Rerun: Five things

That “five things you might not have known about me” meme is going around the blogs lately, so what the heck - here are my answers, previously published elsewhere (except for #4).

1. When I was a kid, I drew quite a bit. My dad had a box of old, unused forms for tracking lab samples of plant material, which were my standard drawing paper for years. There were two sorts: white, legal-sized ones and heavy, green-tinted ones with a perforated section at the bottom (there was a serial number that you could stick in the bag with the smelly bits of collected leaves).

To me, the functional side of the paper was the blank side. And it seemed really weird to me that anyone would draw on anything else. I drew pictures of the house, the cats, and some incomprehensible comics - the detachable section at the bottom was roughly Sunday-comic sized - about talking mugs and bunnies that spent all their time falling into water and yelling at each other.

Purple2. A couple of years ago, I was Purple for Buddies in Bad Times’ Pride promo photos.

3. I talk to cats in made-up languages in addition to English. I sometimes use something like the peculiar dialect of “cat talk” spoken by everyone in my SO’s family, particularly when talking to Gomiya (her name is actually a form of address used when speaking to a cat; a more formal version is “Gohdemiya”). I think my personal cat dialect is also influenced by an old George Booth cartoon in the New Yorker called “Ip Gissa Gul” (“Ip Gets A Girl”) which was written in a made-up caveman language (I also find myself addressing dogs as “Huppy dod!” sometimes). Tarquin I talk to in something reminiscent of Inuktitut. I have no idea why.

4. My nickname in middle school was “Fish”, for reasons known only to the maybe three or four vaguely in-crowd kids who started calling me that. The only thing I can think of is that my last name has a similar rhythm to the word “mackerel”.

5. I owe a lot of my understanding of musical chords and chord progressions to a program I had for the Commodore 64 when I was in high school called Instant Music. The flip side of the disk had a whole bunch of example songs in different styles from rock history, all rendered in binky three-voice synthesis, and the book that came with it had a helpful rundown of chord types. The interface was horrible without a mouse, but I soldiered on anyway, even after my joystick died (I jammed its wires into an old calculator and used that as a controller instead).

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Purple: rowr.

People sometimes called me something along the lines of “fish” in elementary school, for the obvious reason that my last name is “Trauth”. Fishlike. I didn’t like it.

Have you ever run across any of Milt Gross’ dialect stuff? comics and books, both kinda out of print.

Posted by Egypt Urnash on 6 December 2006 at 7:25 PM

Oh, neat. I’ve seen bits and pieces of Gross’s stuff, and after a bit of poking around on Google Images I think I’ll have to track down some more.

Linguistically, he’s like a Yiddish George Herriman.

Posted by Eli McIlveen on 6 December 2006 at 8:08 PM

There was a fair amount of Gross’ stuff floating around Spümcø - John’s a big fan - and there’s been a reprint of his wordless novel ‘He Done Her Wrong’. I think all his prose work is totally out of print, though.

Posted by Egypt Urnash on 6 December 2006 at 10:57 PM

Purple! Glory be!

I think that most people who spend a fair amount of time with animals end up developing a “cat speak.” In our family this was always a steadily-evolving set of in-joke phrases; eventually they’d mutate into something totally incomprehensible to outsiders. I remember my aunt’s dog was named “Loki,” which eventually became “Sophie” and then “Sofa-Bed.”

I guess I’m hoping that the behaviour you’re talking about isn’t crazy, because I do it too.

There is, however, a totally over-the-top form of “cat-speak” that has a unique online variant: the people who go into chat rooms and message groups and pretend that they are their own cats, and speak in a sort of insipid baby-cat-talk. For example, here’s a mother’s-day poem:

I luff my meowmie, she pampers me to da max.

Anyting I want or need, I don’t efen havf to ask!

She rescued me frum da wild place when I was small, helpless & alone.

Gavf me luff, food, shelter & toys, It’s sure a wonderfur home!

Personally, I think that if MY cat could speak, she wouldn’t sound like a socially-regressed 46-year-old lady. At least I hope so…

Posted by Muffy St. Bernard on 7 December 2006 at 9:52 AM

Ohdeargod. If I ever do that, please kill me.

Hmm. If our cats could speak, I imagine they might sound like

- a very bright and enthusiastic boy of about 8.
- a sweet little old lady who’s not afraid to yell and beat people with her umbrella to get her way
- a paranoid-schizophrenic homeless person, possibly recovering
- Milton from Office Space (”...going to… go pee on your bed…”)

...but I’m not sure about Wicket, the “wobbly” one. His brain is a mystery to us all.

Posted by Eli McIlveen on 7 December 2006 at 4:00 PM

Wobbly Wicket?

I think you’ve got the cat personalities down pat. My cat goes back and forth between sweet old lady (“y’all don’t mind if I just sit here next to you?”) and a spurned dependent (“Now! Over here, please, now! Nowwwww! Fresh water, now! And over here, food, now! Pleeeeease!”)

The “cat talk” people infuriate me for no reason that I can figure out. Years ago I learned a harsh lesson when I cockily invaded one of their chat rooms, rudely asking why they were doing such a ridiculous thing. They asked why I was so angry with them and how they could possibly be hurting me, and I said “because…ummmm…” and realized that it wasn’t a question I could answer.

Posted by Muffy St. Bernard on 8 December 2006 at 10:00 AM

Wicket is Cobweb’s brother. Both of them had distemper as kittens and ended up slightly impaired in the motor control department, more so in Wicket’s case. He walks unsteadily, keeping his legs wide apart for balance, like a drunk John Wayne, and often his back end starts catching up with his front, like a car spinning out on an icy road. He’s a sweetheart, though, and likes to sit on your chest and stick his paws in your face.

Posted by Eli McIlveen on 9 December 2006 at 12:34 AM

Wow, I didn’t know distemper could cause a problem like that! But it must be sort of endearing and unique, and maybe it leads to greater bonding. Not to mention being a good icebreaker at parties!

Posted by Muffy St. Bernard on 11 December 2006 at 9:55 AM

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