We’re not superstitious. We love black cats and believe unlucky things don’t have to happen on Friday the 13th. To prove it, I had root canal on a canine tooth yesterday. It wasn’t exactly a spa day, but three very different women connected on a meaningful level. A Korean endodontist, a dental assistant from the Dominican Republic and a white chick dished about the meaning of life, DNA and destiny, how social media disconnects us and ways to access our life purpose and creativity. My contribution was interspersed with grunts between rinses and drilling. Still groggy and cotton-mouthed at the end, I nevertheless chatted with the dentist so intently and long, the front desk receptionist walked in wondering is everything was okay.
I should have guessed it was going to go well, with a big framed photo of a fox in the woods stared down at me with benevolence during the treatment. Fox is one of my power animals. I mentioned this to the dentist and nonplussed said it isn’t always a fox there. Ah, there is every day magic when we’re open to it.
For magic of another sort, is our favorite video of the week by good pal Alana from There is a Cat in the Fridge and Cat CATastrophes. It’s a very funny adventure about a very lucky black cat named Magic Kevin. Enjoy and we’d love you to share. Who knows, it might bring you luck!
It was a busy week but there are more dental and other appointments in my future so we’ll be blogging less in the next couple weeks.
If you haven’t entered our Rescued Book Giveaway, hurry and enter here now. The winner will be announced tomorrow.
If you’ve never been to a cat writer or pet blogger conference, these photo collages will give a sense of what goes on. This year the Cat Writers’ Association partnered with BarkWorld in Atlanta last week. It was a chance to meet new and old friends, attend sessions about writing, social and other media, meet with editors, peruse new pet products and chat with the brand reps.
Yes, there were dogs,
a few kittens Jeanne brought and one cat named Waffles who is on the can of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. It was especially wonderful to see Deb Barnes, my fellow CWA council member who joined the same year as me. Caren from Cat Chat hankered for a good steak and found time to catch up. The worst thing about this kind of event is simply not having time to speak to all my blogger friends enough. Guys, we need a week!
As a member of the CWA, I attended the annual meeting where the interim president Dusty Rainbolt handed the reins over to new president Marci Kladnik and I’ve been elected to the CWA council.
Every conference is different and this one was a roller coaster of highs and lows. There were profound insights, deep connections, non-stop serendipity, Shakespearean drama, a comedy of errors and plenty of laughter.
I presented a session on photo editing with nail-biting tech issues. Two minutes before show time the tech team finally resolved it severely testing my go with the flow attitude. Apparently my humor remained intact.
Earlier in the day I facilitated a breakfast gathering to remember my friend and the late CWA president Lorie Huston. After the group dispersed I enjoyed for a long, private chat with Lorie’s brother Tim who’d journeyed from Nebraska and is as sweet as Lorie was. It was bittersweet that evening when Tim accepted two awards Lorie had won.
To keep a scratchy throat and flu symptoms at bay, I snuck off twice to the blissful quiet of the spa for a sauna which saved me.
Cat writers know how to have fun. I received my first tiara. Don’t ask. The rooster in the hen house is Chris Ruben, CEO of Adopt-A-Shelter.
A few of the many mood and faces.
The highlight of the conference is the gala awards evening. I didn’t win an awards this year but happy that some of my friends did like Janiss Garza and many others. Four years ago I was a newbie member who won a Muse Medallion my first year and every year since. This year I shared the joy of a friend I’d sponsored and mentored win three awards. Yay, Alana!
Last Sunday morning while checking out of the hotel, I bumped into mystery writer Clea Simon ( who had won a Muse) and her hubby. We ended up travelling together to the airport. I nominate them as my favorite couple to go through airport security with or bar hopping.
I’ll be adding more photos to the CWA Facebook page and our Cat Wisdom 101 Facebook page so if you see yourself or someone you know, please tag them.
Next week is proving to be kitty hashtag heaven. #CatVidFest on August 14th celebrates the best in cat videos. It’s the third year of the Internet Cat Video Festival held at the Walker Center in Minneapolis with a special appearance this year by Lil BUB and her dude, Mike Bridavsky. You can also meet the awesome Lil BUB in Chicago on Sept. 6, 2014 with proceeds to benefit Tree House Humane Society and Chicago Cat Rescue.
The cat video festival was an instant success with Henri le Chat Noir winning the 2012 prestigious Golden Kitty Award. Last year, Grumpy Cat took the honor but who will win this year? Your guess is as good as mine. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be revealed at the end of the night, along with a special Achievement Award to be announced.
Next week is #kittenweek. Post your cute kitten pics at Facebook/TidycatsKitten season continues in full force and shelters everywhere are brimming with kittens.
If you know of any kittens needing to be adopted please post pics with links at our Cat Wisdom 101 Facebook pageWe’d especially would love to see black cats since these are the least popular color of cats adopted in shelters. Crazy but true.
The cat entertainment world scored big time when Discovery Digital Network’sAnimalist.com recently picked up a funny cat-centric web series called CATastrophes.
Think of the web series as fully realized, well produced mini films or shorts. The series, created and written by my friend Alana Grelyak of the Cat in the Fridgeblog and is directed by her filmmaker husband Michael Gabriele. CATastrophes stars Alana and actor/comedian Kris Flanagan. The small ensemble cast share a naturally, quirky funny chemistry as they explore scenarios with real adoptable cats. It’s a magical interface between art, humor, education and adoption PSAs. (scroll down for a short exclusive interview with the stars).
ChronoCATastrophe, the next episode in the series, premiered on July 14 and stars celebrity cat Lil BUB in her first acting role as Wellington a time-travelling cat along with adoptable cats from Tree House Humane Society in Chicago. I fell in love with Bub when I met her last year and her show was my introduction (and remains a favorite) of the eclectic programming on Animalist. The network has something for every cat and animal lover and now CATastrophes is the must-see series.
You can see all episodes at Animalist.comand if never want to miss an episode…Subscribe athttps://www.youtube.com/user/CatCatastrophes.They would love to hear from viewers about their stories. They are planning on reenacting some viewer stories so leave a comment on any of their social media pages.
Every episode is wildly different but always creative. One of my favorites is a charming story about finding love French style with Guy La Furr.
Alana Grelyak seen on the red carpet at the Nose-To-Nose Awards where she won the 2014 award for Best Video.
I asked Grelyak what the film making process is like when working with animal “actors”. Alana said, “I do my best to write the scripts around specific behaviors that I know a cat will have. For instance, I know that Rocky loves to talk and doesn’t mind wearing clothes. He made the perfect lead for CHATastrophe, a talking, beret-wearing French cat. In Catalogue, I vacuumed him. Why? Because it’s something he enjoys even when the camera is off.
Most of the things we have the cats do are things that cat will do naturally. We group our shots together so the cats are on set for the shortest amount of time possible, and we use stand ins (e.g. puppets) for any situation that a cat might be uncomfortable with. We also work with split screens and special effects to give the impression that there are more cats than there really are in a given place. We’ve also, on several occasions, changed the scripts on the fly to suit whatever the cat prefers. Sometimes, the cats give us better performances that I could possibly expect or make up and we use those takes instead. We make the cats’ safety and comfort number one on all the shoots.
Rehearsal time is tough to come by! We have one, if possible, especially for the longer episodes. Kris and I have been working together for three years now, though, so we’re kind of used to each other and that makes things go faster. As far as takes, Michael will continue until he gets the shot he’s looking for.”
Lil Bub is a huge kitty star and if you think stardom has gone to her cute little head, think again. Mike Bridavsky, Bub’s cat dad or Dude, kindly offered his recording studio to film in. Grelyak said, “Working with BUB was a breeze. BUB sat very well for us and was a perfect actress. She’s actually a good example of us using a stand in. When we had to film the scene where Kris and I are falling, we didn’t want to scare of injure BUB, so we used her BUB stuffed toy as a stand in and she went home to nap. We didn’t require any special perks. Also, she waived her fee and instead she agreed to a donation to Lil BUB’s Big Fund with the ASPCA. She’s very generous that way.”
One of the happiest moments or “side effect” of the shoot must be when a kitty actor gets adopted. Alana, said, ” A lot of the younger kittens get adopted right away. Sometimes, we’ll post or re-post on Facebook about cats that are still available from our films. On our latest shoot, one of our actors tried to adopt our star but was a few hours too late – he got adopted when he left the set!”
It comes as no surprise that Kris Flanagan is a cat man and recounts how his recent cats came into his life.
“Hell yeah, I’m a cat man. They’re hilarious. My guys right now are Declan and Goon. They’re brothers that were rescued from under a porch by Treehouse here in Chicago. My girlfriend and I had been looking for the right fit for us for about a month and a half. We were kinda losing hope until the day we found them, which was funny the way it went down.
Do you remember when you were a kid and you had friends over to your house for a birthday or whatever and your old toys that you no longer had interest in, suddenly regained value when you saw your buddy having a great time playing with it? That’s kind what led to us snatching them up. We were playing with them at the shelter, they’re domestic longhairs, which I was hesitant of because of the shedding and allergies. Well we’ve got em’ both cradled in our laps when some prospective adopters are filling out paperwork and kept eyeballing them.
My girlfriend knew my hesitation and we were in the middle of talking it out when I noticed. The child inside me woke up outta nowhere and said “NO! MINE!”. So without her total consent I just yelled to the lady working “yep, we’ll take these two with us!” And then shot the other people a ‘take that!’ look.
8 months later they have ruined curtains, lamps, glassware, couches (yes multiple) and my ability to sleep in past 7 AM. But they’re always there to greet me when I get home, they cuddle like crazy and sleep like drunk old men. They’ve tied our home together and I couldn’t really see my day-to-day without them.”
The cast and crew are skilled and funny cat lovers with a message.
“We hope our work will make more people aware of important topics, like adopting special-needs pets, or making sure their kittens are spayed and neutered,” said Grelyak, “but we want to do it in a funny way that will make people want to hear more about it. We feel like it’s a fresh approach to reaching viewers that would prefer to laugh instead of having their heart strings tugged.”
FTC disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Discovery Digital Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about CATastrophes, but Cat Wisdom 101 only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers.
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Merlin (seen above) enjoyed a walkabout yesterday on an almost balmy day. Brrr, another cold snap is on its way.
I’m delighted to announce I’ll be a speaker atBlogPaws the premiere social media conference focused on pets in May. If you are a pet blogger, BlogPaws is THE place to network, meet friends you’ve only known online, learn new skills and have fun! This year the conference is at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa Since I’m the giveaway queen I’ve been asked to speak about guess what? All about running giveaways. Check out the entire roster of speakers
Did you know you can enter our giveaways more than once? To enter just leave a comment via the links. Current giveaways include a chance to win the fab and cozy pet chalet Neko Napper and 24 lbs of the super premium cat food from Petcurean.
We’re excited our friend and talented filmmaker Alana Grelyak fromCat in The Fridge blog is a finalist for her film The Inheritance which premieres today at noon at the second annualCatdance Film Festival sponsored by Fresh Step® litter inPark City,where the famed Sundance Film Festival is also taking place. Gilles Marini, recently featured in People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue and cat lover is introducing each of the five film finalists. The original and scripted cat-inspired short films will be screened in 3D.
After the screening, America will have the chance to view all the films and vote for their favorite feline film at www.freshstep.com/catdance, with the grand prize winner receiving $50,000 and a “golden” litter scoop award. To screen the films and cast a ballot for the viewer’s choice award, visit www.freshstep.com/catdance from Jan. 18 through Feb. 28, 2014. All voters will have a chance to win great prizes, including the limited-edition T-shirt, Fresh Step coupons and products from Fresh Step’s Feline Arts Council. We’ll be voting for The Inheritance and hope you do too.
Fans of my Kitty Astrology! Find out if your cat is a Capricorn at Catster.com. If you have any astrology questions, leave a comment there.