After six months the cat known as Mr. Bojangles stopped keeping me awake at night and allowed me to regain some of my lost sanity. My friend Jonathan, who I had grown up with in England, was visiting Canada and stopping over in Vancouver for a few days. Boj took an instant dislike to him. The events of Jon’s first night in the city did nothing to change Mr. Bojangles’ feelings towards my long time friend. What follows is an account of that fateful night.
Jon flew in late in the evening and as I had to be up early the next morning for work he was happy to make himself some food while I went to bed. I gave him the appropriate warnings about the cat as after six months I may as well have printed them off, made duplicates, and put them outside my door as fair warning to anyone who entered my apartment. The warnings went something like this:
- The cat is deranged.
- Approach any corners in the apartment slowly and with extreme caution.
- If you use the bathroom make sure you’re alone before locking the door. When finished please close toilet or the cat will drink from it.
- In the highly unlikely event that the cat looks cute and rolls over to allow you to pet it DON’T DO IT! He’s just lulling you into a false sense of security.
- If you’re female just give up now, he already doesn’t like you.
- If you’re a sleep over guest I’d suggest not moving while you sleep. If you move in the slightest he will attack you. Only leave a foot hanging out of the bed if you feel you no longer have any use for it.
(**Incidentally this habit made me the most immobile sleeper ever. Thanks to his constant attacks over the first three months I can now enter a death-like state that would fool any doctor)
- Don’t open the patio door, we are on the 7th floor and he’s determined to jump off the balcony.
- Don’t look him in the eye. He doesn’t like that.
I slipped into my comatose state while Jon made himself a sandwich. The cat eyed him carefully. Jon removed the bread from the freezer and the cat swished his tail in a menacing fashion. Jon created his late night snack and placed the condiments back into the fridge. The cat was gone. Having endured an extremely long flight Jon went to bed. The apartment was silent.
I woke up abruptly at 3am to the sounds of…well…nothing. Boj hadn’t tried to push my head off my pillow which was unusual but at 3am my brain barely registered anything other than silence. I just assumed he was probably terrorizing Jon.
I awoke to my alarm at 6am, completed my morning constitutional and turned on the kettle. Still no cat. I took a shower. Boj remained absent. As I was living in a studio apartment which was one big room that acted as the living room, bedroom and dining room, separated from the oven by a kitchen bar it was unusual that my furry companion wasn’t easily viewable.
I pondered this while I opened the fridge to grab the milk for my tea and was met with a “MWROAWARRRR!!” which I now believe is a cat expletive. Mr. Bojangles sat shivering on the top shelf of the fridge. Jon failed to notice the night before when he returned the condiments to the fridge that the cat slipped in after them.
I unthawed him by running the shower and making him sit in the steam during which time he continued complaining in colorful cat language. During the second night of Jon’s stay Mr. Bojangles exacted revenge by refusing to let him sleep and made him bleed several times.
‘When making food please make sure that you do not lock the cat in the fridge as he is a vengeful creature’ was later added to the ‘warnings’ list.
As darkness slipped across the city like jell-o across an ice rink the night sprang to life with all manner of people and creatures; the big, the small, the slimy, the significant, the beautiful, the strange and the utterly confused. With a flourish Imagination stepped out of a shabby apartment building. He looked around with a smug satisfaction before turning down a particularly dark and dank alley where no one of sound mind would ever venture alone.
In predictable fashion out from the shadows slinked a nefarious individual with malice on it’s mind. The dark creature didn’t wait on anything, didn’t hesitate because it thrived on the instantaneous, on the need for gratification at the speed of light. A blade flashed and Imagination found himself on the ground in an ever expanding pool of blood as the creative catalyst of the world seeped across a dark alley in the middle of the City of Nowhere.
Maybe I’m being overly dramatic. Of course Imagination isn’t completely dead. If it was this would be a boring and non-existent blog post. I have three children, aged 2, 4 and 7. For the past five years I’ve worked at an arts college, first in marketing and then as a student advisor. I remember having imaginary friends when I was a kid, I remember making up stories and playing pretend. The combination of having my own children and working with post secondary students has made me realize that Imagination isn’t what it used to be.
Why is this? It’s actually a simple answer, the world changed. Blink, and you missed it.
While this makes me sound a lot like my granddad it begs to be explained: Growing up we didn’t have high powered computers (my first one used cassette tapes to load games), or cell phones, or the internet! Everything now is instantaneous, at your finger tips, right now, yesterday, before you’ve even thought of something, it’s already been developed, downloaded and given to you! And because of this development the next generation expects everything presented to them. In educational institutions they’re calling it the ‘Generation of Entitlement’.
The misfortune we’re about to discover in around ten to twenty years (if my highly conceptualized formulas are correct…despite failing math in high school) is a severe decline in Imagination. If you can live different lives through computer games, if you don’t need to interact socially thanks to the internet, if your future career goals are determined by standardized testing then why bother thinking at all?
While imagination won’t be dead…it’s probably going to be living on a hefty life support system (which will be supported by several apps…available from the itunes store).
We’ll have to agree to meet back here in fifteen years to see if it’s true. Bring cookies.
Cat’s are evil creatures. And that’s not to say that I don’t like them, I find them very endearing and highly entertaining. For the first 19 years of my life I was a devout dog person with no inclination to touch a cat and certainly wouldn’t own one if someone paid me to. So how did I end up with a small, furry, spawn of satan?
I moved to Vancouver when I was 19 and rented a studio apartment (which is a fancy way of saying you eat, sleep, watch TV and make food in one room and poop in another). As this was my first time living alone and the building didn’t allow any animals other than cats I was convinced by my then girlfriend to adopt one. Reason being to keep me company, so that there was someone to come home to at the end of the day, etc.
I was about to go to film school, I was moving out on my own, it seemed like a crazy thing to do so we went to the local SPCA. Several red flags should have triggered that I was about to adopt an evil cat:
1) While looking through the cages filled with adorable felines all cuddled together in two’s and three’s there was one kitten all alone.
2) While all the others were cuddling and sleeping this one singular kitten was busy shredding the newspaper in his cage and attacking random bits of nothing.
3) Thinking that all the other kittens were boring I decided I wanted the adventurous one that was tearing up his paper. I figured we could play together. In response my girlfriend who was much more feline educated said “You definitely don’t want THAT cat.”
4) As we carried said cat to the front desk and began filling out the paperwork the nice lady asked if I’d thought of any names. When I told her 'no' she suggested that we call him ‘Lucifer’.
5) Five minutes into the journey back to my apartment the kitten threw up all over the back seat in the same style displayed in the movie ‘The Exorcist’.
For the next three months the kitten didn’t let me sleep. He would sit at the end of my bed waiting for my feet to move so that he could attack them with the ferocity of a rabid dingo. At around 3am he’d get tired and slowly edge my head off the pillow so that every morning I’d wake up halfway off the bed.
He lacked the ability to judge distances so when jumping from one object to another he often missed. He ran into walls to such an extent that he ended up knocking his two front fangs out. At 2am when this happened the lovely lady on the other end of the 24 hour Veterinary Hotline told me I was very lucky to see them as usually they just fall out and the cat swallows them.
He’d constantly hide around random corners and wait for me to walk by before leaping and sinking his talons into my leg and hanging on for dear life. He’d attack anyone I brought to my apartment with no regard for the amount of bloodshed he would induce.
Though the reason why escapes me today we ended up calling him Mr. Bojangles and for five years he remained my constant companion. Those first three months were only the beginning…
I first encountered Shakespeare at the Blue Coat Secondary School in the city of Manchester in a particularly rainy part of the UK in 1992, he was a quiet boy with a nervous twitch…naturally this is a half truth…he wasn’t quiet at all.
English classes were mandatory for the first three years and then optional for the final two before graduation. Mrs. Mallinson was my main English teacher and she was American (an American in England teaching English…strange). Over five years we studied a number of Shakespeare’s works including; The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, a number of sonnets, and for one dark semester; Hamlet.
In a strange twist of fate it was through Macbeth that I discovered I could write satire. When asked to write an essay on the motivations contained in Macbeth I wrote five thousand words that indicated ‘Macbeth wasn’t all that bad of a guy’ and that ‘he was more a sheep who suffered at the hands of a deranged and evil wife’ and ‘oh wouldn’t it be funny if the ghosts kept tickling him’….and so on. Mrs. Mallinson failed to be amused and made me read it out loud in front of the class. I received my only ‘F’ grade in English.
Although not the first writer to ever grace the earth Shakespeare is perhaps one of the most well known. His work has inspired countless artists, literature, movies, theatre and the wearing of frilly collars.
So what would happen if Shakespeare existed today? Would he have Tweeted? Would he have hundreds of friends on Facebook? Would he be questioning why Google+ chose to use circles instead of triangles?
More importantly would he have produced the kind of work that would go down in history? Doubtful.
However the thought of Shakespeare tweeting to promote his work opens up an interesting avenue for us all to meander down. With things like #improvefilmtitlesbyaddinginmypants(hilarious!) currently trending I don’t expect this to go anywhere but let’s see…
The quest is to describe works of Shakespeare in 140 characters or less and must include the hashtag #shakespearetweet
#shakespearetweet Macbeth kills king, becomes king, wife’s deranged, witches cackle, ghost has dinner, Macbeth's head removed from shoulders
If there are any hilarious responses I’ll post them here on the blog later in the week. If there are no responses we’ll just pretend that none of this ever happened.
Sure people were covered in dirt all the time and there was always the threat that your old lady would get snatched up by a local dignitary for a severe pillaging. Young people would often be commissioned into royal service to combat invaders thus shortening their life expectancy. Castles were constantly under siege, bandits flourished across the country side, men in green stockings haunted the forests…did I mention there was dirt?
However the early medieval age had some advantages. For example (completely unrelated to current events): If the local town wench, the crazy one who hangs out with the older knights and passing marauders a little too often, who drinks more ale than the drunk village idiot, decides to drown her two year old daughter in the local pond there would be a good chance someone would notice.
At least one local would probably take offense. Anyone could simply see the atrocious act, grab a broadsword, and knock on the wench’s door. My math is shaky but bear with me:
murderous wench + broadsword wielding person of good ethics – wench’s head = much rejoicing by the townsfolk
I’ve been fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your point of view) to watch the digital age expand and grow. The first computer I owned ran programs using cassette tapes and the World Wide Web was a twinkle in someone’s eye (or possibly an electronic sperm in a digital testicle). My second computer had three quarters of a megabyte internal memory and the same processing power that a hamster generates when it runs in a hamster wheel. The first time I experienced the internet was using a 33.6kb modem that took two hours and thirty three minutes to load a jpeg onto the screen. I remember the thrill and excitement of the introduction of the 56.6kb modem which could download a jpeg in only one hour and sixteen minutes.
As the internet gained a foothold and computers advanced I myself matured and as I approached my twenties I finally developed, through a great deal of hard work, the confidence and personality to be noticed at social gatherings and under rare occasions speak to girls. Three months later the world was introduced to social networking through the ICQ chat system and the need to socially interact in close proximity to other humans was abolished completely.
Skip forwards a decade and the world is overrun with chat platforms like Windows Live and Skype. Our lives now revolve around Facebook updates and Tweets. Mobile phones loaded with multi-functional apps are fused to everyone’s hand. The most remarkable, and most overlooked achievement is that humans have now evolved to be able to type using only their thumbs.
Social media has become as common as breathing while the ability to speak with friends on a minute to minute basis via the Facebook status and ‘wall’ has become easier than breathing. Breathing is complex: air is sucked in through the mouth, down the trachea, divided by the bronchi where it is distributed through the lungs to terminate in little air sacs called alveoli. From there it is absorbed into the bloodstream, travels throughout the body participating in exchange of waste products and nutrients to cells everywhere before returning to the lungs where many of these waste products are expelled back through the bronchi, trachea and out through the mouth and nose. Facebook is simplistic yet effective and allows ‘Fred’ to tell everyone on his friend’s list that “Fred is…having trouble breathing, going to doctor, still on for poker night.”
The last four paragraphs I just forced you to read were to let you know that I’ve experienced and used social media from it’s conception, through the dark ages (2002 in case you were wondering), to the present day. Here are the highlights:
- I had my seven digit ICQ number memorized until 2001.
- I made over twenty six friends over yahoo messenger during 2003.
- I maintained a Wordpress blog detailing creative writing exploits from 2003 – 2005 allowing me to make friends with other artistic entities all over the world.
- Between 2003 and 2004, thanks to windows messenger, I experienced the horrors of internet dating on four separate occasions: One girl was actually quite fun and we remained friends for several years, another was a diagnosed compulsive liar, another did not match her profile picture in any way and the fourth one I dated for a year and a half before discovering she had extreme bi-polar disorder and was, for lack of a better description, completely unhinged.
- When I joined Facebook it was a fun way to pass time with an easy to use interface and no applications. I wasted a tumultuous amount of time on the site.
- Today I use Facebook to…well actually I don’t.
- In 2009 I joined Twitter and tweeted to my little heart’s content without the slightest clue as to what I was doing so I stopped using it.
- In 2011 after being advised by a literary agent that it was in my best interest to learn how to tweet and start a blog to help promote my writing I did exactly that. Tweeting has become a strange fascination that almost rivals my tea addiction and the aforementioned blog is what you’re reading right now.
As much as I appreciate, use, and admire social media for the earth shattering, life changing, element that it is I still value the ability to breathe infinitely more.