Is there something one better than a trifecta? A quadrillium? A quattriffico?* Because I need a word to describe what I saw yesterday. I was standing on the corner, drinking lemonade–you know how I do. Suddenly, I was surrounded by French Bulldogs, the Canis Lupus Familiaris’ greatest gift to comedy. A woman was out walking a pair of bug-eyed and musclebound pals, while also pushing a baby stroller. That’s sweet, I thought. She likes babies and dogs equally. She has my vote.

Then, as I got closer to the stroller, my eyes and heart engaged in a tongue-touching makeout session because lo and behold I espied the following:

  • a plump French Bulldog!
  • sitting in the stroller!!

If he were also wearing a tiny graduation cap and tenured professor robe, I would have run into the street and let a truck kill me because I would gladly have that dog be the last thing I ever set my eyes upon. Even so, I had to ignore my initial impulse, to push the woman to the ground, commandeering her vehicle, and wheeling this diapered beauty to Valhalla. Instead, I got my head straight and congratulated her on its excellent performance.

Then we got to talking about how this amazing three-part harmony came to be. It turns out her dog was born with a twisted spine and, at two years old, became paralyzed in its lower body, but has been in physical therapy (including hydrotherapy) and has proven himself a strong and happy survivor. In my estimation, the dog’s Terry Fox-esque fortitude in the face of great vulnerability gave it extra-credit. In fact, if I had a root beer-scented scratch’n’sniff sticker I would have slapped it on his Pampers right then and there. Because, pard’ner, you did a root-a-tootin’ job of making my day!

*apparently, there is. And it’s called a “Superfecta.” Thanks for knowing how to use the Internet better than I do, Wes.



pphoto by Lisa Whiteman

I know it’s kind of fruity, but there are seriously times I can’t stand my cats for being this cute. They make me feel like a drooling idiot, because I am unable to take my eyes off them. I want to throw a heavy blanket over them, just to dim the dazzle for a second.

This type of feline configuration is actually pretty common in our home, so you can imagine my consternation. Ble has grown calmer, and her dental and mental health has been improving lately–the belly fur is even growing back, miraculously–possibly because Lisa decided the only way to calm Ble’s peanut-sized brain was to get maximum string-play every day. These days, when Ble approaches my desk making those strange close-lipped gurgling cat yodels with a frayed length of twine in her dumb mouth, instead of rolling my eyes at her, I let her drop the twine at my feet and then pick it up. I twirl it around her clockwise, until she whips her body around enough to lose balance, then twirl it similarly counter-clockwise. A couple minutes of this three or four (or seven) times every day seems like a pretty good trade-off for the return of 99.9% fur coverage.

Last night I was up very late, recovering (re-writing) a script I had lost thanks to my adult ADD and Final Draft’s refusal to autosave by default. This happened to me after a very long day of writing (and not saving), and about 15 minutes after I was struck by a car while crossing the street. For another perspective, it happened 15 minutes before I accidentally spilled an entire tupperware container of refrigerated Quinoa on my kitchen floor, and 17 minutes before the broom I was using to sweep up the spilled Quinoa fell from its position leaning against the refrigerator and landed on the cats’ water bowl, flipping it and its contents 180 degrees .

(Regarding being hit by a car, I was banged up and thrown off-balance but, like Jake LaMotta, I was still standing when it was all over. The car was turning, and I honestly saw it coming but my brain was slowed down and I kept thinking, There’s no way this car can’t see me in the middle of the crosswalk, in the middle of the street. Surely it will stop. In retrospect, it’s probably a good rule to not the benefit of the doubt to cars that are obviously bearing down on you. The worst part was the driver gave me a look like I’d planned the whole thing; as if I’d jumped up from a manhole at the very last minute. I made sure to inform her of this gross misinterpretation of events, peppering my speech with coarse language to impress the drug dealers on the corner who had witnessed the whole thing. I think I might have called her a “dickhead.” High-five, fellas!)

When I shut down my computer at 3am and turned off the lights, I saw Ble and Coleman were once again in the same spot and same positions depicted in the above photo. Ble was awake, and tongue-bathing the top of Coleman’s head so emphatically her fur wasn’t just clean, it was damp. And maybe it was the late hour, my total exhaustion, or the events of the day, but as I watched my cats together I started crying a little. I was thinking about how fragile and neurotic this little cat is, but how genuinely happy she seems right now, and how so much of that happiness seems to be dependent on her relationship with a larger, much older cat who sometimes slaps and menaces her. And then I wondered how she’ll be affected if she outlives Coleman.

I know this is an equally morbid and idiotic to think about, and all the truly evolved people believe animals were put on earth to stop bullets, or eat rodents and burglars, but I couldn’t help myself. A cat’s brain can’t possibly comprehend the largeness of absence in death; my brain barely can and it is, by all accounts, super large. (and smooth) Coleman and Ble are the first cats I’ve been responsible for, so I couldn’t really say firsthand what happens when one survives the other. I know exactly how sad I’d be, but when I considered Ble’s dumb wiring, it was troubling to imagine how death would affect her. I expect she won’t be able to lick all of her fur off fast enough to express her primitive form of grieving.


Lately, I’ve been really keen on adopting a dog. I mean, these stupid cats are good for nothing. Coleman shrieks until she’s fed, then sleeps it off for the rest of the day. Ble had lousy teeth, has grown so obsessive-compulsive that she’s licked so much fur off her belly that she appears to be wearing a midriff top, yet she applies none of that tongue bathing industriousness to the area of ass hygiene and maintenance. I decided the only way to remedy this is to adopt a dog and throw the cats in the garbage.

While Lisa has been obsessing over the details of our wedding, I’ve been putting my attention into more long-term investments: the field of puppy research. I think we have a winner:

french bulldog puppy

Sturdy, healthy-looking, googly eyes. All the makings of a fine companion.

I will name him “Soul Reaver.”

Now, to most people that might seem like an awfully long way to make a joke about naming my adorable imaginary puppy “Soul Reaver,” but if you knew how much that name has been making me laugh, I think you’d understand.

Is it too late to change my cats’ names to “Rygar” and “Power Fist”?


When I take the cats to the vet, I take great pride in relating the doctor’s comments to Lisa, as they are usually overwhelmingly positive. For instance, when Coleman visited for her yearly check-up I practically called Lisa from the examining room when the doctor described Coleman’s demeanor as “perfect” and went to great lengths to admire her “beautiful coat” and “pretty face.” Do you know how many cats a veterinarian sees each day, I thought, as I rehearsed my conversation with Lisa. Coleman’s beauty was being praised on high authority! Of course, I neglected to mention that the doctor determined Coleman weighs 15 pounds–a bit more than a small terrier–or that she didn’t even flinch when she was assed by a thermometer. (This last observation pleased the doctor but somehow disturbed me, especially Coleman’s nostrils had to be momentarily blocked because she was purring so loudly while being sodomized that the doctor couldn’t pick out her heartbeat.)

Likewise, when Ble visited last week I memorized the vet’s assessment of her docile personality as “a breath of fresh air,” considering that most calico cats are completely mental, and can turn into a maelstrom of claws and spittle when a stranger tries to hold them. And likewise, I considering censoring the news that Ble has a neurological disorder that’s been causing her to lick her belly fur clean, and couldn’t quite recall how the vet described the less-than-stellar state of Ble’s teeth. (“Her mouth is a disgusting mess.”) In any case, Ble had to return today for a good old-fashioned tooth cleaning–preceded by a good old-fashioned IV filled with sedatives. It seemed ridiculous to pay someone to brush my cat’s teeth and the diagnosis made me wish I were a farmer or something, so I could say, “Brush her teeth? Well, that’s pure nonsense! Ain’t but a cat!! If’n its* teeth fall out, well, that’s just less teeth to fret over, now ain’t it?” But I am not a farmer and, as such, I am at the mercy of anyone in a lab coat.

I think any decent veterinarian would do his or her best to make sure the examining rooms are free of anything that would either ridicule or horrify pets. This vet manages to break both rules at once. While waiting in the examining room, I noticed it was appointed with a “Dogs Playing Snooker” print on one wall and, on the opposing wall, a full cat skeleton and dog skull. Look one way and it’s the Friar’s Club; look the other way and you’re in the offices of Ed Gein, M.D. Was any of it necessary? Does a cat need to see how its own skeleton works? Does a dog need to be tempted with billiards and gambling?

I was sent home with a bag full of goofy, punch-drunk cat and a dental kit, including a “finger brush” and tube of poultry-flavored toothpaste. (fresh!) The vet charged more to clean Ble’s teeth than my dentist charged to clean mine, which seemed borderline criminal. Even worse, I have to bring Ble back next week to get fitted for braces.

*Having never really spent much time with farmers, I decided that in my fantasy the character of “farmer” would neither know, nor care to know the gender of his pets.


The dark future of cat videos.*

At least I managed to spare you the very long, obsessive post I was going to write about video game consoles. YOU’RE WELCOME.

*With more of that ever-loving iMovie ghost trails effect. Ghost trails, I love you more than all the others!

Homepage photo: Lindsey Byrnes
Site design & code: Erik Frick