I have to say that I am continually astounded with the fearless manner in which Cecil, the Assistant Assistive Feline™, approaches life.
Abigail at his age (and even now) was much more cautious and amenable to correction. One squirt from a water pistol and she knew not to get on the couch again — and if she does, then just the sound of my priming the water pistol is enough to get her down. Cecil? He flinches at being squirted, but then looks up with a curious look on his face… WHAT WAS THAT? OH YOU’RE GOING TO DO IT AGAIN? HM. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, ‘GET DOWN’? OH WAIT YOU DID IT AGAIN. THIS IS MAKING ME DAMP. OH WOW YOU DID IT AGAIN.
Last night I built our first fire of the season. It was over a year before Abigail would get any nearer to a fire than the other side of the living room, and even so she has to reintegrate the concept every year.
Yep. He’s an idiot, absolutely fearless.
Meanwhile, Abigail sits cautiously on the other side of the living room.
A couple of weeks ago Abigail, my Assistive Feline™, went missing. I was working in the back yard, and the basement door — which has a habit of not latching — had been blown open by the wind. Abigail saw her opportunity and strolled out.
She has done this before, but I’m generally around and spot her. She will go all OH NO YOU WILL NEVER CATCH ME HOOMAN I WILL WALK THREE FEET THIS WAY AND SIT DOWN WHERE YOU WILL NEVER WAIT WHY YOU ARE PICKING ME UP AND TAKING ME BACK INSIDE WHERE I’M SAFE CURSE YOU PURRR. In other words, she is not a wild beast yearning to be free.
This time, however, I was not around, and she had escaped. I checked all around the house and the adjoining shrubberies, but she was not there. It was worrisome.
Night came and she was still nowhere to be found. I (and my Lovely First Wife) were frantic. Abby has no survival skills that we know of, and it was easy to imagine some horrific fate befalling her. The next morning I plastered the immediate area with posters, and the next evening she showed up at the front door, utterly unconcerned.
Somewhere she had gotten snagged on a bush or something, because she was missing her purple halter, which I use to hook her up to a lead in the back yard so she can lounge in the sun and pretend to hunt chipmunks. Fine, I thought, you’re grounded anyway.
Then two nights ago she did it again, this time hopping down from the back porch, where she is allowed to go mean-mug the birds of a morning. This time I was not too worried; clearly she was able to hunker down somewhere and find her way home. And there she was the next morning at the back door, acting as if she were a big girl now and why was I all torqued even?
I decided to go buy her and Cecil, the Assistant Assistive Feline™, collars with nametags. That way if they were ever lost they’d be identifiable and returnable, and even more, as Cecil reaches his adult size, we could tell which tuxedo we were yelling at as they scampered away from the scene of the crime.
All of the preceding was background info.
Cecil has earned himself the nickname The Pest for his annoying behavior: pouncing on Abigail and gnawing on her; careening across the dining room table — while we are dining; the usual. Good thing he’s adorable. Abigail, in response, has become withdrawn, hiding from Cecil and often begging to be let onto the back porch to escape him.
So it was extremely interesting what happened when I put their new collars on them.
Cecil of course freaked out because there was this new sensation. He did the normal flippy thing trying to see it or get to it. Also there was now this tinkling noise that was always there right at his ear! Aieeeee!!!!
Abigail, being older and wiser, just nodded calmly at her new adornment.
That’s when it got interesting. Abigail was suddenly lounging out in the hall, or strolling around rooms where people were, being sociable. Cecil was in hiding up here in the study. When he emerged, he mostly tore around rooms, still jingling and completely unnerved. When he encountered Abby, he meekly walked up to her and stood and allowed her to groom him. When it was supper time, he didn’t do his usual adorable meowing as if he were starving. He was a completely changed cat.
We figure Abby is feeling secure again with the feeling of her collar, since she’s worn a halter all of her adult life. Cecil, on the other hand, is simply weirded out, and we’re assuming that’s only temporary until he gets use to hearing a jingle bell every move he makes. Then he’ll return to his regular goofball Pest persona.
When looking to acquire an Assistive Feline™, one thing to check is its Adorability Factor.
For example, this model is extremely attached to her Mouse-on-a-Stick:
In fact, this is her fourth Mouse-on-a-Stick. She will eventually stretch out the elastic and get it caught on something in the house and break it. Any owner of an Assistive Feline™ should be prepared to provide a replacement Mouse-on-a-Stick immediately.1
Until that happens, though, the Assistive Feline™ will trot around the house with the Mouse-on-a-Stick in her mouth, dragging the plastic stick behind her. You can hear her coming down the hall or down the stairs, tick tick tick.
She is most apt to do this when there are visitors: one will be chatting in the living room, perhaps over cocktails, and she will appear with her Mouse-on-a-Stick, walking in like a lioness on the Serengeti with a zebra in her mouth. This is Extremely Adorable.
You should make sure that the Assistive Feline™ you are considering has an equivalent Adorability Factor.
This has been a public service announcement from the AAFC.2
1 When the local Family Dollar did not have said implement we freaked a little, but after looking in another Family Dollar store, we found the necessary replacement. We bought two.
This bit of underscoring takes us from the chimes of a neighboring church to the Ghost of Christmas Present’s teasing appearance, to their transportation to Scrooge’s past: the countryside, Martin and Oliver having a snowball fight, and then fading into the schoolroom.
The process of preparing sound files for December is not at all the same as simply re-orchestrating the show from an 11-piece ensemble to a full orchestra. Because I’m not actually working on documents for live musicians, there are lots of shortcuts and omissions. For example, if I transpose a harp sequence up a octave, I don’t bother moving it from the bass clef up to the treble clef because who cares? No harpist is going to have to decipher what I’ve written, and the computer doesn’t care—it will play the notes exactly where I’ve put them whether they look correct or not.
Repeats are another area: many of the pieces have vamps (bits that loop until the scene moves on) or repeated verses/choruses. For live musicians, repeats save paper and are easier to read. But the printed repeat signs are irrelevant to a computer program that I’m going to instruct to “loop this waveform until I tell you not to,” and so I’m leaving those out. In the above sample, there is a vamp on the flute part that you won’t hear because that will be taken care of in QLab, the multimedia sequencer I’m still exploring.
I’m in the middle of pondering whether it is going to be better to try to “slice” the repeat (with varying degrees of smoothness or accuracy) in QLab or to export each section of a piece separately so that the repeated section is clear and easy to click on. This may become critical in rehearsal, of “A Reason for Laughter,” for example, as we try to get Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig in and out of their verses, or in “Country Dance” when we’re trying to learn new sections of the dance.
I also have been taking repeat signs out of pieces like “Country Dance,” where it’s just easier to string all the jumpbacks (from A—>B—>A—>C—>A) out into one long piece rather than deal with all my quirky repeat signs. In fact, I’ve stopped working on the music to blog here because the challenge of untangling “A Reason for Laughter” makes my eyes cross.
Anyway, as far as slicing vs. exporting multiple files for each pieces goes, I have lots of time between now and November, so I can play with all my options. (Who am I kidding? I’ll take the complicated way because it will make life much easier in rehearsal.)
I have gained an assistant:
She is currently trying to keep me from typing—WHAT IS THE DEAL EVEN I SHOULD BE PETTING HER ANYWAY—and did you know that pencils, pens, and erasers make great rolly toys, especially if you knock them to the floor?
She’s been with us for a couple of weeks now but has so far refused to divulge her name, and she is the only cat I have ever met that, when you pick her up, goes limp in your arms and settles in for a cuddle. She’ll shift, turn over even to get more comfortable, but ask to be put down? Nope.
This is not the cat I was looking for—I prefer tabbies—but she is such a sweet-tempered beast that we were afraid to tempt fate by giving her away. I’m trying to get used to cat hair everywhere again. The turbo-purr helps.
Rehearsals continue for Into the Woods. You will have to believe me when I say it is not bragging to claim that my performance will be a tour de force—it would be for anyone handling the roles of Narrator, Mysterious Man, and the Wolf. Generally, the Narrator/Mysterious Man are combined roles, but the Wolf is played by Cinderella’s Prince. My playing all three requires some very quick changes indeed, and so the audience can not help but be dazzled by my facility, speed, and grace. There is one moment where I—as the Narrator—facilitate Milky White’s escape from the Baker’s Wife, only reappear seconds later as the Mysterious Man; I expect it to provoke laughter.
I am quite enjoying the chance to sing “Hello, Little Girl,” however. It’s delicious, nasty fun.
The show opens March 19 and runs for two weekends, Thu-Sun. Details here.
Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy is going well, if by “well” you mean “successfully avoid writing abortive attempts for Seven Dreams of Falling while not accomplishing an awful lot.” I sit in my writing chair—that’s an official thing—and start free-associating on one of the 9 Precepts, and before I know it I’ll have two pages in a minuscule field notebook almost filled. It’s exhausting.
So far, I don’t have any brilliant new insights to share from my writing; I’m still in the “dumping” phase, wherein all those things I’ve said and thought about the creative process over the years are finding their way out of the recesses of my brain onto the page. I’ve also begun collecting relevant bibliographic support, so that’s progress of a sort.
Finally, a look at the labyrinth:
A panoramic shot from the west side looking back towards the entrance—not our usual vantage point. The winter rye grass makes for a lovely oasis of green, although I’m sure I’d be a better hippie if I learned to appreciate Nature’s own withered brownness.