31 December 2012


For me, the modern movie-going experience is hideous so it’s quite the occasion when I visit my neighborhood theater. In this case a number of factors conspired to bring it about. First, of course, it’s The Hobbit. I’ve been a Tolkien fan for 35+ years, since my father bought The Two Towers for me one weekend. (I was a bit clueless at the time so hadn’t realized that the book was the second in a trilogy. The opening threw me for a bit until I realized my mistake, which was soon rectified.) By the time I was 11, I had read The Silmarillion and now I have a bookshelf dedicated to Tolkieniana – including at least seven volumes of Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth. Second, I had a free-movie pass (no expiration date) that a friend had given me several years ago. Third, my theater is only two blocks north of where I live. Fourth, I’ve been on vacation for the last week and so had copious free time on my hands and could go to the matinee. And, fifth, a friend had gone to see the film and e-mailed me with his impressions about it.

My going was inevitable.

Overall, I would give Jackson’s Hobbit a moderately positive thumb’s up.

Among the good points:

  1. Without a doubt, the best thing about the movie was the casting of Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. Once you’ve seen him acting, you realize that there could have been no other actor to play the part.
  2. The Dwarves. I was impressed that Jackson managed to make many of Thorin’s Company reasonably distinct. I can’t claim to be able to identify all thirteen but I did know who Fili, Kili, Balin, Dwalin and Bofur were by the end of the film. (I exclude Thorin, for obvious reasons, and Bombur, since he’s always been “the fat one.”)
  3. I liked the fact that Jackson was able to shoehorn “Blunt the Knives” and the lament for lost Erebor into the “Unexpected Party” scenes. But I was disappointed that he didn’t include the Elvish ditty “Down in the Valley” when the Dwarves reach Rivendell. Though considering how the Elves are presented here and in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, I can see why he didn’t (I’ll have more about my dissatisfaction with Jackson’s Elves in the “bad points” section of this review below).
  4. I liked the Troll scene. Again, there was a certain amount of disappointment that Jackson excised the part where Gandalf bamboozles them with ventriloquism but his solution – Bilbo distracting them until morning – was OK.
  5. I wasn’t bothered by the Thorin/Azog thread Jackson introduced since there is some basis for it in the books. Azog does kill Thror and mutilate the body; however, that sets off the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs, it doesn’t happen at the final battle. Azog is killed at the final battle (by Dain, not Thorin) and it’s his son, Bolg, who leads the Goblin army at the end of the novel. But that may be too complicated for movie-going audiences to follow, so I’m OK with streamlining it.
  6. I interpret the character and appearance of the Great Goblin as an homage to the character and appearance of same in the Rankin/Bass animated version from 1977. Now, if only Jackson could have shoehorned the “Down, down to Goblin Town” song into that scene.
  7. The riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum is terrific. Not much more to say, except that it captures what happens in the book perfectly.
  8. There’s a scene when the Dwarves have escaped from Goblin Town and Bilbo has caught up with them (having eluded Gollum). Thorin asks Bilbo why he came back since he has a home to return to and no reason to continue on with the quest, and Bilbo says (I paraphrase): “I have a home where – indeed – I should be; but you don’t, and I would be a poor Hobbit if I didn’t help you recover yours.” It’s not from the book but it’s certainly Tolkien, and whichever scriptwriter is responsible for it deserves kudos.
Among the bad points:

  1. Radagast. This was probably the biggest mistake of the entire film – at least as far as characterizations go. He’s not made up out of whole cloth. Radagast does make a brief appearance in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as the unwitting messenger of Saruman to Gandalf. Even in that fleeting encounter, however, the reader can see that this is a real person with real wisdom. In Jackson’s hands, he becomes a cartoonish caricature covered in bird shit. It’s similar to what he did to Denethor’s character in LotR, who was so much more believable and complex in Tolkien’s hands.
  2. Elves. Elves are not metrosexual vegetarians. Somehow, in the years since Tolkien wrote, vulgar fandom, most role-playing games and now Jackson have turned the Professor’s complex and unique creatures into sexless, tee-totaling, arrogant, obnoxious jerks. Elves, like Men and Dwarves, are not just creatures of spirit but of flesh and they are capable of all the desires and evils the latter two races exhibit. In The Silmarillion they’re rapists (Eöl/Aredhel), attempted rapists (Celegorm/Luthien), murderers (the sons of Fëanor), and – yes – even hunters (Beleg Strongbow), i.e., people who kill animals for food. And in Tolkien’s Hobbit, Bilbo manages to free the Dwarves from the Wood-elf king’s dungeons because the wardens get drunk! Here and in LotR, Jackson mischaracterizes them shamefully.
  3. The fight scenes. This may be a paradox, but the fight scenes needed to be more realistic. It was better in LotR, but every fight in this movie lasts too long and is so over the top as to descend into the realms of the cartoon or the wuxia flick. In the latter genres, the viewer expects to see outrageous feats of derring-do and utterly unbelievable fighting but that style just doesn’t work in this genre. It’s a tired cliché, but in this case “less is more.”
There’ve been discussions on the internets about the “padding” Jackson has resorted to, to make a three-film epic. Based on this first film, I found the extras and the background info reasonable. It didn’t detract from the story too much, and it’s probably necessary to make sure non-Tolkien geeks can follow what’s going on. I reserve final judgment until I see what Jackson does with the rest of the series.

So, I imagine that – in the end – my relationship to Jackson’s Hobbit will mirror that of my relationship with his Lord of the Rings – A love/hate situation. There’s so much Jackson can get right in translating Tolkien to the screen but – oh, boy – when he gets it wrong (which he does often enough), he really gets it wrong.

Books: The Year in Review

I have been unforgivably negligent in maintaining my nearly-a-traditional mid-year and end-of-year “best of” book surveys but I am atoning with the following:
Overall, my impression is that 2012 was a relatively disappointing year in books for me. I didn’t find as many new and/or interesting works and authors as in the past. Part of that, is that 2012 was a year of rereading. I found myself harking back to a lot of authors who I hadn’t read in years.

But here’s my list of the books and/or authors who really made an impression on me (in the order read):

Religion in Human Evolution by Robert Bellah: This is a fascinating look at religion as it relates to human biological and cultural evolution. Bellah dismisses the idea that there is a “religion” gene or congeries of genes but he does postulate that there are biologically based behaviors that express themselves in the cultural meme of “religion.” I should have written a review for my GoodReads account but I had notes for nearly every page (of an 800+ page book) and the task was too daunting. This was, however, most assuredly a four-stars-out-of-five book and strongly recommended.

Erasure and Assumption by Percival Everett. Here is my opening from the GoodRead’s review: “If Erasure is about anything, it’s about identity. Ones we invent for ourselves, ones we invent for others, ones that are forced on us, and ones that we lose.

Assumption is a very different novel in style, voice and ostensible subject than Erasure. But it is at least as good, if not better, in my opinion. It's made up of three novella-length stories tied together by the character of Ogden Walker, a deputy sheriff in a rural New Mexico county, and the problem of finding out who we are.

Everett is a welcome new find this year.

Ragnarök by A.S. Byatt. I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling of the Norse apocalypse, not least because she stripped it of its Christian accretions.

The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake. I finally got around to reading this SF classic and was well rewarded. The final book, Titus Alone, wasn’t as good as the first two but overall the trilogy deserves its reputation.

Medea and Cassandra by Christa Wolf. These were a couple of the rereads I mentioned above but it had been nearly 20 years since I had originally read them so it was as if I were discovering Wolf for the first time. Again from my GoodReads review of the first book: “It’s a critique of modern, capitalist (and, yes, male-dominated) culture, and – on a personal and the more important level – it’s an argument for the importance of retaining one’s integrity as a person in the face of enormous pressure to conform and submit. And that’s why I’ve revised my rating to four stars – it spoke to me more powerfully now than it did 15 years ago when I was – unfortunately – a less discerning reader.

Red Emma Speaks, ed. by Alix Kates Shulman. This is a collection of some of Emma Goldman’s more famous writings. It too is a reread and it further solidified my admiration for this woman and her philosophy.

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban. This is a post-apocalyptic novel that deals with themes raised by authors like Walter Miller in A Canticle for Leibowitz or Edgar Pangborn in Davy and Still I Persist in Wondering – Is there an essential core of goodness in humanity? Are we condemned to repeat our follies? The struggle to remain an individual against the pressures to conform and obey.

Waiting for the Barbarians by Daniel Mendelsohn. This is the second collection of his reviews I’ve read (the first was How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken) and it is just as good as that first one. He covers low- and high-brow culture in its many forms and does it with an extraordinary insight that consistently amazes me.

And that’s about it for 2012, though I will make four honorable mentions:

Kameron Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha series – God’s War, Infidel, Rapture. (Technically, I haven’t read Rapture yet but I include it in anticipation.) Hurley is a new voice in the SF field and I am looking forward to reading more of her stuff.

Lindsey Davis’ Falco series. This is a mystery series set in Vespasian’s Rome. I’m enjoying it because Vespasian is one of my favorite Roman emperors; the series has a Rockford Files vibe, one of my favorite TV shows; and Davis writes well.

Iain Bank’s Hydrogen Sonata. This is the latest Culture novel and it’s the best one he’s written in years though it still can’t compare to the first three – Consider Phlebas, Use of Weapons and Player of Games.

Based on an essay in the Mendelsohn book mentioned above, I picked up a copy of Stephen Mitchell’s new translation of the Iliad. I had hoped to finish it before the New Year but have only made it to Book 19 (as of the 31st). It is everything Mendelsohn promised and I would recommend it both to people who have read other translations and as a good place to start if you would like to read it but have been agonizing over whose version to attempt (assuming you weren’t going to go with the original Homeric Greek).

Happy reading in 2013!

28 December 2012

Dianne Feinstein is an idiot!

I know that it's not kosher to call someone an idiot but you must forgive me a moment of sophomoric ill manners.

For the past few days I've been listening to stories about Senate Democrats' efforts to amend the unconstitutional FISA Act, which will extend the government's claim to unlimited powers to spy on its citizens into the indefinite future (efforts which have failed miserably - the Senate voted to extend the act without amendment 73-23). In her response to efforts to hold the government to even a fig leaf of due process, Ms. Feinstein claimed that we need not fear that the government would abuse its police powers and that we shouldn't concern ourselves with the patent loss of our civil rights.


Because, you know, our police forces have never - never - abused their authority.

And that's just from the last week.

This is why I wrote that I loathed this woman in my last post.

04 November 2012

Mr Monika's 2012 Election Guide

The United States' winner-take-all elections tend to make this voter schizophrenic. In nearly every election I'm torn between voting my conscience and voting pragmatically. And this campaign season is no exception.

A Romney win would be an unmitigated disaster for not only the U.S. but the planet in general. Yet an Obama win would be but a mitigated disaster - We'd only slow but not stop the continued rape of the environment ("clean coal," anyone?), we'd continue the march toward the militarization of domestic police and the liberties lost under the PATRIOT Act will still be lost, we'd continue to let the financial sector dictate how our economy is run, and we'd continue to operate under the delusion that American can control the planet for its benefit (an impossibility, even if it were morally justifiable). With Obama, though, we can win marginal victories. When Occupy erupted in 2010, the conversation moved away from the deficit and toward figuring out how to change things so that the collapse of 2008 wouldn't happen again (the conversation has moved back, alas, toward deficit reduction and austerity). When more than a 1,000 people protested in front of the White House, we managed to delay (though, again, not stop) the Keystone X-L pipeline. Perhaps too slowly, a movement is growing to stop fracking and mountain-top removal schemes have been slowed down as well. Tiny, dispiriting, often Pyrrhic victories but victories that would be unthinkable if Romney were president.

And let's not forget the Supreme Court. It's already locked into a 19th century, Gilded-Age mode for the next decade if not longer. Under Romney, we can basically forget any limits placed on corporations or government power to spy and oppress its own citizenry.

So I've decided to assuage the idealist and the pragmatist in me thus:

President/vice president: Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala (Green)
US Senator: Dianne Feinstein (Democrat)
US Representative: Grace Napolitano (Democrat)

Even if I were in a so-called swing state, I couldn't bring myself to vote for Obama so I will cast my presidential vote for the most intelligent, far-sighted and humane candidate on the ticket. Regardless of who becomes president, he's going to need a Congress that he can work with (Obama) or one that will block him at every turn (Romney). In either case, that means we need to send as many Democrats back as possible and depose as many Republicans as we can. So, though I loathe Feinstein, I choose her over the Republican Elizabeth Emken; and Napolitano over David Miller.

State Assembly: Roger Hernandez (Democrat)

This is an interesting race. Hernandez is under investigation for domestic abuse (just today I got a flyer - presumably from the opposition - explaining this in great detail). Now, I'm not in favor of electing men who beat up their partners to any elected office but when Hernandez resigns in disgrace and/or is indicted, his replacement will be a Democrat and we won't have lost anything.

District Attorney (LA County): Jackie Lacey

I heard an interview with Lacey on KPFK several weeks ago and she impressed me with her opinions and intentions as DA. I haven't heard much from her opponent, Alan Jackson, but from what I've read on his site and in the various voter guides, he doesn't sound like someone I can support.

State Ballot Measures - 

30: Yes. A mixed bag since it makes the state tax structure marginally more progressive but also raises the viciously regressive sales tax by 0.25 cents but without it, draconian cuts are going to gut school funding and a whole bunch of other programs.

31: No. The big change this proposition would impose is a two-year budgeting cycle. I was on the fence with this one until I heard a debate between a proponent and an opponent (again on KPFK). The anti didn't impress me too much but the pro refused to answer the radio host's questions directly, which always should raise a red flag. For example, the pro claimed that several states had successfully implemented similar measures but when asked to name these states he obfuscated. I still don't know which states are operating happily under two-year budgets. (The only state I know of that has a multi-year budget cycle is Texas, which is an economic basket case and certainly nothing to emulate.)

32: No. A union-smashing measure.

33: No. A measure funded by the insurance companies (primarily Mercury) to screw the consumer for more money.

34: Yes. Repeals the death penalty in California. The alternative - life without parole - is not a perfect solution but it's a step toward creating a more humane, effective criminal justice system.

35: No. No sane person can be for human trafficking or child pornography but this measure to increase penalties and other measures to curb such practices sounds well meaning but ill conceived. It's another measure that would be better taken up by the legislature because the details are simply too complex to distill into a popular referendum. It seems to me that if you think the current law is too lenient, then you should organize and tell your representatives.

36: Yes. This measure would modify the current Three-Strikes Law so that only serious, violent felonies would be considered. The original law is pretty stupid (in my opinion) and should be fully repealed but (like Prop 34 re the death penalty) this is a step in the right direction (a "small victory," as I mentioned in my discussion of why Obama needs to be re-elected above).

37: Yes. This would label foods made with GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

38: No. This measure is similar to Prop 30 but it would raise taxes on every income level (because - you know - the middle class and working poor haven't been bearing a fair share of the burden), wouldn't raise the sales tax, and all funds would go toward education.

39: Yes. Thirty-nine would close a loop hole in the corporate tax structure.

40: Yes. Forty is an obscure ballot that would approve the commission-delineated redistricting plan. At this point it's moot as the state courts upheld the commission's legitimacy but as an expression of the electorate's opinion, you should still make your voice heard.

County Ballot Measures -

A: Yes. This measure is a sense-of-the-electorate, nonbinding resolution that asks the legislature and the city council to change the constitution and charter, respectively, so that the County Assessor becomes an appointed position. I looked into the recent history of the office. The last Assessor is being tried for corruption, and the history of his predecessors is little better. It seems to be a post that attracts the worst, most easily corrupted politicians. Not surprising since the Assessor controls how much businesses and developers pay for their properties. I'm not saying an appointed Assessor would do much better but I'm not opposed to trying it.

B: Yes. Another case of schizophrenia: Measure B would require porn actors wear condoms. The libertarian anarchist in me says this is an unwarranted invasion. Porn actors are reasoning individuals and they should make the decision to work with or without a net (so to speak). The person who lives in the real world, however, recognizes the enormous pressure porn actors are under to not wear condoms, and there's the very real health danger. (I saw a story recently that porn actors have a much higher incidence of STDs than brothel workers in Nevada. The difference? Brothel workers (or their customers) are required to wear condoms and they're tested on a weekly basis.)

J: Yes. This would extend a tax we're already paying for upgrading our traffic infrastructure to 2069 (from 2039).

CC: Yes. Raises money for upgrading our schools.

District Offices -

Just one this cycle - Member, MWD board: William Brown.

If you can't trust me about any of these measures, I'd recommend checking out Tara Lohan's article at

22 April 2012

The Monkey - RIP

Cassandra (aka, The Monkey) 1996 - 21 April 2012

The year 2012 is turning out to be a difficult year for The Clan. First, Malcolm was taken from us; then Calvin passed away; and now we've lost The Monkey.

Despite her age, Monkey's passing was a complete shock. She had always been the "iron lady" of the group, never being seriously ill a day in her life. The worst affliction she suffered was a bout of scabies about six years ago. But a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that she had started to lose weight. She was still eating and still active, and - as I was taking Emma in for a check up soon - I figured I would let her tag along and see what was the matter. However, a week ago, the weight loss began getting worse and she began having trouble breathing. She wasn't gasping for breath, but her sides went in and out like a bellows, even when she was sleeping. Monday last (4/16/12), I got her an appointment at the vet (it's one of the things I like about Covina Animal Hospital, there are four doctors there and I can usually get a same-day appointment, even if it's not our "family physician," Dr. Dais).

Dr. Ortemayer did a chest X-ray and discovered that The Monkey's right lung was full of fluid. She managed to extract some of the fluid, and sent it off to be tested. Tuesday, she called to tell me that it looked cancerous. Because of the type of cancer, it wasn't very treatable, even if I had wanted to go that route, and that it was only a matter of time - a short time - before Cassie wouldn't be with us anymore.

I thought about putting her to sleep then and there but she didn't appear to be suffering too much at that point. Her stertorous breathing spells came and went, and most of the time didn't act too affected. Up through Wednesday, she was still wandering around the apartment and even managed to climb up on the kitchen counter and complain about not getting treats a few times. I decided to keep her at home and let her die quietly and with her family. If she had reached a point where she was suffering too much or became too weak, I'd have taken her in.

But she didn't. She did get weaker and weaker as the week progressed. By Saturday, she would plop down somewhere in the apartment for a little while, then stagger up and plop down somewhere else. Her breathing was pretty heavy and it was obvious she was having trouble getting comfortable anywhere. Toward 9:00 pm or so, it was getting very hard for her to move at all and she had begun to gasp for breath. Sometime between 10:00 and 10:30, she staggered toward the bathroom, nosed around the dirty clothes pile, and then moved out into the hallway, where she collapsed. By this point her sides were moving in and out like a bellows and she was gasping for breath. The end was mercifully quick after that, and I'm glad we were together at the end.

The Monkey was a great cat. She couldn't do tricks and her MRRAAOWL'ing could be annoying but she was never in a bad mood and always affectionate. And I loved watching her with her sister, Emma. It's only been a day, and I don't know if Emms realizes her sister's gone but I'll be watching to see if there's any change in her behavior as they were pretty inseperable as this picture shows:

Siamese Twins?

Here's a link to a video I managed to take on The Monkey's last day.

21 January 2012

The real free market

About a week ago, I was listening to The Stephanie Miller show. A caller phoned in with the typical conservative talking point about how social-welfare programs enabled poverty and kept African-Americans and other minorities down. As I expected, the host and her mooks parroted the usual Democratic and ineffectual counter arguments but it occurred to me as I listened that a better response might have been along these lines:

"Dear caller, the reason we need anti-poverty programs is because of the economic system we've locked ourselves into. There is a 'free market.' It's called the 'labor market,' and it's where individual workers are pitted against each other in a ruthless race to the bottom of the wage scale. Meanwhile, oligopolistic corporations use their bought-and-paid-for politicians to rig the system so they can confiscate as much wealth as they can get away with, starving the commonwealth.

"If you want to reduce people's dependence on social welfare, at the very least you're going to have to radically redistribute wealth in a fairer way, and give workers the right to flex their muscle in the work place (i.e., "unions")."

Star Wars in 3D (sigh)

There's a bill board opposite the building where I work that's advertising the upcoming release of The Phantom Menace in 3D:

Two things struck me as I walked toward the office the first day I saw it. One, reissuing it in 3D, 4D or in every hidden dimension string theory predicts will not make The Phantom Menace a good movie, or even an acceptably bad B-movie.

It's an atrocious movie (I'll direct you to this site for a devastating critique).

I taped it years ago when Fox ran it (and when I had a TV), and every so often I rewatch it to make sure I haven't made a mistake regarding its quality. I haven't.

It bears repeating: It's. An. Atrocious. Movie.

The second thing that struck me is the composition of the poster. Ostensibly, the prequels are about the fall of Anakin Skywalker from grace and his transformation into Darth Vader yet nowhere is there an image of either Anakin or Vader (I don't even think any of the pod-racers depicted are Anakin's).

Instead, the most prominent image is Darth Maul. Darth Maul? Really. One of the most insipid and unthreatening villains in SF villain history.* In the background are Obi-wan and Yoda, and backing them, the "phantom menace," Darth Sidious.

I think the advert points up the saddest legacy of the prequels - Lucas focused on all the wrong elements, wasting the talents of several good actors and spoiling the viewing pleasure of millions of people who fell in love with the idea of Star Wars and were hoping to see the creation of a 21st century myth.

* One of the reviewer's more salient points in the review I link to above is that the saber duels between Maul and Qui-gon/Obi-wan and (in Revenge of the Sith) between Obi-wan and Anakin are emotionally unsatisfying and can't compare in power to the awkwardly staged but incomparably better duel between Vader and Guinness' Obi-wan in the original movie.

15 January 2012

Calvin - RIP

Calvin, 1995-2012
 The new year has not gotten off to the best start: My little buddy Calvin passed away last Monday morning (Jan. 9).

It was all very sudden. The week before Christmas I had taken Calvin to the vet's for his 3-month check up and everything looked pretty good for a 16-year-old cat with hyperthyroidism, a heart arrhythmia and early stage kidney disease. Right after New Year's, however, things went rapidly downhill. That Monday (Jan. 2), I discovered that he had had a messy bowel movement and had noticed that he wasn't eating so I made an appointment for the next day and took him in. Dr. Kelban (my #2 vet; #1 being Dr. Dais) ran the blood tests; the kidney and all his other organs looked good but his red-blood-cell count was deep in the basement, almost at the point where vets begin blood transfusions. She put him on an appetite booster and steroids (and off the thyroid meds for a few days), and I kept a close watch on him. The rest of the week I was on tenterhooks, watching him continue not eating and getting weaker and weaker. On Saturday, he began making what I call "distress meows" so I got him an appointment that day with Dr. Dais. She put him on IV fluids, and we were going to see if I couldn't get some food down him via syringe.

The latter worked fairly well but I wasn't able to get near enough food down him to make it worthwhile before he refused to open his mouth any longer. Through Saturday and into Sunday, he was getting visibly weaker but he was still occasionally mobile and - in all honesty - I was thinking that these would be the last days we would be together; there was no recovery on the other side of this crisis.

Beginning last month, I started working Sunday-Thursday; same shift but my weekends begin on Thursday nights nowadays. I was loathe to leave my little guy alone but that weekend was the Consumer Electronics Show and I knew my colleague would be swamped if I didn't come in. Fortunately, one of the Graveyard editors was coming in at 8 pm, so I planned and did come home early, anticipating the worst.

When I got home Sunday night, Calvin had moved from the spot I left him in to the closet in the bedroom. I took a look - he was resting quietly so I left him alone. Before we all went to bed, Calvin had moved from there to what had become one of his favored resting spots - the rug beneath the bathroom sink. Extraordinarily inconvenient if you wanted to use the bathroom but I wasn't about to move him elsewhere if that was a place he was comfortable in. We settled in for bed around 11 that evening but a couple of hours later I was awakened by Calvin's "distress meow" and I went in to the bathroom. For the last few days, whenever I settled down with him, he would usually quiet down and I would spend the time rubbing his back and belly. And so it went this time. I settled onto the bathroom floor with him, smoothed out his fur and spent the next hour or so being with him. After about an hour, he got up crawled over my legs and staggered out into the hallway, where he collapsed - too tired to go much further. I picked him up and we went into the living room where we settled down in front of the TV and watched videos for the rest of the night. Around 5:15 am Monday morning, Calvin began meowing, he staggered up from my side and collapsed over to his other side, breathing stertorously. He did that for a few minutes (no more than 1 or 2, I would think, though it seemed longer) and then he ... stopped.

Calvin was never a lap cat but he had one of the sweetest natures I've ever encountered - cat or human - and he was never adverse to accepting a back or belly rub, and he is missed.

In the aftermath, both of The Boys (Puck & Oberon) and Miss Grey are spending more time with me (a decidedly mixed blessing when I want to use the computer). And I don't know how Irene's taking things. Calvin was her "boyfriend," and some days the only time I would see her was when Calvin came around to hang out with me - she was forced to accompany him.