’s always picking fights and stirring up trouble. But extremely affectionate. Hates all the other cats and fervently wishes it was just me and her. Often when I’m petting her she’ll get so excited she’ll slash at me with her claws. Girl can’t help it. 10 years old and going strong Moo Cat is the oldest of the tribe. All the feral cats are special to me. But I have a special bond with Moo Cat.

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Scamp is Moo Cat’s sister from the same litter. While they look alike as tuxedo cats, their personalities are polar opposites. Whereas Moo Cat is neurotic, anxious, and crazed, Scamp is always calm and self-satisfied with a master-of-reality expression on her face. A true cosmic cat. Scamp was adopted by a homeless friend of mine who lives on the other side of the hill from me, where she lives happily to this day.

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Mick and Keef were from Blondie’s second and final litter (she became infertile after that). They were a matching set who looked alike and acted alike and went everywhere together. With Keef — naturally — always one step slightly in the lead. When I left town for a year in 2013 they both disappeared from my campsite. But years later Keef would turn up several miles down the road, living happily with another homeless camper

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Tuffy was from Moo Cat’s one-and-only litter before I had her fixed. And, like Moo Cat, she was a character. Unusually brown-colored and especially beautiful, she also ended up adopted by another homeless camper. When he left town for 6 months, Tuffy immediately marched back down to my campsite and sat down on my chest, claiming the center of my campsite as hers and declaring herself the new dominant cat of the tribe (much to Moo Cat’s righteous indignation). Eventually Tuffy returned to her owner (much to Moo Cat’s relief) until she disappeared mysteriously last year.

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After I got all the feral cats at my campsite fixed in 2013, I figured that would be the end of that and Blondie’s lineage would eventually come to a close. But then one day this battered old warhorse of a feral tom, Owl, showed up at my campsite, attracted to my cat food dish. And decided to stick around. Next thing I knew Owl had hooked up with this other newcomer to the scene, this saucy wench Feral Tammy. And they started popping out feral kittens left and right. The remaining cats at my campsite would all spring from Owl’s lineage (with Moo Cat the only holdover from Blondie’s lineage). Completely feral, I never touched him in all the years. And if I made the slightest move towards him he’d immediate step backwards. But eventually he came to trust me. And would sit contentedly near by me. A survivor of many long hard winters fending for himself, Owl passed away quietly a few years ago. But left a brood of cats for me to remember him by.

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Feral Tammy was another one of the totally feral cats. She was already several years old before she showed up at my campsite and her feral instincts were already fully ingrained. She usually watched me warily and kept a respectful distance. But now and again she would make herself at home on my blankets. Here she is with one of her look-alike kittens, Mini Moo, who sadly didn’t make it through the winter.

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Scaredy Cat was from Feral Tammy’s first litter in 2014 (along with sister Fatty and brother Crier). Scaredy Cat immediately established herself as the alpha cat at my campsite. The most intelligent of the cats with the largest vocabulary (a remarkable array of different-sounding meows) Scaredy Cat was a natural leader who the other cats naturally gravitated towards. With the exception of Moo Cat who picked a fight with her in a misguided attempt to impose his dominance, and ended up getting run out of my campsite. From that point on it would be the Scaredy lineage at my campsite (seen here with her first kitten Mini Scaredy).

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Fatty the black cat (sister of Scaredy Cat) is the softest and most gentle and least feral-like of all the cats. Fragile and dainty, she’s the most human-like of the cats. And often gives me this soulful look, like: “If only I could talk the things I could tell you.” She got run out of my campsite by the more aggressive Mini Scaredy. But at 4 years old is alive and well and living on the fringes of my campsite, usually waiting patiently every morning 30 yards down the trail, waiting for me to bring her her breakfast.

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Mini Scaredy (along with her brother Mini Owl) was from Scaredy Cat’s first litter two years ago. Mini Scaredy has become incredibly attached to me. She waits for me to show up every night, hiding in the bushes two blocks down the road from the trail to my campsite. Then she happily trots along side me as I make my way up to my campsite. And as soon as I lay down my cardboard matting she rolls over on her back and looks up at me like “You MUST pet me now!!” Ha ha. Sleeps with me all night long. Then hangs out with me all morning right up until I finally pack up and leave. And she’s the most generous of the feral cats, regularly gifting me with a dead mouse. Mini Scaredy.

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Mini Owl (seen here with sister Mini Scaredy) was one of the most lovable and happy and goofy of the cats. Loved to romp around and play all day long. Unlike a lot of feral cats (who you have to gradually win there trust) Mini Owl immediately attached himself to me from the first time he met me as a 2 month kitten. Mini Owl disappeared at 9 months and I missed the little guy for a long time.

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Thurston Owl the Third was from Scaredy Cat’s second litter (only 4 months after her first litter — she could really pop ’em out!). He was a dead-ringer for Mini Owl in both looks and personality — fun-loving and playful. Almost as if he was the reincarnation of Mini Owl. And like Mini Owl, he too disappeared from my campsite at 9 months.

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And last but not least, the latest addition to the tribe: Micro Scaredy (sister of Thurston Owl) was very distrustful and wary of me right up until around 7 months when she finally began to accept me. Aggressive and assertive she wakes me up every morning at 5 AM and won’t stop pestering me and haranguing me until I fix her her breakfast. Purring loudly the whole time she’s abusing me. Ha ha. She’s a hellion. She’s the third in the lineage of Scaredy cats.

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National Feral Cat Day

Micro Scaredy (sister of Thurston Owl) was very distrustful and wary of me right up until around 7 months when she finally began to accept me. Aggressive and assertive she wakes me up every morning at 5 AM and won’t stop pestering me and haranguing me until I fix her her breakfast. Purring loudly the whole time she’s abusing me. Ha ha. She’s a hellion. The third Scaredy of the lineage.

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Comments
Susan Fernandez Teenager Cats
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Sondra London What a pose!
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Roxanna Stieber Love this picture.
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Jennifer Deshong She is beautiful, Ace.

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Thurston Owl the Third was from Scaredy Cat’s second litter. He was a dead-ringer for Mini Owl in both looks and personality — fun-loving and playful. Almost as if he was the reincarnation of Mini Owl. And like Mini Owl, he too disappeared from my campsite at 9 months.

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Sondra London I miss him!
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Ann Sterzinger This is such a cute photo, especially photobomber kitty.
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Jennifer Deshong I always loved his name. I hope he returns one day soon.
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Mini Owl (seen here with sister Mini Scaredy) was one of the most lovable and happy and goofy of the cats. Loved to romp around and play all day long. Unlike a lot of feral cats (who you have to gradually win there trust) Mini Owl immediately attached himself to me from the first time he met me as a 2 month kitten. Mini Owl disappeared at 9 months and I missed the little guy for a long time.

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Cheri Ahonen He was special.
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Sondra London Another great portrait!
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Susan Foley I’m thinking these little toms went off on their own to establish territories. They might be perfectly fine. That is what I hope.

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Ace Backwords I think you might be right. Most of the males seem to disappear right around before they turn one. And in the 10 years I’ve been camping here it’s always been female cats who hung around. With the one exception being the male Owl.

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Mini Scaredy (along with her brother Mini Owl) was from Scaredy Cat’s first litter two years ago. Mini Scaredy has become incredibly attached to me. She waits for me to show up every night, hiding in the bushes two blocks down the road from the trail to my campsite. Then she happily trots along side me as I make my way up to my campsite. And as soon as I lay down my cardboard matting she rolls over on her back and looks up at me like “You MUST pet me now!!” Ha ha. Sleeps with me all night long. Then hangs out with me all morning right up until I finally pack up and leave. And she’s the most generous of the feral cats, regularly gifting me with a dead mouse. Mini Scaredy.

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Sondra London She’s interested in your doings.
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Fatty (sister of Scaredy Cat) is the softest and most gentle and least feral-like of all the cats. Fragile and dainty, she’s the most human-like of the cats. And often gives me this soulful look, like: “If only I could talk the things I could tell you.” She got run out of my campsite by the more aggressive Mini Scaredy. But at 4 years old is alive and well and living on the fringes of my campsite, usually waiting patiently every morning 30 yards down the trail, waiting for me to bring her her breakfast.

Image may contain: cat and outdoor
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Claire Wylde She is awesome and very wise.
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Roxanna Stieber I just love black kitties. So sweet and soft. 4 of mine are black. 
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Jennifer Deshong Fatty is slender. I love black cats!

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Scaredy Cat was from Feral Tammy’s first litter in 2014 (along with sister Fatty and brother Crier). Scaredy Cat immediately established herself as the alpha cat at my campsite. The most intelligent of the cats with the largest vocabulary (a remarkable array of different-sounding meows) Scaredy Cat was a natural leader who the other cats naturally gravitated towards. With the exception of Moo Cat who picked a fight with her in a misguided attempt to impose his dominance, and ended up getting run out of my campsite. From that point on it would be the Scaredy lineage at my campsite (seen here with her first kitten Mini Scaredy).

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Claire Wylde Great photo.
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Ace Backwords Keenly maternal look on Mom protecting her baby.
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Jillian Bee Moo cat is a male?!
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Ace Backwords replied1 Reply
Joe Workman “You have treats? We were told there’d be treats, mister.”
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Feral Tammy was another one of the totally feral cats. She was already several years old before she showed up at my campsite and her feral instincts were already fully engrained. She usually watched me warily and kept a respectful distance. But now and again she would make herself at home on my blankets. Here she is with one of her look-alike kittens who sadly didn’t make it through the winter.

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Marcella Evans Awww… Mini Moo had the cutest face in Feral Cat Land xx
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After I got all the feral cats at my campsite fixed in 2013, I figured that would be the end of that and Blondie’s lineage would eventually come to a close. But then one day this battered old warhorse of a feral tom — who I named Owl — showed up at my campsite, attracted to my cat food dish. And decided to stick around. Next thing I knew Owl had hooked up with this saucy wench who I named Feral Tammy. And they started popping out feral kittens left and right. The remaining 

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Fred Rinne He was a Cat among Cats!
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Arrow Olesky the universal donor
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Ace Backwords Seen here with his daughter Scaredy Cat.

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Tuffy was from Moo Cat’s one-and-only litter before I had her fixed. And, like Moo Cat, she was a character. Unusually brown-colored and especially beautiful, she also ended up adopted by another homeless camper. When he left town for 6 months, Tuffy immediately marched back down to my campsite and sat down on my chest, claiming the center of my campsite as hers and declaring herself the new dominant cat of the tribe (much to Moo Cat’s righteous indignation). Eventually Tuffy returned to her owner (much to Moo Cat’s relief) until she disappeared mysteriously last year.

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Brenda Perry Sincerely, I’m exhausted being the street Person, I’m tired
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Sondra London gorgeous!
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Mona Lee Abbott Beautiful color!
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Jennifer Deshong Wow, such a unique color. Very beautiful.

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Mick and Keef were from Blondie’s second and final litter (she became infertile after that). They were a matching set who looked alike and acted alike and went everywhere together. With Keef — naturally — always one step slightly in the lead. When I left town for a year in 2013 they both disappeared from my campsite. But years later Keef would turn up several miles down the road living happily with another homeless camper

Image may contain: cat and outdoor
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Farmer Georg Might have been identical twins. A litter can have different daddies or same dads or some same and others another or some same others others or well I will stop here. in any litter there can once in a rare while have identical twins or…..
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Brenda Perry replied1 Reply
Matthew Thompson it’d be cool if you drew up a family tree of your cats.
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Farmer Georg ACE do draw up a tree

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Farmer Georg How many generations back can you go?

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Scamp is Moo Cat’s sister from the same litter. While they look alike as tuxedo cats, they’re personalities are polar opposites. Whereas Moo Cat is neurotic and anxious, Scamp is always calm and self-satisfied with a master-of-reality grin on her face. A true cosmic cat. Scamp was adopted by a homeless friend of mine who lives on the other side of the hill from me, where she lives happily to this day.

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Joaquin Ferguson looks like the Phantom of the Opera
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Moo Cat was from Blondie’s first litter in 2008. High-strung, excitable, over-emotional, Moo Cat is the drama queen of the scene. And she’s always picking fights and stirring up trouble. But extremely affectionate. Hates all the other cats and fervently wishes it was just me and her. Often when I’m petting her she’ll get so excited she’ll slash at me with her claws. Girl can’t help it. 10 years old and going string Moo Cat is the oldest of the tribe. All the feral cats are special to me. But I have a special bond with Moo Cat.

Image may contain: cat
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Michael Connor Is this the one that bangs his daughters?

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John B. Krug I think Moo Cat looks like the inspiration for Sylvester, the cartoon cat…. Which reminds me, when are you going to sketch out a Berzerkley feral cat comic book??? I’m sure you have enough images and plot narratives to work with!!! LOL!!

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In honor of NATIONAL FERAL CAT DAY I’m gonna remember some of my favorite feral cats.

Blondie was one of the first feral cats I hooked up with. She already was living in the woods with two other kittens from that litter when I first showed up in 2007. Blondie was very regal and dainty. Very much the queen. She lived to be almost 10, and I never touched her or petted her once in all those years. Except for one time. I was lying on my back in my sleeping bag and out of the blue Blondie jumped up and laid down on my legs. She laid there for about 5 minutes. Like she was thinking “I ALWAYS wanted to try this.” Then jumped off and resumed her usual position sitting about 3 feet away along side me.

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October 16, NATIONAL FERAL CAT DAY. Celebrate responsibly.

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Bizarre weather last night at my campsite. These powerful winds blasting all across the Berkeley hills. The tree branches swaying madly back and forth creating this booming sound. And it went on all night long (by the morning I was covered in leaves and dirt and branches).

And it was this witchy, warm tropical wind. It was so warm I had to take off my jackets, hats and gloves. And I was STILL hot. This balmy, sweaty heat. I tossed and turned all night long feeling slightly crazed from this strange pressure in the air.

Mini Scaredy took it in stride. But Micro Scaredy freaked out. Periodically she’d get spooked by the booming winds and the crashing tree branches, and she’d run down the hill in a panic. Only to find it was just as windy down there. So she’d run back up to my campsite and nestle on my chest, like “SAVE ME!! SAVE ME!!” (And usually she acts like such a tough guy — sheesh)

The next morning the cats were still freaked out. Mini and Micro were eating at the food dish when Moo Cat comes charging up the hill, runs right past the two cats, and then cowered behind me (she had never done anything like THAT before). Then Moo faced off against the other two cats, snarling fiercely (the other two cats just stared at her like “What’s gotten into THAT bitch??”).

Then later Mini and Micro climbed up on a long tree branch and got into a screeching, slashing cat-fight. Weird.

Witchy weather does weird things to the wild critters.

Last Tango in Paris: a goddamn movie review

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I thought Last Tango in Paris was a really good movie, and an interesting concept, with a great performance by Marlon Brando. This man and this woman meet by chance at this apartment they’re both thinking of renting out. They both feel an immediate strong sexual attraction to each other. So they rip their clothes off and have animal sex right there in the apartment.

They decide to both rent out the apartment. And use it exclusively for where they can have their secret sexual trysts. But with this twist. They decide they don’t want to know anything about the other person — not their names, not their jobs, not their family life. Nothing personal. The apartment will be a haven from their real lives, and as sort of a sanctuary for expressing their sexuality. Pure animal passion with no romance and no relationship aside from the sex.

Things are going great for most of the movie. And they’re able to work out all the kinks of their sexuality. Sort of the notion of sex as a pure self-indulgence with no other strings attached.

Until the Marlon Brando character makes the mistake of falling in love with her. And he tells her his real name and what he does for a living and all the other details of his personal life.

So, of course, she takes out a gun and shoots him dead. The End.

Those French are so romantic.

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