Farewell to the CowCat










I had to bury my cat today.
I attended to it before I took out the garbage
It seemed right as an order of operations
as acts of importance go.
The ground was hard
in all the wrong places
Like it wasn’t quite ready to take him in.
I had to say goodbye to my cat today.
He was quite bad at being feline
Fell off the ledge
Played fetch
Would rather go under than over
He had no fear of home repairs
or power tools.
When the baby cried
he was the first to the door
hoovered up goldfish crackers
dropped green beans and cereal.
I had to bury my cat today.
He came to say goodbye
played swats over the food dish
with the kitten.
Had a lick-face-fight
with the hunter.
Napped on my lap late into the evening.
Checked on each family member in turn
then sauntered out into the dark.
I found a spot for him, down by the garden
where the sun always pauses.
I had to bury my friend today
and my world got a little bit smaller.

Tropes and Time


I’m working on rewrites to my upcoming novel this week, and I’ve been doing quite a bit of noodling on character motivations.  Combine that with the recent online panic about Captain America turning out to be a sleeper-agent for Hydra (in the comics) and I’ve been banging my head against tropes, subversion or tropes and all the different ways you can explain a character to a reader (or a viewer, or a gamer).

I get that these tropes exist for a reason.  They’re a shorthand (not always a good shorthand) that taps into the shared experience of everyone who has been consuming media for the past 20 years.  Notice I only say 20.  We humans have a notoriously short lens.  Take an English class sometime and read through anything written before the turn of the 19th century.  Notice how much time your teacher has to spend on setting the context?  Explaining the cultural canon of that timeframe so that you can appreciate the actual depth of the books you’re reading?  Once you know things like; the term “nose” as a common metaphor for “penis”, your understanding of a works can change on a very fundamental level.

The point is that this body of trope and metaphor, what is often referred to as the “cultural canon” is constantly changing and updating.  The tropes of 50 years ago are, by and large, unintelligible to the incoming audience.

But what this means is that these things that we are railing against, these shorthand pieces of storytelling that tap into the cultural canon to cut out hours of work and exposition, these are temporary.  We have the chance to change and direct where they go and what replaces them if we start putting the extra work in now.  There will be fits and starts, of course, there will be throwbacks and reversions to type, but we are already pushing the canon in a new direction.  The idea of a villain with a sympathetic backstory?  That’s NEW, that entered the canon within the past 30 years.  The idea that hero can fail, then *return* to being a hero again?  That’s also NEW.  So while it’s disappointing to see one-note throwbacks, we need to keep in mind that those are on their way out.  As long as we keep pushing to create the new canon, replacing those older, now negative tropes with an easy to use toolkit of new ones, we can keep this evolution moving forward.

The Fashion-Forward Jumpsuit of the Future


Can we discuss the jumpsuit? I’m going to discuss the jumpsuit. For a very long time, and even now in contemporary stories, the jumpsuit has been the default future wear.  I get it, it’s easy. There is a long, established, visual canon of anybody wearing a jumpsuit being from the future (just look at any sci-fi movie from the 80s).

It makes sense for certain professions, right? Most of the time a jumpsuit is a cover-all of some kind used to protect your clothing if you are, say, scraping the coal out of the chimney or painting the walls of an orphanage.  If your characters are working int he bowels of an interstellar freighter, the jumpsuit (or more properly in that case “coverall”) is a good plan.  It makes sense.  As a universal, culture-wide clothing phenomenon, however, it misses the mark a bit.

I can see how the idea of a future society having moved away from trivialities like matching your purse and your shoes or making sure the blacks in your pants and your sweater vest to go together, is an attractive one.  But, I suspect, the people who dress their future societies in jumpsuits have never actually worn one themselves.

Jumpsuits are, perhaps, one of the most inconvenient forms of clothing outside of the vinyl catsuit. Probably easier to wear for men than women, but the logistics of every day bodily functions almost guarantee your jumpsuit being dipped in something nasty before the end of the day.  And don’t tell me that future bathrooms are cleaner than current bathrooms. People are messy. End of story.

Add to this the fact that one size fits all means that it never actually fits anybody.  Leg length, arm length, torso length in your average everyday human is highly variable. There’s not much room for slack in a jumpsuit, it’s almost guaranteed that you will either have to roll up the pants or roll up the sleeves.  Now, granted, in TV shows and movies you have a costuming department that custom-creates these suits for the actors who will be wearing them, so they always “look” fabulous onscreen, but that’s a very one-percent portrayal. Generally speaking your average person doesn’t have the funds or time to have their clothes tailored, so their jumpsuits are going to be ill-fitting and uncomfortable.

Jumpsuits are, in fact, one of my favorite examples of a lack of institutional memory. Every 10 years or so the fashion industry attempts to bring back the jumpsuit. It usually starts in the “Junior Miss” section of one of the major retailers. They look cute on the hanger, they often come in bright colors and a reasonably priced. But they sit there and get moved from the new item rack to the discount rack to the clearance rack in record time.  I’m not sure why they keep trying to bring them back, as even in the jumpsuit heyday they seem to have been a low volume product. It feels like some Junior exec finally got promoted and said “Hey, I just saw Logan’s run! Jumpsuits are the future!”

Our collective fashion consciousness takes one look at the jumpsuit and says “NO”.  Unless we are looking at a Dystopian future where humans are required by law to wear jumpsuits as part of their daily dress, I think the jumpsuit as a future forward fashion trend is a dead end.

And don’t even get me started on pockets.