Monday, June 28, 2010

He would have been 20 today

Just into the summer of 1990, at my friend James' house, the mama kitty there, Taboo, had just given birth to a litter of kittens in his closet. This was not the first time a cat had had kittens not far from him; a few years before that, one cat had had her kittens in his very bed, with the slimy newborn baby kittens squirming about at his feet, which woke him up!

Among the kittens was a male cat, black with salt-and-pepper stripes all over his body, and a diamond shape over his shoulderblades. He was James' favorite, and would sleep with him at night when the kitten got a little older. When it came time to find the kittens a new home, I was also taken with the little striped one, so I took him home, and named him Alvin.

And that's where he stayed with us for the rest of his life. As he grew older, he really hated being picked up and held; he'd growl at you when you did it, and then hiss when he wasn't let go soon enough. But he loved chicken, and was always there when some fresh, hot fried chicken was brought home from the grocery store, or out of the deep fryer. He could never get enough of that.

He also loved biscuits. Whether they came out of the oven, or from the store, he ate 'em up. We found that out once when we had left some biscuits on the kitchen table overnight, a a few of them had been knocked over onto the floor, and had some little bites missing from them. We never had any mice in the house when he was there, but he always seemed to be on patrol for them, poised not far from the rear bedroom door, waiting for something to scurry by.

He wasn't a mere pet, but really my little buddy, always there when I needed him, or when I wanted to pet or play with him...when he was in the mood, that is.

The years went by, and all of a sudden he was celebrating his fifteenth birthday. I knew he wasn't going to be around forever, but looking back at all the things that had happened in those intervening years, it was like he had. But by then, he was getting skinny, wandering in circles around the house and was drinking and peeing excessively...but he still loved his chicken!

A futile trip to the vet showed that he was shutting down internally, little by little, and he wasn't going to be around much longer. It wasn't easy news; I knew it was so as I laid him on the steel examination table, but I knew I'd feel better that I tried to save him in the end.

On July 20th, the next day, after noon had passed, Alvin quietly left us. After I got home from work, I had to dig a hole in the backyard and put my little buddy in the ground. It was the hardest thing I had ever had to do at that point. It was hard to get on with things for a while, because you always expected him to come around the corner any minute, and then you realized he wasn't.

Happy 20th birthday to Alvin. We still miss you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don't touch that dial!

What I really miss are the local TV channels that were independently run. A lot of them in and around town have long since been bought and sold by the movie studios that turned them into little networks of their own. Eventually, a lot of those ended up being resounding failures, and are no longer in existence, with just bare little skeletons of what once was left on the old channel number.

But for a long time, a typical day on one of the channels was pure heaven. In fact, KSTW-11 in Tacoma was a longtime favorite. In the mornings there would be your typical cartoon shows, some reruns after those, a few game shows; then, The One O'Clock Movie, another two hours of cartoons, three hours of sitcoms, the 8 O'Clock movie, the local news, and then it was off to bed!

They had some great shows on that channel in the afternoon. As a pre-schooler, in the afternoon, I would see Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? followed by The Munsters and All In The Family. Later on, I'd see What's Happening!!!, WKRP In Cincinnati, Sanford And Son, Taxi, and M*A*S*H before the movie came on. After the 10 O'Clock News was Barney Miller and Benny Hill, but those were on a little too late for me.

Forget TV Land, this channel had it all! Eventually, it was bought by Viacom to become the UPI Network. KTZZ (which used to have cool cartoons like Heathcliff and Inspector Gadget and local shows like The Spud Goodman Show) became the WB. The less said, the better. KCPQ-13 became the local FOX network, but they somehow always stayed true to what they once were, and always kept the local news at 10 P.M.

Another favorite channel back then was WTBS, shortly to drop the "W". That was another great channel that showed great cartoons and reruns, plus a lot of obscure and long-forgotten movies; the first place I would see some of my favorites, and for some, the only time I ever would. That's where I first saw Willard and its sequel, Ben, not to mention Frogs and Devil Dog: The Hound Of Hell. Over time, the movies and reruns they showed got a lot more tame and unimaginitive, and TBS eventually became just another pay-TV channel. Like a lot of them did, including the USA Network, which once showed Night Flight and USA Up All Night, with loads of cheesy, no-budget sex-comedy movies.

Small wonder why TV has long since lost its charm for me.