Tag Archive | Cleveland

Family vac[cin]ations, the cat vs. the Horrible Strangers, reactions to Black Widow, Loki, Check Please!, Leverage: Redemption

Stuff about stuff that’s been up.

Family vac[cin]ations

My parents and brother came to town, making it the first time we’ve all been in one place for almost 2 years. (Parents have been vaccinated for a while, and they visited earlier in 2021. Brother is (a) young, (b) low-risk, and (c) not in a customer-facing position, so he only skated over the “2 weeks since second dose” theshhold just in time to get here.)

We visited a bunch of the local relatives. On one side, the grandparents who flatly refused to entertain unvaccinated visitors (so everyone’s had their shots). On the other, the grandparents who got their own shots as soon as possible, but were having unmasked indoor visits with my virulently antivaxxer aunt and her kids right up until they — the grandparents — tested positive.

Grandfather, who’d only had his first shot, got pretty sick and was hospitalized, but pulled through. Grandmother, who’d had both shots, barely got the sniffles, wouldn’t even have thought of getting tested if she didn’t live in the same house as a seriously-ill person. Aunt has only doubled down on how these fraudulent vaccines don’t even do anything, you guys.

I, uh, timed my part of the visit to not encounter the antivaxxer aunt.

Banging and drilling

A few relatives came over to my apartment to do some handiwork projects. Which meant the Fluff had his space invaded by Horrible Strangers, who talked and hammered and drilled and vacuumed and generally made Horrible Noises.

This cat was not a happy camper.

Normally he hides under the daybed, crouched on top of the boxes I keep under there. This time, he managed to shove one of the boxes away from the wall, so he could squeeze himself in behind it. Note, these are the boxes with the Leif & Thorn books in them — they’re heavy.

It took a solid 2 hours after the Horrible Strangers left before the fluff poked his nose out of his hiding spot. And then he went back under. It was a few more hours, and a few more exploratory peeks, before he was walking around the place like normal again.

Poor guy. He’s had such a nice year, and now this.

Black Widow (no specific spoilers)

Family had a bunch of Potential Outings planned, but the only one we actually did was seeing Black Widow on the big screen.

The building had small groups of other patrons; our theater was flat-out empty except for us. (So if you tentatively want to catch a movie but are worried about large groups in enclosed spaces…give it a shot.)

The movie was good! Mostly takes place during the period when Natasha was on the run after Civil War, gives her a solo adventure that fleshes out her backstory — both parts we knew about, and parts that are new. Funny, heartwarming when it wanted to be, makes good use of that Disney “sure, blow up all the cars you want” money.

I’m usually more into the magic and sci-fi sides of the MCU, and this was a Cap-style action-spy-thriller, no super-science beyond what you can use for “excuses to do cooler stunts.” So it wasn’t an instant favorite the way Captain Marvel was.

But it was good at what it wanted to be. It wasn’t a perfunctory “I want to support the general idea of more female superheroes getting their own solo movies” thing. It was fun, and I liked it. Marvel did good.

Speaking of Marvel:

Loki (also no specific spoilers)

The whole 6-episode series is out now, and I…

…didn’t…like it?

Which is wild, because it has all the ingredients for a thing I should like. Magic! Sci-fi! Time travel nonsense! Alternate versions of the same character having to deal with each other! Significant chunks of action on alien planets! Major queer and/or female characters! Shapeshifters! Quippy banter! Sassy, petty villain getting dragged kicking and screaming into a redemption arc!

The first episode sure felt like it was going to deliver on all those things in a way I enjoyed. And then every subsequent cliffhanger was like “okay…there were a couple specific scenes that are fun, but…is this going anywhere? This big moment should’ve been good, but why didn’t it have buildup? That dramatic setup we did get, why hasn’t it had any payoff? This weird bit, I can think of some in-universe reasons why it was weird, so is it setting up one of those, or is it just sloppy writing?”

And the answer was always “it’s just sloppy writing.”

…to be fair, I think sometimes the answer was COVID. There were scenes where you could see “none of the actors except the 2 leads are getting within 6 feet of each other, and it’s really restricting what the narrative can do.”

But that doesn’t explain all of it.

Feels like it should’ve been a full-length season. Make it a procedural, have Loki and company facing a Time Shenanigans case-of-the-week, and have the characters/relationships develop slowly over each case. Then at the end we get a multi-episode arc where the plot is all interconnected, the developments all come to a head, the status quo gets flipped over.

Instead we got pieces of that arc without any connective tissue. You get prickly suspicious characters skipping from “tense, mistrustful opponents” to “tentative admissions of Friendship” when they’ve only known each other for, what, a few days? With no tangible reason for their feelings to change. It’s just “this is the part of the story where that happens, so it’s happened.”

Ugh. It could’ve been so good! And it just…wasn’t.

…and speaking of “things I just finished that didn’t have connective tissue”:

Check, Please!

The famous, award-winning, funding-record-making, m/m webcomic? That I didn’t read during the whole length of its run. Finally picked up the print volumes when I saw them at the library, and that’s how I got through the whole thing.

It was really thin. Cute and fluffy and disjointed. Kept setting up potential conflicts, but then skimming right over them.

I flipped back through some fail_fandomanon threads from when the updates were being released live, and it was a recurring theme for new readers to go “wait, was this just…resolved offscreen? Or did I accidentally skip a page?” (I was reading a physical book and would occasionally wonder if it skipped a page. It never did.)

…unsurprisingly, the author was in Hockey RPF fandom, and a lot of fans were bringing their interests from Hockey RPF fandom. So you would have character show up in the background, and readers would be like “aha, I can tell this is an expy of Real Player X, I enjoy him because I’m transferring my fannish feelings about Real Player X onto him.” Then they’d still be invested even if he only appeared 2-3 times and never did anything significant in-universe.

Reading it over the course of a couple afternoons — and with zero personal background in who these IRL hockey players are — was a breezy experience.

But, wow, I totally get why it was so intense and frustrating for so many people reading it in realtime. It would’ve been a constant cycle of “sets you up for something interesting, keeps you on the hook for a week or a month or several months for the next update, dashes your hopes when the setup gets deflated or sidestepped or offscreen-resolved, but hey, now there’s setup for another something interesting, maybe if I just wait for the next update in a week or a month or–“

It did work well enough for enough readers to bring the author buckets of money, though. And she delivered a complete series by the end — everyone who backed a Kickstarter to get a book, got a book — which is more than you can say for a lot of webcomickers who’ve taken people’s money. As many faults as I could pick apart in the writing: you go rake in that cash, girl.

Okay, to end this on a brighter note:

Leverage: Redemption

Sequel to the original TV series. Not a reboot, a retcon, or a reimagining — just “it’s been a decade in-universe, let’s pick back up with these characters and see how they’re doing now.”

And, wow. It’s the rare follow-up that’s so well-done, and so worth it.

The first 8 episodes are streaming free (at least in the US). The cases-of-the-week have the same “yeah, we didn’t fix the system, but we gave a complicated and satisfying comeuppance to this one exploitative scumbag” vibe of Leverage Classic. There are bits that make it clear it’s set in the 2020s — a Big Pharma creep who took CARES Act money, a reference to a politician who sounds like an AOC expy, that kind of thing — but it’s not “chasing the trending headline” in a way that’ll make it feel dated and irrelevant too fast.

They killed off Nate (his actor has sexual-assault accusations, makes sense not to employ the guy), and the other characters miss him in a way that’s present without taking over the show. Brought Sophie/Parker/Eliot back together. I assume Hardison’s actor has a job with a better-paying show, because he guest-starred briefly to establish that he’s still around, then brought in his also-genius-hacker kid-sister replacement on the team.

They also picked up a not-quite-Nate-replacement — he’s a newbie but learning the ropes fast, and he can fill the role any time they need a clean-cut business-savvy white guy.

After Elliot’s actor did a stint on the crew in The Librarians, it’s delightful to me that Flynn’s actor is the new guy on the Leverage crew. Please let the creators find an excuse to cameo Eve, Exekiel, and Cassandra in the next half of the series. That would be crossover catnip.

I got a new cat! — the full Fluffstory (thanks to @affoGATOcatcafe)

Mom was in town last week, so we hung out on Friday…and obviously had to visit Cleveland’s new cat cafe.

I wasn’t committed to getting a cat that day, but I was generally in the market for one, with these criteria:

  • A shy cat, maybe one that was rescued from a bad situation, who specifically needed a quiet home with one patient human + few visitors + no other pets
  • Any age, so long as it was housetrained
  • Any breed/appearance/coat length, so long as it had a distinct appearance from all the other cats I’ve lived with
  • Any gender, so long as it was spayed/neutered
  • Had all its shots in general, and no health issues that would put its care out of my budget

So we show up at the cafe, the staff give us a quick rundown of how to behave inside, they usher our whole group into the Cat Room…and there, curled up on a wall shelf across from the door, is Fluffy.

He’s of the cats they specifically called out beforehand, saying “don’t approach him in large groups or you’ll scare him, just go up one at a time, and give him a chance to get used to you.” I walk up slowly and give him some gentle skritching. After cautiously tolerating it for a bit, he leans into it.

I did check out the rest of the room — petted/hugged/played with various other cats — but at the end of the hour, I put a hold on Fluffy.

(There was one other “shy cat, needs patience” described on the board, and she put up with petting when I checked her out, but never showed any sign of indulging in it.)

And by evening, he was hiding in my bathroom!

Fluffy

Living up to his name, he’s a long-hair mix. Instead of totally renaming him, I’m making “Fluffy” a nickname for a longer full name TBD. (The realtime Twitter thread has a bunch of the possibilities.)

He’s mostly white-furred, with cookies’n’cream black spots (Fluffies’n’Cream!), and chronically-suspicious green eyes.

The Fluffmeister was an “on-site surrender” in a humane incident, meaning his original home got reported to the Animal Protection League as unsafe, and a team went to pick him up. (Along with one other cat, who was more sociable, and got adopted earlier.) At the time, he was underweight and dehydrated — the APL shelter put him on a special diet at first, to get his weight back up.

Fluffy

Even now, he only weighs 6 pounds. The fluff looks even fluffier because his actual frame is so tiny. And he’s 2 years old — gotta wonder if this was always his potential full size, or if he was underfed going back to kittenhood, and it stunted his growth.

(My aunt’s cat weighs 12 pounds. My parents’ last cat weighed 18. Not because of obesity or anything, either, he was just big.)

On the first night, April 5, Brave Sir Fluffs-a-lot tried a couple of different hiding places, ending up under the daybed in the living room:

Fluffy

Fluffy

Along with some boxes of Leif & Thorn books, and other convention merch.

In the bathroom I’d petted him and coaxed him to eat some treats. Here I put his food bowls under the end of the daybed, and he ate while he could see me in range to see him. So far, so good.

Then on the evening of the 6th, I did one last check-in before going to bed…and he wasn’t there! At some point he’d made a break for my bedroom. Managed to get there without me even noticing.

Fluffy

(The white stuff on the floor is bits of styrofoam, from when the bed was unpacked. Until now, I had no reason to try to get under there and sweep it up.)

Also, he’d done his business there, instead of in the provided litterbox. Sigh.

So that night we both slept in the bedroom — me on top of the bed, him underneath. It’s the only room (other than the bathroom) with a door that closes, and I kept him shut in there for the day. At this point he was only eating when I was out of the room, so I held off on any further petting.

Tempting though it was.

Still no use of the box, though, and on the afternoon of the 7th, Floofatron 3000 went and peed on the bed. I did some cleanup work, and then, since the mattress was too big to offer any chance of hauling it out of the room, I managed to upend it against the wall.

Ooh, he did not like that. The mattress was by itself on top of the slats of the bedframe, so it was the biggest part of his shelter, and having it removed was a Terrifying Ordeal.

I briefly planned to relocate him to the bathroom. At the cat cafe he’d been incredibly easy to scoop up and pour into his carrier, and he was quiet and docile throughout the car rides, even during our stop at the APL for microchipping. Should be easy to move him again, right?

…yeah, not so much. Not right after the Ordeal. (I like to hope he also had more energy from getting regular meals — the crowd at the cat cafe might’ve intimidated him away from his bowls.)

I did finally corner him, got a hiss and a scratch, and started formulating a new plan based on leaving him in a cat-proofed bedroom.

…and it’s working pretty well so far!

Fluffy

The Terror That Fluffs In The Night finally started using his litter by the night of the 8th, once I squeezed the box into a corner where he’d peed before (and removed the mattress as an alternative). Here he is under the de-mattressed bed.

The boxes/suitcase are positioned to keep him from climbing into the under-bed drawers. There are some thinner boxes under the under-bed drawers, to keep him out of that narrow space. Cleaning supplies are on-hand.

(And I’m sleeping on…the daybed. It’s fine, I spent the first month at this place with no furniture.)

His new favorite place is up on the windowsill. It’s about the height and size of that shelf he had at the cafe — and part of it is sheltered by the upturned mattress.

Looking real suspiciously at his food in this shot, but it still disappears when I’m not in the room, so it can’t be too bad.

His other favorite place is the new highest point in the room…the top edge of the mattress itself!

Fluffy

I’m not putting his food up there. Sir Edmund Fluffery will just have to venture back down when he’s hungry.

We had our current routine established by the 9th. I check in a few times a day, to refresh his food, clean his box, maybe leave some treats, and say calming things while standing at a safe distance.

On the 10th I called the APL, just hoping to chat with a worker who’d handled him during the 2-ish months he was at the shelter, get some insight…

…and had a lovely talk with someone who said “he was one of my favorites, I would’ve adopted him myself, but my home isn’t the quiet space he needs.”

New insights:

  • At the shelter it took The Fluffington Post about a month, with consistent routines, to start feeling comfortable and letting people pet him. Longer than I expected based on his first-night performance, but not longer than I’d bargained for.
  • Sounds like he hissed/swatted at them on a more regular basis until he adjusted, so he’s at least starting on a better footing here than he did there.
  • Took him that long to start playing with toys, too. And he’d stop if he noticed you looking.
  • He’s not picky at all about food — and will work up to being very food-motivated — but in the beginning he only felt safe eating at night. Which I had noticed, but was getting the data muddled by thinking “maybe he doesn’t like this flavor” instead of “oh, shouldn’t have put this out in the morning.”
  • He does have this weird way of eating, very slow, one piece at a time. Someone at the cafe speculated to me that she thought he’d lost some teeth. The person from the APL couldn’t confirm or deny that, but she did say they didn’t find anything to be medically concerned about.
  • He always sat on the highest shelf in his kennel at the shelter, too!

So it might be a while before he does anything worth sharing new photos of. Unless people (other than me) would be excited to see “aww, look, he’s sitting on his shelf some more!”

But now that we have a routine set up that covers all the basics, he’s going to get all the time he needs to get comfortable and come out of his shell.

In the meantime, I’m leaning towards Marshmallow Fluff as his full name, so I can make jokes about his great shelf life.