Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Maverick Governor Comes Clean

Have a peek over at my photoblog by clicking at the right, since the first day of the month is a theme day for City Daily Photo, and I've got my take on the theme of Shelter.

A few days back, Governor Rick Perry (R-Texas/ Mordor) stepped out of the race for the Republican nomination. This might explain the reason why, in a speech the Governor really ought to make (just to see the looks on everyone's faces, come on, Rick). Incidentally, I'm going to have to give Texas a wide berth after this one.

“Thanks for that big ol’ Texas greetin’, folks. Feels like I’m comin’ home, by tarnation, seein’ so many Lone Star State people out here tonight. Lots of guns and Stetsons and boots and guns and did I mention the guns? Yeeeeeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwww!!!!!

Okay, so it didn’t work out. I ran again for the nomination, and, well... this time it didn’t work again. Last time out the party thought runnin’ with a guy named Mitt would be a good idea. And we all know how that worked out. Oh, and there’s the whole problem with me puttin’ my foot in my mouth and not knowing a third thing to think about in an answer. Hey, it happens to all of us. Brain ice... no, wait, brain freeze. It happens. Just happened to me at the worst possible time in a debate, but we can’t change the past now, can we? So no, it didn’t work out that time.

This time? Well, if we thought last time was a circus, this was all the more so. Instead of Jeb and Marco and Santorum- by the way, on the record, Santorum’s a pompous sidewindin’ jerk- we got a loudmouth blowhard- no, not Christie, though that bastard is also a blowhard. No, I’m talkin’ ‘bout Trump, partner. Yeah, that orange New York loud talkin’ snake turned all this into a real circus.

Didn’t help that we already had a crowded field. Jeb and Marco and Ted and Santorum and the Huck and that Carson guy and Carly Fiorina and Christie and Walker and the rest of us. And then the other clowns in the field- Sarah and Michele comin’ outta nowhere with this whole double team goin’ for the nomination, and Hulk Hogan throwin’ his bandanna in the ring and cripplin’ Trump. Nobody was payin’ me the slightest bit of attention, no sir. Three months I went with not so much as a question from a reporter. Hell, could’ve been worse. Bobby Jindal announced he was runnin’ and then disappeared into some quicksand pit, or got eaten by coyotes, or maybe he got caught in that there Bermuda triangle.

Well, there ain’t no room in that circle for a Texas maverick like good ol’ Rick Perry, no sir. Turns out the party head honchos think a circus is perfectly fine and a maverick cowboy ain’t. That’s to be expected. They don’t want Texas mavericks in the White House no more, no sir! Not after Dubya. What I’ve seen over these last years is that we Texans aren’t respected by the rest of the country. Those elites out there in Washington sneer at us. Yankees laugh at us and make fun of us. Californians think we’re crazy. I just gotta say... no one disrespects Texas.

So it’s done. Those high falutin’ party head honchos don’t ‘preciate Texas. They don’t respect Texas. And so no more makin’ a bid for President of the United States of ‘Merica for Rick Perry. That don’t mean I can’t be President... of an independent secessionist Republic of Texas! Yeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaww!!!!!!!

Now think on it, y’all. What has ever trustin’ those feds gotten us? It’s gotten us war games bein’ practiced on our soil as an underhanded cheatin’ way of takin’ us over and takin’ away our guns! And just ‘cause that didn’t happen this time don’t mean it ain’t ever gonna happen, right? It’s gotten us no end of disrespect, and like I said, no one disrespects Texas! We’re the land of God and guns and apple pie and tumbleweeds and crazy weather. We started out as an independent republic, by hell and high water, and we can go back that way. Once our great founder Sam Houston kicked Santa Anna in the seat of his pants, we set our own course. We were proud, loud, and brash, and it took time ‘fore the ’Merican government let us in as a state. So I say we go back and be independent again. As one country, one united Texas! Y’all, I’m runnin’ for the President of Texas! Yeeeehaaaaawww!!!!

Yeah, cheer like that! It’s what we’ve always wanted! A country of our own. Just with a better endin’ than Braveheart, ‘cause between you and me, I don’t want to end up gettin’ drawn and quartered and my head chopped off.

So as of right now, we show everyone we mean business. They ain’t gonna have ol’ Texas to kick around and make fun of, no sir. They’re gonna learn some respect, or they’re gonna learn the consequences. No one messes with Texas! Am I right? Yeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaawwww!!!!!!

We’re gonna ride hard and shoot off our rifles and show them we’re serious. After all, we don’t want no interferin’ with the way we do things down here, no sir! We’re Texans, and we’re doin’ Texas proud! And when we’re done....

When we’re done....



You know what? I can’t do this anymore. I’ve taken this whole thing as far as it can go.

It’s time to come clean.

Time for everyone to know the truth.

Particularly about why my voice just dropped that Texas accent.

The truth is pretty simple. You see, I’m not Rick Perry.

My name is Richard Perry. And I wasn’t born in Texas. I’m from Pennsylvania. Born and raised. Thirty years ago I made a fifty dollar bet with a friend- that I could pass myself off as a born and bred Texan, play the part of a maverick local, and rise all the way to become governor. Jack didn’t think enough Texans would be dumb enough for me to pull it off, but hey, you proved him wrong and voted me back into office repeatedly.

So I spent thirty years carefully crafting my legend, so to speak, building my background up as a Texas boy, working on my story. I wasn’t born to Texas cotton farmers. No, my parents were Alex and Tess Perry of Lancaster. Dad was a lawyer, Mom was in real estate. The people I passed off as my parents were just paid actors in a grand performance piece that’s been playing out for thirty years.

Until now, the only other person still alive who knew the truth is my wife Anita. I mean, it’s kind of hard to lie to your spouse for thirty years, so of course she knew. She found the whole idea amusing, actually. Not so amusing, I’d think, if I’m looking at my chief of staff right now, who looks like he’s having a heart attack.

Well, I know you all must feel pretty angry with me right now. I’ve spent thirty years carefully working to the point where I could make fools of you. But it was worth it. Best fifty dollar bet I ever made. Though I think I’d better exit stage right. Like I said earlier... some of you have guns, and a lot of you look pissed off. In closing, I’ll just say two things. First, Jack, I’m expecting the fifty bucks plus interest over thirty years delivered to me by week’s end.

Second, to the people of Texas, I can only say.... nyah nyah nyah nyah!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Life And Death In The Death Zone

In May 1996, several expeditions were high on Mount Everest, making attempts on the summit on a part of the mountain often referred to as the Death Zone. Things were already going wrong for them when a blizzard fell over the mountain. In its wake, eight people died, five of them on the Nepalese side of the mountain during the storm. The story has been documented before, in Jon Krakauer’s eyewitness book Into Thin Air. An IMAX film, Everest, told the story as well; the IMAX team of climbers had been safe, lower on the mountain during the storm, and took part in the rescue of climbers from the high camps. The co-director of that film, David Breashers, would make a documentary several years later, Storm Over Everest, revisiting the disaster with commentary from the survivors. Now a feature film about the tragedy is out in theatres, from director Baltasar Kormakur.

The film opens with the climbing season at base camp underway. Two guiding expedition companies are among the teams looking to climb the mountain. One is led by a New Zealander, Rob Hall (Jason Clarke). He’s promised his wife Jan (Keira Knightley) that he’ll be back home in time for the birth of their baby. The other team is led by an American, Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal). We meet Helen Wilton (Emily Watson), a base camp manager, Andy Harris (Martin Henderson), a guide, and we meet some of the clients who are paying to be guided up the mountain- Americans Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), and Japanese climber Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori). The expeditions set out up the mountain, through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall and up towards the high camp, eager to reach the summit. Things go wrong early- there are too many people high up on the mountain, turn-around times are ignored, and the weather takes a turn for the worst.

The events of that year are well known- the disaster made extensive coverage in the media at the time, and books and documentaries explored it in the years afterwards. Screenwriters William Nicholson (Shadowlands, First Knight, Gladiator) and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, The Full Monty) took those events and fashioned a screenplay on it focusing much of the attention on the two expeditionary teams. Unlike a scientific expedition (the IMAX team, for instance, were involved that year in setting up seismic equipment on the mountain), guided expeditions were the sort of operation that would hire themselves out to anyone with enough money who wanted to tag the top to get them up there (one of the underlying issues of the disaster, too many unqualified climbers on the mountain, particularly at the highest altitudes all at once, and not much respect for the Sherpas who do so much of the critical work at great risk on any given season climbing there).

Nicholson and Beaufoy’s screenplay explores that- we see people on that mountain who haven’t earned the right to be there, who are doing it for their own egos. We also see people making mistakes- expedition leaders feeling the pressure to get their clients on the summit disregarding their better instincts, climbers not paying heed to turn around times. The story keeps up the suspense, a formidable thing, considering the audience knows what is coming. Themes are interwoven into the narrative- the hubris of humans, the unforgiving power of nature, and the will to survive. There is some speculation in the screenplay as to the fates of some of these people- in a couple of cases, the bodies were never found, but the way the film presents their deaths doesn’t seem implausible.

Kormakur is an Icelandic director, with a mix of European and North American films to his name, though this is the first time I’ve seen any of his work. Everest presents quite a challenge for a filmmaker, and he comes through. While some location filming was done in Kathmandu and around the Everest base camp, a good deal of the location filming was done in the Italian Alps, while studio work and CGI (quite convincing in both cases) managed for some of the sequences at the highest parts of the mountain. The doubling of different locations for Nepal (helped along by CGI) works- because let’s face it... no studio would underwrite a film putting actors high up on the actual mountain.

Kormakur does a good job in conveying the tension of the story, even for those who know the outcome, giving the audience a good sense of where the climbers are at any given time. Early on that tension shows itself in the Icefall, one of the most treacherous areas on the mountain, while later it really shows itself during the height of the storm. The gear and clothing have an authentic look- and I like the way the crew conveyed the ferocity of the storm and its effect on high camps and the climbers themselves, both in terms of CGI work and set work. I also like the way the crew conveys height, even on studio set filming- there are sequences throughout the film that will give problems to anyone who doesn’t like heights. It can, admittedly, be a problem keeping track of who’s who, when many members of the cast are hidden beneath winter coats, goggles, and oxygen masks, but everything looks like it belongs up there. And I also like Dario Marianelli’s rich, evocative, foreboding score, a good fit for the ominous mood of the film. It’s a sharp contrast, of course, from some of his other work, such as the 2005 Pride & Prejudice or Salmon Fishing In the Yemen.

The cast is well chosen, even if some of them don’t get a whole lot to do. Robin Wright (The Princess Bride) plays Beck’s wife Peach, worrying and uncertain through much of the time she gets onscreen- and the character gets an emotional roller coaster as one might expect as she waits on the other side of the world for news. Naoko Mori as Yasuko Namba is an interesting touch- the woman is separated from those around her by the language barrier, and so we don’t get to know too much about her. The real Yasuko had climbed the other mountains in the seven highest in the world, and was eager to cap that with Everest- and yet fate ended up taking things in another direction during the height of the storm. We can feel for her even at the end, and the actress and story take it that way.

Emily Watson (Gosford Park, The Boxer) gets the most to do of the women in the cast, playing Helen as you’d expect when we first meet her. As a base camp manager, she’s highly organized, quick to adapt, and given the location, it’s a high stress sort of job even if things go well. The character keeps things together (while dealing with the tremendous strain of the situation. She’s something of a motherly sort- ironic, given that many of the other characters are her age. Keira Knightley gets a chance to cry (given the subject matter, totally understandable) as Jan, Rob’s wife, in New Zealand and pregnant while all of this is going on. Her conversations with Rob are poignant and heartbreaking- part of the emotional core of the film.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Scott Fischer in a way that I would expect- ambitious, tough, resourceful, and driven. Scott had the experience to be on the mountain, with climbs on Everest, K2, and other peaks. He comes across as a capable leader- perhaps pressuring himself more than anyone else to get his clients on the summit (one of those mistakes that people keep making as things go along). For all that experience though, Scott was hiding something else that was a problem even before the storm- he was suffering from hypoxia and likely cerebral edema during the climb, which left him lethargic at high altitudes. Gyllenhaal takes these into consideration through his performance, and as the story goes along and things get worse, he really conveys the man’s sense of exhaustion and the notion of a man at the end of it all.

If the marriage between Rob and Jan is one of the emotional cores of the film, the other is Beck Weathers, and Josh Brolin brings the character to life. The man himself provides one of the few positives about that disaster- the sheer willpower of someone literally left for dead at the top of the world, getting up and moving on his own- if there are miracles in this world, that’s definitely one. Beck survived the storm, paid a steep price in physical damage, and yet his spirit stayed strong, and Brolin, who has matured into a strong actor, plays to that, portraying a decent man with an overpowering will to live.  I found myself wondering if Brolin had spent time with Weathers and his family in preparing for the part.

Jason Clarke gets the role of the poignant New Zealander Rob Hall, and it’s a good part to play. The actor’s done a lot in his native Australia, but might be best known to international audiences for roles in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Terminator Genisys. The real man, lost in the storm high on the mountain, was by all reports a likable, decent fellow, good natured and capable. Having had missed the chance the previous year to get his clients to the summit, he must have been putting pressure on himself to rectify that in 1996. Things go wrong- Doug isn’t listening to those voices of warning in his head, the same voices that tell other climbers to turn back and not push for the summit. And while he has opportunities to descend on his own- to save his own life- his sense of duty to the life of one of his own clients prevents him from carrying that out. Clarke seems to bring all of that to life in his performance, and particularly in the way he and Keira Knightley relate as a married couple- they feel very believable, while Clarke’s take on Rob feels quite true to life.

There have been yet more deaths on Everest in the nearly two decades since that disaster. Guided expeditions continue to bring unqualified climbers up to the highest point on the planet. The arrogance of man in the face of nature persists. This, of course, is not a new thing, and there will, time and time again, be yet more tragic deaths on the slopes of Everest. The story of that one climbing season that plays out in this film captures the ferocity of that storm well, demonstrating both the hubris of ambition and the strength of the human will. I found the film both harrowing and enjoyable.

Though if one has a fear of heights, watching this might end in a few years worth of therapy sessions.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Day In The Life Of An Idiot

As the poem In Flanders Fields is well known, have a look over at my photoblog. I have a post yesterday about John McCrae.

Now, it's been awhile since I've featured a blog with the insufferably obnoxious voice of this blithering idiot. Rob Ford, the former mayor and still city councilor and buffoon of Toronto (honestly, are the people in his ward that stupid?) has yet to do the world a favour and stop breathing. Writing his voice is like fingernails on a blackboard.

9:45 AM. Wakin’ up. Man, bad hangover. Got totally wasted last night. Like I do every night. Well, there’s nothin’ like the hair of the dog that bit you, right? Of course I’m right.

9:53 AM. Guzzlin’ down some vodka. My favourite drink. Closely followed by scotch, whiskey, beer, rum, beer, wine, moonshine...

10:37 AM. Okay, figure sooner or later I gotta get down to that worthless City Hall and do my ****in’ job. When I’m not busy causin’ a ****in’ scene and underminin’ that ****er of a mayor. Yeah, sooner or later, I’ll be right back in that ****in’ office as mayor, and then, there’s gonna be hell to pay. Revenge, big time! Against every mother****er who ever screwed over Robbie Ford!

11:09 AM. Out the front door. Wearin’ my track suit, lookin’ like the boss. I can still get away with it, what with bein’ in “recovery.” It’s ****in’ hilarious to take full advantage of those ****in’ idiots. Plus hey, I look really ****in’ good in a track suit.

11:11 AM. Tearin’ down the street in the SUV. Hey, I’m good to drive! Some people can’t handle their liquor, but I’m Rob ****in’ Ford! I can take downin’ a whole *****in’ bottle and then gettin’ behind the ****in’ wheel!

11:43 AM. Parked the ****in’ car on a sidewalk near City Hall. Mighta hit somethin’ on the drive in. Don’t really know, I was takin’ a gulp from my whiskey flask when I felt a bump. Awww, who cares, it was probably just my drunken imagination. If those stupid ****in’ cops or bylaw people want to ticket me, I’ll have those stupid mother****ers fired, because nobody messes with Rob ****in’ Ford and lives to see their grandchildren!

11:47 AM. Inside City Hall. Yelling at some ****in’ security guard. Hey! **** you! You know who I am? I’m a city ****in’ councillor, jackass! And I’m gonna be the mayor again, and then I’m gonna be the prime minister, and I’ll have your worthless ****in’ ass outta work for the rest of your ****in’ days, you hear me?

12:05 PM. Steppin’ into the council chambers. Buncha stupid ****ers are breakin’ for lunch. Some of them give me a dirty look. Hey! **** you! You so much as look at me like that, and that means you stupid ****ers love cancer!

12:51 PM. Sittin’ in my office, wolfin’ down a cheese steak sandwich and washin’ it down with some vodka. Life’s good. Nothin’ can possibly go wrong now.

12:53 PM. Knock at the door. Quick look around just to make sure there’s no crack on the desk.

12:54 PM. Door opens. Guy walks in flashin’ a badge. Says something about my car being a match for one that ran down some guy this mornin’. Hey! **** you! Look, I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, mother****er, my car got stolen last night. If you ***holes lose the report, that’s on you stupid mother****ers, not me!

12:56 PM. The idiot cop is blatherin’ on and on about how my car is out on the sidewalk a couple streets away, so my little story about a stolen car doesn’t hold much weight. Hey! **** you! How do you know that thief didn’t just leave the ****in’ car there? Get outta my ****in’ office, ***hole!

1:05 PM. Pissed off. My whole three hour lunch and drinkin’ session interrupted by that ****in’ cop. Who gives a **** about pedestrians anyway? Said it ‘bout those ****in’ cyclists, and it applies here: my heart bleeds for ‘em... actually, it doesn’t, because like I said, who gives a **** about pedestrians? Anyway, my heart bleeds for ‘em, but hey, they had it comin’ when they got out on the road and decided their ****in’ safety was more important than Rob ****in’ Ford. ‘Cause I’m more important than anyone else. Ford Nation, baby!! Yeah!

1:15 PM. Staggerin’ back into council chambers. Hey! You stupid mother****ers started without me?

1:16 PM. The Speaker delivers some ****in’ lecture about language and public decorum. Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, you know I won’t listen to anything you even say and inside of five minutes I’ll be rantin’ again....

1:18 PM. In the middle of a temper tantrum yellin’ at every single one of these mother****ers! Hey! Don’t you roll your ****in’ eyes at me! I’m Rob ****in’ Ford, and I’m gonna be mayor again next time out and until then, I’m ****in’ well gonna do everything in my power to screw you ****ers over! Ford Nation wants a council that does what I say, and you stupid mother****ers disrespect me! **** you! And one more thing.....

3:27 PM. Waking up. Where the **** am I? Not at home... wait a minute... am I in a jail cell? Geez, that must’ve been one hell of a blackout.

3:38 PM. Dougie turns up outside my cell. Weird, he’s got a black eye and a sling on his arm. Dougie! Who the **** put me in here? Did you and me get in some fight?

3:40 PM. Dougie is tellin’ me what happened. Apparently I got decked by a cranky Mountie named Lars Ulrich. Wait a minute, when did that Metallica drummer join those ****in’ Mounties?

3:41 PM. Dougie explains that it seems this ****in’ Ulrich bastard was down here in the city and that I’m the one who actually ran him down in the street, and he’s the one who hit me while I was in the middle of a temper tantrum in council. Well come on, Dougie, if I knew he was with Metallica, I wouldn’t have done that! And hey, if he didn’t come out of this whole thing hurt, no harm no foul, right Dougie? By the way, how’d you get hurt?

3:42 PM. Turns out Dougie asked that Ulrich bastard if he was with Metallica. That ****er didn’t find it amusin’, and that’s why he looks like the walkin’ wounded. Look, who gives a **** about a hit and run? What’s important right now is gettin’ out on top of this whole thing and gettin’ me out and gettin’ these ****in’ charges dropped. They can’t prove if I was behind the wheel or not, I mean, I said the car was stolen, so **** ‘em!

8:45 PM. Finally outta this ****in’ nonsense. Dougie and my lawyer walk me out the front door. Lots of media ****ers waitin’. A few Ford Nation fans holdin’ signs. Dougie, where are the thousands of our fan club? Why aren’t we bein’ mobbed by our supporters? I make a quick statement. Lie through my teeth about some mother****er stealin’ the SUV and usin’ it to run down some ****in’ cop who once hit me before and now has hit me again. I shrug and say that ****in’ Mountie who plays with Metallica should be charged with ****in’ assault, because look at what that ****er did to my beautiful face!

The lawyer’s busy draggin’ me away before I can put my foot any deeper in my mouth.

9:26 PM. Back at home with Dougie and the lawyer. The ball and chain’s put those ****in’ brats to bed. Just as well. Don’t want to see those ****ers anyway. The lawyer’s tellin’ me I gotta stop behavin’ like I’m behavin’ or I’m gonna end up in prison, there’s only so many times I can dodge the consequences of my actions, and... hey! **** you! I pay you to get my ass outta trouble, so don’t you ****in’ lecture me about my actions! Just do your ****in’ job!

11:57 PM. Lawyer’s gone. Me and Dougie are in the back yard drinkin’ some vodka. I’m busy smokin’ crack. Yeah, Dougie, this is the life. Smokin’ crack, gettin’ high, gettin’ drunk. And nothin’ but good days from here on out. We’re gonna get even with that mother****er Mountie just like we’re gonna get even with all those mother****ers on the enemy list who dare disrespect us. I mean, the liberals and the commies and the left wingers and the media and the granola eatin’ hippies and the judges and the Pope and the raccoons and the police and the Queen and every single one of them.

Geez, Dougie, is it just me, or does your chest feel like a vice right about now? Aw, ****... whatever it is, that can’t  somethin’ I’ll worry about. Let’s have ourselves a toast. To the Brothers Ford, Dougie! May we reign forever! Ford Nation, baby! Yeah!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Day In The Life Of A Cat

And now it is time for the cat to have her say. Your Highness, the floor is yours, so do tell us lowly humans your will.

7:31 AM. Waking up. Dreamed of vast fields of catnip. A pleasant way to start the day.

7:36 AM. The staff comes downstairs. Dressed for work I see. Okay, note to self: do not go outside. One does not want to be stuck outside all day while she’s off at that work place. 

7:41 AM. The staff surprises me by giving me some tuna instead of the usual field rations. Staff, what is this? Are you buttering me up for something awful? Are those idiot relations of yours coming for a visit on the weekend?

7:43 AM. Despite my wariness as to the staff’s intentions, I content myself with a proper breakfast.

7:58 AM. The staff is out the door and on her way. Bring back more tuna, staff!

8:03 AM. Sitting on the back of the couch, staring out the window. The screen windows are open, so somewhere in the distance I can hear the endless barking of that annoying dog. Just as long as he stays away from my property.

8:36 AM. Looking out the window watching the flying lunches on the lawn. Too bad I can’t get out there and wreck havoc. Why doesn’t the staff take things like this into consideration and just leave one door ajar for me to go in and out at my leisure?

8:41 AM. Still on the back of the couch. This sun puddle I’m in happens to be nice and warm. It could put a kitty to sleep. I think I’ll just close my eyes. Time for my first nap of the day. Naps are a very good thing for kitties.

11:36 AM. Waking up. Slept well. Good long nap. Just the thing to keep me in a good mood. I may have to stockpile some naps in case the staff’s idiot relations turn up on the weekend. I mean, after all, if I’m in hiding for two or three days, I can’t let my guard down long enough to take naps.

12:01 PM. Drinking some water. The staff left some field rations out, so they’ll have to do me until she gets home. Hopefully the idiot relations aren’t coming with her straight from work. I would be most put out by that. Granted, I’ve got enough hiding spots picked out where those irritating kids can’t find me, but between you, me, and the scratching post, I still like a bit of warning in advance. 

12:51 PM. A nap is in order. I need to stockpile them just in case. Okay, set a mental alarm clock so I don’t wake up from the sound of annoying rugrats running through the front door and yelling Kitty! Wanna hug the kitty! 3:15 would do nicely.

3:42 PM. Waking up from nap. Examining the clock. Hey! I overslept! What happened to my mental alarm clock?

4:23 PM. Sitting on the back of the couch, looking outside. Okay. Got to stay awake now. If I see the staff drive up, I can interrogate her as to if she’s invited those idiot relations or not. If, however, her car is accompanied by the car of the idiot relations, I have to run like hell and bolt for one of my hiding spots.

4:37 PM. Movement catches my eye. A group of wild turkeys enters the yard. I can hear the gobbling. Way, way too big for me to take down one of those. Boy, are they weird birds. Tasty though. The staff gives me some turkey meat when she has it, which admittedly isn’t often. 

4:41 PM. Still watching the turkeys. Tail twitching. Yes, yes, gobble away, you gobbling gobblers. One of them sees me through the window. Starts walking this way.

4:42 PM. The turkey stares at me. I stare back. We both stare at each other. The turkey gobbles again. Hey, sorry, but I don’t speak turkey. If you were a skunk or a raccoon or a deer, well, those are languages I’m fluent in, but with birds, well, I’m more interested in wanting to eat them.

4:43 PM. And now the rest of the turkeys are joining their buddy. Staring at me. I’m staring back. This is getting silly. You know what, I’ve had enough. You guys just go ahead and munch on the grass or whatever else turkeys do, I’m going to get off this couch, find something else to do, and when I get back, you’ll all be gone. Right? Right.

4:57 PM. Looking up some information on the computer. Wait... a group of turkeys is a rafter? In what universe does that make sense?

5:14 PM. Okay, the staff should be coming home soon. Up on the couch to look outside. Wait a minute... those turkeys are still here?

5:25 PM. The staff’s car turns into the driveway. The turkeys scatter. Fortunately there is no sign of the car belonging to the idiot relations.

5:27 PM. The staff comes in the front door. I greet her with a head bonk to the legs. Staff, those turkeys were hanging around here for nearly an hour. Between us, I think they’re up to something. Now then, more importantly: are those idiot relations coming up here for a visit? Because I thought I made myself perfectly clear- such decisions must be cleared in advance with me, the earlier the better.

6:06 PM. Supervising the staff as she makes dinner. While she’s said nothing about any impending visits, I rest content that it will not happen tonight- she’s not cooking for more than herself. And me, of course, I expect some food out of all this.

6:41 PM. Dinner with the staff. A good portion of beef, cut up for me by the staff. A bowl of milk. No presence of the idiot relations. Life is good. 

7:25 PM. Occupied in thirty minutes of being cuddled by the staff.

8:55 PM. Lying in my usual contorted position. Totally relaxed. The staff thinks I look like a pretzel.

11:48 PM. The staff is off to bed. Good night, staff, but keep the doors open. Odds are I’ll be walking over you sometime in the night. Besides, if those turkeys are lurking outside the upstairs windows, I need to get up there and howl like a banshee at three in the morning.