John Anderson

Herding Cats

I’m back from an excellent long weekend on the Jersey shore (the Gaslight Anthem show was fantastic, by the way, even though they didn’t play my favorite song, “I’da Called You Woody, Joe,” a.k.a. the finest tribute-in-song to Saint Joe Strummer ever written), and am reporting for guest blogging duty once again.

I mentioned in the comments section of my last post that for my next post I might attempt to describe the outcome when Kirby, our born-to-herd English shepherd decides that Monty, our cat, is in need of herding.  Excuse me a moment, Monty is asking to be let outside.  Back in a sec.

Sorry about that.  Where were we?

Right, herding cats.

I should probably introduce them properly before we go any further, huh?


That’s the best picture I have of them both together (as seemed appropriate for this particular tale), and if I was going to write a caption, it would probably be Kirby’s: “What?  I wasn’t gonna do nothin’, honest!”  If you’re so moved, do feel free to share your own caption in the comments.  (He said, fully expecting that Monty will end up with all the best lines.)

So, yes, a herding dog who is often powerless to resist his natural herding instinct, and a cat who, simply put, is not to be trifled with.  If the phrase “hijinks ensue” comes to mind, it’s with good reason.

Picture, if you will, me and Amanda relaxing on the couch in front of the TV while Kirby’s over there on “his” couch, and Monty, as is his wont, is doing his own thing elsewhere in the house.  Until, that is, he decides to wander into the room with the rest of us, at which point Kirby’s herding-sense starts tingling as he swiftly raises his head from the couch, swiveling it in Monty’s direction with great purpose.  Perhaps he glances over at us, as if to say, “He’s taking a liberty just strolling into the room like that unannounced, and I can’t have him taking a liberty, can I?”

Monty meows as he takes his next step into the room, and this is simply too much for Kirby to bear, and he’s off the couch like a shot, herding Monty out of the room at top speed.  Amanda yells, “KIRBY!  Leave him alone!,” but it’s useless, for Kirby is fully possessed by his breed’s herding instinct at this point.

While they’re out of the room, let’s pause for a second to assure everyone that Kirby intends (and will inflict) no harm; he’s merely moving Monty from point A to point B because his brain is hard-wired for herding.

They’re out of the room for, say, ten seconds, and then we hear the ruckus which heralds Kirby’s return (also at top speed), followed a split second later by the sight of Kirby racing back into the room, hurling himself at his couch and turning around … because this time it is Monty who’s in hot pursuit, having once again successfully turned the tables on his “little” brother.

Monty then returns to whatever it was he had originally intended upon entering the room (probably jumping onto Amanda’s lap), as Kirby looks around as if to say, “wanna go again?!”

I mentioned in my last post how much I’d like to capture this scene on video someday, but it’s an infrequent enough occurrence that it’s highly unlikely to ever occur.  Upon consideration, however, what I’d really like to see captured on video is the moment (unseen by human eyes to date) where Monty realizes that it is he who truly wields the power in this relationship, suddenly stops running, and turns towards his pursuer with a wicked glint in his eye.

Now Playing: Introducing Gentleman Jesse, by Gentleman Jesse and His Men.  I love me some power pop, and this terrific outfit out of Atlanta serves up some of the best (and hookiest!) I’ve heard in recent years.  If you, too, are a sucker for the power pop, I implore you to hit their MySpace, drop the digital needle on “All I Need Tonight (Is You),” and get ready to be happy.

N.K. Jemisin

Well, you see, when two fantasy writers love each other very much…

…they get drunk enough to say “yes” when I ask them if I can put this up on Whatever:

This is one big reason why I love New York: there are so many writers here that every day is like a science fiction/fantasy convention. Today’s photo comes from the aftermath of Saturday’s “guerilla reading” by fantasy author Blake Charlton and friends. Lots of fans, editors, and authors were in attendance, including those who read along with Blake — Laura Anne Gilman (who took this photo and graciously shared it with me), fellow Altered Fluidian Saladin Ahmed, and David Barr Kirtley. Others were there just for moral support, like me and Peter V. Brett, seen above (left) with Blake.

Afterward, we all went out to a bar called Valhalla, because where else are a bunch of fantasy authors going to go drink? And as you can see from the above literal demonstration, it was one great big fantasy author lovefest. Things got a little wild after that third horn of mead, or maybe it was the ValhallaDogs and AsgardWurst (no, I’m not kidding) that did us in. Anyway, thanks to the guys for being such good sports as to let me post this here for your shameless ridicule admiration.

ETA: Gah, fixed URL for Laura Anne Gilman’s website, and added URL for Altered Fluid. Sorry, guys.

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