Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How I acquired Sanchez the cat

From 2011 to early 2014, I was living during the week in an apartment in Beaverton, OR, working a contract. Sanchez--known then to one and all simply as "El Gato Negro"--was a large black cat who lived in the apartment complex. His owners had been there for a number of years but for some reason one of the flatmates didn't like cats, so they left him outside. They fed him, but he lived outside.

El Gato Negro made the rounds of the apartments and maybe as many as half a dozen apartments left out food for him. I understand that when he felt he wasn't getting enough, he'd hunt (successfully) ducklings and goslings in the creek behind the apartment. When I met him, he was friendly and let me pet him and pick him up. He was actually a little scrawny at that point and his fur was a little dull, but he was very active and in good health.

Around 2013, the apartment manager told me that his owners had skipped and had left him behind. She knew I'd been looking for a cat to keep me company, so would I like to take care of him? That sounded like a great idea, so the next time El Gato Negro came by, I picked him up and carried him up to my apartment. He took to living indoors just fine and the first night he was there, I went to bed and he joined me about 10 minutes later and snuggled into me, something he's tended to do every night since then.

In about a month of regular feeding, he got to a proper weight where he didn't look scrawny anymore and his fur was glossy. In his case, "proper weight" means 17, 18 pounds, which is the size of a small bobcat. He's about that big, too.

He picked up the name Sanchez when The Babe and I were at Worldcon and heard John Scalzi read a very funny short story he'd written entitled "The Other Large Thing," in which the name "Sanchez" figured prominently. (It's a fast read; if you've not read/heard it before, please take a couple minutes and do so now.)

Sanchez, as far as I can tell, is 13, possibly 14 years old. He's all black save for a little line of white on his chest. And he still tends to snuggle into me at night.


Monday, July 10, 2017

A banjo story from my past

Back in the early 90s, I was doing a concert in Portland about 25 years ago and that thing we always worry about happening in concerts happened: I broke a string. Damn damn damn! I reached into my shoulder bag and pulled out the packet of strings we all carry for just this emergency and start changing the string.

But I've got to fill time while I'm doing it, so I start telling banjo jokes. I run through a lot of the old standards:

What's the difference between a banjo and an onion? (You cry when you cut up an onion.)
...an accordion? (The banjo takes longer to burn.)
...a Harley? (You can tune a Harley.)
...a chainsaw? (The chainsaw has a wider dynamic range.)
...a banjo player and a large pizza? (The large pizza can feed a family of four.)

What do you say to a banjo player in a three-piece suit? ("Will the defendant please rise?")

How do you tell the stage is level? (The banjo player drools out of both sides of his mouth.)

...and a bunch more, including my all-time favorite:

Q: What's the first thing every banjo player knows?
A: That Jed's a millionaire.

Okay, so I'm about done with changing the string and I say "What's the difference between a banjo and an Uzi?" But before I can get out my answer of "The Uzi only repeats 40 times," some guy in the third row called out "The banjo clears the room faster!"

Aaaaargh! Upstaged! I mimed getting stabbed in the heart, tuned up the new string, and played the next song in the concert.