Monday, October 31, 2011

Signal From Space

I noticed that Forbidden Planet was on TCM today, and remembered that it was Steve Friedman's favorite movie. I used to listen to Friedman's Mr. Movie radio show on 1210AM late at nights, driving home after a weekend with Kathy. The long gaps for commercials would drive me crazy, but in the days before podcasts, it was a radio talk show I found interesting and engaging, and it kept me awake and on the road when I needed it. Steve was an old-time movie fan, and I'd be lying if I said I always agreed with his opinions, particularly about newer films. But he kept me listening, and kept me interested, and I always learned something about some older movie or star that I hadn't known before.

So when I saw the listing for Forbidden Planet, I looked him up, to see if he was still doing his late-night program. Sadly, he passed away in 2009, shortly after recording a show. Though I'm out of broadcast range, Philadelphia radio (not to mention the many stations he was syndicated on) is a little less colorful without him, I'm sure.

Anyway, the news, old though it was, and his love for the film, finally inspired me to watch Forbidden Planet today. And it's a fine movie, full of mystery, adventure, and grand, bold ideas. (Plus, it has an awesome robot in Robbie and a gorgeous actress in Anne Francis, both of whom I'm sure Steve appreciated.) I'm glad I finally saw it; I can't believe it took me so long.

Thanks, Steve.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Herman Cain: The Truth Is, Out There

In his latest (and to my eyes, hilarious) ad, Herman Cain seems to be targeting the X-Files audience.

Check it out. Make sure you go all the way to the end.

Seriously, how often do we see cigarettes on TV these days? Sinister cigarette-smoking man hearts Herman Cain while leading Scully and Mulder on a wild goose chase for evidence of aliens and government involvement in otherworldly whatnot.  A bold choice, which by the end, even Cain finds funny. He just stares and stares at the camera, daring you to call his bluff, until he cracks a smile.

The best part is, whenever Mark Block (cigarette-smoking man, but not this one) makes an assertion about Herman Cain, he shakes his head "no." Even he doesn't believe it, it seems, but hey, he needs the paycheck. Have you seen what a carton of Luckies goes for these days?


Friday, October 07, 2011

Water Weasel

This blog isn't going to turn into all ferrets, all the time, but I wanted to get this down. I had a dream about Gus last night. He was swimming, in a big pool where people were gathering to see some sort of music festival. I swam over to Kathy and asked where he was, and she pointed at a white streak under the water, some distance away. "There he is," she said. "He's fine."

I swam over, and he was playing under the water, doing flips and curling around like a miniature otter. He looked so much bigger under the water. And having the time of his life.


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Mister Gus

Our good buddy—Gus, Mister Gus, Guster, the Bumble, Sweet Kisses—is gone.

This little white ferret lived a good life with us, entering our house with his three pals, Blink, the Dude, and She-Devil, eventually outlasting them all. For the last year or so of his life, he was a solo ferret, and a very good one. Being a ferret was what he loved, and he did it with pride.

Of course, he was a little OCD. That comes from being a ferret, I think. (I was going to say "anal," but that just brought memories of this.) There were a number of items that he obsessed about. He had a toy shaped like a jack that he tried to pull into a hanging hammock tube. He’d carry it in his teeth from the bottom of the cage to the top, rest it on the platform, climb into the tube and pull it. It was too big to get in, but he spent a lot of time trying. (And at one point, he even succeeded, bringing the jack through a slit at the top! A proud day.)

Then there were the jingle balls. They needed to go in the corner, in a little nook between the CD racks. We could shake the little balls and send them rolling around the room, and he’d unfailingly bring them to where he could keep an eye on them.

But his greatest accomplishment was Sweet Kisses. For Valentine’s Day, Kathy gave me a blue heart-shaped pillow that said “Sweet Kisses” on it, like one of those conversation hearts. Gus took a liking to it. (Or maybe it was hate. Who can tell?) Every day, he’d climb up onto the sofa, find the Sweet Kisses pillow and grab it in his teeth, and then jump down to the floor. Now, while it doesn’t weigh as much, the pillow is about his size. So when he would leap into the air, it was always a surprise how he’d land. Sometimes he’d land like he intended, four feet on the ground and Sweet Kisses in front of him. Other times he’d land directly on the pillow and bounce off. More often, his momentum would take him over Sweet Kisses, flipping him upside down onto the floor once the pillow hit the ground. Regardless, he’d still have that pillow in his teeth. He’d give it a shake or two, then let it go. Once it was on the floor, he could ignore it. (He did try to drag it into a corner once or twice, but the geography was a little too tight for success, and he gave up. Maybe he’d learned his lesson from the jack toy.)

These things could give us endless entertainment. He wasn’t much of a snuggler, but every now and then, if we were lucky, he would give us little kisses—particularly if Kathy had just eaten chocolate or if I’d just had a beer. And then he’d run off to fall asleep in a fleece in the corner, or behind the TV, or pretty much anywhere. He’d mastered sleep.

We miss him something terrible. There hasn’t been a day I’ve woken up since he died that I hadn’t had to work to pull myself out of bed, aware that I wouldn’t be able to get a hug from Gus once I made it downstairs. Just the same, I’m glad we had so much time with him… most likely, extra time. Last year he was pretty sick. He’d lost all the hair on his body (only his head was spared), due to symptoms from insulinoma. I worried about him every day. But our vet gave him an experimental treatment, an implant that would treat the disease. Soon, Gus was starting to grow hair again, and was certainly feeling better, too.

He had a theme song, of course:

Mister Gus! Mister Gus!
I don’t wanna cause a fuss!
But you’re so cute! You’re so cute!
In your little ferret suit!
You’re so nice! You’re so nice!
I’ll freeze you in a block of ice!
And thaw you out when it’s time!
You’ll see the future, blow your mind!
Mister GUUUUS!

(This was usually sung in several verses, some in Spanglish--“en tu pequeno ferret suit”--some with a Transylvanian accent, and so on. I’m not sure if he ever got the Captain America allusion.)

This last month or so, he started to lose strength in his hind legs. It went from a little wobble now and then to him not being able to count on them at all in a matter of weeks. We were giving him medicine to deal with the problem, but it wasn’t helping. And eventually, Gus decided he’d had enough. He started refusing all food, like it was medicine. We used a syringe to get some food into him for a little while, but eventually decided that he knew his body best, and was making a deliberate decision.

Oh, hell. All pet stories end the same, if you go on long enough. You don’t need to hear this, and I don’t want to tell anymore. What matters is this little fuzzy, fussy white guy brought a lot of love into our life, and I still can’t believe he’s gone.