Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Summer wrap up

Autumn blew in today with crispy high of 62 degrees (crispy high actually sounds like something you do in the cow pasture at midnight with mushrooms). From now on, the subway will be a lot puffier to ride and a lot less sweaty. (Again, that just sounds wrong.)

I do like autumn. If I have to do this whole "seasons" thing, at least that means I get to experience fall: the warm colors, the cool winds, the mysterious gourds.

Sadly, the end of summer does mean the end of most outdoor music activities, many of which I attended this year as a member of the Village Voice's glorious street team. The Electric Zoo Festival can go electrocute itself, but the Mermaid Parade on craptastic Coney Island was loads of fun, even in the pouring rain. And there was also Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park, the Luminescent Orchestra in World Trade Square, and of course, Brooklyn Heights opera.

For indoor fun, I attended the saucy puppet show, Avenue Q, a taping of the Daily Show, the New York Anime Festival, and almost lost my finger in a subway door. My point is, I have more fun than most people. Because I'm awesome. And a little stupid sometimes. It's a combination of the two, really, the stupid and the awesome, that makes life worth living.

On that note, here's a Jewish dumpster. Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Read a banned book

The last week of September is Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association. I used to have a pin on my backpack that said, "Everything I need to know in life I learned from reading banned books," so I am all about this holiday. Anytime people tell me not to read something, well, now I HAVE to check it out! Something I'm not supposed to see? Double helpings, please!

However, the ALA recently published this PDF of the most banned and challenged books of 2008 and 2009, and all I can say is that the list is illuminating for being--well, rather dull.

For one, "Catcher in the Rye"? Talk about a golden oldie. Two things surprise me about this, the first being that people are still bothering to challenge this book. The battle was lost on that one as soon as "Catcher" appeared in a Mel Gibson movie. Popular cultural saturation point reached. Any "Grand Theft Auto" commercial has more questionable material readily available to the average teenager than this book, at least according to my Wikipedia search, since I haven't actually read it.

Which leads me to my second point: is any poor schoolchild still expected to read this thing? I'll read most anything I can get my hands on, including the Spanish-language advertisements on the C train, but even I put the book down after 20 pages. Talk about your spoiled-whiny-white-male yawnfest. I object to books like "Catcher," and "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac, because they portray protagonists that seek freedom at the expense of others, not because they are trapped--they could never be trapped the same way a woman or a minority was in the 1950s--but because they are simply bored. I'm not the only one who feels this way about "Catcher" (or "On the Road"; one of my fellow writer friends wants to fly to France, exhume Kerouac's body, and punch him in the face). Schoolteachers are having a difficult time getting their students interested in the book, finding it's protagonist whiny, selfish, and self-absorbed. In other words, get a life, Holden Caulfield. Your 1950s alienation has nothing on a generation that blows up condoms to use as birthday balloons. (What, they didn't do that in your middle school?)

"Joy of Sex," "Lesbian Kama Sutra," "Joy of Gay Sex"--what are these even doing in school libraries? Moving on.

"The Bluest Eye," "The Lovely Bones," "Girl, Interrupted," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Color Purple"--okay, now we're getting to the meatier selections. It's no coincidence that all of the above books grapple with issues of sex, sexuality, and/or racial identity. I think many people don't want children reading books about these topics because they believe that children are unaware of sex, sexuality, and race. This is just wrong. Newsweek says babies as young as six months recognize and make judgments based on skin color. And anyone who has spent time around a two-year-old boy knows that HE knows all about his privates. It's understandably uncomfortable to talk about these topics in a classroom, but I think the long-term repercussions of silence far outweigh the momentary discomforts.

Of course, I'm not in front of a bunch of 13-year-olds who just read a chapter on performing oral sex in a mental hospital, so who am I to judge?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

But wait--Steampunk!

I attended a "Steampunk in Anime" panel at the New York Anime Festival this Saturday, and it was just fantastic. While the steampunks were a minority at the Fest, the ones that showed up had a hard time getting around for all the people wanting to take pictures of them. The ladies to the right and left of the text all made their own costumes. The detail is incredible, which goes right along with the steampunk philosophy, namely, make things beautiful and make them to last. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a picture of the Abraham Lincoln with the golden mechanical arm. How much cooler would history class have been if Honest Abe had sported a robot arm--OF GOLD?!

Except for an old issue of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" that I dug up from my local library during an Alan Moore phase, and this 2008 article in the New York Times, I didn't know much about the genre except that the aesthetic pleased me. Just look at that guy's ray gun below. The brass, the wood, the beautiful-but-explodey-headness of it--I want one, and then I want an airship so I can use the gun and the airship together to rescue some prince.

Another reason I've decided to become an official fan of steampunk is that the golden age of the Hawaiian monarchy occurred in the Victorian era. Those who follow my blog regularly know that I was born-and-raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, and those who know a bit more than the average person about American history know that Hawaii used to be its own country. But how cool would it be to have an alternate-history Hawaii where King Kalakaua had a robot army and he never signed the Bayonet Constitution? "Mr. Thurston, I don't believe that myself OR my mighty mechanical man think much of your amendments."

I think these good people would approve.

For more awesome pictures of the Anime Festival, check out my gallery on Flickr:

New York Anime Festival, 2009

Yesterday, I went to the New York Anime Festival! It was awesome. I had a great time. Wanna see pictures?

They posted backwards for some reason I can't figure out, which is a problem I had trying to post them on this blog, too. So begin at the end of the photo album and work your way forward if you so desire. Be on the lookout for zombies, werewolves, Predator, steampunks, a cardboard box, gamers, Jedi, and of course, I Love Ninja. I'm writing a killer article about the whole experience, and if I can't sell it by the end of this week, then I will post it here for your viewing pleasure so you can ask yourself, Why do I not experience things on the same awesomely nerdy level as Big Island Rachel? Did I displease the gods sometime in my past life?
Just reassure you: Yes. Yes you did. You will be cursed with respectability and seriousness for the rest of your non-nerdy life unless you pay proper homage to an altar set with D&D dice, a Darth Vader action figure, and a bootleg VHS copy of "The Fire Child and the Water Child." Or you could just to go for automatic absolution. Good luck!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Urban Foraging

Here's a tip from an island girl: forage. Nothing tastes as good as the food you find lying on the ground. City dwellers can get in on this action, too, according to the New York Times, which I wouldn't have believed if I hadn't spied this baby on my morning walks to the office. As soon as these apples on Lexington and Classon are ripe, I'm'a gonna have me one. The immunity I'll get from ingesting whatever it's collected from the Brooklyn environment will probably cover my flu vaccination for the coming winter.
I never knew that I liked apples until I moved to New York. Hawaii has some fabulous fruits--mangos, papayas, lychee, bananas--but certain things need cold weather to thrive: tulips, apples, grunge rock, and Vikings all need a good, hard frost to function properly. The only apples we ever got in Hawaii when I was growing up were green ones, yellow ones, and red ones; or, if you want to get technical, Granny Smiths, Golden Deliciouses, and Red Deliciouses (Deliciai?). They were soft, dry, mealy, and if they came from the cafeteria at Naalehu Elementary, kinda salty, too. Don't ask me why.

But my first autumn here, I had a sample of a McIntosh apple from the Union Square Farmers Market. It was blissfully crispy and tasty and all other combinations of 's,' 't,' 'p,' and 'ee' you can string together. I was hooked, and also gainfully employed at the time, so I bought every kind of apple from Whole Foods that they offered: Honeycrisps, Paula Reds, Braeburns, Empires--you know what? Just go to the New York Apple Association website. That's what I eated.

I even wrote an article on the Plenty Magazine website about where to go apple picking during the fall, which I can't link to because Plenty folded and landed me in TempLand. Trust me, it was all kinds of awesome. In fact, since you'll never read it, I'll go ahead and say that it revealed the cure for the common cold, the location of the Lost Ark of the Covenant, and what REALLY happened to Mulder on the X-Files.

Prove me wrong. And have a Brooklyn apple.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bruce Springsteen!

Gotta love the Boss. Today, September 23rd, Bruce Springsteen, frontman of the E Street Band and all around awesome dude, turns 60. How awesome in Springsteen? He's so awesome that the spell checker on my blog here recognizes his name as a real word. If even machines bow to his superiority, how long before they make him our master, and how long after that can I become a handmaiden to our new Rock Overlord, or Roccovolord?

My mom had a cassette tape of the album "Born to Run" when I was a little girl, but I forgot about it for many years in that murky time when everyone was switching over from tapes to CDs. Just before I graduated high school, Mom bought a truck with a CD player and got "Born to Run" to play in the car.

"Do you remember this?" she asked.

[Braces-sucking sound] "Nah."

"What?! You don't remember "Born to Run"?! Of course you remember "Born to Run"! We played this tape until it died, don't tell me you don't remember Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." This is the album that MADE Springsteen a superstar. Oh my G-d, who raised you? Your father would be ashamed!"

Or something like that.

Then she put it on, and I heard the first chords of "Thunder Road." It was like that Proust passage where he eats a cookie and is transported back to childhood, except instead of remembering when I was a little French boy, I remembered being stretched out on the backseat of our old red Geo Prism, listening to Clarence Clemons' sax as we go through the Kipahoehoe Forest Reserve on our way home to Ocean View. The memory is so strong that I just went to YouTube to hear that song and I now smell the gray upholstery and the ashy, volcanic rain drizzling through the open windows. Of course I remember "Born to Run." I love Bruce Springsteen! He's the voice of my childhood! (Him and Madonna.) has a great article called "60 Springsteen Facts for Bruce's 60th Birthday." Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Bruce has fans in high places. Barack Obama has said that there are “a handful of people who enter into your lives through their music and tell the American people’s story. Bruce Springsteen is one of those people.” He’s also said that he ran for President because he couldn’t be Bruce Springsteen.

7. When the Springsteen’s were living in Freehold, New Jersey, their house was near a Nestle’s factory. When the wind was just right, Bruce has said, he could smell chocolate all day long.

23. In December 1999, the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery was woken up with Bruce’s song “Rendezvous” on the day they were scheduled to rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope.

53. Bruce inspires some pretty extreme acts of fandom (besides this post, I mean). Over the summer, JamsBio presented us with “No Retreat, No Surrender,” a “worst-to-first countdown of every album cut in Springsteen history” plus some bonus songs. In all, they ranked and wrote about (sometimes at length) 200 songs. They ranked “Real Man” from Human Touch last and “Born to Run” first.

I still can't embed videos on my blog, but this article also has a bunch of videos, including 2 Sesame Street Springsteen parodies. "Born to Add" makes me smile. How about you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ninja Quest: Countdown to the Anime Festival!

The Japanese have a word: Otaku. It means nerd. Not American-style nerd, with pocket protector, D&D dice, and an opinion of who shot first (which doesn't refer to the JFK murder). Otaku is a specifically Japanese nerd: someone who knows the difference between anime and manga, has the complete box set of all of Hayao Miyazaki's films, and can make origami ninja stars.

A merge between the two would be someone who can make an origami Millennium Falcon. Twenty shiny yen to whoever can pull this off.

As you may recall from my earlier ninja quest for New York Japantown, I've got a little of the otaku in me. That's why, this Saturday, I'm going to the New York Anime Festival. I've got my combat boots, my short skirt, my plastic samurai sword (because they don't allow real swords inside the festival), and a hefty sack of I Love Ninja stickers to pass out.

It is coincidence that the Anime Festival occurs during the High Holy Days? I think not. Four days and counting...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I went to a Daily Show taping!

I complain a lot about New York City. It's not my fault; everybody who lives in New York complains about living in New York. I just follow the trend.

But though you wouldn't guess it from hanging out with a crowd of New Yorkers, there are certain reasons we all choose to live here. Reason number one: cool stuff. Lots of it. And sometimes it's free.

By far the bestest, coolest free thing you can do in New York is go to a taping of the Daily Show. It's easy. I went yesterday. And even though I booked tickets online three months in advance and lined up outside the studio three hours before the show started, I saw people just showing up and getting stand-by seats an hour before the doors opened, so all evidence suggests that going to a taping of the Daily Show is simple, awesome, and--well, awesome.

The staff is great: big fat New Yorker guys telling you they won't take your shit if you don't follow the rules; hard 80s rock blasting from the speakers between takes, hand-picked by Jon Steward himself; and big fat celebrities! I saw Matt Damon yesterday. Did you? Thought not. And that's why I live in New York.

Some stray observations: Jon Stewart and Matt Damon are both kinda short. Celebrities are exactly the same in real life as they are on TV, just more real-lifey. Sitting on a dirty sidewalk outside a studio for three hours isn't much fun. But the Daily Show totally is. And I went.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Brooklyn Book Festival

So on Sunday, I attended the Brooklyn Book Festival, a free event in downtown Brooklyn celebrating bookeses and writers and comicses. Hurray! All of my favorite things!

Let's see--there were two bookmobiles, at least five stages for live readings, enough small publishers to wage a decent war on Google headquarters, comics, novels, novellas, poetry, music, hot dogs cuz it's New York, and of course, the icy spectre of death. Thanks for showing up to remind us all of what will likely happen to the masterpieces and G.A.Ns currently occupying memory space in our computers. You always know how to turn a good time into a great one, Death.

I had plans to attend some "serious" readings, like the Tribute to Normal Mailer, Edwidge Dandicat, Russell Banks, that sort of thing. But then I remembered that I'd never read any Norman Mailer, that Russell Banks had insulted a Nobel Prize winner (and myself) the last time I saw him, and that Edwidge Dandicat, while having the coolest name EVER, probably didn't write about zombies. And since I had the option to meet writers who DID occupy the zombie genre--well, what further explanation is needed? Just look at Death here. The universe was obviously giving me a sign.

So I went to the New York Comic-Con section, which was crammed into a corner of the park to protect the norms from nerd-contamination, and the BF and I sat in on a panel called "Scifi and Fantasy in New York City," featuring (from left to right) Dave Roman, Anton Strout, Peter Brett, S.C. Butler, and Brian Slattery. The funny thing is, I've never heard of any of these guys--yeah, they're all white males, but what can you do?--but it was the best time I had at the festival all day.

Now, I'd already attended a "serious" panel called "International Graphic Novel, featuring one of my favorite authors/illustraters, Guy Delisle (right), author of "Pyongyang," which is getting turned into an animated movie (rather excited about that). So these "serious" comic book people, they chatted about the process, about sketches versus photos, about the birthright Israel program and the teachers' strike in Mexico. It was good stuff, solid nuts-and-bolts writing, and some of it was quite adventurous, but they were all so freaking serious. I wanted to yell up at them, "Hey guys, they're comics! Let's see your inner nerd!"

That's why it was so cool to attended the Scifi panel and have Anton Strout tell me, "Stop bouncing in your seat, fan girl!" when I snapped their picture. There was an instant camaraderie amongst these genre writers, an easiness with each other and themselves, that was just delightful to experience. They'd never met before, but by the end, Anton was inviting Brian to do lunch. Perhaps because they're already outside the realm of "serious" (there's that word again) literature, these zombie-raising, orc-slaying, D&D masters don't feel the need to save face in front of all the high makamaka New Yorker-reading types. They can just be as white and nerdy as they want to be.

And I think we can all respect that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Taking Woodstock

Ah, hippies. My people. How I miss you. Sure, the Union Square farmers market has some beards and love beads, and the Village hosts a few dreadlocked heads, but there generally aren't a lot of hippies in New York City. Certainly not like you see in Hawaii. See this guy here? Friend of mine in Honolulu. Drives a Mercedes that runs on cooking oil. Every First Friday, he has a Happening in his art studio in Chinatown, with poetry, music, and art installations. Sometimes there are psychedelic hula-hoopers. This is a proper hippie.

This is one reason I find it hard to believe that Woodstock happened on the East Coast. (Another reason is the Electric Zoo Festival.) But, despite the fact that I have the wildest hair around for miles, this is the state where the baby boomers got their big moment, and you can find out all about it in Ang Lee's newest movie, Taking Woodstock.

Joke from Seinfeld: "What's sex with Ang Lee like?"

"Very slow but visually stunning."

Anyway, Taking Woodstock is a very cute little movie that the BF and I just saw today. It's about a shy, gay Jewish artist who's trying to help save his immigrant parents' motel by inviting the Woodstock festival organizers to hold the concert in his town. The hippies descend, the rain falls, everybody gets high, and then everybody goes home. If you haven't been living under a rock for the last 40 years, you've already seen most of this movie.

The thing that makes this version more original than most is that you're seeing it more from the perspective of the organizers rather than the concert-goers. And the organizers, for all of their wild hair and funky clothing, are still a stressed-out, cynical, effective, and dedicated group of individuals, which is what you need to be if you're dealing with an event half a million people strong. It wasn't all about the good tunes and good times, faroutgroovymellowoutman; there were people yelling and screaming in frustration and running on caffeine and cigarettes for those three days, too, and it's nice to see through the haze of legend that tends to cloud Woodstock to the effort needed to make it happen.

That's about it, really. It was fun to watch, even funny in some places--the old immigrant woman screaming, "No schtupping in the bushes!" tickled me, and image of the dreamy promotions manager riding barechested through the mud on a horse at the end of the concert was visually stunning--but there was nothing profound about it. Ang Lee admitted that he just wanted to make a fun movie after being burnt out on Brokeback Mountain and Lust, Caution. He wasn't trying for an Oscar, just a smile or two.

Which is fine. Even the best concerts are still just concerts, just music and people listening to music, enjoying each other and recognizing talent. I think it's a testament to the innate kindness in humans that we can get together in such large numbers for this peaceful purpose instead of gathering for a rumble.

Oh, and the last concert I attended [as a participant and NOT as part of my job]? Kokua Festival, 2007, in the Waikiki Shell, almost one year to the day after I stood in that arena and graduated from college. Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, and a whole bunch of other people I can't remember because the post office lost the box with the offical festival poster in it. But the concert, yeah--totally awesome.

Almost as awesome as this guy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


On a more personal note, Big Scientist, the BF's big brother, and his lady friend came up from Washington D.C. this weekend to visit with the BF's family. The four of us had lunch and dinner together and a grand time was had by all, especially me, a carrier of my family's mischievous-gene.

As BS said after we left the Italian restaurant, "Oh, before drinks you're all like, My dad doesn't have fireworks, he's all about safety. And then after drinks, it's all about your dad blowing things up with dynamite at the drive-in."

Yes, my people: many generations of being the family other children aren't allowed to play with.

BS is a chemist, because biology is too massive and physics is too microscopic, but chemistry is juuuust right. He's a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society, according to their website. So BS is a member of AAAS.

It isn't every day that the universe just hands you a joke like that. Take a moment to savor it.

Over drinks and dessert at the Hudson Hotel--BS: "At the end of the night, you're all going to thank me for ordering the cookie platter"--he mentioned seeing his name referenced his friends' blogs after one of his pisco sour parties. This excited him, and he waited eagerly to see if his friends would blog about his next party, but alas, the party came and went without making the society pages, as they say. Eventually, he realized that his friends' blog was about feminism and babies, and the only reason he got a nod the first time was because he told the writers that "bubby," their nickname for their daughter, meant "grandmother" in Yiddish. It had nothing to do with his fabulous party skills.

"Would you like me to mention you in my blog?" I asked sweetly.

"Uh, well--"

BS's lady friend jumped in. "Actually, yes, he'd love for you to mention him."

"Yeah," he admitted, "I would."

"I was going to anyway. I'll call you Big Scientist."

So BS is a member of AAAS and he does, indeed, have fabulous party skills. He can party with my people any day of the week (especially if he knows the chemical makeup of gunpowder).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Right between the lustful and the greedy

Saturday night, the Village Voice sent me to Electric Zoo, an electronic music festival on Randall's Island just south of the Bronx, right between the circles of Hell reserved for the lustful and greedy. I don't want to rip on anybody who might enjoy the un-tah un-tah un-tah beat of synthesizers and computer blips, but electronic music fans who were at this festival are now officially my least favorite people.

I knew I was out of my element as soon as I got off the bus on the island. Electric Zoo had five different stages and I could hear the music from every single one of them as I stood in line for my press pass. The conflicting basses were so loud my guts ached with the vibration. Oh no, I thought anxiously, I'm going to hate this.

When I got inside the festival grounds, I contacted my Street Team partner and asked where she wanted to meet. She didn't. "We don't really need to be together, do we?" she asked. "We can just walk around on our own. I'm sure we'll bump into each other eventually." Yes. In this crowd, we will "bump into each other."

Unlike most Voice events I've worked this summer, the paper didn't have a table or stall for us to crouch behind while we volleyed our merchandise at the slavering masses. This time, they gave me a Voice tshirt and a clipboard and told me to just "walk around" inviting people to sign up to win tickets to a Moby concert or to Hard NYC, another electric music festival. So my partner abandoned me, with a clipboard, dressed like an idiot, in a churning maelstrom of hipsters.

These were my fellow festival goers. Don't they just look like the most intelligent and articulate people you've ever laid eyes on?

In all fairness, it wasn't too bad at first. I targeted the people resting underneath the trees because they looked like they were hanging out at a really big picnic, and that seemed pretty non-threatening. Only about 40% were noticeably high and most were pleased to get the Voice pins I handed out like Halloween candy to protect myself from their hipness.

And then it started to get dark.

Now, I don't pick what the Voice promotes. If they tell me to go out there and give out tickets to a Conway Twitty concert, I'm gonna get out there and hand out Conway Twitty tickets like they're manna from Heaven. The Electric Zooers didn't see it this way. As the sun went down and the drugs started to kick in, they started to abuse me for promoting Moby.

"Moby sucks!"

"F*** that s***head!"

"Get that s*** outta my face!"

To recap: I'm alone with my tshirt and clipboard in a crowd of 100,000 electronic music fans, and increasingly the only person not high. No part of this situation was making me happy, and then I met this guy. I don't have an actual picture of him. But this is essentially him, with the offensive parts like his middle finger and his face censored out.

"F*** Moby!"

I was used to this by now. "Hey man, I'm just doing my job. Have a Voice pin and enjoy the concert."
"The Voice? The Voice?! Man, f*** that liberal rag!" He hurled the Voice pin on the ground like it was covered in swine flu, and I left, continuing my wanderings through the other 99,999 people just like him.

I don't like to be negative, but honestly, this sucked on so many levels that I think I have to put up the picture of Hell again, as a visual aid for how I felt going home on the subway after attending Electric Zoo.

Oh, and did I mention that the women who sat next to me on the subway had just come from the hospital? Where her husband had just died after falling out of a three-story window and splitting his head open on the sidewalk? And she needed to tell me all about it? Where's that visual aid?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weekend Roundup

So, who's ready for some distractions?

Neil Gaiman, easily one of my favorite writers since the earliest days of my love affair with scifi, also has a kickass library. Just look at this place! His basement is wall to wall, ceiling to floor books, gargoyles, and kitties. Just thinking about all those fantasy books, scifi books, mythology collections, and great works of literary genius--well, if that doesn't turn you on just a little bit, you're spending too much time on the Wii.

Urban Prankster posted today on great crosswalk sign hacks. Sure, they're funny, but are they art?

Some jumping off points: they do make you stop and take a closer look at the world around you and reconsider aspects of your life that you may take for granted. However, they are by their nature transitory and involve little technique beyond a clever wit and some basic computer skills, which describes pretty much 95% of Internet users, and they can't ALL be considered artists.


Sweet Zombie Buddha, the wife of Japan's prime minister elect believes she was abducted by aliens. Miyuki Hatoyama, you just upped your country's awesome tenfold in my eyes. It's not enough that the opposition party wrested power back from the party that has governed Japan since the end of World War II--now they're building diplomatic bridges to the stars!

And now, in the useless-crap-I-desperately-need category, here is a samurai umbrella.

Finally, here's to my sister, who works six days a week but will get TWO DAYS OFF IN A ROW thanks to Labor Day. Hurray!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A day without cats, and cheese'n'crackers what's wrong with that cat's eye?!

According to Urlesque, September 9th is to be "A day without cats on the Internet." From Urlesque:

"Cats rule the internet. Think about all the funny cat photos and videos that infest your IM conversations, Facebook walls and e-mail forwards from mom -- our feline overlords have sneakily solidified themselves as a staple of the interweb humor we love so dearly... Urlesque is organizing a web-wide ban on cat-related coverage on 9.9.09 -- A Day Without Cats on the Internet. Why only one day? Well let's be honest, that's probably only as long as we'll last before a hilarious video comes crashing into our inbox. But for one day, we will abstain... for you... for the cats."

Now, I was recently told that I couldn't post Facebook updates related to my roommate's kitten Eva anymore. I can't help it if the most interesting thing in my life is the cat, and I suspect that many people on the Internet have the same problem. Even if one lives in New York City, life is a basic repetition of up-work-home-tv/computer-bed, up-work-home-tv/computer-bed. But if there's a cat around, life is endlessly interesting. They're always plotting something and getting into trouble. Hurray for cats! Making us interesting since 9,000 BC.

It's not September 9th yet, so chew on this story:

My first kitten of my very own was a little black kitten I named Manini, which is Hawaiian for "small." (This isn't actually a picture of her, but it's close enough.) Manini was the runt of the litter, and whatever "Charlotte's Web" tries to teach you, never, ever pick the runt of the litter. They aren't long destined for this earth and will cause endless amounts of trouble and vet bills before shuffling off this mortal coil and into the annals of family legend.

When Manini first learned how to walk, she toddled out into the yard and crawled up inside my mom's car engine, wedging herself inside the headlight and getting utterly stuck. My dad had to remove the headlight to get her out.

Another day, she toddled out onto the porch and tried to eat out of the dog's bowl. The German shepherd, our guard dog, opened her enormous jaws and bit down on Manini's head like a little kid eating a jelly bean. The pressure of the dog's teeth caused one of Manini's eyes to pop out of its socket, so she toddled back into the kitchen, crying piteously, with her eyeball bulging out of her head.

Mom took her to the vet's office and got her stitched up, but the next day--the VERY NEXT DAY--Manini toddled out into the yard again and sat behind Mom's car. Being a black bit of fluff on a background of black lava rocks, Mom didn't see her as she backed out of the car port.

Thus ended the brief, unfortunate life of Manini the Kitten. Moral of the story: don't pick the runt. Pick the great big kitten that kicks all of the other ones out of the way to be first at Mamacat's nipples. That's the cat you want.