Look What the Cats Dragged In

Animal rights, A Civil Action and other teenage drivel

I began my week by adopting two cats (at $50 apiece-ouch!) to eat the heads off the mice who have decided to nest in my luxurious house instead of in the field next door. And you know what? Animal-rights activists can be kind of screwy. I can understand why they screen potential homegivers: you don't want a replay of that Free Kitty woman who was answering newspaper ads so she could sell the animals to laboratories or Satanists. But the women who dedicate their lives to said kitties might be a tad overprotective. They wanted to know if I had a yard (yes), if I lived on a busy street (I told my first lie in months and said no), if I had owned cats before (not in years, but yes), if I understood that I had to get a kitty-litter box (I told my second lie in seconds and said yes, although I knew my good kitties would go outside because kitty-litter pans are second only to hooting Wally George audience members for sheer odiousness). And then I signed a contract promising to get a scratching post.

"Uh, how old are you?" they asked haltingly, presumably assessing whether I'm too young and immature to shoulder the burden of two kittens-although I've been taking care of an actual human child (who was right there with me in plain sight) for some years now.

And that's my beef with animal-rights activists: Why aren't they out feeding humans with the Catholic Worker or Food Not Bombs? They're good ladies, giving a lot of time and money to abandoned animals, and they're not spending their time volunteering for evil, like Focus on the Family, the Traditional Values Coalition or the Richard Nixon Memorial Library and Birthplace. But they have since called twice to check on Dave Alvin and Mario (we named them after rock stars, which worked out well because they are really slutty cats, jumping into any old lap at any time, looking for love) and ask whether they've been using their litter pan properly and whether I've taken them for their free exam. I almost put them on the phone so the ladies could see I hadn't chopped them up for stew.

It could have been a worse week: instead of burning up with a muy painful ear infection, my boy Jimmy Freestyle could have been dying of leukemia like all the children in A Civil Action. We saw the flick at an OC Weekly/KEZY screening at the Block at Orange, and since we got to needle the DJ hosting the event, it was a fine evening indeed. KEZY's Rob Morrison is just so bombastic, and that's my gig. After his silly trivia questions-he would ask, "How did Sting get his nickname?" and I would shout, "Gordon Sumner!" which I figure is the answer to any Sting trivia question, except when the answer is "schoolteacher!" and eventually, the question was "What is Sting's real name?" so I have a lovely KEZY coffee mug to show for it-he kind of mumbled through a glancing reference at the Weekly.

"Be sure to pick up the OC Weekly," he said. "I just finished mine!"

"What was on the cover?" I shouted.

He looked at me quizzically.

"It's your trivia question. What was on the cover?"

He, uh, didn't know.

I cackled and looked smug, which I think is maybe not so nice. Also, it's probably counterproductive, marketingwise: I'm looking smug because people aren't reading the paper? That's crazy talk!

A Civil Action was excellent: even though the ending is anti-climactic (what can you do? It's a true story-like E.T. and The Wizard of Oz), the other hour and 45 minutes were very witty and, for a movie about children dying of leukemia, only occasionally weepy-and not at all manipulatively so. (I've been known to cry during soup commercials, even that shameful one I despise, in which they exploit abandoned kids by having a foster child cozy up to her new mom over a bowl of Campbell's. "My mommy used to make this for me," the kid whispers, having been crying in her new, pretty room until the healing smell of soup wafts into her little nostrils, and the perfect mother holds back her tears and gently says, "My mommy did, too. Maybe sometime you can tell me about your mommy, and I'll tell you about mine." Is Mommy dead? Is she a junkie? Did she attempt to turn her young daughter out for some smack? Did she burn her with a crack pipe? Or leave her all alone for days at a time while she went on a mission? Maybe she let her boyfriend or boyfriends do vile things to her little girl and never spoke up or stopped them. Heck, there are all kinds of juicy possibilities, so let's use the kid to push some soup, goddamn it! Shameful.)

And about 15 minutes in, I even stopped thinking, "Oooh, Scientologist! Creepy!" every time John Travolta came onscreen. Travolta, by the way, was excellent and funnier than I've seen him since he played Vinnie Barbarino on Welcome Back, Kotter. Scientologists do tend to be likeable when they're not trying to sue you. Just look at that cute Jenna Elfman from Dharma & Greg! Likeable!

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