Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life among giants

Good evening everybody, in order not to jeopardize my ongoing research, I'll introduce myself under the assumed name of Tabby. I live in semi-voluntary seclusion among two giant upright cats with supernatural powers who serve and guard me. This type of giant cat is fascinating, so allow me to share with you some of my observations. For those of you not acquainted with the upright giant cat, I'll start describing some of their most relevant physical features.

The giant cats are mostly covered in fur-like coats, except for their faces and paws, the result being rather aesthetically unpleasant, until you get accustomed to it. Their coat changes color and sometimes texture every day, shedding it every night before going to sleep (which, by the way, they conduct in the normal horizontal position). Upon waking up, the first thing they do in the morning is go under running water for a few minutes. I often jump in the large basin right after and lick the droplets, trying –in vain– to teach these gentle savages that the water is meant to be drunk, not poured over you. After this strange ritual, they grow new fur in a matter of minutes, have breakfast and disappear through the door to a place unknown, sometimes for the better part of the day. My only guess is that they might go hunting. If not, where do they procure the food? Food doesn't grow on trees! (some giggles).

As I already mentioned, this race of cats is aproximately around ten times our size. They balance their huge bodies on their hinds, like in an excruciatingly painful circus act. I don't fully understand the benefits of this behaviour, since I, being much smaller, can run faster in my fours. One possible advantage is that it frees their long and deformed but dextrous paws to do all sorts of handy tricks. For example they are able to open food containers, replenish my water bowl, clean my box, comb my coat, as well as move silly strings and a variety of toys in front of my face, open and close doors and windows, move objects from one place to another, including me (which I hate) and thousands of other little tricks that I still have to find their utility for. I suspect they perform them mostly to keep themselves entertained. Other physical features are unremarkable, their ears are round and chubby, their fangs underdeveloped, and certainly they don't seem to have great sense of hearing, vision or smell.

These cats are, in general, good-natured and docile, obeying most of my commands without delay, so it seems they must have a basic understanding of our language, which unfortunately is more than I can say about myself regarding theirs. The giant upright cat's rudimental form of verbal communication is made of many complicated meaningless sounds that they certainly use more than necessary and for no obvious purpose, except perhaps because they find the sound of it pleasant. In all these years I got to understand two or three words at the most, including what I believe is a ridiculous name they insist upon calling me by (and I'll spare you from hearing) and another expression they use when they don't want me to shed my claw's sheaths in certain surfaces. It sounds something like "wont-moo-mat" or "gunt-do-taat" (general laughter from the audience).

On certain days or in the evenings they spend many of their waking hours seated in front of flat windows where nothing of importance is going on, taping with their hairless paws on some kind of ratling toy or playing around with something that they mistakenly call a "mouse". No doubt that they must find this purposeless activity fun or rewarding, but the reasons behind such behaviour escape me.

Introducing my talk I mentioned the supernatural powers these giant cats possess, and I could quickly see a flurry of impatient tail-waving among the most skeptical of you. Well, alright, in the spirit of true critical thinking and to appease those naysayers, I'll say that what I earlier called supernatural should be more precisely defined as phenomena of unknown or mysterious origin. I have observed in countless occasions and can attest that the giant upright cat has the power by simply touching the wall, usually in the same spot, to turn the night into day and viceversa. They can also bring warmth to a cold room and cool a warm room. In brief, they have certain command of the elements that bewilders reason and defies imagination. There might be a perfectly logical explanation, I know, but after more than forty (cat) years, I can't even begin to grasp it. In any case, and to conclude, I've learned to live with it and none of this puzzles me or keeps me awake at night anymore.

And now, speaking of questions without answer, I would like to open it to Q&A for the rest of the time we have left. For example... Yes, you, the calico in the second row...

(Translated from Cattish by Mr. Cruz)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Form follows Function

Form follows Function; corners her in an alley. At gunpoint but politely, Form strips Function of all her valuables (she doesn't wear jewelry, obviously). Form runs with his bounty. Function feels violated and vulnerable, but in a strange way she also feels free and weightless, liberated. "Who is this handsome stranger?", Function wonders.