I think it is time to let my dirty little secret out for the world.  Actually, I’m exaggerating.  It’s not very secret.  My closest friends and fellow writers know about it, and if you listen to the weekly podcast that Lee Taylor and I host, Dark Wispers, you will have heard it.  This, however, will be in print (if you print it out – I highly advise against it, for reasons you’ll soon read) for the whole world to digest.  If you’ve seen any of my videos on YouTube, you know that in the credits the director (me) is named ‘Catmando.’ This is not just a Nepalese city or Bob Seeger song.  It is in fact the name that all of kitty-kind know me by.  Yes, I admit to being a legend among the feline kingdom.  After I bare my soul to you today, I may be banished to the outskirts of civilization like every other alley cat.  This is why:

Many, many years ago (I won’t tell you when exactly just to protect the innocence of the year) I had a wonderful companion in my life, a beautiful female tabby named Annie.  She and I were best friends.  We played cribbage together, told each other our deepest secrets, picked on the dogs mercilessly and explored the neighbors’ garbage for any leftover fish or chicken. There was only one problem, though, was that Annie had not been spayed.  I kept making appointments for her but she always had something come up at the last minute.  Well, as you can guess every two or three weeks she would start caterwauling around the house, going to every window looking for Mr. Right Now while doing her best impression of Grace Jones.  Needless to say, this disrupted the entire household (we’re not big Grace Jones fans – sorry Grace, nothing personal) and brought every male cat from North America to our yard, where they arm wrestled for the right to serenade her.  My wife demanded I do something about it, so I gave each male cat five minutes each to sing on the fence.  This didn’t help, so I ended up going to a friend of mine who was a cat breeder.

My cat breeder friend told me that whenever Annie came into heat, take the handle of a crochet hook (the handle is the part of the crochet hook that isn’t the hook – just one of the many things I’ve learned over my long and industrious life) and insert it into her, um, her hoohah, then give the instrument a couple of twists and that was it.  He said he learned this from some upper class cat breeders who didn’t want to have their precious darlings fixed but didn’t want to put up with all the noise.  My friend told me this simple act would cause Annie’s egg to drop and by the end of the day she’d be out of heat and back to her usual demure self.  I was excited, but not in the way you think.  I’d finally be able to help my kitty get over her feline horniness and bring peace and quiet back into the house. I went to the nearest hobby store and got the best crochet hook money could buy, and then waited for Annie to go into heat again.

A couple of days later as the family gathered around the dinner table, Annie came into the room channeling Bette Midler.  I excused myself from the table, grabbed the crochet hook, and in front of my stunned wife and children did ‘it’.  Now, the cat breeder (notice I didn’t call him friend anymore; you’ll see why soon enough) gave me specific instructions on how to perform this act, so I came up behind Annie and grabbed her by the scruff of the neck.  I’ve since learned this is how you keep a cat still. Well, Miss Annie promptly lifted her hind end in the air as if her butt were trying to sniff a breeze.  I inserted the crochet hook and gave it a few twists then removed it and let Annie go.

Every one of us can remember a specific moment in our life that helps define us.  This was such a time for me.  Annie began rolling around on the floor like she was having some sort of religious seizure, like a fish when you first bring it out of the water and watch it flail about.  Then she started rubbing all over my legs and feet as if they had suddenly been dipped in catnip and then went back to flopping around the floor again, her little purr motor so loud I thought the air conditioner was going out.  The kids watched in utter fascination as Annie smoked a cigarette, batted her pretty kitty eyes at me and then offered herself to me again.  My wife left the room to throw up, I think.  What was I to do but give in to my lovely Annie’s demands?  I mean, maybe I hadn’t done it right the first time.  The kids by now were pulling out their camcorders and calling their friends, but little Annie and I were in our own little world. As I used the crochet hook again, this time with a bit more determination to make sure the egg would drop, I suddenly became Catmando.

Life was never the same around our house again.  Annie followed me everywhere with that crochet hook in her mouth.  I don’t think her egg ever dropped, not for the rest of her life.  I brought home a couple of boy kitties hoping they would take over for me in the intimate relationship department, but she would have nothing to do with them.  I had become the Alpha Male.  I even tried locking myself in our bedroom, but my feline sex slave began clawing at the door and carpet trying to get in.  I felt like Shelly Duvall in The Shining.  I realized pretty quickly that if there was to ever be normalcy in the house again, I would have to satisfy my Annie.

Well, between the kitty grapevine and my kids, I became somewhat of an instant legend.  The yard began filling with cats again, but this time they were all female, and they demanded equal attention.  I quickly taught my eager kids the technique, got a whole box of crochet hooks and began getting down to business.  It actually went pretty smoothly (except for that one time when my youngest son accidently went into the wrong place; he still wears the scars) until the authorities made me stop involving the kids.  Something about indecent conduct, bestiality and child labor laws.  I don’t think of girl kitties as beasts at all, but who am I to fight City Hall? I did the best I could, though, under the circumstances, and before long the feline world knew me as Catmando.  What had started as a simple way to keep my darling kitty from suffering through her periods had turned into a worldwide phenomenon. I had to start giving seminars to cat owners begging them to get their babies fixed.  It would have been cool if the Humane Society had let me partner with them, but they said they didn’t need my kind of publicity.

My little Annie passed away a few years later and I buried her favorite crochet hook with her.  I’m sure archaeologists will unearth her remains in a thousand years and wonder why a crochet hook was sticking out of her bajingo.  I vowed to never pleasure a kitty that way again, but the legend of Catmando lived on.  Ask any cat you know and they’ll tell you the story of the Catmando.  It’s actually a little embarrassing, but I’ve adapted to celebrity status quite well, I think. Now you know how I got the name Catmando, and why there is a giant hairball statue of me in the Felis Catus Museum in Hoboken, and why I am featured in the Crochet Hook Hall of Shame.  I guess I have to take the good with the bad.


Mining for Eye Candy with a Ripe Plantain

The other day I sat with a dear friend of mine, Walter Snell, on the back porch of his gorgeous home in Puerto Rico watching the distant ocean (I know, life is rough, isn’t it?) and discovered that he has a secret wish to become a writer.  We discussed the pros and cons of such an endeavor and eventually came upon the subject of choosing titles for novels.  Dear reader, you may think actually sitting down and coming up with a name for a book is child’s play, but you would be sadly mistaken.  A work of fiction is made or broken by its title, because usually that’s what draws a reader’s attention to it as it languishes in a sea of its competitors.  I mean, look at the Holy Bible.  Actually, you really should pick it up from time to time and reacquaint yourself with it, but for the purpose of this article, you can merely look at it.  Who would want to read it if it had “The Word” emblazoned on its front?  I’m sure the first to own one (perhaps in the Dark Ages) looked at it and asked “What are all those funny squiggly lines?” because people back then didn’t know how to read, but when told the title was the “Holy Bible” I’m sure they perked right up and wanted to get their hands on some of the holy parts.  Yes, the big letters on the front of any book is probably as important as all the stuff written within the covers, and being able to master the art of Title Writing is a rare thing indeed.  This is why Walter and I have decided to go into business for ourselves and start the world’s first such enterprise, aptly called The Literary Title Corporation, or as we lovingly refer to it, NameCo.

Let me give you some examples of our service.  Let’s say you’ve just finished a legal thriller but just don’t know what to call it.  Somehow “Capital Murder in Monrovia” or “Felony Case in Kalamazoo” just won’t cut it.  For a small fee (only 15% of your royalties – not bad considering how little you’d make without one of our creations) we can fashion a title that will guarantee instant results.  Who can resist a title like “A Healthy Serving of Subpoenas”?   What do you do with a steamy romance novel that seems to elude the perfect moniker?  “Sweaty Sex” or “Morning breath” just won’t cut it.  Sign on with us and we’ll push your book to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list with a title like “Moontan Lotion”.  A book with that name is destined for greatness!

We already have a list of clients scrambling to sign on to our service.  Just today we closed a deal with a world famous Allergist for the title of his new book “Nose Poo”.  Snappy, isn’t it?  A well-known confectioner – ok, it’s Cadbury, but you didn’t hear that from me – has just retained us to pen the title to their evocative tell-all book called “Easter Egg Dentures for Bunnies”.  You may never brush your teeth again.  I’m telling you the sky is the limit here.

Before I go, however, I want to offer you a real bargain.  The first author that contracts with Walter and I will receive not one, but TWO titles of their choice, such as “Nine Hours to Greenwich,” “Tires Rented by the Hour” and “Pandering for Dummies”.  You’ll want to get in on the ground floor if you want to make it to the top.

View from Walter's Back Porch

One HELL of a Book!

One HELL of a Book!.