Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

One word today: EXCITEMENT

My friends and family all get some, and I’m looking forward to a bleak and busy week that involves double publishing the Variety web site (once on the old system, once on the new system), visiting the Internet world trade show in the ayem, and squeezing in social visits in the pee-em (how do you spell out “p.m.”?)

I got an e-mail today I had to share with you:

From: [SOME GUY] 
Sent: Monday, April 03, 2000 9:35 AM
To: # Cahners LA-5700 Wilshire; # Cahners LA-Long Beach; # Cahners LA-Newport Beach
Subject: Email Access
Importance: High

Please confirm today that you are able to get access to your Cahners email
account. If you have any problems getting access to your email please let
the Los Angeles IT staff know ASAP. The number where we can be reached is
(323) 965-xxxx.

Thank you,

(beat)


I was going to tell you about “The Cat of Amontillado”.  Sit back, relax, ....

My family has recently moved into a new house, about two miles from the old house.  It’s smaller, and newer, and less in need of a new roof.  We’re the first people to move into the new house, and it’s still getting some minor repairs done, like some new linoleum and tiling in the bathroom, shelves getting straightened, sod installation, etc.

A couple days ago, around lunchtime, some contractors came in to re-tile part of the bathroom around the tub.  My mom came home that night, made dinner, did some accounting for her small business, went to bed.  My sister and father are out of town for Spring Break.  My mom thought it was a little weird that Kitzy, our cat, wasn’t around, but figured she was just on some sort of 17-hour sleeping binge as cats are prone to do.  They get so tired, don’t you know.

Next morning, 7 a.m., she goes into the bathroom, and hears meowing, faintly, from behind her as she’s looking in the mirror.

So she thinks out loud to herself, “Oh, that cat, must be stuck in Bill’s closet.” Except she knows, deep inside, that’s not where the meowing is coming from.  But she goes and looks in the closet anyway, and there’s no cat, and she can’t hear the cat from there.  So she goes back into the bathroom and says “Kitzy, Kitzy”  and the cat meows again, even quieter.  And the sound is coming from the bathtub, but of course the cat isn’t in the bathtub.

No, the cat isn’t in the bathtub because the cat is underneath the bathtub, walled in, sealed behind the tile and plywood and plaster wire by the contractors the day before.

So my mom, she, very calmly I’m sure, calls the on-site lead contractor on his mobile phone.  It’s 7 a.m. and he’s in his truck on his way to work.  He says he’ll come straight to the house, and she goes downstairs to have a cup of coffee to calm her nerves, and so that she won’t have to listen to the pitiful mewling of the cat which is frankly a little unnerving, actually it’s more than that it’s downright nerve-wracking and heartbreaking and terrifying all in one, and tries to talk herself out of going back upstairs and taking a claw hammer to the tile immediately.

Well, the handymen arrive, with a portable rotary saw, and they get up to the bathroom, and they find that the battery in their “power” tool is out of juice.  And the cat mewls some more.  The power saw guy goes down to the truck to get another battery, and the lead contractor tells my mom that they don’t have to rip out the entire tiling job, they can cut a hole in through the cupboard under the sink.  She’s glad they’re able to save the tile, but is a little more interested in saving the cat. Also she thought they did a pour job on the tile in the first place and was perhaps even a little glad they were going to have to rip it out and start again, this time “sans chat”.

The guy gets back with new batteries.  He says that you can’t hear the cat very well from in the bathroom, but you sure can hear it coming up the sidewalk.  I guess she was sealed in their pretty well.  I should note that there’s probably enough space under and around and behind the tub for her to move, and mom’s also worried that she’s followed the drain pipe through some holes and is now in the walls somehow, but the contractors think that’s pretty unlikely.

The new batteries, well, they’re dead too.

So he goes back to find a long extension cord.

Long story long, they do manage to cut a large hole under the sink, and when they listen, they hear, um, nothing.  Kitzy, you see, is the picture in the dictionary next to the word “fraidy cat” and is pulling another silent film star impersonation, like the one she must have pulled when she went under the tub the day before and they started banging and nailing and plastering and tiling.

So the construction guys leave.  The foreman parts with these words: “Well, that’s a first for me.”  Good to hear it!

Mom eventually entices Kitzy out with a nice bowl of black forest ham placed outside the cupboard, and when the cat comes out, she closes the door behind the feline Einstein.  Upon finishing the snack, the cat does try to go back under the tub, but Mom’s put some plywood over the hole.

Just another Tuesday at the Smith house.

Next: My friend picks up a hitchhiker covered in blood.

Overheard

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?

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