Saturday, February 27, 2010

Showin Off Fer a Gurl

Mom Says:

It is said that La Table du Lancaster offers fine dining that is intimate, understated and contemporary. Naturally, no one actually ever says that it’s easy.

Agent Octavian sat staring at Zora the kittee entrepreneuse, until she chuckled.

“O! Mon ami, yu arrr so quiet! It is sutch a plaisir to be weeth someone whu eez not alwaez barrkeeng all the tim!”

The spell was broken. “Barkin?” said Octavian. “Yu gots doggeez werkin fer yu?”

“Mais oui. RRRR an D peeplez, an testrrrz, an tranzlaytorrrs, of cors… Many doggee peeples. An they arr all sooo enthooziastique! Waggeeng their tailz, an barkeeng, all dae looong.”

“Huh. That mus becom annoyin aftr a whil.”

“C’est vrai! But eenugf about me! How hav yu ben, Octaviannn?”

“O, yu noe. Can’t complayn. Biznis is helthee an I’m gettin a chans to see the werld.”

A young waiter approached with two martini glasses on his tray. “Mademoiselle, Monsieur, the manager expresses his welcome with a complimentary Catnip Royale, eh?” He placed the drinks on the table. “Would you like to consider the menu now, or wait a while?”

Zora nodded aristocratically. “Latayr for the entrée, garçon. Merci.”

Octavian watched the red-vested man stroll away. “Nys Inglish. Is he ‘Merikan, do yu thingk?”

“Probablee Canadien, a Quebecois.”

“Ah!” said Octavian, wishing he’d studied geography that was closer to home. He took a sip from the straw in his martini. “O mai! That ‘Nip is fresh! Ar they growin it in their gardin out bak or somthin?”

Zora purred. “Not qwyt! Eet coms frrom Chateau de Fourrure, thee Neepyard of mon ami, Christophe. Yu lik?”

Octavian sipped again, more carefully and then sniffed the sprig of catnip. His eyes watered a little, though he knew that some of this reaction had to do with the vodka in the drink. He sat back in his chair and curled his plumy black tail around his feet.

“Hmm. It hav hints of lavndr, wift som of that woody smell, but not the heavee kind we gets in the Stayts. I wud almos call it leafee… But ther also seem lik froot ovrtonz, yu noe, that froot wift the funnee naym I nevr remembember… An an undrton of chickpeaz.”

Zora’s eyes widened. “I am—I meen, yu arr—Yu surpryz me, Octaviannn. I hav herd that ‘Merikans do not hav the noz for telleeng the trrru qwalliteez of fine ‘Nip, but yu…”

But Octavian was concentrating, his eyes half closed. “Whut the doggee is that froot? Starts wift an A. Avokodo?”

“Yu meens apricot?”

“That’s it! Thank yu. Mai nex gess wud hav ben arugula, yu noe, an I’m pertee shur that not a froot at all!”

“Er, yes…” She flicked her tail and the red-vested waiter materialized beside them. “Garcon, wud yu tell us whut Chef Meeeshel has for us tonigt?”

The young man warmed to his task. Without taking the pad out of his pocket, he recited, “Our menu tonight at La Table du Lancaster, purposely brief, is organized by theme, based on products chosen by Chef Michel for their intensity, freshness, and slightly sour notes. As the base to these works of the master-chef’s art, for Le Menu pour les Chats, we also offer the choice, tonight, between the chef’s special quail and the tronçons de sole de petit bateau cuit au plat, purée d’artichauts camus et autres crus jus de cuisson réduit, caviar Beluga.”

“So hard to desyd,” murmured Zora

But Octavian was on a roll. “Ah quail… I hav herd egsellint thins of la caille française. I shall hav the quail. Ask yer Chef Meeshel to mayk it sparkul wift the wit of the tomato– the burst of lemon–the tang extraordinaire of the ‘Nip buds--”

The waiter was scribbling busily. Zora purred loudly. “I shall hav whut he’s haveeng, s’il vous plait.”

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Cays of Nervz

Musashi Sez:

When pertee grey an fluffee Zora lookd at me across the taybl, I felt mai mouft go dry. (Yah, I noe whut yu’r thingkin, “Cat got yer tong? Hnrf, hnrf!” Veree amooyzin.)

In fact, tho, I got maiself so nervoused that I cudn’t eevn talk. I cud not thingk whut to sae.

The sylins went on ferevr.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Le Date Chaude/The Hot Date

Mom Says:

Imagine if you will, a romantic evening, cold and crisp but with a sparse showing of stars. Imagine further a sandstone façade on le Rue de Berri, in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.

A silver BMW pulls up to the door, and a portly portier in a plain black uniform hurries to the car to open the back door. Springing from the back seat, an expensively fluffy grey Persian cat alights on the sidewalk as lightly as a ballerina, quickly followed by the dark, feline, masculine grace of her black shadow, a svelte cat born to the tuxedo fur he lives in. The portier bows microscopically to show his respect for such a sophisticated aura that the couple emits as they pass him, so much surpassing that attempted by most of the human people guests of the 5-star restaurant. This is a man who has seen it all, and who knows when to be impressed.*

The cats’ paws barely hit the lobby’s immaculate parquet wood floor before the Clef d’Or Concierge smoothly speeds to their side.**

“Mademoiselle Quatre-Pattes, votre table, c’est ici…”

They follow him to a quaint little room papered in gold and decorated sparingly with Japonesque flower arrangements in black lacquer trays. A small round table, is draped in white (Egyptian) cotton, with two wide, high-pitched chairs.*** Unlike other tables the couple has passed, this table has no silverware, only napkins, plates, and glasses already set with “Les Straws Bendee.” The center of the table sports a pair of low white candles, and a red glass vase with a pair of pure white roses.

The felines leap to their seats and the Concierge pushes them close to the table.

The Persian asks, “Pourrions-nous avoir un garçon qui parle l'anglais?”

“Bien sur! N'importe quoi pour un de nos meilleurs clients!”

The big grey Persian batts her dark eyelashes. And purrs.

* That would be now.
** Concierges never “hurry.” What were you thinking?
*** NOT to be mistaken for highchairs, which are for human people children. Mais non!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gettin Ther Is Onlee Part of the Fun

Mom Says:

What Alek forgot to mention (after the unfortunate incident of the b-word) was that Felicity Fourpaws had also offered to have her chauffeur pick Octavian up from his hotel and return him there after dinner, because, as she put it, “Paree eez so unkindlee to thoz of us een the four-footeed part of thee world, no?”

Alek, recognizing a night off when he saw it, agreed. To give him his due, he saw the opportunity as a chance to get Real Work done on the computer instead of Not-Real Work in the car. Pero volunteered to go with Octavian in his role as bodyguard. However, after a long debate, which was won by Octavian with the help of his retractable claws (a very present help in time of trouble), Pero agreed to remain in the hotel, ready to come to Eight’s aid if necessary.

So when 7:45 pm (or 19:45 European style) came around, it saw Agent Octavian strolling through the lobby of his hotel, tail held high, jeweled collar glinting, black fur gleaming like satin, to step out onto the exotic French sidewalk (le trottoir Français exotique), exchange a few words (les bon mots) with the doorman (le portier), and then hop into the silver limousine with the human driver and feline passenger (la date chaude).

The key, Jimbond had always insisted, was assuming that no one in their right mind and most people who weren’t in their right mind, would even consider thinking that you didn’t have the right to be there, doing whatever you were doing, whether it was strolling through a lobby, cracking a safe, or doing handstands in a public fountain. Being a cat, Octavian had absolutely no problem with this concept, so in theory and from a small distance he was as cool as a cucumber straight from the refrigerator. In fact, of course, he was actually a little nervous. But a cat’s minor nervousness doesn’t even show up on the human radar, so at the very least, Zora’s chauffeur was completely fooled.

And as for Zora? Ah, women! Who knows? (Quant aux femmes, qui sait?)

Musashi Sez:

So OK, ther somthin about Zora that jus diffrint from all them othr women in mai lif: Mom, Cozzin Raychl, Karli, Ont Haydee, Jennr, Pamelr, and eevn M. It one of them thins that is hard do put yer paw on. Wuz she yongr? Pertier? Mor werldlee?

Or wuz it jus that she wuz…I don’t know…How do you say it? (Je ne sais quois… Comment vous les dites?)

She is… (Elle est…)

…a cat. Sigh. (une chat. Soupir…)

Mom Says:

Just steps from the most celebrated avenue in the world, the Champs Elysées, and just around the corner from the Triangle d’Or, the Hotel Lancaster's sandstone façade stands proudly on Rue de Berri in the 8th arrondissement of Paris.

At least, that’s what the hotel website claims. (This is your loyal narrator trying to balance the extreme emotional stuff that our protagonist is displaying. Because, sure, we’re in France now, but he’s working for the British, for heaven’s sake! Pull yourself together, man! Er…cat…)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Puttin Mai Ritz On

Musashi Sez:

That nigt, I slept lik one of them ded tree thins, I wuz that tierd. Wen I wokd up finalee, Alek wuz putterin around the room, hummin som song that was NOT disco or flamenco or Miles Davis: so, not reel myoozik. Huh. I wuz crawlin out from the verree soft sheetz of mai reellee big bed, reddee to giv him whutfer, wen he saw I wuz awayk an grinnd at me lik that kittee from Cheshir, Inglund.

“Octavian, Eight, Musashi, my buddy, my pal!”

“Alek? Whut yu smokin?”

“Your illustrious Zora rang this morning and asked if it would be acceptable for your dinner date tonight to be at the Lancaster.”

“O…K…So why yu lookin lik one of them gyz in the myoozikuls, whu is reddee to bust into song an dans?”

“Eight, the Lancaster is a 5-star…no, it’s THE 5-star restaurant, at least this year. The chef is legendary—“

“I jus hops he kin do toonr wiftout messin it up.”

“Eight! So little faith!”

At this point, Pero loped ovr an givd his 2 francs. “Jus don’t get so egsytid ovr thee noms that yu fergit yer job, Senor Ocho!”

“Noms is nys, but they is not the werld, Pero. I is worreed about them kitteez thingkin that they ar rollin in safe ‘Nip an bein wrong. That…jus not rigt.”

Alek sed, “Once I’ve gone over these plans, I’ll be able to tell you what sort of information we are looking for from your friend Fel—er, Zora.”

“Hrmph. Fine. I’m havin som noms an watr an goin to the ‘loo’ an then I’m goin bak to bed. Yu jus wayks me up wen it tym to connekt mai wire or stuff lik that.”

“Actually,” sed Alek, “I thought you might want a bath—”

I hit the ceilin, Pero started barkin his hed off, an between the 2 of us, poor Alek din’t noe whut hit him. Wen we finlee calmd down, Alek sed meekly, “Or…not?”

Mom Says:

In the end, our heroes compromised. Agent Octavian gave himself an extra-thorough licking—even the tricky bits on the chest and between the toes. Pero napped fitfully on the biggest bed until the memory of the b-word went away. And Alek, good-hearted, well meaning Alek (who, to give him his due, really would take a bath before an important date) sat down at his computer and worked Very, Very Hard to get the information Octavian would need to navigate his coming dinner conversation with Felicity Fourpaws, Empress of Dogtoys.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No Ansrz, Lotsa Qwestshunz

Musashi Sez:

By the tim I gots bak to the hotel, Alek an Pero wer behayvin themselves again, which wuz a big releef. But mai feets wer soggy an mai fur was mattid down somthin feers from all that mistee stuff, an I wuz in a mood lik wen yer mom cuts yer naylz wethr or not they needz it.

Bein mor than uzual intellijint fer a chanj, Alek hads one of them cushee hotel towlz reddee fer me wen I got bak, so I wuz qwiklee drier an not so mutch unhappee. Pero tried to halp by lickin mai hed, but ther ar a line, so I sed, “Do NOT want!” an he bakked off. But he calld room servis an akskd fer hot koko fer me, so I fergivd him.

Alek sed, “So, Eight, how did the meeting go?”

“It wuz OK. H wuz on tim an respekful (hrmph) an he givd me the thum dryv. He puttid it on mai collr.”

Alek unhookd the thingee an plugged it into his laptop (altho he almost nevr puts it on his akshul lap…stranj…). We watchd as theez cool bloo diagramz zippd past on his screen. Alek mayd funnee purrin sounz—wull, funnee fer a hoomin peeple, aneewae.

Pero whined cuz he wuzn’t in on the technolojee. “Que? Whut that?”

Alek saved the stuff. “That, mi amigo, is the setup of our friend Felicity Fourpaws’ company headquarters. With a bit of luck, we should be able to find out if her illegal activities--”

“Huh! Which ar still jus onlee allejd fer now…”

“Quite. We’ll find out if her alleged activities are taking place in the company itself—is the company simply a cover for them?—or if they are a sideline she does on her own.” He startid to pet me, but I wakkd his hand. “Or—” he continued hurriedly, “if they are even happening at all.”

Pero scratchd his eer wift his bak foot. “But I thogt yu sed that Myseez wuz certayn that ther wer problemz weeth her beeznis?”

“Er…Yes. Absolutely. But the problem could simply be tax evasion, which in most countries is a national sport. It might not be, er, the sort of illegal activity that, eh, actually harms people…”

I cud tell rigt then it wuz goin to be one of them nigts…

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mor Egzotic Accordion Myoozik

Mom Says:

Ah, beautiful Paris on a cold, misty February evening! Taxi horns punctuate the melodramatic accordion music and warn pedestrians—civilians as well as spies—to leap out of the way as they cross the ancient streets.

Ah, l’Arc de Triomphe, crown of Napoleonic victories, pathway of conquering armies, and also a great, big white marble thing. Cars circle round it, French people smoke under it, and visitors in Paris—the four legged as well as the two legged—meet under it for rendez-vous’s. After all, unlike most things a stranger can get directions to, you really can’t miss it.

Ah, espionage in late winter, with spies huddled into their coats—the coat of black fur, for example, as well as the coat of khaki trench material—passing messages in exotic codes (and well wishes from the gang back home) under the guise of sharing a smoke to warm against the cold…

Musashi Sez:

Huh. All that is well an gud, but yu wudn’t beleev the funnee looks we gotsd, me an mai contakt, “H,” when we wuz passin the cigaret bak an forth between us. Fer one thin, H is a whol lot tallrer than me, so he hads to sqwat down. Fer another, I has nevr smokt befor (bein a helthee kittee, as a rool), so I was cogfin a bit. Verree embarassin fer a spy.

But the arch wuz awful pertee. An that cordion myoozik grows on yu aftr a whil.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Puttin Up Wift Bozos? Puttin Mai Sleek Blak Paw Rigt Down

Musashi Sez:

I dunno if yu remembembr that sceen in A Qwantum of Solace wher Jimbond is goin into a hotel an he doesn’t lik it cuz it not neerlee fansee enugf fer him, but his colleegz got this dumb cover—“We’re teetchrz on holiday.” He turn rigt aroun an go to a mutch fansee-er hotel an tells the desk-gy that they’r teetchrz whu has jus won the lotteree. This is how I feeld havin to hang aroun wift the bozos Alek an Pero aftr mai long phon call wift Zora.

They wer maykin all theez UN-AMYOOZIN joks about how noboddee evr seen kittinz wift angora tuxedos befor, an how rayr it is fer sekund dayts to be weeks-long drivs in the contree, an lik that. Huh. Finlee, I hadsd enugf.

“Pero!” I sed this in mai “Mom-is-tikt-off” voys, that is lowerer than mai usual voys. Pero automatik sat down an lukt surprizd. “Wud yu mayk fun of Gato this wae? Wud yu?”

“Ar yu keeding? Gato wud chuw mai eerz off!”

“Not a bad ideer. I migt jus try it maiself. An Alek—” (Saym voys: why not if it werk?) “Wud yu talk about Jimbond this wae?”

“Sorry, chap, but with him it wouldn’t be funny.”

“Wull, it not funnee now. I don’t thingk yu two appreesheeayt the bigness of the problim we has ben sent heer to solv. Ther ar kitteez all ovr Yoorup whu ben sniffin bad ‘Nip, an rollin in bad ‘Nip, an cuddlin up to toyz all stufft wift bad ‘Nip. An whil yu 2 bozos is lagfin it up, them kitteez ar in danjr. That NOT rigt. Yu has a BAD.”

Pero went an hid unnr the fansee oranj coutch. Alek blew his nos.

“Huh,” sez I. “All rigt then. Kin we get to werk now?”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Perils of a Writing “Team”

Mom Says:

We know what you’re thinking: that’s one really loooong phone call. Yeah, very “amyoozin” as Musashi would say. The fact is that our Blemmy® Nominated writing team has been squaring off in the rabbit coop, trying to decide which way to take the plot-arc of our hero’s story. Musashi and I have tried to hide the conflict from you all, our faithful readers, but Musashi said, “Huh. Trooft is mor suspensful than fikshun aneewae. Bettr jus tell ‘em.” So here’s what’s been happening.

A rabbit we’ll call Peter (not his real name) walked into a bar. (No, seriously, this isn’t a joke.) Sitting at the bar was an older rabbit, who used to write a column for The London Times and over the years did stints in LA, writing for Mr. Ed, Captain Kangaroo, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Our writer, “Peter,” immediately recognized him from his column’s picture. Peter bought the old fellow a bunch of carrots, then two. Then the old fellow reciprocated… In short, they were getting pretty relaxed over the beta-carotene and got talking about the Problems of Plot.

The old fart—er, rabbit—we’ll call Occam (probably his real name), started going on about how simplicity is the heart of art or something like that. He swore he shaved his whiskers by this principle, or at least that is what “Peter” swore when they (the other rabbits in the writer’s coop) were forcing coffee down his fuzzy throat several hours later.

Now all of this would not be a problem except that—you guessed it—we already have on staff another writer, an angora rabbit we’ll refer to here as Rococo, who already had Views about the whole classic Simplicity vs. Complexity Question. Naturally, Rococo rejects Occam’s razor out of paw.

Musashi Sez:

Yah. Yu seez our problim. It not eevn a praktikul problim—-how we get Octavian off the cliff which he’s holdin onto wift his front clawz. Nop. We got us a Thee-O-Retikl Problim, an them is the worst kind. Does we go fer the smuth, cleen lines of the Hemin Way? Or does we go fer the elegant yet sofisterkaytid complexitee of eethr the (gud ol British) Dikenzien plot or the (dastrdlee Rushn) Dostoyevskish plot?

This remindin me of whut mai second-choys-fer-Valintyn, M, toldid me erlee on. “Eight,” she sed, runnin her hand thru her perty grey fur on her hed. “Somtimz ther jus no eezee ansrz.”

(PS: Mom mai is ferst choys. Of cors. She has gud kneez fer sleepin on. ❤ ❤ ❤)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Renooin Contakts

Musashi Sez:

Jus then, the phon rang, an Alek ansrrd it. “Allo? Mai oui. Un moment. Eight, it’s for you.”

I leaped on the bed an talkt to the phon. “Allo? C’est Octavian.”

“Ah! Eet eez Zorra! Quelle chance! Ma fren Octaviann from Leektenshtyn! Ma secretayree tol me she saw yu entering L’Hôtel Lyonesse.”

“Wow. C’est magnifique! I onlee jus got heer. How hav yu ben, Zora?” (Alek givd me a look lik his eyebrowz itchd. I ignord him.)

“O, I hav ben well, mon ami. Also, I hav ben heering that yorr beeznis hav ben grroweeng well.”

“Ah. Right. Wull, yu noe, eevn in a bad eekonomee, folks gots to hav qwalitee ‘Nip.”

“Yu arrr so rright. Eet ees for thees reezon zat I hav calld. I hav a fren in the Neepyards of Provence. Chateau de Fourrure: eet eez a small laybell, yu noe, but of ze highest qwalitee. He wood lik to meet yu.”

“Reellee? Pourquois?”

“Ah, yu arr too ‘umble, Octaviann. A beeg Amerrican importrrr lik yu? He has in mind a deal. An I wuz theengkeeng zat yu shood meet som of heez colleeegz as well, an I can introdoos yu.”

“That’s a jenerus offr—“

“Not at all. Perhaps we shood deescuss eet ovayr dinnayr? Hmmm?”

Now by this tim, I am tryin hard not to purr an giv maiself awae, an meenwhil Alek is verree obveeyuslee eevzdroppin an he is shaykin his hed an whisprin tomorro! So I sez to Zorra, “I has a preevyus engayjmint tonigt…Wud tomorrow do?”

Long storree's shorts: Wen Alek givd Pero a high-5, I jus ignord them agen.

Huh. Stuff lik this nevr happin to Jimbond. Nevr.