Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bentley animation


My first attempt to animate my cat Bentley. After my experiments with Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine at the Oscars, their faces bordering on total hysteria, I thought, well, why not my cat? He is so sweet and photogenic that it was almost easy. Seven frames does limit the range of expression, however. From sleep, to alarm, to sleep.

Bentley's on TV!

Bentley never ceases to amaze us with his awareness of things. We've seen him watch TV before, ads and things like that, where patterns move rapidly. Cartoons are a favorite. But this time it was a show on CBC's The Nature of Things, all about the domestic cat. For the first five minutes he sat demurely, facing the TV with his ears alertly pricked. Then suddenly he jumped up on the TV stand as if he wanted to become part of the action on the screen.

Obviously he knew these were cats, but because we adopted him so young, I'm not sure how many cats he has actually seen or interacted with. But he knew. At some point he even looked around behind the screen, as if he thought the cats were actually there. Then he pawed at the screen the way he sometimes paws at the window. This carried on for at least half of the hour-long show, meaning my cat has a longer attention span than most humans.

He often did look like part of the show, which was a bit eerie. He fit right in. It gave the program an oddly 3D look. The first gif looks a bit like one of those silhouettes of a movie audience watching a romantic encounter on-screen.

Until that old geezer/cat expert comes on-screen, it looks for all the world as if Bentley is scratching at a real fence.

Bentley doesn't just want to be on TV. He wants to be in TV. 

What the hell is happening in my neighborhood?

I hear noises in the house, all the time. Hums and buzzes and low-key, ultraviolet, infrared sounds below the threshhold of consciousness. I seem to be able to hear things that other people can't.

I had a hearing test a couple of years ago, and they put a headset on me and played noises that got softer and softer. I had to hold my hand up when I heard one. They were about to pack it in when I held my hand up one last time.

"Wait. No one hears that one."

But there was "one", one more that people don't hear, just a few molecules of sound that were more of a tap than a noise. The air was ever so slightly disturbed.

I'm definitely hearing something, these nights, and I know it will be worse in the summer when I have the windows open.

This is my second attempt to record/post the night noises, and I think this one is more identifiable as an aircraft, but that depends on what you think. Turn the volume up high.

Myself, I can't play it any more. I'm too creeped out.

"Thank God he's alive!"

Our old friend Bosley the (former) Mystery Duck is alive and well! He disappeared over the worst of the winter, along with most of the mallards. Now he's back, fat and happy. His markings are so strange and ornate that we keep thinking there are more like him, but we've never been able to pin it down.

I was so curious about this duck that I sent a gif of him to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and asked if they would try to identify it. I was amazed to get a prompt reply. They believe he is a hybrid of a domestic fowl called a magpie duck, raised for meat, and one of the more promiscuous mallards in Como Lake.

His featherings are exotic, and because of that, and his sheer size, he sticks out like a sore duck thumb, but we love him. It's his loyalty, I think. He and the mallard flock are closely bonded. No doubt one of his parents fled the barnyard when he/she realized what was coming next. "Duck dinner," as Wimpy used to say. "You bring the duck."