Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Long Waytin is Almost Ovr, Hoorah!

Mom Says:

Spying, says John le Carré, is waiting. Agent Octavian stayed in the underground bunker with M and the Russian secret agents, playing American-style checkers (no vodka involved) and waiting for more information. Alek and Gatto joined them after M put in a good word for them, but the bunker was already full of humans and animals of the furrier sort, and everyone started getting on each other’s nerves.

Things got even worse when the “Admin” cat, Miss Doubleruble, insisted that the three unaffiliated agents fill out paperwork to put them in the group’s database retroactively. The trouble started first because she couldn’t find the forms, and second because Myshov (full of vodka from playing checkers with a Muscovite bear) teased Octavian and convinced him that “retroactively” meant that Octavian had to sing “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” as a part of the paperwork.

Which would have been fine, except that Agent Octavian actually knew the song. All of it. Now, red tape in a crowded underground bunker is one thing. Red tape and disco music is something else entirely. Things would have gone seriously amiss if M hadn’t intervened, sending Myshov to one communication station and Octavian to the other. And by chance—

…but is ther reellee chans? I meen, luk at me heer sayvin the werld fer autocrasee or somthin, maykin frendz whu doesn’t eevn speek Inglush! an I’m jus a littul ‘bandond kittee from Rocksberry, Massachoositz! Huh…

--By chance, I say, Myshov got the communiqué from Cairo and Octavian got the one from Paris. Now, anyone who knows anything about Chaos Theory—

…an that inclood me, cuz I nappt on that book by that Jaymz Gleek fellr, wift all the fansee, complkaytid piktchrz of buttrflyz…

--AHEM! knows that upon such tiny, seemingly coincidental, so-called “accidents of fate” lie the destinies of nations.

Not that we expect such self-involved superspies to agree. We expect them to agree rather with Will Shakespeare, who claimed that “the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves” and we presume that they would add that the credit goes the same way. Well, we’ll just have to see about that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rabbits at Work

Detour! go to for your funny today.

Rabbit Line--Do Not Cross!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doktr Woof...Russ

Musashi Sez:

I sat ther in the unnergroun bunkr of the ol KGB’s aminal divizhn an stayrd at Myshov the moussee agent from Rusha orijinallee, but now heer in Grrranada, Spayn. An I stayrd at M, mai beluvd leedr, whu caym all the wae from Inglund to halp me sort out my nex moov.

I akskd, “So whu this Doktr Woof? Whut we noe about him?”

M and Myshov egschanjd glansis (this meen they lukt at eetch othr). Myshov sigd drmatiklee. M shuk her hed. “Sorry, Eight. What we’ve told yu is what we know.”

“Huh,” sez I. “Ther alwaez mor. Do he has lotsa technikl weppnz? Do he has compyootrz? Do he has, whut that werd… minions?”

“Oh that,” said M. “Well, er, strictly speaking: probably, yes, and definitely.”

“Yah. That kinda mayk a diffruns, M.”

“Sorry, Eight. I’m so used to taking those things for granted.”

“Huh. I don’t tayk nothin fer granit egsept stonz. In mai limited egspeeryens, mos peeples not have the minions. Compyootrz, shur. Technikl wepponz, wull, that depenz on yer difinishun.”

“Sorry there, Eight. You’re quite right. Your perspective as a relative newcomer to the scene is quite valuable.”

“I shud thingk so. Altho so far I hasn’t met any relativz. Sabaka an Perro, yah, but they’r doggeez. Gato, but I’m pertee shur we not relaytid. An thoz crazee kats at that ol shryn… Did Alek sen yu messijz about them?”

“Heavens, yes. Mysiz had assumed for years that they were a myth, or at most, a dying-out cult.”

“Nope. They’r akshual a buntch of seeryus weerdoez. Serifyabul.”

Myshov sed somthin. I turnd on my LingwaTron collr jus in tim to get the tranzlayshun: “Whut do font hav to do wift the feline cult members?”

M sed qwiklee, “Never mind those details, the question is, what are we going to do to stop Dr. Woof?”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Myshov’s Storee

Mom Says:

Meanwhile, back in the old KGB spy bunker, somewhere under the streets of Grrranda, Spain, Agent Octavian, turned to Myshov and asked, “So whut ar yu doin now?”

The mouse rattled off some very fast French. M nodded and translated, “Myshov and his group are concerned that someone in Moscow—they call him Dr. Woof—has plans for world domination—”

“Hey! I noe about that!”

“Eight! They know this because they sent their agent Harvey to the White House several times to gather information for them. He discovered the plot the first time he went, during the Bush administration, from Bush’s dog, Barney.”

“Huh. So whut this plot?”

“They still don’t know the details. But it probably involves dogs…”

Braykin of Fellrshp

Mom Says:
While Agent Octavian was busy sorting out international political upheavals and other related do-thingies, his comrades in Grrranada--Perro, Gato and Alek—were becoming anxious, not just for him, but also for their former friend, Sabaka, the dog who had been spirited off to Egypt by those crazy monks from the shrine to Ceiling Cat. Their anxiety only increased with the prolonged absence of Octavian. Finally, after much debate, they decided to send their smartest, most resourceful member to Egypt to see if he (that is, Gato) could sniff out their friend. Perro and Alek would remain in Spain for the time being, to help Octavian if they could.

Thus, our brave company parted ways…

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jus Lik Breefinz, Onlee Longr

Mom Says:

M led Agent Octavian to the corner of the large, very techy room, where there were a number of plaid couches against the walls and at angles from each other. Siberian Huskies, a German Shepherd or two, an assortment of cats and an incredibly fat Guinea Pig sprawled here and there, clearly taking power naps between perilous missions. Myshov jumped on top of the Guinea Pig, waking him rudely and sending him on his way.

“Pour vous, Madame,” he squeaked to M, who graciously sat.

Octavian leaped up onto the couch and sat next to her, his tail swooshing slowly. He squinted up at her and said, “OK, M, I got to admit, I am confuzzld.”

“Well, Eight, it’s like this. Back in the late 1970s, when the environmental movement was still, er, moving, the bears of the Soviet Union finally unionized and sent a deputation to Moscow, saying that they would rather not be made into bearskin hats, that they could serve Glorious Mother Russian better as spies than as hats. Other animal species—primarily dogs and mice, but also cats and others—became co-signers of this document. Brezhnev eventually broke down and secretly added a group to the KGB, much like Mysiz, although of course not based on a decadent Western model, because that would never happen.”

Myshov grunted.

M continued, “For the next five years, the division flourished, and they built small, hidden underground command posts in many nations around the globe—“

“But not in Merika, rigt?”

M said, “Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous,” in the bored sort of way that made it sound like “Yes.” (Huh, thought Octavian, hoominz!)

She continued, “When Gorbachev came to power, things changed, funding dwindled. Eventually the division was stood down in that particular way of intelligence communities that means that the thing never existed in the first place. But they didn’t actually destroy the command posts, or for that matter, keep track of their former agents. So agents like Myshov here retired and when the wall fell and things were changing, he moved back to Granada, married Timidora, and settled down.”

Myshov nodded. “Dah. Cela est mon histoire. Mais alors qui l'idiot, Yeltsin—“

“Ah, yes. Yeltsin.” M sighed and stroked Octavian’s plumy black tail. “You know, Eight, that after the fall of the Soviet Union, things were dicey for a while. Here in Spain, other things were happening. But the long and short of it is that Myshov here, and a few dogs and humans, decided to reopen this post in Granada to keep an eye—well, not on the world for Moscow, but rather on Moscow and its activities for the world, if you see what I mean.”

“Mebbe. Aftr all, aminalz gots a speshul aminal citrzinship mor than we gots the hoomin peeples nayshun-typ.”

“Quite. So during Yeltsin’s reign, the animal division consolidated its resources, trained new recruits from different nations and reawakened ‘sleeping’ agents across the globe.”

“Kinda lik that polees InnerPol thin?”

“Like Interpol? I suppose so, in a way. And just around the time that the organization was beginning to spread its wings—sorry, that’s a metaphor, Eight, they’re not real wings—around that time Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia.”

“Huh,” said Octavian. “I has herd about him. He has doggees an he’s not verree nice.”

Myshov grunted and muttered in Russian. M nodded. “That’s one way to put it, yes.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mai Happee Surpryz!

Mom Says:

Agent Octavian had managed to give himself a fairly complete pedicure by the time Myshov and the human KGB agent had got the fancy electronic door opened, and that was a very good thing, because it meant he was looking his personal best when Myshov led them into a shiny computer headquarters with translucent walls with maps on them and lots of cool equipment. And also, standing next to a Siberian husky, was M.

Octavian immediately began to purr loudly, although he controlled himself enough to stroll over to them, tail held high.

Myshov said, “Eh, voila!”

M turned. “Ah, Octavian. So glad you could join us.”

“M! Whut yu doin heer? Theez gyz is Russhin, yu noe.”

She smiled at stroked his silky black fur. “Quite, but they are what you might call free agents.”

“Huh! All this fansee qwipmint look pertee egspensiv to me.”

“You could also call them rogue agents.”

“Whut! Yu meen they’r erpublikinz?”

The dog turned and barked and trotted away.

“Come, Eight, this explanation may take some time…”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nu Resorsiz from Old Emeneez?

Mom Says:

In the shadowy, cavernous room, where the Russian mouse, Myshov, spoke to the uniformed humans, Agent Octavian looked around and began to feel anxious. On the walls, on the humans’ shoulder patches, on the humans’ belt buckles, he saw a familiar symbol: a grey and blue shield, bisected with a gold handled sword. In the middle of the sword was a bright red bear’s paw-print, and on the paw-print, something etched in gold that he couldn’t see properly, but it might have been an X. This looked ominously similar to the picture Jimbond had showed him of the symbol of the KGB, the dreaded Russian secret service.

Myshov turned, saw him peering around, and said, “Que regardez-vous?” (What are you looking at?)

Octavian said, “L'insigne brillant.” (The shiny badge.)

“Ah, cette vieille chose.” (Oh, that old thing.) He turned back to the soldier, finished his conversation, and then beckoned Octavian to follow them through another door. The dull grey corridor’s low ceiling meant that the soldier marched half bent over, while the cat and mouse trotted along comfortably.

Octavian ventured, “J'ai pensé l'a eu une étoile rouge au milieu.” (I thought it had a red star in the middle.)

“Notre division utilise les patte-caractères de l'ours plutôt.” (Our division uses the bear’s paw-print instead.)

“Votre division?” They turned right, into an equally dull grey corridor, which also seemed to be descending microscopically as they moved forward.

“La division des animals, bien sûr.” (The division of animals, of course.)

“Ah! Bien sûr. Une division honorée!” (Ah, of course. An honored division.)

“Mais non.” (But no.) They stopped before a large steel door with one small computer keypad at waist height to the man and another at floor level where Myshov could easily reach it. Mouse and man looked at each other and then turned to tap at the keypads.

The door slid halfway open, then stuck.


Octavian sat and licked his back toes. He was finally getting the hang of Soviet-era technology, and the somewhat irregular rhythm it gave to life. He could probably chew off that third nail properly by the time they got the door working again.

The Russians argued, appropriately enough, in Russian.

Octavian set to work on his toes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Anothr Rest, But This 1 Not Mandatery

Musashi Sez:

We ar taykin anothr rest today, so mom can werk on anothr essay or 2 an trai to figgr out whut happnz next.

I am maykin the most out of mai furlo an sleepin unner the lamp whyl she writs stuff. Mebbe I'll lern somthin. At leest I will lern about whut she is writin about, which is citeez.

Cors, now I has all this egspeeryens, I cud tell her a thin or 2, but I has lived enugf (almos 21 monfs!!!) to noe that som thins yu gots to werk out fer yerself. Huh.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beyond the Littul Dor

Mom Says:

When Agent Octavian followed the Russian mouse through the small door, he expected to enter the house’s hallway, with shoes and umbrellas, a mat, and maybe one of those funny hat-trees. Instead, he entered a long, low, sterile white tunnel. The ex-KGB operative Mysh Medvyedovich Myshov scurried on before him, but Octavian had to keep his head a little lower than he ordinarily would because of the low white ceiling, which impeded his progress. The tunnel zigged and zagged in probably quite strategic ways before ending at another small door. Octavian had the feeling that the floor had been angling downward microscopically, so that this door was perhaps several inches lower than the front door, which also seemed potentially strategically significant.

The mouse turned and glared up at him, as if making up his mind. Then he shrugged and said, “Allons-y!” (Let’s go!)

His claws danced over a tiny keypad and the door slid open to reveal a cagelike elevator. Taking a deep breath, Octavian followed Myshov in, and then gripped the floor with tense claws as the cage shuddered its way down the floor at least twenty feet below.

The elevator’s door started to open before they hit the ground, then closed when they were still about a foot above the shiny concrete floor. The elevator shuddered to a halt. “Damski!” Myshov muttered, then turned to Octavian. “Aidez-moi!”

Musashi stuck his head in the space between the cage doors and then forced his shoulders through and leaped out. Myshov followed, landing lightly beside him and then racing ahead into the long, shadowy, cavernous room, past armed and helmeted human guards. In the light at the end of the room, Myshov started squeaking in Russian to one of the humans.

Octavian thought, “O mai, whut hav I gotsd maiself into? This fellr don’t look pertiklr reetyrd to me!”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mai Clandestin Meetin

Musashi Sez:

Do yu noe how diffiklt it is to consentrayt wen the smell of fishees is in the ayr all round yu? As I stud ther, mai eyz wuz watterin somthin feers. So it’s no wundr that I didn’t at ferst see the big brown mousee who wuz watchin me off to the syd, unnr the awning.

An sins he is sutch an old hand at The Game, I bet he pland it that wae. Huh.

Wen I see him, I figgr, he is eethr tryin to figgr out if I’m fer reel or he is tryin to get up the curridj to approatch such a big kittee as me. So I sits and licks my front paws, ferst 1 an then the othr, slowlee and methodikul, so he kin figgr whut he wants to do. Then, cayrfullee, I sneeziz, and saunter ovr to wher he sittin an switch on my trustee LingwaTron. Then I say the coupl of pfrayziz I perpayrd in advans:

“Zdrastvuite!” (Hello!)

“Pryvet,” he said. (Hi.)

“Kak dee-lah?” (How are things?)

He snorted. “Kak vas zavut?” (What’s your name?)

“Octavian.” I had rund out of Russhin werds.

He seemed to guess this. “Parlez-vous Francais?”

Mai releef must hav shown. “Oui, un peu!”

“Bon. Venez avec moi.” (Good. Come with me.)

I follrd him in an out of the alleez of Grrranada, movin from the mor hoomin-peeple oriented areas to the mor 4-leg-dryv areas, if yu noes whut I meen. Ther wer mor brokd stones on the ground, but ther also mor innerstin thins to sniff at an more leaves an stuff wher yu cud hyd suddenlee if yu hadsd to.

Yu noe: mutch mor civilyzd.

I follrd him around a curv in the street that led to this weerd tunnel-lik thin that seemd to go unnr sombodee’z hous, wher we caym to a hoomin-peeple-syz door, and nearby that, a kittee or small doggee peeple syz door.

He turnd an kinda frownd at me. (This hard to tell wift sombodee that small.)

“J'ai confiance en toi. Ne me trahissez pas. Comprendez-vous?” (I am trusting you. Do not betray me. Understand?)

“Oui! Oui!”

The dull blak eyz of the littul mousee sent chillz down mai spyn. Finallee he sed, “Suivez-moi…” (Follow me…)

An I follrd.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Pawz in the Akshun (Har, Har)

Mom Says:

After Agent Octavian and his company of patriotic mammals were so rudely interrupted by unionist interventions, huh, and got some admittedly much-needed sleep and some brushings and pettings and purrings, the freeze-frame that Mysiz was able to apply to his adventure (thanks to cutting-edge 21st century technology) was switched off, and Octavian’s sudden race through Granada continued. The stone-paved streets were hard on his paws, already sore from an evening of flamenco dancing with attractive females, but he flew through the darkened streets until, suddenly, the tiny white mouse, Timidora, disappeared.

Octavian stopped short, sniffed around and then sat down and licked his feet. Once the mouse had realized that he was not with her, she would come back for him. He would wait.

He waited. And waited.

Then he waited some more. He remembered (again) what John LeCarré had said, that spying was waiting. Yup, he thought, and not for the last time.

Then a few hours and a short drowse later, Octavian saw a flash of white and forced himself not to budge. There two feet away, quivered the tiny Timidora.

With forced calmness, Octavian said, “So. S U’r ‘sbnd OK 2 C me?”

She answered, “C! Pero…” and then squeaked a speal of Spanish that Octavian’s collar interpreted as meaning that he should meet this Mysh Myshov at a fresh fish stall not far away.

Timidora squeaked, “No S K L no confía N T, pero...” (It's not that he doesn't trust you, but...)

“Yah,” said Octavian tiredly. “S OK.”

And he followed the directions she had given him until the smell of fresh fish overcame his inhibitions. From plodding he shifted to walking and then to trotting and then to racing. He screeched to a stop before what he might have called a smorgasbord if he had known the word.

But he had not been to Norway or Sweden.

Not yet.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Moratorium or Napatorium

Mom Says:

The Guild of Narrators and the Actors Equity Association are coming down on us for not giving the writers and actors of this blog enough naptime between posts. This is a very serious allegation, and so we are being forced to take some time off. So although we know that we have, once again, left you running along one of our many metaphorical cliffs, we have no choice about the matter if we don’t want our Double B-7 License to Blog suspended. And yes, we are also aware that the rabbits who write this blog probably do deserve to rest now and then. We never said they didn't. They just seemed so gung ho before they keeled over into spontaneous napping that we assumed they were okay. They only had to tell us that they wanted a break.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause our audience, and point out that our protagonist’s alter-ego’s blog, The Musashi Guide, is in good shape with both ahem socialist, interventionist, anti-creative, politico-gopher groups. Huh. So go read that in the interregnum.

Musashi Sez

ZZZzzzZZZ…. Sgnort! kkzzZZZZhkkZZZZ… Si! Si! Olé! Myshkbblblbl…ZZZZZ…..

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Maykin Contakt Unegspektidlee

Mom Says:

(Yeah, long blog = go to litterbox. Get used to it. We’re not going to tell you from now on.)

Agent Octavian quite liked his new friend Picotero Paco, the Brussels sprouts farmer and flamenco singer, but honestly! The beautiful mouse dancer was nice, but it felt like Paco had been singing for a whole week.

Ya no sufro! Noooooo!
Ahora yoy a dar mi corazòn,
mi corazòn sangrante,
sóloooooo a la lunaaa….

(No longer will I suffer! No!
Now I shall give my heart,
my bleeding heart,
only to the moon….

“Huh!” Octavian thought to himself. “Suffr, suffr, moon, moon. Enugf alreddee! Is tim fer som disco!” But just as he was thinking this, Paco ended with a flourish. Timidora bowed. The guitaristas stood and bowed. Paco shook himself as if he were coming out of a dream. The crowd stomped and whistled and shouted, “Olé! PicoPaco! Olé!”

Musashi Sez:

So old Paco went off, mutterin that he had ben hijackd by “duende,” whutevr that is, an got himself a dringk. I assoom he got som likyoooor de sprowt de Bursels or like that, but I din’t talk to him again aftr.

An that wuz moslee cuz the pertee mousee laydee com to our taybul to talk to us. Malena pickt up the strugglin Gato and givd him to that othr gy, sayin, “Javier, tenemos camarones extra? Alimentan a este gato con la puerta cerrada. Entendido?”

“Si,” sed Haveeyayr, tryin to keep Gato wift jus 2 arms, but akshul he do okay.

The mousee lookd onlee a littul happier aftr Gato left. She kept givn me the hairy eyball. I tried purrin, but that not seem to halp.

Alek manidjd to calm her down by talking about her dansin as if he nu stuff. Huh. He spoktid in a mix of Spannish an Inglish, an somtimz Malena tranzlaytid an somtimz Perro did. I wuz not folloin the conversayshun until Alek did somthin to mai collr that he calld “chaynjin the freekwensee.” At ferst, I wuz insultd, thingkin he wer callin me a freek, but wen whut he did werkd, I figgrd it had somthin to do wift the mousee laydee’s reellee high vois.

Mom Says:

After making Señora Timidora comfortable with small-talk, Alek said, “You know, I think your husband and I, and my friend Octavian here, have a mutual friend in London, with his initials…”

Timidora squeaked, “O?”

And Alek said, “No. M.”

And Timidora said, “O! What U wan?”

“We’d like to meet with him, if we could.”


“It’s…complex. But his former employer is up to old tricks, and we are hoping to avoid a big mess. Entendido?”


“Could you arrange it?”

“Ah… May B…C… Ah... I tell M. Mmmmm. Huh! C! Com wif Mee!”

And before any of them had planned to move, they were following her out of the bar and into the darkened city streets of Grrrranada.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wae Up Ther on Byootifulest List

Mom Says:

It wasn’t even midnight when Octavian and his friends sat down with Malena, the bar owner/flamenco dancer, so it wasn’t a big surprise that, as they talked, customers—new (no bruises) and old (lots of Band-Aids)—came to the Vista Granada and began (or resumed) their eating, drinking, and listening to the music. Because of course, Paco, that old trouper, just kept on singing out the pain of all the cats of southern Spain, the human gypsies of Andalucia, and all those of every species and every region whose love had ever been betrayed, whose hearts had ever been shredded.

La luuuuuna es fría, pero honestoo.
Aaaay yaaaa yi yi yi yi yai!
La luuuuuna se ve mi dooolooor,
el suuufrimentooo que me causaste.

(The moon is cold, but honest.
Ouch! Ow! Ow! Owww!
The moon sees my pain,
the suffering you caused me.

Octavian sat next to Malena in the corner booth, one front paw on her leg, and listened adoringly as she described the history of flamenco music and dance.

“You see,” she said. “The gypsies heeer have been mistreated, spat upon, called outsiders, and pushed out, overrr and overrr. So when the gypsy stamps the foot in the flamenco, he is saying, ‘Heer, thees my home, wherre I stand!’ So, you know, next time other peeeples make heem move on, well, the land is deefferent, yes, but hees feet are the same, and he can always claim the place he stand as hees home. You see?”

Octavian and Gato purred. Alek nodded quite seriously, saying, “Señorita—“

But Malena’s attention had shifted to her feet. She looked down and said, “Si, dígale a Javier para configurarlo para usted.”

The Spaniard who had helped clean up dragged a table in front of the musicians and wiped it down with a rag. Nodding to the guitarists (because Paco was in a world of his own), he stepped away again. Octavian and Gato, who saw the flash of white and red move from the floor to the table, flexed to leap at it, but Malena’s strong hands fell on their collars and restrained them. “You no attack Señora Timidora. Sheee eeez one of our best dancers. You heer mee?”

And the cats purred penitently, but Malena did not let go.

They watched breathlessly as a tiny white mouse, in a scarlet dress and a lacy black veil, began to dance. If Octavian had been impressed by Malena’s easy human gracefulness, he was absolutely floored by the natural elegance of the little mouse.

“Wow!” said Octavian, betraying his American roots. “She the bomb! Whu is she?”

Malena let go his collar (while still holding onto Gato’s). “Shee eez called Timidora, because she marreed a Russhian whu did not approoov of her Christian name: Maria de los Gatos Timidoro Garcia.”

Octavian said, “So her husbun, the Russhin, is a Garcia? That don’t sound rigt.”

“No, no. Her mother was Garcia. Her father was Timidoro. What does her husband have to do weeeth eet?”

Alek turned to Octavian, saying, “It’s cultural, old man. I’ll explain it later.”

The little white mouse, Timidora, danced with her tiny eyes closed, passionately,

Poooodré amar de nuevoooo,
después de suuuuuu traicióooon
espiadada? De la luuunaaa
brillaaaa de nuevooooo,
después de que ha disminuidooo?

(Shall I ever love again,
after your heartless betrayal?
Shall the moon shine again,
after it has waned?

“Wow,” Octavia said again. “Whut’s her husbnd’s naym?”

“Heem?” said Malena disparagingly. “Oh, hee neverrr com heeer. Heees naym is Mysh Medvyedovich Myshov…”

Alek sat up very straight. “Really,” he said. “What a fantastic dancer she is. Do you think we could express our admiration to her later?”

Malena said, “Si, right after thees song.”

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Meetin up wift Mai Homeez

Mom Says:

Long blog. Visit your litterbox or equivalent. Kthx.

Musashi Sez:

In his faymus book, The Hobbit, Perfessr Tolkien sed that the fun stuff gets told reellee eezee an goez reellee fast, but the borin stuff tayk wae too mutch time to tell. Or somthin lik that. (I din’t pae too mutch attenshun cuz the book got no kitteez in it. Yah. Non at all! Kin yu imajin?).

Aneewae, we skeddaduld unner the bar whyl the tall laydee egsplayned to the Grrranada polees about the stoopid barfigt. We kept an unconshus ninja bak ther wift us, an the polees took the rest awae. An I noe yu’r goin to be surpryzd (tho neethr the laydee or the polees showd the littlest surpryz), but mai fren, gud old Paco? Yah. He jus kept singin:

La luuuuna brillaaaaa con friàldad.
Aay yaaa yi yi yi yai! Aay yai yi yi!
Suuu luuuuz se meustraaaa al mundoo
cooooon claaaaaaridaaaad
looo que haaaaaa hechoooo.

(The moon shines coldly.
Ouch! Ow! Ow! Ouch! Ow!
Her light shows the world
clearly what you have done.

Mom Says:

After the police left, Alek and another man helped the bar’s owner sweep up the glass and mop down the floors. Still on the floor behind the bar, Octavian, Perro and Gato woke up the ninja and interrogated him.

Well, okay, that’s the nice way of putting it. Actually what happened was this: Perro licked his face (the black mask had long since gone the way of most shoe-shine rags), and Octavian tested his claws on the man’s neck. Gato, whose HyprNip high (long story, Alek will catch you up later) had finally receded, sat back in the corner, groggily licking his legs and occasionally glaring at the ninja when the poor man faltered in his tale.

He spoke in Japanese, haltingly, rubbing his jaw. “Ano, neh, boku wa nigatsu kara…watakushi-tachi no onna-no-hito no nekko no jinja ni… hatarakimashita. Hai! Hai!...”

And the LingwaTron translated into English. “Ah, well, since February I have been working at Our Lady of the Cat shrine. Yes! Yes! Honorable Lord Brother hired us for defense and for a future danger he was awaiting. My fellow soldiers and I only found out what the danger was when these two, er, honorable animals, with their honorable dog-friend, arrived at the shrine. All was uproar. As for the Honorable Lord Brother, his face shone like the sun. He summoned us and gathered us around the Honorable Dog-the-Prophet, and we guarded him. Then today, an alarm sounded. Enemies threatened! We meditated and polished our swords and stood ready. But then…”

Octavian sent a few needle-like claws into the man’s throat, gently, but still the man whimpered. Perro said, “Now Octayvion, we mus be paysient wift thees fellr, as he has been cleerlee tromotyzed frrrom theee battul, no? Com, now, Señor Ninja, tell us yu naym, eh?”

“Tanaka Kumo desu. Ano…hajime mashita?” (I am Spider Tanaka. Er…How do you do?”

Perro yawned hugely, managing to show the length and sharpness of his teeth without making it seem like that had been his point; after all, surely, it had been a very long day, had it not? Perro said, “Si, wee arrr verrrree glad to meetchu, Señor Tanaka. But yu got to noe that wee weel bee eeevn morrrr glad eeeef yu tell us thee trrrruth about, mmm, yerrr employerrrrz, eh?”

The ninja, no doubt to his everlasting shame, fainted. Since Alek had tied him tightly, the three friends let him be and came out from under the bar to be welcomed by the lady in the red dress.

“Ahhh, so yuuu arrrr thee onez who brrrrought theez, whatchucall, ninjaz heeer?”

“Er,” said Perro, ducking his head.

Octavian said, “Whu me?”

And Gato looked up at her with huge dark eyes and purred, “I ammmm soooo sorrrreeeeee, Señorrrrita! Had I noen wherrrr mai direkshunz werrrr leeedeeng us, I wud nevverrrr hav led them heeeeerrrrr.”

Octavian noticed with surprise how the human woman responded less to the content of his statement than to its feline harmonics.

“Well,” she said, and sighed.

Octavian leaped in. He whipped the flat, black Spanish hat off his head and bowed elegantly (it was the hat, he thought; there was no way he could have pulled off such a gymnastic feat otherwise). “Señorrrrrita! Yu hav intrrrodoost me to the incomprrrabl joyzzz of flllamenco! How can I evvvvr repay yu?” He wondered if he had gotten the harmonics right.

He had. She softened, spine first, and bent down and pet his silky fur. “What? The flamenco ees new to you? But you arrrr a natchurrrallll…”

“Perrrhaps,” suggested Octavian, “we shud sit an talk!”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Evrbodee Wuz Barroom Figtin!

Mom Says:

Chairs flew. Bottles smashed. Knives were drawn. Small tables served as shields for individual fighters and as barricades for (the rare and few) noncombatants. The musicians, who like all musicians knew that they would get paid only if they kept playing, played. Paco sang:

Uuuuusted está más bellaaaaaa
que la luuuuuuna y más fríooooo.
¡Ooooooo, cómooooo me largoooo
para el sooool.

(You are lovelier than the moon
and more cold. O!
How I long for the sun!

So, if nothing else, at least the fight was accompanied by the rhythm and poetry of love betrayed. That had to help.

Smack! Bam! Biff! And that was just the humans. The caterwauling of the cats as they attacked dogs, ninjas, non-ninja humans, and each other, was ear-splitting, but all the musicians in the venue noted that there was also a constant bass undertone, provided by the big dogs with their solemn Woofs! and a tenor overtone, provided by the terriers darting about, snarling and chewing on the calves of ninjas (and the occasional non-ninja who had unfortunately worn black trousers that night). Most (though not all) of the YIPES! that night came from the really little dogs, but some came from the men, both ninja and non-ninja, who made the mistake of crossing the women flamenco dancers, with their muscular legs and shoes with all those nails in them…

And still Paco sang:

O, amoooor, me has hechoooo sufrir,
oooo, dichoooos Doooolooores, yi yi yai!
con suuuuus ojooooos la mentira y
el engaño suuuu formaaaa. Aaay yi yi yai!

(O, love, you have made me suffer,
o, such pain, ouch!,
with your lying eyes and
your cheating ways. Ow! Ow! Ouch!

Three ninjas down. Six ninjas down. Seven…

Sirens were clamoring in the distance, quickly coming closer… The bar was becoming less crowded by the second, leaving only the professional flamencoistas and the professional combatants locked in the fight. Because it wasn’t only humans and cats who were testing their strength against that of other tapas-and-strong-sangria lovers. The woofing, nipping, and yipping showed that the dogs of Grrranada also fought each other and whoever else made the mistake of getting involved.

Perhaps, thought Octavian, as he raked his claws across the eyes of some poor ninja doofus, this was what Jimbond had meant when he had listed the joys of spying as including fighting, running, romancing, being really smart, and driving really fast. The ninja hit the floor (which was already scattered with broken glass and splashes of wine and blood) groaning some rude Japanese. Octavian leaped! up onto a table and scanned the room for his next opponent, but even as he watched, Perro and Gato took pieces out of another ninja, and the last met his demise with a fairly solid red high heel to the head. That tall lady was pretty fierce, as well as being an amazing dancer.

Perhaps, thought Octavian, he would have to tell Jimbond about the joys of dancing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mai Ferst Figt wift Ninjas

Mom Says:

As one might imagine, the entrance of ninjas into a public place could cause panic, even among urban dwellers who deal with street violence on a regular basis. Screams, for example. Fleeing, perhaps. Rushing toward emergency exits, at the very least. As it turns out, one would be wrong.

Start with a group of machismo Spaniards who have been making free with the sangria. Add a group of dogs who have been forced to listen to a cat sing, a group of cats who have heard the disparaging remarks of the dogs, and a handful of women flamenco dancers with shoes that have nails hammered into them. Lots of nails.

Then, add a dozen ninjas, wrapped up in dramatic black clothes, armed with black swords and little spiky round things, and in a really bad mood due to their VW bus being outrun by a Citroen with flames coming out of its tailpipes. The outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Given the blood and pain to come, it would seem wiser just to declare the winners and call the whole thing off, honor satisfied. After all, one hates to see a dozen highly trained ninja shredded to the consistency of ground beef. Agent Octavian thought all this in the split second after Perro, Gato and Alek ran in, followed by the ninjas. In the split second that followed that, he had two separate but related thoughts.

The first was, “Huh, Mr. Conshunce, yu’r no fun!” And the second was, “Hey! They’r reellee tough an well-armd! So wen I killz them, it’ll be totullee by aksident! M can’t yell at me! Wooo hooo!”

Then, naturally, he attacked.

The ninjas were still drawing their black swords when Octavian leapd!, all claws extended, and shredded the first ninja fellow’s face like a huge ball of newspaper. He rode the man’s head as the man fell to the floor screaming, and he leaped away and wrapped himself, with all eighteen claws and all thirty teeth, around the right leg of the next ninja fellow. Screaming. Bottles breaking. Cheerful Spanish curses.

Meanwhile, oblivious to the chaos around him, with his eyes closed, Picotero Paco sang:

La luuuuna miaou luuuuna ayaa-yi-yiii!
¿Cómo pooooooodría Te amoooooo?
Tratos oooooooo Penas Cruuuuuuueles!
hermooooosa luuuuuuuuuuna!

(The moon, my moon, O! Ouch!
How could I love you?
Cruel, beautiful moon!

Musashi Sez:

Wow! Bar figtin isn’t haf bad! I almos nevr gets a chans to let mai inner tygr out, cuz mom sorta frown on that sorta thin unless yer lyf in danjr, but hoo-wee! Fynlee mai lyf wuz in danjr an I cud let my clawrz down, if yu noez whut I meen. Fynlee I gets to let all that greshun out on sombodee whu not a nys person (lik mom an her frens an all mai onkuls an ontz—an I gots lots of them!).

Is reelee rathr freein, akshullee. Yu shud mebbe tryz it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lernin How to Reellee DANS!!!

Musashi Sez:

So ther I wuz, sittin an listenin to mai nu frend, Paco the flamenco singr (an Bursel sprowts farmr), singin his guts out to a room jus as full of hoomin peeples as it wuz of kittee an doggee peeples. I wuz appreeshiaytin the atmusfeer, an also jus a littul sangria. Then all of a suddin, the tall laydee wift the long red dress went out to the dans flor an started dansin. Yu wud not beleev! She cud go all slo up top wift her arms an hans, an be poundin the floor wift her feets, like myls a minnit! Reellee, reellee fast! I wuz jus amayzd.

Then, parentlee she sawd me wift mai eyz all big an blak wift wundr, and she dansd out towrd me and pulld me bak, so I hads to dans wift her.

O mai.

Now, I has dansd wift mai mom somtimz, but that moslee a waltz or mebbe a jiggrbug. This wuz totallee diffrunt. Wift this, I hads to be wikkid dignifyd, an also yooz mai front legs, which is not so eezee. But jus as I wuz startin to thingk I cud not do it, som gy thruw me his flat blak flamenco hat. I putted it on, an suddinlee, I wuz dansin! Huh. Pertee awsom!

An Paco singd:

Oooo, poooobre poooooco gatoooo!
Ooooo pobrecitoooooo! Pobre de mí!
¿Cómo pooooodría Te amoooooo?
Tù has arañado miaaouuu cordazóoooon!

(O! Poor little kittee!
O, poor little one! Poor me!
How could I love you?
You have scratched my heart!

So ther I wuz, dansin mai hart out, whil the guitaristas guitared an the singeristas singd, an the othr peeples clapped—12, 1-2-3, 4-5-6, 8, 10—along wift the rithum of the myoozik. An jus as I wuz thingkin, “Huh. I the bomb!” an stuff lik that, Perro, Gato and Alek ran into the bar.

An then the werld egsplodid.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mai Ferst Flamenco, O Mai!

Musashi Sez:

This a long one. Yu gyz shud probabul jus mayk shur to goez to littrbox befor yu reeds mai blog fer the nex cuppul of daez. OK?

Mom Says:

Picotero Paco led Agent Eight through the Barrio de los Animales, weaving slightly, but still keeping up a constant commentary in Spanish that the LingwaTron was having an increasingly harder time understanding. After a while, Octavian simply turned it off. How important was communication, really, under such circumstances?

They entered yet another tapas bar. This one sported brick walls with landscape paintings warmly lit by yellow light. Humans as well as dogs and cats moved through the place, dancing, sitting in corners, munching tapas and drinking sangria.

The guitar music was rough and emotional, and at first Octavian thought, “Huh. Jazz is betterer than this!” But as they moved through the crowd and he inhaled the passion as it zigged and zagged invisibly through the room, he admitted silently to himself that he might—just possibly—be wrong. Maybe. Perhaps. And he had clearly intended it all along. Huh.

Suddenly, a tall human woman in a very fancy long red dress stood before them and picked up Paco. Quickly Octavian turned the LingwaTron back on, just in case this was one of those situations where it would be best to run to get away from some messy love affair gone wrong. (Humans get very fussed when suddenly there are kittens in their home as well as cats…)

“Picotero! ¡Por fin! Debes cantar para nosotros esta noche!” (Chatterbox! Finally! You must sing for us tonight!)

“Sí,” said Paco. “Por supuesto. Tal vez más tarde.” (Yes, of course. Maybe later.)

“Ahora!” (Now!)

Octavian couldn’t hear Paco’s purring, but he recognized the signs. The tall lady carried Paco to a table near the guitarist and turned the microphone toward him.He licked his paw and washed his face reflectively, then murmured something to the guitarists. Then he began to sing.

For Octavian, who had only ever heard fence-singing in America when he was very, very young, the electrifying performance of Paco that night forever changed his view of the artistic abilities of his species. Paco sang with a voice like broken glass. Octavian’s eyes watered from the sheer beauty of it.

Aay yaaa yi yi yi yi yi yai!
Oooo doloo-ooo-ooor miaouu!
Luuuuuuna (aay yaiii!) miiiaouuu,
La luna miaou luna ayaa-yi-yiii!

(Outch!!! Outch!!! O! My pain!
The moon, my moon, O! Ouch! Ow! Ow!

Musashi Sez:

Meanwhile, back wift mai othr buddeez…

Now, of cors, I onlee fyndid this stuff out laytrer, but whil I wuz havin a big old cultchurl epifunnee, mai buddeez Alek, Gato an Perro wer in mortul danjr. Cuz the reellee gud thin about GPS is that yu kin fynds wher yu want to go. But the bad thin is, if yer emenmies hear yu tell sombodee wher yu want to go, they kin yooz their GPS to fynd the saym plays.

This migt seem obveeyus to all yu jentul reedrz in yer ergonomic armchayrz bak hom in the Stayts, but when yu’r out in the feeld, an yer adrenalenalin iz pumpin awae, is hard to remembembr stuff lik this. An also, yu has to figgr that Alek (lik me) is kinda nu at all this spyin, an PyG, tho they ben runnin their listenin post in Marrakech fer a long tim, hasn’t got the feeld egspeereeyens that wud mayk them mor smartypants.

So they didn’t egzaktlee leed thoz darn ninjas to the Vista Grrranada. Of cors not. But them ninjas found it jus the saym.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Payntin Granada Purpul/Tryin to Slo Down

Musashi Sez:

So my nu buddee Picotero Paco wuz dryvin us into the faymous citee of Grrranada. He telld me I gotz to say it this way, wift the rollin r’s, or els it doezn’t count. He telld me I gotz to vizit the Alhambrrra an see its founten wift lionz. He brogt me to his fayvrit tapas restorant, El Gato de Bruselas, wher they servd us lotsa littul playts wift—big soopryz—Bursel sprowts. Som had the garlik, som had shrimp, som had this soft cheez I cudn’t pernouns and also it stuk to roof of mai mouft. But they all hads the sprowts.

Ther also wuz sangria, which wuz a whol lot eezier to drink than thoz Catnip Royales that alwaes mayks mai eyz wattr. An aftr we had eetid a whol lot, he pushd me out the dor an tookd me down the street to anothr tapas bar.

Now all this tim, I wuz tryin to get awae fer a minit so I cud call Alek on mai collr raydio, but no luk. Picotero talkt and talkt and talkt. Mai LingwaTron wuz werkin a myl a minit!

Then fynlee, Picotero sat down in the street to cogf up a hayrball an I sed, “Paco, conoces La Vista Grrranada?”

“Ah, si! Iremos allí a continuación! Yo canto allí.” (LingwaTron: Oh, yes! We go there next! I sing there.)

“Flamenco?” I askd.

“Por supuesto!” (Of course!)

Yah. Of cors. Mor wydenin of mai stoopid horyzenz. It jus figgrz.

Mom Says:

Meanwhile, the Mysiz car was zooming down the road toward Granada, burning rubber, raising clouds of dust, passing all the other cars, etc.: exactly the kind of spy adventure that Alek had always dreamed of and never expected to find himself in.

Perro howled. “Sloooo dooooown!”

Gato giggled. “Wheeeeee!”

Alek pressed on the brake, but to no avail. (He had always wanted to say that something happened but to no avail. It was quite a nifty phrase. But suddenly he began to wish that he had always wanted to say that something happened with immediate success. That phrase was gaining in niftiness by the second.)

Perro barked, “Sheeeeft geeeeer!”

Alek struggled to downshift, and risked a glance at the gearbox to see what was wrong, but a flash of color caught his eye, and when he looked up he saw a bridge—and this was the strange part—it was gradually rising. And he couldn’t stop or slow.

“Hold on!”

“Wift whut! No thuuuummmmmzzz!”

The car rose with the bridge and then flew—

high above a muddy river—

which they could see much more clearly as the car rolled over in its flight—

But Alek wrestled with the steering wheel even as he heard the cat and dog crashing in the back seat. Hopelessly, he aimed the car as best he could at the other side of the raised bridge and held on tightly.

With a crash, they hit the bridge and with a zoom they sped down its length until they hit the road (literally) and kept zooming on, down toward the city in the distance.

“Everybody all right?”



“Oh thank heavens!” With any luck, he thought, they might yet run out of gas…

Friday, October 23, 2009

That Rod Longr Than I Thogt!

Musashi Sez:

So ther I wuz, on the rod wift this innerestin Spaynish kittee whu smelld a littul bit of the ‘Nip, an he talkt an talkt an talkt. I asksd him whut his naym wuz an he sed, “Paco! Pero me llama Picotero!” An mai LingwaTron wuz telling me that he wuz callin himself a chattrbox. I agreed wift him.

He telld me how it wuz to be a free kittee in Espayn, to be a kittee whu choozd to driv the truk, whu groo an seld the Bursel sprowts, an whu sung the flamenco songz. Now, of cors, I hav herd of boft Bursel sprowts an flamenco from mai mom, so I kin talk about them both, eevn tho I hav not got the persnl egspeeriens. An that a gud thin, cuz mai tinee littul noelidj carreed us fer mylz an mylz, moslee cuz Picotero-Paco gotst lotsa opinions about evrthin, but partiklr about Bursel sprowts an flamenco. Yu migt not egspekt it, but, accordin to him, together, they ar the pinnakul of sivilizayshun. Huh. Whuu’da thunk? I bet eevn mai mom didn’t noe that…

Mom Says:

Meanwhile, even as Agent Octavian was having his cultural horizons broadened, Alek, Perro and Gato were facing the more distressing situation of ninjas following them with the clear intent of cutting off their horizons entirely. Even though the ninjas were traveling in a VW bus of uncertain vintage, our heroes naturally did what any of us would do in a similar situation: they panicked.

“Dooooooo somtheeeen!” howled Perro.

Alek did something. He shifted the car into “fifth gear.” A loud WHUMP! came from the rear of the car as it shot away from its own flame. Alek saw the speedometer hand race from 100 kilometers per hour to 115 to 130 to 145…

The ninjas’ VW bus disappeared behind them in a cloud of dust.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On the Rod wift a Verree Happee Kittee

Mom Says:

Agent Octavian leaped into the old blue pickup truck driven by a tabby cat who seemed really quite relaxed. Once Octavian had slammed the door shut, the tabby accelerated, and Octavian admired the contraption that allowed him to drive the truck.

“Ah, si,” said the Tabby, and he babbled at Octavian until the LingwaTron was buzzing to keep up. Its screen read: “My previous truck had bicycle bits, but this pully system is quite an improvement!”

Octavian said, “Ah! Fenómeno!”

“Si!” And the screen was kept quite busy as they drove into late afternoon and evening along the green highway. “Muchas personas creen que…”

And Octavian read: “Many peeples thingk that cats should not to drive the car and especial, the truck! Hah. But I believe betterer! I has the ingenious friends who create the admirable pully system that you see before us. This allow, however the short legs of my latter half, to engage the system of transportation more than all cats in the Spain! I am Loco-Motor-Kittee! Heh heh heh…”

And Octavian thought to himself, Loco, yes. Motor, yes. Kittee, yes. Out loud he said, “Loco! Si, si!”

Meanwhile, back at the shrine, Alek and Perro had jumped into the Mysiz car and burnt rubber as they followed Agent Eight’s advice to skedaddle. Dust rose on either side of the car to show how fast they were going! Gato lay on the back seat, giggling softly, while above him Perro looked out the back window and barked, “We’r sayf! No followrz! We’r sayf!”

Still, Alek pressed his foot down on the accelerator, not sanguine about their prospects. After all, if their protagonist wasn’t actually with them, he reasoned, how good were their chances for survival, really? He knew that a spy’s “thumbs” wasn’t cannon fodder, and the Guild of Narrators knew it, but did this strange order of humans and cats? From the little he had seen in the past few hours, it seemed that the order followed no rules but their own.

“Hey!” Perro barked as Alek accelerated further. “Whatchu doin? Ees not lik them monks follr us, eh? Ees onlee a blak van full of hombres, but not so muchos thos monks.”

Gato giggled, and batted at the seatbelts.

Alek squinted into his rearview mirror. “Hombres? But how do you know they’re not monks?”

“O, ees eezee,” said Perro. “The monks we saw wer wayrin the red an the brown robz, yu noe? But theez hombres wayr the blak.”

Alek wiped the rearview mirror with the back of his free hand, then changed gears and pushed his foot all the way down on the accelerator.

“Hey! Bark bark bark! Yelp!”

“Whoa, yu cowboy!” giggled Gato.

Alek barked a little himself. “Perro! Do you know what a ninja is?

“Huh! Ninja! Lik in mooveez?”


“O, but them aren’t reel. They’z jus monk-lik actrz whu playz assassassinz wayrin the funnee blak—O NOOOES!!!”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Doez I Onlee Do Eskaypin?

Musashi Sez:

Aftr I raysd ovr the wall of the shryn, I raysd down the big roed until mai tong wuz hangin out an I wus reddee to jus drop. But luckee, rigt about then, a littul truk pull up to wher I wuz jus bayrlee skraypin along. I lookt up, an ther wuz this tabbee kittee drivin the truk.

The kittee rolld down his windo an akskt, “Donde esta…?”

Mai collr told me that he wuz askin wher I wuz goin in such a hurree. So I sed, “Voy a Granada.”

Som doggee wuz barkin in the bakgroun. The dryvr kittee sed, “Ah, Granada! También se va a Granada.”

So I sed, “Gran! ¿Puedo ir contigo?”

An he sed, “Si, si!” an laugft lik mebbe he had had jus a littul too mutch of the ‘Nip. But I wuz a furrinr ther, so I jumpt in an kept mai mouft shut.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tygr vs. Insekt Kungfu

Mom Says:

Agent Octavian ran, and Perro and Alek followed, Alek burdened both by his lack of a second set of legs and by the large, spaced-out cat in his arms. As they ran, Octavian remembered what his mother had said about making noise when you fight: either keep all your breath to run or fight, or scream bloody murder and scare the poop out of your opponent. But no half measures, ever.

He raced down the hallway and up a set of stairs, up toward sunlight. Even as he ran, a tiny voice in his brain informed him quite calmly that neither he nor his friends had previously set foot or scent on these particular stairs, so when he reached the top and burst out of the doorway into the shrine’s internal courtyard, to see, across the pavement, a Chinese monk standing on one leg in a Praying Mantis pose, he had already decided what to do.

“Ovr the wall!” he screeched, and launched himself at the poor shmo whose only fault was to pick the wrong time to work out on his kung fu form. Even as he leaped!, screamed, and dragged his front claws across the guy’s belly, he heard Perro bark out, “Vista Granada! Avenidas de los Gatos! We meetchu therrrr!”

But Octavian had no time to acknowledge Perro’s call or even take note of how they were escaping, so caught up was he in his fight with this warrior monk who had long studied the ways of the Praying Mantis and was now taking it all out on someone about one-tenth his weight. In the micro-seconds Octavian had for reflection, he did realize that he was at an unexpected advantage with this young man, given that Octavian had always assumed he might have a human opponent, but apparently, this fellow had never considered that he might have to face a cat in combat.

So, like a good kittee, he did what his mom had told him to do: “When in doubt, go berserk. Then run!”

He never did find out what damage he inflicted on his foe, because he was scrambling up and over the wall and racing through the sparse underbrush along the highway between Malaga and Granada. And even as he raced, tail like a lightning bolt behind him, he wondered, “Whut am I spost to do about Sabaka?”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lerning Lessnz from BirdCatz

Musashi Sez:

So, OK, I let this odd yong Tibettn fellr carree me down som dark stayrz to a damp room that look verre stranj—kinda round and rogf, wift the stonz evrwher. That iz, evrwher egsept the bak wall, wher ther a paintin on the plastr. In frunt of it is a funnee dark red rop, hangin from theez weird not-pillar things. It mayk me thingk they not want me to tutch the paintin (which of cors is sillee).

The reellee old boy aksks, “Do you recognize this painting?”

“Huh,” sez I. “Of cors. I sees it on mai neiygbr’s umrellrs all the tim. It’s Ceiling Cat lookin down to wher the birdcat, Gabriowl, caym down to tell Marry that she goin to be havin Ceiling Cat’s kittee. Um, but yu noe, I not a Cristshun kittee. I’z a Ceilingist Catatayrian. We doesn’t shur about Happee Cat, the kittee of Ceiling Cat. We talks about it a lot, but we hasn’t desydid yet.”

The boy sighed deeply. Then he sez, “Yay, but the LORD can use anyone he wants. Huh. So—“

But I cuts in. “Mai mom is studeeyin to be thee-o-lo-jian, an she sez that Ceiling Cat isn’t necesessarily a gy. Mom sez that Ceiling Cat is way beyond all them catnip mousseez and catnip ballz and whutnot. Mom sez eevn the Baibul supportz this ideer somtimz.”

The boy smiled. “Ah! An enlightened one. Excellent! Ah, but how easily one slips into the sloppy patterns of a particular language in the attempt to sway the masses! Yet we—“

“Um. Soree? But yu gyz ben talkin about yer foundr. He soun a littul bit lik Noah. Kin yu tellz me mor abouts him?”

The boy’s smile was radiant. “Ah, you recognize the language of the founder! Surely you are smiled upon by Noah, our founder, the saint who--”

“Errrr. I don’t noe about all them smylins, but I does has some edjukayshun in theez thins. Whatchur point?”

“Ah! You cut through the knot! I am Brother Narayan, Brother General of our order.”

“So yu desydzd to drug mai frend?”

“Er, well, yes, actually. But--”

“So yu’r eevl, rigt?”

“Um, well, no, actually, we’re the—“

But Agent Octavian had already discounted the little monk and jumped out of his arms. Sniffing the perimeter, he found a very clear path out of the shrine. "Alek, grab Gatto. Perro, let's skeddaddul!"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meetin Mai 1st Lama

Mom Says:

The fight was brutal but brief. No sooner had Agent Octavian got his front paws around Guru’s neck and begun to claw his guts out with this back paws than a high-pitched voice cried out, “Enough!”

Despite himself, Octavian froze, but Guru did not take advantage of the moment, himself also seemingly frozen in space and time. Brother Ian came and lifted Guru off Octavian, who let go his death-hold on the other cat.

The high voice, from behind Octavian, said, “Peace to all present!” and it was clearly an order.

Slowly, Octavian returned to himself from the place of crazed fighting. He sat up and licked his paw and brushed it over the cut beside his eye. With his good, unsquinting eye, he saw a flash of red, coming closer. There was a breath of incense and then he was lifted up. When he opened his eyes and looked at the human who had picked him up, he noticed, first, that his eye had healed and, second, that this human was much younger than anyone he had ever met, which was pretty weird, given that he had, way back when at the animal hospital, known kittees who were only a few months old. Yet the human looked to be at least ten or eleven years.

The young monk excoriated his colleagues in what Octavian presumed was Tibetan or some other equally incomprehensible language. Finally, he switched to English, with a slight British accent that reminded Octavian of M.

“My most fervent apologies, Master Octavian and Master Alexander. My brothers here have clearly overstepped the bounds of wisdom. As our founder would say, ‘Yu kin apolrjyz, or I kin throw yu ovrbordz. Yer choys.’”

From Brother Ian’s arms, Guru said, “S’ry.”

The red-robed monk turned to Brother Ian. “I believe the phrase is ‘your turn.’”

The old man frowned and Guru leaped down and strutted away. “You blame me for the cat’s impetuousness?”

The boy smelled Octavian’s fur (a very cultured thing to do). Then he said, “My son, you know that John Donne would say that ‘no man is an island.’ Our founder would say, ‘Whut? Yu thingkin yu’r a plangk an kin flot alon fer 40 dayz an 40 nigts? Huh. OK! Good luk!’”

Brother Ian bowed his head. “I apologize for letting Guru get ahead of himself.”


“And I apologize for getting ahead of myself.”

“Very well. You may leave our presence.”

Hands in sleeves, head bowed, Brother Ian followed Guru out of the shrine’s vestibule.

Lulled by the boy’s exotic scent, Agent Octavian asked, “OK! So whu ar yu? An whatchu all don to mai frendz heer? An whut this forchozn profit bizness?”

The boy petted Octavian and looked with great compassion on the confused Alek, the drugged-out Gatto, and the hyper-vigilant Perro.

“Ah,” he sighed. “That is the $64,000 question, is it not?”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gettin the Bak Storee

Mom Says:

Alek and Agent Octavian mulled over what they had just heard. Finally, Octavian asked, “So whu this Nostradoggee gy aneewae?”

“Ah!” said Brother Ian, and he settled back against the stone bench as if it were actually comfortable. “Nostradoggus is the name we give to the dog who lived with the human, Nostradamus, when he was at the height of his powers.”

“But I thogt that hoomin wuz jus a old fayk,” said Octavian.

“Ah, that is a testament to the effectiveness of the dog, for the human Nostradamus was often a true seer, and in fact he occasionally saw far more truly than even he knew. So the dog he lived with frequently, ah, you would probably say ‘ate his homework,’ thus ensuring that his accurate prophecies would be indecipherable. For Ceiling Cat does not wish creatures to know the future. Is it not written, ‘If I’d wantid yu to noe this stuff, I’d hav toldid yu it maiself’?”

“Um, is it?”

“It is! And further—“

But just then Guru trotted out from behind a hidden door, and behind him stumbled a big black cat—Gatto—who was anxiously being shepherded by a larger black and white dog—Perro. Octavian opened his mouth to greet them, but when he met Gatto’s green eyes, he saw that Gatto’s pupils were huge and dark, and Gatto’s pace was erratic, as if he were unsure of where his paws were going. Perro nudged Gatto with his nose so that Gatto went in the right direction.

Octavian turned angrily on Brother Ian. “Whutchu do to mai frend? He look all drugged out! Yu kan’t tell me Ceiling Cat is cool wift that! He NOT! Huh! Yu BAD kittee!”

Brother Ian winced. “You speak truly. We have trespassed against Ceiling Cat’s law, but we did it for the best reasons, with the best of intentions! We needed you to come here, rather than to some other place where we could not follow the outcome…”

“Whatchu reellee meen? Yu jus wanted to controlllll us. Errrr. Emmmmph.”

Guru said, “Foolish kitten! We—“

But Octavian had had more than enough. He attacked.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Ordr of Straynj Kitteez an Hoominz

Musashi Sez:

Well, I ben seein som stranj things sins I startd werkin fer Mysiz, but this stol the pie! Huh. All I’m tryin to do is sayv the sivilyzd werld from inpendin dooom, an suddinlee theez fellrs is tellin me they nu I wuz comin cuz som gy 500 yeerz ago left them a lettr about it. Reediklus!

An the annoyin kittee gy, this Gooroo fellr, he gots Alek all skeerd cuz he kin do the Schroeder’s cat thin, wher yu is both ther an not ther, which pertee much evree kittee kin do if we reellee wants to, but it tayk a lot of enerjee and then yu gots to nap fer dayz aftrwrds, so moslee we don’t bothr.

Aneewae, as we follrd Gooroo an his hoomin into the shryn, I sed to Alek, “Huh, this Yoda-fellr is pullin the ol’ Schroeder’s kittee trik, yu noe, lik in fhyziks. That don’t mayk him anee mor impressiv than anee othr kittee.”

Ther wuz a hiss from up on the old gy’z sholdr. The old gy led us into this innerestin ston room wift pillrz an a statchoo of a kittee peeple in a windo-lik thing in frunt.

“Hey!” I sez. “That’s Bastet! What she doin heer in Ceiling Cat’s shryn-plays?”

Alek seemd dayzd. He sat down on the ston bentch on the syd. Gooroo jumpt off the old gy’z sholdr an trotted awae, still huffin. The old gy sat next to Alek.

“Bye, Yoda!” I calld, to gives Alek confiddens. A small hiss travld bak to us in the echoz of the room.

Mom Says:

The old man stuck his hands up the grey sleeves of his robe and frowned. “Alas, Guru is impatient, as many of our order are. They…we…have been waiting long for these events to come to pass. But, as our founder would say, ‘If we’re going to be stuck here for 40 days and 40 nights, we might as well introduce ourselves.’ I am Brother Ian. And you, I believe are Octavian and Alexander.”

Octavian turned to Alek. “Hey, wer yu naymd aftr that littul gy whu tuk ovr almos the whol werld, lik centureez ago?”

“Er, yes, actually.”

“Cool! Altho, mai mom sez that werld dominayshun is hardlee evr reellee werth it.”

Brother Ian smiled. “Well said! And that brings me to what you are probably most interested in knowing.”

“O, gud! So wher mai frenz, Gatto an Perro an Sabaka? They heer wift yu?”

“Er, yes, actually, but don’t you want to know about your role as prophet and what Nostradoggus wrote about you?”

“O, no, not reellee, thx. Yu gots the rong gy. I not a profit. I’z a spy. But yu can’t tell aneebodee. OK? Is big seekret.”

“Er. That’s rather odd, you see. Because you do look quite like the drawing Nostradoggus dictated. ‘Of the semblance of Baysmint Catte, butte wifte thee markings of Ceilinge Catte.’”

Alek stirred. “How do you dictate a picture?”

Octavian said, “It’s that old thum problim. Whut, jus cuz I’z a blak kittee wift a littul whit heer an ther, yu figgr I’m the forechozn gy? That seem sillee. Yu mus get lotsa kitteez heer at the shryn. Probabul som of them gotta be moslee blak wift som whit.”

Brother Ian nodded, smiling. “Of course. But how many of them, do you think, were escorted here by a namesake of Alexander the Great? How many of them who were (assuming that there were more than one) came here four days after the coming of a cat in the likeness of Basement Cat and two dogs, one of whom spoke only Russian?”

“Ummm. Well, wen yu puts it lik that…” said Octavian.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mai Not So Unambigyuos Welkom

Mom Says:

Very slowly, Alek got out of the car, and Agent Octavian followed and sat down next to his feet. The strange cat took his time coming down the strange wooden stairs until he was nose to nose with Octavian. They sniffed each other ritualistically and the strange cat purred.

“So,” he said in perfect English. “You have come.”

Octavian said, “O, they told yu about me, did they? An yu speeks pertee gud Inglish, too. That’z conveenyint.”

The strange cat stared. “Who is the they of which you speak?”

“Whu is the whut?”

“Who do you think told us of your advent?”

“It not mai advent. It mai mom’s, and it not until Desembr. An whut Cristmus got to do wift aneethin?”

Alek spoke quickly. “Er, sir, we came here to meet with some friends, another black cat and two dogs. We assume that they told you that we’d—“

“Silence!” The strange cat’s tale was lashing. “Your coming was long ago foretold by Nostradoggus, and it is he, now reborn, whom you have come to meet. I, Guru, proclaim that you must undergo trials of purification—“

“Yipe!” said Octavian, and Alek jumped, fearing that he had trodden on Eight’s tail. “Yu NOT givin me a baft! NOT WANT!”

As the two cats stood braced, hackles raised and tails lashing, Alek thought he had clearly underestimated the dangers of working with MI-6’s Interspecies Division. The strange cat hissed. Alek poised to run.

Then a deep British voice said, “Guru! Behave! First you’re clawing my best staff and now you’re threatening the guests.”

They all looked up at the top of the steps to see an old man with long white hair and a white beard as he gathered his grey cloak and made his way down to them. The strange cat, Guru, still lashed his tail, but it seemed to Alek rather halfhearted. The old man picked Guru up and draped him on his shoulder and then beckoned for Alek and Octavian to follow him into the small stone building.

“After all,” the old man said to Guru. “We can at least let them have a seat in the vestibule. We let the tourists in there, so we may as well let the long-awaited prophet of Ceiling Cat in.”

“Huh!” said Guru. It sounded very much like he meant it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reetchin Mai Disrtnayshun

Mom Says:

Agent Octavian drowsed while Alek drove. Finally, he felt fully returned to himself (because kittees don’t handle air travel well, and it messes even more with cats who are living multiple simultaneous lives). He said, “Hey, Alek, I thingk that I am fynlee bak! Huh. Wher wuz I aneewae?”

Alek sighed with relief. “I don’t know, old chap, but I never want to go there.”

“Wher we heddin now?”

“To a shrine out in the country, a rural area where animals are a bit freer to meet each other without human surveillance.”

“Cool! Wen kin we stop fer, lik, littr an dinnr?”

“Quite soon, actually. I hope within twenty minutes, at most.”

“Eksellint! Yu ar the bestest shofer a spy-gy cud possibul hav, Alek. Huh, wayt! I jus rememembred! Yu’r a spy too! Yu must be reellee gud. Yu eevn foold me!”

And the big black cat curled up on the front seat and went back to sleep almost immediately. He seemed to be smiling, with his tail wrapped around his body so that the tip just brushed his nose, almost tickling it.

Trees and fields flashed past. Alek thought to himself, What is it about this cat? Every time I think I’m about to strangle him, he says something like that and I want to pat him on the head, or scritch him under the chin...

And just as he was thinking this, he turned the car into a long curve that ended in front of a very old shrine. Alek braked and made a long, quiet, involuntary noise, half a sigh and half a grunt of fear. Octavian woke from a dead sleep and in a flash was standing on the dashboard, quivering, all his fur standing on end.

“What is it? Yu skeerd? What happnin?”

Alek spoke slowly as he scanned the sanctuario before them, a narrow stone structure leading out from a heavy outcrop of sandy-colored rock as if it were extending an inner cave. “I think…we’re here.”

“Yah. So wher this heer we at?”

They watched anxiously as a small breeze set small colored feathers quivering at the edges of stone on stone, in the narrow arches between weathered pillars. Octavian sniffed and said, “Alek, roll down yer windo!”

And such was Eight’s urgency, that Alek did it, letting in hot air. Octavian closed his eyes and sniffed. And rumbled.

This was not a purr. This was a warning signal. If a neon sign had suddenly appeared above Agent Eight with the message, “Pet Not the Cat,” Alek would not have been surprised in the least.

What did surprise him was when Eight murmured, “Mmmm, Alek?”


“Look off to the…um…lift. Whatchu see ther?”

“Um, a very steep stairway made of stones or possibly big slabs of wood?”

“Mm. Aneethin els?”

“Um, a possibly very old cat who doesn’t seem to definitely be there between one second and the next?”

There was a small sigh of relief. “OK. So it not jus me. That is probabul gud, rigt?”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fyndin a Shryn Wiftout Yoozin GPS

Musashi Sez:

Aftr Alek got the car from the gy wift the funnee aksent, we drov around fer a whyl, to mayk shur that noboddee follr us. They didn’t. We left Malaga an “wendid our wae” into the contree-syd, until I wuz fallin asleep on the front seet. Yah, it wuz all green an nys, but ther NO mousseez, ther NO layzr poyntrz, ther NO fishiz (not toonr, not eevn shrmp, if yu kin imajin!). I meen, whut’s the point of beein awayk if ther not goin to be egsytin stuff to looks at? (Or, possibul, to eetz).

Aftr a whyl, Alek patted me on hed to wayk me up an aksd, “So Eight, what do you make of this ‘Pyg’? M gave me her take, and Ibrahim his. But what do you think?”

I stretchd an yawnd hyoojlee. Then I sed, “Gatto is the reel thin, a whatchucallit, a vederin of the Gaym. Huh. An that Perro is not fer us to mess wift. He Gatto’s buddee, lik them buddee mooveez wher evrboddee is sakrifysin hisself fer evrboddee els. Yu noe.”

Alek sed, “You think?”

I sed, “Wud I sez it if I not thingks it?”

Aftr a whyl he sed, “Huh. I suppose you’re right.”

An I sed, “OK! But, I not totlee unnerstan the derekshuns Gatto givd Zaina. Wher we goin?”

Alek sed, “I’ve read a lot about Andalucia, the southern part of Spain. But I had never heard that the great medieval heresies had arisen here. Most of them happened in Italy, in southern France, places like that. You can find ruins from the time of the Cathars, but… Eight? Wake up! As I was saying, this shrine is the first I’ve heard of from this particular… er, nontraditional dogmatic belief…er…occurring in Spain.”

I yawnd agen. “Yu not ansr mai qwestshun.”

He sigd lik he wuz egsadjeraytin. “Fine! We arrrr going to El Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Gatto del Cielo!”

Now, of cors, I not hav a cloo whut he sayin, but it not mattr. He is hoomin peeple; I is kittee peeple. So I sez, “Well, of cors. Yu shud’v sed so befor.”

Mom Says:

Clearly, Octavian is learning a great deal about how to communicate with humans. We didn’t say that it would be positive or constructive communication. But he’s got the method right, at least…

Monday, October 12, 2009

Doin Plan B

Mom Says:

Even the short flight between Marrakech and Malaga made Agent Octavian’s ears unhappy ears, so when he and Alek landed in Spain, Octavian was seriously cranky.

Fortunately, Alek had understood from early on—back when they checked into the hotel in Lichtenstein—that Octavian was likely to be a major player on the world espionage stage, and that he, as Octavian’s “thumbs” (as his role was known in Mysiz), would probably only rise in the ranks inasmuch as he aided Octavian in his missions. Also, it was hard not to have a soft spot for the big black kittee, with his (generally) sweet disposition and his (mostly) innocent way of looking at the world.

So Alek was patient.

Which was, Alek reflected, a very good thing, given that dealing with a young cat with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was only one level better than dealing with a squirrel with a caffeine addiction. Okay, maybe two levels. Three, at most.

It certainly required skills in diplomacy that he wasn’t sure he had (otherwise he might have gone into a less covert type of civil service). They managed deplaning and customs with no trouble, but as they waited at the baggage carousel, Octavian was scratching his ears and looking like he might bolt at any moment. Alek gave him a tiny piece of chewing gum to ease the pain in his ears, but it didn’t last long (“It not tayst gud. Don’t yu got som that got toona flayvr?”). He folded the tinfoil into a crane and teased Octavian with it for a while, but then their luggage came and Octavian’s lashing tail signaled that he was struggling catfully in order not to leap! on the carousel. Piling their bags on a cart and scooping Octavian up and setting him on top, Alek trundled them out to the front of the airport, scanning the ranks of cabs and other cars for the one sent by Mysiz.

Finally, a small silver sedan pulled up in front of them, and a young man in a tweed slouch cap popped the back trunk open and jumped out. “’allo! Eer y’go, guv! All set to go. Mind the ‘fifth gear,’ as it does somethin’ wikkid in the naytchur of flare-back! Alright?”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mai Ferst Phon Call to Meee!

Musashi Sez:

Ibrahim’s wyf, Zaina, mai Moroccn fren, led me to the phon an verree kindlee held it up to mai eer fer me.

“Allo?” I sed in mai bestest French. This meen “hullo.”

“Allo, Octavian. Es Gatto. I am glad dat yu ar down frrom the treee dat yu werr up. Is that the Eenglish?”

“Yah, that’s gud Inglish. How ar you, Gatto? I’m glad yu manijd to get away from them Rushn soljers. Is Perro OK?”

“Ah, si, Perro es bueno. Sabaka also bueno. Wee arrr in Malaga, in Espanya. Sabaka, well, he ees dog, no? An dogs arrr, how yu say, ankshyus peeples, yu noe? So we—Perro an I—arrr theengking that yu might want to, perhaps, com to Malaga and talk to heem agayn. What yu theengk?”

“O mai,” sez I. “Hmmm. That migt be hard. But…Yu sez he migt has infermayshun I kin yooz to solv this big crysis thin?”

“Si, si! Perro say thees may go up to highest seerkulz of goovernemant! Eez verrrree crrrooshal, he theengks. I hav not noen Perro to ges rrrong on such theengs evvrrr.”

I sigd dramatiklee. “Wull, in that cays, if yu thingks it wull halp…”

“Octavyon, I am theenking thees may be, rrrr, qwyt beeeg.”

“OK, Gatto. In that cays, I chanj mai planz. I mayk stop in Malaga befor goin hom. Wher I find yu?”

“Has yu got pensil?”

“Huh,” sez me, lookin around. “Pensil, yah, but thumz no. Kin yu tells the address to mai frend heer? She writ if fer me.”

An that is how we caym to shift to Plan, um, B.

Diffikult Ordrz

Mom Sez:

Agent Octavian spent the next few days studying maps of Spain, Europe, and the World with Ibrahim and Alek. And although he found it hard to concentrate for more than a half-hour at a time, still, eventually he did manage to absorb the core information that seemed to be most important to them and to M. They sat on the floor to make it easier for Octavian, and Alek patiently repeated M’s briefing several times, so that even though the spy kittee kept leaping! up and running off, or sometimes falling asleep on the maps, in the end he could recite their tasks from memory.

“Have you got it now, Eight?” asked Alek.

“Shur,” said Octavian. “We flyz to Spayn an yu dryvs from Malaga to Grrnada, wher we goin to mayk contact wift the ol Rushn spy whu liv ther now. His naym Ivan. He left spyin fer Rusha aftr the chilly war endid. He still keep in tutch wift his old buddeez an he migt noe whut’s goin on. We needz haffa bottul of wodka an I has to promis, promis, promis to be a reellee gud kittee an not do aneethin to jepperdyz the mishun. Huh. As if I wud.”

Alek nodded (again) and said consolingly (again), “Yes, Eight, I know, but this mission is highly sensitive. If anything, even the slightest thing, should go wrong—“

“Yah, I noe. Fayt of sivilyzd werld, hangin in the balans. I got it.”

“And then, after we contact Ivan?” prompted Alek (again).

In another room, the phone rang.

Octavian said, “We keeps in clos contak wift M in Londin.”

Ibrahim’s wife came into the room. “Excuse me, gentlemen.” Ibrahim began to rise. “No, it is not for you, but for Monsieur Octavvyon…”